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Letters to the editor

June 1, 2005

Troubled by county commission

To the editor:

2005 has been and continues to be a very troubling year in the life of our county. It has been marked by violence and political unrest. The foundation for this violence and unrest was established during the previous Commission watch of Virginia Gray, Carl Rhodenizer and Charlie Griswell. It was these three Commissioners who sat by and voted on public policy that created the conditions that we are facing today. This community needs more leadership on the County Commission. As anxiety fills the air, as parents grow more fearful and as our children are being killed, those of us that care are collectively asking two questions. Where is the leadership on the County Commission? When will these three Commissioners become a part of the solution rather than the problem?

The first question has been answered by recent events in County Commission meetings. The lone bright spot on the Commission has been Wole Ralph. He is bright, articulate and is emerging as a voice of reason. He is right on the recreation centers. He is right on housing and commercial development. He is definitely right on ethics. The second question begs for an answer as Commissioners Gray, Rhodenizer and Griswell continue their unwavering support for positions taken by a man who came into the Chairman's job uninformed and unprepared to lead this County. We call on them to repudiate the Chairman's politics of division. Everything that Commissioner Wole Ralph proposes does not warrant a 4 to 1 vote against it.

Historically, the County Commission has been looked to for leadership. However, it is clear that this Chairman is woefully ill-prepared for the task. The one thing that he has successfully done to alienate many of the other elected officials whose support is needed to address the problems of this community. His actions have made cooperation and collaboration more difficult (witness the myriad of "task forces" being created).

Whether Bell likes it or not, Victor Hill is the Sheriff, Jewel Scott is the District Attorney and Leslie Miller-Terry is the Solicitor General. As a community, now more than ever, we need Virginia Gray, her close friend Charlie Griswell and Carl Rhodenizer to step up to the leadership table. Are they up to the task, or will this County continue to suffer?

Stanley Byars

Jonesboro

To the editor:

Reference High Sheriff Victor Hill's letter to the Editor of May 27

Mr. Hill has furnished a treatise citing the State Constitution authority covering the duties of Sheriff. It is both informative and appreciated. However, that was not the subject of debate. My complaint has been the duplicity of service which is not the most efficient usage of my tax dollar. In addition, archaic laws dating back to Reconstruction need to be revisited and updated.

He and I have discussed this matter several times over the years and I have not changed my opinion that an elected Board of Commissioners should supervise the chief law enforcement officer of a county. I am not concerned whether his/ her title is Sheriff, Chief or Marshal. I want that chief law enforcement officer subject to a Board of Review. I demand my "... right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances" as provided in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Mr. Hill's interpretation of the provision would make a Sheriff autonomous and not subject to any remedy or redress.

An elected public servant, without supervision, ultimately leads to demagoguery. Several southern sheriffs displayed that fact during the Civil Rights Era.

Oh, by the way, with regard to my friend's comment that I am wrong, I grew up with the most famous demagogues South Louisiana has ever seen. I know what I'm talking about.

Bottom line, we deserve the most efficient government our tax dollar can provide, and our officials answerable to the citizenry without exception.

We'll talk about required qualifications some other time.

JOHN A. SILBERNAGEL

Jonesboro