Ask the mayor or one of the aldermen…

You are sitting in a chair across the desk from the mayor of Vicksburg, or one of the aldermen, and he has just asked “What’s on your mind, today, Mr. Citizen? What have I done right? What have I done wrong? What would you do if you were sitting here in my seat?” Now, it’s your turn. How would you respond? Would you ask about the budget? Taxes? The bond issue? The details of fireman Montgomery’s case? Or something else? Since the mayor and aldermen read Vicksburg Speaks, now is your opportunity. Use a pen name if you like.

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Published in: on August 30, 2007 at 8:17 pm  Comments (25)  

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  1. Why is the settlement of the James Montgomery lawsuit which, as I understand, is not to be disclosed to the general public when it is our tax dollars that are going to pay for your mistake? This man had/has the freedom of speach just as any other person.

    I do not know Mr. Montgomery, but I find it ludicrous that you felt you had the right to take away his right!
    I certainly hope you do not proceed with your plan to try and keep city employees from being able to speak their minds in the future. I think that would come under an act of tyranny, not a democracy.

  2. Why haven’t you brought in more jobs? And why have you let the businesses closed up? Also what haven’t you brought in a new cinema; which you bragged about around winter stating which this community would have by summer? And a new bowling alley? Item: you don’t realize that this port has a real weak retain infrastructure. No competition hasn’t been let in years. People here want to see real change not something comesmetic.

  3. The mayor was on “Live at the Klondyke” this week and addressed the Montgomery issue. There were several significant revelations. First, he was advised to pursue discipline against Mr. Montgomery by the staff attorney. Mr. Montgomery is a civil servant and civil servants, under their code of conduct, were not supposed to publicly speak their political views. The dilemma for the city was to either ignore the rule and allow Mr. Montgomery and any other civil servant to publicly speak their personal political beliefs or address him for violating the rule. Also, if anyone else posted a public political statement the city would have to ignore their post, regardless of any factual basis in their post. Mr. Montgomery violated the rule and was rightfully addressed for doing so. Also Mr. Montgomery stated several falsehoods in his letter to the editor including his attestation that he lived in the city and he was a registered voter.

    In Mr. Montgomery’s lawsuit he challenged the rule and won on the basis of Federal rights outweighing the long standing rule. That made him eligible for damages. The city is insured against just this type of lawsuit and the insurance company was the one that wanted to settle. Since the insurance company is the one paying the money, not the taxpayers, there is no financial harm to the taxpayers.

    Additionally the mayor stated he was not made aware of the amount to be paid to Mr. Montgomery, it was between Mr. Montgomery and the insurance company. He went on to say the amount of the settlement was not a significant amount. Mr. Montgomery was far more interested in getting his position back than he was in getting a large sum of money. A wise move on his part I might add. A claim for large damages would ensure a 10 year court battle with no assurance of winning. 10 years in which he would have to support himself in a city other than Vicksburg, uprooting his family, leaving his friends and having to start at the bottom of the totem pole again. Not a fun option.

    I wonder why this story was reported in the paper the way it was. Any amount of investigation with the city would have uncovered that the taxpayers were not harmed in any way by the suit.

    It makes you wonder if the newspaper intentionally left that fact out or if the investigation was lacking. Either way the real dirt in this story lies with the newspaper.

  4. In response to Chuck’s post about businesses closing…

    The Mayor and Aldermen, or the Board of Supervisors for that matter, have no control over the success of a business. That should be addressed to the individual business owners that chose to close their doors.

    The cinema issue is a sad one but other than pursuing a cinema company and giving them all kinds of tax breaks to come here I don’t see how the city leaders had any hand in the success or failure of the cinema. I quit going to that cinema because it was dirty, uncomfortable and I didn’t feel safe in that mall after it got late. They charged top dollar for a third rate product.

    We have business growth in this town. The ones that fail seem to fail because of bad decisions by the owners of the business, not due to administrative or governmental influence.

    The real issue to be addressed is the mentality of our fellow citizens when it comes to how they spend their money. If we want businesses to succeed here we have to spend our money here. How many cars do you see running around town that were purchased in Jackson?
    How often do you see the entertainment money people spend going only to the casinos?

    On the job front I think it was covered well in the many post on this forum regarding the inventory tax. I agree that with the many post herein saying the inventory tax has killed the prospect of any large employer coming to our area. The Board of Supervisors simply say they need the tax to make their budget.

    Perhaps they could study history and see that tax cuts create jobs. Jobs create taxpayers.

    And Chuck, I like the cosmetic improvements.

  5. “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear” — Dinah Mulock Craik

  6. U like to know the mentality of why us locals go to Jackson metro area and Monroe’s Pecanland Mall to shop? It’s really simple: there has been no effort by this port to bring high end businesses at all. As for gambling I share no interest in it all as entertainment. Here’s another fact u should know this town’s past: the mom and pops business blocked competition from coming into the marketplace. They didn’t want to play the fair business game. Now we’re taking money out of here and the local leaders are freaking out about it. Let me tell you when the Army Corps was in downtown the mom and pops exploited federal workers by jacking up prices and they complained like spoiled brats when we left. Ask around about this town’s anti business past you’d be surprise what some who live here will tell you. Second the city has a perception of anti-business and working against business.
    As of the last census Warren County and the city populations remain unchanged. And corporations do examine the real census numbers before making key desicions before coming in any market.

  7. I’ve written the mayor and aldermen so many times about this subject that they know it from top to bottom, but I would like to ask once again: How in good conscience can you allow the debris and wrecked buildings at 709 – 713 Clay Street to remain essentially as they were when the buildings collapsed over 19 months ago? They are not only an eyesore, but a hazard – a threat to the safety of the Allreds, the adjacent building owners and occupants, and the driving/walking public as well. Surely you must realize that tourists and residents alike who stop to gawk at the remains react with astonishment that the leadership of Vicksburg would allow this travesty to continue for so long. In so doing, you are not only endangering lives, but exposing the taxpayers of Vicksburg to a potentially damaging lawsuit. To go one step farther, I’ll venture this: If these buildings had collapsed next door to the Valley building, the debris would have been removed in short order.

  8. “Quotes are nothing but inspiration for the uninspired.”
    –Richard Kemph

    Back atcha

    : )

  9. Talk radio is democracy at its ugliest –
    Paddy Chayefsky

    (slightly misquoted) (:))

  10. I can tell you when it comes to the Thomas bldg already it has become a downtown eyesore. Imagine what the tourist think when they see it when come from the riverboats. Alos the bldgs around the Thomas Bldgs I believe are structurally damaged as well. Just let the let storm blow through and those bldgs will fall. It’s just a matter of time. But to toss a serious issue like this around the courts with delays and such; it’s only a matter of time before those older bulidings close to the Thomas bldg are going to collaspe. Now how would city hall react to that?

  11. “If anyone understands ugly, it’s Paddy Chayefsky”

    -Anonymous

  12. How would the city and county consilidate into one goverment entity. What would the process be and how much would it cost? Has a study been considered for such an idea?

  13. We do agree on that!

  14. Chuck, best I recall from a few years back, the legislature would have to approve the change. Our Senator Mike Chaney might be able to enlighten us. I’ll ask him.

  15. Now anothe fact in reguards to changing city and county goverments. The naysayers on both sides that is city goverment and county goverment; a strong message is going to have to be sent to shut them up. For this outdated cliquish village needs to send be sent a strong real message: WE’RE SICK IN TIRE OF HEARING U SAYING THAT NEW THINGS DON’T WORK. Exploit their weakness on the fact they don’t like being compared to another ciities becouse that gets there goat. Also why not have an audit done on both and city county. It wouldn’t hurt. But those of us who want real change need to the message that the status quo good ole boy network is longer working.

  16. Per David:

    “The real issue to be addressed is the mentality of our fellow citizens when it comes to how they spend their money. If we want businesses to succeed here we have to spend our money here. How many cars do you see running around town that were purchased in Jackson?
    How often do you see the entertainment money people spend going only to the casinos?”

    It is pretty obvious that you are under the wing of the leader with the huge case of “short man syndrome”. However, it is the “mentality” of our citizens in Vicksburg which sends us to Jackson and surrounding areas to shop due to lower prices. I have yet to buy a car in Vicksburg because I can get one cheaper by shopping elsewhere. I don’t spend money at the casinos and would venture to say most Vicksburgers don’t either. We don’t even have a decent steak house in this town unless you want to go to a casino, which I don’t! There is NO other entertainment here.

    The reasons we go to Jackson are lower prices and more variety….simple. If you and the Mayor want to keep our money here, then talk to the local retailers about that, get those things changed and we will gladly shop here. It would certainly save us gas, which, by the way, we have to go to Jackson to get that cheaper! So, I would say our “mentality” is pretty well in tact.

    I totally agree that had a building next to the Valley fallen, it would have been cleaned up within a month. It is a disgrace that it has almost been two years that the Thomas Building debris is still right where it was. I would much prefer my tax dollars go to clean that up rather than some of the things our mayor and alderman have spent it for.

    While I’m at it, I might as well say how I feel about our leaders taking the Armory to turn it into a garage, rather than letting that building which was/is already planned out for the school’s ROTC programs. Our children are far more important than a garage. There are plenty of vacant buildings in this town that the city already owns that can be used for a garage. The Armory was pre-planned to be given to the schools as I understand it. It is completely selfish of the city leaders to take the Armory when the design is perfect for the ROTC programs which helps mold these young men and women into our future.

    The city and county officials act like fifth graders! They fuss and fight rather than try to come together to agree on anything. Everyone wants their way instead of trying to compromise. I’m for getting rid of all of them and starting over with one unified government which will be the betterment for all of us. I am also sick of the “good ole boy” network which caters to the rich and the ones who can do the most for them individually.

  17. Well said, Smitty!

  18. Hey Smitty right on Buddy! U know now that the cinema has been closed,I had an oppertunity to have a much a better cinema experince in Jackson and in Monroe from time to time. What these narrowed mind fifth graders don’t get is people here want more quality. Just look around at businesses shutting down in town. Also the fact that city and county population hasn’t growned. Would u believe that city planner stated on Live From Klondike that population has growned? Well last year’s census still has Warren County at 14th with the stats at 49,308 in 2000 the population was 49,581. Slight decrease. City population has remain the same.
    Yeah with cheaper prices,better quality goods in Jackson and Monroe,La I’d rather be shopping there. Hey Monroe is growing. What does this sorry little port have to say for itself eh?

  19. Smitty, I understand your position. Saving money is what it is all about. It is why Wal-Mart thrives and why Honda is so big in America.

    Please continue to support them because saving 3-5% today is much more important than tomorrow. If those pennies on the dollar mean more to you than investing in your local community, keeping jobs here and sustaining our tax base I understand.

    But isn’t that your complaint? Our city is not growing and only the wealthy are getting wealthier and we have no entertainment. With your mentality it will be a while before we get any of those things. I would suggest you support them first because they are in Vicksburg and secondly because they are cheap. While we are at it, how much do you spend on gas, what is the expense of your vehicle to drive over there and how do you live with your contradiction of damning Vicksburg while spending your dollars in Jackson. Shame on you.

    You have to ask yourself if you are part of the problem or part of the solution.

    We have made a decision to spend our money here because it stays here.

    I respect what Mayor Leyens has accomplished here. If you can only associate that with being under his wing, more power to you. I support whom I choose because they fit my belief system or get things done. It appears to me we should support those who are actually getting things done, not spending their time, energy and money elsewhere.

    If you want a decent steak might I suggest the Ginger fillet at Anchuca, the 16oz steak at the World, the NY Strip at Borrello’s, Blair House does one on occasion, HorseFace Harrys has an excellent steak cheap and Toney’s has many to choose from.

    We agree on the city and county issue. I understand there is more to the armory issue that hit the paper (surprise!). The city offered the armory to the schools a while back but the schools turned it down for financial reasons is my understanding. Now that the city is doing something with the building the schools want it for free. Hmmm.

    Smitty, if you are getting your information from the paper, then you are under informed. Call the mayors office and ask him. Call the supervisors and ask them. Call whomever to get their side of the story. I do it all the time and it is why I don’t get in a rage at some of the stories in this paper. Their misreporting is legendary. I will say to their benefit they have hired a bunch of new reporters and are working hard to overcome that problem.

    I agree that mess next to Malcolms’ place is a travesty.

    Smitty, I still like you, we just disagree on what is important.

  20. Well, David, here is your answer. The wealthy are already wealthy in this town and they will make sure none of the rest of the people will get that way. You may be one of the more fortunate ones who can afford to give away that 3-5% difference, but the majority of the people here cannot. Perhaps you haven’t checked into the average salaries around town. I would venture to say half of the people who live here make minimum wage up to possibly $12. per hour. At the cost of living now, giving away 3-5% of that amount of money is a lot.

    You also need to take into consideration the retired people who live on social security and possibly small pensions. They also cannot afford to give away 3-5% of their money. It doesn’t take much mentality to figure that out.

    I think that you live in that world of the wealthy or well off, shall we say, and don’t have the real picture of life here in Vicksburg. Maybe that’s not your fault because you are exposed to only the upper middle and upper income people. I, on the other hand, have been in a profession which exposes me to the lower middle or lower income people and am very aware of their struggles just to pay for housing, utilities, food and care of their children with bare necessities.

    The lower and middle class people in this town shop at WalMart for the best prices and they shop in Jackson or Monroe for the same reason. They cannot afford to invest in their community when they are trying to feed their family and maintain a decent lifestyle. If Vicksburg cannot offer it, then they go elsewhere. It is just that simple. Let the wealthy pay them more in salaries ane perhaps they can afford to put 3-5% more in this community. But, guess what? The wealthy in this town are not going to do it because they could care less about this town and “they” are the ones who could afford to. But “they” would rather get wealthier.

    And David, I still like you, too. We just disagree on priorities.

  21. Hey Smitty the so called Wealthy also blocked any form of business competition coming into this town. I wonder if a few of those narrow minds had something to with bringing in the bad investiment of gambling into this town. Another fact a lot of mom and pops business are closing as well. As for the cinema we haven’t heard anymore new news; I’ve been at the small Pemberton Mall I haven’t seen any new businesses at all. It’s drying up. As for me I’m not interested in gambling.
    Another factor in play here is the subprime mortgate mess,realtors are telling thier customers about it. U know one of the realtors got on the radio,Live from Klondike and stated “don’t pay any attention to national news Vicksburg is booming.” It’s statement I’ve disagreed with. Another fact city and county hasn’t moved up in US Census population. It’s ranked at 14. So what does that tell someone. Factor in the high prices in gas and real estate and commercial real estate as well.
    Also I’m tired of hearing that opinion that Dave gives how come we don’t appreciate it. Well all of us have our resaons. I’m not into civil war becouse the subject historically is so BORING.
    The wealthy oligarchy here is what destroyed this city in my opinion. One more thing did u know that one of them kept out Standard Oil of New Jersey? Wealthy good ole boys networks have lost thier place in 21st Century business.

  22. Yes, Chuck, I well remember the wealthy owned businesses who blocked competition from coming to Vicksburg because it would mean losing part of their income. That is exactly what I meant about the wealthy not caring about this city. They enjoyed their lifestyle as it was and didn’t want newcomers in.

    The casinos came and that started changing. You can at least thank the casinos for that, even if you don’t gamble and neither do I. And, they did offer some good paying positions which we didn’t have here before. But, the highest paid people in administration chose to live in Clinton or Edwards…not Vicksburg. Now, why do you suppose they chose that?

    It is just not Vicksburgers that see something very wrong in this city…it is new people who come in and immediately see things they don’t like and choose to live elsewhere. I can tell you some of the reasons. It is the city and county administrations for one thing. They have small town ideas and they either don’t know how to progress or they are afraid to. I think “Afraid of my Government” hit the nail on the head about the leader in the county, Richard George, “he simply does not embrace any forward thinking ideas. The board has no vision for the future or any desire to improve and it is lead under Mr. George. Good Sir, you are stuck on the mundane and minimal”. I think we need a new county Board of Supervisors OR the ones on there need to wake up and select a new leader. I am voting for Carl Flanders as he is the only one who seems to have the courage to stand up against Mr. George, even though the others continually vote him down.

    I do think Mr. Leyens has done some things to improve Vicksburg, especially in the landscaping department and cleaning up vacant buildings or lots…just not the Thomas Building, for some unknown reason.

    I called City Hall a couple of years ago and suggested we put hanging baskets of flowers on the lightpoles in the downtown area, as they are in Gatlinburg, TN, to make downtown Vicksburg more appealing. I was asked by the secretary as she laughed at my suggestion, “And just how long do you think they would last before someone stole them?” I replied, “Then we must need more patrolmen in the area”. It wasn’t long and the baskets were hung, much to my surprise…probably not because of my suggestion because it probably never went past her, but more likely, the landscapers. But, there again is the “mentality” of people stuck in their way of thinking.

    These big business people come in here and see empty buildings, bad roads, and buildings that have either fallen down or should have been cleaned up or knocked down and wonder why it is allowed. They don’t want to live her. They see a half empty mall, very small downtown area with much of the same type shops and frontage roads full of car dealerships which are not selling cars because prices are so high that people go elsewhere to buy them. Of course they are not going to live here. What do we have to offer them?

    I don’t know the answers. I wish I did. Maybe Wayne Mansfield being the new executive director of the port and industrial development operations will bring in new ideas. At the very least, I hope he comes up with an idea to save the Ceres Plantation House. That is another can of worms that our County messed up on! The Fant Nursery was forced to leave a thriving business and the family had to leave Warren County to open a new business in another state. Talk about mentality? It went right out the door!

  23. Smitty, in response to your above post “Well David, here is your answer” let me say your ideas are well thought out and I respect your point of view.

    The wealthy who once held a vice grip on Vicksburg are no longer in possession of the city. The Leyens administration changed all of that and he certainly is taking the personal hits because of it. Just like the story last week about ‘King Laurence’. When you read the story the mayor appears arrogant and totally out of control. His version of events is different and he says he was quoted out of context. All I will say on that topic is the paper has misquoted me EVERY TIME. Also, why didn’t the paper report that the second largest bond issue in the cities history went through on that same day. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

    As far as me being one of the fortunate ones…I wish. I grew up very poor, sometimes with not enough to eat. I have been able to put my family in a position to live better than that, but if I had as much money as people think I do, well, you understand. Being a business owner doesn’t mean you are wealthy, it means you work a lot and have to watch finances very closely. Ask any business owner. A few years ago I went through a nasty divorce and was flat broke again, at age 42. What we have been able to do since then is a combined effort, using all of our accumulated knowledge and we work 60 hours a week, on a good week. Vacations, enjoyment of wealth and freedom are still dreams that we strive to achieve and hope to provide for our children.

    We understand the demographics of Vicksburg very well. 80% of our population is under the poverty line. A third of that group are more than 200% under the poverty line. That means as a business owner you have a limited market with discretionary income to target or you have to provide goods at a cut-rate price to get any meaningful traffic counts. The labor pool is undisciplined and you have to use all of your ‘people skills’ to develop an employee – in essence it is better to keep a known evil than hire an unknown evil.

    In my line of business we are happily involved with all aspects of our local community. The high business failure rate in this town is due to not understanding the limited market, under-capitalization of the business to sustain itself for the number of years it takes to become known and poor response time to market wants.

    Certainly there is an element of our community that wants to maintain their wealth. Who doesn’t? If they are doing that at the cost of the rest of the community is the point of contention. More importantly is what are you or I doing to make things better? It is easy to throw stones at the successful, but we should look at ourselves first.

    We are committed to community involvement and doing whatever we can to make Vicksburg a better place. I am at my business some days for 17 hours to ensure that we provide the best product and service in our ability. We are constantly looking at new opportunities and by nature we are friendly to everyone, wealthy or not. We have met wealthy people in this town that we do not associate with because their character is less than pleasant. The same thought process applies with the less wealthy people we have met. The one constant is that people are people regardless of their income and everyone deserves respect.

    I hope I have provided you with enough background info to understand we are not the elite. We are working people striving to make a better life in this community, make our community a better place and create a greater future for our children. Those are my priorities.

    Smitty, I would love to buy you a drink and chat sometime, you sound a like the type of person I enjoy being around.

  24. David u must understand something about Vicksburg. First it’s one horse town. I believe that’s perception that is still around. Here’s another fact: when the Army Corps was downtown,when corps employees got payraises,the seflish downtowners raised thier prices. And not to long ago Trustmark when it was FNB also played some games with the Corps of Engineers with thier checks. Just ask around. U see there’s still a perception of a good ole boy nature around town. I belive that perception has gone outside this town as well. Becouse it’s thier kids now in charge and they’re thinking like their parents do. It’s these sort games in my opinion that corporations don’t like doing business with. Just ask around about this town’s business history and the senior citizens will tell you.
    I can tell you though I’m suspiocious of the Post. I wonder if they have an agenda against the mayor. If so the Cashman have major issues. Becouse I can tell the post is dropping in circulation. It has been since 1984. Listen in today’s business climate one horse towns like this can’t survive. There’s a lot information and choices out there.

  25. Great post, David. You make a lot of sense and I certainly respect where you have come from and what you have achieved. My hat is off to you!

    I wish you well in your business and have no doubt that you will be successful. You certainly have the attitude and aptitude for it.

    I, however, don’t give the Leyen’s Administration as much credit as you do. Things were changing before he got in…about the time the casinos started coming. And as for Leyens, he “is” arrogant and always has been, even as a child! He was spoiled rotten and he still thinks he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to. I have seen how he acts and how he talks to people with litle or no respect. There is no excuse for that.
    I will quote you, “The one constant is that people are people regardless of their income and everyone deserves respect.”

    So, we will just have to agree to disagree on these issues, remain friends and respect each other’s viewpoints.


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