CATEGORY: EDT Editorials


Editorial, Saturday, Aug. 2, 1997

The power and influence of position and seniority continues to exert itself in Mississippi's disproportionately strong congressional delegation.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, the most influential Republican in Congress, demonstrated this week the usefulness of having been in the halls of power and elected to positions of leadership.

Lott clearly greased the skids in the Senate for the confirmation of Calvin Buchanan to the United States Attorney's position in the northern federal court district of Mississippi. The office has been without a confirmed leader for more than four years. Buchanan was nominated before last year's presidential election, and Lott held off on confirmation until this session. He could have delayed the vote, had he chosen, but he has expedited it even in the rush of finding agreement on tax cut and balanced-budget legislation.

Lott also exercised with a little creative pushing Thursday when he announced that the Yellow Creek development site in Tishomingo County is on McDonnell Douglas's short list for a planned plant manufacturing commercial and military rockets for the next century.

The Stennis Space Center in Hancock County also is among the sites considered, and it obviously offers stiff competition for Yellow Creek because of infrastructure and a work force already geared for the aerospace industry.

Yellow Creek, nevertheless, deserves the energy and promotion from Lott, Sen. Thad Cochran, Rep. Roger Wicker and the state Department of Economic and Community Development. It is no more isolated from Florida's launch sites than Huntsville, Ala., long the epicenter of the space industry. Yellow Creek, in fact, shares in common with Huntsville, where McDonnell Douglas has operations, the Tennessee River, direct rail links and a direct four-lane highway.

The state, many counties, and several colleges and universities, already have made necessary commitments for technical and educational support for a technology-intensive industry like rocket manufacturing.

It seems utterly wasteful for the federal government, which ultimately will pay for most of the contracts to build new McDonnell Douglas rockets, not to push Yellow Creek if most of the deciding factors are roughly equal. Taxpayers and TVA ratepayers, it should be remembered, already have spent about $3 billion on the site without tangible, lasting return.

Lott, Cochran and Wicker all play very influential roles in funding the space program. Let them continue raising their voices and appropriately using their influence to turn McDonnell Douglas toward Northeast Mississippi.

It may not happen, but it certainly won't happen without a full effort.

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