When we write sports stories, there’s an assumption that the reader has basic knowledge of the game. In basketball stories, basics such as a basket inside the 3-point arc counts for two points and a free throw is one point. In football, we don’t note that a touchdown is worth six points and a field goal counts for three. Or that in baseball, there are three outs in an inning, three strikes is an out and four balls is a walk. Odds are, anyone who is reading about sports will have an understanding of those things.
But when it comes to local government meetings and court proceedings, maybe we assume too much. Way too much. That’s because the lack of basic civics knowledge seems to be woefully lacking based on comments we routinely see on social media.
Just last week, in the process the Board of Supervisors was going through to hire a contractor for debris removal, a handful of people went on the paper’s Facebook page to ask why only two supervisors were in the meeting, and that started a rant.
Only two were in the photo … the other two were on the other side of the table and Travares Comegys has been participating via teleconference since the coronavirus shelter-in-place order began in mid-March. Anyone who reads regularly knows that. And anyone who knows anything about local government knows that no action could have been taken with only two supervisors in attendance because that wouldn’t have been a quorum. Anyone who doesn’t have that basic knowledge probably isn’t qualified to make a comment about that government entity. But, hey, we’re believers in free speech.
So is new Beat 2 Supervisor Larry Dykes. And he exercised that right at the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting. He took exception to critics who suggested that supervisors or anyone associated with the board took money under the table to select the company that won the contract for debris removal, Ceres Environmental.
“Any person who lives in Jones County and has a problem with the way we handled any of this, I’d love for you to come sit in one of those chairs and ask us,” he said, “but don’t get on Facebook behind a keyboard and make an accusation. If you have something to say, say it to our face.”
He talked about the painstaking process the board has gone through to do things the right way to “make sure we won’t be left holding the bag like we were after Katrina,” he said. “This board has done a good job and our committees have done a good job of picking the right people.”
We have been at every meeting, and we can vouch for that, too. Everything has been above board and deliberate with the goal of ensuring the county gets a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA for expenses associated with the Easter tornadoes. Believe us, we don’t have a problem calling out corruption when we see it. But there has to be evidence before there’s an accusation. None exists that we’ve seen. Anyone with solid information to the contrary is encouraged to bring it to us. Otherwise, it’s not fair or productive to point fingers … especially if you don’t even understand the basics.