Some important decisions lay ahead of Monroe officials in the coming months.
For example, the city’s civil service board will vet candidates for chief of police in light of Police Chief Eugene Ellis announcing he will retire soon. In addition, the Monroe City Council is about to enter “budget season” where city officials will hash over an operating budget of more than $60 million.
Mayor Jamie Mayo is key to both processes. He will recommend a candidate for police chief to the City Council, and he will recommend a budget for the City Council to entertain.
Mayo took up the matter of selecting a new police chief during a news conference last week. The mayor’s remarks devolved into a gush of vitriol about whether City Councilman-elect Doug Harvey would complete state Rep. Michael Echols’ unexpired term on the council.
Among other remarks, Mayo leveled accusations directly at The Ouachita Citizen, its publisher and one of its reporters. Mayo claimed the newspaper was in bed with local businessmen and mayoral candidate Friday Ellis, who is one of three candidates running against Mayo in this spring’s mayor’s race. Mayo’s accusation about The Citizen is easily dismissed. The newspaper traditionally does not endorse candidates in local races, though we would be remiss if we did not note that we may take a different approach toward the mayor’s race in light of Mayo’s behavior.
In his remarks at his news conference last week, Mayo also groused about this newspaper’s recent editorial concerning Mayo’s new “Operation Ceasefire” campaign to combat crime in Monroe. He referred to the use of the word, “spade,” and claimed the newspaper’s usage of the word smelled strongly of racism.
“In addition to that, some of his supporters, including some of the media, specifically The Citizen, are making racist comments about me,” Mayo said. “The editor and the publisher of The Citizen, which I call the West Monroe paper, has called me a ‘spade.’ A spade, in the last editorial that he made. He made other racist comments before that I responded to. Now I’m not going to respond to the publisher for this. But I am going to take action, and the public will know what action I will take.”
Assuming Mayo actually read the editorial, we invite the mayor to read it again. He may discover the use of the word “spade” was not in reference to Mayo personally but to his fake crime fighting operation.
In case readers of this editorial missed the editorial of two weeks ago, here’s what we said: “Let’s cut out the yak and call a spade a spade. Mayo’s ‘Operation Ceasefire’ represents nothing but political grandstanding in an election year. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Obviously, Mayo either twisted words to benefit his political purposes or he can’t read. We do not believe the latter to be true.
Racial prejudice continues to harm lives throughout the United States, and it knows no color barrier. Racism against black people did not disappear when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964 or when he signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965. Regardless, we must scrutinize the motives of any public official, white or black, who hollers “racism” anytime their actions are questioned by someone of the opposite race. In Mayo’s case, he sees “racism” at every turn because hollering “racism” has become his own default mode, or his escape from taking responsibility for the inept performance of his administration.
Or maybe Mayo hollers “racism” anytime he’s criticized by a Caucasian to hide how he truly feels about anyone of the opposite race.
There is evidence of Mayo getting chummy with avowed racists. Remember, the mayor has given not one but two keys to the city of Monroe to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
When he visited Monroe in late 2017, Farrakhan referred to “white folk” as evil, seeking to undermine or kill black people. Mayo publicly defended Farrakhan’s remarks, which would include Farrakhan’s often stated belief that all white people should die.
Mayo’s antics raise another concern. It is no hidden secret Mayo would like to see Monroe Police Det. Reginald “Reggie” Brown serve as chief of police. After all, Brown was Mayo’s personal driver and remains the mayor’s close confidante.
Brown possibly becoming police chief is concerning. Why? Because Brown has a track record of his own of whining about “racism” when he gets into trouble.
As first reported by this newspaper, Brown was removed as a member of the Metro Narcotics Unit in 2014 after he was investigated for payroll fraud. Brown also was reprimanded for unsafely transporting volatile pieces of a methamphetamine lab to Metro Narcotics’ offices and failing to follow proper procedures in filing his seizure warrants.
In response to the investigation, Mayo and Brown claimed racial discrimination forced Brown’s removal from Metro. Sound familiar?
None of this mess surprises us. It’s an election year, and Mayo obviously believes his path to winning another term in office hinges on pitting blacks against whites and whites against blacks and all the while, ginning up the turnout among black voters in a city that’s predominately black. That’s the Mayo way.
Yet, perhaps Mayo should read the proverbial idiom “the pot calling the kettle black.” Then again, he’s perfected it.