This post contains facts, two audio files and OPINION.
The City meeting on November 8 lasted for well more than an hour. You have likely already seen the post on the 10-plus minute debate between Ed Seals and the mayor that came out of it (here).
This is a few minutes from that meeting leading up to the debate. In this clip, the mayor is notably calm, and on the surface he’s appealing for unity. There’s much subtext underneath his monologue, however, but lets listen first.
The mayor is correct in that unity is the key to a better Clarksdale. It always has been, and that unity, or a consistency of it over time, if you will, has also always been elusive as well. Even considering ace, and economic conditions, we are a cliquish and turf defined lot, all of us! It is we that mark the boundaries of our separation, and that space between us. Coupled with the unwillingness to transcend it, this is the root of Clarksdale dysfunction.
The mayor’s position is that unity comes from him and all of the City Commissioners “being on the same page.” Like “transparency,” this is also a constant term, like a refrain, used in this City administration. While being of consistent mind and message is most often a very good thing indeed, one has to be on watch that “same page” does not cross over into a didactic corral for a demanded single point of view. Dogmatism and pedantry is not unity.
One thing that is behind the mayor’s monologue, and thus much of the unity and same page talk, is some of the Commissioners reaching out to various professional resources for input on Clarksdale issues. This occurred previously when Commissioner Plunk reached out to multiple attorneys for opinion on the City’s use of urban renewal bonds to fund the mayor’s sports complex project. This resulted in a heated City Board meeting some months back, where another favorite City term, “stay in your lane” was trumpeted (it is also appears in the above monologue as well). Both Commissioner Turner and the mayor took exception to Plunk’s action. Plunk’s position was he works for the citizens of Clarksdale, and that his priority is for all of us, not for any particular one of us (being on the same unity page notwithstanding).
More recently, three City Commissioners have reached out to Oxford and Jackson entities for help on our Police Department issues. Again “stay in your lane” was Turner’s and the mayor’s reaction, and again the other Commissioners position was they work for us, not anyone else. This is the angst that is perhaps what is most behind the mayor’s monologue above.
There were about 15 people in the City meeting where these audio clips originated. Some thought the mayor’s opening speech, if you will (it lasted for almost 30 minutes), was inspiring, and the essence of great leadership. ClarksdaleNews assumes many of you will be of the same thought as well.
Others in the meeting felt this was yet another of the mayor’s mind numbing lectures (especially the part where he transcends the separation of church and state). “He’s just holding court again,” and “there he goes running for office again” were some other sentiments, and ClarksdaleNews also assumes some may have similar thought too.
ClarksdaleNews finds the tone of the clip above attractive, like this is the proper, most productive soundscape of how we should always talk to, and better yet, to reason with each other. The mayor is adept at taking on the role and demeanor of a polished politician. That is much what he seems to want the Clarksdale public to see. But we human beings, some of us anyway, really like it best when we are getting our way (where “same page” really means “my page”). We don’t like the startling surprise of being questioned, and we really don’t like it when we’re not getting our way. Often, this changes our tone and demeanor on a mercurial dime.
The quick clip below is the transition of the mayor’s polished politician’s tone into the heated debate with Commissioner Seals. Toward the end of the clip in the span of about 5 seconds, that tone changes from calm to bombast, and an appeal for unity, and our better nature, is lost yet again… until next time.
And in the meantime, Clarksdale dysfunction keeps on rolling along.