Officials shouldn’t show tempers to taxpayers

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 7, 2012

None of us likes it when things don’t go according to our plans.

Last week, frustrations briefly bubbled over at a specially called meeting of the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton sought to have aldermen discuss the changes would-be casino developers wanted to make in their deal with the City.

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It seemed simple enough on paper. But Middleton’s assertion that the discussions be held in executive session, out of earshot of a room full of interested residents, fell on deaf ears with the aldermen.

In short order aldermen reminded all in the room that the City of Natchez operates with a strong board, weak mayor system of government. Under such a system the mayor can do little without the aldermen’s approval.

The mayor grew frustrated by this and, unfortunately, his temper flared against a citizen whose crime was laughing at the proceedings.

Clearly, public officials should not lose their tempers or their patience with concerned citizens who care enough about an issue to show up and express their feelings.

If the man in the audience was being disrespectful by laughing, the appropriate way to handle was to ask him to stop.

We understand Middleton is frustrated by the long delays — the project started with the previous administration — we are, too. But we also realize that everyone in the room last week who lives in Natchez wants what is best for the city.

We may disagree on what that is, but we can disagree with some civility.

We hope calmer heads and controlled tongues will be the routine going forward.