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franklin county times

November 19, 2000

By Staff
The great flag debate: So much for government in the sunshine
The great flag debate is coming to an end in Mississippi and, today, we predict a new design will be proposed, one that removes what some see as a dreaded Confederate connection.
The commission appointed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove will take this action against a backdrop of highly publicized public "hearings," claiming enough clamor was raised to justify making the change. They will argue Mississippi must move into the future and a flag which offends any one of us cannot represent all of us. They will argue against holding an election to let the people choose whether to retain the current banner or authorize creation of a new one.
Sinking feeling
Why do we have a sinking feeling again we're being scammed by a governmental commission which knows better than the rest of us? Why is it we believe a devious public relations strategy designed by a very successful Jackson advertising agency working for Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is behind the feeling?
Let's recap.
A commission named by Musgrove and headed by former Gov. William Winter set sail across the state, purportedly on a voyage to collect information to help members decide whether the state flag needs changing. The hearings gained significant media attention as many of Mississippi's old warts came to the surface and as African-Americans made known their belief the current flag is offensive.
Now the last of the hearings has been held, the last voice at the podium heard, the lights in the auditoriums and gyms dark, the microphones turned off. Time for the commission to huddle, compare notes, make a judgment and present a recommendation to the Mississippi Legislature, right?
Well, not so fast.
Secret cadre
Little did we know that, quietly, behind the scenes and in total secrecy, a subcommittee of the commission has been meeting for weeks to review potential new flag designs. We did not know until Thursday of last week some members of this secret subcommittee including its chair, Fran Ivy of Columbus did not attend any of the so-called hearings. She was too busy. How could she possibly have benefited from first hand information, if any, gleaned from these sessions.
Ms. Ivy's little group will meet Monday, again in secret, at a location and time she refused to disclose, to discuss options. They want to make some decisions before they let the people in. This is our governor's idea of openness in government?
Effrontery
Her arrogance, her pretension of being unbiased, indeed the effrontery of this entire approach of holding public hearings while a secret cadre works beyond the reach of the public to to design a new flag, calls the entire process into question.
It reeks of a spoiled public relations strategy designed to take the public out of the equation, and it apparently has been done with the full knowledge and consent of Musgrove and his PR minions.
On an issue so emotional and volatile, making a show of inclusion in order to deflect attention from the real plan is an inexcusable course of action. We regret to conclude the process has become tainted, no matter what the final product.

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