Whirllie Byrd Has A Change of Heart
In an interview, Mrs’ Byrd had some strong feelings about her ousting as CVB president, but after a week to cool off, decided it wasn’t worth it and asked me to leave the issue alone. And I will do just that…for now. But I will say that the CVB board has been getting much press when in reality the CVB has done lots of good for this area in spite of the controversy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, funding festivals is fine…as long as the festival completely is transparent and books and receipts are kept and it can be held accountable for its being! Still, we will never have politics out of the CVB board because politicians with agenda’s are still appointing board members.
That said, part of a key line from my column was left out last week (my fault. RW). I was talking about Harry Sanders and Robert Smith in a stalemate about who to name as the ninth and final boardmember to the CVB board. They are supposed to decide on someone but politics is getting in the way. Apparently Mayor Smith wants to appoint Claude Simpson (Harry Sanders says the mayor wants to appoint Simpson because the mayor feels Simpson would be favorable to festival funding. RW). Sanders, at first, wanted to appoint former CVB board member John Bean. He says when the mayor balked on that suggestion (Sanders tells me Mayor Smith didn’t want to appoint someone that the city council had already “turned down” because it would be a slap in the face of councilmen who voted against Bean. Bean’s name was brought up and voted down when the Council appointed Bernard Buckhalter. RW). So, Sanders offered up an alternative in Allegra Brigham. But, he said the mayor won’t budge from his suggestion of Simpson.
When I say politics is getting in the way, I mean to say it’s coming from both sides. It’s obvious that Sanders wants boardmembers on the CVB who favor a closer relationship with the Link and Joe Higgins. The mayor wants boardmembers who would favor doling out money to festivals. So does Councilman Gene Taylor and Kabir Karriem. A ninth boardmember might be the balancing act between being liberal in handing out money to nearly every festival that comes along, or being tight-fisted with the 2 per cent sales tax and leaning toward Higgins and the Link. I believe with making any organization who can attract visitors to Columbus and Lowndes County prove their worthiness and validity when asking for CVB money, we can’t go wrong. But with politics in the way of making appointments, it’s not gonna happen.
Republican Executive Committee ‘Blindsides’ Representative Jeff Smith?
I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard from several sources who were that Representative Jeff Smith got verbally beat-up at the Republican Executive Committee meeting Monday night. These reliable sources tell me that Smith, who recently switched to the Republican Party after decades as a Democrat, took a pretty good tongue-lashing from Republican Executive Committee Chairwoman Nan Lott and member Beth Stuart. Stuart’s participation in such a matter is particularly interesting because she has had conversations with Jack Larmour, Smith’s Republican Primary opponent. The conversations were possibly about Stuart assisting Larmour in his campaign against Smith.
Stuart, who is chair of CLOPAC (Columbus/Lowndes Political Action Committee) the political action group that held a forum at the Municipal Complex Tuesday night involving supervisor, justice court judge and chancery clerk candidates. Another forum on the rest of the county office-seekers will be held Thursday evening at the same location, again hosted by CLOPAC. Stuart has long been working with Bill Brigham in his campaign to try and unseat incumbent District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson. And is said to be assisting Allison Pritchard Kizer in her attempt to be elected to the county prosecutor post that Tim Hudson is vacating. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with these candidates receiving help from Stuart…but Stuart’s involvement with whomever candidate she is assisting would be a conflict of interest on her part. And in taking part in the blindsiding of Rep. Jeff Smith would indicate she’s probably trying to show Larmour that she can dish the dirt with the best of them.
It’s amazing to me that the Republican Party didn’t welcome Jeff Smith with open arms. What are they thinking? You have a longstanding state representative who is liked and respected by members of both parties, not to mention one who ran for Speaker 3 years ago and received every (yes…I said EVERY.RW) Republican vote in the Mississippi House of Representatives…as a Democrat! A man who, despite his former Democrat Party affiliation, voted conservative probably 95% of the time. And on top of all that, a man who was beat-down by the Democrat Party a few years ago and threatened to not be certified by them because of his conservative voting record. And now the Republican Party, who traditionally has been the party of wisdom, fairness and been above stooping to blindside attacks…is acting like the Democrat Party they often deplore?
I contacted Smith Wednesday to get his reaction to the meeting and his treatment thereof. He told me it was, “just unfair”. “I think what concerned me the most, I am capable of holding my own in front of Mrs. Lott and Beth Stuart. However had I been someone not accustomed to speaking in front of an audience and responding after being blind-sided, it would have been awful. I hope I acted as the gentleman that my father always insisted I be, but I was dismayed that such an exhibition could be held in a Republican forum. It was more like something you’d expect from Democrats,” Smith said in reaction. “I carry no animosity, but do hope that no one ever has to endure anything such as what I was subjected to on Monday night.”
CLOPAC Political Forum
As just mentioned, CLOPAC will hold another forum this evening (Thursday) at 6 p.m. featuring sheriff candidates and the remaining office seekers for Lowndes County elected positions. I’ll have a report on Tuesdays forum in next weeks Packet.
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com0