Mistaken mission perverts priorities


We’ve really come to appreciate the consistency that certain members of the Pine Bluff City Council bring to local government. The predictability of their actions and commentary has risen to such an artful peak, we hardly need to wait for them to say or do anything.

We feel a little like the late comedian, Johnny Carson’s, character Carnac the Magnificent — we pretty well know the contents of the proverbial envelope without even opening it.

The primary example of their tact can be found in the relationship they’ve developed with incumbent Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth. Whatever she’s for, they’re against it. No matter the topic, they seem to find an opposing toehold. Their voting record confirms this. Their attitudes and reactions compound it.

This situation would be humorous if it didn’t negatively impact every single person in the community. As such, it’s anything but laughable. It’s certainly not laudable or productive.

Elevating their game to the next level, Aldermen Thelma Walker and Glen Brown recently castigated Hollingsworth for a weeklong trip to Honduras to help the critically impoverished people of that Middle American nation. Apparently, they believe the mayor shouldn’t leave the city.

One of the most interesting things to come out of this non-issue was Brown’s apparent expertise on the city’s vacation and leave policy.

Characterizing the trip as a “vacation,” Brown told the Commercial, “I don’t know how you get a week off after just six months on the job..

“You’re supposed to be in a (city) job for a year before you can even take a vacation. Maybe she made some sort of arrangements to where her time off last week will be retro to her future time, I don’t know. However she wants to spend her vacation is up to her, but I think she needs to follow the same rules everyone else has to.”

To interrogate his “vacation” characterization a little more, some background on the trip and the country is in order. By her report, the mayor slept in a tent and sweated a lot. If one knows anything about Honduras, this was hardly a happy-go-lucky camping trip.

According to the World Health Organization the nation has persistent epidemics of H1N1 influenza and dengue fever. It’s also wracked by terrible violence and corruption. The mayor probably didn’t spend much time in gift shops.

Walker’s response was hardly better as she asked a reporter, “Who’s in charge when the mayor’s away?”

As it turns out, it’s Alderman Bill Brumett, the senior member of the council. Just as it was Irene Holcomb when she filled in for former mayor Carl Redus Jr.

While we know that the mayor’s trip could elicit “charity begins at home” type remarks, it’s not as if she hasn’t done a lot of that as well. As she properly indicated, even the worst of us has it better than many people in places like Honduras.

The mayor went on to suggest that folks like Walker and Brown ought to give this kind of remote mission work a try. We agree. It might do them good to see a nation whose leaders don’t have the luxury of pedantic nitpicking.