Gulfport, secretary of state negotiating over harbor control

The city and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann have been trying to negotiate a settlement in their yearslong legal fight over the harbor and surrounding property. The Chancery Court case will go to trial in two weeks if no agreement is reached.

The City Council voted Tuesday to waive any conflict so attorney Hugh Keating can represent Gulfport in negotiations involving a portion of the property. Keating, the city’s general counsel, has done work for the Secretary of State’s Office on Tidelands issues.

The council discussed specifics in a closed session, allowed under the state’s public meetings law for pending litigation.

The city believes it has authority under a 1935 law to operate its own harbor, but Hosemann contends a 1989 Tidelands law gives his office control of the water bottoms and adjacent property subject to the tide’s ebb and flow.

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