McDonald: Musgrove erred in firing BRAC consultant
By By William F. West / community editor
Dec. 4, 2002
The chairman of the Navy Meridian Team said Tuesday that Gov. Ronnie Musgrove made a mistake in firing Barry Rhoads as Mississippi's base closure consultant.
Lamar McDonald said not having Rhoads as counsel would be disastrous for Naval Air Station Meridian and the other bases in Mississippi, which are bracing against the next round of federal base realignments and closures, known as BRAC, in 2005.
At this point, McDonald said, there's only two options: "For the communities to keep Barry Rhoads or go along with the governor and not use him."
The Navy Meridian Team is a grassroots organization dedicated to keeping NAS Meridian open.
NAS Meridian survived base closure rounds in 1991, 1993 and 1995, but the station's future could again be jeopardized when the secretary of defense recommends military installations for closure. NAS Meridian is Lauderdale County's largest employer and a key Navy installation that trains strike attack pilots.
Rhoads, a Washington, D.C., attorney and lobbyist, had worked closely with the Mississippi Military Communities Council, an alliance created under the administration of Gov. Kirk Fordice to keep Mississippi's bases open. McDonald represents the Navy Meridian Team on the council.
Rhoads had been awarded a new contract this year, but Musgrove fired him on Nov. 27 and replaced him with Wilson Golden, another Washington, D.C., attorney and lobbyist who is a vice president of Jefferson Governmental Relations. Golden, originally from Greenville, is well-known in Mississippi political circles for his ties to the state and national Democratic Party.
McDonald said he had returned from a two-week vacation when he received a telephone call from Golden on Monday.
McDonald said the Navy Meridian Team will meet this week to discuss Musgrove's firing of Rhoads and what to do next. Members of the military communities council are expected to meet Friday in advance of a session with state officials on Tuesday in Jackson.