Tuesday, November 8th
Marshand Crisler A True Democrat
Crisler will work to ensure public safety, better highways, and support transportation projects in the central district that will create more jobs in our communities.
If we show up at the polls we win! Make your voice heard! Make your vote count! Crisler for Commissioner PO Box 59484, Jackson, Mississippi 39284 (601) 982-9388 | www.VoteCrisler.com
October 12-18, 2011
paid for by Crisler for Commissioner
October 12 - 18, 2011
10 NO. 5
contents ELIZABETH WAIBEL
6 $50 for Pre-K? Mississippi is applying for federal grants to improve its early-childhood education. LACEY MCLAUGHLIN
Cover photo by Casey Holloway
Gay Polk went to court so that she could serve in Mississippi’s House of Representatives. COURTESY CAROLINE CRAWFORD
francine brookins Brookins hopes to reach young people through entertainment, teaching important lessons about abstinence, moral behavior and their relationship with God. In her work, Brookins emphasizes the role of parents as guides. She is looking forward to staging the play in Meridian sometime in the coming months. Her second play, “Searching,” will premiere this coming spring at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in D’Iberville. “Searching” is about a young lady seeking the attributes of a godly woman. The third, “Rebecca’s Eyes” will hit the Jackson stage at a yet undecided church next fall. The play centers on the lives of a brother and sister who live with a physically and verbally abusive father, who is a pastor, making them doubt their faith. Brookins received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1989. Today, Brookins works for the Magnolia Health Plan Medicaid program where she is a member connections representative. She loves the faceto-face business she does with members and answering questions about benefits. Writing is still her favorite pastime. “I just walked this thing out in faith,” she says. “As long as the kids get something from it, I’m happy.” —Sadaaf Mamoon
29 Rocket Girl Songstress Caroline Crawford’s album, “Delphian,” shows inner strength and personal touches.
35 Livin’ Easy Providing home-cooked meals doesn’t need to be difficult. A little planning goes a long way.
Francine Brookins thinks education and salvation are the most important institutions in young lives. Brookins believes that it is important to reach out to youth in increasing religious awareness. “When you are a kid,” she says, “you don’t think about your relationship with God.” The 45-year-old Meridian native moved to Jackson in 1995, and has since moved to Clinton where she’s lived for four years. She lives with her 13-year-old son, Phillip, and her husband, Jason. A deeply spiritual woman, Brookins is a member at Christ Covenant Church International in Clinton. Brookins encourages her son to be involved in the church. “I think it is important for kids to learn about the word of God, and it is our job, as adults, to set the foundation,” she says. This year, Brookins decided to use her hobby, writing, to spread her ideas on teenage salvation. She has always been artistic, and loves to write plays. “What About the Children” was Brookins’ first stage play. She wrote the play last May, and it debuted in the same month at Forest Hill High School. The story centers on teenage womanizer Ricky Bobby, whose failed relationships with several girls help shape his moral character, bringing him to God. Ricky Bobby also learns many truths about himself with the guidance of his mother.
4 ........ Publisher’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Chatter 12 .................... Stiggers 13 .................. Opinion 22 ................... Hitched 24 ............... Diversions 25 ..................... 8 Days 26 .............. JFP Events 29 ........................ Music 30 .......... Music Listing 34 ................. Astrology 34 ..................... Puzzles 35 ........................ Food 38 .......... Fly Shopping
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 Jim Hood 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 took the cover photograph.
Elizabeth Waibel 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.
Sadaaf Mamoon Editorial intern Sadaaf Mamoon is a senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She loves film scores, Greek mythology and naming inanimate objects. Her spirit animal is a Pink Fairy Armadillo. She wrote the Jacksonian.
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 interviewed Chuck Palahniuk.
Jane Flood Jane Flood has led a full life. She has lived in, visited and tasted cuisine the world over. She has taught Pilates to Saints, written a romance novel and fed Thai royalty. She currently lives in Fondren. She wrote the food feature.
Meredith Sullivan Former New Yorker Meredith W. Sullivan is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She spends her days dreaming about where to travel next. She is enjoying life in Fondren with her husband and Diggy dog. She styled the FLY page.
October 12 - 18, 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 Todd Stauffer, Publisher
The Crazy Ones
ou’ve no doubt heard about the passing of Steve Jobs, legendary former CEO of Apple Inc. and the architect of that company’s return from near obscurity to—depending on the day—literally the most valuable company in the world. His “turnaround job” is, by all measurements, a singular feat, accomplished by a unique individual. What, exactly, will happen to Apple now is hard to know. I think the company is in extremely competent hands in its current management, but whether or not it will continue to innovate and grow and change the world seems a bit less certain with the alltoo-early passing of its iconic Pied Piper. I remember the first notes Jobs played on his magical flute upon his return to Apple— Donna Ladd and I were sitting in the audience of the 1997 keynote at Boston Macworld during which Steve (we all called him Steve, eventually) made his triumphant return. At the time, Steve wasn’t yet CEO of Apple (he told us then that the company was going to “search” for a CEO... riiight ...) but he was announcing that he had replaced all but two members of the board of directors and was just inking a deal with Microsoft to settle long-standing patent disputes and invest $150 million of Microsoft’s money in Apple. (Note: Microsoft’s money didn’t “save” Apple, which was considered a hostile-takeover target because of its relatively large cash reserves. The bigger deal was Microsoft’s public commitment to five more years of Microsoft Office for the Mac platform, which was important for Apple to maintain share in the creative departments of larger corporations. The deal also helped Microsoft’s case with the U.S. Department of Justice that it had competition in the personal computing sector.) It was a crazy time for Apple fans. I was bought into the “Mac thing”—I like to joke that I was one of the top five authors of Macintosh computing books at the time because there were only four of us left. (Donna was into Macs, too, and as an education writer for MacHome magazine, she was a huge proponent of the eMate 300, a fabulous Newton OS-based device that Steve summarily killed. Like a lot of Mac people, we saw ourselves as outsiders and iconoclasts trying to hold on to something that was important to us—the freedom to use these tools that we felt made us more productive and creative. Sure, not every application was available for the Mac—and models like the Apple Performa 630 weren’t exactly shining beacons pointing a new way to the future—but we were still anchored in a universe of excitement and innovation and creation that revolved around Apple. And then Steve came back. The business case study is legendary— first, he killed off product lines that weren’t core, even if they were appealing, like the starcrossed Newton PDA and the little eMate clamshell. (Still, Steve saw inspiration in those clever products, and he recycled some of the best of those ideas, in later devices such as can-
dy-colored iBooks, PDA-killing iPhones and ultra-portable Macbook Airs.) He shrank the company to save it—telling us all that he was going to have to bring revenues down to about $6 billion while he re-focused the company like a laser on four product areas—consumer desktop, consumer portable, pro desktop and pro portable. To this day, Apple follows essentially this model in its Mac line, which, by the way, continues to grow market share, despite its higher prices and the Great Recession. Within months of his return, Steve reported something remarkable—a profit. His plan was working. Even more than that, he was telling us folks at these Macworld keynotes (aka “SteveNotes”) not only about the amazing products that he was selling, but also walking us through the fiscal success that the company was having and the simple plan he had for building the company, changing industries, and serving more and more customers. In some ways, Steve treated his customers as more important than his shareholders; an attitude that is all too infrequent in today’s corporate “America.” As an Apple watcher, I’ve got to mention the bad with the good. Steve built profits by off-shoring all of Apple’s manufacturing; I remember visiting the Fountain, Colo., Apple plant in the late 1990s and meeting the proud workers there making Apple laptops. (It was a cool company even back then, and those folks were making some awesome laptops.) Welldocumented problems at Apple’s Chinese subcontractor in recent years include questionable conditions and even suicides by workers. While many of those U.S. manufacturing jobs at Apple may have been replaced with the relatively high-end service jobs at Apple
Retail Stores, it’s not the same folks, and I’m disheartened when I turn over an Apple box and see “Designed in California; Assembled in China.” How fabulous would it be to see “USA” on those products again? Apple can do better, and I’d love to see them innovate at repatriating manufacturing jobs. In some ways, Apple is the quintessential American company of the early 21st century with fewer manufacturing jobs and more service jobs. Steve Jobs and Apple are widely and roundly praised for their capitalistic successes by the likes of Rush Limbaugh while, at the same time, offering employees generous samesex benefits and, now, in CEO Tim Cook, fielding perhaps the most prominent gay executive in the country (and, another point of pride, southern-raised in Alabama). In other ways, the company has room to improve. The company’s nearly all-white board has one woman, Andrea Jung of Avon; the admittedly accomplished executive leadership is all male and white, something that Steve’s notoriously cantankerous style and personal friendships may have affected. Still, Apple is a remarkable story of grabbing the future, telling a compelling story, and believing in your values and your ideas. Many different pearls of Jobsian wisdom are floating around in these days of tribute, but the one that sticks with me comes from the remarkable “Think Different” ad Apple debuted in the months after that keynote in Boston. The last line goes like this: “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world ... are the ones who DO.” Don’t be afraid to be a little crazy, to challenge the status quo, to change the world. And always, always ... Think Different.
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Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival Performances & workshops, Monroe, LA; www.nelacelticfest.org for information.
___________________________ October 23 and November 20
Mostly Monthly Céilí Series
Fenian’s Irish Pub, 2-5 p.m. Learn an Irish dance or two. Beginners are welcome. Food & drink available for purchase, non-smoking, family-friendly, and free (donations welcome).
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Oct. 6 Mississippi educator and civil-rights veteran Rose Embly McCoy dies at age 97. … The U.S. Navy names the USS Jackson combat ship in honor of the city of Jackson. ... The Mississippi Ethics Commission files a complaint against state Rep. Kevin McGee, R-Brandon, for using his private company to print public contracts for profit. Friday, Oct. 7 The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan reaches its 10th year. … U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaks at a biofuels conference in Starkville about the Navy’s dependence on foreign fuels. Saturday, Oct. 8 Jackson State University celebrates homecoming with a parade in downtown Jackson and football game, beating Arkansas Pine-Bluff. … Flooding in Thailand causes extensive damage. Sunday, Oct. 9 Mississippi State University beats the University of Alabama at Birmingham 21 to 3. ... The New Orleans Saints defeat Carolina and Cam Newton.
October 12 - 18, 2011
Monday, Oct. 10 Entergy unveils an electric-car charging station at Jackson State University. … Americans Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims win the Nobel economics for research on the relationship between the economy and policy.
Tuesday, Oct. 11 The state of Alabama files a order asking a federal judge to allow the state to enact a law that would require officials to check the immigration status of public-school students, and allow police to hold suspected undocumented immigrants without bond. … The Federal Bureau of Investigations foil a plot by two men linked to the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. ... Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood requests grand jury records from a federal court to prepare for a civil trial against the now-defunct beef plant in Yalobusha County. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
Racing to Fund Pre-K
ississippi is one of only 10 states without public, statewide early childhood education, leaving a hodgepodge of agencies and organizations to help children prepare for kindergarten. Now, the state is applying for $50 million in federal grant money to help the state better coordinate those organizations’ efforts. The funding is available through a program called Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge. Annjo Lemons, executive director of the State Early Childhood Advisory Council, thinks Mississippi’s chances are good. “A lot of people don’t realize what’s been going on in the state, as far as the work with the quality ratings system and professional development,” she said. The State Early Childhood Advisory Council consists of educators and representatives from government agencies and nonprofit organizations and is leading the state’s application process for the Early Learning Challenge. The council reports to the governor and makes recommendations for improving services for children 5 years old or younger. Mississippi applied for Race to the Top funding last year but did not get it, and did not apply the first year it was available. This year, $500 million of the $700 million available for Race to the Top grants will go toward early childhood education programs. Lemons said about 80 Mississippians are working together on committees to write the grant application. The committees focus on areas the Early Learning Challenge prioritizes, such as assessments, quality ratings for facilities and improving the teachers’ skills. “For the first time I’ve ever known, all
by Elizabeth Waibel ELIZABETH WAIBEL
Wednesday, Oct. 5 Apple co-founder and inventor Steve Jobs dies at age 56 after a battle with cancer. … Sarah Palin announces that she won’t be running for president after months of questioning from the media.
In 2005, Attorney General Jim Hood prosecuted former Klansmen Edgar Ray Killen for his role in the 1964 murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County.
Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall wants a highway to Flowood. p 8
Students in a pre-kindergarten class at Timberlawn Elementary School look at picture books at the beginning of the school year.
the state agencies in Mississippi have come together to agree to either consolidate agencies or work together to try to make a better place for children,” she said. The committees are looking at other states with strong early childhood systems to help them develop a program for Mississippi. “We’ve got the pieces and the parts in Mississippi and a lot of great things going on, but it doesn’t really connect,” Lemons said. The grant application includes plans for assessments, health-care needs and family engagement. It also incorporates the state’s quality rating program for early childhood education facilities. The application also outlines a plan for compensating child-care providers and funding continuing education scholarships.
One of the goals outlined in Mississippi’s grant application is creating a comprehensive early childhood education system for the entire state. Although many different agencies and organizations work with pre-kindergarten education, Lemons said the grant money would go toward cross-training between state agencies to tie them together. The grant would also help provide resources for facilities that provide early childhood education to improve their quality ratings and provide better services. Lemons said the grant is competitive, however, and 35 other states are applying. Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First, said states that have gotten Race to the Top grants in the past have, for the most part, already had the basic building blocks of strong programs in place and based their grant applications on plans to improve them. “I think we are at a disadvantage, because we do not have state resources at any discernible level in early childhood education,” Canter said. “… As a state, we haven’t shown that strong commitment that other states (have).” The application guidelines said those who review the applications may take the challenges that rural, high-poverty states like Mississippi face into consideration, however. Research has shown that low-income children come to kindergarten knowing fewer words than their peers. Those who do not have access to a pre-kindergarten program may have trouble catching up if they are not ready for kindergarten-level programs. States must submit applications for the Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge grant program by Oct. 19.
What Not to Do at the Polls
“If the Legislature wants to give me $4 million or $5 million a year to hire some lawyers, we’ll do it. But they don’t need to. If this was a Republican idea, they would call it privatization.” — Attorney General Jim Hood regarding his opponent’s criticism of his office hiring outside legal counsel.
With elections coming up soon, we thought we’d share a little advice on what not to do while waiting at your polling place. • Play Angry Birds • Sell refreshments • Vote for idiots • Break-dance (boombox included) • Casually engage your fellow voters in conversation about your favorite candidate’s mad harmonica skills • Play campaign pin Pogs • Take a nap • Excitedly tell everyone why you’re voting for Reagan or Roosevelt (depending on your political leanings) • Auction off your vote
• Stream web videos • Host a flash mob • Start an Internet meme (similar to planking) • Host a reality TV special • Start a food fight • Use the polls as a hideout in a city-wide game of paintball • Write in your cat • Knit a sweater • Roll coins • Re-enact Florida’s 2000 hanging chad hoopla • Smoke weed • Break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend
by Elizabeth Waibel
Ethiopian Pops Up in Jackson
COURTESY ABEBA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT
ackson will get to taste a new cuisine Award for portraying the best the state has to with the first Ethiopian restaurant now offer to the youngest generations and people open in the area. of all ages, a statement from the Jackson MisYoseph Ali, sissippi Convention and who also owns AladVisitors Bureau said. din Mediterranean Grill, The Chimneyville opened Abeba Ethiopian Crafts Festival won the Restaurant (pronounced Large Festival/Event of “ah-buh-bah”) last weekthe Year Award for bringend at 3716 Interstate 55 ing more than 10,000 N. The restaurant features people to the two-day a lunch buffet for $9.95 festival each year for more in addition to its regular than 35 years. menu, and also offers ca- One of Jackson’s newest The Mississippi Craft businesses, Abeba Ethiopian tering services. Center’s “Expose Yourself Restaurant, serves a cuisine new For those who have to the area. to Craft Reveal” won the never tried Ethiopian Tourism Promotion of food, Ali said the taste falls the Year Award for a soldsomewhere between Indian and Lebanese out party to promote the craft center. food. Ethiopian food is different from many other cuisines in that diners eat with their Pop-up Shop hands and pieces of bread instead of using silDillard’s Department Store will bring a verware. “pop-up” store to the Iupe’s Building on Can“There are definitely a lot of vegetarian ton Square Oct. 13-14 during the popular dishes that we serve … a lot of fresh food,” he Canton Flea Market. said. “We’ve got pretty much all the selection The Canton Chamber Main Street Asyou need.” sociation, which is helping to organize the Ali is from Ethiopia, and Abeba is his pop-up store, said in a statement that the store mother’s name. “For me, being from Ethiopia, will help increase traffic on the Canton Square I guess it’s home away from home,” he said. during those two days. A pop-up store in CanAbeba is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. ton can help other downtown businesses atMonday through Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight tract customers while allowing Dillard’s test a Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. new market, the statement said. Check out the Abeba Ethiopian RestauDillard’s will sell a selection of merchanrant page on Facebook or call 601-713-1500 dise, including handbags, fragrances, jewelry, for more details. accessories, shoes, sportswear and cosmetics. Instead of paying rent, Dillard’s will donate 10 Jackson Wins Tourism Awards percent of its sales to MadCAAP, a nonprofit On Monday, the Governor’s Conference organization that helps the disadvantaged in on Tourism recognized three Jackson attrac- Madison County, the statement said. tions for promoting Mississippi. The Iupe’s building, on the corner of The Mississippi Children’s Museum won Peace and Union streets, is listed on the Nathe Mississippi Travel Attraction of the Year tional Register of Historic Places.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
he Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, civilrights activist and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died last week in Birmingham, Ala. Shuttlesworth, 89, fought segregation in Alabama and throughout the nation. He was a key figure in the Freedom Rides of the 1960s. He persuaded the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring the Civil Rights Movement to Birmingham in 1963, and carry out Project C, a strategy of nonviolent action designed to confront segregation through peaceful demonstrations, rallies, boycotts and appeals to justice. He worked against racism throughout his career and also
helped homeless people, notably as a pastor in Ohio. President Barack Obama praised Shuttlesworth for his contributions in a statement. “I will never forget having the opportunity several years ago to push Rev. Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge—a symbol of the sacrifices that he and so many others made in the name of equality,” Obama said. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute intends to include Shuttlesworth’s burial site on the Civil Rights History Trail. He is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Birmingham. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Fred Shuttlesworth, 1922-2011
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Over the years, some Mississippians questioned why transportation commissioners are elected instead of appointed. Why do you think this system works? I could have argued both sides. Now that I’ve been on both sides, I think that Joe Citizen has someone he can appeal to. It takes a
lot of decisions out of the hands of bureaucrats.
COURTESY DICK HALL
ransportation Commissioner Dick Hall posted this on Facebook: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” The Martin Luther quote resonates with Hall, who represents the Central District. His father, while he was in his 60s, planted trees that would take decades to mature. “You’ll never live to see this,” Hall said. “No, but my grandchildren will,” his father replied. “What we build today will be used for the next 50 years,” Hall said. He points to highway improvements in Mississippi over the past 20 years and stresses a need for planning. “We have the 16th best highway system in the U.S.,” Hall said, referring to a 2010 report from the libertarian Reason Foundation. He said that’s because in 1987, the Legislature passed a highway-construction program that led to improving or building 1,000 miles of highway at a cost of $3 billion. “It’s all paid for,” Hall said. “It was payas-you-go.” Now that the state has a good highway system, maintaining it is critical, Hall said. Mississippi has three elected transportation commissioners: one for the north, one for the south and one for the central part of the state. The commission hires a director. Hall, a Republican, faces Democrat Marshand Crisler in the November election. Hall is from Vicksburg, is a 1960 graduate of Mississippi State University and is married to Jennifer Hall. He is now serving his third term as commissioner. Before becoming a commissioner in 1999, he served 24 years in the Legislature.
Tell me what you have accomplished so far in this position. Adding a lane in each direction on Interstate 20 in Rankin County. In Ridgeland and Madison, we added a lane each way on Interstate 55 and frontage roads. That was an $83 million project. What is the next big highway project you Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall is running for would like to happen? re-election in Mississippi’s Central District. If I had a billion dollars, I couldn’t do it all. (The priorities) are decided by projected traffic counts. It would bypass Jackson? I would like to see another route across the It would bypass Jackson for now, Pearl River. but doesn’t rule it out in the future. Where would that go? High Street. I’m looking at a possibility of getting across the river from Jackson to the airport. The Transportation Commission oversees more than highways. You also oversee ports, railroads and airports, right? We have some involvement. We don’t really oversee. We are the funnel that federal funds come through. (A project) has to meet our approval. We are very involved in trying to create intermodal transportation. Put something on a truck, offload it at a railroad or offload to a plane. … It’s seamless. Mississippi is very fortunate in that we have all of those modes of transportation. What about high-speed rail in Mississippi? We are part of a multi-state compact looking at high-speed rail on the Gulf Coast. Also, there’s some planning for an Atlanta to Meridian to New Orleans high-speed line.
I saw your quote about trees. Cutting trees down in highway medians is controversial, such as when contractors harvest trees. That’s a good question. We have a forester who deals with that. Any revenue (from harvested trees) comes to us. The other question is, do you cut the trees? A commissioner in south Mississippi (Wayne Brown) believes strongly that we need to cut trees, that they are dangerous. I feel strongly about not only not cutting, but planting. As far as trees being dangerous, I say stay on the highway. I’m very sincere in wanting to make this infrastructure attractive. Is there anything else you would like to stress? Yes, the fuel tax—I want to assure everyone this tax they pay funds our future. If you don’t have a modern transportation system, you have nothing. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Lacey McLaughlin
Dare to be BARE
Gay Polk is running, again, for the Democratic seat in Hinds County’s District 73 race for the Mississippi House of Representatives in a revote Oct. 18.
ississippi House of Representatives hopeful Gay Polk is determined. Polk lost the Aug. 2 Democratic primary to her opponent Brad Oberhousen by just 90 votes. But after reports surfaced that her name was not on the ballot at Terry’s Dry Grove precinct, she spent the next week camped out at the Hinds County Courthouse as she monitored a chaotic and confusing election certification process. She then challenged the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee’s decision to certify Oberhousen as the winner in the District 73 race, arguing that voters had received the wrong ballots at the split precinct. When the Democratic Executive Committee denied her challenge, she took the matter to court. On Oct. 3, Leake County Circuit Judge Vernon Cotton ruled in Polk’s favor, granting a revote in the Dry Grove precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The candidate said her election fight is symbolic of how hard she is willing to work for voters. “If I see a wrong, and if there is something I can do to make it a right, I’m going to
do all that is in my ability to make it a right,” Polk said. Polk, 61, has lived in Terry for 25 years and worked as an administrator and nurse at her husband Dr. James D. Polk’s primary family-care clinic in Richland. Four years ago, the couple sold the clinic, and Gay Polk started a second career as a real estate agent. What did you learn from the Hinds County election process? Voting should not be a difficult process. Counting the votes should not be difficult. It was the absolute most chaotic experience I have ever experienced—that week at the courthouse. I sat and watched and went in every day. A lot of it was the process—the discrepancies that happened at the split precincts where they had two or three sub-districts in one location. That’s what causes so much turmoil. … It’s very confusing for the voters as well as the poll workers, and it shouldn’t be. That’s through redistricting and the legislative process that we can get that changed. I hope I have the opportunity to work to get that changed. What will be your priorities if voters elect you? I am a great cheerleader for Hinds County. I love Hinds County. I would love to represent the citizens of south Hinds County. … We have 40,000 students that come to Hinds County every year for higher education. We have a huge medical community in Hinds County, and all of our state government is here as well as the federal government. We need crime control, drug control. I am not sure, legislative wise, what we can do to allocate money to go to the proper places to help us with the county. Something needs to be done, because we have so many people from the tri-county area that come here to work. Another thing is education. There was a bill last year for a diploma program from high school to vocational training. Not everyone is college material. But you want to give everyone the opportunity to advance to higher education. It would help all students to learn a trade.
I understand that if a ballot initiative requiring voters to show identification passes, it will be up to the Legislature to fund that initiative. What are your thoughts on that? Well, my mother was adopted. She had never driven a vehicle in her life. She did not have an ID until she was in her 70s. My brother is an attorney, and it took lots of paperwork and letters to the Social Security Administration. My mother was adopted from the streets of New Orleans when she was 6. There was no public record of adoption. There has to be exceptions with voter ID.
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At one point, you said your family depended on social services, and that’s one of the reasons you became a Democrat. Tell me more about that. Most people, at some point in their life, need a little push. When we were growing up, a lot of help came through the church—Calvary Baptist Church on West Capitol Street. We had a lot of community involvement at that point. I went to school on a Pell Grant. … My brother went to college on the G.I. Bill after he served in Vietnam for a year. I went to a vo-tech program in 1977, when I was a single mother, to become an LPN. Before I was financially able to take care of others and myself, there were times I was working two or three jobs and still needed help. How can the state maintain social services in tight budget years? You are going to pay bills that keep the government running and state employees working. You are going to pay your bills before you build museums and allocate money to help other things. Then you have to work out what you spend on other things. … But you have a right and a wrong, and you can’t let special-interest groups influence you on what is the right thing to do, and that’s what has happened. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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The Zombies are.......
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Safe Social Networking ELIZABETH WAIBEL
Mississippi Optometric Foundation & Southern Optical presents
The First Annual Zombie Charity Crawl, Family Festival & Prom Thursday, October 27, 2011
Zombie Charity Crawl & Family Festival 5:30p.m. - 7:30p.m. Duling Green FREE! â€˘ Costume Contest â€˘ Pumpkin Decorating Trick-or-Treating â€˘ â€œGet Zombiefiedâ€? Tent â€˘ Inflatables Proceeds directly benefit under served children with vision issues.
Facebook representative Brooke Oberwetter was in Mississippi Oct. 6 to talk about safe social networking.
8:00p.m. - 11:00p.m.
enee Walker came to the Facebook Roadshow at Clinton High School Oct. 6 to find out what to do when one person impersonates another on the popular social-networking website. â€œMy daughterâ€”I wasnâ€™t aware that she was on Facebookâ€”she was using another young ladyâ€™s Facebook account,â€? Walker said. â€œThen it got to the point where the young lady was pretending to be her on Facebook, and some bad things happened. Thatâ€™s when I found out.â€? Walker said she learned how to report impersonation on Facebookâ€”as well as the 13-years-and-above age requirement, meaning her 12-year-old daughter will have to wait a while before she can have her own account. The Facebook Roadshow offered tips on safe social networking for parents, teachers and students. The Mississippi attorney generalâ€™s office sponsored the event along with the state Department of Education. Brooke Oberwetter, associate manager of policy communications at Facebook, told parents and a handful of students at the event how to change their pageâ€™s privacy settings, report when someone is impersonating them on Facebook and block someone who is harassing them. Oberwetter recommended that people review their privacy settings each month and take a moment to adjust which group of friends they want to see content each time they post something. Attorney General Jim Hood said teens today have to deal with an onslaught of electronic technology. â€œThis is where our young people are hanging out instead of the pool or the pier,â€? Hood said. Oberwetter said one of the best ways parents can start a conversation with their teens about safety on Facebook is by asking them to help set up a Facebook page. As parents ask questions about changing privacy settings and posting status updates, they can talk to their children about what they are sharing online. Hood and Oberwetter took questions from the audience on topics such as what par-
featuring The Jason Turner Band Duling Hall (formerly The Auditorium) 21 & Up, Call 601.853.4407 for Tickets
October 12 - 18, 2011
Zombie Charity Crawl & Prom
by Elizabeth Waibel
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Y O U â€™ R E
'FFMJOHBOFFEUPSFMBY EFTUSFTT DIJMM PVU HFUDMPTFUPOBUVSF Visit the Mississippi Petrified Forest. DSODFHVRPHOORZWKDWHYHQVRPHRI WKHWUHHVDUHVWRQHG soothing Weâ€™re offering a admission of ted un co dis therapeutic
to an evening with Johnny DuPree and Cassandra Wilson An event to benefit Johnny DuPreeâ€™s General Election for Governor
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2011 7:00 - 10:30 PM Duling Hall (formerly The Auditorium) 622 Duling Avenue Jackson, MS 39216
h to serenity. get you on the pat
Johnny DuPree 9:00 PM Cassandra Wilson and Band
w w w . J O H N N Y D U P R E E . c o m
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
estled in the Spenglerâ€™s Corner Historic District neighborhood in downtown Jackson, there is a new addition to an already impressive list of where-to-eats in the Capital city. The Copper Iris, named after a flower native to Mississippi, is both a cafĂŠ and catering company serving up daily specials, sandwiches, and fresh baked goodies sure to please any palette. Co-owner and Director Jonathan Lee, The Copper Iris Catering Co. whose family has always owned restaurants in Jackson, loved downtown and wanted to be a part of something big. â€œYou shouldnâ€™t have to go far to get a great meal,â€? Lee says. His co-owner and chef Olivia White always knew she wanted to be a chef. All of her creations are made fresh daily from scratch, including her delectable dessert options. With offerings like the Southwestern Chicken Salad, Caprese Salad, or the Roast Beef Salad, eating right never tasted so good. Stop in for one of the daily lunch specials like Mondayâ€™s Meatloaf or Thursdayâ€™s Carnitas served with Spanish rice. Whiteâ€™s slow-simmered shredded pork shoulder carnitas come complete with a drink all for just $9.50. Feel like a sandwich? With seven signature sandwiches, including the Cuban, BLT, Trio of beef, honey ham and Genoa salami on rye, and the build-your-own option, everyone in the office can agree on The Copper Iris for lunch. Having a party? Let The Copper Iris cater your next event. From the intimate business lunch for five or the 500-person wedding party, The Copper Iris has you covered, with even custom catering orders welcome. Do you need a place to party? Check out the back party room in their beautiful historic building with the original exposed brick and plan your next party downtown. With new menu items added daily, upcoming hamburger and steak specials and a dessert of the week fit for a king, The Copper Iris is sure to be your next favorite lunch spot downtown.
with this ad to hel
I N V I T E D
opining, grousing & pontificating
No Tea Party of the Left, Please
rogressives in Mississippi can be a shameful bunch. They rarely speak up in public, and when they do, they tend to whisper or demand they not be quoted by name. Progressives peer over their shoulders often and spend much of their public life acting as if they are ashamed of saying out loud that they believe in a better society and one that cares for the neediest among us. They want a better world for the next generation, yet they are too terrified to demand it. They wait until a month out to speak up against ballot initiatives that could push the state, and potentially the nation, backward. The pent-up frustration caused by not speaking out in a clear voice finds a venue this Saturday when some Jacksonians will gather in Smith Park for Occupy Mississippi, a localized version of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that spread to other U.S. cities in recent weeks. We fear, though, that many of the frustrated protesters could lack focus and are venting. It’s not just Mississippi. “The Occupy Wall Street movement may look radical, but its members’ ideas are less radical than those you might hear at your average Rotary Club,” David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, wrote in an op-ed piece this week titled, “The Milquetoast Radicals.” We need somebody, anybody, to shake loose the way things are now. Radical-right Republicans (and Democrats pretending to be) need real challengers. Too often politicians from both parties focus on the voter pool already motivated to vote. They leave out all the people who don’t identify with either party, or who are frustrated with conservative extremists and those pretending to be. Young voters and others who haven’t been to the polls are looking for change. Occupy Mississippi needs to do more than just take up space and raise hell. It needs to align itself with specific actions to fix long-time problems in our community. Improving the education system and evening out health-care disparities (starting with saving “Obamacare”) are two causes that come to mind. For this movement to have measurable outcomes, it’s got to feel like more than angst, or it’s going to have limited appeal. We sincerely hope it will grow into something more useful than the Tea Party on the Left. Instead of protesting just to protest, find the systematic things to worry about and focus on them. Worry about the U.S. Supreme Court and how its makeup might look in a couple of years if progressives desert the president (remembering that Ralph Nader helped put Bush II in the White House). Work for balanced, reasonable justice that rebuilds our state’s future at the same time. Go to Smith Park Saturday and join Occupy Mississippi. But do more than yell. Find a focus. Challenge other progressives to speak up boldly, take the brave stand, and be true to themselves and their core beliefs. Then have the courage to take action and make change happen. Start with getting out the vote and putting up candidates who aren’t ashamed of progressive ideals.
October 12 - 18, 2011
urse Tootie McBride: “I am very impressed with the effort and courage of Scooby Rastus, Tipsy Lee the wino and the Ghetto Science Community for organizing this large gathering across the street from Operation Corporate Backlash. I want the Ghetto Science Community to know that the McBride family and members of the Ghetto Science Team are with the masses of angry, jobless and economically frustrated people. “Therefore, we want to join forces with you to form the Ghetto Science Community Grass Roots Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Brigade. I’ve asked my cousin, Colonel Sammy “Davis” McBride, war veteran and civilrights activist, to come out of retirement and organize a group of protesters from the Ghetto Science Community to form a convoy to Wall Street. “Colonel Sammy convinced Rev. Cletus and his deacon mechanics to have a fleet of double-Dutch church buses ready to transport members of the Ghetto Science Community to New York City. Also, he has confirmed support from members of the Ghetto Science Team Community Task Force to ensure a successful and productive trip to ‘Occupy Wall Street.’ “The church buses are ready roll to take the people where they need to go. It’s time to let the establishment know that we won’t take it any more. Let’s join in solidarity with the 99 percent. “Come on and join our convoy. Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way. We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy to ‘Occupy Wall Street’. Convoyyyyyy! 12 “And that’s a 10-4, Ghetto Science Community.”
Noise from the blogs @jacksonfreepress.com
‘Influencing Sex Ed Policies,’ Oct. 6, 2011 “There should be no further study of the need for the youngsters to know how to protect themselves, if the answer is ‘yes.’ We have lived through the failed attempt of Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ strategy. Teen and preteen pregnancies have only increased. Sex Education Plus should include referral services for therapeutic clinical interventions to deal with root causes of teen and preteens engaging in sexual experiences that result in unplanned/unwanted pregnancies. “Far too often, these pregnancies are the result of men, to include mother’s boyfriends, who sexually abuse these children, and these egregious acts become family secrets, and the victim becomes a part of that never-ending vicious cycle. “Mississippi’s teen/preteen pregnancy rate is one of the highest in the nation. We are also faced with a high incidence of STDs to include HIV/ AIDS. So, let’s take our heads out of the sand and start addressing the reality of this situation: Let’s apply educational and therapeutic strategies that are designed to promote remedy.” —JustJess “We are in a drop-down drag-out fight here to keep our highest teen birth rate title! Texas is gaining on us! We’ve got to use their tricks to keep our edge! We may not be the highest in teen pregnancy rate, but we are the highest in teen birth
rate, with this policy, we can take both. If we pass initiative 26 (the Personhood Amendment) then we are sure to be the highest in both since we will be outlawing most birth-control pills. To heck with Texas and New Mexico. We can be the worst state in the union.” —Bobby Kearan “I can’t tell you how often I hear from readers about controversial issues—who want us to speak out so they don’t have to. They’re scared because their spouse has political aspirations, or they’re afraid someone is going to think they’re ... wait for it! ... too liberal. Or some such. People, if it’s important, you, you and you need to show up and speak up. Posting here is fine, but it’s not enough from you.” —Donna Ladd “At the lunch, someone made the point that some school boards are going to assume their district wants abstinence-only sex ed when parents really want their children to be more informed. Board members can’t make an informed decision, though, unless more parents and community members speak up and let them know this issue is important to them.” —lizwaibel
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y first pregnancy ended with a shot. After three weeks of careful monitoring, my doctor finally saw a mass growing in my left fallopian tube and diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy. She hugged me through my uncontrollable sobs and gave me three options: wait to see if it resolved on its own, risking a ruptured tube; immediate surgery to remove the baby; or an injection of methotrexate, a cancer drug that was newly being used as a non-surgical treatment for ectopic pregnancies. Scared of tubal rupture and surgery, I chose methotrexate. The doctorâ€™s office didnâ€™t keep it stocked, so she sent me to a nearby pharmacy with a prescription in my hand. I sat in the car for a long time, screaming at God for turning the greatest dream of my life into a nightmare. For a few minutes, I considered just dying under a tree in the woods with my baby. I thought about my husband, who was speeding from work to be with me, and I drove to the pharmacy. I was numb when I returned to the doctorâ€™s office, thanks to a pharmacy tech who kept badgering me to â€œsmile,â€? so I only felt the physical sting of the shot and not the emotional sting. My second pregnancy ended in a c-section 11 weeks early, after my water inexplicably broke, and I spent five days on strict hospital bed rest. Ace spent two months in the neonatal intensive-care unit. The only lasting effects of his prematurity are mild cerebral palsy and a big attitude. The latter could be attributed to the fact that heâ€™s both 5 years old and a superhero. I decided that pregnancy was no longer an option for me after my third pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. An ultrasound revealed a lifeless blip where before I had seen a blip with a heartbeat. Birth control keeps two things at bay: cramps and the absolute terror I feel at the thought of a fourth shattered heart. When I first heard about the Personhood Amendment, I read the entire text online and thought: â€œSurely thatâ€™s not it. Itâ€™s half a paragraph with nothing about life-saving abortions.â€? I called Personhood Mississippi for clarification and was told, â€œWeâ€™re just trying to get the amendment on the ballot.â€? I accepted that answer, thinking it would be fine-tuned eventually. Wrong. The final ballot version was the same, word for word. I emailed Personhood Mississippi and asked again, â€œWhat about lifesaving abortions?â€? Their response: â€œThey wonâ€™t be outlawed.â€? My response: â€œHow will they not?â€? No answer. So I took to Facebook. On Sept. 25, WLBT ran a story about Personhood,
under which I posted the entire text of the amendment and asked, â€œWhere is the exception for life-saving abortions?â€? I asked on my own Facebook page and asked several prolife friends. No answer. On the official â€œYes on 26â€? Facebook page, someone asked how this would affect treatment for ectopic pregnancies. The official reply was a link to the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs website (aaplog.org) on which its members assert their opinion that ending an ectopic pregnancy is not morally wrong. Thatâ€™s wonderful, but wasnâ€™t actually an answer to the question. I was distracted, though, by another post on the page insisting that 26 wouldnâ€™t prevent access to birth control. I asked simply, â€œWhy not?â€? The official reply from the pageâ€™s moderator was, â€œBirth control prevents conception,â€? and anyone who said that 26 would limit access to birth control was lying to me. I responded that I had come to that conclusion on my own, thanks, knowing that a tertiary effect of birth control was preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. How would 26 not ban that? My questions were deleted, and I was blocked from the group. Finally, I posted on WLBTâ€™s Facebook page, pleading for the answer to my questions about life-saving abortions and birth control. After nearly 30 non-answers, a man spoke up and said the amendment sets the framework for pro-life legislation in Mississippi and that legislators would iron out the details. Thatâ€™s it? Iâ€™m supposed to trust that the Mississippi Legislature, which still believes abstinence education works when we have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country, will allow me to have my birth control knowing that a tertiary effect of birth control is ending the life of a â€œperson?â€? And while I have good faith that life-saving abortions will be allowed, should I trust that the Mississippi Legislature knows when a pregnancy is lifethreatening? Will they allow one at the point of diagnosis, when a detectable heartbeat can still be found, or at some later point? Since some ectopic pregnancies end naturally in miscarriage, will the Mississippi Legislature allow for methotrexate, or will we take El Salvadorâ€™s solidly pro-life lead and wait until the fallopian tube ruptures before performing surgery? I canâ€™t trust complete strangers with my life or reproductive health. This is not me taking a pro-life or pro-choice stance. This is me begging you to read the amendmentâ€™s wording for yourself and tell me where I fall in line. Stacey Spiehler is a wife, mother, social media guru, and loud and proud WhoDat. The Mississippi transplantâ€™s vision for utopia includes unquestioned tolerance and the perfect shrimp po-boy.
â€œWhat about lifesaving abortions?â€?
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Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
Mark The JFP Interview with
October 12 - 18, 2011
by Lacey McLaughlin
Name: Jim Hood Age: 45 Education: Bachelor’s degree and law degree from University of Mississippi, 1984 and 1988. Family: Wife, Debbie; three children, Rebecca, Matthew and Annabelle Leigh. Residence: Brandon Currently: Incumbent candidate for the office of Mississippi attorney general
Did you question why the murderer got such a shortened sentence? My dad was the county prosecutor so we knew the DA. ... We knew more about what was going on. probably, than 99.9 percent of the other victims. That’s always been tough for me. We were close. He was like my big brother. How did you view the justice system after that? It made me realize that it wasn’t fair for a victim who got murdered to go on trial. It wasn’t fair for a victim to be raked over the coals, and they are dead and can’t defend themselves. When I got to be DA, I always kept victims at the front. We never made any recommendations on cases without first running it by victims and the law-enforcement officers. I wrote a federal grant when I was DA, between trying cases, and got an additional victims assistance coordinator. Dealing with victims is the most rewarding part of the work. That’s what I miss about being DA—you hug a victim’s neck, and you leave court, and you have accomplished something. What is it like being the only Democrat in statewide office? I haven’t really thought that much about it. People call our state a red state, but what the difference is, how I see it, is that we are one-third Republican, one third Democratic and a third of people in the middle. (People in the middle) are a swing vote and will vote for a Democrat or a Republican if they are doing the things they appreciate. That was clearly shown by last year’s election cycle. There were eight statewide election officials, and I got more votes than the other seven Republicans. The problem we are encountering now—especially with Citizens United, the horrible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allows corporations to buy political offices—what we are seeing now, the difference is the money. … I’ve been outspent twice by $1 million each time in my last two races for AG. But if you have the Democratic message of taking care of who Jesus taught us to take care of—widows, orphans and elderly—the party label doesn’t matter that much to people. The problem is getting out that message. If you are drowned out by lots of money or nasty mail-outs, that’s a major impediment for getting Democrats elected. Last year, you spoke out against a bill that would require a pathologist in Mississippi to hold an American Board of Pathology certification saying it threatened cases involving Steve Hayne. Can you explain your position? There has been a misconception, and (JFP managing editor) Ronni Mott did this. … She didn’t listen to what I had told her as well as that other guy who writes for the paper (freelancer and then-Reason magazine columnist Radley Balko). Dr. (Michael) West is someone we have investigated, and I don’t support him in any matter. It’s not that I have supported Steven Hayne in any matter. What I have said are the facts: When I was a DA, he testified against me in criminal cases. I always found him to do a good job. By saying that, they assume I am just supporting him all the way, which is absolutely not true. What I have done is form a task force with people from University of Mississippi Medical Center, the presidents of the Mississippi Coroner’s Association, the district attorney’s association and the sheriff’s association and chiefs of police. We went to Arkansas and Alabama and visited their medical examiner’s office. We found that Arkansas has 100,000 fewer people than we do and less crime than Mississippi, and they have nine fulltime pathologists in the medical examiner’s office there. … Our
Why are you seeking re-election for AG? I have a lot of unfinished business, especially in the area of policing the Internet. There is no federal agency that polices the Internet, and it’s all up to the AGs. It’s a really interesting time to be at the (forefront) of how we police it. I’m co-chair of the National Association of Attorney General’s Technology Committee. ... Technology is moving at light speed, and we have to move the law along with it. … I’ve got young kids, and I am worried about the dangers of Internet texting and sexting. The other component is intellectual-property theft—music, movies, software. Also, the counterfeit drugs being sold on the Internet. It’s good to be able to be at the position where you can make a difference in how you can protect our children. The Internet has been described as the crime scene of the 21st century, and so it’s fun to be able to be at the table and be the co-chair and sit there and work with these companies for how we can better police the Internet. Another issue deals with our elderly. Baby boomers are getting older. We are having more retiring. This economy is making people take advantage of our elderly—relatives are taking their money and getting powers of attorney. That’s a group we have a lot to do, yet, to protect. Domestic violence is another issue. It really shocked me when I found out about four years ago that Mississippi was the fifth worst state in the nation in issues of domestic homicide, in which a husband kills his wife. We got a grant to establish the domestic-violence unit. … There is still a lot to do. There needs to be a one-stop shopping situation where (victims) go to one court, and they are able to take care of not just a protective order but also child custody. At some point, we want to make it easier to get help, separate the family and cool them down. … We have gone from number-five worst in the nation to number 22 in instances of domestic homicide. One of the changes we need to make in the laws is to make domestic abusers go to counseling, and you’ll see that on our next legislative agenda. There are still other changes we have to do, but it’s encouraging to see some things work.
When you were younger, your cousin was murdered, and you said you sat through that trial. How did that experience help shape your career as a prosecutor? My first cousin, (whom) I hunted with all the time, he was murdered in 1976. He and his wife were coming out of a restaurant/bar—he was holding her hand, and she was pregnant. Some guy sitting outside with a shotgun shot him in the back of the head with buckshot and killed him. It was premeditated murder. They had been into it about something before. The guy was charged with murder, but he claimed somehow it was self-defense. When you claim self-defense, you are able to get in testimony about the victim’s character. My cousin was rough. He wasn’t a criminal, but was rough and would fight and stuff like that. It was about 1978. I was old enough to understand how victims feel. They convicted (his killer) of manslaughter, and he served seven years in the pen for cold-blooded murder. I understood then how victims feel, and that’s why I have been a strong victim’s advocate. I had never planned to be a DA. I never intended to be in politics. My dad was a prosecutor in the early ’70s. He was a county attorney. … At that time, the DA didn’t have any assistance, and the county attorney served as assistant DA who viewed all the indictments and took all the heat in the county if he prosecuted somebody. Our county was real bad. It had gambling, and it was a dry county, and marijuana was coming in. We got a new sheriff, and he started prosecuting people, and Dad was who got the heat for it. We had a lot of threats. We had to leave home several times. Our home burned in 1973, and the local crooks took credit for it. We had to leave home a lot of nights and ended up living in a trailer outside our house for a year or two. Then we moved to Houston, where I went to high school. It was a bad experience being the son of a prosecutor. I rebelled from it. I wasn’t about to do anything like that. Even when I got out of law school, I was going to do oil and gas work. … I interned at the AG’s office after college and got to know Mike Moore. He got this unit started, and I started doing narcotics work, and I guess it was kind of in my blood.
COURTESY JIM HOOD
ttorney General Jim Hood appears to be a natural prosecutor, although it was a career path he initially resisted. His father was a Chickasaw County attorney and prosecutor. In 1977, Hood’s cousin, Glenn Ford, was murdered outside a restaurant in Leake County, and Hood attended the murder trial. He says that experience fueled his desire to seek justice and provide services for victims of violence and domestic abuse. Being a prosecutor didn’t exactly help his father make friends, and so the younger Hood was determined to steer clear of the same career path even after he received his law degree from Ole Miss in 1988. Hood’s career, however, started in the attorney general’s office under former Attorney General Mike Moore where he served as special assistant attorney for five years. In 1995, voters elected him as district attorney for the Third Circuit Court District in north Mississippi where he served for eight years. In 2003, Hood began his first term as Mississippi’s attorney general, and he is currently seeking his third term in office, running against former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steven Simpson. On Monday, Oct. 3, the two opponents participated in their first and only debate at the Stennis-Capitol Institute Press Luncheon in Jackson. Simpson launched repeated attacks against his opponent. Hood, however, was clearly more interested in talking about his record, telling reporters he wasn’t going to engage in a “mud fight.” Since he was elected in 2003, Hood, 45, has established a cyber-crime unit, a domestic-violence unit a victims-services section, venerable adults unit and identity theft unit.
HOOD, see page 16 15
HOOD, from page 15 ADAM LYNCH
between personal benefit and campaign contributions, and he doesn’t have any proof and just falsely accuses me of. … He gets this L1 contract and million-dollar deal with this kiosk thing (see Reader’s Guide). He doesn’t tell anyone about it, doesn’t file anything on his report to show that he has signed a contract. There are probably other contracts out there.
The Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence gave Attorney General Jim Hood an award in April 2011 for his efforts in helping domestic-violence victims.
task force came up with the method to fund nine full-time medical examiners. It didn’t matter if it was Steven Hayne or who they hired. We wouldn’t have been hiring them; it would have been whoever is over the Department of Public Safety. We took it to the Legislature, and it passed out of the House. We were going to fund it with an additional $13 fee for every citation issued in this state. We knew the Legislature wasn’t going to be able to take care of it. My opponent (Steve Simpson) came over there and said, ‘We don’t need it.’ The result is that we never got the medical examiners office that we needed. … As far as the legislation goes, what I was saying was if Dr. Hayne has done all these examinations, and say it was several years before—and you know it takes two or three years sometimes before a case goes to trial—then when he goes to take the witness stand, and the statute passes, they are going to be hammering him with the law. And trying to keep him on and qualified in a murder case that occurred before we passed the law will be difficult. … The second thing about a pathologist is that very seldom do they make or break a case. All they say is the manner of death and cause of death, and that’s about it.
October 12 - 18, 2011
Your opponent has criticized you for waiting to file suit against BP (despite Barbour’s request not to file). How do you respond to that? I have filed a suit against BP’s administrative process and (claims administrator) Kenneth Feinberg. My concentration has been on our consumers and whether they are being compensated fairly and how that fund is operating. After Katrina, I learned that you have to have a compensation system that works quickly outside the court system. The reason we hadn’t filed a suit is that we don’t have our evidence. Every good lawyer knows that you have to gather your evidence first. We had all these state agencies that are determining the environmental impact as well as the economic impact. So these are long-term studies. You are talking about a three-year period before you begin to get an idea on our environmental 16 damages. … For (Simpson) to insinuate that
it had something to do with campaign contributions is just ludicrous. Those lawyers don’t want me to file a suit; they want me in the middle of it. Why? It’s called a plaintiff steering committee. It’s the lawyers the court appoints to handle class-action litigation. Texas hasn’t sued, Florida hasn’t sued, and we haven’t. Alabama sued initially over the former AG that got beat over there. Louisiana filed a suit just asking for some paperwork and got sucked into it. … Environmental damages are really long term. You take the (Exxon Valdez oil spill) in Alaska. They settled it two years out. The federal government bullied them into settling. Guess what happened in the third year? Guess who had to pay for it when the herring population died? The state taxpayers of Alaska, because they got rushed into something. That shows that any good prosecutor gets their facts right before they start throwing out wild allegations. Simpson (acts) as if he is above the law. He has done a lot of things for his personal benefit. There is a difference
Your opponent has also criticized you for not joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. You said earlier this week that Barbour’s request to join the lawsuit was “political” and the state shouldn’t bear the burden of that cost. How much would it have cost the state to join the suit? He hired outside counsel—Mike Wallace. I haven’t seen the bills lately, but we tried to tell them that we have to keep them down. If we had done it in-house, it would be hard to estimate. I can go back and look to see how many hours Wallace has spent and what we would have actually paid. … Our rate for the state, what we charge another agency, … I think its $65 an hour. A lot of these outside lawyers (charge the AG’s office) $250 to $125 (per hour). We have to pay more with outside counsel. It’s nothing but a ‘me too’ political statement, and the law is such that federal courts have that kind of reach into state matters. I don’t agree with it. A similar case is that there was a case in the ’50s or ’40s where this pig farmer wanted to feed his own hogs the wheat he harvested, and the federal government said, ‘No, you can’t do that. You feeding your own hogs affects interstate commerce.’ If feeding your own hogs your own wheat has some impact and draws the authority of the federal government, then don’t you think the health-care system, with its cost to our federal government, would be the same? The point is: The law is there for the federal government to do this unless the U.S. Supreme Court changes it. [Editor’s note: Wallace said last year that he would take on the case at no additional cost to the state.]
Do you think that the act is constitutional? As it is now, yes, because of the Kansas wheat-farmer case. If the federal government has reached into telling a farmer he can’t feed hogs wheat from his own land, they have reach into whether you have to have insurance and things like that. … This is a political thing and will be something that the U.S. Supreme Court should look long and hard at before they go change it. … I don’t know what the court will do, but I wasn’t interested in putting our taxpayer money in it. Politically, it would have been easier for me to join it and file a “me too” brief. But I don’t see the need of wasting our time and money when it doesn’t (make) one bit of difference. The Supreme Court doesn’t care whether the attorney general filed it or if the governor filed it. Your opponent has criticized you for not prosecuting Robbie Bell in the domestic-homicide murder of Heather Spencer. At the time there was no evidence or law to prosecute her under. Explain why that is. Heather’s roommate was also a kidnapping victim, and her mother taught in one of my children’s schools and asked my wife to call her and get involved with the case. I was running for AG in September, and I went to the crime scene to make sure we had all the evidence gathered. I was involved, but there wasn’t a political announcement. I just did it low key. We were in it to handle the kidnapping part of it. What was happening is that Faye Peterson was running that fall for DA and got beat, but she went and indicted on the kidnapping and the murder. And she indicted the defendant’s mother, Robbie. The only case I had was the murder and the kidnapping. We were going to handle that case, and we did. George Bell pled guilty and got life without parole plus 30 years on the kidnapping. The (incoming) DA (Robert Shuler Smith) was going to dismiss the charges against the mother. I said, ‘Wait. Let our folks work the case. Let’s see if we can find any evidence.’ His people looked at it, and in order to com-
Ronni Mott Responds to Hood on Hayne
n March 12, 2010, Radley Balko, formerly of Reason Magazine, published an email from Hood to coroners and others urging them to get legislators to vote against H.B. 1456. The bill, signed March 19 by Gov. Haley Barbour, requires that anyone hired by a Mississippi county to do an autopsy be American Board of Pathology certified in forensic pathology. Hood’s email stated, in part: “This is an Innocence Project bill which threatens cases which involved Dr. Hayne. This bill has passed the Senate and is headed to the House of Representatives. Please contact your House Member and encourage him or her to defeat this bill. Our office is working diligently to stop this potentially harmful legislation.”
In my April 7, 2010, story “Hood Responds to Hayne Criticism,” I reported the following after an interview with Hood: On March 19, however, Hood stated that his e-mail opposing H.B. 1456 had no connection to Hayne, and that his office had not come out against the bill. “We weren’t taking a position on whether it’s a bad bill,” Hood told the Jackson Free Press. ... “Look, I’m not trying to defend Dr. Hayne,” he added. “It would be politically more convenient for me not to say anything about it, but when I’m asked, I’m going to tell the truth about what I’ve seen, and what the facts are, and I don’t want it to look like I’m defending him. But at the same time, I’m trying to say, ‘Look, we need to open the crime lab.’ That’s been our position; it hasn’t been pro (Hayne) or con him.
It doesn’t have anything to do with what our position is.” … Little doubt exists that the attorney general is in favor of expanding the medical examiner’s office and the state crime lab. Hood’s office has researched other state’s medical examiner offices, including Arkansas, which employs nine full-time medical examiners with a population slightly less than Mississippi. Late last year, Hood proposed legislation adding a $13 fee to traffic tickets to fund a similarly staffed office for the state. “[W]hat we did was basically put together a package for legislators, and we handed it to them, saying, ‘This is what we need for a medical examiners office. This will fix it,’” Hood said. The proposal passed the House and died in the Senate. Read story: jfp.ms/hayne
Reader’s Guide : Wickard v. Filburn
n 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government has the right to regulate economic activity in the case of Wickard v. Filburn. Roscoe Filburn, who was a farmer in Ohio, grew more wheat on his land that the government permitted. The government had set limits on wheat production during the Great Depression to drive up wheat prices. Filburn was not selling his excess wheat; he was using it to feed his chickens. The Supreme Court ruled that Filburn’s wheat growing reduced the amount of wheat he would buy for chicken feed on the open market, and because his wheat growing affected interstate commerce, the government could regulate how much he grew. The court ordered Filburn to destroy his crops and pay a fine. Simpson’s L-1 Contract Hood’s re-election campaign claims that Steve Simpson used his former position as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to secure his consulting contract with a national driver’s license kiosk company. Simpson extended L-1’s contract through DPS to $5.9 million so that L-1 could build 51 electronic kiosks in Mississippi. Simpson renewed the contract 13 days before stepping down from DPS.
He said that in June he signed a contract to work as a consultant for L-1 while conducting his campaign for attorney general. L-1 specializes in driver’s licenses and license kiosks for Department of Motor Vehicles throughout the country, including Mississippi. “My agreement prohibits me from doing any work in Mississippi, since they were a vendor of DPS at the time I was commissioner. They both agreed that I should not do any work on behalf of the state,” Simpson said last month, adding that if elected state attorney general, he would terminate his consulting contract with L-1. Robbie Bell Robbie Bell is the mother of George Bell III who is serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend Heather Spencer Sept. 11, 2007. Robbie Bell came under intense fire because she did not call the police after her son attacked and killed Spencer in her house. The mother was initially arrested as an accessory, but authorities had to drop the charge due to the laws requiring evidence that an accessory took “affirmative” action to further a crime. Her actions—or non-actions—have sparked a conversation about whether Mississippi should pass a Good Samaritan law.
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If an attorney donates to your campaign, your opponent has suggested that they will receive a contract with your office. Is that true? Absolutely not. The media has covered this for years going back to Mike Moore. We have recovered $500 million for the state, and it hasn’t cost taxpayers a dime. We have done research of every AG’s office in the nation to
determine if there is a better system we can have—for an example, a bidding-type system. But what we found is that ours is the fairest and most transparent in the nation. We are the only AG that posts our contracts on our website. … We have it set up where the people who want to file suit on behalf of the state have to email or contact my chief of staff, and we have a list of who calls first on cases, and that person gets a case. … Someone has got to hire the lawyers. That’s why our constitution says the AG’s office handles all legal affairs of the state. Corporations give money to these politicians who go out and try to stop AGs from filing suits. It’s been going on for years. If someone has stolen from people, I swore I would follow the law and enforce it. I have a duty to go get it. If I don’t have the lawyers to do it, I have to go hire some who can. We have nine lawyers in the civil-litigation division. They have 3,400 cases right now. They are covered up. If the Legislature wants to give me $4 million or $5 million a year to hire some lawyers, we’ll do it. But they don’t need to. If this was a Republican idea, they would call it privatization. Why do we have to hire outside counsel? Most of these are in-state lawyers that are doing them. Every single one of them has to have an associate and in-state lawyer. The ones I suppose my opponent is thinking about is those securities cases where someone stole from the Public Employees Retirement System, and we filed a suit to try and get our
HOOD, see page 18
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mit the crime of an accessory after the fact, you have to do something to conceal or assist the person in the crime, which we didn’t have any proof that she had done at that point. We started subpoenaing her bank records to see when he left that house to kidnap (Heather’s) roommate whether or not he stopped to get money to flee with. We looked at her phone lines to see if she had tried to help him any way whatsoever, like calling the airline. Our folks scrubbed it as hard as they could. The deans of criminal law are over there in my building. I have supported a bill since I was DA that would have made it a crime for someone to witness a felony and not report it. I have been advocating it every year since I was DA to have a Good Samaritan law. The pushback was, what about some little old lady who sees a dope dealer in her yard and doesn’t report it? Are you going to put her jail? We introduced a Good Samaritan bill the year after (Spencer) was murdered. We made it where it would be required under murders and rapes and more heinous crimes. The problem was we had to follow the law. I didn’t like it, but if we went to court, the judge would have dismissed the case. We are going to keep introducing it until we get it passed.
HOOD, from page 17
Your office has brought in $500 million to the state. Where exactly does that money go, and what is it used for? Well, like the WorldCom case, that was $100 million, and the check went straight to the General Fund, and $50 million was given to PERS by the Legislature. All this goes to the General Fund. We have the authority to—if it’s a Medicaid-fraud case, or different from the type of wholesale litigation—we can keep a percentage of that to pay for our grant to keep the Medicaid-fraud unit going. This is about $1 million a year we have to pay for it, and the Legislature doesn’t have to appropriate anything for it. Your opponent said if he were elected he would form a committee to review who gets contracts and who doesn’t. We looked into that. Some state AG offices, they kind of bid it out and give a percentage to someone who gave them the idea. It’s kind of like intellectual property: If you are a lawyer and you bring an idea to a state, you get first dibs at handling the case. But in other states, they have a weighting system. There are two problems with that system. One is that you are always going to have politics involved, and someone is always going to be able to put their thumb on the scale. In the end, there is only one person who makes that decision, and there has to be trust that that one person will do right. The other problem is if you start bidding out that you are going to file a suit—sue some big company based wherever—if you start bidding it out and say, ‘We are going to sue this company,’ you don’t want the other side to know you are about to sue them. What they will do is run in their court and sue you in their state, and say, ‘We want a declaratory judgment.’ There is a reason you don’t disclose your strategy, at least initially. Ballot initiatives were a big topic at the debate on Monday. Don’t you have to defend ballot initiatives from challenges because you are the attorney for the state? How much does it matter if you are personally for it or against it?
money back. A securities law firm that specializes in that is the one that has to handle those types of cases, because there is not one in Mississippi that does security practices.
Instead of launching attacks against his opponent Steve Simpson, the attorney general prefers to talk about his record.
Those were rabbit trails people went down because that’s what the opponent wanted to talk about. It had nothing to do with the AG. State statute requires you to defend laws that are passed. That’s insignificant. I think the issues are about, ‘What are you going to do; what’s your track record?’ And it went off on this debate issue. There has been an ongoing debate with me for eight years. What is important are the issues and what you have done. You drew criticism for posting a statement on Facebook in support of the Personhood Amendment. Can you explain what happened? I don’t operate that account. I didn’t intend for us to be putting up statements. It’s not like a badge of courage. Whoever is promoting that wanted to know our position, and our campaign manager was going to send a letter, and somehow it got posted on Facebook. It’s not that I am ashamed of it, but it’s just not an issue in this race. Who believes what about abortion isn’t an issue for the attorney general because you have to defend whatever is out there. If you had to pick one thing that you are most proud of in your career, what would it be? I haven’t’ gotten there, yet, but the work we are doing on cyber crime and protecting our children. When I look back on our services as AG, I want to look back and know that I have made my mark. That’s probably the largest accomplishment that I hope to achieve. Comment at jfp.ms.
Jim Hood’s Top Campaign Donors
October 12 - 18, 2011
Total funds reported since January 2011: $966,659
Magnolia Democratic Attorneys Association Labaton Sucharow, Law Firm Morgan and Morgan, Law Firm Hatch Rose LLP David Nutt, Individual Teamsters Local PAC Wolf Popper LLP IBEW Education Committee Mississippi Health Association Political Action Committee
$400,000 $55,000 $50,000 $22,500 $25,000 $10,000 $16,000 $10,000 $10,000
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