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Knox: I didn't write the letter'

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
April 24, 2002
Beverly Knox, who has coordinated the local award-winning Keep America Beautiful campaign for the past 12 years, is upset that portions of a letter bearing her name found its way into the newspaper.
While she did not disagree with the fundamental message of an anti-litter letter I received in the mail last week and wrote about Sunday, she told me on the phone Monday it was not her letter. During a meeting we had Tuesday morning, she told me she didn't write the letter, even though it had her name on it when it arrived in the mail. She held a news conference on the subject Tuesday afternoon, but The Meridian Star was not invited to attend, nor did Ms. Knox share a related press release.
The basic message of the letter was that we all must take responsibility for cleaning up our hometown, doing what we can to prevent litter. I thought it was a good message to convey to our readers. Keep America Beautiful exists to help remind us that we live in a wonderful country and should do our parts to keep it litter-free.
Ms. Knox, a city employee who told me she plans to run for office, said the letter concerned her due to some comments made about city budgets, taxes, what she saw as a heavy-handed approach to the anti-litter effort and other elements.
Ms. Knox said she is more interested in building a harmony of people working together against litter, of teamwork and positive reinforcement, of taking pride in keeping our community clean. This is a noble mission. She also took exception to the grammar in some passages quoted from the letter, instances she said were below her professional standards.
I gave her a copy of the letter and the envelope it arrived in, which she displayed for TV cameras at her news conference.
I certainly regret any confusion the letter may have caused. I've also invited Ms. Knox to join us for an editorial board interview on Thursday to discuss details of her organization's work to keep our community beautiful.
Republicans court public opinion
Mississippi Republicans are taking the issue of legislative redistricting to court the court of public opinion.
And the basic message, according to state GOP chairman Jim Herring of Canton, is that the legislative leadership violated a little-noticed guideline that calls for districts to be compact. Compactness was not a feature of the legislative redistricting plant adopted last month after no public hearings and, in fact, very little input from rank-and-file legislators.
House Speaker Tim Ford demanded that the plan be adopted as drawn up in private and legislators who may have had questions, such as Lauderdale County's Greg Snowden, were rebuffed in efforts to change it. Legislators had about 24 hours notice before they voted.
Hundreds of voting precincts across the state were split at least two ways, and some as many as three or four in what Herring called a "deliberate Democrat protection effort." While Republicans do not plan to challenge the plan in court, they do expect that the issue will become fertile campaign material in next year's legislative elections.
Locally, three precincts are split three ways and one split into four districts. This means election officials will have to print several different ballots to cover the statewide elections, legislative and local races.
By tapping into what he sees as a vein of voter confusion and frustration over the status quo, Herring hopes to attract enough votes for Republican legislative candidates to achieve a working parity in the Legislature for a new Republican governor.
To do this, Republicans would have to gain 42 seats in the state House and eight in the state Senate.