Parker in spotlight with new Corps job

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 8, 2001

Almost two years removed from the closest gubernatorial race instate history, the Republican candidate has returned to his oldWashington stomping grounds while the Democratic candidate simplyhas been stomping the ground trying to extinguish a rash of firesthat has arisen since his victory.

Following his defeat, Brookhaven’s Mike Parker has been for themost part away from public spotlight while leading a federalaffairs consulting firm.

The spotlight returned recently when Parker was confirmed by theU.S. Senate as the civilian head of the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers. As Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, hewill oversee civil works projects throughout the nation.

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Last week, Parker said being appointed to the federal post was agreat honor. Also, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hesaid the agency will play an important role in helping theadministration to ensure the country’s water resources are safe andits dams, locks and waterways are kept open.

That’s a big challenge, but one we’re sure the formercongressman is up to meeting.

Two years ago, Ronnie Musgrove also received a “great honor”when state lawmakers gave him the governor’s mansion over Parker.Unfortunately, that has been one of the few times that legislatorsand the governor have been “singing from the same sheet ofmusic.”

And, for good or bad, the spotlight rarely has been off Musgrovesince his election.

High points of Musgrove’s governorship have included asuccessful, albeit hard-fought, battle with the legislature toraise teacher pay and the landing of the Nissan automobile plant inCanton.

Lows have included a heated state flag battle, rumors of andultimate divorce from his wife Melanie, and having to wield thebudget ax as the state suffers through an economic downturn.Economic problems can’t be placed fully at Musgrove’s doorstep, butthey are happening on his watch.

Musgrove’s challenge is to keep his and the state’s economichead above water. Lawmakers likely won’t make that task any easierand the governor’s chances of being returned to office two yearsfrom now appear cloudy at best.

Given past events and future possibilities for Parker andMusgrove, the “winner” in the 1999 governor’s race may have adifferent meaning now.