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Lumumba: Chamber Won't 'Betray' City on Tax Commission

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba brushed off concerns from Jackson City Council members at Monday's work session about the 1-percent sales tax, which Jacksonians would have to pass by referendum.

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba brushed off concerns from Jackson City Council members at Monday's work session about the 1-percent sales tax, which Jacksonians would have to pass by referendum. Trip Burns

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba brushed off concerns from Jackson City Council members at Monday's work session about the 1-percent sales tax, which Jacksonians would have to pass by referendum. The first question was how much money the city stands to make from the proposed tax, and what the city aimed to do with the money.

"The estimate is around $15 million a year," Lumumba said. "That money would help us pave our roads and fix some of our drainage problem. According to the project manager on the consent decree, this would ensure that we have the money over the period of years we would need it."

Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. asked about the makeup of the controversial 10-member commission, required under state law, which would oversee disbursement of the funds. The way the law reads, the mayor would appoint three members, while the governor, the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives and the lieutenant governor would each appoint a member. The mayor would choose the final four members from a group of eight Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership nominees.

In the past, the controversy over the four chamber-selected members has stalled progress on collecting the tax. Their members are not required to live in Jackson, but merely to have a business interest in the city, the law states.

Lumumba said Monday he's ready to put the issue to a vote, even if he doesn't have a legally binding agreement over those appointments. The Jackson Free Press reported recently that Lumumba claims to have a deal with the chamber that the city can pick those appointments, but Chamber President Duane O'Neill says nothing has changed on how it will happen. Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. questioned the legality of making such a deal without changing the law.

"We have an agreement," Lumumba said. "Do we have a written agreement or a memorandum of understanding? No. That's something we'll look into. I'm not sure that's the wisest course ... let me put it this way: I feel absolutely confident—and I'm one of the strongest opponents to this commission—but I feel absolutely confident that we are going to get what we want, or at least as close as we're going to get, to getting the appointments we want to get."

When pressed on why the city would not get something in writing, Lumumba said he trusts GJCP's leadership.

"I just wonder about putting something in a memo, because then it becomes a target for discussion," he said. "I'm a new mayor, so I guess I can be surprised, but I'd be astonished if we were betrayed on this issue."

Although that debate is likely to take up most of the council's time, it is far from the only important issue on the agenda. Set to meet at 6 p.m., the council will take up several other issues, including approving a new city attorney and a new representative to the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, trying to secure money from CMPDD to resurface Siwell Road and, in case that's not enough, council members will vote on whether or not to de-authorize the Jackson Redevelopment Authority.

Lumumba's nomination for the position of city attorney is Gail Wright Lowery, a lawyer for the Lowery Law Firm at 1485 Livingston Lane. Lowery is a Murrah High School graduate who served as municipal court judge under former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.

Comments

justjess 6 years, 11 months ago

"We have an agreement," Lumumba said. "Do we have a written agreement or a memorandum of understanding? "NO. That's something we'll look into......"

Perhaps Lumumba and the members of the City Council will consider this:

"IF IT ISN'T WRITTEN; IT DIDN'T HAPPEN."

Just saying.

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NotLikeU 6 years, 11 months ago

Even though there is a level of trust, gaining an agreement in writing will create a level of security and understanding for all involved and non-involved parties. This seems to be too large to leave opportunities for surprise.

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Turtleread 6 years, 11 months ago

justjess,

You are correct; however, the Mayor of Jackson and the Council over the years have shown that they are totally incapable of giving trust and so no one trusts them, not the Governor, not the Attorney-General, not the Legislature, nor businesses either within or without the State of Mississippi. And you can tell by the continued breaking of contracts, lawsuits, and employment of frauds and criminals to do the work of the city. Some relationships need to be established by trust and a handshake.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 11 months ago

turtleread,

Name the contracts broken with the State of MS by the City of Jackson? Name the frauds and criminals doing the work of the City? If you're bold enough to make the accusations, be bold enough to prove them! Otherwise you're full of BS

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Turtleread 6 years, 11 months ago

You must live outside the city. Do you not know that two city councilmen went to prison, one for drugs and one for asking for a bribe on the Comcast contract? Then Melton hired them as city employees at very significant salaries. Another one--the Parish Street Project. You see that being done? Nope. And there have been more than enough reporting of sweetheart contracts being awarded (E911) then disputed in the local newspaper. Pay attention. Don't call others full of BS just because you don't keep up with the local news, sir!

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AnnGarrison 6 years, 11 months ago

What is the "Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership"?

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donnaladd 6 years, 11 months ago

Read http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...">more about the regional Chamber here, Ann. It covers five counties: Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Copiah and Warren.

Otherwise, I completely agree that any agreements either direction should be in writing and subject to public scrutiny well before anyone votes for a tax increase.

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donnaladd 6 years, 11 months ago

Here's the Chamber coverage area, in a visual:

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/pho...">https://jacksonfreepress.media.client..." alt="Here's a visual ...">

https://jacksonfreepress.media.client...">Here's a visual ... by Donna Ladd

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JLucas 6 years, 11 months ago

With apologies to Ronald Reagan, the wiser move would have been to 'trust, but get it in writing'

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justjess 6 years, 10 months ago

@turtleread

You blogged that two (2) City Councilmen went to prison. I remember former Councilman Louis Armstrong, but, who was the second person on the Council that was convicted and sent to prison?

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JLucas 6 years, 10 months ago

@Justjess - Allow me to answer that. The second councilman was Robert Williams (Ward 5) who was convicted of http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...">bribery and conspiracy in 1999 and ended up being hired by the late Mayor "Meltdown".

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