The prospects for turning around the fortunes of Cairo, Ill., are bleak.
But it's almost a guarantee that little positive change will occur as long as the city's elected officials continue to feud instead of finding ways to conduct city business in spite of their differences.
The modern history of Cairo is a sad story. Located at the confluence of the nation's two mightiest rivers, Cairo should have become a major metropolis.
Instead, the town that once exceeded Cape Girardeau both in population and as a regional trade center has dwindled to almost nothing.
But the few thousand remaining residents deserve a city government that pays its bills and continues to seek solutions to the pile of problems that plague the community.
When the current mayor and council members were elected to their respective offices, they assumed responsibilities that transcend personal pettiness.
And the fact that the mayor and council members receive, in relative terms, substantial compensation and benefits for their official services, means they have a fiduciary obligation to perform their jobs instead of boycotting each other and avoiding their responsibilities.
A question that has been asked many times: What will it take to save Cairo? One answer is jobs to stimulate the economy and provide spending power so that businesses return to the town. But what employer is going to give Cairo a second look with all the problems festering at city hall?
Cairo's elected officials have a choice: They can work to find solutions, or they can continue to be a big part of the problem.