City attorney to leave city post

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; With the completion of two major city projects, Walter Brown has decided now is the right time to step down as city attorney, a position he has held for 24 years.

&8220;I need to spend more time with my private practice,&8221; Brown said Tuesday. &8220;It&8217;s just a time in my life when I need to redirect my focus.&8221;

Waiting until the bluff condominium project and new hotel were nearly complete, Brown said that the time felt right to resign.

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&8220;Hopefully the condos will close in the next couple of weeks and the hotel will begin construction in September,&8221; Brown said.

&8220;I didn&8217;t want to leave in the middle of something. We have been in the middle of something for a while.&8221;

Brown started his law practice in 1965 and with his election to the Mississippi House in 1967. He has 40 years of public service.

He served as state representative until 1980.

In 1979, he was appointed to the Mississippi Ethics Commission and was appointed chairman of that board in 1982, a position he still holds.

In 1983, Brown was appointed city attorney under Tony Byrne. Since then he has served in five mayoral administrations.

&8220;It&8217;s a tragedy for the city of Natchez,&8221; Alderman David Massey said Tuesday. &8220;Walter is the foremost attorney in the state as far as knowing municipal law.&8221;

&8220;I can&8217;t imagine going to a meeting and not turning to him with some question,&8221; he said.

Mayor Phillip West agreed Tuesday after hearing the news.

&8220;He&8217;s been a tremendous asset to the city for years,&8221; he said. &8220;It will be very difficult to replace his expertise.&8221;

And his expertise is something that has been important to the city, former Natchez Mayor Larry L. Butch Brown said Tuesday.

&8220;Throughout the state Walter is known as the best municipal attorney around,&8221; Butch Brown said. &8220;His relationship to state leaders is second to none in the state.&8221;

Butch Brown said that Walter&8217;s leadership was critical to many of the projects that were accomplished during his administration.

&8220;We had the most aggressive time as far as doing new projects for the city under my administration,&8221; he said. &8220;Without Walter, we could not have accomplished many of those projects.&8221;

&8220;He had a great ability to think outside the box.&8221;

Former mayor Tony Byrne said that the city is losing one of its best and brightest leaders.

&8220;I think they are losing a brilliant mind,&8221; Byrne said. &8220;When he gave you an opinion, you knew that it was the law.&8221;

As far as replacing attorney Brown, most were in agreement.


may be able to find another board attorney, but you will not be able to replace Walter,&8221; Massey said.

But Walter Brown said he will do everything to acquaint the new board attorney with the current city projects and litigation.

&8220;I have assured the board that there will be a smooth transition,&8221; Walter Brown said Tuesday.

&8220;We have an experienced board that operates well together, and West has been there for two years and has his feet on the ground. It will be an easy transition.&8221;

According to Walter Brown, his last day will be June 30.

&8220;We have good employees and department heads at the city.&8221; he said. &8220;I will especially miss working with them every day.&8221;

Aldermen Rickey Gray and Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West could not be reached for comment.

Phone calls to alderman Ricky Gray and Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West were not returned.