"Yarber Pulls A HOC-Style Trick From His Sleeve, Declares State of Emergency" by Politics Blog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Politics Blog

Yarber Pulls A HOC-Style Trick From His Sleeve, Declares State of Emergency

In Season 3 of House of Cards, the Netflix dark political drama, President Frank Underwood devises a plan to circumvent Congress and fund his sweeping jobs plan dubbed America Works.

The plan involved Underwood's declaring that soaring unemployment created a state of emergency, which let him tap into the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide jobs for out-of-work Americans.

Not saying Mayor Tony Yarber is Frank Underwood, but I wouldn't be surprised if HOC has been marathon-streaming on the Yarber family Roku in the past few weeks considering the announcement Yarber made this afternoon.

During a press conference in his office, Yarber, said that his administration has been "talking out loud as a team about declaring a state of emergency" for the city's infrastructure woes.

"Over the last 24 hours, we've seen more breaks than we'd like to see in our water mains," Yarber said.

The declaration enables the city "to use a different form of procurement in order to get the supplies and resources we need," the mayor added.

The winter weather and heavy rains of the past few weeks likely caused shifts in the soils that created potholes and weakened already brittle and deteriorating underground pipes.

Yarber stressed the quality of the water coming out of the city's water-treatment plant remains high, but some residents might see boil-water notices, which the city is legally required to issue when busted pipes cause drops in water pressure. The Red Cross and Salvation Army could be called upon to provide bottled water to area dormitories for students who cannot boil their water, Yarber said.

Yarber added that Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality support the declaration.

Council President De'Keither Stamps said he and his fellow council members are getting up to speed on the emergency-declaration processes.

"If the governor is supporting this, they've obviously identified resources," Stamps told the Jackson Free Press.

In recent weeks, the city council has expressed frustration with Yarber for not providing final budget numbers for fiscal-year 2013-2014 so that budget writers have a clear picture of the city's fiscal health.

Council Vice-President Melvin Priester Jr., who presides over the council's Budget Committee, said Yarber's declaration put the city in unchartered territory and he wants to see the details of the plan.

"If you can declare an emergency about aging infrastructure when there hasn’t been a tornado or hurricane or breakdown at the water-treatment plant, and magically be able to draw from a big pool of money with no strings attached, every municipality in Mississippi would have done it," Priester said.

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