Haley Barbour’s nebulous dream of the state-owned Port of Gulfport becoming the “Port of the Future,” already going nowhere, last week virtually crumbled. Before returning to his Beltway money factory, Barbour touted the future port as his legacy from having governed Mississippi.
In rapid-fire order last week, Don Allee, the longtime port director, resigned (or was pushed out) and the port commission’s consulting firm advised it to abandon raising the West Pier elevation from 10 to 25 feet–a first step in Barbour’s port improvement project. Consultants urged the move to save money and time. Later, the commission delayed action, but a majority said they favored work stoppage.
An Oct. 13 editorial in the Sun-Herald had lit the fuse that triggered last week’s sudden developments at the port. The newspaper castigated the port authority for foot-dragging on the expansion project. Then, significantly, it declared the expansion scheme a “fantasy” and said initial enthusiasm for it had worn off. It was the stiffest criticism of Barbour’s governance voiced by the paper.