Sen. Hewes tells Partners leadership grads ‘finger pointing’ not needed

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

State Sen. Billy Hewes (R-Gulfport), the Senate president pro tempore, told Partners for Pearl River County Leadership graduates on Tuesday at ceremonies at The Link at First Baptist Church that in the wake of the “oil spill and disaster” along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we don’t need “finger pointing” and the “blame game,” but  Mississippi needs leadership.

Hewes spoke to 12 graduates of the Partners Leadership school, the seventh class to graduate since its original inception seven years ago, Partners’ members and alumni celebrating the graduates’ completion of a 10-month program that teaches leadership skills.

Hewes has served in the State Senate for 19 years, and is an insurance agent and real estate broker in Gulfport. As president pro tempore he occupies the No. 2 leadership position in the Senate.

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“When things go wrong, the first thing it seems people want to do is to find out “who’s to blame, whose fault is it? Have we become so desensitized that the first thing we don’t say is, ‘Is everybody all right? Is everyone okay?’

“You will notice that nothing, hardly anything has been mentioned about the 11 men who died on the rig when it blew up, but the lawyers are coming already from all points in the U.S., already trying to line up victims and file suits,” he said.

“I see a disturbing trend,” said Hewes. “We are finding fault before we even find a solution to our problems.

“Right now we need to be doing things that will help immediately solve the problem and leave the blame game to later. These things will work themselves out later, but right now we need leadership and solutions,” said Hewes.

He was elected Senate president pro tempore in 2008 by his peers.

“It’s not about placing blame. Placing blame inhibits our ability to move forward. The world needs leaders and we have to take a different attitude and approach,” said Hewes.

He said that during “this recession we are having to deal with unprecedented shortfalls of revenue.” He added, “The money is just not there. It’s happening at the local level, too, to the counties and cities.”

Said Hewes, “The state budget is down about 20 percent, and that’s pretty big when you talk about a $6 billion budget being cut down to about $4.5 billion. We have had to make some very serious decisions and hard decisions, too. And people are asking, ‘Whose fault is it?’

“It’s not the governor, the lieutenant governor or the speaker’s fault, and it’s not the Republicans or Democrats. It is a reality that we have to deal with. We have to figure out what we are going to do, and make the hard decisions, not figure out whom to blame, because doing that will not solve the situation,” said Hewes, who was introduced by Partners board member Glade Woods.

He said the Mississippi House and Senate are divided philosophically. “The Senate is very conservative and the House very liberal,” he said. “It has been said that the House sees how much it wants to spend and then goes and tries to find the money. The Senate tries to see how much money is coming in, and then tries to spend accordingly.

“It’s not so difficult to find common ground and work out agreements, but sometimes it is very difficult to say no. And you must build a level of trust, which takes time and effort,” said Hewes.

He said a legislator must be honest and let his fellow legislators and constituents know where he actually stands on an issue. “If you are caught in a lie, you will be tainted for the rest of your career,” he said. “It is all based on respect and trust.”

“Some things are very simple, and honesty is the best policy still remains a value to establish one’s life on,” he said.

Twelve Leadership class members graduated on Tuesday, and were honored by the presentation of certificates of completion by Hewes.

The 12 members were: Diane Lee, Lark Owen, Chris Stockstill, Lori Stockstill, Scott White, Patricia Fairley, Gary Benton, Debbie Benoit, Brian Frank, Derick Anderson, Darlene Adams and Patricia R. Drackett.