It’s time for the foolishness to end. At least that’s what Pine Bluff City Council member Bill Brumett thinks with regard to the stalemate created by three of his peers on the council: Thelma Walker; George Stepps and Glen Brown. Yet again the three failed to show at the recent town hall meeting organized by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth. Brumett voiced his displeasure at the three empty chairs.
He should be displeased. In fact we all should be displeased that the members of this triumvirate lack the character to face the people who pay their salary. For those keeping count, this makes the fourth straight meeting they have refused to attend.
Of course Brumett himself has made a miscalculation in calling out Stepps, Walker and Brown. He assumes that they have sufficient conscience, professionalism or respect in order to be goaded into doing what’s right. They apparently do not.
Since these three malcontents have rebuked their obligation to attend these meetings, we can only speculate as to their motives for repeatedly doing so.
Walker always seems to have a work-related excuse. Maybe that means she doesn’t have time to serve as an elected official. Maybe the voters should help her with her calendar.
Then there’s Stepps. One would think that a person with his seniority on the council would have some interest in attending, but he might risk having to hear something other than the drumbeat of the department head residency mantra that he’s using to blunt progress.
Then there’s Brown. Perhaps it’s best that he not attend. He might be required to sit quietly and pay attention.
The validity of those theories aside, there’s a much more certain elephant in the room — even if they’re not. That elephant is the fact that they are the last vestiges of an old order that the public is attempting to get beyond. (For reference: See landslide victory for Mayor Debe Hollingsworth over the most recent incumbent in particular.)
The old order liked ad hoc rules, self-serving public policy and sacred cows. The old order ran the government for the benefit of those in government, not the governed.
Instead of focusing on the future, these three are anchored to a past — a past that only served to give Pine Bluff all the problems that a few fresh faces are now trying to fix. They offer no new solutions. They only proffer old animosities and dead ideas. When they do perk up, it’s more often than not for the purpose of a time-eating diatribe.
We’ve opined before that these three who are perpetually absent from the town hall meetings can disagree with Mayor Hollingsworth all they want, but it is their constituents that they are disrespecting when they are no-shows.
Frankly, their absence may be an inadvertent act of public service. While they think they’re spiting Hollingsworth and the other more amenable members of the council, they’re actually just showing how unnecessary they are. Pretty soon, their constituents may reach similar conclusions.