EDITORIAL: Leadership issues

Tupelo’s City Council, following its own rules with all the members present voting, on Tuesday night continued the presidency of Ward 2 Councilman Fred Pitts and the vice presidency of Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis when a motion to delay voting failed on a tie vote.
The absence of Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell set up the tie, which was not unexpected based on an earlier straw vote.
Newell’s absence wasn’t a reason to delay the vote set in the rules for the first regular meeting in July each year. The earlier straw poll showed a 3-3-1 split on changing leadership, neither a majority nor a consensus.
We hope the decision reached under the rules Tuesday night stands until the next regularly scheduled leadership vote in July 2011. Those in favor of rotating the presidency and/or selecting someone other than Pitts have a full year to reasonably make their case within the council’s membership.
Leadership issues, while important, should neither dominate the council’s attention nor its time.
In the straw poll, three members sought someone other than Pitts, three supported Pitts, and Davis voted for herself, as is her right. Such a split might suggest future factionalism on the council, but we hope and trust that won’t be the case. This council has so far done a good job of setting personalities aside and considering issues on their merits, as Tupelo’s citizens have clearly indicated they expect.
Council members were reasonable and fair in expressing their differences on the leadership issue, and in a good omen then moved on to vote unanimously on a series of important agenda items.

Street, bike trail vote
The council’s unanimous vote in support of a resolution from the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association activated a quest for funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation for a bike trail and street enhancement project from downtown to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum. The project needs continuing council oversight and consideration. Rising projected costs should be a special concern.
The resolution commits the city to spending up to $573,080 as a 20 percent match for $2.2 million sought from MDOT. The project, deemed controversial by some, would reconfigure three blocks of Main Street downtown to two lanes (with a turn lane), create bicycle lanes to the birthplace, pay for landscaping enhancements, and use parallel parking, but not exactly as used now.
Moving to actual construction requires another vote for approval, so the proposal is not finalized. It is part of a plan to enhance downtown for pedestrians and ease traffic flow, a desirable goal as Tupelo continues its efforts to revitalize the city center.

NEMS Daily Journal