Wednesday, October 31
Seven months after the Jackson Free Press revealed details about Mayor Frank Melton's young lawn crew, WLBT broke the news last week that the state auditor's office has requested materials on the enterprise.
After reading my column this week, "La Nueva Estrategia del Sur," check out Lawrence Downes' hilarious and poignant column in The New York Times: "What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand?"
The Jackson Free Press has a tradition of endorsing candidates in our election issues. And considering that we never, ever endorse based on who we think is going to win, our success rate is pretty good—well over 50 percent. Not bad for a progressive newspaper in the heart of Mississippi.
[Press release] More then 150,000 concert-goers turned out to Worship The Music in New Orleans ' City Park for this weekend's VOODOO MUSIC EXPERIENCE. This record-setting number for the ninth edition of New Orleans ' signature fall music event follows an historic comeback in 2006 with more than 93,000 concertgoers. It sets the stage for the VOODOO MUSIC EXPERIENCE's celebratory 10th anniversary scheduled for October 24, 25 and 26, 2008.
To tell it true, ground meat makes Lunch Lady nervous. Ever since a friend told her that the beef at a certain delicious fast-food place is designated Grade D by the United States Department of Agriculture—which means it can legally consist of up to 4 percent rat meat—she just hasn't felt the same about her tacos and burgers.
The Fondren Theatre Workshop will take over the former Radio Shack space at Meadowbrook Mart this weekend for a production of Charles Ludlam's camp-Gothic penny dreadful "The Mystery of Irma Vep."
Men's college basketball, Wesley at Tougaloo (7 p.m., Jackson): This matchup of metro-area rivals should be more interesting than the typical season opener. … Women's college basketball, Tougaloo at Jackson State (5:30 p.m., Jackson): These city rivals meet for their annual tune-up game.
Former Parchman inmate Cedric Willis is suing the city of Jackson, the police department, and officers Gerald Jones, Ned Garner, Jim Jones and Joe Wade for $36 million for wrongful arrest and prosecution in a conviction that locked him away from friends and family for more than a decade.
Many Mississippians view former Gov. William Winter as one of the few great progressive leaders of the state. Winter is a partner at the law firm of Watkins, Ludlam, Winter and Stennis, and travels around the state speaking to audiences on racial reconciliation. Borne from a 1997 initiative during the Clinton administration, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation helps to foster dialogue and understanding across racial lines. Last month I sat down with Gov. Winter in his downtown Jackson law office.
The only stupid question about voting is the one you don't get answered before Nov. 6. With a little help from the League of Women Voters of Mississippi's Web site, here are a few questions and answers to give you a hand.
Smoke-free Jackson, an anti-smoking coalition, is on a mission to have smoking banned from all Jackson businesses, including restaurants and bars, to protect Jackson's workers. Jackson City Council President Leslie McLemore announced on Oct. 15 that he will be introducing a city ordinance banning smoking in all public places, similar to bans in neighboring Ridgeland.
What is violence? What can be done to change the attitudes of men and boys?
When writing an editorial, it's important to hit on a few high points. Generally, you want to relate some recent occurrence in the news to a trend that the newspaper's Editorial Board feels should be a concern to citizens. Next, based on the evidence of that trend, the Board expresses encouragement or outrage. Finally, the editorial ends with a "call to action" so that your readers have an opportunity to participate in the solution.
As of today I am relocating to Atlanta to help take care of my mother, Mrs. Ruby Stiggers. This is something I must do because for many years "Miss Ruby" cared for me. She supported me in everything I ever did—high school, college, career choices and even living in Mississippi. She never judged or criticized me harshly; she just loved, prayed and encouraged me consistently.
I've never been much of a volunteer. My high school required a certain amount of volunteer hours to graduate, which I completed, however grudgingly. My college sorority's charity of choice was arthritis research, for which I sullenly participated in pie sales and walk-a-thons. Call me selfish, call me cold, but I've just never found a cause to which I truly want to donate my time and/or money.
In Mississippi's first elections since the explosive national immigration bill debate, candidates across the political spectrum are lining up to take their best shot at undocumented immigrants. It's a no-holds-barred match. Public sentiment against "illegal aliens" is strong, and the targets are politically weak. Illegal immigrants—many of whom arrived to help rebuild the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina—cannot vote, and few dare to speak up for fear of deportation. Unscrupulous employers have long exploited this weakness. Now politicians are taking their crack at the state's new straw men: undocumented Latinos.
"My mom won't take me to vote, but I want to go," a young woman says to me as I take questions from her group. I ask her if she lives with her mother, and she answers that she and her husband do. Her mother does vote, but the woman tells me, "My mom doesn't think me or my husband are smart enough to vote."
Between her son, her full-time job and life coaching, Shandra Wilson, 35, says her biggest challenge is "having time to do everything."
Photos by Jaro Vacek and Roy Adkins
When Democrats speak of Gov. Haley Barbour, it's usually either with some degree of admiration or a great deal of venom.
Photos by Darren Schwindaman and Roy Adkins
On Aug. 31, 1999, 73-year-old McComb obstetrician Edsel Stewart signed a pack of Prudential Life Insurance papers that he believed gave him a million dollars worth of life insurance for his family for $105,000 a year. Getting insurance at that age was no easy feat, and Stewart counted himself lucky for nabbing a "Select Preferred Class H Rating" with Prudential.
This year, conservative voters in the state have two clear choices—Haley Barbour, the corporate conservative who helped perfect the national GOP's "southern strategy," or John Arthur Eaves Jr., a Democratic trial lawyer who often sounds more conservative—Dixiecrat, even—than Barbour.
Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy (the SEC leader in sacks and tackles for a loss) has been suspended indefinitely for "missing meetings, weight-lifting and other things." His mother says Ole Miss coaches have told her and her son that they won't release him from his scholarship to transfer to any other SEC school or Memphis (which is in Hardy's hometown).
Tuesday, October 30
[Verbatim from the mayor's office] Mayor Frank E. Melton announced today that Commander Tyrone Lewis has been promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Training and Standards for the Jackson Police Department. The promotion will be effective immediately. According to Mayor Melton, "Chief Lewis will have ninety days to make a difference in the recruitment, training and retention of officers for the police department."
Here are some DIY ideas for improving Jackson one person, one neighborhood at a time.
As we are thinking about the upcoming elections and the changes we want to see in our city, state and world, I think that we should follow Gandhi's famous advice (and my favorite quote): "You must be the change you want to see in the world." This may not be a tangible DIY project, but it is both fun and important.
More details as they emerge.
The Jackson Free Press has confirmed that Robbie Bell, the mother of a young man accused of bludgeoning his girlfriend, Heather Spencer, to death, has been indicted in the case as an accessory to the crime, which occurred in her home in North Jackson. It was reported that Robbie Bell was in the house when Spencer was killed the night before her body was found.
In an interview with Howard Ballou of WLBT, Mayor Frank Melton said he plans to fire Jackson police officer Mike Braxton, who made public a police report (PDF, 1013 KB) he filed after Melton allegedly verbally abused him with profanity last summer.
Monday, October 29
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton told a doubtful city council today that he believes his administration has located $6 million in extra reserve funds in the Department of Public Works. Melton said he was not sure if the money, from Public Works' Enterprise fund, was fully established as unnecessary funds, but trumped up the cash as a possible means to duck the combined 15 percent water and sewer increase that he had earlier proposed in order to help balance his administration's budget.
WAPT is reporting that the Jackson Police Officer Association is complaining to the City Council about the mayor's disruptions in the department, and blaming his interference for low morale among the police force, which is contributing to a severe police shortage:
The John Arthur Eaves campaign just e-mailed a link to a new Web site devoted to giving what they call the real story on Haley Barbour's record. The site opens with the following:
Just clicked into The Clarion-Ledger's new "culture" blog. This is what I found as the top post, I sh!t you not:
Jim Rome is talking about this as I type ...
ESPN has posted video of the fantastic final play of Saturday's Trinity-Millsaps game. Trinity won 28-24 by scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game that featured numerous laterals. It's being called the Mississippi Miracle. On State Street, it's more like Major Misery.
Cedric Willis, who served 12 years in prison until he was exonerated last year, has announced that he is suing the city of Jackson for $36 million for wrongful arrest. As Brian Johnson reported in his award-winning feature about Willis in in the JFP in 2006, when Willis left prison he had received no education, no job training and had not a penny to his name. The state of Mississippi does not currently offer restitution for wrongful conviction. Willis was exonerated because The Innocence Project showed that the district attorney's office did not present evidence in the original trial that indicated his innocence, as Brian wrote in his feature last year:
Sunday, October 28
Central Florida 34, Southern Miss 17: Kevin Smith and turnovers kill the Golden Eagles.
I'm a big fan of the Man In Black, and so I am happy to report that something cool is happening in Starkville this weekend. The Johnny Cash Flower-Pickin Festival is put on by the Pardon Johnny Cash Project and celebrates his life and the music he made and inspired. "Pardon Johnny Cash" refers to a night Cash spent in the Starkville jail for public drunkenness in 1965. The group wishes to have a posthumous pardon given by the city of Starkville. According to the group's website, "The pardon doesn't suggest anyone condoned Cash's behavior. It symbolically recognizes Cash an imperfect human who made mistakes but gained insight and wisdom by learning from his indiscretions."
Saturday, October 27
The lovely Capital City Rollergirls are going to host a session of Full Contact Musical Chairs on Nov. 10 at Hal & Mal's in the Big Room. Tickets are $10, but you get $1 off if you bring a donation for the National Guard (see The flyer promises beer pong, music and more.
Friday, October 26
Thursday, October 25
The New Orlean Hornets waive former Jackson State basketball star Trey Johnson.
This is not merely bad. This is ineptitude on a staggering, world-historical scale. … it's simply impossible to describe how awful this performance is.
Welcome to FlyBlog, home of the hip and handy, the fun and funky.
My interest in carpentry and building probably began in the womb, since my father is the ultimate handyman. When I was growing up, he helped me design, construct and build beds for my American Girl Dolls. But it wasn't until my senior year of high school, when I won my own toolkit in a raffle, that I was ready to try constructing things on my own. Most of what I do these days is probably what most of us do: nailing picture hangers into the wall, drilling holes, screwing towel rods onto the bathroom door. But small home maintenance projects do not fulfill my secret desire to build my own house. I wasn't sure that my skills would ever be up to such an ambitious project, especially since there are some basic tools that I am afraid to use. That was before I heard about cob. The basic concept of building with cob is molding a mixture of dirt, water and straw into a house or other building. This is a gross oversimplification, I'm sure, but it still doesn't sound too hard. One of the coolest things about cob buildings, besides their environmental friendliness, is that they do not have to have right angles. Check out the ultimate hobbit-style
Say you have trick-or-treaters coming to your house this year. You have a nice outdoor speaker system and would like to really set the mood for all the little pirates, ballerinas and Harry Potters who come around begging for booty. Or maybe you are planning to pretend you're not home and are looking for a way to scare the crap out of anyone who comes within a few feet of your door. Allow me to give you a few suggestions for a soundtrack that will be just right for All Hallows' Eve.
To scare up a formidable Black Cat, pour 1 ounce vodka and 1 ounce cherry brandy into a highball glass over ice. Fill with equal parts Coke and cranberry juice.
When you're looking for items to decorate your space for Halloween, pick a handful of pieces around which to center the rest of your décor. For my space, I picked skulls. Skulls are easy to find, and the number of variations and styles makes them easy items to accent. Also, they have an avant-garde style that pairs well with a lighter touch. Try filling a skull with a bunch of red roses for centerpieces, or personalizing each skull with accessories like bowties or homemade felt hats.
I have carved pumpkins since I was a child. As kids, my sister and I carved the typical triangles and jagged mouth for a traditional jack-o'-lantern. A few years in a row, we painted the outside of the pumpkin instead of carving it, in hopes of preserving the fruit a bit longer. Then I discovered these wonderful things called carving kits. I purchased one at Target, and for just two or three bucks I got several patterns and some tools for carving: a couple of tiny saws, some hole-punching tools and a scooper.
Better late than never. It looks like the state and the media are finally playing catch-up on investigating the city's allocation of money to Frank Melton's "lawn service" contracts to young friends from the Wood Street area. The Jackson Free Press has been trying to get attention to this matter for many moons now, and it seems that the feds took heed before the state auditor bothered to take a closer look. For background, here is one of our stories, from last March, on the issue in which I interviewed the head of the "lawn service" (and that story links to documents that we acquired and published for the first time).
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled today that the Hattiesburg City Council has standing to seek a writ of mandamus against Mayor Johnny DuPree.
Wednesday, October 24
This Halloween as you walk through your neighborhood after dark, flashlight in hand, think about what you are using to power that flashlight. If you have not yet made the switch to rechargeable batteries, you can recycle your old batteries at the Computer Coop (2807 Old Canton Rd., 601-981-6925). But now is the time to think about using rechargeable batteries for all of your portable electronic devices. They cost slightly more up front, but you can use them again and again, and you can find them at most stores where regular batteries are sold. Or if it is time to buy a new flashlight, consider high-efficiency LED flashlights, solar flashlights, or flashlights powered by cranking or shaking.
Halloween lore has it that witches stirred potions in their cauldrons constantly, breaking rhythm only to wipe dripping saliva from the corners of their mouths with wart-covered hands, or to swat flies—killing a few and sprinkling them into their concoctions as a condiment.
Candlelight Ghost Tour of Cedar Grove Mansion (Vicksburg), Oct. 26-31, 5-10 p.m. $6 adults, $4 children. 601-661-6100.
Dressing your pet for All Hallows' Eve has never been easier with the wealth of retail stores and Web sites dedicated to the "chi chi" canine or feline. Indeed, some people have begun to see their pets as accessories; outfitting them with designer collars (think Coach, Isaac Mizrahi, Juicy Couture), tags, leads and all manner of clothing to match human ensembles. The pooch-as-purse mentality (not to be confused with pooch-in-purse) has swept the nation. And now, in Jackson, the day of the doggie boutique has arrived.
In Rocky Horror Picture Show parlance, a "virgin" is anyone who's never seen RHPS (that's "Rocky Horror Picture Show," the movie) in a theater. Seeing it on TV doesn't count (TV virgin), renting the DVD doesn't count (Video virgin), and even seeing the play really doesn't count (Stage virgin). Personally, I have my doubts about the last one.
Welcome to Fly, the seasonal supplement to your Jackson Free Press fix, designed especially for the hip and handy, and those who wish they were. Flip through Fly for hot fashion spreads, cool DIY projects and everything stylish in between. Watch for our haute how-to holiday Fly in early December, complete with the season's greatest gift guide, quirkiest decor and sweetest treats. In early February, check out Fly's fun and funky ideas for wining and dining your latest love, what to wear for romance and how to declare your devotion in unique (and thrifty) ways.
The idea that the prosecutions of Justice Oliver Diaz and attorney Paul Minor may have been politically motivated by a George Bush administration is gathering steam in the nation's capitol, in the aftermath of other similar allegations about Bush's Justice Department. The Clarion-Ledger's Washington Bureau is reporting:
Junior college football, Hinds at Pearl River (7 p.m., Poplarville): It wasn't so long ago that these teams seemed to meet in the state title game every year. Both will be spending the postseason at home this year.
Ed "The Prezs" Blount, 38, wants to form a new type of neighborhood association. Working as a bartender at the Upper Level by night, and driving a Head Start school bus by day, Blount recognizes the need for direction and unity in neighborhoods. To jumpstart his community movement, he and the Dalton/Deerpark Neighborhood Association are holding the first Neighborhood Homecoming.
John Grisham says Haley Barbour should sign a moratorium on executions in Mississippi. "Absolutely. If I had my way, we'd stop all of them," Grisham said.
Mayor Frank Melton has backed out of his tax proposals for the third time since he became mayor in 2005. City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly Evans told the city council on Monday that the administration has no plan to stick behind its commitment to raise city water and sewer rates by a combined total of almost 15 percent. Melton proposed the fee increase in September to cover shortfalls in the 2007-08 budget cycle. O'Reilly-Evans informed council members that Melton's decision would create a $3.2 million budget deficit.
In a Tuesday press conference at the state Capitol, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Arthur Eaves introduced a plan to legally re-introduce prayer into public schools.
Jackson resident Robert Shoulders is suing Utility Constructors Inc. and its owner Terry Lovelace for racial harassment.
The race for attorney general is boiling down to two relevant choices: Do voters want a state lawyer who tries to distance himself from lawyers, or a lawyer who embraces them.
Leading up to Election day, we've heard a lot of semi-hysteria regarding voter fraud in Mississippi. Certain politicians have latched onto this chimera as the wedge issue for 2007, while loudly bemoaning the lack of voter turnout in the state. One might even get the impression that fraudulent voters outnumber legitimate voters, given those stump speeches.
Mo'tel Williams: "It's the showdown round of Negro-Rigged Jeopardy! Contestants are anxious to answer questions in the category 'African Americans: Love or Hate.' First question:
It's another "biting-off-our-nose-to-spite-our-face" episode in the city of Jackson. I just read that rapper-turned-author C-Miller (formerly C-Murder)—brother of the "great opportunist" Master P—was in town to promote a new work of fiction. However, a teacher pulled up some of Miller's lyrics and decided to halt his appearance, thus thwarting yet another opportunity for kids to hear from someone well qualified to school them on the ills of going down the wrong path.
Well, I guess it's official: The Mean Season is upon us.
JFP Publisher Todd Stauffer's new book, "How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog," is out! You can order the book online at Powell's and other outlets. It should also be in local bookstores anytime now.
So, the city can manage to find money to do sting operations in order to seize dildos. What a relief. Clarion-Ledger is reporting:
Tuesday, October 23
JFP Editor Donna Ladd writes about Mayor Frank Melton's shenanigans for Reason Magazine. The piece starts:
Alrighty all you proud Jacksonians. It's time once more to vote for the Best of Jackson. The first 2008 ballot is scheduled to appear in next week's issue (Oct. 31) of the Jackson Free Press, which means this is your last chance to add your favorite category-we-forgot to the list.
Read the piece.
The libertarian Reason magazine today published a piece they asked me to write about Frank Melton and his shenanigans to date. Check it out here (note that a couple of factual things happened in editing, like saying that my ride-alongs were this year, instead of 2006. I've asked them to fix those things; let me see if anyone sees anything else.)
And hey, Memphis is just a bigger version of Jackson anyway, right?
John Lawrence was mentioned in the story last week about Jacktoberfest -- the "teach a man to fish" guy who was a driving force behind Jubilee!JAM and Jacktoberfest. He is leaving Downtown Partners and moving to Memphis along with Melody McAnally, and Hal and Mal's is hosting a going away party for them Thursday night from 5:30 until in the Brew Pub. It's a shame to lose people who have given so much of their time and talents to help rejuvenate downtown Jackson, but stop by and wish them well all the same!
I literally shouted expletives at my TV yesterday morning as I drank my coffee and watched the morning news. In an appalling display of hypocrisy, first lady Laura Bush landed in Abu Dhabi to promote breast cancer awareness in the Middle East.
The Jackson Free Press is proud to stand up today, alongside our sister papers in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies against the efforts of elected officials in Phoenix, Ariz., to both thwart the public's right to know and to use the criminal-justice system to intimidate the alt-weekly by subpoenaing personal information of its Web site users. Follow the saga here in a verbatim press released issued today by AAN.
Monday, October 22
Oddly, The Clarion-Ledger today published a news story about Frank Melton's young friend, Michael Taylor, pointing out that new D.A. Robert Smith will have a conflict prosecuting him. This is really old news, folks. We've been telling everyone since before the election that Smith was going to have a conflict prosecuting Taylor, whom he had represented, and others. Also, it's not news that he is in the Hinds County Detention Center. I saw this story because this blog posting by Chris Joyner popped up in a Google news search on Melton: Where in the world is Michael Taylor?. My first thought was "in jail, of course; didn't they know that!?!" It's also intriguing that Chris doesn't mention that he is hawking the story by his own wife, Kathleen Baydala, which is fine but bears a mention.
Just when you thought that the past was another half-mile behind us, something like this comes to light. The Associated Press reported:
Why do more than half of poor, young blacks smoke cigarettes, mainly Newport menthol cigarettes, and flavored cigarillos like Black and Mild, something I never heard of until I had to stock shelves at Wal-Mart over a decade ago?
Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, told the Jackson Free Press Friday that the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus adopted a position on Thursday against the candidacy of Columbus Rep. Jeffrey Smith's run for Speaker of the House. "We voted unanimously not to support Jeff Smith for Speaker and to not make a commitment to the position of Speaker Pro Tempore position, and to have another meeting later on," Flaggs said.
Sunday, October 21
Southern Miss 33, Marshall 24: The Golden Eagles, powered by Damion Fletcher's three touchdown runs, move into a tie for first place in the CUSA East.
It's hilarious that The Clarion-Ledger is trying to position itself in front of the FBI investigation of Frank Melton even though they have followed, if they even bothered to do that, for the last two and a half years. (And turned a blind eye for two decades before that.) After watching The Clarion-Ledger ignore, omit and gloss over the reality of Frank Melton for so long—even refusing to follow up on the Ridgeway story until after Adam Lynch broke it here—it's truly disgusting to watch Ronnie Agnew try to grab some morsels of credit for Melton possibly being indicted by a federal grand jury. From today's pathetic column by Agnew:
Friday, October 19
Doctor S knows that it's football season, but the news out of major league baseball is just too good:
Jacktoberfest was conceived in the near-death experience of another Jackson music fest tradition: Jubilee!JAM. "It was in the wake of a JAM meeting, where the Board had voted to put the festival off for a year so that it could come back to Capitol Street," says Bryan Keller, co-coordinator and "holder of the e-mail address" for Jacktoberfest. John Lawrence, president of Downtown Jackson Partners, lamented Jackson's lack of an Oktoberfest, and a group of JAM board members decided to do something about that unacceptable state of affairs.
North Alabama 28, Delta State 17: The Lions hand the Statesmen their first loss of the season. UNA is the last unbeaten team left in the GSC.
Thursday, October 18
This is the official story. Here's what really happened:
In spring 2006, Mayor Frank Melton broke his 14-month silence toward the Jackson Free Press, after refusing to give an interview to the newspaper after critical coverage of his campaign by JFP editor Donna Ladd, who was later joined by Adam Lynch and Brian Johnson. Over several weeks, Ladd spent many hours interviewing Melton, and went on two ride-alongs with him and police officers on the Mobile Command Center. Here are transcripts of those interviews:
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton released this statement (PDF, 257 KB) yesterday touting "progress" in the City of Jackson.
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton announced today that the police department will again administer police officer promotion exams to officers currently serving in acting sergeant and lieutenant positions because the city has not offered the test in recent years. Melton, however, kicked the legs out from under any validation the test might bring, telling reporters that officers who flunk the exam would not necessarily be demoted to their lower certified positions.
The Clarion-Ledger has a story about D.A.-elect Robert Smith not showing up for a docket call and needing to resolve his pending cases before he takes office in January. The Ledger states:
Wednesday, October 17
Photos by Adam Lynch and Kate Medley
Candidates tend to look for issues to separate themselves from their opponents. It's a tough order in conservative Mississippi, where many nominees on both sides of the political spectrum agree on many of the same issues.
When most people bust out statistics like "the average American eats more than 31 pounds of cheese each year"—give or take a few pounds, depending on your source and the year—they are generally mourning the state of nutrition in this country and hoping to warn consumers of the havoc they are wreaking upon their bodies with their poor diets. Lunch Lady concedes the point, but she is not a pot to call the kettle black, and is therefore not here to do that to you.
"What happens to a dream deferred?" asks Langston Hughes in his poem "Harlem." "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?/Or fester like a sore—/And then run?"
College football, Delta State at North Alabama (7 p.m., Florence, Ala., CSS/930 AM): Something has to give when the GSC's last two undefeated teams meet on Thursday night.
As I approach the industrial-looking Old House Depot on Monroe Street, I hear the robust sound of Ella Fitzgerald's voice. Jim Kopernak, 61 (but looking 10 years younger), emerges from a small office and wipes away the sweat just above his salt-pepper-and-cinnamon eyebrows. Behind him are what seem like hundreds of vintage and antique pieces of architecture, which Kopernak and his wife, Ann, collect through deconstruction of old homes.
Mississippians are viewed as a "different breed" for a number of good reasons: our take on the second person plural, the affinity toward things like sweet tea and caramel cake, and the instinctive way we wave at neighbors (even if we have no clue who they are) as we ride through neighborhoods. These characteristics, although strange to outsiders, are what make our state home, a place we passionately defend in the face of questions like "do you wear shoes?"
On Monday, the Jackson City Council halted Mayor Frank Melton's scheme to use drug-seizure money to fund recent police salary raises. The administration proposed taking $192,101 from the $400,000 drug-forfeiture fund to preserve the Jackson Police Department finance division—which the approved 2008 budget dissolves—and to pay for more than $40,000 in combined salary increases for Melton's bodyguards Michael Recio and Marcus Wright.
Photos by Adam Lynch
Republican State Auditor Phil Bryant and Democratic Rep. Jamie Franks sparred before a modest crowd of about 200 at Biloxi's Saenger Theater last Wednesday. The event was more a locked-down forum than a debate, with no chance for rebuttal. With only eight harmless questions, the candidates avoided touchy topics like commitment to the governor or the $55 million beef plant fiasco.
Leland Speed, whose family enthusiastically supported Frank Melton in his mayoral run, is going around saying something amusing about the beleaguered mayor in recent days as rumors fly about possible federal grand-jury indictments against the city's loose-cannon folk hero.
Crunchie Burga World CEO: "Welcome fellow Crunchie Burga World employees to a farewell banquet honoring the hard work and dedication of Miss Wanda, our beloved part-time senior greeter and fry cook, who will retire this week.
<b><em>Too Crazy to Make Up</b></em>
The words that fall out of our government representatives' mouths are sometimes just too incredible to be made up.
Have you ever purchased an insurance policy, confident that your check (and the insurance agent's pledge that "you're now covered") would be enough to protect you?
Photos by Katrina Hercules, Jaro Vacek, Darren Schwindaman, and Nate Glenn
It's a Thursday evening in late August. For some reason, the AC's on the fritz, but who cares? Hal & Mal's Red Room is slammed. Through open doors, overflow—sound and people—puncture the imaginary breeze. Kids fling sweat from unwashed hair, clambering on benches to glimpse the stage. Two sundress-swathed hippies douse each other with water bottles, and with his green shirt bobbing, a curly-headed lad unsuccessfully attempts crowd-surfing. Girls bump hips, grab each other and squeal, while guys try to retain dude-itude in the midst of head bouncing and the occasional sing-a-long faux pas.
The Little Big Store's monthly backyard picnic is this Sunday, October 21. All ages, free, bring your own food/pets/kids. These are cool, unique opportunities to get the family out of the house for some good music, and you might take some music home with you too. This Sunday, Braden Land and Mark Huff will perform. It starts at 1pm, so you churchgoers shouldn't have a problem getting out to Raymond.
Tuesday, October 16
The day after City Council refused to fund the promotions of Mayor Frank Melton's bodyguards, a local police union said today that talks with the mayor about the appointments were not "productive." The officers vowed to tell all about problems within the city in retaliation.
Monday, October 15
"I don't know anything about that. I can't imagine what I've done," Melton said.
The Jackson rumor mill is on overdrive today about federal indictments of Mayor Frank Melton coming down in the wake of an FBI investigation that pulled several members of his administration before a federal grand jury last week. But the feds ain't talking, as they tend not to do in such cases. Until they're ready, anyway. As for Melton, he told the JFP's Adam Lynch at City Hall this afternoon that he hasn't heard a thing about a possible federal investigation of him.
The meeting will be at the ACLU Mississippi office at 964 N. Jefferson Street, which is next to Fenian's Pub.
The Clarion-Ledger is reporting:
Sunday, October 14
This YouTube tribute to Bob Ross captures the essence of who he was as an artist and a person.
Saturday, October 13
Over the last week, an investigative story in Reason magazine by Radley Balko probing Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne has attracted national attention, even drawing an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. The Reason piece, "CSI Mississippi," starts:
Friday, October 12
Delta State 35, Valdosta State 31: The Statesmen move atop the GSC standings with a stunning victory over the Blazers.
According to a recent ABC News report, several brands of lipstick contain lead, including popular brands such as Cover Girl and L'Oreal:
...Al Gore, who is sharing it equally with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Thursday, October 11
He has to spend 18 months in a juvenile facility for violating his probation. However, the charges are old and weren't brought up until now, so Sharpton and others see this as some sort of revenge.
This week's Jackson State at Southern football game at Baton Rouge seems to have an unusual amount of pregame drama. First, JSU coach Rick Comegy said he had heard about the "hostile situation" inside and outside of the glorified high school stadium the Jaguars call their home field. Comegy apologized and was reprimanded by the SWAC. But he will be allowed to coach the game.
Shalandria Shavers, the 21-year-old daughter of domestic-violence victim Doris Shavers, and James Hopkins, Shavers' brother, served notice today to the city of Jackson and Mayor Frank Melton of a wrongful-death claim against the city, the Jackson Police Department and "John Does 1-6," representing specific police officers who the family says did not prevent Shavers' death.
Anti- is pleased to announce the signing of living legend and alternative rock trailblazer Bob Mould. Mould's vital new studio album, District Line – the latest in his esteemed, twenty year solo career – will be released on February 5, 2008. A hair-raisingly emotional, undeniably catchy, loud, mature guitar rock album, bolstered by the ace drumming of Fugazi's Brendan Canty, Mould's forthcoming disc affirms he is more relevant than ever. From the achingly honest and instantly memorable opening track, "Stupid Now" and the gorgeously-crafted "Who Needs To Dream" to the melodically inventive ballad "Old Highs, New Lows" and the Sugar-esque, riff-propelled "The Silence Between Us," Bob Mould is back. As the as the career-defining District Line affirms, he is more than living up to his reputation as one of the great influences on rock music's last quarter century.
The Ridgeland Board of Aldermen voted 4-to-3 in favor of the construction of a 13-story office building. Ridgeland codes currently limit building heights to four stories, so developer Buster Bailey asked the city to authorize a code variance for his development.
Every so often, I come across something really useful on the Internet that isn't trying to sell me anything. If you're like me, it's even better if it tells me where to get cool, free stuff. Here's a page that fits both of those criteria: The Massive Free Education List from Jimmy Ruska. The list includes 177 free Berkeley Video Courses— on everything from Psych 101 to Operating Systems—plus resources for free language learning sites to free software. Check it out.
The Jackson Free Press has gotten reports over the last week that people high up in the Melton administration are appearing before a federal grand jury this week to testify about his actions. Sources tell us that City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly Evans was scheduled to appear yesterday, and The Clarion-Ledger reported today that Police Chief Shirlene Anderson appeared yesterday. Sources have said for months that the FBI is probing a variety of actions by Meltonfrom the Ridgeway duplex demolition to possibly illegal searches to reports of influence over the awarding of public contracts.
Wednesday, October 10
Pranic healing removes the pain of burns.
Let's backtrack to Jan. 1. You swore you'd stick to your diet and finally rid yourself of that layer of fat that has come between you and your two-piece for years. Well, guess what: Bikini season has passed. The beach crowds are skimpy, but your waistline is still massive.
As the recipient of dozens, perhaps hundreds of massages, one of the first things I always "look" for is the personal energy a masseuse projects. I've had therapists who were impersonally professional, leaving me with cold feet and hands. I've also had masseuses who have gone a little farther than I was comfortable with, getting too familiar far too quickly, which left me feeling more tense than when I started.
At 6 every morning I awake to the sound of the alarm. Most days I groggily get out of bed and go about the daily routine of getting my son to the bus stop on time. But some days, something happens to me when I'm under a lot of stress or not feeling like I'm at my best. On those mornings the first thought in my head after hearing the alarm is, "I'm not going to eat more than 300 calories today."
Learning how to cook is always such a hit-and-miss experience. It requires patient and tolerant people who are willing to wait long, hungry hours while you figure out just how long to cook lentils or bake a 10-pound roast.
College football, Delta State at Valdosta State (7 p.m., Valdosta, Ga., CSS/930 AM): The Statesmen and Blazers are both undefeated heading into their annual grudge match. … Pro baseball, Colorado at Arizona in the NL Championship Series (time TBA, TBS): Nobody predicted that these two would play with a berth in the World Series at stake.
After 14 years of driving trucks and training other people to drive trucks, Dexter Devon Morton left the road with a 46-inch waistline and weighing 360 pounds. Today, Morton, 38, is the wellness director for the downtown YMCA in Jackson, and at 6-feet-5-inches tall and 242 pounds, he has no problem fitting into his size 36 pants. With a small staff of trainers and fitness counselors, Morton helps members of the Jackson community reach their wellness goals and is an inspiration to those who know and love the "Rev."
Michael Recio was big and hulking and provided decent cover for a reporter who wasn't used to walking up to people's homes unannounced in the middle of the night. I may have looked SWAT-chic, in the bulletproof vest the mayor loaned me, my black pants and those chocolate-brown Skechers I bought at Stein-Mart for just this occasionbut I still needed a bodyguard. And this one carried that long MP5 slung over his vest.
As a young boy, Shad Ireland wanted to be a professional athlete when he grew up. But at the age of 10, he was diagnosed with Membranoproliferative nephritis, which causes the immune system to damage the kidneys, and his dream was dashed. Today Ireland is a dialysis patient of 25 years and works with Fresenius Medical Care as a motivational speaker. He travels across the nation with a success story: He is the first and only dialysis patient to compete and finish an Ironman triathlon. Ireland and his team, Team Ireland, compete in Ironman competitions around the U.S. and have finished 14 races to date. In August, Ireland visited seven Fresenius clinics in Mississippi, offering his personal testimony to dialysis patients.
Democracy for America Chairman Jim Dean endorsed Democratic candidate Gary Anderson for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner last week during a visit to Anderson's campaign headquarters.
Police arrested ACLU Field Coordinator Brent Cox for surveying a police interdiction last month, though Cox said he was fulfilling his constitutional duty in observing the activity.
Photos by Kate Medley, Roy Adkins, & Adam Lynch
Brookhaven resident Washuma Murphy faces more than $3,500 in medical bills every year, without the benefit of medical insurance. Doctors diagnosed her 12-year-old son, Devon Murphy, with Sturge-Weber Syndrome at age 2, a deformity that restricts blood flow in his brain and causes frequent, severe seizures.
Last week Mayor Melton appointed his bodyguard, a 15-year police officer with little supervisory experience, to the position of assistant chief, granting him a $31,000 raise and, presumably, a considerable jump in responsibilities. Sgt. Michael Recio appears to be leapfrogging a few bullet points on the typical chief's resume thanks to his association with Frank Melton.
Grandpa Pookie: "Welcome to the first annual Ghetto Neighborhood Safety Fair, Picnic and Disco—organized by the Ghetto Science Team Neighborhood Protection Agency, Aunt Tee Tee Hustle, Nurse Tootie McBride, Senior Ladies in Church Hats and Senior Men in Church Suits.
America needs an enema. Symbolic "patriotism" is blocking the very strides that we are supposed to be making as a "progressive" country. It is giving us mental constipation. Real action, real fighting and real revolution have been replaced by slogans, country songs and, of all things, lapel pins.
"A governor, a senator and then me. I think I may be the comic relief," I quipped before my brief statement at the Fourth Annual Interfaith Dinner on Oct. 4. On the roster were Gov. William Winter, state Sen. Hillman Frazier, two bishops, two preachers, a rabbi, a retired FBI agent—and me. My Jackson Free Press story about a trip to Turkey with the Institute for Interfaith Dialog hardly seemed worthy of the honor.
Last January, I snuggled under a warm velour throw on my plump sunroom sofa, with junk food and remote within arm's reach. Dozing off, I congratulated myself on excellent "no-moving-except-to-switch-TV-channels" planning, oblivious to the 264.1 miles of walking ahead of me.
1. Valerian might be a great sleep aid, but use it in moderation. Long-term use overstresses the adrenal glands.
In a story headlined In Mississippi, Democrat Runs in G.O.P. Lane, reporter Adam Nossiter explores John Eaves' run to Haley Barbour's right on social and religious issues:
Well, if anything, the Jena 6 situation is going to expose the racism and bigotry in our midst—all of our midst. And that is a damn good thing. We've got to clean out these wounds and deal with the ugliness. And you can't do that if you're in denial about it being there. Associated Press:
Did you guys see this? (AP) The federal government is considering buying out as many as 17,000 homes along the Mississippi coast and remaking the land into a vast hurricane protection zone. For some, the proposal sparks a number of worries, including anxiety that it could destroy the waterfront lives many residents have been struggling to regain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program could cost $40 billion, including buying the homes, building levees and restoring barrier islands. The land could be converted into wetlands or other public uses, such as golf courses or bike trails, but could not be sold for private development.
Tuesday, October 9
In recent TV ads, Gov. Haley Barbour feigns outrage at his opponent for suing the military as a trial attorney. Eaves responds in an e-mail and TV spot that indicates that Barbour isn't explaining why he sued the Pentagon:
What!?! Just because a man is a "homeowner" firing at apparent "thugs" with his semiautomatic, the JPD doesn't check his background? Good Lord. There goes another Clarion-Ledger front-page hero.
If you have registered for the JFP site recently, please go try your user name and password to see if you've been approved (you may not get an e-mail back about it). Everyone should be aware, however, that we are rejecting registrations that use a free-service e-mail address (like Yahoo) with no other identifying information, due to recent abuse of the system. If you are using one of those addresses and have not been approved to post, please use a more established e-mail address or get in touch with the JFP admin and verify your identity (you do not have to be identified online, however). Getting such an address approved may require providing the JFP a working phone number.
Monday, October 8
Our team raised $129.93, and my T-shirt design won 3rd place. Also, two team members won door prizes. What a great day!
Sunday, October 7
But notice that his only solution to the problem of newspapers' decreasing coverage of "complex" political issues is finding more bloggers for the Ledger's site. Sigh; it's sad to watch daily newspapers shrink andd die due to their own purposeful irrelevance in the community, while their leaders can do nothing about it but beg for more bloggers:
Saturday, October 6
"State of the Nation" Art and Performance Festival Oct. 4-6, starting at 7 p.m. every night at the F.D. Hall Music Center at JSU. Featuring Teo Castellanos, Uprooted: The Katrina Project, Sunni Patterson, Saddi Khali and more. $15 single night general admission, $10 single night for students and seniors and $25 for a festival pass. For more info, call 601-473-6074.
Friday, October 5
Thursday, October 4
Bobby Harrison is reporting in the Daily Journal that Lanny Griffith has issued a statement about Haley Barbour's current status with his (former?) lobbying firm.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has confirmed that FEMA favored Mississippi over Louisiana after Katrina, concurring with the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general who criticized FEMA for awarding "the vast majority of the available funds (about 71 percent) to one project in one state." Associated Press:
Wednesday, October 3
Rice 31, Southern Miss 29: The Owls upset the Eagles (20-point favorites) in C-USA's Battle of the Birds. Talk about an ugly-ass loss.
On cold Virginia evenings at the College of William and Mary, mittened passers-by on the sidewalk below my second-story dorm room window could see me wearing my favorite lightweight striped pajama shorts and a tank top. Some mysterious person on campus would set the centrally controlled radiators to pump out far too much heat for human comfort. A few steps away in the campus dining hall, trays heaped high with excessive dishes, crumpled paper napkins and piles of uneaten food spun on the conveyor belt toward the giant rolling trash cans of the kitchen staff. I never understood why people had the need for multiple drinking glasses for a single meal.
Junior college football, Copiah-Lincoln at Hinds (7 p.m., Raymond): Both of these teams are in desperate need of a win. … Pro baseball, New York Yankees at Cleveland in AL playoffs (7 p.m., Ch. 40): Yankees fans are hoping A-Rod will show up for the playoffs for the first time.
Shortly after relocating to Jackson from South Carolina, Larry and Dee Nixon established the Cure Sickle Cell Foundation to raise awareness of SCD and support families affected by the disease.
So the JFP celebrated its fifth birthday a couple of weeks ago. I have long exercised the privilege of celebrating my birthweek and birthmonth, rather than just a flimsy day, so I'm not technically late with my thoughts on this milestone.
Minority make-up was the point of interest for school board members in an Oct. 1 special meeting of the Jackson Public School Board. The meeting, which ran into the wee hours of the morning, called for presentations from six design firms, all hoping to receive bids for construction in conjunction with the $150 million bond project. The board prefers that design professionals meet guidelines outlined in JPS's "Jackson First" initiative and a goal of 20 percent minority participation in the projects.
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and the city administration got their wish from the council in a 3-to-2 vote in favor of raiding $3 million from the city's $7 million budget reserve fund to fix a lingering hole in the 2007 budget. The raid may not be enough to cover still more holes, as the city struggles to pay the federal government back for about $520,000 in law enforcement grants.
The Mississippi Innocence Project is looking to put down permanent roots in Mississippi and is kicking off its effort through an Oct. 22 fund raiser. Award-winning novelists John Grisham and Scott Turow are hosting the event at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson.
Bishop Dr. Phillip Coleman, Sr., Th.D., pastor of Greater Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Church, died Tuesday from cancer. He was 81.
Herding cats. That's the unwritten job description for soft-spoken Shirley Williams, executive director of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Formed in 1982, the MVLP is one of a handful of organizations providing pro bono legal services for Mississippians with low incomes and limited means. MVLP assists clients with non-criminal cases such as divorce, bankruptcy and adoptions, and is currently handling a number of FEMA cases, representing clients with insurance issues, contractor fraud and appeals.
Announcing some good news on the domestic violence front, Attorney General Jim Hood says that the Domestic Violence Division has made significant progress in educating the state's law enforcement, judges and attorneys. In the past year, the division has sponsored or participated in 31 trainings, providing information and instruction to more than 2,000 individuals.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which started Monday, has taken on a new urgency this year. Given the recent spate of domestic murders in Jackson that might have been prevented, it's clear that the people who most need their awareness raised about the issue are the city's administrators and the officers of the Jackson Police Department.
Judy McBride: "Allow me to provide you with a glimpse of mental-health conditions seldom recognized by the general public. Let's take a brief journey through Ward 6 and 3/5, also known as 'Almost 7.'
I yearn for the good ol' days when a TV was a device under my control. It sat quietly in my home, doing nothing until I beckoned it to perform. And if it blared an annoying ad at me—why, I had the power of the remote to switch channels or hit the mute button.
For a long time, I wanted to ask President Bush why, if the Dixie Chicks knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he couldn't figure it out for himself.
Photos by Roy Adkins
Michael Jackson wants to be your insurance commissioner. Yes, Sen. Michael Jackson "Mike" Chaney is running for Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance on the Republican ticket, and facing Democrat Gary Anderson, of Jackson, in the November election.
Tuesday, October 2
Attorney General Jim Hood confirmed Monday that State Auditor Phil Bryant had interrupted investigative efforts to obtain evidence against beef-plant owners. Hood's written statement to the media came after lieutenant governor candidate Jamie Franks, who is running against Bryant, announced at a press conference that Bryant had "recklessly" interfered with the beef-plant investigation.
Monday, October 1
Can we just call the beef-plant debacle what it is: a foolish bipartisan embrace of a corporate-welfare scheme gone awry? Both Dems and Republicans pushed for it, and Barbour wrote a letter in support of it. It was stupid and wasteful. Let's stipulate that. All I want to hear is how all these yucks are going to keep such a thing from happening again, instead of a bunch of blame flowing every direction when it's obvious that people of both parties were snookered and hogtied.
Jamie Franks today sent out an e-mail to supporters, responding to the state (and national?) Republican Party's "liberal"-baiting campaign—"Too Liberal for Mississippi"—against him. Here is Franks' verbatim statement: