- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:


Oct. 31

The Sun Herald on the Gulf Coast’s economic malaise:

Gulf Coast Business Council Board President John Hairston had some sobering news for Coast leaders: We’re flat not growing.

Hairston, president and CEO of Hancock Holding, and the Council presented a raft of data to back up that assessment, and a plan to end the economic malaise on the Mississippi Coast.

The cause is fairly simple: The Coast has yet to recover from the double whammy of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster.

“We’re carrying two concrete bags around our legs trying to run the hurdles,” Hairston said. “The answer isn’t to lower the hurdle. The answer is to have more people running.”

And so the Council wants to draw the best in the business together to publicly hash out “how we execute plans that return us to what was a very prosperous economy prior to Katrina.”

“And don’t stop there,” Hairston said. “Let’s realize our maximum potential.”

We urge the Coast to answer the Council’s call.

Early results are encouraging. More than 450 people showed up for the meeting Tuesday at the IP Casino Resort and Spa to listen to the numbers and the call to action. And it wasn’t just business people. There were people from schools and social services as well.

The Coast has a lot going for it. The tourism economy is healthy. Its schools are performing well. And infrastructure, from buildings to roads to water and sewer, is practically brand new.

“The next chore is to make sure we leverage all those assets to create employment,” Hairston said.

Jobs are the one thing that’s missing. A study by the Trent Lott National Center at the University of Southern Mississippi found there are about 8 percent fewer jobs on the Coast now compared to the pre-Katrina days where the economy was taking off.

We agree with Hairston and the Council that it will take the Coast working together. Anything that helps one community will eventually help the whole Coast.

The Coast has a regional tourism council, for example, which has paid off. “The tourism numbers are the brightest spot we have,” Hairston said, “because we have Coastwide focus on them.”

He envisions the same kind of open-minded forum to discuss employment issues.

The first test will be if such a forum can find a way to spend the BP windfall to measurably boost the economy and create good paying jobs.

We, like Hairston and the Council, favor getting that money out of the hands of the Legislature and into the hands of a transparently operating group on the Coast.

We know job growth and economic revival won’t come overnight and we’ll help the Council keep the focus on creating jobs for the next decade, and the next and the next.

Online: http://www.sunherald.com/


Oct. 31

The Commercial Dispatch on Dan Mullen’s tenure as Mississippi State head coach:

A Ph.D. candidate in sociology in search of a dissertation might consider examining college football fans for insight into human behavior.

For better, and often for worse, college football lays bare the base human emotions that govern our thoughts, actions and relationships with others.

When the University of Florida announced Sunday it was parting ways with its head coach, speculation immediately turned Dan Mullen, Mississippi State’s ninth-year head coach, whose ties to Florida (he was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator on two national championship teams) and its athletic director, Scott Stricklin, who served in the same capacity at MSU for seven of Mullen’s nine years here.

What may follow is a courtship ceremony to rival anything you might see on the National Geographic Channel. There are three realistic possibilities: Mullen, whose name is so often linked to high-profile jobs that he jokes about it, may be offered and accept the Florida job. He may never be offered the job. But if there was ever one job that Mullen would take, if offered, it would be at Florida.

So we are all waiting around to see what happens.

In the meantime, it seems appropriate - if not prescient - to examine Mullen’s tenure at State in terms of two interrelated character traits that have plagued mankind down through the centuries - complacency and greed.

Greed is essentially wanting more than you already have. Complacency is what happens when greed takes over. You take for granted what you have in pursuit of what you don’t.

We confess that we may be guilty of both when it comes to our appreciation of what Mullen has achieved - and has yet to achieve - at Mississippi State.

In roughly 8 ½ seasons, Mullen has won 67 games. That’s a little better than seven games a year, which is impressive only in context. Only Jackie Sherrill has won more games (75) and it took him four-plus years to do it. Mullen’s winning percentage (.620) is only eclipsed by that brief and shining moment back in the 1940s under Allyn McKeen (.764) when Bear Bryant wasn’t even a rumor.

Before Mullen arrived, a bowl was something you waited for until the stars aligned, maybe once every four or five years, if the fates were kind. MSU has been to bowl in all but the first year of Mullen’s tenure at State and qualified for its eighth consecutive bowl game before the calendar turned to November with Saturday’s win over Texas A&M.;

If there has been any criticism, it is that Mullen has been unable to break through to win the SEC West, the SEC championship or the national championship, which is scarcely an indictment, given the presence of you-know-what just across the state line to the east.

That’s the football stuff.

What we may also be inclined to take for granted is what Mullen’s presence has done for the university and the broader community.

When Dak Prescott captured the attention of the football-loving world, first at MSU and then last year as the NFL’s Rookie of the Year season with the Cowboys, we noted the profound impact he had on MSU’s name recognition, brand and marketing - millions of dollars’ worth of exposure.

But under the theory of “first causes,” there would not have been a Prescott without a Mullen to recruit and groom him. Certainly, Mullen’s style of offense and his well-deserved reputation as something of a “quarterback whisperer” benefited Prescott immeasurably.

The Bulldogs are winning more than ever, bringing in more revenue and exposure than ever, and giving the local economy a shot in the arm unlike anything it has previously enjoyed.

Indirectly Mullen has sold more beer and meals and hotel rooms and souvenirs in Starkville than we can be accurately measured. As an economic development engine, he is PACCAR or Steel Dynamics or Yokohama in a coach’s shorts.

In 2013 Mississippi State built a lavish new football facility - the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. A year later, Davis Wade Stadium underwent a 75-million renovation/expansion.

All of that money came from donors, who like winning football games, which is something Mullen has been able to deliver on a pretty consistent basis.

So, let’s check our greed for a moment, repent our complacency and salute Mullen while he is here and as long as he is here.

He has earned our appreciation and gratitude.

Online: http://www.cdispatch.com/


Oct. 25

The Neshoba Democrat on treatment of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran:

Sen. Thad Cochran was depicted last week as having one foot in the grave after returning courageously to Washington following a brief illness to give Republicans the majority needed to pass budget votes.

“Is Cochran, the 79-year-old chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, well enough to serve the final half of his six-year term?” they bellowed. “What happens to Mississippi’s political clout if he resigns?”

So, the senator wasn’t feeling so great, yet he returned to cast important budget votes in order to get President Trump’s tax reform through.

On the day Cochran returned to Washington, President Donald Trump spoke about him during a White House press briefing, saying, “I have such respect for him because he is not feeling great, I can tell you that. And he got on a plane in order to vote for the budget. And I have great respect for that man. I think it’s incredible.”

Since Cochran’s return, he has been casting votes and meeting with staff as usual.

He spoke with Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday, who tweeted that they had a great conversation. “I’m glad his health has improved and he’s back to work in D.C.,” the governor said.

But a lot of people, including some Republicans, were counting Cochran out. “There they go again,” as President Ronald Reagan used to say.

Cochran’s chief of staff said Monday that Trump and Cochran spoke by telephone over this past weekend and discussed tax reform along with potential nominees to the U.S. Fifth Circuit.

Cochran in 2014 narrowly won the Republican nomination for re-election and the angry vultures still swarm.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) who challenged Cochran unsuccessfully, has been coy about his intentions to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker in the 2018 Republican primary.

We have outlined McDaniel’s policy failures exhaustively on this page before, noting his penchant for introducing car tag legislation.

If we could forget the disgraceful nursing home break-in plot his supporters hatched to exploit Rose Cochran’s health, we would.

Now there’s the pack of wolves over at the Mississippi Conservative Daily, a libelous digital rag, licking their chops.

A recent post encourages followers to call Bryant and demand McDaniel be appointed to Cochran’s seat. But there is a problem, Cochran is back.

We’re reminded how shabbily they treated Sen. John C. Stennis in the 1980s. Following surgery to amputate one of his legs in 1984, Stennis was recovering in a hospital as rumors swirled of a special election.

Reporters and columnists at the time called the politics “ghoulish” and “classless,” among other things.

Stennis served out his term in January 1989 and died in 1995.

The call by McDaniel supporters to push Cochran - or hoping he falls - over the cliff is just as ghoulish and classless.

To his credit, McDaniel, in one of his famous “Sponsored” Facebook posts, writes, “It’s no secret that Thad Cochran and I have significant political disagreements. But despite our differences, I hold no personal grudges against Thad. I want my two young sons to understand a valuable lesson - we should not allow political conflict to lessen our humanity. Tonight, my family and I are praying for Thad’s full and speedy recovery.”

But to his discredit, McDaniel “liked” tweets regarding Cochran’s poor health, which referred to Cochran as having “cheated” McDaniel in the campaign and calling Cochran “swampy” and “scum.”

The swamp they hear draining could be their public pensions failing or their toilet not flushing if they’re not careful.

Are they gearing up for a Senate run against Wicker and using Cochran’s health to gin up support?

The swipes at Cochran’s health are an unfortunate reminder of the unpleasantnesses put upon us during the 2014 campaign.

Talk about naked political ambition.

Who gets locked in the Hinds County Courthouse with the ballot boxes and claims the other side cheated?

What on earth can trump that?

And speaking of Trump, we very much want President Trump to succeed, and there’s no more qualified individual in Mississippi than Cochran, the Chairman of Appropriations, to see that Trump succeeds and lands a second term.

Online: http://neshobademocrat.com/

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