Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, remembers that in 2001 newly elected Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall asked if he thought former Natchez Mayor Larry “Butch” Brown would make a good executive director of the state Department of Transportation.
Dearing remembers Hall saying Brown had been recommended by then-U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.
“I told him not to consider Butch Brown if all the Transportation Commission was looking for was a yes man,” Dearing said. “…He can be like a bull in a china shop, but he will do you a good job.”
Hall and the other two commissioners at the time – Zack Stewart of the Northern District and Wayne Brown of the Southern District – decided to hire the former Natchez mayor to run the $1 billion agency.
Butch Brown has been controversial ever since. He has the support of two of the current commissioners – Brown (no relation) and Bill Minor of the Northern District. But for much of their time as two of the state’s transportation leaders, Butch Brown and Dick Hall have been engaged in a very public feud.