Valdosta Daily Times

March 14, 2013

Lake Park: Work together


The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Lake Park City Council is in the process of hiring a new police chief. It can only be hoped that whomever is hired provides stability to the Lowndes County town’s rollercoaster developments of the past 15 months.

At the start of 2012, Lake Park swore in a new mayor and councilmembers who immediately terminated the positions of city employees with decades of service. These terminations included the city clerk and the police chief; a police officer was promoted to chief.

To protest the terminations, two council members resigned a few weeks later, which kept the Lake Park City Council from meeting for several weeks due to a lack of quorum. A judge granted the city permission to hold a special election early to elect two new council members so Lake Park could resume business.

By summer, the election held and new council members elected, the mayor attempted to have a council member charged with trespass for coming to city hall. About six months after taking office, the mayor resigned. After trying a few different new city clerks, the city rehired the former long-serving city clerk. Another special election was held in the fall to elect a new mayor who happened to be one of the council members who had resigned earlier in the year.

He took office. The council met in December then couldn’t meet for two months because of a lack of quorum stemming from the absence of two council members.

Last week, the Lake Park City Council officially met for the first time in three months. The meeting lasted more than five hours. Council met again this past weekend when it voted in a 3-2 tie-breaker to demote the police chief who had been promoted in January 2012.

Lake Park leadership needs stability. Stability doesn’t mean everyone has to get along, but leaders need to agree on at least a few things: Attend meetings, serve their terms, put city business before petty politics, quit firing and demoting city employees with each election turnover.

Disagree, bicker, have spats, but put an end to the soap-opera drama that has consumed Lake Park City Hall for more than a year.

Citizens deserve better. Lake Park leaders need to commit themselves to working together before the city falls apart.