A new state law could take Mississippi from the middle of the pack among states, in its government transparency and accountability to near the bottom.
Released at the same time as Gov. Haley Barbour's budget recommendation for the upcoming 2012 fiscal year was a report card for state government. Since 1997, state agencies submit performance reports along with their annual budget requests, as required by the Mississippi Performance and Strategic Planning Act.
Despite warnings that an intra-office feud could jeopardize its integrity, the Nov. 2 elections in Hinds County appeared to go off without a hitch. With its hands full handling post-election vote tallies and the like, the Hinds County Election Commission has been largely silent since last week, but the commission's issues are not likely to go away.
One of the great things about government transparency is its trans-partisan appeal. Conservatives can distrust government just as much as liberals, sometimes more. Still, when it comes to high-tech watchdog organizations and initiatives, most innovation seems to come from vaguely progressive, if officially nonpartisan, sources.
A dash of transparency could be coming to Hinds County's court system in 2011 along with some newly elected judges. Mississippi Electronic Courts, a pilot program offering attorneys and members of the public online access to court filings, is on track to become available statewide at the beginning of next year.
BP's $20 billion fund to compensate those hurt by the Gulf oil spill will probably turn down one controversial class of claims: those for mental-health problems.
With the November judicial elections still months away, many candidates for circuit and county judge positions have not begun campaigning in earnest. If a recent round of campaign-finance records is any indication, though, a few candidates are wasting no time in building war chests.
Fuel purchases by the Hinds County Board of Supervisors have cost county taxpayers over $10,000 since January 2009, according to documents obtained by the Jackson Free Press. The Jackson Free Press obtained Fuelman expense reports for each of the five county supervisors through a public-records request.
Last week, reporter Ward Schaefer revealed what could be serious problems with the allocations and tracking of federal tutoring funds provided to public schools under the No Child Left Behind Act. The Jackson Free Press obtained a variety of documents indicating that at least one provider could have been overpaid.
Well, we tried.
Organizers of a event heralded as a unity event for Mayor-elect Johnson barred cameras at the last minute. This was a mistake and a signal to Johnson to ensure transparency.