OPINION: Unresolved issues, unanswered questions for city, state leaders

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A pothole on Cooperwell Drive in South Jackson

Periodically, we raise questions that need and deserve answers but are not addressed. Presently on the minds of many Jackson citizens is who will be responsible for garbage collection in the long run; when will their crumbling streets be addressed by the city; and will there be any relief in their water bills?

These are truly important matters that need to be addressed and done so sooner rather than later. What we address here, however, are three other issues about which we have written but received no answers. There will be even more to which we will return as time passes.

More than three years ago, Jackson’s city council voted to remove the statue of Andrew Jackson from the grounds of City Hall. We have made individual inquiries about the failure to act on the matter. We had written at least one article seeking the same information. In neither case has there been a definitive answer. On one occasion, the mayor indicated that there was some problem with the contractor who was engaged to do the work. That response, nevertheless, was more than a year ago.

We realize that the matter of removing Andrew Jackson from his place of prominence may not be a major priority, but it is a matter of faithfully executing the law that is on the books. It does not require much action to get it done. 

In the absence of some action or definitive answer, one wonders if there has been reluctance because such action would stir the opposition of powerful politicians. If that has been the case, it seems now that the most powerful of politicians are staunchly opposed to Jackson’s city government for other reasons. Therefore, the mayor may as well carry out the Andrew Jackson removal because he is already under the gun of the governor and other Republican leaders.

Secondly, in January of this year, in an open letter, we raised questions regarding the future of Jackson’s water and sewage system, but received no response from the administration nor Edward “Ted” Henifin, who has been appointed by the federal government to oversee the water system.

The questions which we raised were very specific and designed to give greater assurance to citizens and business customers in the city. We wanted answers to the following: (1) Have the city’s water plants been brought up to standards? If not, how much more time and money is needed to bring them to standard? (2) If the major problem now is one of distribution and fixing or replacing the pipes that traverse the city, how much time and money will that require? (3) Have the pipes that need replacing been identified? If not, how long will that take?

To our dismay, not only have the questions apparently fallen on deaf ears, the writer was not even able to get the address to Henifin’s office from the city so that a conversation could be had or the letter personally delivered. Yet, these are legitimate questions to which straight-forward answers should be given to the citizens of Jackson.

Finally, we will end with an inquiry that needs to be answered by another governmental entity, the college board. Once the Jackson State University Faculty Senate communicated its vote of no confidence in the Thomas Hudson administration, Board President Tom Duff indicated that Commissioner Alfred Rankins would investigate the matter. When contacted about the matter, however, Rankins said that matters of shared governance do not fall under his purview.

Frankly, we were not surprised at this turn of events. It simply shows how many government entities, especially the college board, never plan to be transparent or accountable. Nevertheless, we will continue to put the people’s questions to them for answers and report when there are no responses.

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OPINION: Unresolved issues, unanswered questions for city, state leaders

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
March 7, 2023