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Odds and ends: Full disclosure should always be an easy call

By Staff
Jan. 28, 2001
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith thinks The Star got scooped and is taking out its frustrations on local officials.
Jimmie Smith, president of the Lauderdale County board of supervisors, says it was a "social gathering," as far as he is concerned, and did not fall under Mississippi's open meetings law.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering is apologetic that an apparent miscommunication by his staff led to the confusion over whether his meeting with local elected officials last Tuesday was supposed to be "private" or not.
And, the general public still doesn't know in detail what part of their business was discussed and what decisions, if any, were made.
This is the kind of thing that happens in a community where people perceive a pattern of exclusion, of decisions made outside their presence. Let me restate the obvious: Politicians here really need to do a better job of including everyone in the public's business.
By that I mean make a special effort to include the people whose lives are most affected by the decisions made. If our elected officials would take such a step  and it's not an unreasonable step to take they'd eventually discover a deeper appreciation for what they do.
The joy of being a newspaper reader is that you get to judge for yourselves (see page 5A). And, then, should you care to express an opinion, the pages of The Meridian Star are open to you, too.
Quick action
Meridian and Lauderdale County law officers deserve our thanks for the speedy apprehension of two suspected criminals who spent some of their time terrorizing members of this community last week.
The two suspects wanted in connection of separate incidents the armed robbery of a Suqualena convenience store and the kidnapping of a Meridian woman have not been found guilty of any crime.
But it's significant that one of them turned himself in to sheriff's deputies at the sheriff's office after several people called to tell him deputies were looking for him. The other, described as armed and dangerous, was arrested quietly as his home when smart police work did its job.
The professional manners in which these suspects were arrested attests to good law enforcement work, and we should all be grateful that law officers are on the job.
Hope for Children
The remarkably positive impact of Lauderdale County's Sela Ward, the Emmy award-winning actress, continues. Ms. Ward was instrumental in a decision by 'NSYNC, the musical group, to contribute $20,000 to Hope for Children.
You read about this in The Meridian Star and it's the kind of good, inclusive, caring news you can hang your hat on. Ms. Ward struck up a friendship with 'NSYNC's Lance Bass, who hails from Laurel and Brandon.
Seems that 'NSYNC cares about the care and nurturing of abused and neglected children, too. The members of the group hold a charity basketball tournament with children across the country as beneficiaries.
Ms. Ward's connections with Hollywood have helped with the project, too. The Entertainment Industry Foundation is a major source of financial assistance in Hope for Children. Locally, officials hope most of the money necessary can be in hand next month and actual renovations can begin at the former Masonic Home property in Meridian.
First on the scene is likely to be Peavey House, which was designed as a temporary home for abused and neglected children. When it moves to Hope for Children, hopefully in April, it will be a permanent home.
Good hands
The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics is in good hands with Meridian native Don Strange Jr. at the helm. You can read more about how he's changed the agency for the better over the past 10 months in tomorrow's edition of The Meridian Star.
He joined us for an editorial board interview Friday. You will be amazed at Strange's story. Here's a man with deep Meridian roots that run though Marion Park Elementary and Northwest Junior High, who ended a 29-year federal career as assistant director of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The steps he's taking to get drugs off the streets, restore professionalism and boost morale at the state bureau of narcotics merit your attention.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at bbynum@themeridianstar.com.

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