Editorial: Don't keep Choctaw casino meetings secret

"Local business, elected leaders and the Choctaws ought to keep their discussions about a possible casino in Jackson County public.

Casino supporters and opponents will best serve their causes by open meetings and full disclosure. Casino opponents would be wise to follow an open, above board discussion. But, the Choctaws should be especially wary of closed meetings with elected leaders that are bound to raise fears and charges of secret deals.

The call for an open and above board discussion of a proposed Choctaw casino in Jackson County comes after a meeting was reportedly held Aug. 28 with county elected and business leaders. The aftermath left some elected officials who were not invited fuming. Certainly, the public, which was not notified of the meeting, was left entirely out of the loop.

Melissa Mullinax, an advisor to the Choctaws, said the tribe did not organize the meeting. "The meeting was organized and invitations were issued by local business leaders," Mullinax said in a news release. "We regret that the inclusion of some, but not all elected officials in Jackson County, may have given the impression that the tribe intended to exclude or circumvent the elected political leadership of Jackson County or any of its municipalities."

Mullinax went on to defend the meeting between local leaders and Choctaw Chief Mike Beasley Denson as not a secret session. However, the meeting was only not secret to those who were invited."

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Our Opinion Keep the casino discussion open (The Mississippi Press 9/9)