JACKSON – Larry “Butch” Brown, who even some of his supporters call arrogant, was re-confirmed Thursday without debate by the Mississippi Senate as executive director of the Department of Transportation.
The vote was 40-5.
“I am glad to get this behind us so that we don’t have to worry about it one way or another,” said Northern District Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor, who along with Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown, no relation, re-nominated Brown for the post of director of the 3,700-employee agency.
Brown has been the subject of controversy on a number of fronts. He is opposed by the other elected transportation commissioner, Dick Hall of the Central District. But Hall opted not to testify earlier this week before the Senate Transportation Committee, which approved the nomination after four hours of testimony where Brown was both praised and criticized.
His detractors accused him of not being a good steward of taxpayer money and of not having good people skills. His supporters said he runs an innovative department and gets results.
For his part, Brown admitted he is demanding, but said he had no plans to change.
“Butch goes to Washington and gets results,” Minor said. “He may be arrogant, but he is arrogant up there, too.”
Minor said Brown, as incoming president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, can have impact on new transportation legislation that could benefit Mississippi and could have influence in obtaining a portion of $1.5 billion in unallocated federal stimulus funds.
Minor said those funds could be used to help convert U.S. 78 in north Mississippi to an interstate.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal