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Story Archives: Johnson's first week: Home run or foul ball?
|Johnson's first week: Home run or foul ball?|
First, you should always give credit where credit is due and cheers should resound for Winnsboro Mayor Jackie Johnson for stepping up to the plate during the first week of his administration and knocking the animal shelter debacle out of the park with a home run plan.
I got a tour of the state-of-the-art animal kennels that Johnson wants the city to invest in to help get Winnsboro out of hot water over treatment of the holding pens off Robinson Road and I was impressed.
The seller wants $14,000 for the facility —about $10,000 less than it would cost to buy them from the Missouri-based supplier and transport them to Winnsboro—and the city would do well to make the investment.
Johnson said the money could come out of $90,000 budgeted by the city for administrative costs or, possibly, the new budget could be amended to pay for the plan.
Most likely funding would come from money slated for capital outlay.
Regardless, something has to be done and Johnson's solution, which can be read in greater detail on the front page of this weeks Franklin Sun, is the best I have seen.
Winnsboro officials are already under a criminal investigation over the despicable treatment of dogs at the shelter and Johnson made a promise before taking office that fixing problems with the animal shelter would be a "very, very high priority" for him.
He is keeping that promise and he should be commended for doing so.
It seems like a shame to cloud this positive editorial with negativity, but—keeping with the baseball analogy that began this column—I have to call a foul ball on the double play public hearing over the $30 million Community Development Block Grant money.
To qualify for a share of the money, Winnsboro was required to hold a public hearing so that residents can give their input on how they think the money, if granted, should be spent.
The hearing notice was published weeks ago in the Franklin Sun and set the meeting for July 8.
The meeting did take place on July 8, but Johnson was a no-show.
Instead, he called his own public hearing for July 7.
A cynic, or former Alaskan governors, might characterize what Johnson did as "going rogue."
Kendal Mcgee, the grant writer, and other principles from consulting firm Frye, Mcgee and Associates, weren't at the July meeting. Sonny Dumas was the only councilman present.
To make matters worse, Johnson said he informed the public of the hearing by "word of mouth."
What the mayor essentially did was send his administrative assistants and other city workers out to spread the word.
To say the least, those at the public hearing didn't represent a broad cross-section of Winnsboro's residents.
The whole thing smacks of cherry-picking who had a voice in deciding what type infrastructure should be slated for the proposed grant money.
Since there was no quorum present, Johnson didn't break the law, but the whole thing seemed to come out of left field and doesn't look good.
Johnson has issued an apology and explanation for the duel hearing that can be found on this page 5A of this week's Sun and you can make the call.
Thus is the story of Winnsboro's new mayor's first week in office. It started on a high note and ended, somewhat, in confusion.
It's important for Winnsboro residents to give Johnson every benefit of the doubt as he steps up to bat as Winnsboro's rookie mayor.
It's likewise important for Johnson to keep his eye on the ball if he expects to bat a thousand at his new job.