Stories for March 2007


Saturday, March 31

Crossroads Festival Winners Announced

Monday update: We're pleased to announce that "Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?" won the Audience Choice Award this year.

Friday, March 30

BREAKING: Ellis Attorney to Ask for Recusal

Lisa Ross, attorney for Michael Ellis, told the Jackson Free Press today that she is going to ask that hearing officer Charles McClelland recuse himself from the termination proceeding of fired Chastain Middle School principal Michael Ellis. She said a "concerned citizen" told her that Jackson Public Schools has awarded part of a $7.6 million contract to McClelland Moving and Storage, owned by Charles McClelland. Earlier this year, Ellis sued JPS Superintendent Earl Watkins for sexual harassment in federal count; the district maintains that Ellis was fired in December because he mismanaged funds and doctored payroll records. The JFP has not been able to confirm the amount of the JPS contract at this writing, or ascertain what part of it was awarded to McClelland.

Will the Boys Choir of Harlem survive after Walter Turnbull's death?

Walter Turnbull, founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem, died March 23 at the age of 62 due to complications from a stroke. I wasn't aware of this until today, and I also wasn't aware of the trouble the choir has been having recently.

Bulldogs To Battle At High Noon

Mississippi State will hold its spring football game on Saturday at noon at Scott Field. The game is part of MSU's annual Super Bulldog Weekend.

Thursday, March 29

Ed St. Pe and Donna Ladd on Radio JFP Friday

BREAKING: Mayor Agrees to Confirmation Hearings

After many months of stalling, Mayor Frank Melton has finally agreed to put department heads and other appointments in front of the City Council for confirmation. Councilman Ben Allen told the Jackson Free Press today that Melton sent him an e-mail requesting that Allen move ahead with setting up confirmation hearings for the following positions: Rick Hill of the Department of Finance; Fire Chief Todd Chandler; Charles Melvin of Parks and Recreation; Jackson Redevelopment Authority board member Ted Duckworth; Jackson Public Schools Board member Ivory Phillips; Municipal Court Judge Ali ShamsidDeen, and Planning and Development consultant Leland Speed.

Tigers Spring Into Action

Jackson State fans will get a preview of the 2007 football season when the Tigers play in the Blue and White spring game on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 12 and under.

Wednesday, March 28

Thabi Moyo

"I didn't know what I wanted to do when I first went to college," Thabi Moyo, 26, says, reminiscing about the spiral of events that led her to her current jobs as festival coordinator of the Crossroads Film Festival and cultural manager for the Canton Visitor's Bureau.

Bring on the Budget

"We've been needing to talk about (the budget) for weeks. What we were told was the end of March. I hope by Monday we can get a grasp of where we are," Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler said at Monday's work session, noting that the administration had already missed two budget deadlines.

Crime Falls—Or Does It?

March 28, 2007 The Clarion-Ledger reported on crime statistics for the end of 2006 last Tuesday under the headline "Jackson Crime: Overall Numbers Dip." The headline, and the story itself, appear to be misleading, however, because the claim that crime has dipped is apparently based on selected month-to-month comparisons with 2005 rather on a cumulative year-to-year comparison.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, NIT championship (6 p.m., ESPN): Will Mississippi State get the chance to become the third straight SEC team to become the nation's best also-ran?

Outpacing Expectations

When this issue went to press, the Mississippi State basketball team was in New York, preparing to play in the NIT semifinals. All of the state's Big Four men's teams enjoyed successful seasons. But it's never too early to start thinking about next season.

You Cook, I Cook, We All Go Out to Eat!

As a new resident of the Jackson area, I am in awe of the masses who seem to go out to eat every single night. Don't get me wrong, I do it as well, but why?

Oatmeal Never Tasted So Good

In northern England's county of North Yorkshire lies the city of Tadcaster. The Old Brewery at Tadcaster is, fittingly, the country's oldest beer brewery; this is where the Samuel Smith brand is brewed. I celebrate Samuel Smith's entire catalog. But, this week Oatmeal Stout takes center stage.

Legislative Update: Smokes, Schools and Parks

The House agreed with the Senate in a 120-to-0 vote to roll the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi into the Health Department. Former tobacco lobbyist Haley Barbour killed the Partnership last year, suing to cut the annual $20 million funding to the smoking cessation program, which former Attorney General Mike Moore called "the most successful program of its kind in the country."

Monitor Blasts State on Training Schools

Mississippi school children continue to suffer physical abuse at the Oakley and Columbia training schools, according to monitor Joyce L. Burrell's report. For the fifth time in five quarterly reports, Burrell reports abuse of students and stalled progress in the state's efforts to reform the schools.

Supes Withhold Emergency Plan

Mississippi school children continue to suffer physical abuse at the Oakley and Columbia training schools, according to monitor Joyce L. Burrell's report. For the fifth time in five quarterly reports, Burrell reports abuse of students and stalled progress in the state's efforts to reform the schools.

Belated Training for Greenwood Cop

Casey Wiggins, the Greenwood law enforcement trainee who pulled his gun twice while detaining Greenwood High School student James Marshall on Dec. 6, 2006, has enrolled in the police academy at Mississippi Delta Community College.

Crossroads: Telling Our Own Stories

I was privileged this year to serve as the president of the Crossroads Film Society's board of directors, which meant an opportunity to work with a wonderful group of creative folks. Mostly, I would tell them things like, "No, that's not in the budget."

[Taylor] Rallying for 'Prisoners of War'

March 30, 1973, was a clear, beautiful day, perhaps a blessing from heaven for the day's events. Thousands of Jacksonians and some out-of-town guests congregated on the Jackson State University campus. Exhilarated from the march to the campus from Lynch Street, they listened intently to the message given by Rev. Ben Chavis—a member of the Wilmington 10, the group that had been falsely arrested for conspiracy and arson in North Carolina—who later changed his name to Minister Benjamin F. Muhammad.

[Stiggers] Everything's a Dollar

Miss Doodle-Mae: "Greetings, Jo-Jo's Discount Dollar Store customers. You may know me as the store's part-time cashier and security guard. Jo-Jo, however, feels that I'm as articulate as Barack Obama, and he has commissioned me—Miss Doodle-Mae Jenkins—to be the official spokesperson for his business.

No. 28, March 29 - April 4

<b><em>Fighting Terror at Home</b></em>

Today we're outraged about terrorism. We should be. Our outrage should not spare the terrorists in white sheets who intimidated, tortured and murdered American citizens right here! We criticize the people in Iraq, North Africa and the Balkans for killing each other over race or religion, often sanctioned by that country's version of the Sovereignty Commission. We feel superior to them while forgetting our own sins.

The JFP Interview with Joey Lauren Adams

Filmmaker Joey Lauren Adams, 39, is a fan of drinking Budweiser and driving along flat Arkansas highways looking at cypress trees, not necessarily at the same time. The first time I interviewed her, for a hoity-toity celebrity magazine in New York City in the summer of 2001, she was home in North Little Rock from her adopted city of Los Angeles, hankering to live in the South again. But as a successful and respected actress—she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her starring role in "Chasing Amy"' and is a charter member of director Kevin Smith's hipster actor posse—her life and business were far from Arkansas.

Crossroads Film Festival 2007: Some Sweet Flicks

Every April, Crossroads brings films to Jackson that we ordinarily would never have a chance to see. These are films made by masters and beginners, locals and outsiders. Some are just a few minutes long, while others are full-length features. Some are experimental, while others are more conventional. Subjects range from musical legends like Bob Dylan and James Brown to gay sea creatures (no, that's not a joke, though the movie is very funny) to "Star Wars" enthusiasts to serious drama.

D.A. Questions Judge Allowing Officer to Walk

The Clarion is reporting today that District Attorney Faye Peterson is outraged that Judge Bobby DeLaughter has allowed a police officer charged with vehicular manslaughter to go free with no jail time. After Jeffrey Middleton, who ran a red light and killed a man in 2005 while on duty, pled guilty to the charge that carries up to 20 years in prison, DeLaughter placed him on probation and withheld adjudication, which means that the judge can undo his guilty plea if he doesn't violate the terms of his short probation, and then expunge his record. That, Peterson says, could mean that Middleton is allowed to become a police officer again.

Tuesday, March 27

BREAKING: Mother Confirms Evans Welch Arrest

The U. S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Jackson resident Evans Welch Tuesday morning on an aggravated assault warrant filed by Jackson Police Department homicide detectives at his parents' home on Derrick St., according to a press release sent out by the city of Jackson.

Become a Small-Time Banker; End Poverty

Nick Kristof's column today illuminates one very easy way you can help developing nations with only $25. allows you to become a microfinancier. You're technically not even donating the $25, just lending it.

Canada's Seal Problem

I got something in e-mail about this and I felt compelled to post about it. Seems legit coming from the Humane Society. Do with this information what you will. If you do eat seafood, though, maybe focus on home-grown catfish for a few months...

BREAKING: Approaching Storm in Demolitions Filings?

City Council President Ben Allen dropped a bombshell during a contentious discussion of the city's claims and payroll dockets during Monday's work session.

JUST IN: Wilson Pleads Guilty to Murder in Teen Death

More details as they develop ...

Toice Wilson today pled guilty to murder in Hinds County Circuit Court after the prosecution refused his request yesterday to plead guilty to manslaughter in the beating death of Tawana Sandifer, 15. Judge Swan Yerger than sentenced him to life in prison.

Panda Poop Paper

No, it's not a tongue twister. Then again, maybe it is - spittle included. Here's a little tidbit that is an example of how recycling can be taken to a whole new level. A smelly new level, but a new level nonetheless.

Monday, March 26

Daily Newspaper Revenue, Readership Declining

No surprise here, but daily newspapers are in trouble. Gannett, which owns The Clarion-Ledger, is showing a dramatic drop in revenue and readership, for instance. The New York Times reports today on how bad it is, and why:

Shantala to Bring 'Bliss and Devotion'

For the third year in a row, Butterfly Yoga is bringing a unique musical experience to Jackson. Shantala, aka Benjy and Heather Wertheimer, will lead a Kirtan (pronounced keer-tahn) and perform songs from their albums "The Love Window" and "Church of the Sky."

Friday, March 23

Danks Renews Charges, AG and Green Fire Back

Three motions regarding Judge Tomie Green's renewed call for sanctions against former Mayor Dale Danks, who is Mayor Frank Melton's private attorney, were filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court in the last two days.

Dads and Purity Balls-Respect My Authortay!

I've sat on this one too long. Feministing has blogged about the ickiness of the Purity Ball for a while now, and this one is quite the ickiest.

Thursday, March 22

Gay Rights Activists Protest MC

Photo credit: Brian Johnson

Photo caption: Soulforce co-director Katie Higgins was among those arrested at Mississippi College Thursday.

Go see Infinite.

Hal & Mal's Red Room

One of the Chick Ball committee members, Infinite, let us in on some of her upcoming events. We thought you should know, too!

BREAKING: Wade Defends Melton Removal

In a March 22 filing (PDF, 215 KB) in Hinds County circuit court, local WJNT host Kim Wade has responded to a motion from former Mayor Dale Danks, who serves as Mayor Frank Melton's private attorney, asking the court to dismiss Wade's call for Melton's removal from office.

Wednesday, March 21

Watchin' It

The delicious aroma of oatmeal raisin cookies greets me as I push open the office door. I attempt to rebel against the evil forces pulling me toward the scent. In recent months, there have been pounds' worth of weight-gaining opportunities in our back office area.

From Jackson to Broadway

Kit Williamson, is a young Jackson native pursuing acting in New York City. Williamson attended St. Andrews before leaving for Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school in Michigan. Williamson is now a sophomore at Fordham University, majoring in acting and playwriting and interned for the JFP for two summers. This interview came on the eve of his first Broadway role as an understudy in "Talk Radio," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by Eric Bogosian, based on the life of a radio shock-jock. Since then, however, Williamson is now co-starring as Spike, the protagonist's sound engineer.

[Music] Will You Still Love Your Songs Tomorrow?

Hattiesburg singer-songwriter Matt Gill has to be Mississippi's best-kept musical secret. I remember when Jonathan McLeran, another Mississippi native songwriter, first introduced me to his recordings. I was struck by Gill's strange sense of melody and knack for stream-of-consciousness compositions.

After All These Years

On shelves on the wall behind the cash register, at least 100 old toy cars hover over numerous signs. The sign directly behind the cash register reads:

A Match Made in Hollywood

A successful match of two things you wouldn't necessarily think would go together is even more satisfying for being unexpected. The first person who dipped pretzels into chocolate or put pineapple onto a pizza was probably quite pleased with the result. Sometimes it happens with wine—either through a pairing of food and wine or through the winery itself. Witness the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, now renamed Rubicon Estate.

High Noon in Jacktown

City Chief of Staff Marcus Ward is among 20 class members scheduled to graduate the 10th basic reserve law enforcement class on March 21.

I'll Go to Flowood, I Swear

Developer Ted Duckworth, the man behind numerous development projects in Jackson including the 308 Electric Building, said the city is thwarting his efforts to move forward with a project he has planned for the city's old library, at 301 North State Street.

Short Circuit Downs 911

The city's 911 emergency answering service shut down over the weekend because of a blown circuit breaker. Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler questioned the police about the shutdown after he received calls from at least five city residents complaining that calls to the emergency operation rang without answer.

One Last Chance

The specter of the city claims and payroll docket continues to send Jackson City Council members into a frenzy. Two votes approving claims and payroll passed Monday on a 2-1 vote with one abstention. Shortly after those votes, however, Deputy City Attorney Michele Purvis said she believed docket approval required an affirmative vote, meaning that the earlier votes failed to pass.

Boxers, Cows, Horses and Hogs

Advocacy groups this week denounced Senate Finance Committee Chair Tommy Robertson for killing an embattled tax swap bill that would have cut the state's grocery tax by half and raised the tobacco tax to $1 per pack.

Lose the Residency Requirements

Jackson's City Council is considering extending the residency requirements of fire and police employees to an area 30 miles beyond the city of Jackson. City ordinance currently demands that city employees live inside Hinds County, but a 30-mile extension would allow the city's personnel department to consider applications from deep within nearby counties like Madison and Rankin.

'Balance'or Pandering?

The Clarion-Ledger's editorial director has asserted that when Molly Ivins was alive, he ran Ivins and Ann Coulter columns in rotation because they "balance" one another.

[Johnson] Charrette or Charade?

"(The LeFleur Lakes) plan is really unpopular with everyone but you, John. It is a different world when you are not in the room. There is no question that this plan is unpopular." The collective gasp was audible.

[Stiggers] Hands Off My Mower

Sista Announcement: "Coming soon to A.T. & T. (i.e., Aunt Tee Tee) cable television is a fresh new chitlin' circuit gospel comedy called 'We Can Keep a Good Riding Lawnmower in the Ghetto.'

[Kamikaze] Robin Hood To The Rescue?

What are we Jacksonians prepared to do? Will you stand proud and stay, or cower and leave?

Tease photo

Fighting Back In Klan Nation

When Mary Geraldine Briggs heard a horn blaring outside her small house, under shady oak trees on Highway 84 in Roxie, Miss., she would go get the shotgun and head to the door to protect her family. The horn was the signal from her husband, Rev. Clyde Bennie Briggs, that a carload of Klansmen was on his tail again. His wife was instructed to do anything she needed to do to protect herself and their six kids, and the one on the way. She was armed and ready.

BREAKING: Magnolia Bar Calls for Danks Sanctions

<i>Photo credit: Adam Lynch

Photo caption: Jaribu Hill of the Magnolia Bar Association called for sanctions against Dale Danks Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 20

Veterans Suicide Prevention Act

Please contact your U.S. representative and ask him to vote for HR 327. If you haven't already, read the story of Jonathan Schulze and you will see how important this legislation is.

ALISON KRUASS Returns to Thalia Mara

ALISON KRUASS & UNION STATION featuring JERRY DOUGLAS, THALIA MARA HALL, THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 8PM. Tickets On Sale: Friday, March 23 at 9am. Ticket Locations: The Coliseum Box Office & All Ticketmaster Outlets 601.355.5252 . Ticket price: $47.50 / $39.75 + fees (all seats reserved).

Monday, March 19

BREAKING: Ramie Ford Leaves City Government

Ramie Ford, who Mayor Frank Melton tapped to head up a proposed Neighborhood Enhancement Division, has left city government to become the director of state parks under the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Friday, March 16

Ledger: Melton ‘Should Have Learned'

Oh, and they end the thing with this:

In another demonstration of why their newspaper is so awful, The Clarion-Ledger edit-boyz today declared that, now that Judge Webster has thrown out the probation warrants against Melton, that the mayor "should have learned that doesn't mean he can break his parole with impunity." How's that, Ledge? How did a judge from elsewhere throwing out every bit of his parole violations, calling them "technical," send the message to Melton that he cannot "break his parole with impunity"? Are we on the same planet here? Is logic allowed through the front door over there?

Thursday, March 15

Summaries galore

Location: Blue Springs, Mississippi (outside of Tupelo)

HOUSEKEEPING - A WEEKLY SUMMARY REPORT FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 2, 2007 JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI The announcement that Japanese auto giant Toyota will build a manufacturing plant in Northeast Mississippi clearly dominated talk in the State Capitol during the ninth week of the 2007 Legislature. Once the announcement was made that we had secured the plant, the Legislature went to work on the incentives package. After consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee, the full House and Senate then voted on Friday to approve the $293.9 million package. This means that work on the plant site will begin almost immediately. The new plant, to be located just northwest of Tupelo where Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties join on the industrial site known as Wellspring, will have the capacity to build 150,000 vehicles annually of Toyota's popular Highlander sport utility vehicle. Production is scheduled to begin by 2010. The new plant represents a $1.3 billion investment by Toyota and is expected to create approximately 2,000 new jobs for the region and indirectly create work for many more. Operations at the plant will include stamping, body weld, plastics, paint, and assembly. Toyota is pressing General Motors to become the world's largest automaker. Toyota manufacturing Executive Vice President Ray Tanguay pointed out several factors that led to Toyota's site selection decision. "On my visits to Northern Mississippi, I have talked with area companies and observed their workforce," said Tanguay. "What I observed were people who are educated, ethical and friendly with a strong work ethic—a perfect match for the Toyota Way." He added that the area's existing companies had high praise for the workforce. "They were definitely the best sales people." Speaker of the House Billy McCoy, who attended the announcement in Tupelo, called Tuesday, Feb. 27 "a great day in Mississippi. I wish all of you could have heard the way the Toyota leaders talked about the things that the Legislature has worked hard for over the last 25 years, like education, economic development and transportation. They talked well of the region and the entire state." Outline of Toyota Mississippi

Wednesday, March 14

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, NCAA Tournament (teams TBA, 11 a.m., Ch. 12/930 AM): Skip work, call the pizza man, tape your office pool bracket sheet to the wall and get in your favorite chair. America's greatest sporting event is about to begin.

Melton Claims ‘Corruption at the Highest Level'

Today, Mayor Frank Melton, who is still in Texas, repeated a refrain to WLBT that he's used in the past:

Unita's World

Unita Blackwell is one of those rare people whose very presence can transform lives.

Singing Without Shame

Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen, and I are pulling thick wires out of glittered sweet potatoes on a farm in Clinton. Inside a barn, two Sweet Potato Queens, two Spud Studs and the Head SPQ Wannabe are diligently painting, glittering and prettying up the Official Parade Float for the 25th Annual Mal's St. Patrick's Day Parade. A hospital in Arkansas has given Jill a throne, which sparkles with obvious adoration and appreciation, to place on this year's float. If you've heard Jill Conner Browne speak, or know her at all, you can appreciate this token of affection. Jill says she "brings Jesus to folks who cuss like sailors," and she ceaselessly travels to tell others to "Do what makes your heart sing." She is the thinking and laughing woman's Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer.

Drinking Like The Irish

Many years ago, my mom took a pilgrimage to Europe with two of her college friends. In Ireland, they walked half the day, searching for the house where my great-great-grandmother grew up. They found it, as well as its very skeptical current owners. They let my mom look through the house and offered her a shot glass of whiskey. All my mom and her friends really wanted was a glass of water, but apparently Irish hospitality calls for whiskey shots.

Spring Forward

If Irish drinks make you think of gray skies and winter winds, you might find yourself searching for a beer that is perfectly suited to outdoor barbecues and get-togethers. Allow me to spare you the trouble of searching and introduce you to Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier.

Intergalactic Failure

Why do people make bad video games? I can't even begin to describe how awful "Rogue Galaxy" is. In fact, I believe that if you were to smash the "Rogue Galaxy" disc into tiny shards and then drink them, you would be having approximately 35 times as much fun as you would putting the game in your PS2 and playing it.

Chicks We Love: Headed Toward Chickdom

Besides slang's tendency to completely bewilder older generations, what would contemporary culture be without colloquialisms? One of the most beautiful things about slang is that it seems to eventually embrace those things initially interpreted as derogatory. The word chick is the perfect example. There are numerous entries for "chick" in The Urban Dictionary—yes, there is such a thing—and they're all fairly consistent. All the definitions allude to the fact that the term used to be derogatory, but is now actually a compliment. And for those of us who are completely naïve, the definitions even take care to point out the fact that the term rarely refers to a baby chicken.

Charrette Leader: Make City 'Walkable'

Andrés Duany, the renowned "New Urbanism" architect, promised "no resolution tonight" as he gave the final presentation of the intensive planning charrette held this past week to discuss ideas for retooling the Pearl River for flood control and economic development. Instead, he told a large crowd in the Mississippi Telcom Center's third-floor theater on Monday evening that he was "clarifying the plot" by presenting the different plans that his firm, DPZ, will now study and draw in detail, including pros and cons of each plan. He will deliver the final report to the Levee Board, which will be available to the public at some point in the next few months.

Greasing the Wheels

Two Democratic candidates for state office assailed Republicans for their opposition to a popular bill that would cut the grocery tax in half and raise the tax on cigarettes to $1 a pack last Thursday. Gov. Haley Barbour said he would veto the bill if it hit his desk, and Sen. Finance Chairman Tommy Robertson, R-Mosspoint, has promised to kill the bill in committee so that pro-tobacco legislators will not have to cast an unpopular vote during an election year.

Melton's Lawn Crew, Unveiled

The Jackson Free Press has learned that the head of a lawn service, financially seeded by Mayor Frank Melton, was arrested for armed robbery and rape in recent years. However, the young man tells the JFP that he pled to a lesser robbery charge, and the woman who accused him of rape in 2001 dropped the charge and is, in fact, the mother of one of his four children.

No Favoritism Here

Mayor Frank Melton's home street of Riverwood Drive, in north Jackson, is getting repaved this week, just a few weeks after a reporter pointed out a pothole to the mayor at a press conference outside his home at 2 Carter's Grove.

Supes OK Drug Court

On March 5, Hinds County supervisors approved funding for a youth drug court, authorized a tax abatement and discussed investing money from the $30 million 2007 bond on the market.

The First Step

My small group of friends and I spent the majority of last Saturday at Smith Robertson Museum. Our still nameless singing group and band performed at an art opening featuring many budding talents in our city. The exhibit's title: "Trapped Flowers." Jason Thompson, who emceed the show, said that a trapped flower was any woman who was stifled or suffocated, whether by domestic violence or by something more prosaic.

[Grayson] Ready or Not

When Donna Ladd called and told me that I had received the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' Diversity Internship Grant, I was thrilled. I was excited that I was embarking on another journey in my life. When I told my mother and grandmother, their reactions made me one of the happiest people in the world. My mother quickly called all of our relatives to tell them that her baby was going to be a reporter. It felt good to be moving forward.

[Stiggers] Gotta Bang, Bang the Boogie

Lifetime Sista Gurl Women's Television Network presents the Ghetto Chick Flick of the Week: "The Adventures of Nurse Tootie McBride: Medicine Woman, LPN, certified Tahitian Total Health Elixir distributor and part-time Tai Chi Instructor." In this episode ,Nurse Tootie diagnoses Momma "Too Funky Feets" Tidwell.

No. 26, March 14 - 21

<b><em>Taking Issue</b></em>

First, this case is not about Judge Tomie Green. It is about the alleged probation violations of Frank Melton. Defendant Melton was convicted of three crimes. Although they were misdemeanors, they were still criminal convictions. I did not sentence him to jail. Instead, I placed him on intensive supervision (house arrest). Out of deference for the mayor, we did not make public the fact that he was on house arrest/wearing a leg anklet and had a curfew, along with other conditions. Also, we did not require drug and alcohol testing, all out of respect for him as mayor. I was careful to warn the mayor that if he violated the probation and bond conditions, he would be subject to serving six months in jail.

Tiara Robinson

When she walked into the front office of Wingfield High School, she gracefully introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Tiara Robinson," she said with a huge smile and firm handshake. This small gesture told me that Robinson is a person with high standards.

Judge Green: Court Should Sanction Danks

Today, Judge Green filed a motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court asking the court to sanction Melton's defense attorneys (PDF, 114 KB) for accusing her of a crime "without just cause."

Judge Webster: No Jail for Melton

Judge Joe Webster just dimissed probation violation charges against Mayor Frank Melton. The order reads in part:

The Parable of the Purloined E-mail

March 14, 2007 Last Sunday marked the beginning of this year's National Sunshine Week, when newspapers around the country raise awareness of open records laws. We the people own our government, and with very few exceptions, government officials have no right to keep secrets from us. Here at the Jackson Free Press, it's been almost a year since we rolled out the Public Eye, which is dedicated to begging, cajoling and sometimes threatening the government into following the law and giving the public what it already owns: public records.

Tuesday, March 13

ARTICLE: Disney first: black princess in animated film

The list of Disney princesses include Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas. Now, Maddy will be making her entrance around 2009.

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

I can't get enough of the book I'm reading -- "Can't Stop Won't Stop" by Jeff Chang. It really delves into what was going on as hip-hop launched into life then writhed until it became what it is today. I've always said I like (modern) hip-hop for its stories, for what it tells me about young black Americans. Policymakers should study it, I've said, to see what they're really thinking.

Colour Revolt's Gear Stolen

A little over an hour ago, we just had our entire van, trailer and gear stolen after a show here in Dallas. The van had MISSISSIPPI plate L890WB. It is a white 1994 Chevrolet G20 VAN.

FBI Arrests Alleged Child Molester

[Verbatim FBI Press Release]

On Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at approximately 7:00 p.m., in Madison, Mississippi, Special Agents of the Jackson Division of the FBI and deputies of the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, assisted by the Madison County Sheriff's Department, arrested STEPHEN RANDY LUXFORD, age 52. A search warrant for LUXFORD's residence in Madison had been executed on March 2, 2007, in connection with this investigation.

NIT: Delta Devils vs. Bulldogs

Mississippi State plays host to Mississippi Valley State today (7 p.m., Starkville, CSS/105.9 FM) in a first-round NIT game.

Melton Probation Reassigned to Webster

The Mississippi Supreme Court reassigned Mayor Frank Melton's probation to Senior Judge Joe Webster on Monday.

Monday, March 12

Worth Watching

Nik Askew is a British filmmaker with a marvelous talent for speaking with people about their innermost motivations and feelings. His short films are small gems of joy, peace or inspiration—and sometimes all three—a quiet, thoughtful pause in a world gone a little mad. Each one features just one or two ordinary, yet completely extraordinary people and they run about 5 or 6 minutes, max. There's a new film most Monday mornings (natch!). If you're searching for a bit of sanity, check out his Monday 9 am TV website.

Sunday, March 11

JFP, AAN: Let the Sun Shine In Government

Tigers In NCAA, Others Must Wait

Jackson State is going to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Mississippi Valley State 81-71 in the SWAC Tournament championship game on Saturday. Trey Johnson scored 33 points to lead the Tigers to their first NCAA berth in seven years. He also moved past pill-popping NBA great Lindsey Hunter to become JSU's single-season scoring leaders. Tiger fans are invited to a reception on campus today starting at 4 p.m. There they can watch the selection show (5 p.m., Ch. 12) and find out which play-in team or No. 1 seed the Tigers will get to play.

Saturday, March 10

Melton Missed Swimming Pools, Dog, Kids

Melton said this in The Clarion-Ledger today about his time in jail:

College Basketball: Fantastic Friday, Super Saturday

Mississippi State and Ole Miss both advanced to Saturday's semifinals of the SEC Tournament with victories on Friday. The Bulldogs defeated Kentucky 84-82 in overtime in one of the most thrilling games of the year. The Bulldogs face Arkansas today (noon, Ch. 12/105.9 FM).

Friday, March 9


The podcast is up on our new JFP on WLEZ web page over at the WLEZ-FM site. Enjoy.

JFP EXCLUSIVE: Judge Tomie Green on Melton Decisions

Today, Judge Tomie Green sent the Jackson Free Press the following letter:


Thursday, March 8

Melton: Jail Bound?

It began with an interview. Last Thursday, Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin had more on his mind than re-election when he officially announced he would run for sheriff again. Following a barrage of political questions from the Jackson Free Press—the only media outlet that showed up for his announcement—the reporter asked if there was anything important he had neglected to ask.

A Desperate Need for Comic Relief

The recent Melton controversy and my bout with sinusitis has taken its toll. In my search for something else, I think I found it. I've seen it before, but who cares? It's still funny.

BREAKING: Court Recuses Green, Vacates Warrant; 2 Justices Dissent

The Mississippi Supreme Court has recused Judge Tomie Green from supervising Mayor Frank Melton's probation.

BREAKING: Council Majority Calls for Melton to Resign

At a press conference on the south lawn of City Hall today, four City Council members—Margaret Barrett-Simon, Leslie McLemore, Marshand Crisler and Council President Ben Allen—called for Mayor Frank Melton to resign.

BREAKING: Melton Appoints Bluntson as Mayor

<i>Photo caption: Acting Mayor Frank Bluntson announces his assumption of duties.

Mayor Frank Melton has appointed Councilman Frank Bluntson as acting mayor by executive order (PDF, 56 KB).

SWAC Tournament: JSU teams advance

Freshman Grant Maxey scores 22 points to lead Jackson State to a 74-65 victory in the SWAC Tournament. The second-seeded Tigers advance to Friday's semifinals.

Wednesday, March 7

See Breaking Melton News in NoiseBlog

To view breaking stories about the arrest of Frank Melton, please see the JFP's breaking-news NoiseBlog. Those Melton entries will be archived here at a later day, so please booklink the MeltonBlog as well for future use.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, SWAC Tournament, Alcorn State vs. Texas Southern (8 p.m., Birmingham, Ala.): The Braves face the Texas Tigers in the quarterfinals.

How The West Was Won

The Mississippi State and Ole Miss basketball teams made history last weekend by sharing the Southeastern Conference Western Division title.

[Music] Walking Fast

Something for Tomorrow guitarist/vocalist Kenny Davis and guitarist Will Brown were childhood friends who picked up their instruments for the first time while attending high school in Jackson. The constantly joking duo—according to Brown, the band "doesn't rock, it mountains"—played coffee houses before meeting up with bassist Travis Dance at Mississippi State. They went through several different drummers until Brown put down the guitar and exchanged it for a pair of drumsticks, finalizing the band's lineup. It wasn't long before they left Starkville to return home to Jackson and refine their craft.

I Think I Love You

When I say Malbec, you might scratch your head asking, "Is that a wine, and have I ever had it?" Chances are, you have, even if you didn't know it at the time. Long a blending grape in Bordeaux, it's also mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay in parts of the Loire Valley. The only region in France to treat it as anything other than a workhorse grape is Cahors, but it has begun to lose favor there due to being susceptible to frost, mildew and rot.

Have Some Paneer, My Dear

As a kid, my momma used to drag me into the local health-food store about once a week. The pungent aroma their contents exuded fascinated me. I wanted to know what each spice was used for and how each tasted. Sometimes, momma appeased my curiosity and bought one of the then-exotic spices such as curry powder or coriander.

Spring Arts Preview

Thoughts of spring conjure up all sorts of images: girls frolicking, and making dandelion necklaces under rainbows ; afternoon mists that force teens to sit on the front porch with their grandparents who tell stories about the "good 'ole days"; lovers picnicking in the park while jazz serenades them.

The JFP Interview with ‘Mark Twain'

Typical Twain, and a response Hal Holbrook wouldn't hesitate to use if someone questioned his costume. Holbrook performs in an iconic white suit, his cigar used to great effect to punctuate the stories he tells, and the pauses he makes.

BREAKING: New Supreme Court Pleadings

Today, Judge Tomie Green filed a response (PDF, 128 KB) to attorney Dale Danks' Tuesday motion calling for emergency relief from the Mississippi Supreme Court. Danks, who is the lead attorney on Mayor Frank Melton's defense team, accused Green of larceny for withdrawing a decision on March 5 and replacing it the morning of March 6. In her response, Green calls for Danks' motion to be stricken from the record.

Betsy Bradley

In a hard hat and heels, Betsy Bradley artfully maneuvered past the piles of rubble, plywood gangplanks laid over shallow ditches, and piles of sand and sawdust that surround the construction site of the new Mississippi Museum of Art.

Twain: A Man for Our Times

Samuel Langhorne Clemens—Mark Twain—was born in 1835 and died in 1910. By all accounts, Twain should be consigned to the history books, not the subject of one of the longest-running one-man plays in history. What is it that makes Twain such an icon of Americana, his wit and wisdom as relevant today as it was throughout his lifetime?

BREAKING: Melton in Jail, In Medical Lock-up

Photo caption: Mugshots of Mayor Frank Melton, courtesy Hinds County Sheriff's Office.

Unsealed Docs Unveil Melton's 'House Arrest

A transcript from a Nov. 15, 2006, meeting (PDF, 1.3mb) between Judge Tomie Green and Frank Melton, along with three of his attorneys, in her chambers reveals that the judge helped the mayor downplay the severity of his sentence after he pled to three gun charges. The transcript, unsealed March 6 by the judge in response to a request by Melton attorney Dale Danks, reveals for the first time that in order not to serve jail time, Melton agreed to a stringent form of "house arrest," under which he had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, had to adhere to a schedule set by his probation officer and could not leave his home without notifying Probations Services Company of his intentions.

Frank's World

We're living through one of the worst D-movies one could imagine. In fact, this flick likely wouldn't get made in the first place because no one would buy it. Roll the videotape.

[Gregory] Am I Good Enough?

The other night, I was watching the special on television about Oprah opening the school for future female leaders in South Africa. Other than being extremely embarrassed that I cried through most of the show, something in one part of it hit me so hard that I continued to tear up for the following few days every time I thought about it.

[Stiggers] Poor Folks Gone Wild

Bonqweesha Jones: "People in today's society enjoy looking at other people's misery, mistakes and foibles. Viewers of those police reality shows love the action and excitement of the pursuit, i.e. the nappy-headed black guy being chased and wrestled down to the ground."

Tuesday, March 6

City Council Interrogates Police Chief

The Jackson City Council criticized Police Chief Shirlene Anderson's crime plan and demanded action on unconfirmed department heads at a March 6 special council meeting. The council spent the first hour of the meeting addressing Anderson's "Comprehensive Crime Reduction Plan," which the chief presented with help from Chief Administrative Officer Robert Walker. "This is a draft," Walker cautioned. "This is not the fine-tuned document we intend to have before you in a few weeks."

Not So Fast, Suburbs

Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. says he doesn't believe the city should have to lose ownership of its wastewater treatment plant in order to fix it.

Just Eat Out

The tree that toppled down onto the roof of the Sykes Park Community Center in South Jackson was clearly a big one. The steel, painted roof section over the building's kitchen area is crunched in like tin foil over an apple pie. The space between it and the suspended ceiling beneath is gaping and open, with water dripping freely into the kitchen every time it rains.

Let's Do It This Time

Being an artist in Jackson is an uphill struggle; not only must you create paintings, music, dance or films, but you also have to be your own venue organizer, publicist, agent, Webmaster and even lobbyist. "You have to integrate your art into people's lives—show them how it can enrich their lives because they won't necessarily reach out and take it themselves," said Daniel Guaqueta, host of "Mundo Melodia" on WLEZ and a member of the experimental music group TTOCCS REKARP.

Poll Shows State Job Performance Numbers

This didn't get enough play when I posted it over on StateDesk, so I figured I'd blog it here, too. Whatchyawlthin?

BREAKING: Melton Wants 'Extraordinary Relief'

The intrigue increases as the city watches to see if our mayor will be arrested for violating his probation. Attorneys for Mayor Frank Melton have filed an "emergency application for extraordinary relief," saying that Judge Tomie Green filed a decision with the circuit clerk yesterday that, in effect, would have given the Mississippi Supreme Court the jurisdiction to remove her from Melton's case. But, they say, she took back the motion at the end of the day.

Monday, March 5

Abortion Bill Up For Vote In The Senate

You'll have to excuse me if I don't rant prolifically in this post. The cat just barfed on the couch. I'm thinking she must have been reading over my shoulder.

BREAKING: Supreme Court Dismisses Melton Appeal

The Mississippi Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed this morning by Mayor Frank Melton.


BREAKING: Melton Appeals to Supreme Court

Attorneys for Mayor Frank Melton filed motions this morning calling for Melton's arrest warrant to be vacated or stayed.

Sunday, March 4

Coulter's Words v. Edwards' Sticks & Stones

There's not much to say about Ann Coulter calling former Democratic Senator John Edwards a "faggot" when she was addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference last Friday. That sort of thing one expects from Coulter. She's like a wan Andrew Dice Clay. Hideous bigotry is just part of the show that people expect when they attend her speeches and read her books.

Friday, March 2

Oh, the Sun, the Sun

Every couple months, I click into the Northside Sun's Web site to look at what their prize-winning columnists are talking about. It's always a mistake—or, better yet, a little humor journey funnier than readin The Onion. Here are a couple of this week's fun bits.

BREAKING: Ben Allen Responds to Melton's "Sideshow"

Council President Ben Allen said at a press conference this afternoon that Mayor Frank Melton had put the city through an "18-month sideshow," but added that the council was prepared to address the issue of city leadership with the mayor facing arrest.

BREAKING: Melton Asked Allen to be Mayor

Mayor Frank Melton chose Council President Ben Allen to head up the executive branch if the mayor was incapacitated by his heart surgery last month.

Ugly is the New Pretty

The irony of ugly. I knew it well. Back in Mississippi, I once got my hair cut into a style JFP co-workers said looked like I had mange (hint: I had stripes shaved around my head with a rat tail and makeshift-mohawk). My clothes almost never matched. My socks didn't match until this last fall. My earrings still don't.

Thursday, March 1

BREAKING: Green Orders Melton Arrest

See the JFP Melton Blog/Archive Here.

Sheriff Malcolm McMillin has confirmed to the Jackson Free Press that Judge Tomie Green has issued a warrant for the arrest of Mayor Frank Melton. Green issued the arrest warrant March 1 in response to Melton violating the terms of his probation. In November, Melton pled guilty to misdemeanor weapons violations and was sentenced to six months in the Hinds County jail. That jail time was suspended so long as Melton honored the terms of his probation, which included a nighttime curfew.