Editorial Roundup: Mississippi

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Sept. 29

The Dispatch on the coronavirus pandemic and an upcoming college football game in Mississippi:

From a public health perspective, whether Mississippi State should be playing football during the COVID-19 pandemic remains a valid question whose full consequences cannot be accurately determined.

But from a mental health perspective, football may be just what the doctor ordered.

Since March, the spectre of COVID-19 has hovered over the landscape. In the U.S. there have been more than 7 million cases and 205,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 33 millions cases with a million dead.

But the effect of the virus goes beyond those worst outcomes. Everyone in some shape, form or fashion has been affected. It has disrupted our economy, our lifestyles, our routines and our attitudes.

COVID-19 fatigue has set in as we comply with guidelines and recommendations and worry about whether it’s wise to send our children back to schools or attend public events, including church services. There is no one whose life has been altered by the virus in some way. And it’s been that way for more than six months now, with no sure end in sight.

So, particularly in the South, where college football is widely considered one of the best parts of fall, Saturday’s opening day of SEC football was a pleasant diversion, an escape from the tedium and worry and all things associated with the virus.

Before Saturday, the mood among most MSU fans was one of curiosity to see how the team’s new coach, Mike Leach, would fare. In January, MSU hired Leach, one of the most highly-publicized hirings in college football. Leach’s “air raid offense” has long defied conventional wisdom that says teams must have a balance between running plays and passes and there was some doubt about whether his scheme would work in the SEC, where football is almost like the mortal combat of trench warfare.

Saturday in Baton Rouge, MSU fans got a sneak-peak of what Leach would do at MSU. It’s fair to say, he exceeded all expectations. The Bulldogs passed LSU silly. Stanford transfer quarterback K.J. Costello set an SEC record for passing yards in his first game in a Bulldog uniform, throwing for 623 yards and five touchdowns as the Bulldogs stunned sixth-ranked and defending national champion LSU, 44-34.

On Saturday, MSU will play its first home game and the excitement is palpable.

For a few hours, we can forget COVID-19 - but not entirely.

Attendance will be limited to 25 percent, about 16,000 fans. It is to those people we urge caution.

Those who attend Saturday’s game should adhere to the guidelines established, which means practicing social distancing and wearing masks. A crowd of 16,000 can be a petri dish for COVID-19 if these rules are not faithfully followed.

If those rules are ignored the result could be an outbreak that could put a halt to football almost as quickly as it begins.

So, if you really love MSU football, show it by doing your part.

It would be a real shame to forfeit the diversion and entertainment college football provides because of non-compliance.

MSU is off to a wonderful start. Bulldog fans should do their part to keep it going.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com

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Sept. 29

The Vicksburg Post on historic homes that have recently been put on the market in Vicksburg, Mississippi:

Vicksburg is unbelievably blessed and challenged in so many ways when it comes to its history.

While today our local economy flourishes off the tourism industry, driven by our history, that industry itself comes with both a cost and a responsibility.

Recently, a number of historic homes — some that are bed and breakfasts — have been put on the market. Their current owners have found it tremendously difficult in recent years, particularly in the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic, to turn their beloved ventures into constant moneymakers.

The Balfour House, one of the more iconic and historic homes in Vicksburg, hit the market after out-of-town owners felt they could no longer care for the home. And this week, the owners of the Cedar Grove Mansion Inn and Restaurant — among the more stately properties in Vicksburg — closed on the sale of the property to someone they hope can properly care for the facility.

There is no doubt the bed and breakfast industry has its challenges, but this year, has put those small profit margins in the best of years under tremendous strain. With international travel all but cut off due to pandemic restrictions and the overall drop in tourism as a whole, those who invested so much time and money are now wondering if their investments are worth any additional investment.

That said, these homes, these beloved relics of a time and architecture are too important to not just the tourism industry but to the ability to learn and appreciate our own history.

These homes, inns and mansions must be preserved, protected and prosper. If not, they will be lost to development and lost to time. Far too often in our city’s history, buildings of historic importance have been demolished, cleared and replaced by businesses or other structures that do little to honor the history of the land on which they sit.

We cannot afford any more of those stories to be lost. That is why we are excited about those who recently purchased Cedar Grove. While they have not said much of their plans, they have a history and a connection to that facility’s past and we expect they have big plans for its future.

It is our hope that those who find it within their heart, soul and pocketbook to buy these properties have the wherewithal to invest in them and ensure their preservation for years and decades to come.

Vicksburg’s history began long before the Siege of Vicksburg and has continued far beyond it. We are a community of more than one story and the buildings that line our streets tell that story.

Online: https://www.vicksburgpost.com

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Sept. 26

The Greenwood Commonwealth on Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch representing Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in a lawsuit:

When the branches of government — or just members within the same branch — are in conflict in Mississippi, it can create some odd legal arrangements.

Currently, the Republican-majority Legislature is fighting with Republican Gov. Tate Reeves over who has what authority over how state government spends its taxpayer-provided money.

Earlier this summer, the Legislature quickly put Reeves in his place when he tried to take control of the allocation of the $1.25 billion Mississippi was receiving in federal coronavirus relief.

That did not solve, though, all of the money fights between the executive and legislative branches. In early July, Reeves vetoed parts of two legislative appropriations bills — including one dealing with the divvying up of the aforementioned coronavirus relief money.

That prompted a lawsuit by House Speaker Philip Gunn and his second-in-command, Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White, challenging whether the vetoes are constitutional.

We leave it to the courts to decide who is correct in this legal argument. But it’s interesting to note that Reeves is being defended by the Attorney General’s Office, which is led by another Republican, Lynn Fitch. Meanwhile, the House leaders had to hire their own counsel.

It wasn’t too long ago that Reeves didn’t have many friends in the Attorney General’s Office. When he was lieutenant governor and a Democrat, Jim Hood, was attorney general, Hood rarely took Reeves’ side.

In fact, in the months leading up to their gubernatorial contest, Hood assumed personal charge of an investigation into whether Reeves improperly tried to get a public road built to serve the gated community where the Republican lived at the time.

Because Mississippi elects its attorney general, it creates the potential for conflict.

Although the attorney general is charged with serving as the lawyer for the state and all of its public officials and government entities, the attorney general has some discretion when his “clients” are on opposite sides of a legal dispute or when the attorney general does not support what another public official is trying to do.

One of the more glaring examples of such a conflict came during the 1990s, when Kirk Fordice, the state’s first GOP governor since Reconstruction, sued Democratic Attorney General Mike Moore to try to stop Moore’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

Fordice, of course, had to hire outside counsel because of the obvious absurdity of Moore’s office representing both Moore and his GOP nemesis.

It might make more sense to have Mississippi’s attorney general serve as a gubernatorial appointee, following the federal model. That way, the attorney general’s loyalties would be obvious and not hinge on his or her political affiliation or ambition.

Online: https://www.gwcommonwealth.com