Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jim Crow Ain't Dead

The Colonel takes this opportunity to commend the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors for jealously guarding the reputation of Mississippi politics for rampant cronyism, self-serving pandering, and blindness to the rule of law.
As a 1978 graduate of the Ole Miss Naval ROTC program,  the Colonel spent the better part of the next three decades as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  As such he remained ready to defend the United States against its enemies.  As a proud Mississippian, he was also ever ready to rise in the defense of the reputation of his state – occasions for which the Colonel found ample opportunity throughout his travels across the nation and around the globe.

Upon retirement from the Marine Corps and a full score of household moves, the Colonel had the means to make anywhere in the world his permanent home.  He had seen most of the world and the corner that appealed to him most was  in Lafayette County, Mississippi.  The Colonel  believed, as he had so vehemently maintained in the face of its many detractors, that the new Mississippi was no longer crippled by those who used the crutch of racial animus to amend for their poor leadership ability, or employed the crooked device of cronyism to line their pockets.  
Imagine the Colonel's chagrin to discover that his always ready defense of the wisdom and righteousness of the leaders of the new Mississippi was misplaced.

Case in point is a recent public meeting of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, wherein a small businessman, operating completely within the ordinances of the County, was denied permission to construct berms on his private property to mitigate noise from his firearms range -- the obvious intent being to prevent his expansion of his firearms sales business to include a much needed, safe firing range.   The stated reasons for denial of the earthmoving permit have no basis in any current county ordinance, but are instead based on misplaced passion and pandering politics.
Jim Crow ain’t dead; it has just replaced equal protection under the law with free market capitalism as its target.

Instead of doing their duty, as employees of the people of the county, to enforce the ordinances of the county, the Board sought to impose their will and implement restrictions not found in the current law.  Instead of considering facts, the Board was swayed by mistruths, innuendo, and misrepresentations. 

Despite representations to the contrary, before the board and in sensationalist media, the range is not in a “neighborhood.”  In fact, the two homes adjacent (1/4 mile distant) to the proposed range are a small fraction of the number of homes adjacent to the County Sherriff’s range. 
Despite representations to the contrary, the current noise level from the range is actually measurably lower than that of the traffic on Highway 7 (on which 7500 vehicles pass daily) to which the two homes are also adjacent. 
Addition of the berms for which permission was asked of the Board, would, in fact, further reduce firearms noise significantly, as well as provide for more than adequate safety.
Never mind the fact that there is no county noise ordinance, to begin with.  The Board certainly didn’t let that fact stand in their way of standing in the way of business expansion.

Unable to defend their denial on any legal basis, the Board employed a delaying tactic -- sending the small business owner's request back to the subordinate County Planning Commission (who had already recommended approval of the project) to consider whether a six-foot high, razor-wire topped fence should be constructed around the proposed range for "safety."
Never mind the fact that the steep walls of the project's planned 20+ foot earthen berms (with appropriate safety signage) would provide far more "safety" than the County Sherrif's range (which has no fence).  The Board's intent was clearly to make the project "cost-prohibitive" to the young entreprenuer.
Could it be that the Board was protecting the interest of far richer local gun shop owners whose long-term plans for shooting ranges had yet to come to fruition? 
No, that would be naked cronyism and that could never happen in the new Mississippi.         
In full disclosure, but in no way diminishing the point, the small business owner in question is the Colonel's son.  He was raised to respect the property of others, to be a good neighbor, and to deal honestly and fairly with all others.  In particular, he was raised to trust and abide by the law; that, by doing so, he could count on the law to protect his freedom to live and earn a legal living.

The Colonel fears he may have misled him.
Doubtless many of these same Board members rant and rave about the Federal government's trampling of the Constitution and the erosion of the liberties upon which, and for which, the nation was founded. 
They themselves are doing just as much.  
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