Article Comment 

Roses and thorns: 1/27/13




A thorn to state representatives Gary Chism and Jeff Smith, both of Columbus, who introduced a bill to the Legislature Thursday that left many shaking their heads in bemused amazement. House Bill 490, also known as "The Balance of Powers Act," would allow the state to form a committee to assert "the sovereignty of the state." 


Sovereignty? Really? The last time Mississippi had a Sovereignty Commission was in 1956, when the state Legislature decided to counteract the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that racially-segregated public schools were unconstitutional by forming a commission dedicated to the undermining of federal civil rights laws. 


Chism says he presented the bill to combat impending federal legislation that would affect gun ownership and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." 


Chism said he believes the bill will die in committee, asserting that he presented it because he was asked to.  


A lot of evil has been perpetrated under the guise of "just following orders," and while we're not painting this bill with that broad a brush, we do question the thinking of Smith and Chism.  


For people across the nation with even a dim grasp on history, this smacks of both insensitivity to our state's troubled legacy as well as just plain mule-headed stupidity.  


Chism's rush to distance himself from the bill is equally troubling. The time to walk away has passed. Now it's time to stand up and face the discordant music. As for Smith, he hasn't given an explanation at all.  


We expect more than half-cocked decisions that bring embarrassment to our state. And we deserve a lot more than a non-committal shrug of the shoulder as explanation. True leaders stand up for their actions and own their words. And when they're not willing to do that, it speaks volumes.  




A rose to the directors and volunteers of Dream 365, who again put on a wonderful six-day event. Founders Learnard Dickerson, Lavonne Harris and Rev. Tony Montgomery provided the direction, but they share credit with a great team of volunteers and event sponsors.  


Now in its seventh year, Dream 365 continues to be one of the classiest and most distinctive events in Columbus. The long weekend offered something for everyone, including a spelling bee, talent show and essay contest for kids, a spoken word and jazz evening and a breakfast with a keynote speaker. It takes a combination of inspiration and perspiration to make a program like Dream 365 a success. We thank all those involved for both their creativity and hard work. We can hardly wait to see what they have in store for us next year. 




A rose to all of the folks -- too many to mention by name -- who helped make the 2013 Mississippi Theatre Association's annual festival, held last weekend on the campus of Mississippi University for Women, an unqualified success. The event brought about 500 high school students and their parents to town for the weekend. MTA officials raved about the reception provided not only by The W staff, but from the city.  


A few roses of note go out to: William Biddy and staff (MUW's Department of Theatre), Nancy Carpenter and Elizabeth Haftek (Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau), Heather Rowland (Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School), MUW Police Chief Danny Patton and his officers, Marideth Geuder, Nick Adams, Chris Jenkins, Anika Perkins and Janie Shields (MUW Office of Public Affairs), Brenda Caradine (Tennessee Williams Festival), the Columbus Community Theater and all the officers and division chairs of the MTA. 




A rose to Tom Velek, of Columbus, who became the first Mississippian to win the prestigious U.S. Youth Soccer Recreation Coach of the Year. Velek's involvement began when his son's team needed a coach. Velek reluctantly volunteered, poured himself into learning the sport and now stands apart. He may have started trying to help one child (his own), but Velek's efforts since that timid beginning have helped many.  










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