So this is Unprecedented goals, unparalleled progress'?
July 1, 2001
His bluntly-written missive may have been addressed to members of the state House of Representatives, but it was clearly aimed at Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. House Speaker Tim Ford, apparently tired of what he sees as the governor's misrepresentations of legislative action, told his members in a two-page letter obtained by The Meridian Star last week to set the record straight.
It is another sign of a growing rift between the Legislature and the candidate its members elected governor in January 2000. Yes, if you recall, the Legislature elected one of their own, Ronnie Musgrove, over Mike Parker because neither gubernatorial candidate received a majority of the vote in the 1999 election. By legislative district, the vote was a tie, which threw the election into the state House of Representatives, where many members ignored the popular vote in their district and elected Musgrove.
Musgrove assumed office with a vast storehouse of experience and knowledge of how state government in Mississippi works. He had served successful tenures as a state senator and as lieutenant governor. Legislators who elected him may have thought they would benefit from his expertise.
Musgrove and the Legislature were at each other's throats early, most pronounced in the 2001 session with posturing and haggling over teacher pay, prison funding, budget protections and a rash of other sensitive subjects. One Musgrove appointee was hauled before a legislative committee a few weeks ago over a bunch of staff firings in her agency. Musgrove's original chief of staff, his longtime political guru and deputy chief of staff, his communications director and his initial head of the Department of Human Services are all gone.
The breach with the Legislature is very real and, for Musgrove, politically dangerous.
All of this would be an amusing game of political charades except for the fact that taxpayers deserve a better deal from their state government. This state has serious problems that will not be solved by bickering and a continuing game of political tag among the leadership.
Hopefully, the governor, the Speaker and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck can wrestle down their political differences long enough to take the necessary definitive actions that will lead Mississippi out of the economic doldrums.
Or else Musgrove's much-heralded inaugural slogan "Unprecedented Goals, Unparalleled Progress" will become what many already suspect it is: just another empty promise.