Delta-Gate: Thin Line Between Ethics and Values Could Deter City Evaluation


BELZONI, MS (Tracy Dunn) — Gone are the days when Cotton Was King and Catfish Was Golden for Belzoni, MS. What was once a thriving downtown, now has more empty, boarded-up buildings than businesses. Every street in town is dilapidated and houses for sale or abandoned pepper city blocks in every neighborhood. A little over a year ago, Carol Ivy was determined to turn things around for her beloved town. She had served as Alderman under Tom Turner for many years and ran her campaign on promises of bringing Belzoni back its glory days. She promised to use Mayor Turner’s influence and the skills he taught her to make this small Delta town a safe-zone for its citizens and bring an abundance of new opportunities for business owners. “He taught me everything I know about municipal law.”

And change did come. Immediately after Mayor Ivy’s electoral win, it was as if there was a new sheriff in town. Literally, there was a new Chief of Police. The streets were cleared by the time the 9 pm curfew whistle blew, the sidewalks were cleaned, and there was a more prominent police presence on the main intersections in town. New businesses did open in town. Unfortunately, this did not last. Over the past few months, there has been a steady decline in all the progress made. Essentially, we have now come one step forward and two steps back.

I had the pleasure of sitting with Mayor Ivy for a personal conversation regarding our beloved town and the struggles she’s had to face as Mayor of a town in such bad shape; and the struggles of being a woman in a “Man’s World” in local politics. According to Mayor Ivy, she is a Full-Time Mayor working on a Part-Time Salary; and does so willingly to make sure the day-to-day operations of this town are met as efficiently as possible with so few resources. While this is a battle, it is the “battle of the egos” that make her job so much harder than she could anticipate. “When it comes to making a decision on repairing equipment, they want to talk to a man” she explained. The stereotyping is not her only problem as mayor. “I have no support from my board of alderman,” she said. “At first I met resistance from the Supervisors, now it’s the alderman.”

The most recent “battle” has centered around a proposed City Evaluation. With a city evaluation, an accounting team will scour all the city records and payments made to essentially find over-spending and help cut our city budget from some areas so that we may use those funds for other much-needed projects- such as the city streets repair and heavier police enforcement. The initial proposal will cost approximately $12,000, and each city alderman has voted in its favor, while the mayor vetoed it. Why the hesitancy to potentially get the town back on its feet? Mayor Ivy’s quick response: “Ethics and conflict of interest”.

While the mayor claims to support a city evaluation and values the benefits an evaluation could bring to its community, she fears that there is a deep-rooted Conflict of interest between all the parties involved, and some alderman may have ulterior motives for pushing it through. The initial proposal for the city evaluation would be backed by a loan from Belzoni’s Bank Plus. While this is a standard procedure most city’s use to find funding for such projects, the mayor fears using this specific bank would be a conflict of interest, since the spouses of two alderman work at Bank Plus. Whether intentional or not, Mayor Ivy vetoed the proposal to distance herself and make sure she was clear of any unethical practices. Instead of using a loan to finance the city evaluation, the mayor prefers to use the Economic Development Funds for the city evaluation. While the aldermen and several concerned citizens have pushed to have the city evaluation proceed as soon as possible, the mayor insists that nothing be done until the City Clerk is back to work full time.



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