MDOT’s Brown doesn’t speak for ‘river towns’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2011

In an attempt to quantify his boorish demeanor, outgoing Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Butch Brown blamed it all on being from a river town.

“I’m Butch Brown. I’m from a river town. That’s how we are,” Brown said Monday in announcing his retirement from the $144,000-a-year job.

He is facing major health hurdles and we wish him a full and speedy recovery from cancer surgery, but two high-profile acts on Brown’s behalf have as much, if not more, to do with his exit than his health.

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• He was arrested in July at a Gulf Coast casino on a public intoxication charge. In exchange for a dismissal of charges, Brown agreed to anger management classes. In a 2-1 commission vote, he was allowed to keep his transportation post.

• Soon after, he received a scathing letter from national transportation director Ray LaHood for saying the feds, “don’t have a clue what’s going on.”

Troubling, though, is why he would lump river towns in one general category — foul-mouthed, loud and boorish. Brown’s behavior and inability to control his mouth have everything to do with the man himself, and little to do with living in a river town. In leaving his post, he found it necessary to offend thousands of people who call river towns home.

In his 10 years with the MDOT, Brown has accomplished many goals for the transportation department. But in the end, his mouth and behavior got the best of him. Regardless of his health, it was time for him to walk away. His mouth became a detriment.

He will continue to explain away his behavior by where he is from. We, too, Mr. Brown, are from a river town and not everyone acts like you do.

And thank goodness for that.