Politics and Grass Lawn Part 2: Brian Carriere Beats a Hasty Retreat

As public outrage over the ill advised City Council Tuesday vote to turn down a $500,000 grant to rebuild Grass Lawn coalesces, the three city council members who let politics stand in the way of recovery are running hard for cover. Today’s news involves Brian Carriere, the man who said he was against rebuilding Grass Lawn all along but would have voted to put off discussion had he known the grant would have been turned down. He is beating a very hasty retreat as Ryan LaFontain’s story exhibits:

In an e-mail Thursday to the City Council and City Hall, Councilman Brian Carriere took issue with a Sun Herald report this week on Grass Lawn.

The City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to reject a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Archives and History, money specifically for rebuilding Grass Lawn that the city will not be required to repay.

In a front-page story Wednesday the newspaper reported Carriere led the opposition to the grant.

But in the e-mail Thursday the councilman said, “I did not lead any opposition regarding Grass Lawn and have never lobbied any council members to vote any way on this item. Each is capable of making his or her own choices.”

Carriere said he supports rebuilding many city-owned properties Katrina destroyed, but there is too much uncertainty surrounding Grass Lawn.

He told city leaders many questions need answering before he – or anyone – could make an informed decision on rebuilding the home, including solid estimates of construction, insurance and maintenance costs.

In the e-mail, which also was sent to Mayor Brent Warr’s office, Carriere referred to the Sun Herald’s report on whether his future political aspirations have factored into his recent council votes. Sources close to Carriere have said privately he is contemplating a run for mayor next year.

“This is merely part of the long rumor mill that exists around public officials,” Carriere wrote. “I’ve been hearing this for more than a year now and it has not come from me or my family.”

However, he seemed to leave the door at least partially open.

“As a lifelong resident of Gulfport it would be an honor to serve the community in that capacity,” he said.

Carriere and other council members have signaled a willingness to reconsider the Grass Lawn grant, provided additional cost estimates are made available.

The online story referenced a sound off extra on this issue. Soundoff is a Sun Herald feature that allows for reader comments on issues. Unfortunately I could not find the online version for this issue to share but I will report there were ten comments printed by the Sun Herald with 9 being in support of rebuilding Grass lawn.  I won’t waste time re typing the 9 in support because it was the one that was against rebuilding that goes to the heart of this issue: The negative tit for tat BS that has held the Gulfport back for years prior to Brent Warr’s election in 2005.

Aw, all the little rich snobs that own the Daily Herald are upset because Grass Lawn may not be built back. That’s why we shouldn’t build it back: Just to cater to you few elite people who want it to be built back to have your little hubbidy-dubbidy weddings and parties. You don’t want it because it’s a part of our history and tradition: you want it so  you can have your little parties. God took it for a reason and God took you people by the water for a reason. Hear the message God is sending you.

My friend Dave from Waveland was an apprentice chef at the time he was married at Grass Lawn. He certainly wasn’t rich but it was a beautiful place to have such a ceremony. I attended a few more weddings there since Dave was married so long ago, some of the people had money and some didn’t but it was open to rent by all, regardless of class or social station. While I have no doubt the person who called the sound off line and left that remark does indeed hear voices, including what they think is the voice of the Almighty, the message encapsulates the small minded thinking that voters soundly rejected in early 2005. It is apparent the house cleaning the voters gave the city council then may still not be quite complete.