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Musgrove, Tuck, Ford: Drawing the lines

By Staff
July 11, 2001
As Gomer Pyle once opined: "Shazam! Well, gollee!" When writing about Mississippi politics, one must take at look at both the lines and those impressions that rest between the lines. Last week, the lines clearly imparted the fact that Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and House Speaker Tim Ford have both the intent and the votes necessary to do away with the so-called "5 percent growth" trigger that Tuck brokered to salvage the 2000 teacher pay bill.
To that end, they called on Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to include the issue of the 5 percent trigger in the call for a special session to deal with the complex issue of congressional redistricting that was expected in August.
Tuck who had previously defended the 5 percent trigger that was her legislative creation offered some rather vague explanations for her change of heart on the matter, but said that the June state revenue numbers influenced her decision. Ford offered solid support to Tuck and limited his press conference participation to offering a hearty "amen" to Tuck's proposal. Tuck argued that without the "trigger,"the bill raising teacher pay "would never have passed."
Musgrove responded before sundown on the day of the Tuck/Ford press conference and set a single-issue special session on the 5 percent trigger for July 18. And as fate would have it, that was the same date of the Southern Legislative Conference in Savannah, GA. Ford as it was well-known around the Capitol is set to chair that regional convention.
Tuck and 39 other lawmakers were already registered to attend the annual convention. Musgrove didn't consult with either Tuck or Ford about the special session date.
Ford said he considered Musgrove's actions " a personal insult." After a deluge of legislative and media criticism, Musgrove announced Tuesday while on vacation himself at an undisclosed location that he was rescheduling the special session for July 23.
Tuck and Ford maintain that regardless the date, a single-issue special session on the 5 percent trigger is a waste of $30,000.
Musgrove responded by saying that if necessary, he'd raise the $30,000 to pay for the session. He didn't say how or from whom he'd seek the money. That's the lines, gentle reader. Now let's look between the lines…
Tuck essentially announced for governor last week and appears to be trying to seize leadership on the education front from Musgrove. In backing off the 5 percent trigger, she's also tipping her hand that she'll be running as a Democrat because the GOP loved the trigger.
Musgrove mired in a myriad of problems, including his divorce, the disintegration of the leadership of the State Democratic Party and the fact that he's steering the state's ship through rough economic waters is engaged in a political warfare with the Legislature that borders on childishness and is at best aimless and petty.
Mississippi teachers are once again from a political standpoint being ridden like a rented mule.
Mississippi voters are sick to their stomachs of the bickering, infighting and waste of money associated with Musgrove's standoff with the Legislature.
It's time for all to exit the sandbox.
For years, I've kidded Musgrove about his high-pitched voice and how much it sounds like that of Gomer Pyle.
But these days, Musgrove isn't just sounding like Gomer. He's acting like him smiling and giggling, bumbling and stumbling as our governor.
Sid Salter is Perspective Editor/Columnist at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson and a syndicated Mississippi political columnist. Contact him at (601) 961-7084, P.O. Box 40, Jackson, MS 39206, or e-mail ssalter@jackson.gannett.com.

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