September 21-27, 2011
September 21-27, 2011
10 NO. 2
contents JERRICK SMITH
6 Hotel Schmotel Will the Conference Center Hotel ever happen? City Council gets a new feasibility study. ELIZABETH WAIBEL
Photograph of Steve Simpson by Casey Holloway
Mississippi looks to be the new leader for solar power with new factories coming on line soon. COURTESY TASHA TAYLOR
tamu green Mississippi State University graduate is 40 and father of two sons, Rafel, 14, and Keziah, 11, and is unmarried. He coaches Keziah’s basketball team of 11- and 12-year-olds for a local league. He graduated from MSU in 1993 with a degree in information systems, and in 1994 he earned his master’s degree. Green then worked as an information-technology professional and computer programmer for state agencies including the Mississippi Department of Health and the Mississippi Development Authority. His approach to changing the world is holistic and one child at a time. With Mississippi at the bottom of many lists, he says, “It will take a whole crusade to turn this ship around, but you have to start somewhere.” SR1 exposes students to STEM activities—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—because Green believes those disciplines are critical to compete in the global economy. He starts with parents and encourages them to get kids to read, eat healthy and get enough sleep. He then looks at the school and finally to the student. Green says he’s staying in Mississippi. “The place where you grow up you should help first,” he says. He adds that the most important concept he wants to convey to students: “It is not about smarts,” he says. “It is about hard work.” —Richard Coupe
30 New Soul Sound Tasha Taylor rivals her daddy and her big brothers with her new album, “TaylorMade.”
41 Your Brain, Addicted Which comes first, the drug or the addict? A surprising new study turns addiction on its head.
Tamu (“sweet” in Swahili) Green speaks with enthusiasm and conviction about his vision for Mississippi. Like a proud parent of a star athlete showing off his trophies, he walks between unopened boxes in his new office in Ridgeland. He describes how the computer equipment and robotics gear will be used for young people. “It’s all about opportunities,” he says. “Did you ever think about why there aren’t very many Olympic skiers from Mississippi? Opportunity.” After a pilot program in Jackson Public Schools this summer, Green’s nonprofit organization, Scientific Research, or SR1, started Sept. 20. It targets more than 24,000 students who qualify for a free or reduced meal program. SR1’s staff will mentor students from Murrah, Callaway, Bailey Magnet, Provine and Jim Hill high schools. Also, the staff will host a middle-school program at Brinkley. The objective is to eliminate disparities in health, education and technology. SR1 tutors and mentors kids before and after school in core subjects such as math and in critical thinking and collaboration skills. SR1 also offers resources for families who want to help a child learn and thrive. This is how Green is bridging the disparity gap. Green grew up in nearby Forest in a single-parent household headed by his schoolteacher mother. The Forest High School and
4 ............. Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Stiggers 13 .................. Opinion 22 ............... Diversions 24 ....................... Books 26 ..................... 8 Days 28 .............. JFP Events 30 ....................... Music 31 ......... Music Listings 34 ...................... Sports 36 ................. Astrology 37 ........................ Food 41 ............... Body/Soul 42 .... Girl About Town
Lacey McLaughlin News editor Lacey McLaughlin is a Florida native who enjoys riding her bike around Jackson. She is always on the hunt for news tips. E-mail Lacey@jacksonfreepress. com or call 601.362.6121 x. 22. She interviewed Steve Simpson for this issue.
Casey Holloway Casey Holloway is a sophomore at Millsaps College, majoring in religious studies-sociology/ anthropology with a concentration in pre-medicine. She has a passion for the arts and is a photographer. She photographed Steve Simpson.
Briana Robinson Deputy editor Briana Robinson is a 2010 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Her hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She is a sophomore at Millsaps College. She wrote a music story.
Elizabeth Waibel Cub reporter Elizabeth Waibel grew up in Clinton. In May, she received her journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She likes coffee and trying new cake recipes. She wrote Talks for this issue.
Richard Coupe Richard Coupe, avid fan of the beautiful game, is a husband, brother, father of four, and is still wondering what he wants to be when he grows up. He wrote the Jacksonian.
Andrew Dunaway Andrew Dunaway knew his friends and family were tired of hearing him talk constantly about food, so he took to writing about it. He’ll do his best to keep it to a dull roar. He wrote a food piece.
Andrea Thomas Advertising designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time. She designed many ads for this issue.
September 21 - -27, 2011
Advertising director Kimberly Griffin is a Jackson native who likes yoga, supporting locally owned businesses and traveling. In her spare time, she plots how she can become Michelle Obama’s water holder.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
The Eye of the Needle
usually ponder, ruminate, tweet, blog, joke and seethe about some or another issue for a week or more before I write a new editor’s note. This week, though, I had trouble locking onto a topic—probably because I’m so sick of divisive politics that my brain feels like just vegging in front of an Ashton Kutcher TV show with the rest of America. But this morning—press day—I was trying to wake up as NPR came on and off between Todd slapping the snooze button. Suddenly, my uncaffeinated brain heard the words, “Boehner called it ‘class warfare.’” Our illustrious U.S. House leader was, of course, red-baiting the president’s plan to create jobs by, in part, reversing tax cuts on the wealthy. Boehner’s argument, it seems, is that Obama is declaring “war” on the wealthy by trying to roll back their generous Bush-era tax cuts. Just as Todd got up to get us coffee, I blinked at my fat cat, Eddie, lying next to me. “I’m going to answer that son of a b*tch my own damn self,” I told him. Hey, it was early. By the time Todd returned, I was mapping my ideas. I scrawled the words “Orwellian,” “entitlement” and “war on the poor.” It is hard to imagine a more backward, means-exactly-the-opposite boondoggle than Boehner’s latest trick on behalf of corporations and the super-rich. The tan man is trying to tell America—filled right now with unemployed people, many losing their homes and savings, others homeless for the first time—that to ask the wealthiest to give up their Bush tax cuts is, somehow, declaring war against them. Really? Then, today, the GOP declared that Obama is “punting on entitlement reform” in his jobs plan that lays out all sorts of formerly-GOP ideas, and gives tax relief to everyday folks and actually-small businesses. That’s “punting”? The wealthy are “entitled” to tax breaks, but the working class isn’t? Seriously? Meantime, the Tea Party is calling Boehner a “socialist” even as most rank-and-file tea partiers are hurt by the plans their funders (like the Koch oil boys) are pushing. Talk about turning Americans against Americans to benefit the few; that’s the real “class warfare.” This is hard, cold fact. The vast majority of Americans are hurting. I mean real pain resulting from hunger, sickness they can’t afford to get cured, losing their homes and even from being victims of poverty-driven crime. All the while, representatives sent to Washington on behalf of the wealthiest congressional districts, and those who get sucked in by that Orwellian rhetoric, are more worried about tax breaks for oil companies (which the jobs plan would decrease), limiting lawsuit damages for negligent corporations and doctors, and making sure the capital-gains tax stays as low as Bill Clinton and George Bush pushed it. It is precisely those kinds of hand-outs to the country’s most entitled that have widened the gap between the rich and poor in the U.S., according to a Bloomberg business analysis. As of 2007, the top 1 percent of U.S. earners enjoyed 18.3 percent of national income;
in 1973, their share was 7.7 percent. Not to mention, most of the richest Americans pay lower overall tax rates than those middle-class Americans have to meet. (Thus, the president’s apropos Warren Buffett example.) “The way you get rich in this world is not by working hard,” economist Marty Sullivan, a Tax Analysts contributing editor, told Bloomberg. “It’s by owning large amounts of assets and having those things appreciate in value.” The gap isn’t about how hard people work (if they’re lucky enough to have a job). The poor don’t have assets, even though they may toil long hours every day. Many Americans weren’t handed down wealth or land (much of which was acquired in less-than-proud ways in the first place)—making it difficult to realize the American dream, especially as the top 1 percent gobble up more of it. Understanding these realities isn’t “class warfare”; it’s called knowing our history and its current effects. Now, what the Boehner crowd will tell you—wink, wink—is that the super-rich need the extra tax cuts to create lots of jobs for us little proles. Of course, that argument is bunk, and the last few years prove it. Bush pushed through the tax cuts they wanted, and where are the damn jobs? (It reminds me of Goldie Hawn in “Private Benjamin” looking for what the Army promised when she signed up: “Where are the yachts?” she whined.) And it’s not exactly a secret that many corporations have sat on piles of cash through this economic downturn, refusing to create or replace jobs until so-called “Obamacare” is turned back or the right figures out how to oust the president elected to reform health care and repeal the tax cuts on the super-rich. Meantime, the strategy goes, any time anyone brings up this widening wealth gap or
the cash hoard, just accuse them of “class warfare.” If that doesn’t work, call them a socialist or a commie (the same tired strategy used against “integrationists” a few years back). Screw that. This isn’t about partisanship, folks. It’s about the kind of nation we want to be. It’s about being strong, being educated, being healthy, being smart and being kind. Right here in Mississippi, and under Gov. Barbour (who probably came up with the “class warfare” meme), our poverty rate (17 percent) is abhorrent. The companies that the governor tries to lure here so they can duck unions have a hard time finding skilled workers. Too many of our people, for the most part, are obese and unhealthy. And get this: In our state, the poverty rate for African Americans—whose labor built much of this state, lest we forget—is 44 percent. Let’s say it again: 459,900 black Mississippians live in poverty. Raise your hand if this is OK with you. We live in a state that supposedly takes faith seriously. In my office, I sit under a pink sign with Proverbs 14:31 on it: “Be in solidarity with the poor.” These words mean something, folks, and it’s not just about sending missionaries abroad. It means here and now. We are a state that votes against the best interests of the poor and the middle class. The poorest whites in our state get sucked into corporate-funded lies that other poor people are trying to take what little they have. We have lived through this cycle for years, and it has padded the pockets of many who have greedily taken advantage of fear of “the other.” Then we point and scream for help as poor kids get their hands on weapons and kick down doors to grab big-screen TVs and bottles of liquor. Are we really this gullible, this greedy, this cold-hearted, this short-sighted? I pray not.
Addie Green is challenging incumbent Lynn Posey for a PSC seat. p9
Since 1972, the majority of Mississippians have voted for a Republican president, except for 1976 when they supported Jimmy Carter of Georgia. news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Sept. 15 Denmark will get its first female prime minister after Helle ThorningSchmidtâ€™s party wins a majority in parliamentary elections. â€Ś Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin testifies before the U.S. Justice Department about his departmentâ€™s low report of sexual assault incidences. ... LSU defeats Mississippi State, which falls out of rankings. Friday, Sept. 16 The Justice Department says the number of violent crimes in the country dropped 12 percent in 2010, although people believe crime rates are going up. â€Ś The U.S. Environmental Agency adds two Mississippi sites to its superfund location to clean up hazardous wastes. Saturday, Sept. 17 Demonstrators gather on Wall Street to protest against banking institutions. Police have arrested at least five people for violating a 150-year-old law banning masked gatherings. â€Ś Ole Miss loses to Vanderbilt 30 to 7. ... Jackson State defeats Southern University, rising to 3-0. Sunday, Sept. 18 Germanyâ€™s Pirate Party, which advocates for Internet freedom, wins seats in the state parliament with almost 9 percent of the vote.
September 21 - 27, 2011
Monday, Sept. 19 President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas announces he will seek membership in the United Nations for a Palestinian state. The United States has threatened to veto the move. â€Ś The Mississippi Bond Commission approves $354 million in bonds for construction of a Mississippi history museum and a civil rights museum.
Tuesday, Sept. 20 The â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€? policy that banned openly gay people from serving in the military officially ends. â€Ś Ridgeland officials close a stretch of U.S. Highway 51 after a gas line breaks. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
Council Gets Hotel Details, Finally JERRICK SMITH
Wednesday, Sept. 14 A federal report blames a faulty cement job and bad management, among other things, for the BP oil spill last year. â€Ś A commission that Gov. Haley Barbour appointed to study the Public Employees Retirement System meets at the state capitol.
The Jackson City Council is considering whether to form a public-private partnership with developers to build a convention center hotel on this empty lot downtown.
ackson City Council members finally got the details on a proposed convention center hotel Monday at a council work session, but some still had questions about the cityâ€™s role in funding the project. In June 2010, Jackson City Council approved a non-binding resolution that called for the city to issue an unspecified amount of bonds to finance the hotel project. Under the plan, the city would partner with Transcontinental Realty Investors, or TCI, to build the hotel. Representatives from TCI said a convention center hotel will increase business at the Jackson Convention Complex and at downtown businesses. â€œOne thing weâ€™re trying to do is create
enough synergy downtown so that it will be a destination,â€? said Al Crozier, executive vice president of TCI. In 2007, Dallas-based TCI purchased property along Pascagoula Street extending to Farish Street to build a convention center hotel and mixed-use development called Capital City Center. The original plans included condos, retail space and 1,500-car parking garage; however, TCI scaled back the plans to a $90 million hotel and skywalk to the Jackson Convention Complex, which was completed in 2009. The development stalled due to financing issues, and the city has been negotiating with the developers on finalizing a cost-sharing agreement.
g i b â€œItâ€™s like I tell my wife: â€˜How big of a check am I going to have to write?â€™â€? â€”Ward 1 Jackson City Councilman Quentin Whitwell asked convention center hotel developers this week how much money the city will be obligated to spend on developing their hotel.
by Elizabeth Waibel
If the council adopts the plan, the city and TCI will issue $70.1 million in tax-exempt Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds through the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and $22.5 million in taxable bonds to help pay for the project. Total funding for the project would be $96.1 million. Bob Swerdling, managing director of Swerdling and Associates, said now is a good time to build the hotel, because the GO Zone bonds opportunity expires at the end of this year. Swerdling advises the city on financial matters relating to the hotel. Construction costs and interest rates are also low due to the bad economy, Swerdling said, and 14 other cities have similar projects underway. Swerdling said Jackson needs more hotel rooms to compete with peer cities to bring in conventions. The planned hotel would have about 300 rooms. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell expressed concerns about the city guaranteeing the bonds and what would happen if TCI defaulted on its obligations, but Swerdling said that was unlikely. Whitwell also asked what would happen if the hotel did not do as well as they hoped. â€œI just want to make sure we do look at worst-case scenario,â€? Whitwell said. â€œâ€Ś I guarantee it; youâ€™ve already figured out that HOTEL, see page 7
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news, culture & irreverence
HOTEL, from page 6
the first few years weâ€™re not going to make money. I mean, somebodyâ€™s going to have to write a check somewhere. I just need to know. Itâ€™s like I tell my wife: â€˜How big of a check am I going to have to write?â€™â€? â€œSheâ€™s going to get the checkbook,â€? replied Council President Frank Bluntson. Swerdling said a $6 million operatingreserve fund built into the project cost would be enough to cover a year and a half of debt service, even if the hotel made no money in the first few years. Under the plan, the city would purchase land from TCI for $14.3 million. Either the city or JRA would then lease the land for the hotel to TCI to develop. Since the parcel of land is larger than would be needed for the hotel, the city could sell or develop the extra land around the hotel.
The city and the developer would share profits and losses for the hotel. A hotelier, such as Hilton or Sheraton, would manage it. Swerdling said several hoteliers are already making offers. â€œI will never stand before a mayor or any council member and say there is no risk in the transaction, but I can suggest it is a manageable risk,â€? Swerdling said. Tom Black, vice president of Harrell Contracting, said his company would pledge to build the hotel within 18 months at the longest, but it would probably be completed in 14 months. Swerdling said construction will cost about $63 million. Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba said he wanted to ensure the construction company hired a certain percentage of minority-owned contractors and workers from Jackson to build the hotel. The mayor and Black said that could be monitored.
A Security Requirement with No Teeth?
Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell has concerns about a new city ordinance requiring convenience store to hire security guards.
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n less than a month, convenience-store owners in Jacksonâ€™s city limits must hire security guards if their business is open from midnight to 5 a.m. On Sept. 6, Jackson City Council members passed an ordinance requiring the extra security precaution. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell and Ward 2 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon voted against the ordinance. The council passed the ordinance the day after a 16 year-old clerk shot and killed Dilip Patel after a $3 dispute over gas at a Shell station on Terry Road. The ordinance also requires convenience stores to submit a security plan to the city within 100 days of its passing. The ordinance, however, does not cite any penalties or enforcement mechanisms for ensuring that convenience-store owners follow through with the provision. The original ordinance would have required convenience store owners to hire security at all times but was scaled back. Whitwell said that he fears the ordinance will hurt the business community because it singles out one type of business. He said that other businesses such as hotels
and clubs are open after midnight and will not be required to have security guards. â€œInterjecting government into the lives of these businesses in terms of telling them what is in their best interest to keep their clients safeâ€”I could just not vote for the final passage,â€? Whitwell said. â€œI think there are some constitutional issues that will arise with the ordinance.â€? Whitwell, an attorney, said he also wanted to see more data to show that security guards make businesses safer and not lead to more gun violence. He said he is supportive of the security plans. Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, also an attorney, said that the ordinance would ultimately protect convenience-store owners from potential liability suits resulting from crime incidents. He said that he doesnâ€™t know of any convenience stores in his ward open after midnights that do not already have security. â€œFrom my involvement with premise liability cases, which means that someone is killed on the premises, you are talking about millions of dollars in judgments,â€? Lumumba said. â€œI have known of numerous suits that have been successful against property owners. One of the main characteristics of showing liability is showing that the property owners did not have security. â€Ś If community folks want to raise the issue, bring it to the council or the Peopleâ€™s Assembly and have some good arguments, then I am willing to listen to them.â€? Reached by phone, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said he had not yet read the ordinance and would need to look into it before making a statement The mayor, however, has veto power and could decide to kill the ordinance. Jackson Police Department Assistant Chief Lee Vance also said he needed to review the ordinance before commenting on law enforcementâ€™s role. Comment at www.jfp.ms.