GCN Guest Opinion

Editor's Note: We received the following from a GCN reader:

Post Katrina Rifts
To the editor of GCN

An opinion of Eric Cox    5-16-06

I read your recent article on the situation with Mayor McDonald in the Pass and have recently seen rent prices in several neighborhoods I travel through in Biloxi. Tie this in with the reports on coast rebuilding and it is clear that the unity that existed in the aftermath of Katrina – one can only conclude that generosity and kindness –  has become diversity glided with the dreams of quick riches.

The faith based ministries that are working here are still displaying the spirit of helping those who need it and continue to show love for fellow mankind that once flowed freely from the entire coastal citizens. What I am seeing is the outsiders are still doing yeoman work for us, but it seems the very people that are to receive the help are going for the gold and to hell with everyone else.

The  Sun Herald’s attack on Mayor McDonald, tied in with the fiasco that exists in trying to get the city fathers to work together, is one sign that the rift of the have’s (speculators) vs. the have nots is getting wider. I cannot remember time that a media group has attempted to discredit a sitting elected official in this manner. Can it be that this Mayor has enough clout and savvy to stand in the way of the “new” coast design? I might add that so far the “new” coast has left out the fixed income, disabled, and low-income workers completely.

There has been precious little to address affordable income property to house this abandoned group. Can it be that they do not have enough income for the powers to be to consider valuable? After all they can barely afford medical care, housing, and other necessities of life. There is little left over for entertainment and fine dining. Let’s ship them north to some other city, as if they are of no value.

Again, those who are crying for help from this great nation of ours are offending reason again when you consider the new rent structure in homes. Rents in the area of $1500 a month are now common. There is absolutely no way that many can afford such rents. It is the local citizens that are pricing the rents this high. While I would want anyone to make a reasonable profit from their labors, this is – in my opinion – criminal. One of these days the word is going to get out and those who come with the love of fellow man are going  to see what we are doing and might rightfully decide that if we cannot show compassion to those who are the most needy, they can better give their service to others more deserving.

The unity that was critical to the survival of the coast appears to be dying and a society of haves and have-nots coming from the ashes. This is a no win situation. Right now one can go for the gold, but when sanity once again prevails – where will you be?

Even the plans of the city fathers and outside interests don’t have a place for the lost group of people. When $120,000 is considered reasonable housing there is a major disconnect with reality.

I am not sure that the new rent structure does not constitute gouging. Maybe not, but it certainly shows that today gold is the new god driving coastal development and to hell with everything and everyone. When you try to get workers to come this will be a major roadblock for growth – where will they live? This is a two edged sword and it will cut you on the way back.

Make a reasonable profit if you wish, but on a humanitarian level – we are failing in almost all areas you would measure.


Eric Cox