I wish that everyone would take the time to attend a Town Council meeting once in a while. You get to see things you may never read about, get to know the nature of your elected representatives, and get a glimpse of how your town works at the top level. I try to attend as many such meetings as I am able, even though I have no standing commitment other than personal interest.
Mayor Charles Hester is now almost half way through his first term as mayor. It is hard to believe, I know. He has been an active mayor with an agenda of items that he believes are actionable and of importance to the town. He is moving forward with that agenda on a regular basis.
The one thing I remember hearing quite a bit last year was Mayor Hester's list of 50 items on his agenda. I have not seen that list and don't recall seeing it published. I would like to see that list made public as a "mid-term evaluation". I am not saying anything positive or negative about the list or its existence, not knowing its contents. I was pondering recently about how in the last year, neither I, nor other citizens I know can recall ever seeing the announced list. It is a good thing to look back and evaluate the progress of the town in the last year.
Another member of the Council that I have pondered is Mrs. Jackie Lacy. At the October 10th Council meeting, as a citizen and just plain human being, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut in the middle of the meeting. On the meeting agenda was the appeal of a town issued demolition order regarding several substandard housing structures.
During the discussion, Mayor Hester said that the need for cleaning up the properties in town is to get rid of worthless properties, properties that do not enhance the town's image, appearance, quality of residents, and tax base. This is a condensation of what he has said, but you get the idea. Basically to get rid of undesirable properties and people.
When Mayor Hester referred to a similar sentiment expressed previously by Mrs. Lacy, she indignantly denied having said so and declared to Mayor Hester, "You would get rid of the whole Negro race!" I even got a copy of the meeting recording to play it back again. That audio clip is now on the internet at troylaplante.com.
I find this comment to be totally out of order and unacceptable behavior in public office. It is one thing to make such accusatory and racist commentary in private, but when made as a town official at a public meeting, I find it despicable.
I realize that Mrs. Lacy is passionate about her beliefs, and I guarantee that we both have similar viewpoints about treatment of the races. We obviously differ in many aspects of practice of those same viewpoints.
Nothing was really said or done about Mrs. Lacy's comment at the time it was uttered, but it did not go unnoticed. Had it been Mr. Hester making a racist remark or accusation towards Mrs. Lacy, I guarantee that it would have been in daily newspapers, on radio, and on television the next morning.
I do not personally know all of Charles Hester's views on race relations, I don't really care what they are, and I am not defending him with this column. I do, however, believe that there is an inequity of political correctness that is inappropriate in this nation. I further believe that such behavior, regardless of from whom it proceeds, should never be tolerated by either the Council or the citizens of Selma.
I believe that Jackie Lacy owes a formal apology a formal apology for her remarks to Charles Hester and every constituent in Selma. I will be waiting to see a letter of apology in "The Selma News" at a minimum.
If any of the readers of this column are online on MySpace, look for me as user ID troylaplante.
Disclaimer time: No dictionary was used for the purpose of word selection in the writing of today's (or any previous) column.