Jackson Co. supervisors go on record against Choctaw casino

Published 4:18 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On a split vote, Jackson County supervisors have taken a public stance against a casino proposed by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

“If this ever comes before the governor, this is the official stance of this Jackson County Board of Supervisors,” Supervisor John McKay said in a report posted Monday on the WLOX-TV Web site.

A 3-1 voice vote sealed their opposition, even though their opinion carries no legal weight. Supervisor Frank Leach wondered how the board could vote on a resolution without having it on paper.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We’re not voting on a resolution. Put it on the table, and then we’ll vote on the resolution,” Leach said to Supervisor Tim Broussard. “You know there is not a document here.”

Leach accused fellow supervisors of trying to influence Jackson County residents before a Nov. 6 general election vote on nonbinding resolution about the casino, which would go near Ocean Springs. About 60 percent of voters opposed the development.

“You have done nothing to support being against this from the get-go, now Mr. McKay wants to get it behind him. I will say, once and for all, I hope you do get a little mud on you, Mr. McKay, dealing with pigs like me,” Leach said.

McKay said he played fair throughout the process, and hopes the resolution affirms Jackson County voters’ decision.

“I told the (Choctaw) chief it was his job to get this passed, and I would treat him like any other industry in Jackson County when and if it was ever passed,” McKay said.

While voters and county supervisors have made their opposition clear, the Choctaws have said opinions of Jackson County voters and leaders will not stop their project.

Board attorneys say no document is necessary to make the supervisors’ opinion official, since both a motion and a resolution are nonbinding.

In order for the Choctaws to build the casino, they must receive a permit from the U.S. Department of Indian affairs and negotiate a compact with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour said last month that he opposes any expansion of casinos into areas where they’re not already allowed.