Coast mayors discuss state flag, BP money

Coast mayors discuss state flag, BP money

The state flag controversy and the spending of BP money were two agenda items at a meeting of Coast mayors in Biloxi on Friday. Eight of the 12 Coast mayors or their representatives joined in the discussion.

They talked about how best to resolve the lingering flag issue and the strategy for keeping that BP money here on the Coast.          
The meeting of mayors began at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum. The discussion itself was closed to the media, other than a brief photo opportunity before it began.
First on the agenda was the spending of BP money.

Certainly one of the concerns is getting the money down here to the Coast, and we're all in favor of making sure we get our share down here. Hopefully, that's near 100 percent, said Pascagoula Mayor Jim Blevins.

The first step in the process is just getting together as a group and seeing how we can handle it, said Mayor Mike Smith, of Waveland.

Hopefully, that all of it should be distributed here on the Gulf Coast in the coastal counties, and we're all in favor of doing that, added Gautier Mayor Gordon Gollott.

The mayors also gathered for lunch at the Slavic Lodge. Another issue of discussion was changing the state flag.

There seemed to have been a consensus that something needed to be done. Some wanted to study the issue a little bit more, whereas others are moving forward in doing something to take the flag down, said Gulfport Chief Administrator Dr. John Kelly.

I think that a growing collective opinion is that everyone wants a flag that everybody's proud to wave, said Mayor Les Fillingame, of Bay St. Louis.

Ben Lamey is proud to wave the current state flag. He demonstrated outside while the mayors had lunch.

I hope they hear the message, and I hope they hear it loud and clear. We're not going to let our flag go. This is part of our history, Lamey said.

It's certainly very offensive to at least one third of our population in the State of Mississippi. It's a very painful reminder of a brutal and oppressive past. It's gotta go, said Mayor Connie Moran, of Ocean Springs.

Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich says all of the issues discussed had one common thread.

Everything we talked about really is what's best for economic development. Together, we're stronger than individuals, said Gilich.

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