[City Buzz] In Litigation

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes has filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court Stokes to contest the election of Dr. Leslie McLemore to take the place of Council President Marshand Crisler, who is serving in Iraq. Wanting Vice President Bo Brown to ascend to the top spot, Stokes filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to keep the council vote from taking effect, but was denied. Before the vote, Stokes stood up and walked out of the City Council chambers claiming that he could not vote in the council election because the January election was "in litigation." City Attorney Terry Wallace said that the fact that the past election is "in litigation" should not interfere with the current July election. After Stokes left, the council voted 4-1 for McLemore to continue as president of the council. Without hesitation, Bettye Dagner-Cooke nominated Brown to stay on as vice president. However, Brown declined the nomination because the prior election was "in litigation." The council went on to elect Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon as vice president.

In a decision that thrilled local victims of abuse by Catholic priests, Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter denied a motion July 7 by the Catholic Diocese of Jackson to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the church for "a coverup of massive proportions" of alleged sexual abuse by Father James Kircher against John Does 6 and 7 when they were children during the decade between 1974 and 1984. DeLaughter wrote that the church was trying to deny plaintiffs a "forum for a jury to even consider their grievances." DeLaughter has already dismissed three lawsuits against the church due to the statute of limitations, saying it has been too long for plaintiffs to sue. They, on the other hand, maintain that the church's coverup has continued through the present.

On the same day, a report by the U.S. House of Representatives found that states are placing thousands of mentally ill young people in juvenile detention centers—also called reform schools, training schools or, simply, jails—because mental-health services are unavailable. The report called the "warehousing" a "serious national problem." Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., requested the report along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "This is deplorable," Waxman told the Associated Press. Indeed.

Meanwhile, back in Mississippi, some determined lawmakers and children's advocates are working to draw attention to the plight of young people in the state's under-funded training schools, Oakley and Columbia. The state is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for physically and mentally abusing children in those facilities. Rep. Erik Fleming, D-Hinds, is hosting two days of hearings on July 19th (2-5 p.m.) and 20th (9 a.m.-noon) in Room 113 at the state Capitol. Anyone who cares about children is welcome to attend. Also, Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, is holding his annual walk-through inspections at the two facilities on July 27 and 28 at 1:30 p.m. Call (601) 630-8003 for details.

The city has announced that the left lane of Pascagoula Street, just west of West Street, will be closed for several months. Argh. But it's for a good cause: the construction of the new City Centre Parking Facility. That is where all the new workers of the building's new tenants are supposed to park. It may sound dull, but this is great news for the city: the more parking problems, the better. … TRES CHIC PRESS KIT: Patrons of the Mississippi Museum of Art may also park at City Centre. The museum just announced that its press kit for the Paris Moderne exhibit (extended until Sept. 6) has won an award in the American Association of Museums Publication Design Competition. The kit was designed by the Ramey Agency. You think the press kit is cool, you ought to see the exhibit.

The Mississippi Arts Commission is hosting its Whole Schools Initiative Summer Institute from July 18-23 at the University of Southern Mississippi. The conference will present a keynote address by acclaimed education advocate, Ron Clark, a Disney Teacher of the Year. An artist reception will feature artwork from and accolades for student artists and curators. The Whole Schools Initiative serves to spread the importance of the arts in education and is supported by grants from the Arts Commission. Presently, 22 schools are part of the initiative's network. For information about the initiative and the Summer Institute, visit http://www.mswholeschools.org

The U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that, while a record number of U.S. citizens have high school and college diplomas, Mississippi is still lagging behind. While nearly 30 percent of Americans have at least a bachelor's degree, only 19.3 percent of Mississippians do. And both Hispanics and blacks still lag whites in academic achievement, both in Mississippi and across the U.S., according to a recent AP report. One of the biggest gains indicated was by women who have narrowed the education gap significantly over the last 20 years.

Where will YOU be on Cow Appreciation Day (July 18th)? Well, hopefully not at Burger King. If you're looking for more fun than your conventional holiday hoopla, then try these on for size: "Stick Your Tongue Out Day" (July 19th), "Jump for Jellybeans Day" (July 21st), "Rat-Catcher's Day" (July 22nd), UPS' birthday (July 26th), and the JFP's personal favorite "Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day" (July 27th). If you crave more zany holiday fun, visit http://www.everythingpreschool.com/holidays/h2002/jul.htm

Check out the JFP's brand-new music blog online at http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/music


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