Mayor Combs Admits Making A "Bad Choice Of Words" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/14/03

Mayor Combs Admits Making A "Bad Choice Of Words"

Gulfport's mayor has no plans to resign over controversial comments that sparked a protest on the front steps of City Hall. But Mayor Ken Combs did issue a statement Monday admitting he made a "bad choice of words".

In a meeting with the Sun Herald editorial board the mayor called opponents of a proposed shopping center in North Gulfport "dumb bastards". Many residents of that community have demanded an apology and some are calling for his resignation.

Mayor Ken Combs discussed his statement with WLOX management, but declined to read it on camera or take any questions. The five paragraph statement says, in part, "My frustration boiled over in the form of some words which I sincerely regret. I was referring neither to race nor to the entire community of North Gulfport, but I can see how my ill chosen words were taken as such.

Councilman Kim Savant accompanied the mayor in delivering the written statement to WLOX News.

"If I'm not mistaken, Mayor Combs made the statement that he would not resign and I think we need to move on. I think we need to get on with city business. There's 80,000 people that expect us to govern this city on a day to day basis and we need to get on with that business," Savant said.

Time will tell if the mayor's statement of regret is enough to quell the anger and dismay that erupted on the steps of City Hall on Friday.

In the mayor's written response, the words apologize or sorry are not used. It does say, "While the terms I used were inexcusable, I meant only to condemn those few people whose contempt for this project is based on political self interests and private business interests afraid of competition."

Councilman Savant helped arrange the Sun Herald editorial board meeting that led to the mayor's controversial comments. But Savant says the statements were not made in that board meeting.

"It is important to know the board meeting had basically adjourned and the editors had left the room when these words were spoken. They were spoken to a reporter and a city editor, but not as an editorial board matter," Savant said.

When asked if the statements were off the record, Savant said," I did not hear them spoken, but I made that assumption when I first heard what happened, because the official meeting was over."

Sun Herald executive editor Stan Tiner told WLOX News that while some editors had left the room, the discussion continued, and the remarks were most certainly "on the record".

by Steve Phillips

Click here to read Mayor Combs' statement in its entirety.

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