OTHER OPINION: PEER Committee sitting on state port report

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review is proving to be somewhat less than peerless when it comes to oversight of the Port at Gulfport.
PEER says it “provides the Legislature with timely and accurate information on Mississippi state government in order to enable that body to perform its function of legislative oversight.”

Then why has the committee for months been sitting on a report about the port, which is in the middle of an expansion that has raised nothing but questions about its operation.

HUD wonders if the port is inflating the number of jobs created by the expansion. Job creation was the primary reason the federal government allowed the state to spend on the port expansion the money that had been destined to rebuild houses after Katrina.

The Port Authority itself has questioned spending by its consultant, CH2M Hill.

Now, we suspect PEER has questions, too. And maybe some answers.

But we don’t know. Somehow the report has become a state secret.

PEER Director Max Arinder said he can’t talk about the report because it hasn’t been approved by the committee, which has had it on its agenda for two months.

State Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes has written the committee urging it to let the public in on the secret.

We agree.

After all, the public is paying the bills – for PEER and the port.

It’s just another example of lawmakers and other state officeholders in Jackson forgetting who they work for.

Arinder says PEER isn’t satisfied with the report. Well, we’re not satisfied with PEER.

The Sun Herald, Biloxi-Gulfport (MCT)

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