Mayor learns first-hand lesson on trial of leadership

Beaumont (Texas) Mayor Becky Ames certainly knows what it means to be an elected leader of a city under duress.

It means, to those who might be unaware, that you must do what you order others to do, or in the case of Ames’s recent misstep … not do what she tells others they shouldn’t do.

Ames was seen in a nail salon getting a nail treatment the other day. As the saying goes: oops. Beaumont is under a shelter in place/stay at home order that the mayor issued. You know the story. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to keep our “social distance” and we must not use services that put us too close to other human beings.

Ames was caught violating the city’s mandate.

Ames has issued an apology. According to

“I promise there was no malice intended,” she wrote in a statement. “I should never have entered the salon last Tuesday. I did not intend to take personal privilege while asking others to sacrifice and for that I am truly remorseful.”

Ames concluded by asking for forgiveness. “As an elected official I am held to a higher standard, I regret my action that day. I am honestly sorry and I pray that you will forgive me,” she said.

I worked in Beaumont for nearly 11 years as editor of the Beaumont Enterprise opinion page. I barely know Becky Ames, who’s been mayor since 2007. She served as an at-large member of the Beaumont City Council from 1994 until she became mayor; I left Beaumont in early 1995.

That all said, I want to suggest that Ames’s apology sounds like the real thing. There’s none of that “If I offended anyone” qualifier in it.

I also suggest that elected leaders of all stripes, at all levels, should heed the embarrassment that has befallen Mayor Ames. She knew better than to do what she did. She got caught.

As for whether she ought to be prosecuted for getting a manicure, Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham is looking into it. My gut tells me that there ought to be some punishment. An apology doesn’t expunge the record of a crime being committed. She won’t go to jail, but could face a fine of as much as $1,000.

The mayor can afford to pay the fine.