[City Buzz] no. 8 November 8 - 15

Barbour Disses MAEP

Gov. Haley Barbour says he won't be bound by the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which provides funding for teachers' salaries, classroom materials, school utilities and other education necessities.

Speaking at the Mississippi Economic Council last week, Barbour said: "But for me, I am not in favor of taking all that money and cramming it into just a formula. I think there are things that are more important than funding an artificial formula."

Sen. Hob Bryan, a member of the Senate Education Committee and an avid defender of the MAEP who regularly speaks out against the state's annual under-funding of the program, said Barbour's statement amounted to doublespeak.

"I'm perplexed by that position, but clearly he's been trying to hold down funding for public education since he took office. The formula is the way that we deliver money to the local schools. Every penny of it goes to the local school districts. … He says he's for increasing teacher's salaries but then turns right around and opposes sending the local schools the money they need to pay their salaries," Bryan said, adding that the formula doubles as a means to keep Mississippi from getting sued for shortchanging rural school districts.

"MAEP helps us avoid lawsuits. Forty-something odd states have had lawsuits over this," Bryan said.
— Adam Lynch

No Rest for the Wicked

Unapologetic and unrepentant to the end, former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel H. Bowers died in prison of natural causes, on Sunday, Nov. 5. Bowers, who founded the violent Klan offshoot the White Knights, was serving a life sentence in Parchman for ordering the assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer. Bowers was tried for that crime three times before he was finally convicted. In his first two trials, his all-white juries could not agree on a verdict and both were declared mistrials. A 1968 jury voted 11 to 1 for conviction, and the second, in 1969, 10 to 2.

Dahmer, a champion of equal voting rights for blacks, was fire-bombed outside his Hattiesburg-area home on January 10, 1966, after he announced that residents could pay their poll taxes at his grocery store. That morning, he held off two carloads of Klan with a shotgun, giving his family time to escape, but the Klan struck him down when he exited his house. Both his store and his adjacent home were set ablaze. Dahmer, who was 58, died 12 hours later.

Decades later, Bowers was tried again in 1998. This time the Klansman was sentenced to life in prison, which, as it turned out, was a mere eight years. At 82, he lived 24 years longer than his victim.
— Ronni Mott


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