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DAVIS: When will it end in Bryant?

January 19, 2012

I know it may sound a bit perplexing to hear a newspaper editor wonder about a situation in which a local government is embroiled in controversy, allegations of misconduct and counter-charges between conflicting groups in a city. After all, these shenanigans provide a constant stream of material and a ready source of news stories. But from the viewpoint of a citizen of this fine county, one has to look back at it all and ask, ‘When will it all end in Bryant?’

I have had the pleasure of covering the city of Bryant for this newspaper in the interim before hiring Tammy Shaw as the reporter for this particular beat. Without a doubt, there are good people in this rapidly growing town. The council is filled with good people. The various commissions contain dedicated individuals. Citizens are involved. They come to meetings to voice their opinions, some louder than others. This is no different than in any other town.

Every city in the county has its share of problems. Factions line up on different sides and cast their opinion across the chasm like pirate ships firing cannon balls back and forth. Sometimes the target is hit. More than not, it isn’t. But in the grand tradition of battle, a return volley appears to be required.

The big question is where does it all end? How many shots are required before one side declares victory and claims the spoils of war and in what condition will the spoils be when all is said and done? The current ‘Battle in Bryant’ is causing damage that won’t soon be repaired. The spectre of news trucks, television cameras and blogs casting allegations without concrete proof have created a momentum that is powerful beyond what the city insiders even recognize. It drowns out the good work and efforts of those who are doing their best to silence the boom of the cannons.

Sometimes you can be too close to a matter to see it in all its glory...and all the destruction left in the wake. There may come a time when the citizens in Bryant who want it all to end will make a stand and take back their city. They see the bigger picture because their view of all the happenings is wide-angle, not microscopic. They see dysfunction. It won’t be long before they tell the involved parties on both sides to ‘take a time-out.’ The effort to recall the mayor may be one of those time-outs, either by the failure to gather the required number of signatures or by a ballot that removes the mayor. Even if that happens, it doesn’t stop the battle. It just means the cannons are aimed elsewhere.

I know Mayor Dabbs and the people in her administration. I know the people on the council. I admire all of them. I count them as friends. It’s hard to do your job with thousands of eyes watching everything you say and do. Not everyone will be happy nor will they all be angry. It’s a fine line that must be walked. I have met many of the citizens in Bryant and they are great people. I’d be proud to call them neighbors. I talked to someone from Bauxite the other day and this pearl of wisdom he told me seems to boil it down to the current state of chaos.

He said, “Thank God for Bryant!”

Brent Davis is the managing editor of the Saline Courier. The opinion expressed in this column are those of the writer.

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