Candidate Combs Calls For Investigation Into Utility Sale

Former Gulfport Mayor Ken Combs had harsh criticism for Mayor Bob Short Wednesday during an official announcement to kick off his campaign to become Mayor again.

Combs got right to the point, criticizing Mayor Short's leadership over the past four years.

Most interesting, perhaps, is that he says he's calling for an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office about the city's purchase of Orange Grove Utilities.

"Much much more was paid for Orange Grove Utilities than should have been paid," Combs said.

He made that statement shortly after walking into his recently rented campaign headquarters.

His campaign is so new, there's not even a sign on the door nor any furniture inside. But already, he's firing some tough shots at Mayor Bob Short and the deal to buy Orange Grove Utilities.

"The media has already raised some questions about that and I'm calling for a federal investigation of it to see if we can possibly get some of the taxpayers money back," Combs added.

When Combs was in office, he offered as much as $12 million, so the city could acquire Orange Grove Utilities. In 1999, with Short in office, the city of Gulfport paid $33.8 million for the utility company

"I don't think it was worth any more than about half of what it was purchased for," Combs said.

Kathy Day runs Orange Grove Utilities. Since the sale, there have been several stories about political connections between her and Bob Short.

And as a result, Day has filed lawsuits against Combs, City Councilman Kim Savant, and The Sun Herald. Day's attorney advised her not to comment about this story because of ongoing litigation.

Combs and Savant have filed counter suits.

Savant, who at one time considered running for mayor, also did not want to comment, but he did say he believes this will be an important campaign issue. And Combs agrees.

"I look forward to moving all over Gulfport and raising it as an issue," Combs said.

We wanted to talk to Mayor Short about the criticism, but he is at a conference in Florida and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.