The Mississippi Transportation Commission voted 2-1 to fire MDOT Executive Director Butch Brown in a meeting this morning.
Magnolia Marketplace was able to reach Brown, who is in Houston, Texas, undergoing cancer treatment at M.D. Anderson, on his cell phone just after noon.
“I’m shocked,” said Brown, who has served in the post about a decade. “It’s hard to fathom the callousness behind a move like this.”
Brown had surgery related to prostate cancer, his third bout with the disease, on Jan. 21. He has remained at M.D. Anderson since, and has additional procedures scheduled over the next few days. Before Tuesday’s vote, he said he expected to return to his office “within the next few weeks.”
Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall and new Northern District Commissioner Mike Tagert voted to terminate Brown. Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown voted to retain him until June 30, when Butch Brown had previously announced he planned to retire.
“I’m disgusted,” Wayne Brown said shortly after the meeting. “I thought there would be more compassion and more understanding. This is heartless. The man’s already been thrown under the bus, and we just backed the ambulance over him.”
Hall said the decision was “performance-based.”
“If you want somebody gone, you don’t let them hang around for five or six months,” said Hall, who has had a long-running feud with Butch Brown. “That’s not the way you run a business. I truly feel sorry for him. I’m a cancer survivor myself, but that didn’t factor into the equation.”
Under the terms of the vote, Butch Brown has until the close of business Wednesday to resign. He told us he had already submitted his resignation.
“This leaves me in a vulnerable, uninsurable position,” Butch Brown said. “M.D. Anderson is not a cheap place to get treatment. It’s a pretty callous way to treat a man.”
We still haven’t gotten up with Tagert. When we do, we’ll post what he says.