Stories for December 2009


Thursday, December 31

Jackson Metro Ranked in ‘Strongest 20,' Again

The city of Jackson again ranked high in a report released by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit, non-partisan public-policy organization. The institution's quarterly MetroMonitor report now places the city as No. 9 on the list of its "strongest 20 metros" category for the third quarter of 2009.

Sheriffs Ask Barbour to Spare Crisis Centers

County sheriffs from across Mississippi yesterday urged Gov. Haley Barbour to spare the state's mental-health crisis centers, which Barbour targeted for closure in his 2011 budget proposal. Speaking at the state capitol, Mississippi Sheriffs Association President Willie March warned that closing the state Department of Mental Health's seven crisis-intervention centers would force counties to house mentally ill citizens in county jails.

Rep. Steven Palazzo

While he represents Biloxi in the Mississippi Legislature, Rep. Steven Palazzo often seems to be acting on a national stage. Palazzo, a Republican, sent Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood a letter Dec. 21 urging him to "take the appropriate legal action against the federal government" if Congress passes one of the health-care reform bills currently under consideration.

Barbour Again Seeks More Budgetary Power

Gov. Haley Barbour, in a letter addressed to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and House Speaker Billy McCoy, has again asked for additional power to cut Mississippi's state budget. Citing lagging revenue collections for this month and state economic recovery historical trends, Barbour wrote that the "best solution" was to give the governor the ability to make selective 10 percent cuts to agencies, doubling what he can currently cut.

Wednesday, December 30

"Kings of Tort": A Royal Hit Job?

The authors of the recent book "Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi" don't mince words when trying to convey a white-trash tale of former attorney Paul Minor, who was convicted on federal bribery and honest services fraud charges in 2007.

No More Sugarcoating

In the afterglow of the King Edward's re-opening and as we've prepared this "Most Intriguing" issue, I've been thinking a bit about Frank Melton. After spending the last several months untangling from all the emotions and frustrations of covering him for four years, I'm starting to realize that he may have done the city good.

Robert Graham: Positive Thinker

Robert Graham knows his way around a phone. The Hinds County Supervisor for District 1 keeps three cell phones and is not above using two at once, one on either side of his face—a holdover from the 15 years he spent as media relations officer for the Jackson Police Department.

Step Outside the Mall Box

Last year's skyrocketing gas prices, combined with the housing bust, unemployment and a general economic malaise, is enough to make many suburbanites rethink their commutes and McMansions in favor of a return to an urban, mixed-use environment.

[Stiggers] Your Mind, Not Your Behind

Old School Pete: "You're listening to 108.1, WGST (Ghetto Science Team) radio, the station where listening is worth your while at the end of the dial. This is your old school deejay stimulating your mind, and not your behind, with the 'Round Midnight Music and Message Moment.

[Kamikaze] Milestones

The year 2009 marked a few interesting milestones in my personal and professional life, including significant highs and some unceremonious lows. These developments are steps on my path of maturation you guys have followed for some time now.

Jackson's Year in Review Timeline

Jan. 2 – State Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, announces his candidacy for mayor of Jackson.

JFP 2010 College Basktball Preview

Conference play is what it's all about in college basketball. Those games will start next week.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Women's college basketball, Belhaven at Millsaps (6 p.m., Jackson): The Lady Blazers and Lady Majors battle for neighborhood supremacy at the Hangar on New Year's Eve.

Tease photo

Most Intriguing Jacksonians of 2009

Every December, the Jackson Free Press staff dips into our archives for the past year to select a handful of the year's most intriguing Jacksonians.

Lost in the Blues

Playing to a packed house on open-mic night at Lumpkin's BBQ on Raymond Road, the four members of The Blues Eruption jam organically as one unit. Stephen "Stevie J" Johnson nods coolly to his bandmates, who ease into a funk shuffle from the song's original hard, driving blues groove.

[Rob In Stereo] Decade In Review

It was a decade of regression in pop music. If you were to chart the quality pop albums that came out each year of the aughts, you would have a steady downward slope from 2000 through today; that being said, there were some truly classic bands, songs and albums to emerge out of the decade.

Healing Forces

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jews. We spend it fasting and praying in hopes that we can be cleansed and absolved of all sin. Luckily, on the day before Yom Kippur this past September, I found myself preparing for the holiday in a way generations of Jewish comedians only dreamed of—by having a beautiful woman lay her hands on me.

He Drank, She Drank

I like girlie drinks. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed of it, either. Sweet? Yep. Fruity? The more, the better. And if you buy me a chocolatini, then I'll be your best friend.

JFP Cocktail Hour

The Jackson Free Press is a great place to work for so many reasons. One especially fun reason came last Wednesday before we shut down for the holidays when we had an impromptu JFP cocktail hour as we opened presents.

The Basic Home Bar

The basic necessities for your own home entertainment.

Salsa Mississippi

A rich wooden floor, mirrored walls and flashy dance-club lights turn an ordinary parlor into a place of extra--ordinary possibility at La Salsa Dance Club and Studio in Fondren. Anything seems possible with the right attitude.

Abe Schewel

When Abe Schewel isn't carrying his briefcase through the halls of Murrah High School or wearing a whistle around his neck on the soccer field, it's easy to mistake him for a student, which may be why so many of his students relate to him.

[McInnis] Tiger Woods and Selective Naivete

I never understood the significance of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, and baseball is the favorite sport in my household. Robinson's accomplishments in the integrated major leagues means no more to me than his accomplishments in the Negro League because I do not need whites to validate the genius of African people.

Investigating The Investigators

Support is growing on Jackson City Council for establishing civilian review of the Jackson Police Department, but the form that review will take is still uncertain.

Medgar's Office in Dispute

Jackson resident Delores Orey said the city's grant to restore the historic NAACP headquarters during the Civil Rights Movement may be misplaced. The administration of Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. intends to apply for a $712,500 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for the purchase and renovation of property occupied by NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers, who was murdered in his driveway by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in 1963. (A Hinds County Circuit Court jury convicted Beckwith for the murder in 1994 after two all-white juries failed to convict him in 1964.)

Casting Call Saturday

Paramount Pictures will be in Jackson Saturday, Jan. 2, looking for a young actress to star in the new Coen Brothers' film, "True Grit," which will begin shooting in spring. Writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen "would love, love, love to find somebody unknown" Casting Director Rachel Tenner said in a release. "Any girls with an instinct to try should come and give it a shot."

Tuesday, December 29

Anita's Favorite Movies of 2009

This is my first "official" blog for the Jackson Free Press, and what better way to take this virgin voyage through JFP blogland than discussing my favorite films of 2009. I compiled the list based on movies that have made their way into Mississippi multiplexes. Thanks to the efforts of Malco, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark, we were able to get a good portion of the year's critically successful films, and I hope that you continue to support their efforts and the smaller films that are not aimed at the adolescent male crowd.

Council Approves Metrocenter Purchase Despite Budget Woes

The Jackson City Council voted to purchase property inside the Metrocenter mall today. The city will buy more than 170,000 square feet of space within the mall—formerly occupied by Dillard's department store before it moved out in 2004—for $39,500. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. approached the council with the possibility of buying the property earlier this month as part of a bigger plan to revitalize the Highway 80 corridor between the city limits of Pearl and Clinton. The area, which contains the Metrocenter Mall, served as a bountiful location for businesses well into the 1980s before white residents vacated to the suburbs.

[Balko] Kern County's Monstrous DA

Farewell to Ed Jagels, a man who put 25 innocent "child abusers" in prison.

Nick's Restaurant Opens in Fondren

Longtime Jackson favorite Nick's Restaurant is re-opening Saturday, Jan. 2 in a new mixed-use development at 3000 Old Canton Road in Fondren. After 26 years on Lakeland Drive in Jackson, owner Nick Apostle decided to move his namesake restaurant when he realized it would be cheaper than closing for three months while he renovated the old location.

Barbour Wants 68 Percent Cuts to Ed Programs

Gov. Haley Barbour is recommending cutting education programs for gifted, special and vocational programs by 68 percent, reports WLBT. Making such deep cuts to state funding for the programs would result in losing $176 million in federal funding, as well.

Monday, December 28

State Economic Recovery Projected for 2013

Like the nation as a whole, Mississippi can expect to recover from the nationwide economic recession by 2013, according to a report released last week by the state Institutions for Higher Learning. Many economic indicators suggest that the state's economy is beginning to turn around. Mississippi's recovery will lag slightly behind that of other states, however, because its economy relies more on slow-growing, lower-productivity industries.

Jackson to Recycle Christmas Trees

The city will be recycling discarded Christmas trees into mulch this year, and will offer the mulch to Jackson residents for free. City Spokesman Chris Mims urged city residents to please remove all Christmas ornaments and trappings from their trees before taking them to any of the tree recycling drop-off points.

Public Meetings - Community and Holiday Events

U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Girls Winter Interregional at Freedom Ridge Park, Ridgeland (235 W. School St.). U.S. Youth Soccer ODP regional teams in the 1990 and 1992 age groups will train and compete in front of national and leading collegiate coaches to maximize their exposure. U.S. Youth Soccer is divided into four regions, Region I (East), Region II (Midwest), Region III (South) and Region IV (West) to assist in national competitions. Free admission; e-mail [e-mail missing].

‘Tough Times' in Mississippi

The non-profit Center for Social Inclusion released a new report "Tough Times in Mississippi: Housing and Poverty," last week showing that the Magnolia state is one of the hardest hit in the current recession. Not surprisingly, the African American community has been disproportionately affected, and is at the greatest risk of being left out of an economic recovery.

Friday, December 25

Adventures in Gingerbread

My mother spoiled me with books, and my prized possession was a gilded copy of "Grimm's Fairy Tales," which I pored over with all the twisted earnestness of Wednesday Addams. The details never lost their punch between readings: the revelation of the wolf's fearsome maw beneath granny's spectacles, the quiver of schadenfreude at Cinderella's feathered friends blinding her bullying step sisters, and the unfettered glee when wicked tricksters fall to their ruin.

Thursday, December 24

Season's Readings

As Christmas approaches, the television airwaves are deluged with a new crop of delightfully mind-numbing holiday movies. I enjoy a sappy Lifetime movie as much as the next girl—and I'm a dude. Laugh it up; I've got no shame. But if you're like me, you occasionally want to experience stories in a way that's a bit more traditional. I'm talking, of course, about those antiquated devices known as books.

Wednesday, December 23

High-Impact Organizations

Every nonprofit meets a different need in the community, but some do more than respond to crisis—they put effort into creating systemic social change and a better future for Mississippians.

How to Start a Nonprofit

"Anybody can start a nonprofit. When we're talking to people, we say you have to have a passion, you have to have a drive. There needs to be a need for someone to start an organization. There's got to be a problem that's got to be solved, and that can only be solved by either your nonprofit or your nonprofit working with other nonprofits." –Kitty Cook Ramsey, Director of Development for Mississippi Center for Nonprofits

How To Be Less Obese

The Centers for Disease Control reports that Mississippi has had the nation's highest obesity rate since 2004. Mississippi is among 14 states in which 25 percent of adults are obese, while the national average for adult obesity is 15 percent.

Midtown Makeover

Sandwiched between Millsaps College and Mill Street, North Midtown has tremendous resources, but the neighborhood has struggled with blight, losing nearly 26 percent of its population since 2000.

How to Free an Innocent Man

Cedric Willis is a Jackson resident who was wrongfully convicted in the shooting death of Carl White in 1994. In 2006 the Jackson Free Press reported that Hinds County Circuit jury convicted Willis, even though DNA evidence excluded him as the perpetrator in that crime. Prosecutors kept the DNA evidence from Willis' trial, and a jury convicted him or murder with a life sentence plus 90 years. After spending 12 years behind bards in Parchman, Willis was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project in New Orleans. Below is a timeline of Willis' journey through the legal system and the steps the Innocence Project took to free him. (Note: Every case is different, so these guidelines may not be suitable for everyone.)

How to Pass a Restitution Bill

Passing a law is rarely an easy process when it comes to a contentious issue that requires a state commitment to more money, especially when that money is essentially an apology and the legal admission that the state was wrong.

How To Change a Law

Mississippian Jerusha Stephens wanted to practice acupuncture, but the state medical board would only let licensed medical doctors practice. In March, Stephens worked with the state Legislature to change the law. Here is her advice on how:

Laws That Need to Change

Mississippi's voting laws make the citizenship harder work than it needs. State law currently allows early, in-person voting only for those voters who will be out of their voting district on Election Day. People who cannot take off work to vote on Election Day must risk a $5,000 fine and lie to vote early. Thirty-two states already allow no-excuse early voting; Mississippi has no excuse not to become the 33rd.


Malcolm White, who oversees statewide arts-based initiatives at the Mississippi Arts Commission, says creativity is crucial on a local level. "The arts bring joy to the citizenry," he says. "The arts give people a positive reinforcement and civic pride. The arts, we like to say, bring fabric to life. They help a community tell their story and express themselves.

How a Movement Fails

Thomas Linzey, author of "Be the Change: How to Get What you Want in Your Community", understands the disappointment that can come with fighting the good fight. Linzey is an environmental lawyer and co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

How to Start a Movement

Movements come in all forms and causes. In the past decade, gay-rights activists in Mississippi have joined forces to end discrimination for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) population and advocate for equal rights.

Even a Little 'Involvement' Will Do

Before I was a newspaper publisher, I spent most of my time as a freelance writer and book author, which meant, largely, that I was alone in my office (wherever it happened to be).

The Left v. Health-Care Reform

Critics are lining up against the U.S. Senate health-care reform bill.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

College football, Hawaii Bowl, Nevada vs. SMU (7 p.m., ESPN): The Mustangs were a C-USA also-ran, so they get a free trip to Hawaii. Something is wrong with this picture.

What the Saints Can Learn

I have been a dedicated Saints fan my entire life. So I don't claim any objectivity when I watch or write about the team.

City Should Support, Not Control

Change is afoot in North Midtown. The neighborhood between Millsaps College and Mill Street has suffered from urban blight for over a decade, but new housing developments and a new master plan for the area are promising signs of a turnaround.

[Stiggers] To Tiger, With Love

Dear Mr. Woods, You might remember me from a press conference after your first victory in the Masters Golf Tournament. I remember when you said, "I'll take a question from the gentleman wearing the chef's hat."

[Queen] My Kwanzaa

As far back as my memory will take me, Kwanzaa has consistently been the best time of my life minus the early years when the horrors of the day prior (Dec. 25) invoked a spirit of deprivation because all my friends had new toys for Christmas.

Tease photo

Dream Big. Change Jackson.

Thinking big. It is much more than a way to envision getting richer or renovating a downtown building into expensive condos.

Everybody's Fine

While "Everybody's Fine" may appear to be a light-hearted comedic drama, it plays out more like real life: full of ups and down with a little humor strewn here and there.

Bette Shornick

Bette Shornick is an artist of many talents. She creates jewelry, plays the piano and because of her appreciation of music education, she is determined to see every child pursue their passion.

How to Remake a Neighborhood

Affordable housing is not a typical prestige project for architecture firms. A new development in Jackson's North Midtown neighborhood may dispel that notion, though, applying innovative design on a relatively humble scale.

One Woman's Journey Into the Light

The Muslim call to prayer is heard five times every day throughout the Middle East and in parts of Africa, but Dec. 9, nine Islamic voices echoed in the halls of the Mississippi Arts Center before Ann Saunders, a local artist, presented her spiritual work to the public.

The Many Faces of Pop

Atlanta's Bradford Cox has a talent for channeling his offbeat personality into dreamy pop and rock songs, both in his main band, Deerhunter, and his frequent solo work as Atlas Sound. Where Deerhunter is more extroverted and rock-oriented-, the labyrinthine pop of Atlas Sound always feels like an introvert's bedroom musings and daydreams channeled into music.

[Herman's Picks] Vol.8, No. 15

Several local venues are open through the holidays this year (including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) to celebrate with musical and liquid cheer.

Barbour: Hands Off Damages Cap

Gov. Haley Barbour is working hard to keep non-economic damages caps on lawsuits thoroughly capped. Barbour's office submitted a Dec. 17 amicus brief to the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing that plaintiff Ronnie Lee Lymas should not be able to challenge the constitutionality of non-economic caps the Mississippi Legislature established in 2004.

Alabama Dem Switches to GOP

In a move that some Democrats find unsurprising, first-term Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith announced yesterday that he was switching his party affiliation from the Democrats to the GOP. In a prepared statement, Griffith said there was no place in the Democratic Party for a "pro-business, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment" legislator.

Tuesday, December 22

City Again Helping Minority Businesses

The city of Jackson is returning its Equal Business Opportunity Office to its former glory. On Dec. 1, the city hired professional speaker and public relations consultant Pamela Confer as head of the office, which serves to increase minority business participation in city contracts.

Barbour Names Commission on School Consolidation

Gov. Haley Barbour announced yesterday the formation of an advisory panel on school consolidation, one of the more controversial suggestions from his November budget recommendations. Composed of state and local education officials, business leaders and legislators, the 16-member Commission on Mississippi Education will begin studying consolidation in January 2010 and deliver a report to the governor by April.

Otis Ashford

Otis Ashford is suing the City of Moss Point and three Moss Point police officers for civil-rights violations related to an April 2008 arrest. Ashford, a Moss Point resident, was visiting the house of his sister, Dell Jones, also of Moss Point, on April 18, 2008, when he heard noises coming from his brother's house next door. According to his lawsuit, Ashford went to his sister's porch to investigate the noise and saw two men struggling in the dark in front of his brother's house. Believing his brother to be involved and in danger, Ashford demanded that his brother be let go.

[Balko] Chicago's Thick Blue Wall

The Windy City's notoriously aggressive police department fights for less accountability.

State Ranks High for Happiness, Religion

In separate nationwide reports, Mississippi gets high scores in happiness and religion. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta released a report ranking the states for happiness. The Magnolia state was No. 7 on that list, topped by other sunny climes, including Louisiana, Hawaii and Arizona. New York state is at the other extreme.The CDC speculates factors including hours of sunshine, cost of living, congestion and air quality all contribute to the happiness rankings, according to USA Today.

Monday, December 21

Saints Learn Lesson: Nobody's Perfect Except Peyton (...Maybe)

The Cowboys played like they were on a mission...and "dem Saints" played a little like they they had fewer than 11 men on the field at any given moment.

NFL Exposed

Oakland Raiders lineman Tommy Kelly receives unwanted exposure.

Hinds Supes Approve Hwy. 80 Beautification

Hinds County Supervisors opened bids today on a roughly $240,000 beautification project for Highway 80. The road, which runs through South Jackson, was once a major commercial thoroughfare and business center, but is now a prime example of blight in the city, dotted with dilapidated and vacant buildings. The area is also the subject of a $500,000 economic development and revitalization study commissioned by Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in November and scheduled for completion in August.

Mark Scurlock

Donut entrepreneur Mark Scurlock is delivering Christmas a few days early for Jackson. This morning, Scurlock celebrated the grand opening of his new location at 125 S. Congress St. at the corner of Pearl Street in the heart of the city's downtown.

Public Meetings - Community and Holiday Events

Dec. 21-31, "Name the Baby Giraffe" Contest at Jackson Zoological Park (2918 W. Capitol St.). Entries will be taken at the main entrance and the winner announced New Year's Day. The winner gets a family membership to the zoo. $1 donation; call 601-352-2580.

Senate Health-Care Bill Clears Crucial Hurdle

The U.S. Senate won a victory early this morning in the health-care debate, reports The Washington Post. In a 1 a.m. 60-to-40 vote, Senators approved the first of three procedural motions to move reform legislation to final passage, now scheduled for Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 18

College Board Loosens Firing Rules

Facing steep budget cuts this year and a bleak outlook for the next two years, the state College Board gave initial approval yesterday to a policy change that would allow university presidents greater flexibility in firing tenured and tenure-track professors.

Barbour Comparison Off the Mark?

Gov. Haley Barbour made national news again this week by comparing health-care reform—as envisioned in the U.S. House and Senate—to the horror of the Jonestown massacre. Speaking as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Barbour equated the Democrats' health-care reform proposal in Congress to the poison Jim Jones used to kill 918 of his cult followers in a 1978 mass murder/suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

Weekend Happenings

News for procrastinators: Only five more days 'til Christmas! If you're still looking for a perfect, one-of-a-kind gift, head to the artists open house at the North Midtown Arts Center (formerly One to One Studio, 121 Millsaps Ave.) tonight starting at 5 p.m. Browse the galleries, talk to the artists, and find the perfect piece for that blank wall. If you're still stumped for a gift, make sure to pick up a paper copy of the JFP, and browse our FLY pages for even more last minute ideas.

Kathy Clem

Kathy Clem, executive director of The Good Samaritan Center, is working tirelessly until Christmas to make sure needy families in Jackson will receive gifts this holiday season. Clem, 48, has worked at the center for 25 years, and says there are still 120 children signed up the organization's Santa's Stocking program who are waiting for their wish list to be filled.

Gifts of Faith

Carmelite Monastery of Jackson Inc.

For some, faith is the reason for the season. Here are some gift ideas for the faithful in your life.

A Bit o' Bling in my stocking, Please

From bling on a budget to decadently shiny things, this is your guide to looking fly at this year's holiday events.

I've Been Really Good This Year. Really.

What I want for Christmas, other than world peace. And a bike.

College Tuition Increases Possible

One of the things the Mississippi College Board is considering to offset the decrease in state funding is to increase tuition for students. During yesterday's meeting at the state Institutions of Higher Learning offices, Commissioner Hank Bounds brought the issue to the table, reports

Thursday, December 17

Slate, NYT, Balko Calling Out JFP Work on Barbour Pardons

We are thrilled to see that, thanks to Reason editor Radley Balko, national media are finally picking up on news the JFP's Ronni Mott, with intern Sophie McNeil, brought out over a year ago: Gov. Barbour let a string of woman killers off the hook with no apparent reason. Meantime, beyond reporting on the case on the Gulf Coast, the state's other media did not report that Barbour's "trustys" for the most part brutually killed wives and girlfriends.

Barbour Compares Health Reform to Jonestown Massacre

Gov. Haley Barbour embarrassed Mississippians again today by standing up alongside several Republican members of Congress and calling the Democratic health-insurance reform "catastrophic," then compared it to Jim Jones' infamous Jonestown massacre, according to a report just out on Politico.

King Edward Opens: 'Great Day for Jackson'

Visit our King Edward special report and gallery.

Brad Rogers

For better or worse, Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers proved he's his own man when it comes to making a decision on the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District. Rogers was one of the five members of the levee board who voted in favor of a motion to adopt a levee plan for flood control along the Pearl River, as well as one of four mayors on the board who favored levees. Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads explained that he had constituents who wanted the board to get moving on some kind of flood-control plan, be it levees or a lake plan, and warned that the Corps had limited their choices by pulling the plug on the lake option.

Jackson Crime Sees Slight Decrease

Major crimes in Jackson decreased slightly last week, with a 22.9 percent drop in violent crime and a 1.3 percent increase in property crimes over the previous week, according to statistics released at a Jackson Police Department command staff meeting this morning. The weekly trend mirrors yearly statistics: For the year to date, violent crime has decreased 9.2 percent from 2008 numbers, while property crime is up 1.7 percent.

Jackson's Glorious Tipping Point

Last night, Todd and I were at the holiday social at Hal & Mal's, and I couldn't stop talking about two things (a) the Saints we're going to see in NOLA this weekend and (b) the fact that I believe that today — 12/17 we could call it — is our city's tipping point with the psychological victory that is the re-opening of the King Edward Hotel. The symbol of our demise has become the proof of what a determined community can do when it comes together. David Watkins, Mayor Johnson, HRI, Deuce McAllister, Leland Speed, Ben Allen were the big players, but the King Ed is really proof of what Jackson is becoming.

King Edward Re-opening Today

Long a downtown eyesore and unpleasant reminder of Jackson's troubled past, the King Edward Hotel is re-opening tomorrow with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. A joint project of Jackson developer David Watkins' group, Watkins Partners, and Historic Renovation Incorporated of New Orleans, the six-year, $84 million renovation of the 300,000 square-foot historic building is complete, marking the end of a long and bumpy return to glory.

Scott Rallies State Workers

Brenda Scott, president of the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees CWA/AFL-CIO, is spreading the word about Gov. Haley Barbour's proposed cuts to the state budget. Those cuts could affect not only current employees, but retirees as well, she told Delta Democrat Times yesterday.

Wednesday, December 16

Levee Board Votes for Levees

The controversial "Two Lakes" saga ended Monday when the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District voted to move ahead with a levees-only flood-control plan endorsed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

What's up in local sports over the next seven days?

Let It Shine

I'm not going to tell a lie: One of the reasons I left my home state back in 1983 was religious intolerance. That makes it all the more ironic that I have found a deeper faith than I could have imagined in the years since I've returned.

Minor Bribery Conviction Overturned

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partially overturned the convictions of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and former judges John Whitfield and Walter "Wes" Teel.

Contractor, State Trade Blows

The State of Mississippi wants Hinds County Chancery Court Judge William Singletary to dismiss a suit launched against it by multi-national corporation Utility Management Corp.

Casey Amendment Targets Poor Children's Care

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is pushing an amendment to keep children in the national Child Health Insurance Program from getting rolled into an insurance exchange.

Buying Judges: Tell the Whole Story

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially overturned the convictions of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and former judges John Whitfield and Walter "Wes" Teel Friday.

[Stiggers] Beware the Party Crashers

Mr. Announcement: "In the ghetto-criminal justice system, the people are represented by two members of the McBride family: police officer and part-time security guard at the Funky Ghetto Mall, Dudley 'Do-Right' McBride, and attorney Cootie McBride of the law firm McBride, Myself and I. This is their story."

Hey, Show Some Love

I was first introduced to the concept of a mitzvah while reading Ari L. Goldman's "The Search for God" at Harvard. The term mitzvah originally referred to the 613 commandments in the Torah and the seven rabbinic commandments instituted later for a total of 620.

[Broadus] The Gift of Faith

It's the holiday season. It's the holiday season? It's the holiday season! I'm always amazed at the different reactions that come along with this time of year. Some react with general malaise, some with disbelief, and others can barely contain the excitement.

Tease photo

Sit, Pray, Love

Walking up the leaf-littered driveway off Old Canton Road, I almost miss the unassuming little brown building tucked away in the trees, but Bebe Wolfe is on the front porch to welcome me.

My Inner Buddha

A smell so offensive and overpowering that I could only refer to it after as the "R incident," is what forced me to "Come To Jesus," or rather, to seek my inner Buddha.

Getting Your Zen On

Curious about this whole mindful, compassionate, in-the-moment thing? Here are books to inspire you to focus and meditate and let the stupid stuff go, regardless of your religious faith.

The Hanukkah Oil Club

Oil. It's in nearly everything we eat. We use spritzes of oil to sauté and roast, drizzles of it to toss with salads and puddles to deep fry, well, everything else. Oil is made from olives, corn, a variety of nuts and soybeans.

Star & Micey's Feel-Good Pop

At Cups in Fondren, strings of draped Christmas lights glow in front of a whimsical backdrop in shades of blue.

[Rob In Stereo] A Desert of Seriousness

I was at a house party during the winter of 2003, and I remember noting the self-serious vibe pervading every room.

Food Equals Love

It can't be argued: food equals sustenance. As Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, epicure and gastronomic philosopher, once famously asserted, "The universe would be nothing were it not for life, and all that lives must be fed."

Council Agrees to Invest in South Jackson Development

The Jackson City Council voted to issue more than $1 million in bonds for a South Jackson development at Tuesday's council meeting. The decision, which is connected to the development of the much-disputed Timber Falls development near Forest Hill High School, means the city will spend $1.2 million to finance the completion of a road linking the new neighborhood to Raymond Road. The bond will also pay for the straightening of a sharp curve in the winding Forest Hill Road—which was once little more than an isolated ribbon of concrete twisting through a large thicket of greenery linking Cooper and Raymond Roads.

Christmas Dinner: Let the Pros Do It

Looking for some help with your holiday meal? Consider letting a local restaurant, food distributor or grocery store help out.

Numan Rasheed Abdul-Ali

Numan Rasheed Abdul-Ali, 37, grew up surrounded by the Baptist faith of his family, but never felt it was right for him.

2011 Budget Slashes State Jobs

Following Gov. Haley Barbour's cost-cutting lead, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee released their proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 2010. Among its recommendations is eliminating 3,600 state jobs, and cutting another 10 percent from agency funds, resulting in a budget that is $300 million smaller than that of the current year.

Tuesday, December 15

Corps Plan Inadequate?

Levee Board member and Jackson developer Leland Speed made clear his belief at Monday's levee board meeting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has duped Rankin County mayors into prematurely accepting a flawed levee plan that the Corps has endorsed.

[Balko] Clemency on Trial

Most governors grant clemency for the wrong reasons, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Here's what coverage of the Huckabee/Clemons case is missing.

Cochran Crosses Aisle to Bring Home the Bacon

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran broke ranks with fellow Republicans Sunday to pass a $1.1 trillion omnibus federal spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year. The bill combined $447 billion for transportation, housing and urban development with roughly $650 billion for federal benefit programs like Medicare. It also included $3.9 billion in earmarks for special projects, of which $150 million went to Mississippi. Support from Cochran and two other Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, gave Democrats the 60 votes they needed to surpass a threatened GOP filibuster. The spending measure now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

Cheryl Keeton Shelton

One wouldn't necessarily connect a sixth grade teacher with the FBI, but Daniel McMullen, special agent in charge of the FBI's Jackson division, selected just such a teacher for the 2009 Director's Community Leadership Award: Cheryl Keeton Shelton.

Mayor Proclaims Homeless Persons' Memorial Day

[verbatim] Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr., will proclaim Friday, Dec. 18, as James Ivory Homeless Persons' Memorial Day at an observance scheduled for 9:30 a.m. that day at the Stewpot Community Services sanctuary, 1100 W. Capitol St. in Jackson.

Monday, December 14

Levee Board Votes for Corps-Approved Plan

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District voted this morning to move head with a levees-only flood-control plan endorsed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads moved to accept the Corps' recommendation that the levees along the Pearl River between Hinds and Rankin counties be extended.

Russell Thomas Jr.

Russell Thomas Jr. lives jazz—as a teacher, a student and an advocate. The Mississippi Jazz Foundation recognized Thomas for his own musicianship as well as his education work last Friday, during its annual holiday concert at the Alamo Theatre on Farish Street. Thomas, who has taught jazz performance and music theory at Jackson State University since 1984, also promotes the music he loves in elementary and secondary schools. He founded "Jazz in the Schools," a music education program that teaches jazz history and jazz improvisation to elementary and high school students.

Public Meetings and Community Events

6 p.m. Jackson City Council Meeting at Jackson City Hall (200 S. President St.). The City Council holds its regular meeting, open to the public. Free; call 601-960-1033.

Youth Justice Project Sues Hinds County Schools

The Mississippi Youth Justice Project filed a lawsuit today against the Hinds County School District, alleging that the district unlawfully targeted a student for expulsion. The student, identified in the complaint only by his initials, A.H., was a freshman at Terry High School. District officials suspended, then expelled and placed him in an alternative school for his involvement in what the lawsuit calls a "coin-tossing game" on a school bus.

BREAKING: Levee Board Votes for Corps' Levee Plan

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District voted this morning to move head with a levees-only flood-control plan endorsed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Flowood Mayor Gary Rhodes moved to accept the Corps' recommendation that the levees along the Pearl River between Hinds and Rankin counties be extended. The other mayors on the Levee Board including Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. all supported the motion, with only Jackson businessmen Leland Speed and Socrates Garrett voting against it. Rhodes cited the concerns of his constituents about the urgency of flood control in submitting the motion. Mayor Johnson seconded the motion.

Childers to Tour Crop Disaster Areas

Today, Rep. Travis Childers, representing Mississippi's first Congressional district, will lead a crop disaster tour throughout his district in the company of U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Michael Scuse. The tour will provide the agency first-hand information about the severe crop loss suffered to Mississippi farmers in the wake of heavy rains earlier in the fall, according to a release.

Friday, December 11

A Call from the Wild

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is rare breed. It unfolds slowly and on its own time. It never drags; its pace is leisurely but well measured. The art style and stop-motion photography are as unique as the story; the low-tech but painstaking animation and cinematic puppetry works well in this uncompromisingly old-fashioned tale. Thoughtful and entertaining, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is nothing short of fantastic.

CVP Gives Donna Ladd ‘Angel of the Year' Award

At its 2009 Christmas Gala last night, the Center for Violence Prevention surprised Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd with its "Angel of the Year" award. CVP Executive Director Sandy Middleton told the audience that Ladd and the Jackson Free Press had raised more than $50,000 in recent years for the center's work, which includes helping women and children who are victims of abuse, as well as running a new batterer's intervention program.

Fifth Circuit Overturns Paul Minor Bribery Conviction

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has partially overturned the convictions of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and former judges John Whitfield and Walter "Wes" Teel. A federal jury convicted Minor, Teel and Whitfield in 2007 for federal bribery and honest services fraud, but they appealed, arguing that prosecutors changed jury instructions to muddy the definition of an exchange of services for corruption, among other arguments.

Jackson High School Wins National Honor

U.S. News & World Report has named Murrah High School in Jackson a Silver Medal school in the magazine's latest list of America's Best High Schools. Murrah was the only school in the state and one of 461 high schools in the nation to earn the Silver Medal designation, which is based on how well schools prepare students for college. No Mississippi schools were among the 100 selected as Gold Medal schools, the highest level.

Mark Chinn

Yes, he's a divorce lawyer, but if Mark Chinn has his way, that job description will sound less like a slur and more like an honor. Chinn, 56, wants to move his profession away from the litigious, take-no-prisoners mentality it currently holds to a more collaborative approach that seeks to heal families even as it separates them.

Happening's this Weekend

Bundle up this afternoon and head to the historic Farish Street district for an evening of holiday celebration. At 4 p.m., join the Farish Street/Main Street Project for the annual tree-lighting ceremony in the park at the corner of Farish and Hamilton streets. Then, at 7 p.m., head the Alamo Theater (333 N. Farish St.) for "A Night of Music Artistry," when the Mississippi Jazz Foundation presents their sixth annual event. The show features Grammy nominee Kirk Whalum and Mississippi recording artist Michael Burton. Tickets are $35. For more entertainment options, visit the JFP Events Calendar for dozens of options every day.

[Ratcliff] Energy Efficiency is the Solution, Not Coal

Climate change and what to do about it has been a contentious topic for some time now. Although Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," did a terrific job of telling the story about the threat of global warming, too many people don't believe they can or should do anything about it.

MDH Offering Free Flu Vaccines

The Mississippi State Department of Health is now offering free vaccines for the H1N1 flu, commonly known as swine flu, to Mississippians. Residents 6 months of age or older can get either the injectable vaccine or the nasal-spray vaccine free at any MSDH at any county health department. Physicians and schools are also making the vaccines available.

Thursday, December 10

Girl, 8, Shot at Boys & Girls Club

An 8-year-old girl was shot in the head while sitting inside the Boys & Girls Club on Sykes Road at around 2:30 p.m. today, according to Jackson police. The unidentified girl was reportedly doing her homework when a bullet came from outside.

Howard Exec Pleads Guilty

Jose Humberto Gonzalez, 45, former personnel director at Howard Industries in Laurel, Miss., pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy related to the company's hiring of undocumented immigrants. On August 25, 2008, Howard Industries was the site of the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history, during which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers placed 595 immigrants under administrative arrest, nine of whom have since pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.

Developers Push a Lake for Downtown

UPDATED: December 15, 2009

Jackson developer David Watkins, whose ventures include the King Edward Hotel and the Farish Street entertainment district, unveiled plans for a downtown lake and riverwalk at a media event yesterday. The project, which is still in the early stages of planning, would complement the problematic Two Lakes project for the Pearl River, but its completion would not depend on that development, according to Ben Allen, president of Downtown Jackson Partners, which sponsored the event.

Violent Crime Down; Property Crime Spikes

Major crimes in Jackson rose 11.9 percent last week, with a drop in violent crime not enough to offset a spike in property crimes, according to weekly statistics released at a Jackson Police Department meeting today. For the week ending Dec. 6, Jackson police officers reported three fewer violent crimes than the previous week, keeping with the overall trend: For the year-to-date, Jackson has seen a 9.6 percent drop in violent crime from 2008.

Michael Feldman

Radio quipster Michael Feldman has been compared to Groucho Marx, though without the cigar and brothers. A lapsed schoolteacher and failed cab driver, he has been hosting the comedy quiz radio show "Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?" since 1985.

Chief Coleman takes Oath of Office

Jackson Police Chief Rebecca Coleman took the oath of office Wednesday afternoon. Supreme Court Justice James Graves administered the oath, after a speech of faint regret by Jackson State University President Ronald Mason, who surrendered Coleman as director of JSU public safety when Mayor Harvey Johnson appointed her as chief in October.

Wednesday, December 9

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

What's up in local sports over the next seven days?

State goes to La-La Land

On Saturday, Mississippi State (5-2) travels to Anaheim, Calif., to play UCLA (2-5) in the annual John R. Wooden Classic. Both teams began the season ranked in the top 25, but have fallen out recently.

Start Moving

It's hard to describe the freedom that comes with not relying on a car for transportation, because for many people this means just the opposite. Last week a group of about 25 progressive Jacksonians participated in an experiment called carLESS week.

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A Blessed Man

Wyatt Waters unfolds the legs on his handmade wooden easel and sits down to paint a neighborhood scene in Belhaven. He is on one of those tree-lined streets with historic homes, neat lawns and attentive homeowners.

[Stiggers] I'm Not Black!

Motel Williams: "Welcome to the first B.I.D. (Blacks in Denial) conference. Before I begin my brief speech, I want everyone to know that I'm not black; I'm Scandinavian!

Signs of Hope

A coworker of time was standing at her window looking over the head of the stone Eudora Welty who looks just past the statues of William Faulkner and Richard Wright on the corner of Lamar and Capitol streets. It occurred to her that the traffic should not be stopped at a green light, so she studied the scene more carefully.

[Collier] (Re)Engagement

One of the things that consistently brings me joy in life is writing. There are times, however, when it gives me grief. Like now. How does one re-establish themselves with an audience who gave them their start and watched them grow? Let me explain.

Master of Puppets

For generations of American children, Jim Henson's imagination is hard to distinguish from their own. Henson's Sesame Street characters and Muppets have become enduring archetypes: Miss Piggy, the personification of frivolous vanity; Cookie Monster, a creature of pure id.

Notes of Love

This winter, one of the greatest known love stories will captivate its audience when soprano Kathleen Van De Graaff and bass-baritone Peter Van De Graaff, perform in "The Life and Love of Robert and Clara Schuma

The Art of Film

Esther Blueburger is not your typical teenager. Determined to be true to herself at all cost, Esther breaks out of the confinement of her repressed private school and her toxic family by running away to attend her friend Sunni's public school, disguising herself as a Swedish foreign-exchange student.

There's No Place Like Home

After fierce winds encircle a house lifting it off its foundation, 12-year-old Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, step outside and enter a land more beautiful than words. To their amazement, they have reached a point of no return as they meet Glenda The Good Witch and the munchkins, and are hailed as heroes for slaying the Wicked Witch who lies beneath their house.

A Memory You'll Never Forget

Queenie the dog, Buddy the 7-year-old and his cousin Sook, an aging woman with white hair, stand in the kitchen ready to celebrate finishing their Christmas tradition of making fruitcakes for friends.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 11, No. 13

Between now and the new year, you have quite a few choice options for getting out of the house.

The Correction

Neil White, a Mississippian who published newspapers and magazines in Oxford and on the Gulf Coast, was arrested in the early 1990s for "kiting" checks—passing them back and forth between banks without funds in either one to cover the other.

Did State Mismanage Stimulus Funds?

A Jackson company is alleging in Hinds County Chancery Court that the state mismanaged $3.75 million in federal stimulus funds by passing over the lowest and best bidder for a contract to "green" public buildings.

Weill Demands City's Fuelman Records

Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Weill delivered an information request to the city of Jackson yesterday, asking for copies of all records of purchases made from or through Fuelman, the city's contracted fuel administrator. Weill's information request, which targets the time period between Nov. 1, 2008, and Nov. 30, 2009, includes requests for records reflecting the number of city employees who have access to Fuelman cards, the number of and type of exceptions or misuses that have occurred, and "to what extent manual key-ins were permitted" on the cards, meaning purchases made without the presentation of the actual card.

Robin Jayne Henderson

When Robin Jayne Henderson, 27, leaves her day job as the gallery director of One Blu Wall in Fondren Corner, she heads home to One to One Studios and either picks up her paintbrush, or joins in with whatever event is happening on the floor below.

Prosecute the Prosecutors

A true correction would include prosecution for those suspected of knowingly packing a man away to prison for a crime they knew he didn't commit.

Ho, Ho, Oy Vey

"We had a table at Fondren Unwrapped, and I was asking people, 'Do you have any Jewish friends? This would be a great gift for them!' And, most people answered, 'Amanda, you are my Jewish friend."

AG's Office Getting Tough on Rip-Offs

Attorney General Jim Hood has announced formation of Mississippi's first intellectual property theft task force, supported by the national business community, according to a release. "Operation Knock Out Knock-Offs" is funded by a federal grant, Hood said, and the task force held its initial meeting and training in October, with more than 40 state, federal and local agencies participating.

Tuesday, December 8

Extreme Makeover: Hattiesburg Edition

Like relatively every American, I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition every Sunday on ABC. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment and like having a good bawl fest once a week, okay?

Willis to be Compensated for ‘Egregious' Prosecution

Jackson resident Cedric Willis says he is happy that the state of Mississippi agreed to pay him compensation for wrongfully convicting him for the shooting death of Carl White in 1994, even though $500,000 doesn't quite seem to cover it.

JPS Gifted Students Give Back

A community service program for Jackson Public Schools students culminates today in an alternative gift market. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.), JPS students will be selling gifts like care packages that benefit local and international aid organizations.

Joe Troupe

Joseph Randall Troupe, better known as Joe, was a veteran, a skilled carpenter and a powerful motivator. Troupe died Friday after battling lymphoma. He was 67. Troupe's wife, Mary Troupe, is the executive director of the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities. She credits him with helping her live a normal life in spite of being wheelchair bound.

[Balko] Criminal Justice Reform Alliance? Doubt It.

Why talk of a left-right alliance to fight the prosecution state seems unlikely.

Tonight: Ward 2 Community Meeting

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. will host a community meeting in Ward 2 tonight at 6 p.m. The meeting's purpose is to discuss city services and plans, and will include a question and answer session.

Monday, December 7

CarLESS and Proud

Something unique happens when you stop using your car for a week: you become addicted to a newfound freedom.

Pickering and Coach Come to Blows

Former Rep. Chip Pickering showed the city of Madison that soccer apparently stirs up the same kind of emotions here as it does in Europe. Madison Police Sgt. Robert Sanders told the Jackson Free Press today that Pickering and youth soccer coach Christopher Hester filed complaints against each other for assault after the two duked it out at Madison's Liberty Park Sunday.

Hinds Approves King Edward Financing Support

Hinds County Supervisors approved a tax increment financing plan to support the King Edward Hotel renovation at a meeting this morning. The plan requires the county to cover 85 percent of any increase in property taxes due to the development for the next 20 years or up to $2.8 million, whichever comes first. During that period, the King Edward developers, HRI Watkins, will pay only 15 percent of any increase in property taxes as the area rises in value.

Public Meetings and Community Events This Week

Donate Blood and Save a Life Monday through Thursday, Dec. 7-10, a the University of Mississippi Medical Center (2500 N. State St.) and Friday at the Jackson Medical Mall. Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children); Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday (at the Jackson Medical Mall, 350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please bring ID. Call 888-902-5663.

Ally Mack

On Nov. 12, the Mississippi World Trade Center announced the first recipient for its Excellence in Trade Education Award: Jackson State University's Dean of International Studies Dr. Ally Mack. The center, a non-profit membership organization that assists Mississippi businesses in all aspects of international trade, awarded the honor to Mack for her outstanding contributions to international education.

Saints Stumble to 12-0

The Saints lost the coin toss going into overtime against the Washington Redskins, a team that had arguably beat them on everything except voodoo, karma and the "luck of the call." But, in the end, a fumble recovery and a field goal from the one yard line left the Saints with a perfect 12-0 record and a lot of people -- Redskins fans among them -- shaking their heads.

[Evans] Building a Better Revenue Picture for Mississippi's Future

This was certainly not the way Gov. Haley Barbour wanted to end his term in state office. Tax revenues are down $371 million and counting. State budget alternatives are grim, with cuts of at least 12 percent for most agencies, including education.

Friday, December 4

Chick Jam Rocks Again

After the success of our first Chick Jam in the summer, the Jackson Free Press is hosting Winter Chick Jam on Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. with performances by folk band Fedora Welty, punk rockers Party Dots and indie-rock band Law School.

City's Legislative Agenda a Hard Sell

The legislative agenda for Jackson that Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. unveiled yesterday is short and cheap, but most items on the wish list will still face an uphill battle when the state Legislature convenes again in January. Jackson's legislative delegation will likely encounter more resistance than in past years, thanks to a budget crisis that will make legislators especially tight-fisted.

Gingrich Recycles 1990s Message for Jobs Creation

Republican and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared at a local "jobs summit" yesterday, blasting Washington politicians for being clueless about how to spur job growth. Gingrich—and his message—hasn't changed much over the last decade when his party rode an anti-Democratic sentiment into House and Senate dominance. The continued strength of his party later allowed the GOP to dominate all three branches of government, including the White House, with the election of George W. Bush at the turn of the century.

It's the Weekend

The place to be tonight is Hal & Mal's for the Winter 2009 Chick Jam. The fun kicks off at 8 p.m., with performances by Fedora Welty, Party Dots and Law School, and you'll find lots of cool photography and art on display and for sale. Admission is a single Lincoln (a mere $5), but you need to be over 18 to play. Proceeds go to the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl. Call ShaWanda at 601-362-6121 ext. 16 for more info, or visit the Chick Ball Web site.

Wade Overstreet

Wade Overstreet is passionate about improving the quality of life for children and families in Jackson. As the new development director for Operation Shoestring, Overstreet, 36, is in charge of raising funds and communicating the mission of the organization, a non-profit providing services for the inner-city community including after-school programs, parenting classes, summer camps and a food pantry.

Governor Announces More Budget Cuts

In the wake of yet another disappointing state revenue report, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced another $54.3 million in budget cuts yesterday, and expressed remorse that he could not impose more cuts under current state law. The announced cuts include a $19.2 million slash in Medicaid reimbursement rates which will not go into effect until February thanks to a law that does not allow Barbour to reduce rates until February.

Thursday, December 3

Gingrich to Speak at Millsaps

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will carry his jobs summit to Millsaps College today at 4 p.m. Gingrich's Web site describes the event as "a real jobs summit," to rival President Barack Obama's jobs summit held at the White House today.

Dr. Ed Thompson

Dr. F.E. "Ed" Thompson was a leader in improving the health of others. Thompson, 62, held the post of Mississippi's health officer, from 1993 to 2003, and again from 2007 until his death Tuesday of colon cancer.

Jackson Violent Crimes Drop 18 Percent Last Week

Violent crimes in Jackson decreased by 18 percent last week, along with an overall 3 percent decrease in all major crimes, according to statistics released at a Jackson Police Department command staff meeting this morning for the week ending Nov. 29. For the year to date, violent crime is down 9.8 percent, while property crime is up slightly at 1.2 percent. Jackson has seen 38 homicides this year to date, compared to 66 by this time last year.

Unity Conference Gets Underway

"Building Bridges Through Diversity: One Goal, One Vision" is this year's theme for the fourth annual Unity Conference, sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. The conference, which starts tonight at 7 p.m. with a book signing reception and photo gallery, continues through Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Cabot Lodge, Millsaps (2375 North State St.).

Wednesday, December 2

[Kamikaze] Spread the Projack Love

I'm what you call a ProJack. I steadfastly support anything in Jackson—community, music and business. If you operate or reside firmly within this city's borders, I pray for your success.

Winter Chick Jam

After the success of our first Chick Jam in the summer, the Jackson Free Press is hosting Winter Chick Jam on Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. with performances by folk band Fedora Welty, punk rockers Party Dots and indie-rock band Law School.

Driving Ol' Dixie Down

This might be remembered as the year they drove ol' "Dixie" down.

Funmi Folayan Spencer and Brad Franklin

Over a period of eight years, Funmi "Queen" Folayan Spencer and Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin realized that they were as good for each other as they are for Jackson.

BTW Birthdays

Yeah, you guessed it, my birthday's in December. It's on the 21st to be exact, which sometimes falls on the first day of winter—the shortest day of the year.

Now is the Time to Give

This holiday season, don't forget about the animals.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

High school football, MHSAA 1A Championship, Durant vs. Mount Olive (7 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Jackson, MPB): Mount Olive lost five games in the regular season, but the Pirates won when it counted.

Do the Right Thing and ... Report

As I proofread this week's cover story about the stories mainstream media won't cover, I thought back to the first year of the Jackson Free Press.

Need Audience Members for the 1st Taping of New TV Talk Show

JFP Nation, Some of you arent aware that I have new TV talk show airing on Comcast channel 14 (JSUTV23) in January. Ive entered into a partnership with my alma mater to produce a slick new News and current events talk show to attract a new demographic to their network. Think Meet the Press meets Bill Maher meets TRL.

Schimmel, Nolan Confirmed for JPS Board

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.'s two new appointments to the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees became official Nov. 25 when the Jackson City Council confirmed both with unanimous votes.

Easy On Community Colleges?

In a budget proposal that suggested drastic consolidation of the state's K-12 school districts and public universities, Gov. Haley Barbour was noticeably less adamant about changes to the state's community college system.

Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

News footage from the last nine months fills a television screen with quick cuts from image to image. A dancer moves across the stage in curious confusion. A figure in white emerges, weaving his way toward and around the dancing woman.

[Stiggers] Make A Friend If You Can

Miss Doodle Mae: "This holiday season, folks are counting down to more cutbacks. The mantra for the shameless corporate executives is cut back, back, back. Business decisions to eliminate jobs to enable CEO bonuses and privileges slit the throats of today's workers who bleed hopelessness, fear, apathy and desperation."

Real Mississippi Stories the Mainstream Ignored

JPS Troubles with Federal Tutoring Funds

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Censored! Top 10 News Stories Ignored by the Mainstream

Peter Phillips, director of Project Censored for 13 years, says it's impossible, to try to get major news media outlets to deliver relevant news stories that serve to strengthen democracy.

Jackson No. 3 'Best Bang-for-the-Buck' City

Americans are thinking differently when evaluating cities where they might settle down and raise a family. In the wake of the real-estate bubble and in the midst of major unemployment, places like Jackson are looking darn good. So good, in fact, that has rated Jackson the third best "bang-for-the-buck" city out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country.

Health-Care Reform to Dump Poor Kids?

Oleta Fitzgerald, director of the Children's Defense Fund's Southern Regional Office, says she is concerned over the welfare of Mississippi children if either of the two health-care reform packages considered by the U.S. House and Senate ever make it into law.

Time to Build Levees

This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, closed their four-year study of Pearl River flood solutions in the Jackson metro, issuing a press release that was unambiguously titled: "Study Finds Levee Plan Best Option For Jackson Metro."

Saved by the Light

"The Blind Side" may be an atypical sports movie, but this film about Ole Miss Rebel and Baltimore Raven offensive tackle Michael Oher has plenty of quality for everyone.

Jake Greer

When some people think of Jackson, they conjure a place full of crime, drug houses, bumpy streets and rundown buildings, but not Crystal Springs native Jake Greer.

New Isn't Always Better

The post-punk Renaissance may have run its course a few years ago, but don't tell that to The Gossip. Of course, the group's emotionally expressive style never really fit in the genre's most popular acts. Instead of the trademark detachment of male-dominated bands, The Gossip—anchored by the unabashed expressiveness of lead singer Beth Ditto herself—puts everything on the line.

[Rob In Stereo] A Question of Raditude

I have never been so thoroughly confused by a generic mainstream rock album as I am by Weezer's "Raditude." My initial instinct was to hate it, to pronounce that Weezer has at last become part of the pop-music machine that its members have spent their careers mocking.

Presence, Not Presents

My Aunt Peggie has 48 miniature Santas. Each year, not long after Thanksgiving, she painstakingly takes her Santa collection and displays them around her home, along with the Christmas tree, Christmas villages and all the other holiday décor.

Kids In the Kitchen

On Black Friday, while others pushed and shoved their way through crowds of shoppers, my son Mateo and I made our way to the Viking Cooking School in Ridgeland to create a gingerbread house. The class, designed for guardian-child interaction, was full.

State Revenues Under Estimate Again

State tax revenues were down again in November by 6.88 percent, making last month the 15th consecutive month in a row where the state's income fell below expectations. The Mississippi Tax Commission reported yesterday that revenue was down 7.38 percent for the first five months of fiscal year 2010, which began July 1, 2009, according to a release from Gov. Haley Barbour's office.

Tuesday, December 1

Tease photo

President Obama's Address on the War in Afghanistan (Transcript)

Following is transcript of President Barack Obama's Tuesday night speech on the war in Afghanistan, released by the White House on Tuesday:

Council Votes to Pay Bodyguards' Legal Fees

The Jackson City Council agreed to finally pay attorney's fees for former city employees Marcus Wright and Michael Recio today. Former bodyguards of deceased Mayor Frank Melton, both men were with Melton when he oversaw the illegal demolition of a home on Ridgeway Street in 2006.

Elders to Speak at World AIDS Day Event

Jackson AIDS activist Robin Webb told the Jackson Free Press last month that AIDS disproportionately affects the South, African Americans and men. In Mississippi, Webb said, approximately 9,000 people are currently living with the disease, yet fewer than half receive any treatment. Some don't even know they're infected. Some never get tested because of fear—they're afraid of the diagnosis or afraid of anyone finding out they're infected. Others simply can't afford the therapy or can't travel to get to a doctor.

[Balko] ‘It Opened Our Eyes'

How the paths of two very different families crossed to cheer the release of a wrongly convicted man.

Jamie Harris

When Jamie Harris came to Millsaps College as a geology professor in 1995, he had never taught before, even as a graduate student. Since then, Harris has flourished as a teacher. On Nov. 19, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named him Professor of the Year for Mississippi.

Belhaven ‘College' No More

After 126 years, Belhaven College, a private Christian liberal arts school in the heart of Jackson, is changing its name to Belhaven University. The school's president, Dr. Roger Parrott, will announce the change at an all-campus gathering today at 11:45 a.m.