The Mayor and Board of Aldermen welcomed two candidates for office, one a candidate for Hinds County Supervisor, and the second, a candidate for Hinds County Election Commission to the meeting.
Police Chief, Ford Hayman, provided our update. He said there had been 39,700 calls for service, 1408 arrests, and 688 contempt of court citations. He noted that the fact that Clinton has a full-time judge has been very helpful. Although Clinton continues to rank third in public safety in the state, the number of auto burglaries continues to keep us from the number one position. Please lock your vehicles.
The Board moved forward with a public hearing on the plan for the 2% restaurant fax funding. Recreation Director, Courtney Nunn, said that these funds will help to restore Clinton as a premier city for parks and recreation. The proposals for the funding include the following:
- Kids Town Park: paving the track, new pickleball courts, a concession stand, bathrooms, and fitness center.
- Brighton Park: all all-inclusive playground, shuffleboard, a challenge course, future tennis courts, a new fitness studio and shade trees. A full-time tennis pro is being hired.
- Traceway Park: bathroom renovations, 4 plex softball, restrooms, concession stands, and a playground.
These improvements will be made in three phases.
The Board then moved to re-districting maps for the city. The only two maps receiving consideration, unfortunately, were Map 3 and Map 7, both of which had problems. Map 3 removed an entire neighborhood from Alderwoman, Beverly Oliver; and Map 7 removed an entire neighborhood from Alderman, Chip Wilbanks. Because of the issues with both maps, Ward 5 Alderwoman Beverly Oliver; Ward 2 Alderman, Jim Martin; Ward 6 Alderman, James Lott, and I had tried diligently to get the Board to table the vote until we could achieve a better map, but other Aldermen argued that it was time to vote. Consequently, the Aldermen had no choice but to decide between two flawed maps.
The Board first voted on my motion to table the vote one more time for the purpose of creating a map that was better than the two maps being considered. That motion failed with Alderman Martin, Oliver and I voting yes and the other Aldermen voting no. Once we were forced to vote on a map, Aldermen Lott, Oliver, Martin, and I voted for Map 7 and Aldermen Godfrey, Wilbanks and Chapman voted for Map 3. The motion passed.
At the time of this writing, Mayor Fisher has just vetoed the vote. It will require a five-person majority of the Board to override his veto. However, the veto has the advantage of bringing the Board of Aldermen back to the drawing board to create a better map for the City. Unfortunately, the Mayor has decided to blame the vote on some Aldermen’s desire for “personal or electoral gain.” That is patently false. Furthermore, he claims that moving ward lines “disenfranchises” voters. That is also a false representation of what the Board has worked to do. Every redistricting effort requires moving ward lines, and every map we considered moved the lines. That is the entire purpose of redistricting.
Hopefully, we can assume the best, and not the worst, of those who are making this decision and those who are affected by it. Democracy is sometimes messy, but, in the end, we are all striving to do what is best for the City of Clinton.