Sunday, October 04, 2009

An Open Letter to Alderwoman Arceneaux-Mathis

This letter was sent to Alderwoman Arceneaux-Mathis by Tom Scarborough, but he never received a response. It is published here by permission.

Dear Ms Arceneaux-Mathis:

I am writing to you today to express my deep unhappiness with the decision of the mayor and Board of Aldermen to terminate John "Rusty" Lewis as the City Planner. Mr. Lewis is one of the few individuals in city government I regard as having been highly competent in discharging the responsibilities of his job. You and your fellow aldermen have repeatedly demonstrated your disregard for the city's planning and preservation ordinances, but eliminating the entire Planning department takes your collective irresponsibility to new and breathtaking levels. Your personal animosity towards Mr. Lewis (and towards Ms. Brinegar) is no secret, and it is transparently obvious that this has little to do with city budget concerns. This is purely personal and political, a hallmark of your tenure as the alderman for our ward.

If you and the other aldermen are serious about cutting city expenses, may I suggest that you begin by reducing your own part-time salaries to $12,000 per year--roughly what aldermen in Ocean Springs and Brookhaven are earning. That would be a savings of nearly $60,000 per year, which could be used to pay Mr. Lewis' salary, with money left over. Then I would suggest eliminating Darlene Jones' position as head of Community Development, saving the city $38,000 per year. I see very little in the way of tangible results coming from that position that would justify funding her position, but eliminating Mr. Lewis'. I realize this would demand setting aside your racial biases and petty personal animosities, and putting the needs of the city ahead of personal agendas, but that is what responsible leaders do in times of crisis--and Natchez is indeed in a state of crisis.

I moved to Natchez in 2005 from California. I am a registered Democrat, a progressive-minded liberal and, now, a deeply concerned city tax-payer and constituent of yours. For the four years I have lived in your ward, I have watched with growing dismay as you have wallowed in the politics of race, wasted city money on your "lobbying" excursions to DC, and further polarized the people of Natchez. And now you have used our current budget crisis to go after two highly competent department heads towards whom you have held a personal grudge. Please know that should you decide to run for reelection, I will contribute to the limits of my voluntary time and my wallet to whomever your opponent happens to be.

Tom Scarborough

UPDATE: He sent a similar letter to the Editor of the Natchez Democrat.

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