Editorial, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1999

CATEGORY: EDT Editorials


Editorial, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1999

The constitutionally unusual situation of the Mississippi House deciding who will be the next governor dampens pre-inauguration and pre-legislative discussion of important issues.

Weeks following a general election, the normal final decision day about who occupies the governor’s office, usually buzz with discussions about issues, proposals and initiatives. This year’s pre-session/pre-inaugural interim has been preoccupied with finding out who in the House will vote for whom Tuesday.

The Constitution requires a House vote when no candidate receives a popular electoral majority. Each House district is an electoral vote cast by the members representing the district. Neither the popular vote nor the district’s vote binds a candidate’s decision, thus creating suspense, post-election politicking, and a dearth of attention to issues of governance.

It’s probable that Democratic Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove will win the electoral vote. He has 61 districts and former Congressman Mike Parker, the Republican candidate, has 61 House districts. Democrats have a substantial House majority and some Republicans have said they will vote for Musgrove because he is the people’s choice. But it’s not certain, and Parker has given no hint of last-minute concession or request to make a vote for Musgrove unanimous.

Such is partisanship.

The issues before the Legislature and with which the next governor must wrestle are non-partisan. The issues are about Mississippi’s future the quality of life all citizens can expect through united effort, strong statewide political leadership, and visionary inspiration from the civic, private sector in every community and county.

An unprecedented run of prosperity in the 1990’s has helped our state confront, as only government can, big concerns like better support for public education’s goals, expansion of health care for Mississippi’s huge population of impoverished and economically disadvantaged people, sustained highway system development, and substantially stronger funding for the tax-supported universities.

Legislators diverted from public discussions of those Mississippi issues and others must be ready for a running start once the provisions of the 1890 state constitution are satisfied.

Some divisions and animosities inevitably linger after any election, but those must be minimized by the three most powerful people working in the CapitolÉ House Speaker Tim Ford of Baldwyn, Lt. Gov.-elect Amy Tuck of Maben, and the next governor, whoever it is.

Editorial 2

Any year’s most dangerous holiday for highway accidents begins Thursday for most people after working hours.

The New Year’s revelry of years past has left painful memories and permanent scars physical and emotional because of drunk drivers. The irresponsible and irrational behavior of those driving under the influence led to vehicular homicide laws in most places, including Mississippi.

It’s a good law for one of the worst crimes of personal negligence. Law enforcement in Lee County, Northeast Mississippi and statewide will be at peak strength for this unique New Year’s period: new year, new century, new millennium.

Law enforcement should show no tolerance for those drinking and driving. Get them off the road and pursue maximum charges against any and all who pose a risk to others.

Those who travel also have a responsibility:

– First, drive defensively and don’t be surprised by erratic behavior of those who aren’t sober.

– Second, wear safety belts.

– Third, make sure that every car has a designated driver who has not been drinking.

Highway traffic deaths and injuries related to excessive drinking remain a chief road hazard. Every DUI death or injury is avoidable because any sensible person understands that intoxication impairs driving abilities.

But New Year’s makes people more than a little crazy, and good sense too often is forgotten.

The best way to remember this notable celebration is to stay sober for the sake of others and yourself.

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