Mayor Leyens…above the law?

A front-page article in the Post Wednesday revealed that our mayor has made exterior modifications to a building he owns without going through the approval process that is required of every other citizen. An awning was added to the building at 1619 Walnut Street several weeks ago after Leyens paid an $11 fee and obtained “approval” from Paula Wright of the Planning Department. Wright has since denied she gave Leyens approval, stating that only the Board of Architectural Review has that authority.

 

Leyens visited with the members of the Board of Architectural Review Tuesday, insisting that the meeting not be called to order nor the channel 23 cameras be turned on, because, in his words, “I’m kind of tired of the public knowing all my personal business.” He afterwards stated, “I went to go see them today because I think the process is important. That board has no authority. I could dismiss that board tomorrow and it’s gone.” Members of the board afterward indicated that they have not voted on or given approval for any modifications to the mayor’s building.

 

Leyens has bought, renovated, and sold several buildings in the downtown historic district since he has been in office. And this is not the first time he has disregarded city codes and ordinances. During the renovation of 1208 Washington Street (the Audubon Society now leases the building’s first floor), Leyens installed aluminum frame windows throughout the building despite the requirement that the materials be wood or vinyl. The discrepancy was brought to the BAR’s attention, but no action was taken. There are rumors of similar and other misconduct as well which will not be repeated unless substantiated.

 

As you may recall, Leyens stated during the controversy over fireman Montgomery’s letter-to-the-editor that he wanted to modify the law regarding such “political activity” because it did not support his interpretation of it. In the present disagreement he has not only ignored the law, but has threatened to abolish the Board of Architectural review, the enforcing body for these city ordinances. This type of arrogance and abuse of power are what we might expect from the leaders of Cuba or Venezuela… but here, in Vicksburg, Mississippi?

 

Your comments are invited.

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Published in: on September 13, 2007 at 3:06 pm  Comments (19)  

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A statement like “I’m kind tired of the public knowing my personnel business.” Well just becouse you come a from a wealthy mercantile family that still doesn’t give one the right to skirt the rules. Or throw any sort of excuses. It’s these kind of statements that opens the door for crticism which is in the public right. And public officals are accountable to their voters. Like what are you going to do about that eyesore that is the Thomas Bldg which is now in letigation? What possiple secrets linger there as well?

  2. Amen, Chuck

  3. I have always sort of enjoyed Leyens comments and have admired what he has done for the city in MANY positive ways. However, this latest incident, if true as reported, is over the line. Many of the quotes are “over the top”. The one about the public knowing his private business…well an awning over the public sidewalk is hardly “private business”. “I can desolve the board”…does that mean he could desolve any thing he wanted without votes from Alderman? Why not desolve their positions and then his DICTATORSHIP would be official. If these comments are true, I think our Mayor needs “professional help”.

  4. When rumors are perpetuated here, it is just plain irresponsible. I’m not privy to this topic, but once again I see unsubstantiated subject matter being posted that sufficiently bashes when it may not even be a legitimate claim.

    When you discuss solid facts instead of hearsay, gossip, and rumors, let me know. Until that time, please remove me from your mailing list.

    Thanks.
    J. Lamb
    6th Generation Vicksburg

  5. Reply to Mr. Lamb: Every statement made by VS in the initial topic posting can be backed up by solid fact. As far as the subsequent posts, any individual may exercise his or her first amendment right to say whatever he or she wants, fact or not.

    You, too, have first amendment rights, Mr. Lamb. You may question the credibility of any statement made on VS, and even accuse VS of prejudice, as you did when you claimed VS was guilty of a smear campaign against DA Gil Martin.

    Rather than casting aspersions on the quality of this blog, you might instead offer meaningful contributions. If you have factual knowledge relative to this topic or others, please share it. If you don’t, then please allow others to have their say without accusing them of slander or worse.

    Your request to have your email removed from our mailing list has been honored.

  6. J. Lamb u hit it right on the button. This has been this town’s real weakness. It constantly thrives on rumor and gossip,disinformation to hide the truth. I even suspect now the Vicksburg Post has issues with Mayor Leyens in the way they report thier stories. One fact I can tell you the Vicksburg Evening Post circulation has dropped.
    I’ve heard of lot of stories of the Mayor Leyens personality too. Since he’s a public offical he should come out and be honest with his constituents. Becouse coverup is worst than the crime.

  7. Very good letter-to-the-editor and editorial opinion in Sunday’s Vicksburg Post regarding this subject.

  8. Yes there was I read it too. I have a feeling this isn’t over yet.

  9. You know, that explains the sour look on his face in home depot this morning. I think he needs to move out away from his repair of Washington and Clay. Sure this really is nice and easy on the thousands of tourists’ car suspension. Move into our neighborhoods and work on these streets with the pot holes and worn out markings.Do something to help the people of Vicksburg, not just the value of the properties you keep buying and selling.Get your hands out of our pockets and put them to work for US, please Mayor Leyans!
    Do you think i give two shakes about the brick on Washington? yes it is nice but then you make all the parking space parallel. noone in this town care about parallel parking where are all the parking spaces of years past. dont believe me go down town on any given day and watch the people of this town try and park their car.Mayor leyans please spend our tax dollars as if they were ours and not yours. wait they are ours, and we trusted you to spend them to better our communitey. maybe we can find someone else to put our trust in next time around.

  10. What has been interesting for my perspective. Has been this: all of sudden everyone is quiet about a new cinema coming. No,kidding. No news in the paper or anything. Now why are they all of sudden quiet in the city about this? U know some people have asked me why doesn’t a city this size doesn’t have a movie cinema. All of sudden we here news of an investor interested. Have theses cinema investors pulled out?
    As for retail growth I haven’t seen any at all. All I see is vacant bldgs and lease lots at the mall. What about Starbucks are they going to pull out too? I suspect they will.

  11. It is SO time for a new topic, Vicksburg Speaks people!! We can revisit this one at a later date, can’t we?

  12. Tricia, my tiny noggin has a hard time coming up with new topics, and there ain’t enough hours in the day for all I gotta do anyway. I would love it if you would suggest one… better yet, suggest one and write it up, even if it’s not polished… and I’ll publish it pronto. Same goes for David, Smitty, Debbie, C H Wilson, Afraid of My Government, Chuck, J K Day, J L Lamb, etc., etc. Send it to the email link shown on VS site. Thanks so much for your interest and your pithy comments. VS

  13. Well, I think that is a good topic that you came up with, VS! As for my pithy comments, I will just have to remember,”no bloviating”, that can your job!!!
    Or Bill O’Reilly’s!!!!!

  14. Tricia I like reading your comments

  15. The Post indicated yesterday that Leyens’ awning was unanimously approved (retroactively) by the Board of Architectural Review. I wish I had been at the meeting. I wonder if Leyens’ statement that his remarks concerning the board having no authority were taken out of context soothed any feelings? Seems entirely possible to me that the board members are just a bunch of wimps.

  16. I am new to this forum but have enjoyed your comments. Someone mentioned wanting a new topic? How about one regarding something that an entire family can do together? I wrote a letter to the mayor requesting his input on this topic and have yet to hear back from him? Surprised? No, not really. My thoughts on this is that although, I don’t mind all the casinos here in V’burg b/c they bring us jobs. I do have a problem with the fact that we are getting a new casino which is bringing in another golfcourse. We already have 2. Why do we need more? We need some recreation that an entire family can afford. Anyone remember Funtricity at Rainbow? If it was properly managed it would not have closed. It was not b/c the public didn’t like it, but poor management. We have all these empty buildings but nothing different for families to do together. Who wants to drive to Jackson all the time, especially with gas the way it is?

  17. I lived in Vicksburg for 20 years and continue to visit and follow events in the town. I have been very concerned about the Leyens administration for several reasons. First, I believe he has a conflict of interest because he is a real estate investor and renovator who has power over the city agencies regulating his activities. As the head of city government, he has a huge insider advantage in buying and selling properties. Second, I believe he is using the city government and city funds to promote his personal interest in raising downtown property values. I fear that after he is gone from office, Leyens will leave Vicksburgers with a big bill to pay for his program of so-called Urban Renewal. Government should not be an agent and patron of business interests, as it is now in Vicksburg.

  18. You have stated, in more accurate terms, Mr. Hood, what we who live here in Vicksburg have recognized and decried for years. Mayor Leyens is not the sort of person to allow integrity to stand in the way of his quests for profit or ego trip.

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