Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams, left, confers with Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba on how the city is working to meet the first round of deadlines laid out in an agreement with the U.S. government on how to improve the quality of drinking water in the Capital City, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The other 2.75 million Mississippians should not be on the hook for Jackson’s poor management.

The lack of civics education is a real issue in this country, and the Jackson water crisis has proven that truth once again.

Local residents rightfully angry over the lack of usable water rush to blame the State when, in truth, until a declaration of emergency is made such municipal issues are not under the purview of the State.

Jackson’s water crisis is a city issue, and yet, the mainstream media runs with a narrative vilifying Governor Tate Reeves, the State Department of Health, or other interests who have waded into a nearly intractable situation.

The Mississippi media establishment even attempts to frame the lack of a State response until it reaches an emergency level through a racist lens, and their national counterparts dutifully pile on.

The State of Mississippi should not have to step in and preferentially fund the City of Jackson in ways that the other nearly 300 municipalities would never be.

Municipalities operate as political subdivisions of the State.  Cities and towns set their own budgets, hire their own staff, and make policy and operational decisions as they deem necessary within the confines of State law.  In fact, the idea of “home rule” is a major consideration for local officials as they tend to seek to protect their local autonomy and authority at all costs.

The State does not seek to usurp local control until matters of life and safety reach a point where they must act in the best interest of the public.  When that happens, the local officials have one of two choices to make.  A Mayor and City Council can either accept the State’s assistance knowing the issue is beyond the capacity of the city, or the local officials can continue to operate under dangerous conditions that adversely impact the health and livelihoods of residents and businesses.

In Jackson’s case, years of financial mismanagement, internal squabbling, misplaced priorities, and a general lack of ability to operate a municipality are playing out in real time, and it is costing not only Jackson residents but every taxpayer in Mississippi, and now with the federal declaration from President Biden, it is costing every tax paying American as well.

The people of Mississippi outside of the metro Jackson area are not keen on having to foot the bill for this sort of local incompetence.  Yes, Mississippi is one family and cities and towns across the State will gladly send supplies and aid to Jackson residents during these trying times, but Mississippians of all stripes and persuasions are right to demand Jackson leaders be held accountable for their failures especially if state resources are going to be expended for basic city functions.

Every other city and town in Mississippi must operate within their means and provide critical services without relying on the State to bail them out.  Expecting Jackson to do the same is not uncaring or reflective of some underlying racial inequity; it is fair and just for the other 2.75 million Mississippians that should not be on the hook for Jackson’s poor management.