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Do’s and don’ts for local politics

After listening to some of the community’s reaction to the news the last couple of weeks, I have come to the conclusion some of us are missing the bull’s-eye.

I’m really not even sure we’re hitting on paper, or even shooting in a safe direction to begin with.

Taxpayers are concerned about the Lincoln County School District and there’s sharp discussion going on about the proposal to build a $1.9 million sports facility for football and soccer at Loyd Star. Folks out in the county are also serious about the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors and their invitation for ASAP Ambulance Service to make a presentation to the board about their ability to provide emergency medical service. And, of course, people are downright passionate about Wayne Wallace’s 10 Commandments sign and the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen’s insistence — though it’s a weak insistence — he move it back off the right-of-way.

Like, Holy Ghost swinging a sword on horseback passionate.

And that’s all good, great even. As a newspaper, our top priority is to provide the community with facts about what elected and community leaders are doing and let voters be the judge. That answer’s going to be the same every time, no matter how many easily-offended people ask “why is this news” when they see something they don’t agree with, or how many keepers of the sacred cows grow incredulous when we cook up the beef.

The last thing a community needs is lethargy in the voting bloc, so it’s encouraging to see this passion come out — by all means, show up to the school board vote at 5 p.m. Monday at the State Room and observe your board in action. File on into the supervisors’ meeting room in the courthouse and take notes on how a government operates. Do whatever you feel led to do about billboards.

But do it for the right reasons.

DO let your voice be heard at the school board if your objection to Loyd Star getting a new sports facility is based on your belief the board is prioritizing sports over education, or if you’re miffed that you had to pay more taxes for the school budget in 2017 while the board was sitting on close to $7 million in a construction fund they keep off the budget sheets. Let the righteousness flow through you.

DO NOT go in there and act a fool because Loyd Star is getting something nice and you think your school isn’t. Historically, the school board has been fair about dumping cash around the district’s four campuses, and they’ll still have close to $5 million remaining after this — it’s not the last cheese stick on the table. And yes, the $2.5 million gym at Enterprise still counts as an expense, no matter how much you say you needed it (if it was such a need because the cafeteria was too crowded, why didn’t y’all just build a new cafeteria?).

DO scowl and appear less-than-pleased at county supervisors if you believe contracting with ASAP Ambulance Service will save a few dollars on the budget while degrading the quality of emergency medical responses in Lincoln County. Cheaper isn’t always better.

DO NOT get all mad because you owe fealty to King’s Daughters Medical Center, who — by the way — isn’t going anywhere, has the resources to operate unthreatened by three competing ambulances and probably wouldn’t shut down their ambulance service anyway. That helicopter is doing work a truck can’t do. Also, supervisors should be commended for exploring all options available to them, not chastised. Something like 156 percent of Lincoln County votes reliably Republican, so I know y’all believe wholeheartedly that competition is good for business. Now, live that belief.

DO insist Wayne Wallace move his 10 Commandments signage back off the roadside and onto metal supports that meet city sign ordinance requirements, if you’re a believer in law and order.

DO NOT do anything else. Sorry, I don’t have a middle ground here. The signs are out of code, we all know they’re out of code, and we all know the issue is about the law, not about the persecution of Christians, which happens in Africa, but not in Southwest Mississippi.

Folks have the right idea about caring and getting involved in their local governments. We just all need to follow the advice of my late grandfather-in-law, Dan Weeks, who used to tap his temple with an index finger and say, “Think, son, think.”

Managing editor Adam Northam can be contacted at adam.northam@dailyleader.com.