Butch 101: Huff gives lessonPublished 12:13am Thursday, September 6, 2012
NATCHEZ — If working with Natchez Mayor Butch Brown was a class, former police chief Willie Huff might be its star student.
Natchez native Huff worked with Brown as police chief during Brown’s first two terms as mayor and again when Brown was at the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Huff is now the director MDOT’s Office of Law Enforcement.
Huff used his experience with Brown and led a sort of “Butch Brown 101” class to the city’s department heads Wednesday.
Brown said he asked Huff to come down and talk to the department heads about working with “an impatient mayor who wants everything done yesterday.”
“He really understands it and has been able to live with that and motivate others on how to deal with those stern demands for progress,” Brown said.
Huff told the department heads that while he is demanding, Brown’s vision, drive and loyalty to Natchez ultimately come back to enhancing the quality of life for the city’s residents.
“It’s all about making this community a safe and pleasant place to live and grow and have your family and visit,” Huff said.
To do that, Huff said, Brown looks at the big picture.
“It’s your job to figure out how to get where he wants to go,” Huff told the department heads.
Telling Brown “it can’t be done” is probably the worst thing a department head could say, Huff said.
“His favorite reply to that is ‘No is just a request for more information,’” Huff said.
Huff told the department heads that Brown will ask thorough questions about a department head’s plan or proposal.
“He’s going to challenge you,” he said. “It’s not that he’s not going to agree with you in the end, but he’s going to make sure you’re solid in your plans.”
“The man will back you up through the gates of hell if he has to,” Huff added.
Huff advised the department heads that Brown was also a believer in technology, code enforcement and thinking outside the box.
Huff encouraged the department heads to seek grants to fund projects in their respective departments.
“He loves spending other people’s money,” he said. “Somebody else is going to get it, so it might as well be Natchez.”
The vision Brown has for Natchez, Huff said, will demand excellence from the city’s employees and teamwork and communication among the departments.
“I’m not here today to sell you Butch Brown,” Huff said. “Butch is Butch, and we have stood toe-to-toe on some issues, but he’s not hard to work with. In the 18 to 19 years I’ve worked for and with him, I never felt I had to work for him; I worked with him.”