Monday night's city council discussion on illegal dumping morphed into a shouting match between council members Mitchell Jordan of District 2 and Larissa Loveless of District 1.
For the city, it was a ludicrous and embarrassing spectacle, watched live by more than 500 people on Facebook. If Jordan was big-timing it by baiting Loveless, she took the bait – hook, line, and sinker.
Following a monologue on illegal dumping that sounded like a campaign speech, Jordan described walking his daughter past a discarded toilet, adding, “Larissa doesn't have to do it.”
Instead of keeping her cool, Loveless lost it. She stood up and shouted and, as the two yelled at each other for nearly a minute, Mayor Steve Presley pounded his gavel and called for order.
That's not how adults should act, especially elected officials.
Here's the worst of it – at least for anyone who really wants to bust blight:
After the shouting subsided, Jordan, the self-styled point man on blight and illegal dumping, moved to give city code enforcement crews the resources they need to do their jobs. That motion died for lack of a second.
That pretty much sums up Jordan's record: Lots of talk and no action.
On Tuesday, Jordan told the Herald-Press he would continue to push the issue of illegal dumping.
They can't continue to say no, he said.
If Jordan wants to make a difference, he'll need to change tactics. Why would he expect different results if he keeps doing the same thing?
Illegal dumping is a special problem in Jordan's district, but every district has blight. A concerted effort, citywide, to fight the problem now, while it is still manageable, is in everyone's interest.
Blight undermines public safety and health, lowers property values, and
sends a message to residents, as well as potential residents and investors, that Palestine is a city without pride. To people living amidst it, or near it, blight signifies city leaders don't care about them.
Jordan maintains council members have neglected his low-income district. If Jordan wants action, however, he needs allies. He has to find common ground by showing other council members they aren't immune to any problem facing the people of District 2.
If not, Jordan's constituents will get nothing more than feel-good speeches without results. They deserve much more than that.