This past Monday, when former Governor Ronnie Musgrove traveled to Gulfport, Miss., to announce his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Senator Trent Lott, he stood on the property across from the harbor . . . and totally missed the boat.
Not once did his speech utter the phrase Katrina recovery. Not once did his speech mention insurance reform. Not once did his speech tell Mississippi’s Katrina survivors that he intends to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Congressman Gene Taylor, our much beloved local hero, to pass Taylor’s ground-breaking insurance reform legislation, which is now awaiting action in the US Senate. Not . . . one. . . word. Nope. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
Talk about a slap in the face. Come to our home area and not deliberately tell us in your SPEECH that our primary problems with insurance and other Katrina-related recovery issues are your priorities?! What an insult to every man, woman, and child whose lives Katrina impacted.
That Musgrove did this while standing on a slab that had been the foundation for the 1st Presbyterian Church of Gulfport is more than merely stepping a toe over the line. Using the ruins of our devastation—a place of worship, no less—as the backdrop, a prop for his declaration that he is the self-appointed savior of our state’s vacant senator position clearly demonstrates the galling depth and breadth of this man's hubris.
For those of us living inside the Katrina-ravaged region, Musgrove's silence in his campaign speech is a bit akin to heresy. The most pressing issues for the state’s three coastal counties are recovery from Katrina’s destruction and thwarting the financial stranglehold that the insurance industry has on South Mississippi’s families and business owners. Apparently, the obvious has evaded this obtuse former one-term governor. Guess he is writing off seeking votes from South Mississippi voters, voters who reside in the state's second most populous area.
Well, like Arte Johnson's German soldier character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In used to say, “Verrrrry Interesting. But Schtupit!”
On Monday, January 7th, a friend told me he had just seen on TV an undecided New Hampshire resident pose a question on skyrocketing property insurance rates to Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. While homeowners way up the eastern coastline share our insurance concerns, here deep inside the Katrina-ravaged region, Musgrove's formal remarks remained silent about the severely negative impact that outrageous insurance practices and rates are having on families, businesses, community organizations and non-profits just like the very church on whose slab the candidate used as a campaign prop.
Speaking of the church site as a prop, here's a question the Musgrove campaign ought to answer. Did Musgrove get permission to use the property or did he just show up like a squatter? If the church still owns the property and gave permission to use its slab for a political event, that would be a violation of its 501c3 status and would put in jeopardy its nonprofit status—as well it should, were that the case. However, I cannot imagine that the church would have done such a thing. So, just how did the Musgrove campaign come to use that property as its prop?
Anyway, displaying tremendous hubris with which he intends to run his campaign, Musgrove's prepared remarks clearly ignored completely what will drive South Mississippians to vote for a U.S. Senate candidate. If he ignores the issue that cuts across party, religion, economics, race, and gender as he is attempting to court us to vote for him at the ballot box, we can imagine how he would treat us were he to become our next elected senator. Heck, every woman knows that regardless of how a man treats us during courtship, his behavior won't get any better with marriage. 😉 When it comes to Musgrove's attempt to woo us here on the coast, we should heed this wisdom of women's experience.
Slabs Symbolize Big Insurance's Big Betrayal
The area’s plentiful slabs remind us continuously of Big Insurance’s Big Betrayal. That Musgrove used the church’s slab as a prop to pretend that he would champion our plight insults every South Mississippi home- and business owner.
We are looking for candidates to champion reasonable, affordable insurance, to reign in the industry’s devastating and unnecessary blows to our financial security and economy. We are looking for candidates who will provide the federal leadership we need to rebuild homes in which to live and rebuild businesses in which to work as well as provides the good and services that create an abundant quality of life.
We are looking for the candidate in this race who will be the U.S. Senate counterpart to Congressman Gene Taylor: an unflinching, fierce, courageous, effective public servant who gets the job done for his constituents. We are looking for the candidate who will demand insurance reform . . . because we are demanding insurance reform.
Coastians Continue to Demand Insurance Reform
In Sunday's editorial in the Sun Herald titled “Barbour should reconvene commission to assess our recovery,” the paper wrote
More than two years after Katrina, large portions of South Mississippi have not been mended. This is especially true for properties located between the hurricane's debris line and the shoreline.
In other words, the geography where the insurance industry has betrayed coastal families and business owners through wrongly denying wind damage claims. The same geography where he insurance industry has pulled back on the types of damage it will cover then skyrocketed its policies—where it will provide coverage at all. Big Insurance has priced coverage out of an easily affordable range for most home and business owners here in South Mississippi.
Two comments to the Herald’s editorial yesterday poignantly articulated this demand for insurance reform.
“The insurance industry should feel real good, it has single handedly stifled the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast…”
“All you have to do is drive down Highway 90 from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis to see it. It looks like the worlds largest vacant lot.”
Blind as a Bat without Radar
Why did the former governor not make our recovery and insurance reform a part of his speech which he delivered in four different parts of the state? Goodness knows that interim Senator Roger Wicker most certainly included them in his speech at the coast airport when he quickly flew in and flew out of here on New Year's Eve. If a Republican's campaign kick off speech included the phrases “Congressman Gene Taylor” “multiple peril insurance” and “Katrina recovery”, why didn't candidate Ronnie Musgrove?
In all fairness, Musgrove did FINALLY speak the words insurance reform, multiple peril insurance legislation, and Congressman Gene Taylor–ONLY when WLOX-TV 13, the coast's only television station, put Musgrove on the spot.
Quickly Musgrove returned the interview to the primary subject of his campaign kick off theme: beating up the interim Senator whom Governor Barbour recently appointed. The Associated Press title of its piece on Musgrove's campaign speech reflects his priorities: “Musgrove Immediately Jabs Wicker In Senate Campaign.”
Oh boy, yeah, that is the priority that Mississippians in general and Katrina-fatigued families specifically want senate candidates to exhibit. Apparently, Musgrove is flying through hurricane country blind as a bat without radar.
© 2008 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved. Originally published on January 8, 2008, at A.M. in the Morning!
Ana Maria authors A.M. in the Morning!, dispatches from Katrina's ground zero . . . a distinctly progressive political perspective.
In March of 2007, this native daughter drove from her home in Silicon Valley, Calif., to surprise her mother with a visit to their family home in Bay St. Louis–ground zero for Katrina's devastation. The surprise was on Ana Maria.
She launched her blog in May 2007 to express her dismay and provide detailed, poignant, on-the-ground accounts of what the people of the Gulf Coast are still experiencing nearly two years after Katrina's devastation.
Not for the faint of heart, A.M. in the Morning! provides first-hand accounts of post-Katrina life written in a scathing style redolent of the region's famous cuisine–hot, strong and spicy. Nobody escapes Ana Maria's wrath whether they are the callous insurance industry, the bumbling leadership of FEMA, do-nothing politicians, or incompetent government contractors.
A progressive political blog with a decidedly activist bent, A.M. in the Morning! includes her Center for Political Hell Raising, which provides activist tools of ready-made email letters, addresses, phone scripts and phone numbers to whomever is lucky enough to be caught in her cross hairs.
From the Gulf Coast of Miss. to the heartland of Nashville, Tennessee, from the nation’s capitol to Silicon Valley, California, Ana Maria has been politically active as a professional and a volunteer on the local, state, and national levels.
Ana Maria is committed to using her blog and podcast to reinvigorate the discussion and generate a renewed national sense of purpose to efficiently and effectively rebuild the area.