As a reporter I am always amazed at how one story leads on to another. The history of this phenomena is as old as reporting itself. Up until just a few weeks ago I had never heard the name James Lavigne. The town of Pearl River is a blip on the map for people driving south from Mississippi to Slidell and New Orleans. The town itself consists of about 2000 residents.

As best I can tell it does not boast many tourist attractions. There is a large liquor store and gas station on the north side that slakes the thirst of the dry county that is a couple of miles up the road in Mississippi, but other than that, Pearl River has little of note.

According to one well versed person that I talked to, the tallest building is a three story hotel, and god forbid that it should catch fire. The fire chief apparently lives quite a distance away, and almost the entire staff of fire fighters are volunteers. Even worse, the ageing equipment is only able to reach the second story. (Note to self, if staying there, ask for a room on the ground floor).

I am sure that Pearl River is hardly different from many other towns across the country. Even at the best of times there is not enough money in the town coffers to do everything that is needed.

One does however expect a certain amount of respect and decorum from even the lowliest elected officials. Even those that are not political animals, but work within the arena are held to high standards. A great example of that would be the debacle surrounding Shirley Sherod of the USDA. She was sumarilly fired from the USDA because some enterprising reporter (I do use that term loosely) reported that she had made racist statements.
Shirley Sherod has been put under the microscope, and she did not make the statements, rather, a speach was taken out of context.

Is this the case with James Lavigne? Invoking the spectre of the KKK three times in a single council meeting, are we reading into his words more serious intentions than he ment?

The city of Bell, California has been in the news for the past couple of weeks. The mayor, Police Cheif, and City Manager were all pulling down a salery bigger than President Obama. In no way do I want to compare this story to Pearl River, but, how many new cars and trucks has James Levigne been the driver of in his tenure? Vehicles financed by the town?

In some ways it is amusing, all I was trying to do was help a mother find her missing son. When I first heard about the story I discussed it with my wife Jan. We would do the honourable thing, sling up a couple of articles and move on. The search for Zachary Pittman has taken us on a different journey. One that I am sure James Lavigne is not enjoying.

James, when you go to the drug store get the family pack size of Tums! You likely will need to share them…

This is a clip from the upcoming series Being A Mayor 101, What not To Say.

Audio clip.

Simon Barrett

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