LLOYD GRAY: Voice-overs, bad pub, big vote

By Lloyd Gray/NEMS Daily Journal

If you thought “Lincoln” the movie was good, you should see the remake. Or the voice-over, anyway.
Instead of exhorting his Cabinet to get the 13th Amendment passed with a table-pounding outburst, Honest Abe instead declares the urgency of securing jobs for Lee County.
Meanwhile, Ferris Beuller, on his famous day off, sings off the back of a float to the cheers of parade-goers about groundbreakings and jobmakings.
Those were just a couple of the gags in a creative movie-oriented video by the Community Development Foundation staff that served as the program for CDF’s annual meeting Thursday night. It included an improbable rap accompaniment for the two CIBs – the chairmen in black – David Copenhaver (outgoing) and Chauncey Godwin (incoming), along with the CDF staff, jiggling around in dark glasses.
Somehow the message and the numbers got imbedded in all that. Call it more of the innovation – albeit of a different type – that CDF is known for. And certainly a different kind of annual meeting.
To say that it has been a rough few weeks for Tupelo in the national news would be putting it mildly. First the elephant shooting, which was bad enough. Then the ricin letters.
Everyone around the country, or the world for that matter, who has been paying attention now knows that the man accused of sending poison-laced letters to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and Judge Sadie Holland is from Tupelo. Mix in the Elvis tribute artist initially charged, with his own close ties to Tupelo, the bizarre details of the case and the two men’s connected stories, and you’ve got a tale fit for all the stereotypes.
Most of our national pub in Tupelo has been positive over the years, thanks to the work of CDF and others. We’re not used to this kind of attention.
At least Jon Stewart’s fun-poking on the subject on The Daily Show ran on for several minutes without once mentioning Tupelo. Be thankful for small favors.
Our reporters and photographers have had some long nights the last couple of weeks, including a 10-hour stakeout Friday a week ago in anticipation of J. Everett Dutschke’s arrest. Their work has appeared literally around the world.
We wish it could have been for something more flattering to Tupelo.
It won’t make national news, but Tupelo voters have some important decisions to make on Tuesday. Five incumbent City Council members are being challenged for re-election and a sixth spot is open, owing to Fred Pitts’ mayoral candidacy.
All elections are important, but this one is especially so for Tupelo. In so many ways, the city finds itself at a crossroads. Good elected leaders who understand the complex, intertwined issues facing the city – from neighborhoods to schools to quality of life – are essential.
Once upon a time progressive leadership in city government, while a plus, wasn’t essential to Tupelo’s growth and prosperity. Private sector leaders – through CDF and other channels – drove most of the good things and necessary projects that happened. City government leaders weren’t central to the Tupelo success story as it evolved.
That’s no longer true. The types of challenges Tupelo faces require city government to be leading, not just reacting or following. Gone are the days when a few business and civic leaders could drive an agenda with occasional help from City Hall. The times are different now, and who gets elected Tuesday, and when the mayor is chosen in June, is more important than ever.
LLOYD GRAY is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or lloyd.gray@journalinc.com.

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