Frank Melton is No Barack Obama | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Frank Melton is No Barack Obama

It's déjà vu all over again. Four years ago this week, I was writing a column calling for—no, begging—Jacksonians not to vote for Frank Melton as mayor in the Democratic primary. I had spent several months researching, reporting, following, tracking, fact-checking Frank Melton, as well as arguing with his people (such as then-PR woman and sister-in-law Carolyn Redd) about getting access to ask him real questions.

I had watched him duck and dodge debates and interviews, and surround himself with people who just wanted to stir up trouble—including trying to yell down a respectful Jackson Association of Neighborhoods candidate forum at the Medical Mall that he walked out of for no apparent reason, but which I suspect was motivated by an earlier happy hour.

Just a guess.

I had listened to Melton tell people what they wanted to hear, promise the moon and outright lie about having already lined up grant support "from Thad and Trent." I had wheedled and argued with his supporters who had climbed on early, mesmerized by his charm, who thought he really could hang that moon. And in 90 days, no less.

I did back flips to raise red flags about his particular brand of trying to be the daddy of so many needy young men in Jackson—taking them into his home without being a certified foster parent, leaving them there to fend for each other while he went gallivanting into the night, playing favorites with certain boys, targeting others.

But my warnings didn't work then. Too many people of all races were charmed and fooled by Frank Melton. I even had prominent citizens later tell me that they believed the absolute worst rumors about him could be true—and still voted for him to be mayor. (I'm still bedazzled by that admission.)

This time we can make a better choice. A coalition of Jacksonians of all races, backgrounds and political beliefs can make up for the bad decision of four years ago. We can send a message to Melton by all choosing to vote for someone else. We can tell him we don't appreciate him pitting Jacksonians against Jacksonians, and changing his story dramatically depending on who he was talking to.

We can telegraph that we don't think he is the city's daddy. We can tell him that he should not be elected to a job that he dislikes or that he considers part-time, as he has told me several times.

The fact that he thinks the job is part-time explains, in part, why he made such a mess of it. Leaders know that leadership takes time for relationship-building, for being the most accountable person in the room, to be present for your people, and to model good behavior.

Melton doesn't have the patience for any of that. He is profoundly the wrong person to be our mayor, or our leader, or the foster parent of needy kids.

The worst thing, though, is that Melton drinks his own Kool-Aid. He believes that what the city's youth needs is a man who plays to their weaknesses and makes them compete for his attention and his affections (not to mention his cars, credit cards, groceries, swimming pool and home theater).

On the one hand, this can seem admirable. He can look at young men like Chris Walker and Michael Taylor and care for them despite criminal habits and anger they don't know how to control. But then he is willing to outright use them and turn them against other young people in the city for his own purposes and his own publicity. He makes young men hate each other and feel justified in doing so.

This is no gift to our young people. It sells them short. It steers them wrong.

In our last big interview, right after his first federal trial, Melton tried to compare himself to President Barack Obama. But as much as he can charm people for a little while, he is no Barack Obama.

Our president is modeling behavior for young men that I believe will make a profound difference in our country's future. He is a devoted husband and father who knows that the answer to the problems of urban America is not moving a few dozen young men into his home and letting them drive his cars and play with his guns—loaded or not—now and then. He rejects Melton-esque small thinking.

What we need in City Hall are serious leaders who care about the plight of young people and understand that smart economic development and job creation and mentoring programs and good role models will give them hope, opportunities and a new future. You sure can't influence a generation of young men by getting drunk and taking your favorite kids to sledgehammer a schizophrenic drug user's rental home.

Barack Obama would not do this. A leader would not do this. Someone who cares about the rights and dignity of urban America would not do this. A good mayor would not do this.

It is time that Jackson come together to elect leaders who will make us proud, and to mentor younger ones to take their place when they're ready. In a time when Barack Obama is president, the allure of dishonesty and boozin' and raisin' hell is gone. We cannot afford to elect so-called leaders who are going to teach our young men (or anyone else) that power gives you the privilege to act like an idiot and hurt those closest to you.

I have long said that I feel sorry for Frank Melton. He told me recently that he needed the city to re-elect him because he has nothing else to do with his time. Even in answering that question, he is thinking only of himself and what he thinks he needs. This is not someone who can help others; he needs to help himself first.

Melton also told me that he wants the city to let him "die with dignity." With due respect, and actual affection for a very troubled man, I suggest that Mr. Melton learn to live with dignity and then teach others to do the same thing.

The only way to get him to do that, I believe, is to vote against him on May 5. It is a favor to the city and a favor for him. That makes me sad to say, but it's as true this week as it was four years ago.

Previous Comments

ID
146483
Comment

A trult bizaare contribrution and expenditure epoert for Melton. why is John Reeves the largest recipient of campaign funds?http://www.clarionledger.com/assets/pdf/D0133861429.PDF

Author
chimneyville
Date
2009-04-29T19:26:43-06:00
ID
146484
Comment

www.clarionledger.com/assets/pdf/D0133861429.PDF

Author
chimneyville
Date
2009-04-29T19:27:36-06:00
ID
146497
Comment

[quote] I did back flips to raise red flags about his particular brand of trying to be the daddy of so many needy young men in Jackson—taking them into his home without being a certified foster parent, leaving them there to fend for each other while he went gallivanting into the night, playing favorites with certain boys, targeting others.[/quote] He sounds more like the Pied Piper of Jacktown.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-04-30T07:10:44-06:00
ID
146502
Comment

good point about Reeves, is FM paying he's legal bills with campaign contributions? hmmm... how do you justify those payments....

Author
lanier77
Date
2009-04-30T08:12:13-06:00
ID
146510
Comment

I suspect that those payments to Reeves were for representing him when the Democrats tried to keep him off the ballot. I'll ask Ward to confirm.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-04-30T09:24:40-06:00
ID
146513
Comment

Has anybody seen Melton's bus parked in front of the Chuck E. Cheese and Cowboy Maloney on I-55? Why would he choose Chuck E. Cheese to park the bus?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-04-30T09:39:44-06:00
ID
146515
Comment

your guess is as good as mine, we are talking about frank melton you are probably right about those pymts. to Reeves....

Author
lanier77
Date
2009-04-30T09:45:44-06:00
ID
146540
Comment

Why would he choose Chuck E. Cheese to park the bus? Well, you know how much he lurves da chilluns. LOL

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2009-04-30T11:57:31-06:00
ID
146552
Comment

Maloney is listed on Melton's contributor report.I don't see how parking that bus in front of the store will help sell flat screens.

Author
chimneyville
Date
2009-04-30T13:46:48-06:00
ID
146555
Comment

It would make me turn away and go somewhere else to buy that flat screen.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-04-30T14:15:01-06:00
ID
146658
Comment

Good followo-up by the Ledger today on Melton's (campaign) promise to put 600 kids to work this summer -- and through IMS, no less. (Remember what Adam has reported on the IMS front, and here as well.) Ledger today: The plans were first announced this morning during a news conference Melton called at City Hall. He said the city would be expanding its existing summer youth employment program by partnering with IMS Technical Institute in Jackson. Melton said the city planned to place 300 young people from IMS’ summer program in city government jobs this summer. “We’ll be up to close to 600 kids this summer,” he said. When reached for comment, IMS Technical Institute Director Maxine Lyles said the organization has not placed any of its workers yet. The city has not been told the official number of young people coming in. [...] Marcus Ward, Melton’s chief of staff, said Melton made a mistake and misunderstood his briefing on the program. “We thought we would be employing 300 kids,” Ward said. “The mayor misunderstood.” Sigh.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-05-02T10:06:25-06:00

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