I attended the redistricting meeting yesterday morning at Hillcrest Community Center. From the beginning it wasn’t pretty.
It was supposed to start at 9. When I arrived some minutes before that time, there were already a number of people there wanting to take a look at the proposed maps, but they were all waiting outside. It seems the building doesn’t open until 9. You would think whoever scheduled the meeting would have made allowances for that.
Once the meeting started and comments from the community began, it was obvious that it was simply the John Sharp Show. Patron after patron stood up to say how the Hickman Mills School District should not be split up. Many even threw in comments about what a good councilman Mr. Sharp has been. While I hate to jump to conclusions, I have to wonder how many of the commenters received the email from Mr. Sharp’s office stating “One proposal being considered by the panel would drastically alter the boundaries of the 6th district putting much of the 6th district northeastern portion in the 5th district. This would split up the Hickman Mill School District (which is now currently in the 6th district).” Actually providing talking points is always a good way to insure that your message gets out there.
The majority of the those not wishing to see the school district divided between council districts were the usual suspects; those who openly and somewhat nauseously support Mr. Sharp and who have used the public platform in the past to promote his issues. Sadly, all but three of the speakers live east of 71 Highway. That’s not very representative of the sixth district; however, it is representative of Mr. Sharp’s base.
Other than the obvious patronage that was demonstrated, there are other issues that need to be explored.
None of the these speakers seemed to care that Center School District is in more than one councilmanic district or that, at one time, so was the Hickman Mills School District. They also didn’t seem to consider that being in more than one district might give the schools more representation at the City level. What is truly more detrimental to Hickman Mills is that it’s in two different cities.
Only one person spoke who was from the west side of the district which begs the question of how well the meeting was even publicized. Personally, I only happened to hear about it from a friend who has been attending the meetings at city hall.
It was interesting that Bonnaye Mims actually admitted that she didn’t know what she was doing. That proves just how well the sixth district was represented in this process and seems to verify what many believe: that Councilman Sharp appointed her simply to draw the sixth district lines to suit his interest; that the whole process has been orchestrated in such a manner as to help ensure his job security.
It’s all very sad because Mr. Sharp could probably be a very effective council member if he would only put the interests of those he represents ahead of his own. There was a time when many felt the sixth district had to fare better under anyone other than Chuck Eddy. How wrong that was.