OUR OPINION: State of City offers balanced review

By NEMS Daily Journal

Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s State of the City Address at 4 p.m. today at BancorpSouth Conference Center presents an opportunity for the city’s leaders – elected and civic – and all citizens interested in Tupelo’s progress to hear and find common ground on the positives.
Given a continuing wave of criticism about city government generally and the state of public education, it’s easy to incorrectly assume that Tupelo has been dead in the water. It hasn’t, and Reed is expected to cite point-by-point achievements within the government and in the community-at-large in recent years.
Every community needs an open mind when citizens individually and in groups express disagreement with the status quo, but there is also a need to remember and celebrate genuine achievement.
It is possible, as many have noted in recent days, to acknowledge and work toward resolving real and serious problems, while also acknowledging and drawing strength and momentum from accomplishments improving the community’s quality of life.
Separating the speech from a regular meeting of the City Council creates a context of special note, and the comfortable neutral site of the BancorpSouth Conference Center, provides plenty of space for casual dialogue among citizens and with city leaders both before and after the address. The meeting is expected to last about an hour.
Reed’s information is expected to include an insider’s perspective on Tupelo’s becoming an All-America City for the fifth time in 2011, a rare achievement in the nationwide competition sponsored by the National Civic League. The process itself requires sharp internal focus, and after the awards ceremony positive nationwide publicity is invaluable.
Reed also will report on trends indicating a strengthening economy, including sales tax receipts and building permits issued.
State of the City addresses are common nationwide in cities of all sizes and geographic locations.
The great commonalities are honesty about a city’s situation and striving for civic unity to overcome challenges and sustain progress.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, in his speech this year, encouraged people to engage more in their community, a familiar exhortation in Tupelo.
Menino said, ” …(A)sk yourself, have you met more than half of the people on your street? More than half of the folks in your church? Half of the parents of your child’s classmates? I urge you to try. In order to reach great heights, we all have to reach great lengths. In order to reach up in 2012, we all need to reach out.”
Expect something similar from Reed today, and take it to heart.

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