• 48°

Consultant stands on his record

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
March 23, 2001
JACKSON Consultant Barry Rhoads has worked for nearly eight years to keep military installations in Mississippi open.
So far, working with Navy Meridian Team and similar groups elsewhere in the state, he's batting a thousand, and plans to keep it that way as two more base realignment and closure (BRAC) rounds loom in 2003 and 2005.
At one point in the briefing, Rhoads found himself defending his employment with the state of Mississippi. His company, The Rhoads Group, is paid $200,000 a year by the Mississippi Development Authority to look out for the state's military interests.
State Rep. Diane Peranich, D-Biloxi, asked Rhoads if his job was "redundant" with the work of the congressional staffs of the state's U.S. representatives and U.S. senators.
Rep. Tommy Horne, Independent-Meridian, pressed for an answer to Peranich's question, and asked whether the discussion on base closures was an attempt to keep Rhoads' business going.
Rhoads said there was no base closure activity at this time, though a bill has been filed in the U.S. Senate to create two more rounds.
After the previous base closure commissions, former Gov. Kirk Fordice created the Mississippi Military Communities Council. It networks the communities in Mississippi that have military installations.
Until 1999, these communities chipped in to pay for Rhoads' services, according to Bill McGlathery, federal/DOD/Congressional Liaison for the MDA. The bill was then picked up by the Legislature, which pays The Rhoads Group through an appropriation in the MDA's budget.
McGlathery said the price may seem high until you consider that Mississippi's seven active military installations employ 31,000 military and civilians and generate a payroll of more than $1 billion.
State Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said The Rhoads Group's record stands by itself.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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