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March 7 - 13, 2012
1 0 N O . 26
contents COURTESY JH& H ARCHITECTS
8 New Digs Some elementary schools kids in west Jackson can look forward to a brand new school soon. VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
Cover photo of Brittany Henderson and Kristen Lucas by Virginia Schreiber
THIS ISSUE: Ranking Rep
debi green spiritual matters and welcoming new members. Green said she loves making a difference in people’s lives and strengthening the community, whether it is through her church, WIN or the Chamber Partnership. “I believe in who we are, in our purpose and in what we are doing,” Green says. “(The chamber partnership) encompasses all aspects of what a business needs, whether it is a big business or a small mom-and-pop store. I consider this my ministry. I have a chance to make a difference in somebody’s world as it relates to their business.” Originally from Vicksburg, Green moved to Hattiesburg in her freshman year of high school, where she attended Hattiesburg High School. She went to the University of Southern Mississippi from 1973 to 1975 and was focusing on nursing before she paused her education for marriage. Green moved to Jackson in 1980 with her former husband. Green has two daughters and three grandchildren. Her daughters are Dacia Green, a registered dietician at UMMC, and Brittany Green Christian, who is completing an education degree to teach middle school and eventually college. If you would like to participate in WIN, to be a guest speaker for one of the luncheons or to get more information, email dgreen@ greaterjacksonpartnership.com or call 601948-7575. —Dustin Cardon
29 Warm and Fuzzy A new interactive art exhibits comes to Jackson, and it’s all about community participation.
42 Color Me This, Too When it comes to fashion features, we just can’t get enough. Here’s what didn’t fit up front.
Debi Green’s job is to bring businesses together to improve the economy and quality of life for the greater Jackson area. Green began working with the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership in 1985 and is now the executive director of membership, sales and retention for the partnership. “I am essentially the voice of the business community (in Jackson),” Green says. “I go out and visit with new businesses that have located in the greater Jackson area and talk with them about available opportunities. I help them take opportunities to grow their business, have greater visibility in the community and make good investments.” In addition to encouraging membership in the organization, Green recently developed a new professional women’s group called WIN—Women’s Information Network. WIN kicked off in August 2011 and has since grown tremendously. The group allows women to come together to network with one another and grow personally and professionally. WIN holds luncheon meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month for women to hear educational speakers and discuss issues of interest to women professionals, such as health, fitness, career opportunities, home and more. Green is also heavily involved with Pinelake Baptist Church, where she works as a decision counselor by counseling people on
4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 10 ........................ Tech 12 ................... Editorial 12 .... Editorial Cartoon 13 ................. Opinion 20 ....... Spring Fashion 26 .................. Hitched 29 .............. Diversions 30 ........................ Film 31 .................... 8 Days 32 ............. JFP Events 33 ...................... Music 34 ......... Music Listing 36 ..................... Sports 38 ....................... Food 41 ................ Astrology 42 ......... Fly Shopping
Long-time Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson talks about what’s important to him.
Meredith W. 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 coordinated Spring Fashion.
R.L. Nave Reporter R.L. Nave grew up in St. Louis, graduated from Mizzou (the University of Missouri), and lived a bunch of other places before coming to Jackson. He interviewed Bennie Thompson and wrote Talks. Contact him at 601-362-6121 ext. 12.
Virginia Schreiber Staff photographer Virginia Schreiber is a recent graduate of Millsaps College. When she’s not working, she spends her time watching films of the Peter Pan genre. She took many of the photos in this issue.
Dustin Cardon Copy Editor Dustin Cardon is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi from Brandon. An English major, he enjoys reading fantasy novels and wants to write them himself one day. He wrote the Jacksonian.
Sharon Dunten Sharon Dunten came to Mississippi as a journalist to cover Hurricane Katrina. She visits Mississippi often to write and photograph the state and its distinctive culture, which captured her heart. She wrote the Diversions feature.
Pamela Hosey Pamela Hosey is originally from West Point, Miss. She loves to write, read James Patterson novels and spend time with her family. She wrote a Hitched article.
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 the music story.
March 7 - 13, 2012
Account Executive Adam Perry is a local musician who lives in Flowood where he, his wife and daughter are herded through life by two supreme beings posing as unruly house-cats. He manages JFP sales accounts.
by Ronni Mott, Managing Editor
A Woman’s Power
ast week, I was part of a panel that explored the question of why more women don’t run for public office, sponsored by She Should Run. The Washington, D.C.-based organization is at the vanguard of researching the current landscape (women hold only 17 percent of congressional seats, for example) and dispelling the myths of women taking leadership positions. As I listened, it occurred to me that we women relinquished our personal power. It’s not surprising given the unrelenting attack on our freedoms and rights since the height of the women’s movement in the 1970s. Pam Shaw, a consultant with the Center for Education Innovation, asked each panelist questions based on her profession. Mine involved the role of women in the press. She began by asking whether being a woman affected how I approached journalism. My answer (in a nutshell): How could it not? Being a woman is who I am. It’s not everything I am, of course, but it is one of my reality lenses. I have others: being an immigrant and being white among them. Since that evening, I’ve thought about what the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision really means to women. Regardless of whether your faith or morality allows you to embrace the decision in practice, it was still a game-changing victory for women in America. Ultimately, the decision provided a legal basis for claiming our bodies as our own. We are not the property of the government, or our husbands, lovers, or even that of our children. The decision also highlights that our sexuality is part of who we are. We can’t disconnect from it, and we shouldn’t. One of the weirder effects of the women’s movement is that many of us tried to be men. Women popped up everywhere wearing suits and ties, albeit more fashionable versions. We padded our shoulders to within an inch of our ears to disguise our lack of upper-body strength. We railed against women’s roles of wifedom and motherhood, demanding that men share in them equally. We mistakenly thought that by growing virtual balls, we would magically open the doors to men’s back rooms and stinky locker rooms. We thought becoming men would be easy. Ultimately, of course, women can no more be men than cats can be fishes or trees can be puppies. Denying our fundamental essence never works for long. But thwarted in our giddy ideological pendulum swing, many of us simply went back to sleep. We failed to organize strongly to withstand the onslaught of resistance. We didn’t speak up enough about the powerful economic and religious forces aligned to roll back the freedoms we had scratched and bled to win. We failed to tell our daughters that freedom requires constantly struggling with those who believe civil rights is a zero-sum game. Forty years later, conservatives are shoving women’s backs to the wall. Again. We’re not the only group under attack, but being
women—regardless of ethnicity—cuts across all those other designations. Together, we are the majority. And that’s powerful. 2012 is a much different world than 1973. This is a world where our access to information and our ability to network (aka organize) is, for most, ubiquitous. In this world, others hear our voices instantaneously and globally. And we don’t require a megaphone, just an Internet connection. I’m hardly a Luddite, but it’s taken me a while to understand the power of social media. Even this late bloomer can’t deny its power to shake up the status quo and unite people of like persuasions. My small Internet universe contains politicians, artists, teachers, mothers, fathers, and people of all races and sexual orientation. It contains believers of diverse theologies and experts in numerous disciplines. Daily, everything from silly animal tricks and bumper-sticker opining to uplifting quotes bombard me. But my network also gives me access to serious journalistic investigations and research into real issues that affect my life. Most important, though, is social media ability to bring injustices and lies to light and right wrongs. Women should fiercely embrace that power. The playing field may never be level, but we can do our damndest to plow under the highest hills and fill in the lowest informational swamps. The danger is that we’ll end up doing a lot of ineffectual navel gazing. Machiavelli said that we should keep our friends close and our enemies closer. It’s good advice. We must be ever vigilant to the subtleties of sexism (and the overt attacks from people like Rush Limbaugh), becoming as finely tuned to it as some are to that of racism. And we can’t hesitate to call it out at every opportunity.
That brings me back to women reclaiming their power. Some people—mostly white men by my tally—find the power every woman inherits as her birthright to be threatening. Primarily, the one power women have that men don’t is the ability to bring life into the world. Without the power, some seek to control it. From burning witches and outlawing midwives, they would have us believe that they can’t leave womanhood in our feminine, dainty hands. But as any woman who has birthed a baby knows, our hands are far from delicate. Still, we’ve allowed the shouts of our persecutors to wear us down, and we’ve developed some bad habits. We obfuscate and soften our words; we don’t speak up for fear of offending; we don’t arm ourselves with facts. Instead of leading, we’re conciliatory. We speak in soft and passive language and wonder why no one’s listening. Manifesting our power is also every woman’s birthright, as it is for every man. Women are more than half the population of the world; yet we limit ourselves because we believe we can’t win. First, it’s not true. A woman is just as likely as a man to win an election, for example. Second, winning isn’t always a worthy goal. Much of our strength comes from our bias for cooperation and compassion. Most women would rather be part of an effort for greater good than assume leadership. That’s OK. Women are most effective when we cooperate and share the work. What is damaging—to our sisters and to our world—is to refrain from enjoining the work at all. Fighting for our rights isn’t something we can do once, then sit back and enjoy. Not if we expect to keep them, not if we want to give our daughters (and sons) a better world.
Saturday, March 17th, 2012
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, March 1 The Mississippi Supreme Court sets March execution dates for two more death row inmates, Larry Matthew Puckett and William Gerald Mitchell. â€Ś Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio claims that President Obamaâ€™s birth certificate is a â€œcomputer-generated forgery.â€? Friday, March 2 Jacoâ€™s Tacos, one of the downtown Jacksonâ€™s newest restaurants, celebrates its grand opening. â€Ś A United Nations panel says both forces loyal to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and opposition fighters committed war crimes during a conflict in Libya last year. Saturday, March 3 High-school basketball teams face off in championship games at the Mississippi Coliseum. â€Ś About 100 tornadoes touch down in at least 10 states Friday and Saturday, killing at least 37 people. Sunday, March 4 A judge allows Alabamaâ€™s Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, to move forward with bankruptcy. The county borrowed more than $4 billion for its sewer system. â€Ś U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorses Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
March 7 - 13, 2012
Monday, March 5 The Jackson Redevelopment Authority approves a non-binding memorandum of understanding to loan $10.2 million to Farish Street developers. â€Ś The Apple App Store reaches 25 billion downloads.
Tuesday, March 6 City officials announce plans for the first Southern Crossroads Music and Tamale Festival in August. â€Ś Ten states hold primary elections. This â€œSuper Tuesday,â€? 419 delegates are up for grabs. Presidential candidates need 1,144 delegates to secure their partyâ€™s nomination. Get news updates at jfpdaily.com.
SOURCE: U.S. DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO GERMANY
Cooper-Stokes Making Waves
by Jacob Fuller
ewly minted Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes walked into the City Council chambers at City Hall on Friday ready to make changes. The first thing she noticed was that council membersâ€™ chairs had been rearranged since her last visit. â€œItâ€™s counter-clockwise. Iâ€™m sitting in three. Iâ€™m not sitting counter-clockwise. Itâ€™s been clockwise for years,â€? Cooper-Stokes said of the seats, each marked with a name plaque. From left to right, the order was Ward 7, 6, 4, 5, 2 and 1, with an empty spot for Ward 3 between Councilman Tony Yarber of Ward 6 and Ward 4â€™s Frank Bluntson. â€œThis means, to me, weâ€™re turning back the clock,â€? Cooper-Stokes said. â€œI wonâ€™t have any part in this.â€? Even before Cooper-Stokesâ€™ swearingin, she was causing waves reminiscent of the countless her husband, Kenneth Stokes, sent through City Hall during his 22 years as Ward 3 Councilman. A fiery divide between Cooper-Stokes and Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell has become a hot debate. Whitwell told reporters the day before the Feb. 28 Ward 3 runoff election that he had heard of voter intimidation at some of the precincts during the special election Feb. 14. His comment caused an exchange between Cooper-Stokesâ€™ husband (now a Hinds County supervisor) and Whitwell in The Clarion-Ledger.
Wednesday, Feb. 29 Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and state Auditor Stacey Pickering sue Hinds County District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham. The suit alleges that Graham violated the law by submitting time sheets that show he worked for the city during the time he was running training classes for his company. â€Ś Davy Jones, former member of The Monkees, dies of a heart attack at age 66.
The Anti-Masonic party held the first presidential primary convention in Baltimore, Md., in 1831. The Anti-Masons were also the first third-party group and supposedly invented party platforms.
Developer Ted Duckworth is moving forward with plans for a new development. p9
Hinds County Judge Houston Patton administers the oath of office to Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes. Her husband, Hinds County Supervisor Kenneth Stokes, holds the Bible.
â€œIf I was trying to intimidate him, Iâ€™d come knock the (expletive) out of him,â€? Kenneth Stokes told reporters. â€œI donâ€™t have to make idle threats. A threat would be me putting my foot up his (expletive). That would be a threat.â€? Whitwell said there is no place for comments like that from public officials. â€œHis comments are shameful,â€? Whitwell told the Jackson Free Press Friday. â€œThey are an indicator of why we have a drying up pop-
ulation in this city. We need people who want to govern to make Jackson a better city.â€? Cooper-Stokesâ€™ swearing-in speech brought Whitwellâ€™s comments about the election back to the forefront. â€œAfter the unprecedented, unlawful and unrepentant interference to the runoff election process by a member of the Jackson City Council representing Ward 1 into the elecWAVES, see page 7
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Itâ€™s time to bring your spring wardrobe from where ever itâ€™s been hibernating, Jacksonians! When youâ€™re ready to add a few items to bring your look up to date, hereâ€™s a handy list for you.
â€˘ Patterned nails â€˘ Pencil skirts
â€˘ Colorful socks
â€˘ Ed Hardy
â€˘ Man bags
â€˘ Mom and dad jeans
â€˘ Accessories for men
â€˘ The dirty or grunge look
â€˘ Statement necklaces
â€˘ Your boyfriendâ€™s jeans
â€˘ Boyfriend jeans
â€˘ Anything with rhinestones
â€˘ Bold colors
â€˘ Being too matchy
â€˘ Denim shirts
â€˘ Low-cut jeans
â€˘ Buttoning the top button of your shirt/blouse
news, culture & irreverence
WAVES, from page 6
Cooper-Stokes said she plans to continue the role her husband played in the City Council. She said he taught her to be accessible, open and honest. â€œI have learned a lot from being beside my husband all these years,â€? she said. Several of the councilwomanâ€™s supporters spoke after her swearing-in. All used the platform to praise Cooper-Stokes, who has never held public office. Several also took the time to speak less-than favorably about Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and the City Council. Gilbert Sturgis, former at-large member of the Hinds County Planning Board and a community activist, said the mayor, who was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting at the White House, needs to stop bringing items to the council at the 11th hour. â€œThe mayor is not here,â€? Sturgis said. â€œThe mayor does not work with the City Council, and (Cooper-Stokes) knows that. She knows what she has to do. Iâ€™m going to continue to handle this mayor until he decides that the buck stops with this City Council.â€? Cooper-Stokes told reporters at City Hall on Friday that children will be her first priority as councilwoman. â€œI want to work closely with the schools in Ward 3,â€? she said. â€œI will begin to start to visit the schools and talk with the administrations to see how the City Council, and Ward 3 in particular, can help to keep our children in schools every day.â€? Cooper-Stokes concluded her speech by stating her support for economic development, calling her ward â€œgreatly advanced compared to other wards.â€? â€œWard 3 is officially open for business,â€? she said. The councilwoman began her term Monday. The Hinds County Circuit Court could overturn the Feb. 28 election based on Jacksonâ€™s election appeal, however. In that case, Ward 3 will have to hold a third election. Until then, Cooper-Stokes is moving forward. â€œThe race in Ward 3 will be run by relay, with God the Father in the first leg, Jesus Christ in the second leg, the Holy Spirit in the third leg, with LaRita Cooper-Stokes running in their footsteps,â€? she said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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tion affairs of Ward 3, LaRita Cooper-Stokes stands before you today as the Councilwoman of Ward 3,â€? Cooper-Stokes told the crowd. â€œShe got sworn in. She needs to focus on governing,â€? Whitwell said. â€œI look forward to working with her on the City Council.â€? The councilman defended his earlier statements, saying there was nothing unlawful about them. â€œIâ€™ve never accused any candidate of wrongdoing,â€? he said. â€œI have a duty, as do all elected officials, to make sure our election commission (is) properly staffed and properly trained. Itâ€™s well documented that I had problems in my election, and we had irregularities in those (Ward 3 elections).â€? Cooper-Stokes claims a reporter told her about Whitwellâ€™s statement on Feb. 27. â€œIt was solely unfounded, and Whitwell is a liar. And he has refused to apologize,â€? she said. Whitwell is not the only one claiming foul play at the Ward 3 polls. Cooper-Stokesâ€™ opponent in the runoff election, Joyce Jackson, filed an official election challenge with the Circuit Court March 2. â€œIâ€™m going to contest the entire election because it was too much fraud,â€? Jackson told the JFP earlier. She declined to comment further last Friday, saying only that her legal counsel advised her not to speak with the media before the court hearing. Jackson told the JFP Tuesday that her lawyer, John Reeves, had until Monday evening to file the appeal, but that to her knowledge, a court date had not been set. Cooper-Stokes defeated Jackson by 156 votes, double the 78 votes that the Hinds County website reported in its unofficial results on election night. While Jackson is claiming poll fraud in court, Kenneth Stokes said to supporters at his wifeâ€™s swearing-in that he made sure the votes werenâ€™t tampered with after the election. â€œWe rode around by the courthouse, trying to make sure they (were) not going to mess with that (ballot) box. And the door was open,â€? Stokes said. â€œSo we tried to shut the door, and we talked with the judge. We said: â€˜Judge, this courthouse door is open. Would you come lock it?â€™ This is true. And we locked that door. We ainâ€™t taking no chances.â€?
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New School Planned for West Jackson
lans for a new elementary school in west Jackson are nearing completion. The new school, which will be built at 1520 W. Capitol St., will replace Barr and Poindexter elementary schools. JH&H Architects, the firm that is designing the school, is planning a two-story building with 18 classrooms, a representative from the firm said at a January school board meeting. The plans also include computer labs, a media center with a reading room, playgrounds and art rooms. Pre-kindergarten through first-grade students will have classes on the ground floor, while second through fifth graders will have classes upstairs. Because the property has a steep slope down from the street, the architectsâ€™ plan includes two retaining walls to even out the land, one in front of the school and one at the back. Only the top floor of the school will be visible from the street. The new school will be built in the same area where Barr and Poindexter are now located, next to the Boys and Girls Club, and will serve about 400 students. The school will be named for Jessie Bryant Mosley, who helped save the historic Smith Robertson School from being torn down, and Edwin Mullen, a former teacher and Jackson Public Schools principal. The JPS board approved naming the new school in honor of Mosley and Mullen at a February meeting. In addition to serving as the first director of the Smith Robertson Museum,
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March 7 - 13, 2011
Hinds County has agreed to change the way Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center treats children housed at the facility.
Street Date: 3/14/12 Ad Deadline: 3/8/12
Plans for a new school on West Capitol Street call for large windows to let in natural light.
Mosley established a child-care center near Poindexter and Barr elementary schools. She also organized the National Council of Negro Women Inc. for Mississippi. She died in 2003 at age 99. Mullen was born in Grenada and served in the Army during World War II and the Korean War. He earned his bachelorâ€™s degree from Jackson State University and his masterâ€™s degree from the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Daisy, were both teachers. After retirement, he worked part time as coordinator of the parent center at Van Winkle Elementary School. He died last year at the age of 86. After his death, JPS issued a resolution mourning Mullenâ€™s passing.
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â€œMullen was a valued and treasured part of the Jackson Public School District Family, and his dedication, commitment and passion to teaching our children will undoubtedly leave a void,â€? the resolution states. At the boardâ€™s January meeting, board member Timothy Collins said it could help the area to have a brand new school built in the neighborhood. Otha Burton, who is also on the school board, said he thought that the project was one of the most exciting developments going on in west Jackson right now. After the design for the school is finalized, the board will put out a request for bids for the construction of the project. Comment at www.jfp.com.
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by Jacob Fuller
Developers plan to build The District at Eastover at the former location of the Mississippi School for the Blind off Interstate 55 after numerous delays.
deal to redevelop the old Mississippi School for the Blind site is finally coming to fruition. The District Land Development Company, through its manager Duckworth Realty, finalized a deal Feb. 24 with the State Department of Finance and Administration to purchase the property off Interstate 55 in north Jackson for $3.3 million. The deal has been in the works since 2006. It required state legislators to pass a bill in 2010 to allow Mississippi to sell the property. “That (bill) got changed three different times. It got vetoed by the governor one time,” said Ted Duckworth, president and CEO of Duckworth Realty. The bill that finally passed, House Bill 637, gave the state Department of Finance and Administration the rights to sell the property. The District Land Development Company’s payment for the land will go to the Mississippi School for the Blind, now located across Eastover Drive from its former location. On Monday, Duckworth said he was excited to finally purchase the property. The plans for The District at Eastover, at the corner of the Interstate 55 North Frontage Road and Eastover Drive, include 500,000 square feet of retail, hotel, restaurant, office and residential space, Duckworth said. The company will
build the project in phases, with construction of the first phase beginning in fall of this year. “We think it’s a four-to-seven-year buildout,” Duckworth said. “We think the first building will be delivered sometime in the summer of 2014.” Duckworth expects the completed District at Eastover to generate about 600 jobs and, potentially, about $1.9 million in annual revenue to the city and $4.9 million to the state. However, the biggest benefit for Jackson will come from retaining growth in the city, Duckworth said. Kevin J. Upchurch, executive director of the Department of Finance and Administration, agrees. “We believe that this project will spark tremendous economic development opportunities and growth for Jackson and Mississippi,” he said in a statement. “It is going to generate property taxes and sales taxes, but even bigger than that is really just the ability to be able to maintain some growth in the marketplace,” Duckworth said. “There’s been so much growth (outside Jackson). ... Had there been a site in the city, a lot of those things wouldn’t have occurred.” The District at Eastover has an advantage over suburban development, because the population is already close by. During the day, three times as many people live and work
within a five-minute drive of the location than in Ridgeland, Duckworth said. And the development will help keep the population in Jackson and give them a nearby place to go. Unlike some of the mixed-used developments in the suburbs, which provide little more to look at than concrete, brick and mortar, Duckworth said The District will keep many of the existing trees as part of green spaces for residents and visitors. “We just want to have that feel that this is a place where you want to go hang out,” Duckworth said. Chris Mims, director of communications for Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., said the city has been communicating with Duckworth Realty about the project for years. “Ted Duckworth is really a pioneer in mixed-used development here in the city of Jackson,” Mims said. “He worked on the Electric Building. It was an office building that he transformed into a mixed-used development that has apartments in the upper floors and now has a couple of restaurants located there.” Duckworth said he doesn’t expect any costs to the city for infrastructure changes, because the Interstate 55 Frontage Road and Eastover Drive provide plenty of street access to the property, and the property already has sufficient water and sewage access. While interest in the project has been stirring for years, Duckworth said that until it purchased the land, The District Land Development Company had nothing physical to offer potential partners. As such, it has yet to finalize building contractors, or hotel, restaurant, office and retail partnerships. The School for the Blind will use part of the sum paid for the land, $1.2 million, to build a storage and maintenance building on its current campus, located across Eastover Drive from its former campus, as well as a new residence for the school’s superintendent, Rosie L.T. Pridgen. The remainder of the $3.3 million will go into the School for the Blind Trust Fund. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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March 7 - 13, 2012
ft h he tt Solution, No
et’s take a little diversion from talking about hardware, software and tech companies this week. All the recent discussion about charter schools and virtual charter schools got me thinking about the role technology does and should play in education of our children. This is not a column about charter schools and whether or not they are the answer to what ails our public schools. Instead, it’s more to answer a question that has been rattling around in my ol’ noggin: Why has technology not been better used in our public schools? When you consider what technology has done in the business world over the last 50 years—heck, over the past 20 years— you have to wonder why our schools have not made the same type of advancements. The business world has become more efficient, and smaller businesses have been able to scale their operations faster. The ability to use talent from around the world in one operation is now commonplace thanks to email and Skype. Large file boxes and overstuffed satchels are no longer required to carry just about every file you need for a project. And meetings and presentations are now far more interactive and engaging than they once were. (OK, so most meetings are still boring and useless.) But our public schools? They are still using overhead projectors and writing on transparencies. They still consume reams and reams of paper every week. Students are still lugging heavy textbooks and having to make multiple trips to their lockers between classes. Why? Is it the failing of the schools? No. Not at all. It’s simply the result of the free market system. Businesses invest in technology at a much faster rate because it either saves them money or makes them more money. Either way, it affects the bottom line. For public schools, investment in technology costs money, and in Mississippi we’ve resisted paying any more money into our schools than absolutely necessary.
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Thankfully, some people and organizations are trying to do something about this. In Mississippi, we have the Barksdale Institute, which not only pushes education but also technological advancement. Then there are tech giants Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. Gates runs a foundation that, in addition to countless other humanitarian endeavors, seeks to place technology in schools.
For all of the talk about “running government as a business,” we have failed to do something very basic with the public schools. We have failed to look at how we can use technology to make education more efficient, more profitable and more successful. Mississippi needs to invest in a program to extend high-speed mobile and wireless Internet access throughout every part of our state. This is the first step. We are better off than some critics say, but we are nowhere near well off enough to do what we need to do for our schools. The state also needs to look now at how we can put iPads and laptops into the hands of every student and teacher. This is a Tools like the SmartBoard Interactive Whiteboard make education fun. hefty investment, but the payoffs Jobs was a champion of education, and are huge. It provides a tremendous advanpart of his vision for Apple—and especially tage for teachers to be able to interact with the iPad—was the role they could play in their students in the classroom setting. (I’m education. Thus, his last, greatest achieve- not advocating that these machines necesment may have been this year’s earlier an- sarily go home. Some schools with similar nouncement about textbooks coming to pilot programs in other states and Canada the iPad. Not only will they be dynamic, keep the machines in-house.) these textbooks will cost a fraction of what To do this, we need to partner with their paper-product counterparts cost. private benefactors who will help achieve Apple, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Google this goal. It can’t be done overnight, and it and other tech companies also offer steep can’t be done all at once. But by partnering discounts and donate hardware to schools with private industries, we can move forand educators. ward faster. Sadly, this is not enough. For all that Some public schools have done very Barksdale, Gates, Jobs and others have well with technology, but the state cannot done, it is still not enough. Until the state boast a universal approach to using technolof Mississippi decides it is time to invest ogy to make major changes at the classroom heavily into upgrading the technological level. Teachers want this change. Students infrastructure of our public schools, then would welcome this change. And Missiswe will continue to lag behind. sippi would benefit from this change.
8:30 a.m. A Service of Word and Table
opining, grousing & pontificating
Stop the City Council Game-Playing
ere we go again. When the Jackson Free Press started 10 years ago, the City Council members from Ward 1 (Ben Allen) and Ward 3 (Kenneth Stokes) were constantly at each other’s throats. It wasn’t an intellectual disagreement with occasional laughs; they made the city look like a laughing stock with their constant insults of each other. Now both men are gone—but are replaced by surrogates, so to speak. The Ward 1 councilman is now Quentin Whitwell, a lobbyist Allen supported in his bid for the seat. And Stokes’ wife, LaRita Cooper-Stokes, has taken his place. Many people had feared that Cooper-Stokes would be a repeat of her husband—not showing up for work sessions, mouthing off about fellow council members, and spending valuable council time renaming bridges and roads (not a bad thing, as long as other city work is getting done as well). We did not endorse her—she wouldn’t even return calls for her campaign Q&A—but we did hope that she might show up and prove herself to be the better half of the duo. Instead, she immediately brought drama to council, complaining about the chair placement on her first day (see Jacob Fuller’s report, pp. 6-7). And as if it’s 2002 all over again, the Ward 1 councilman has jumped out front as another Stokes’ most vocal (and insulting) critic. In her first week, the two have traded embarrassing barbs—and even probably given some residents in each ward more reasons to feel divided from the people in the other one. This isn’t helpful, and we cannot afford such petty games in Jackson. It’s one thing to disagree, and another to sound like it’s a scuffle at recess. And while we agree with some of Whitwell’s concerns—like that of any elected official, Stokes should actually attend the work sessions—it’s not like he doesn’t have skeletons in his own closet. As a lobbyist, Whitwell has supported payday lenders in their efforts to keep making massive money off many of our poorest communities, such as parts of Councilwoman Cooper-Stokes’ ward. That is, it’s not like Whitwell needs to be throwing stones from his own glass house, even if it is a local sport for people in his ward to belittle a Stokes. Enough already. We need an adult City Council going forward—which includes members who come to all the meetings and take the process seriously. We urge Cooper-Stokes to show us a new level of representation for Ward 3 and urge Whitwell to re-examine his friendly stance beliefs toward enterprises that bring serious problems that plague Cooper-Stokes’ district.
Movement for Education
March 7 - 13, 2012
he link from education to the economy, health and crime is easy to see, and Blueprint Mississippi 2011 makes this compelling case with fresh data. As a teacher at one of Jackson’s public high schools, I work mostly with lowincome students, and I believe education is the best way to intercept the cycle of poverty. Yet even innovative policy solutions will only make incremental change without the grassroots support of the communities they seek to serve. By looking for answers in education, we are counting on students to lift our communities and our economy. In the face of economic and social obstacles, this is a hefty burden for an adolescent to carry. If they are to succeed, students need support and guidance from day one. The Jackson Free Press pointed out that children need preparation even before kindergarten. This should include not just a large vocabulary, but also behavioral, emotional and moral instruction. Students like mine may not get such instruction at home. It truly takes a village. Regardless of whether there are two, one or no parents around, children of all ages need to see strong role models in their community. These role models must be in school, in church, in businesses and on the streets. In teaching, we say “show, don’t tell.” For students to know what they are capable of, we must show them what people who share their skin color and gender and who came from their neighborhood have accomplished. Too often, this message of empowerment is drowned out by violent, materialistic and divisive distractions. Many organizations, like the United Way and Young Life, already work with students to pave their road to success, but the kids only benefit if they choose to engage. With so much riding on our students’ choices, Jackson needs a united, grassroots movement that can reach every child. This movement will invoke the key to Janice Parker’s life story: “leading by example.” It will show children, from day one, what they are capable of achieving and how to achieve it. —Alexander Barrett 12 Jackson
Bring Net Metering to Mississippi
ississippi is on the verge of being the last state in the union to adopt a netmetering policy. I have tried for about two years to bring the topic of net metering to the attention and action of our state legislators. Others in our state have been trying longer than I have. I have repeatedly contacted Sen. W. Briggs Hopson III, R-Vicksburg, Rep. George Flaggs Jr., D-Vicksburg, and Rep. Alex Monsour, RVicksburg, who represent my county of residence, Warren County. Sen. Hopson is the only one who has ever responded, but he showed no interest in pushing or supporting net metering. If you are not familiar with net metering, consider learning more about it. Briefly, net metering requires public electricity providers, like Entergy, to credit customers’ accounts if the customers generate their own electricity. The energy provider is required to allow customers to connect and send their excess electricity into the grid. By adopting a net-metering policy, the state could open job opportunities to small Mississippi companies at no taxpayer cost. A net-metering policy does not require interest-free state loans to out-of-state companies for unproven technologies, as has been done recently with KiOR. A net-metering policy merely requires action by the Public Service Commission and the state Legislature. Almost all other states are already taking ad-
vantage of net metering. For families and small businesses nationwide, solar power is the most popular renewable energy, and solar-power panel systems are readily available in almost all states. Mississippi stands out—along with Tennessee, South Dakota and Washington, D.C.—as a state without a net-metering policy. Louisiana and Arkansas, both Entergy customers, have such policies, and Entergy customers there can have netmetering systems installed and receive credit for the electricity they produce. Because Mississippi is so late to adopt a net-metering policy, the state can learn from all the other states’ actions to develop the best possible net-metering policy. Net metering is old technology now. The Monroe, La., area has at least four solar-power providers. Small businesses in Mississippi could immediately move into the growing market of solar and wind energy if the state would adopt a net-metering policy. In addition to my local state leaders, I have (over the past two years) contacted MPB, Jackson TV stations and The Clarion-Ledger regarding net metering. However, my attempts to bring net metering to the public view have failed. I hope that the Jackson Free Press can bring net metering to the public attention, and that people will ask their state officials to develop the best net-metering policy in the nation. W.D. Corson Vicksburg
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ow ironic that Mississippiâ€™s capital city is named after Andrew Jackson. Last month, state Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, introduced a bill that would do precisely what Andrew Jackson feared lawmakers might try. Gipsonâ€™s personhood resolution, and another like it in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, would once again ask voters in Mississippi to place an amendment in the state constitution that defines life as beginning at conception. If we put aside the feelings we all have on abortion, I think we can agree that this maneuver is odious. Andrew Jackson believed that the people of the United States were the final authority on any issue. He went so far as to argue that federal judges should be elected and that the Electoral College be eliminated. He definitely believed that once the people spoke on an issue, the decision was final. Jackson was wrong about a lot of things, but he was never more right about anything than the meaning of republicanism. Under our form of government, whether certain interest groups like it or not, once the people have spoken on an issue, it is decided. Recently, however, a radical minority of Republicans has brought our entire concept of government under fire. Whether it was the various legal attempts to invalidate the 2008 election of Barack Obama through the courts or the decision to play legislative chicken with the nationâ€™s credit-card bills, this radical minority has cared little for the will of the majority. The issue of personhood, which has never in the history of the United States been considered prior to the last few years, is the newest front in the attack on republicanism. Whether or not we support abortion, I certainly hope all Americans support a republican form of government. In fact, the document that the radical minority cites so often, the Constitution, guarantees it. For what itâ€™s worth, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, because no one opposed it in 1787. The Founding Fathers believed abortion was acceptable until a woman could feel the child moving in her womb. Thankfully, Gipson and Fillingane are a lot smarter than George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Sure, Gipson will claim that his proposed amendment is substantially different from the one soundly rejected by voters in November. He is wrong. The proposed amendment contains several ad-
ditional clauses, none of which would effectively address the fundamental issues in the original. Local police will still be forced to investigate every miscarriage to determine if it was truly â€œunintended,â€? and zealous prosecutors looking to make themselves stars in the radical wing of the Republican Party will surely prosecute. The newly proposed amendments are nothing more than an insult to the educated and well-intentioned voters of Mississippi. Requiring another vote on an issue that was already soundly defeated is a clear attempt to subvert the sacrosanct will of the electorate. It seems that Andy Gipson and Joey Fillingane want to replace that will with their own. Why do these men feel they know better than Mississippians what is good for us? More importantly, why do they feel they know better than women what is good for them? As weâ€™ve seen at the hearings on birth control held recently in the U.S. House of Representatives, the voices of women have been excluded. Why would these men continue to add fire to the war on women that the radical wing of the Republican Party is pushing? I, for one, am certain that it comes down to dominance. For reasons I cannot understand, the thought of independent women frighten these menâ€”and the radical minority they represent. Perhaps it stems from their religious beliefs. I will likely never know, but wherever it comes from, it is a 19th-century belief that must be purged. We live in a world where a woman is the U.S. secretary of state, where women sit on the Supreme Court and run Fortune 500 companies. They sure as hell can choose their method of birth control. If they take this right away from women of Mississippi, what else does the radical minority want to take away? Should the women of Mississippi be relegated to being pastorsâ€™ wives or church secretaries? I hope Andy Gipson and Joey Fillingane are willing to engage in an open and fair conversation about these issues. After all, they are obviously smarter men than George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson. What can they have to fear by addressing the women of Mississippi? Brian McGowan is an assistant professor of history at a local college. Contrary to popular opinion, he moved to Mississippi from his home state of New Jersey because of the weather, not Snooki.
Recently, a radical minority of Republicans has brought our entire concept of government under fire.
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BRIAN M. MCGOWAN
The JFP Interview:
Rep. Bennie Thompson Pulls Rank by R.L. Nave
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson talks about the role of men at Central United Methodist Church in Jackson.
March 7 - 13, 2012
what he characterizes as a full-throated effort by the region’s powerful white political and business establishment to keep Delta residents poor and uneducated to maintain a supply of dirt-cheap labor. Thompson names Greenville, the Delta’s largest city, as a symbol of that decline. Nevertheless, he believes that other Delta cities such as Clarksdale and Cleveland are primed for economic growth. Coincidentally, Greenville just also happens to be the city where Heather McTeer, his opponent in the March 13 Democratic primary, served two terms as mayor. “Far as I can tell, my opponent’s a good person,” he said of McTeer, adding that he appeared in television commercials supporting McTeer during both her mayoral campaigns. The Jackson Free Press sat down with the congressman in his office in sleepy downtown Bolton to talk about his path to power, economic development in the 2nd Congressional District and Mississippi politics. You used to teach high school? When I finished Tougaloo (College), I taught school for two years. What did you teach? Social studies. I have a political science undergraduate degree and, basically, I became politically active my first year in teaching. Why was that? Because that was the year a lot of the civ-
il-rights emphasis in Mississippi was in getting African Americans elected to public office. The municipal elections were in 1969, but in ‘68 I was teaching in Franklin County, Mississippi, and coming home on the weekends. Was this a segregated school? Oh, yeah. The schools were technically were desegregated in Mississippi in January 1970. We had what was commonly referred to as a freedom of choice, but that was a joke. Black kids chose to go to some of the white schools, but very few white kids chose to go to the black schools, so that was a farce. It ultimately went to busing, and when busing came
ennie G. Thompson has worked for the government his whole life. Born and raised in the small town of Bolton, located 20 miles west of Jackson, he worked as a high school civics teacher before becoming the first black mayor of his majority-black hometown where he still lives today. From there, Thompson joined the Hinds County Board of Supervisor where he served for 13 years when won a special election to fill then-U.S. Rep. Mike Espy’s seat in Congress in 1993. In that time, the Democratic Party to which Thompson belongs has been in the majority for a total of six years. Still, eight terms and three presidential administrations later, Thompson, who served as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee the last time Democrats held power in the House, from 2007 to 2011, wants to return to Washington, D.C., for a ninth term. As a member of Congress, he sees his role as a conduit for grants and other kinds of support, but he is frustrated that cities and counties in his district don’t always take full advantage of federal cash. “I’ve run a city, and I’ve run a county. At the federal level, I know the resources to bring to areas if those areas choose to want them,” said 64-year-old Thompson. The congressman points to the Mississippi Delta, which comprises the largest portion 14 of his district in terms of area, as a crushed by
along the growth of the segregated private schools started. I ran in 1969 for the board of aldermen here. How old were you at the time? Twenty, and I turned 21 before I took office. I served four years on the board of aldermen here, and that was part of our effort to try to work with the community. There were five aldermen. We thought taking three would give us a working majority then the mayor and town clerk would still be white. But it didn’t work out. Those four years, not much was done because the mayor has veto power and it would
Name: Bennie G. Thompson Age: 64 Born: Bolton, Miss. Residence: Bolton, Miss. Family: Wife, London Thompson; One daughter, BendaLonne; two grandchildren Employment: Teacher, Alderman and Mayor, Bolton Hinds County Supervisor, U.S. Representative (1993-present) Currently: Ranking Member, House Homeland Security Committee
THOMPSON, see page 16
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