Controversy can be unintended consequence

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2014

By Anthony Hales

Guest Columnist 

Sometimes a completely logical, traditional, and compassionate act can find itself wrapped up in controversy. It happens most often when it involves any group of elected officials and the decisions they make. The reality of holding public office will send shockwaves through newly elected officials immediately after participating in their first meeting and casting their first few votes and oft times someone’s displeasure is expressed either verbally or with body language during the meeting. It can come from an audience member or fellow board member and if the press is there, it is reported as a controversy.

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I asked myself why are these simple differences of opinions always portrayed as controversies? I’m not sure, but I have a theory. First even though reporters strive to give an accurate account of what happens in a public meeting, the composition of their headlines and story determines how many readers they will attract, in others words, it’s good for business. Add to that the theatrics of the objections, (which I’m often guilty of), and considering the fact that the public’s perception that there are always ulterior motives to what we do, the phrase controversy properly placed can get a lot of mileage. I’m pretty sure this article will create some.

I’m writing this article in response to the report that there was a controversy over the Board of Supervisor’s appointment of the daughter of the late Mrs. Joyce Culpepper to temporarily replace her on the board until a special election can be held to determine who the voters will choose to finish her unexpired term. This action is the result of the unfortunate passing of Mrs. Joyce and it was all done in accordance with state law and the fact that some may disapprove doesn’t rise to the level of a controversy to me; there were just some with different people they probably would have preferred.

We had only 10 days to make a decision, 5 days had already passed, and there are over 10,000 residents in that district. Do you really think any person could have been picked that wouldn’t have created a so-called controversy ??

Now I will close with this, everyone has their own reasons for doing or saying the things they do. I try my best to do mine for the right reasons. I try to stay within the laws of which I’m sworn to govern.

As a Christian I strive to do it with compassion. Maybe others have their focus on other things and even though I am a member of a 5-member board, some things are personal. When we are grouped together on that board we are often seen as one.

I argue with fellow board members but I respect their position. I have forged personal relationships with every board member I’ve served with.

I have witnessed four of them succumb to cancer since 2005 in the middle of trying to bring the county back from Katrina and a bad economy. Two husbands and their wives who were my friends lost that battle. No!!

There never was a controversy as far as I’m concerned. I simply did what is commonly done all over Mississippi and historically in Pearl River County, and I did it with a touch of compassion.