Greenwood Commonwealth. March 14, 2023.
Editorial: Legislature Wants To Gut ‘People Power’
The Mississippi Legislature has made it pretty obvious: It doesn’t really want to restore the citizens’ right to go around it.
If there’s to be an initiative law, according to the signals it is sending during the current legislative session, it wants to be able to restrict what issues can be put to a referendum; to be able to easily override whatever the people decide; and to make it nearly impossible to meet the signature requirements.
In essence, it wants an initiative law that is mostly a farce, one that would be so much more limited and difficult than the one that was thrown out two years ago by the state Supreme Court on a technicality.
One proposed major change to the process has merit. Instead of allowing the public to unilaterally alter the state constitution, as the old initiative process provided, the new process would restrict so-called “people power” to adopting new statutes. That’s a better system, making it easier for lawmakers to address problems that might have been unforeseen at the time an initiative was passed, rather than having to wait for another statewide vote.
Most everything else being proposed is a betrayal of what the public had a right to expect following the Supreme Court decision.
Mississippi’s previous initiative process was already plenty difficult. Only a handful of attempts over three decades were able to meet all the requirements to get on the ballot. There’s no good argument for making it even more rare.
Columbus Dispatch. March 10, 2023.
Editorial: Starkville’s race relations efforts conflict with Nichols’ insinuations
Race relations are not perfect in our nation. In fact, they are often very poor. This is true in Mississippi certainly, but true everywhere when white and Black citizens share spaces.
That’s why we were caught off-guard by Tuesday’s Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting when former Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols blasted the mayor and board for failing to proclaim February as Black History Month.
Nichols, speaking on behalf of the Starkvegas Juneteenth Committee for Unity, at first seemed conciliatory, saying he was disappointed that the board didn’t make the proclamation and that he was there only to work with the mayor and board so it would not happen again.
But the tone changed as Nichols warmed to the topic. “I’m telling anybody, it doesn’t matter what color you are, don’t vote for anybody who can’t respect you enough to acknowledge who you are,” Nichols said. “Do not vote for them if they can’t respect you enough to recognize Black History Month.”
Presumably, that would include not voting for the city’s two Black aldermen, Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn, who like their fellow board members never brought a proclamation for Black History Month.
Local governments of all sizes issue proclamations and resolutions from time to time, usually at the request of citizens or civic groups, churches, etc. Individual board members also make these requests. Perkins and Vaughn certainly had that opportunity.
Vaughn, for his part, acknowledged as much, telling The Dispatch later he felt “a little guilty” for not doing more.
By the time Nichols had sent a letter to the board of aldermen to request the city formally acknowledge Black History Month (on Feb. 24) the board had already concluded its regular meetings for that month.
We are inclined to view this as not some sort of statement made about the value Black History Month, but as an honest oversight.
From our perspective, relations between the Black and white citizens are on a pretty good footing in Starkville. Nowhere in the Golden Triangle will you find more Black and white children attending school together, which is extremely important in how children of both races grow to view race. That’s important.
We also note that the Unity Park, a county-owned property downtown which each year honors those who have made important contributions to civil rights in the city and county, stands as a wonderful example of how a city can honor Black history. Unity Park has enjoyed nothing but support from city and county government.
Interestingly, at the same board meeting Nichols address, the board passed a consent agenda item to provide $10,000 to produce a brochure that lists prominent civil rights sites in the city, another great way to help citizens connect with that important part of the city’s history.
Certainly, there may be occasions when the mayor and board are not as responsive as groups of citizens might prefer depending on the nature of what is brought to them. But we have observed no open hostility toward any of its citizens, groups of citizens or the causes they represent.
When February rolls around next year, we are certain someone will think to request the city proclaim the month as Black History Month.
It’s inconceivable to think the board would not unanimously and happily comply with that request.
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