After a year, what do you say?

Published 8:08 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Selma City Council has had a year to work and keep up with campaign promises met individually in wards.

The Selma Times-Journal has attended nearly every work session and city council meeting during that year. Most of those meetings, many of you have participated in through the live blogs.

As this year draws to an end, what have we seen from the council and what can we expect to see in the upcoming 12 months?

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One of the across-the-board promises of those elected last year to the eight council seats and the president’s position was that of working in unity. For the most part, nobody has really gotten out of control during the meetings. President Dr. Geraldine Allen has held a tight reign on conduct during the meetings. Some have observed her as a little too controlling. However, her ability to cut through the rhetoric and get down to the meat of the subject have been a welcoming relief from the days prior when some council members would go on tirades forever.

Other council members, notably Corey Bowie, Susan Keith, Sam Randolph, Dr. Monica Newton, Angela Benjamin, the Rev. B.L. Tucker and the Rev. Dr. Cecil Williamson have asked their questions or made their remarks succinctly and without pandering either to the audience in the council chambers or those individuals listening on the radio.

I would include Council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw in this group, but she still has a tendency to become combative or go off on a tangent. She doesn’t always. Sometimes, Crenshaw’s points are very well taken. The problem is she has given into antics so frequently in the past, it’s hard to trust her sincerity. The side remarks could be left for those days when she calls into former Council member Johnnie Leashore’s time on 105.3.

The other key element to council elections last year was public safety. That was on the top of everyone’s agenda, yet it appears the council has set few policies — its constitutional job — helping out public safety. About the most recent move was the curfew for teenagers, which was definitely an improvement. Yet, the council has moved slowly on other issues, especially that to have cameras at signal lights to stop those who would run red lights and cause injury or death to drivers who have the right of way. The council seems more intent on noise ordinances than on meaningful policies, such as raises for police officers recommended by the police study of a couple of years ago and taking a firm grip on the clubs downtown that continue to be a source of concern for downtown residents and others.

There is not enough room here to go through other departments, such as community development, code enforcement and a relationship with the mayor.

You can guarantee this newspaper will be a watchdog to ensure the elected officials keep their promises.

Leesha Faulkner is editor of The Selma Times-Journal. Call her at 410-1730 or e-mail her at