For years, Frank Melton, as a television executive, said in his weekly commentaries what should be done to fix the problems in Jackson.
On Monday, Frank Melton took the oath of office as mayor and gained the legal power to turn talk into action.
Melton takes office with high expectations, based on his years of community activism. Mayor Melton didn’t sound much different from television commentator Melton, addressing criminals directly in his inaugural speech: “Pack up and get out; it is over,” he said. “We will deal with crime in a way you have never seen before.”
Before the inaugural day ended, Melton donned his bulletproof vest and mounted up with police to go on a sweep of the crime-troubled U.S. 80 and Ellis Ave. area. The sweep of the area included roadblocks and police knocking on doors of motels.
Dramatic? Perhaps. But take-charge action is what voters expect of Melton.
The challenge for Melton will be to ensure that action is effective and not just dramatics. While one of former Mayor Harvey Johnson’s problem was lack of involvement with the crime issue, Melton must avoid too much micro-management of the Police Department. He has hired capable administrators in key positions and he must let them do their jobs, guided by his strong expectations.
This is not to criticize, because Melton’s immediate action is refreshing. The message it sends is what Jackson voters need to hear and believe: Big problems – even crime – can be solved.
Still, Melton does not have to do everything in his first week in office. The problems of Jackson were not created overnight and won’t be solved overnight.
Take a deep breath, Mr. Mayor. This is only Day 3 of the Melton administration.
There are enough bad guys to go get tomorrow, too.
Clarion Ledger Editorial