BY BRIAN JONES
In which I consider the CVB, lawsuits against the a local school district and once again turn my gimlet eye upon a local glibertarian.
Shakeup at Juneteenth?
At last week’s Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting, District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks dropped by to inform the board that he had dissolved the Afro-American Culture Organization, which had organized Lowndes County’s Juneteenth Festival since its inception. He said that a new group, Juneteenth-Columbus Inc., will handle the event from now on, and that while he does not have a leadership position he will continue to be involved in some capacity.
This was Mr. Brooks’ first appearance at a CVB meeting since his Feb. 2013 vow not to appear before the board again.
The move comes after increasingly heated conflicts with the CVB over the involvement of public officials in the events it funds. Last year Juneteenth was refused funding, and its organizers came before the board multiple times in subsequent months with several different proposals to try to get their money. In spite of Mr. Brooks’ claims that the festival could not exist without CVB funding, it somehow – miraculously – went forward anyway.
After the dust settled, the CVB revamped the way it handles festival funding, changing both its grant guidelines and its application process. Pre-existing events are now factored straight into the CVB budget as a line item. In spite of the ethics concerns and its obvious ability to exist without being propped up by the CVB, the Juneteenth Festival was included, and at the maximum possible grant amount. In other words, very little beyond the visibility of the funding mechanism actually changed.
I think this reorganization is just smoke and mirrors. Brooks partisan Cindy Lawrence sits squarely atop the new entity, and I doubt anything of substance has changed in the way it does business. The fix is pretty clearly in: The dust had barely settled from last year’s funding kerfuffle when Juneteenth was slipped into the CVB budget, so Mr. Brooks can afford to play nice now that he knows his baby will still get its money.
As long as elected officials are involved in these events, there is an obvious stench of patronage. Or, in other words, it’s business as usual in the Friendly City.
Charles Jackson sues
After well over a year of limbo, West Lowndes High School Interim Principal… wait, I mean “Administrator” Charles Jackson has filed suit against the district, alleging racial discrimination.
I’m not going to write a lot about it here, as my article about the lawsuit runs in this week’s Packet. I am, however, going to wonder aloud. If Mr. Jackson’s allegations are true, how stupid do factions on that board have to be to pick him, of all people, to pick on? This is a guy who’s already sued the district over this very issue once before. Hey, everybody, great idea here! That guy that sued the pants off us a few years ago wants a promotion again! Let’s jerk him around! C’mon, it’ll be fun! What could possibly go wrong?
What, indeed. And now, once again, the taxpayers of Lowndes County are on the hook for their representatives’ inability to play fair. If I lived in the Lowndes County School District – and, in fact, I do – I’d be investing in some tar and feathers right about now.
And I certainly hope the voters of Lowndes County will remember this crap the next time they head to the ballot box.
Putting the “glib” in “glibertarian”
A few weeks ago I mentioned a Facebook commenter and officer in the state Libertarian party who questioned our reporting on a Columbus High School teacher who was allegedly soliciting sex from a student. I wondered at that time what kind of libertarian would question the media’s ability to monitor law enforcement, or the need to alert the public to a potential sexual predator at a local school.
That commenter, one Danny Bedwell, cropped up again this week. We posted a Sound Off question: “Do you believe the Columbus City government tries to do things without the public knowing?” Mr. Bedwell weighed in by saying, I assume in jest, “Is this a loaded question?”
Really, sir? I would think anyone who is interested in government accountability and openness – and especially a purported libertarian – would find the idea that the city council is circumventing open meetings laws outrageous. But not Mr. Bedwell!
I just…I can’t…I am experiencing total vocabulary failure here.
Listen: I would dearly love to get someone in Congress who is not a blabbering partisan “yes man.” Most days I feel like we could replace Alan Nunnelee with a frowny-faced, fist-shaking bobblehead who occasionally shouts “Nancy Pelosi!” and “Obamacare!” and be equally well served. I would be delighted to see some rational candidate who espouses small government, personal responsibility, civil liberties and common sense. I would love to write a column extolling his or her virtues and exhorting my readers to support their campaign. Instead, we have Mr. Bedwell.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a nice cry.