Few southsiders can forget the brew-ha-ha created four years ago in Southport when Councilors walked out and neglected the business of the city after the former mayor omitted sectarian prayer during council meetings. All the local TV channels showed up and citizens from both sides of the issue packed the Southport community room to see the sideshow continue. Even a national cable program, the O’Reilly Factor jumped in to fray. Local citizen, Charles Lynch caused a ruckus during council meetings and he ended up spending the night in jail after his arrest for assaulting a police officer outside the meeting. It was in all the local papers.
Then, Councilors Dant, (Susan) Schmoll and Harrison were most vocal in their admonitions and condemnations of the mayor. Dant and Schmoll even promised to oppose Mayor Thoman’s agenda for the entirety of his term unless he returned their prayer to the agenda and include it with business of the city. They were generally successful in carrying out their threat. The bickering and sniping remained a barrier throughout the mayor’s term. Fast forward four years and one finds the same omission by Mayor Testruth, all without the commotion by the very same vocal minority, Team Southport.
Surprisingly, Mr. Lynch offers no protest today. Rick Hightower, Southport’s current director of public relations hasn’t offered a peep either. He was quick to post his critique when he was a reporter for WRTV-6. Mr. O’Reilly hasn’t called back. He has bigger fish to fry.
Less surprisingly, we’ve not heard a peep about the current prayer decision from Team Southport. They all were quick to condemn Mayor Thoman’s decision but now remain quiet when it is their team that has responsibility for difficult decisions. One lesion learned; it only takes a few people to set the stage when fear mongering and incivility reigns. Regrettably, we see it nationally and we see it locally. For these folks, imposing an ideology becomes more important than finding what’s right for the community or the nation.
The ongoing incivilities effectively stopped establishing a Redevelopment Commission. The proposal to establish a Cumulative Capital Development Fund was also opposed. Even Mayor Thoman’s No-Smoking Ordinance was tabled indefinitely. So much more could have been accomplished by the council but together they failed to put forward one single ordinance, not one over their entire four year term. It sure is different when the gavel is in the other hand.