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House Speaker Billy McCoy to Retire

House District 3 State Representative Billy McCoy ended speculation today and announced his retirement from the Speaker position and the House of Representatives. McCoy had spent the past 32 years in the Mississippi House, the past 8 as Speaker. McCoy has been a controversial Speaker, to say the least. Coming from a district that is considered ‘yellow dog Democrat’ country, McCoy’s views have always been liberal. His vote reflected that political positioning as well.

District 39 State Representative Jeff Smith, who lost to McCoy in the 08′ Speaker election by a vote, had this to say about McCoy’s retirement.

“I remember Billy McCoy very well and was within a vote of having the Speaker position in 2008. I will run again for Speaker in 2012, if reelected as representative in District 39 this fall. I learned after losing by one vote that I could not run as Speaker, nor for reelection again, as a Democrat. I had to run as a Republican or Independent. I received every vote of the Republican members of the House in 2008. I learned the Democratic party has gotten too partisan in the House of Representatives. The fighting or bitterness between the parties seems to make our constituents frustrated.”

“With all that said, I must admit Billy McCoy has never said an unkind word to me in his entire tenure as speaker. I’ve never had a confrontation or adverse moment with him in the last four years, other than not supporting areas of legislation he had authored or promoted. Billy had 32 years in the House and will be missed. But I think with his health and changing attitudes in the political process in Mississippi, his decision is appropriate.”

Speaking of Representative Smith, he ended up winning the MagnoliaReport.com statewide poll Speaker race. Smith prevailed over 7 other candidates with just under 53% of the vote.

Local (and Statewide) Primaries only just over two months off

Democrat and Republican primaries will be held August 2nd, just over two months away. Locally as well as statewide, this has been one of the quietest political seasons in memory. The local race that has garnered much of the political talk has been the sheriff’s race. Many people have spoken with me about that race and the majority of the talk has been about two Republican candidates, Bo Harris and Mike Arledge. Not taking away from any of the other candidates, most people are of the opinion that the winner of the Republican primary for sheriff will indeed be the next sheriff of Lowndes County.    In politics, nothing is a given. But listening to the talk…it’s a safe bet that one of the two will be the next sheriff. I fully expect a runoff in both primaries involving the sheriff’s race.

DeWitt Hicks and Whirllie Byrd

When the CVB board was found to be an illegal body and actually disbanded (where board members were removed and had to be reappointed by the county and city) board member DeWitt Hicks lost his Chairman status in the process. The city ultimately reappointed Hicks but during the first meeting of the new CVB board (though it’s not yet complete as the city will make an appointment on June 7th, then Harry Sanders and Mayor Robert Smith will make a joint appointment to bring it to 9 members) the current members (minus Rissa Lawrence, who was recently appointed) named Whirllie Byrd as its board Chairwoman. With recent events, such as Byrd telling the media about the meeting (some have called illegal and in violation of open meeting laws) in April when the board decided to send former Executive Director James Tsismanakis a letter requesting he return items deemed to have belonged to the CVB…and asking former board member David Sanders to return more than $17,000 in payment for his legal help (while a boardmember), it’s obvious that Hicks is fed up with Byrd’s open-minded attitude and willingness to talk with the media. So much so that during the special called Monday meeting to discuss the possibility of the CVB board hiring an attorney to help with legal matters and advise, Hicks hinted that Byrd’s days as Chairwoman might be limited during discussion of the matter.

From his statements, Hicks indicated that once the full board is in place (all 9 members), he’s likely to expect another vote on Chairperson. “We’ve spent over $17,000 on attorney fees already this year. A lot of it is lack of harmony on this board.,” Hicks stated during discussion on hiring an attorney. “That’s a shame. And I think we need to get unified and look at the best interest of our mission. And not what a single board member or board president might want to do,” he added. Byrd replied, “To me, this is more of a board matter, it’s not…i don’t need the president. For one thing, the president is not the big position for me…and it’s not my call.” Hicks shot back. “Well you’re quoted in the paper all the time. In fact, you’re quoted in the paper tonight…several times. You’re the spokesperson for this board. And I don’t remember voting on you as the spokesperson.”

Earlier in the meeting, Byrd stated, “I just feel more comfortable having a board attorney.” Hicks said, “Well we’re gonna have an election, aren’t we, when the full board’s here? And if you’re gonna have a board attorney, you ought to have somebody that the chairman is comfortable with and certainly the executive director is comfortable with.”

Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com

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