Davis Brister Reports On MDOT Infighting - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/24/05

Davis Brister Reports On MDOT Infighting

For years, Executive Director Butch Brown and Central District Commissioner Dick Hall have fought from their tenth floor offices in downtown Jackson. They're in Puerto Rico for the next round, attending a conference for transportation officials in southern states.

An impromptu vote at a board meeting there finds Hall and his staff looking for new office space.

"We need the space, so this is just a matter to open up some space," Wayne Brown said.

"To me, it's clearly, clearly a childish reaction," Hall said.

Hall has been vocally cricical of Director Butch Brown. He sounded off when we exposed Brown's pay increase of more than $50,000 over two years.

He expressed anger over a decision to spend millions to upgrade executive suites, where he has worked and Brown still works.

Now, we've learned Northern District Commissioner Bill Minor's office in Tupelo is undergoing repairs to the tune of nearly $317,000.

And the Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown and staff are getting a completely new building in Hattiesburg. The cost? $5.5 million.

"It's so exhasperating working with these people that seem so hell bent on misusing the taxpayers money, trying to hide what they do," Hall said.

Hall says this latest move is retribution for his exposing waste within the department. He says his fellow executives got caught trying to do it again.

"It's pretty obvious that the motion was made in this meeting to hide from the media. They didn't think the media was gonna pick up on it. You guys are snoopier than they gave you credit for," Hall said.

Davis Brister asked Wayne Brown if that had anything to do with his decision.

"Not really because we need more space and this is one way to do it," Wayne Brown said.

"You said 'not really' so was there a hint of retaliation there?" Brister asked.

"Oh, no, not on my part," Brown replied.

So where does this leave Hall?

He says he and his staff will move into a construction trailer near the State Mental Hospital at Whitfield. At some point, he'll get a new building. and yes, you'll be paying for it.

Hall is the only commissioner to have a full staff in the Jackson headquarters.

MDOT is also funding this trip to Puerto Rico. It spent $2,800 to send seven people there. Other expenses will be reported after the trip is completed.

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