Now we know why city ducked the robbery issue for as long as possible
Nov. 21, 2001
Finally, the truth can be told. The administration of Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith did not want you to know that the rate of robberies in the city has spiraled upward over the past year.
He did not want you to know because the facts fly in the face of his comments that Meridian is the "safest city" in Mississippi.
He did not want you to know because the facts put him in the uncomfortable position of having to face reality.
The city also thumbed its nose at the state's Public Records Act by failing to provide information within the time frame allowed by state law. City officials broke the law; unfortunately, there is no penalty under the state's weak statutes except perhaps in the court of public opinion.
The Meridian Star jumped through the hoops set up by the city to obtain the information that showed, by the city's own count, more robberies have been committed in Meridian so far into 2001 than were committed in all of last year. As a result of stories and news analysis published in the newspaper's edition of Sunday, Oct. 28, Meridian residents are better informed. They know the streets of this city can be dangerous and they are learning that some precautions are necessary.
What else have we learned from this episode?
For one thing, we've learned that city officials often lose sight of the value of factual information and ignore its timely disclosure. Fortunately, people in this community are here to remind them that truth is a fundamental element in building a better quality of life.
Are city officials really too busy to worry about declining population, crumbling city streets, vacant buildings on virtually every block in the central business district, or abandoned, fire-gutted and dilapidated houses on lots overgrown with trash and weeds?
People in this community are here to remind them that their obligations transcend politics and petty personal differences.
They seem very busy trying to tear down those who disagree with them, including this newspaper and professional people who work for it. People in this community are here to remind their daily newspaper that it must not duck its responsibility to gather facts and report them to our readers in a straightforward manner.
All too often, some city officials are too often engaged in behavior that is either incompetent or deliberately deceptive, and what should worry them now is that the public is beginning to notice.