Opinion – 1/10/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2003

The Panolian Editorial : January 10, 2003

For additional opinions and articles,
pick up the 1/10/03  issue of The Panolian

Things Are Getting More Interesting Now That the Holidays Are Behind Us

While I do enjoy some parts of the season, it really causes havoc with those of us who like our routines. And, at the paper, all the early deadlines and drop in business and news activity is a little aggravating. For me at least.

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Had the opportunity to go to Jackson Wednesday night for the open house. I enjoyed meeting a few new folks and having the chance to talk with our local lawmakers.

The dearth of money in this time of economic recession doesn’t bode well for our state.

And it doesn’t seem that the stock market got too excited, at least not in the first couple of days, over Dubya’s latest attempt to cut more taxes for the more well off. That’s the no tax on stock dividend plans.

Heard even the more conservative Demos who were behind the President’s continued tax cutting plan are backing off some … at least on the dividend issue.

We’ll see. Or should it be we’ve seen? Remember Reaganomics?

Back on the local front the hospital issue is heating up. Should Tri-Lakes be sold or should it be retained as is?

One thing’s clear. It certainly can’t keep on like it is … in poor financial condition with the taxpayers holding the bag … but the hospital board knows this.

So we have some version of dueling studies. The hospital’s conducting one for up to $32,000 that will explore finances, services related to possibly keeping local ownership.

Frankly, I think it’s already a done deal. That the city board and supervisors are going to vote to sell or lease the facility.

And that might be the best thing. Certainly it is if it can’t be on solid financial footing otherwise.

Toward that end, the city and county are going forward with a study that’s required by law whenever a sale or lease is considered.

I’m still thinking about the city board’s action Tuesday to hire a consulting firm – with no contract cost cap – to hire the people to do the study.

It’s one of those things I can play lawyer with … put up a convincing argument for hiring the consultants and also put up a good argument for going straight to the folks who will do the work.

I was shocked, saddened even, to learn just how weak Mississippi’s open meetings and open records laws are.

I can’t imagine how hospitals like ours – owned by you and me – managed to get an exemption that shuts all of us out of board meetings.

Now, I understand that some issues should be private … such as personnel discussions about specific individuals and talks with regard to filed litigation.

But when it comes to the day-to-day business and our money, the sun should shine in the room.

The fact it doesn’t is really all of our fault. If we want to bring government out from behind closed doors it’s up to us to press our state lawmakers to make the changes.

(Kate Dickson can be reached by email at: editor@panolian.com)