Friday, March 6, 2009

Putting off Melton's Re-Trial

It's probably not possible, but part of me would like federal authorities to put off Frank Melton's retrial until after we elect a new mayor.

The city's been through so much the past few years, it might help if we put off the turmoil of a new trial until a time when Melton's no longer mayor. Of course, that assumes he won't win re-election, and with a field of as many as fifteen candidates anything is possible.

A lot of people were upset when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon to spare the country the damage of a presidential trial and conviction, but I've always thought his decision was wise. As much as I despise the crap Melton pulled while in office, a re-trial, conviction, and the turmoil of pulling him out of office leaving us with a gap of six months or more with no mayor or an acting mayor might be worse.

If possible, it might be better to see him somehow constrained from further illegal acts, but still in office until the natural end of his term, and once he's no longer mayor, I don't much care what happens to him.

The Next Mayor
So far I don't see a really outstanding choice among the contenders for Melton's seat. There's still time before the election for one of these guys to really distinguish himself though, so I'm holding out hope.

Whoever becomes our next mayor faces all the same challenges in place when Melton was elected, plus having to deal with the gang-like management structure Melton put in power. It's going to take some time and a lot of effort for the new mayor to clean that particular mess up and get some of these jokers out of power in the city's systems.

Jackson's next mayor will probably be black, but it could be a different experience than before. Electing a third black mayor is a very different from the first or second. For one thing, his race isn't nearly as big a deal as it once was and there won't be as many people who cast their vote or lend their support based just on the candidates race. There should be a feeling among the voters that getting the job done is now more important than race.

I'm holding out hope that the Obama presidency can provide a model to cities like Jackson of what a black-lead administration can be like. At the very least, a successful black president should give any newly-elected black mayor confidence none of his predecessors had.

There will still be conflicts over whether to spend money on the white side of town or the black side of town, but those definitions are changing to be more about class and income than race, and, although that's still not an ideal situation, it is improvement.

The nation is changing and Jackson is changing. I, for one, am hopeful, but we still have to shed ourselves of some of the mistakes of the past, and that's going to be difficult.

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