Thursday, April 26 The Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art
Come early and stay late. Benefitting the Children and Families of Operation Shoestring
7:30 until performance by The Vamps
5:30 until 7:30pm performance by Eric Stracener & The Frustrations Southern Beverage Company
Thanks to our sponsors for making these events possible.
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April 18 - 24, 2012
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Steen, Dalehite & Pace, LLP
Free Admission, Cash Bar
April 18 - 24, 2012
1 0 N O . 32
contents COURTESY RL NAVE
6 Rose-Colored Specs Mississippi’s Republican leaders paint a pretty picture of the state’s future in health care and energy. COURTESY NIMBLE, INC.
Cover photograph by Jacob Fuller
Even if you don’t have a sales team, 21st-century Customer Relationship Managers are a must. COURTESY VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
nikisha ware dren ready for kindergarten with the premise that “parents are the child’s first teachers.” The institute is funded through grants from various organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education, the Barksdale Reading Institute and, most recently, the Kellogg Foundation. Ware lives in Jackson with her family, who she calls “The Kings,” explaining that they are all named for biblical kings. She and her husband, Dr. David Ware (an associate professor of music at JSU from Anguilla, Miss.), adopted their first son and named him Solomon, and when their youngest son was born, they named him Asa. “As an educator who loves Jackson, I recognize that it has everything: a law school, a medical school, wonderful public schools, great four-year institutions, (and) historical and state-of-the-art museums,” she says. Ware also sees areas where the city can improve. “Jackson needs leadership in all aspects and in all levels of government—leadership matters,” she says. “Lead from where you are. You don’t have to be the police chief to make your streets safe. Policing is a community job. Supporting your community is your job. Finding and supporting the right candidate is your job.” When considering elected leaders, she is quite blunt: Bring excellence; “otherwise, we are going to free up your future.” —Richard Coupe
21 Rhymin’ Men The poets of Suite 106 talk about why poetry matters and what makes it important to them.
32 Nyuck, Nyuck “The Three Stooges” brings classic vaudeville and top-notch physical comedy back to the silver screen.
There are clichés for a reason, and Dr. Nikisha G. Ware, the executive director of the Mississippi Learning Institute is an example of one: Dynamite comes in small packages. The 4foot-9 diminutive mother of two is a bundle of articulate, expressive energy that radiates with enthusiasm and intelligence. The 38-year-old Jackson native—“my mother still lives on the same street where I grew up,” she says—has a bright and easy smile. Ware graduated from Murrah High School in 1991 and attended Tougaloo College on a piano scholarship, graduating in 1995. She taught choir in several of Mississippi’s public schools and will start teaching her own children piano this summer. (They are already learning the trumpet from their father.) Ware received a master’s in music education from Florida State University in 1998 and a doctorate in community college leadership from Mississippi State University in 2010. At the Mississippi Learning Institute, located on the Jackson State University campus, Ware leads Mississippi’s only partnership between a public school system and a university. This partnership provides professional training and development to teachers in the areas of reading, literacy and instructional strategies to improve student learning. The institute recently expanded and is providing training that helps families in the Washington Addition neighborhood get chil-
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4 ..............Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 ............................ Talk 11 ........................ Tech 12 ................... Editorial 12 .... Editorial Cartoon 12 .................. Kamikaze 13 ................. Opinion 14 ............ Cover Story 21 .............. Diversions 28 .................... 8 Days 30 ...................... Music 33 ............. JFP Events 36 ..................... Sports 38 ....................... Food 40 ................ Astrology 41 ........... Life & Style 45 ................ Parenting 46 ......... Fly/Shopping
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Jacob Fuller Reporter Jacob Fuller is a former student at Ole Miss. When not reporting, he splits his time between playing music and photographing anything in sight. He covers the city for the JFP. He wrote the cover story.
Andrea Thomas Advertising designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time.
Robbie S. Ward Journalist Robbie S. Ward has a master’s in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University and created the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival in Starkville. He blogs at starkvillecityjail.com. He wrote an arts feature.
Nicole Sheriff Nicole Sheriff is from Madison but has lived everywhere from Colorado to Michigan since she graduated from college. Her life experiences have inspired most of her writing, and she shows no signs of slowing down. She wrote a music feature.
Alonzo Lewis II Alonzo Lewis II is a native of Coila. He started cooking at the age of 5. He writes for The Examiner and owns Coila’s Crossroads Bistro where the motto is “Food so good that it will make your tongue slap your brains out.” He wrote a food feature.
Jim PathFinder Ewing Jim PathFinder Ewing is a writer and organic farmer formerly with The Clarion-Ledger. He has written five books on energy medicine and eco-spirituality published in five languages. He lives in Lena with his wife, Annette, on their ShooFly Farm.
Kelly Bryan Smith Kelly Bryan Smith is a mom, writer, brain tumor survivor and nursing student living with her son in Fondren. She enjoys healthy cooking, swimming, reading and collecting pastel blue eggs from her backyard chickens. She wrote the parenting column.
April 18 - 24, 2012
Web producer Korey Harrion is a saxophonist who runs a small computer-repair business. He enjoys reading, writing and playing music, origami and playing video games. He loves animals, especially dogs.
by Ronni Mott, Managing Editor
The Wonder of it All
n the early 1960s, Mama and Papa leased an old, rundown gas station in Liberty, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, and spent every weekend of one winter and spring converting the property into our summer “retreat.” We lived in Brooklyn at the time, but my parents were determined to get my sisters and me out of the city as much as possible, especially during the summer. The office they turned into a room for my grandmother. Walling off about seven or eight feet in the back of the auto bay, they put in a kitchen and sleeping quarters. Papa built a sleeping loft and painted it red. That’s where my sister, Inga, and I slept foot to foot above our parent’s bed below. The main bay became the “Pastel Beauty Salon,” where my mother spent three summers doing hair for the city ladies who summered at Brown’s Hotel up the hill and at other nearby resorts (think “Dirty Dancing”). On weekends, my father made the trip from the city to be with the family. My oldest sister, Lisa, took a job at a nearby horse farm, leading trail rides and grooming the horses. Inga and I hung out with the hotel workers’ kids during the day, roaming the countryside in little packs with our dogs, playing make-believe and picking wild strawberries from the fields and raspberries from hedge-row brambles. We swam in the hotel pool while the guests ate dinner. The best days, though, were Lisa’s days off from the farm. She would wake me before dawn to go to the woods. In the cool, early morning fog, our footsteps silenced by moss, we’d explore. Lisa would lift a log to show me all the bugs and worms that lived there. She put caterpillars in my hand, and I giggled as they tickled their way up my arm. We’d take off our shoes and stand in a shallow stream to feel tiny fishes nibble at the air bubbles caught in the little hairs on our legs. We froze in place not to scare a fawn or to let a sleepy garter snake cross our path. We were great hunters of the elusive red eft, a quick little juvenile salamander with bright, red-orange skin. The efts hid from the mid-day heat under rocks and moss. Dawn was the only time they came out. When the family moved to a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., outdoors was where all the kids hung out. We caught crawfish and minnows in a creek and once rescued a drowning bird. One day I wore as a corsage a blue butterfly that landed on my T-shirt. We never went far without permission, and as long as we were home by dark, Mama didn’t worry. Personal computers and video games were still a few decades away. TV was a special treat reserved for Sunday night, for “Walt Disney,” “Bonanza” and the “Ed Sullivan Show.” I grew up curious and unafraid of the natural world. That curiosity extended to the books I read and the subjects I loved in school. It also made me fearless when it came to trying new things—unless it involved heights. Boredom was not an issue when I had the whole world to explore. I was connected to nature
then, and I have never lost my awe for her. On the first Earth Day in 1972, my friends and I walked the roughly two miles to and from school without a second thought for the distance. We weren’t afraid to cross yards and busy streets. Instinctively, we understood the importance of making our small stand for the earth. We pored over the “Whole Earth Catalog,” a heady combination of counter culture and back-to-the-land ethos that put forth the revolutionary idea—to us at least—-that we are all one, made of the same cosmic stuff and part of the same grand universe. Kids don’t grow up that way any more, of course. In an age when children have cell phones and computers, the connections they make lean toward the virtual. Parents are uneasy letting their kids out in what they perceive to be a dangerous world, confirmed by breathy horror reports on the nightly news. Instead of the outdoors, kids find amusement in bits and pixels. Technology is awe-inspiring. Nature is an abstraction outside the window of the SUV, especially when you’re lucky enough to have a DVD player with the latest movie to watch instead of interacting or—heaven forbid—looking at the world going by. I think we’ve lost a lot in the transition. In 2005, Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in “Last Child in the Woods” (Algonquin Books, updated 2008, $14.95). Research shows that we may actually need our connection to nature, Louv says. “The postmodern notion that reality is only a construct—that we are what we program—suggests limitless human possibilities; but as the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, physiologically and psychologically, and this reduces the richness of human experi-
ence,” Louv writes. “Yet, at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways. Several of these studies suggest that thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can even be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorders and other maladies. As one scientist puts it, we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature.” Independent research supports Louv’s premise. Kids who grow up getting dirty and interacting with animals have stronger immune systems, for example, and fewer chronic illnesses such as asthma. They also learn that taking care of the Earth and all of its inhabitants is real and necessary. In this issue, we welcome Jim PathFinder Ewing to the Jackson Free Press. Among Jim’s expertise is organics, and his inaugural column traces the organics movement from its origins in the 1960s. Growing and eating local foods is so much healthier—for us and the earth— than what we’ve become accustomed to. Also in this issue, long-time JFP freelancer and nature lover Kelly Bryan Smith introduces her parenting column with a piece about camping with kids. It’s all connected. Love and reverence for the earth grows when we nurture it. Without a sense of awe for nature, we’re all a little poorer, and everything is a lot less bright and healthy. April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Make it a day to celebrate, to remember where we came from and how we’re connected. The natural world is a wonder and a mystery, as are we all.
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About 35 to 40 percent of all police chases result in crashes, according to University of South Carolina criminal justice professor Geoffrey Alpert.
Gov. Bryant says small business regs are bad, then heaps regulations on the stateâ€™s small abortion clinic. p 9
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, April 12 George Zimmerman makes his first court appearance in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Prosecutors have charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. â€Ś Brandonâ€™s Skylar Laine survives another week on American Idol. Friday, April 13 North Korea launches a long-range rocket over the Yellow Sea in what it calls a peaceful attempt to send an observation satellite into space. U.S. officials say the launch is a test of technology that could be used to fire a nuclear warhead. â€Ś Officials accuse two men in Tulsa, Okla., of murder and hate crimes for a shooting spree in a predominately black neighborhood. Saturday, April 14 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drinks and dances at a club in Columbia toward the end of the Summit of the Americas. â€Ś Five people die in a tornado in Oklahoma. Sunday, April 15 Memorial services mark the 100-year anniversary of the Titanicâ€™s sinking. â€Ś â€œQueens of Country,â€? directed by Ryan Page, wins the award for Best Feature Narrative at the Crossroads Film Festival.
April 18 - 24, 2012
Monday, April 16 Gov. Phil Bryant signs an anti-abortion bill designed to regulate the stateâ€™s only abortion clinic out of business. â€Ś Attorney General Jim Hoodâ€™s office reaches a $4-million settlement in the case involving a failed beef plant that was built with state-backed loans.
Tuesday, April 17 Congressional Republicans propose cuts to food stamps and grants to fund social services like day care in an attempt to reduce the deficit. â€Ś Millions of Americans face the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
GOP Touts Biz Moves
by R.L. Nave
hat essentially became a pep rally for Mississippiâ€™s economic future last Thursday began with a parade. â€œIf you want to be a leader, just find a parade and jump in front of it,â€? quipped Jim Barksdale last week to a gathering of business professionals and civic leaders in Jackson. Barksdale is interim executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. The â€œparadesâ€? Barksdale named are health care and energy, two industries for which Gov. Phil Bryant has been cheerleading. The governor said he believes they are the two best bets to attract new capital investment to grow Mississippiâ€™s economy in a hurry. On April 12, Bryantâ€™s administration introduced a 100-member economic development council called Mississippi Works. â€œHealth care is an industry of necessity,â€? Bryant told the crowd, rattling off figures about the nationâ€™s aging population and numbers on health-care revenues. The same could be said about the stateâ€™s energy economy. Bryantâ€”and Barksdaleâ€”again parroted the findings of the Fraser Institute, a Canadian public-policy think tank, which last year called Mississippi the worldâ€™s most attractive place for oil and gas investment. Certainly, Mississippi citizensâ€™ myriad health-care needs and relatively untapped natural-gas reserves present plenty of room for economic growth, but competition remains
Wednesday, April 11 Secret Service and military personnel bring prostitutes to a hotel in Columbia, investigators say. At least 20 personnel are suspected of misconduct. â€Ś Teachers, parents an other community members hear from the two finalists for Jackson Public Schools superintendent at a community forum.
Jim Barksdale, interim executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, said Mississippi must improve its K-12 education system.
stiff across the nation for places to build new health-care and energy facilities. In addition to pushing through energy and health care legislation key to Bryantâ€™s jobs program legislators recently voted to allow the permanent MDA directorâ€™s salary to be substantially higher than the governorâ€™s. Currently, state law permits the MDA to earn 150 percent of the governorâ€™s $122,160 salary, or $183,240. Under the bill, private donations
could supplement the salary further. Supporters of the move argued that the state lost several candidates for the MDA gig to other southeastern states who could afford to pay a lot more. The pay schemeâ€™s supporters include Barksdaleâ€”whose yearly compensation totals $1 as did that of his predecessor, Leland Speedâ€”and Republican lawmakers. GOP, see page 7
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for the Secret Service
s headlines about President Barack Obamaâ€™s recent Colombia trip suggest, consorting with prostitutes in your government-paid hotel room is something you probably shouldnâ€™t do as a Secret Service agent protecting the leader of the free world. Here are some others: â€˘ Hang out with blogger Hillary Rosen â€˘ Run a phone bank for Mitt Romneyâ€™s presidential campaign â€˘ Scalp season tickets to Chicago Cubs games (POTUS is a White Sox fan) â€˘ Operate an eBay store devoted to selling Michelle Obamaâ€™s â€œmisplacedâ€? cardigans â€˘ Make â€œSh*t My Boss Saysâ€? online videos â€˘ Fill out your taxes according to Herman Cainâ€™s 99-9 plan â€˘ Organize a Klan rally â€˘ Talk to Joe Biden anywhere near a live microphone
news, culture & irreverence
GOP, from page 6
â€œItâ€™ll work out fine; just trust me,â€? Barksdale told an MEC audience in response to the concerns, mostly from legislative Democrats. Not sure about how well the arrangement would work, Democrats argued instead for raising the MDA directorâ€™s salary to be more competitive instead of adopting the private donations provision, which they asserted could open the door to cronyism and corruption and pit richer areas of the state that can afford to put more into the salary pool against poor regions. â€œWhen you see a snake slithering through the legislative chamber, the best thing to do is shoot that mother,â€? said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, during the spirited floor debate. â€œThere are snakes in this bill.â€? Once a permanent MDA director is in placeâ€”which Barksdale predicts should be in a few weeks, according to Mississippiâ€™s top legislative leadersâ€”the rest of future of Mississippiâ€™s economy looks bright. That is, as soon as we set up charter schools, eliminate abortion, get rid of the undocumented immigrants and take away Attorney General Jim Hoodâ€™s power to hear the Republicans who addressed MEC tell it.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, the first Republican to hold the chair since Reconstruction, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves also gave assessments of the stateâ€™s economy from their vantages in the House and Senate, respectively. When Gunn rose to speak about the Legislatureâ€™s accomplishments, the first item he addressed was the passage of the so-called Sunshine Act, which he said made the state more business friendly by adding transparency to the process the attorney generalâ€™s office uses to subcontract work to outside lawyers. Gunn did not, however, mention in his speech that the bill, which passed both houses, gives state agency heads discretion to hire outside firms whenever they feel like it. Despite arguments from Hood that the move could cost the state millions in additional legal fees, the Republican leadership, which has been trying to rein in Hoodâ€™s power for years, rammed the bill through the Legislature. Hood is the only Democrat in statewide office, and the state attorney generalâ€™s office typically handles all the stateâ€™s legal matters. More relevant to business, Gunn also touted dismantling the stateâ€™s inventory tax and changing the workersâ€™ compensation system, which he said removes an unfair ad-
Jackson vs. Cooper-Stokes, Round 3 JACOB FULLER
Joyce Jackson looks over notes from her Circuit Court appeal of the Feb. 28 runoff election for Ward 3 City Councilmember.
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vantage workers had over the people who sign their paychecks. Reeves, who presides over the state Senate, focused his remarks on education, particularly consolidating school districts in Sunflower and Bolivar counties and on the effort to bring charter schools to Mississippi. â€œWeâ€™re committed to investing in the current public-education system,â€? as well, Reeves said. He noted that in the Senateâ€™s version of the budget, $30 million more was allocated to education over last year, the first time for any year-over-year increase in five years. The lieutenant governor also vowed to â€œright-sizeâ€? state government, referring to early attempts to strip state workers of personnelboard protections for two years, which would allow department heads to fire workers at will. Because the House amended the Senateâ€™s version to reinstate workersâ€™ due-process rights, Reeves said he would continue to work at it through the appropriations process. Barksdale, who recently gave $100 million for literacy programs in Mississippi, ended with a warning. â€œWe have to improve our K-12 education system in this state, or we will always be in trouble,â€? Barksdale said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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by Elizabeth Waibel
Anti-Abortion â€˜TRAPâ€™ Law Part of Nationwide Trend TRAP laws target abortion regulations only apply to aborfacilities rather than patients tion facilities, however. by adding requirements to Under state law and inabortion providers, facilities cluded in HB 1390, clinics are and clinics that do not apply only considered abortion fato physicians who perform cilities if they are separate from other surgeries. any other health-care facility Mississippi is not the and if they perform 10 or more only state that requires aborabortions in a month or 100 or tion providers to have local more abortions in a year. hospital admitting priviDiane Derzis, who owns leges. A law with similar the Jackson Womenâ€™s Health requirements passed in IndiOrganization, the stateâ€™s only ana last year, and Tennessee abortion clinic, has told other lawmakers are considering a media outlets that she intended Mississippiâ€™s new law targeting the Jackson Womenâ€™s Health bill that would require phyto sue if the bill became law. Organization is part of a national â€œTRAPâ€? law trend. sicians who perform aborShe was not available for comtions to have hospital priviment at press time. The new leges in either the home or adjacent county Gov. Tate Reeves, have said it will effec- abortion law comes months after voters reof the woman seeking an abortion. tively end abortion in Mississippi by clos- jected an anti-abortion effort last fall. Supporters of the law, including Lt. ing the stateâ€™s only abortion clinic. The new Comment at jfp.ms. VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
he governor signed the first major piece of anti-abortion legislation into law this yearâ€”a measure designed to close the stateâ€™s only abortion clinic. Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1390, which puts restrictions on abortion facilities, into law yesterday. The new law requires all physicians associated with abortion clinics to have staff and admitting privileges at a local hospital. They must also be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and a staff member trained in CPR must always be present when the facility is open. Abortion-rights supporters sometimes refer to laws like HB 1390 as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers or TRAP laws. Rather than trying to restrict abortion by challenging Roe v. Wade or by adding waiting periods, parental consent laws and bans on late-term abortions,
3TATE .O FOR 4EEN 0REGNANCY ELIZABETH WAIBEL
Monica Cannon says that regardless of which sexeducation policy JPS adopts, the community should play a role in making sure students get research-based information about sex.
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Legislature: Week 15
by R.L. Nave
No More Regs, Except ...
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Phil Bryant, campaigning for governor last year, promised to review regulations that might hurt small businesses.
hood Campaign of last fall, characterized the legislation as a way to â€œensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi.â€? In late March, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves heralded its Senate passage. â€œWe are very close to ending abortion in Mississippi,â€? Reeves said. The clinic could sue to block the law, which would restrict access to abortions in Mississippi, possibly in violation of Roe vs. Wade.
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Charters Stalled As of press time Tuesday evening, the Mississippi had not considered HB 1152, the charter schools bill. When the Senate bill met defeat in a House committee in the form of five Republicans, Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, tucked the language into another bill, bypassing the committee process. However, with the GOPâ€™s thin House majority, passage is no guarantee, especially if the holdouts remain firm in their opposition. Bryant has threatened to call a special session in event Legislature refuses to pass a charter schools bill. Changes at Walnut Grove Tuesday, the House concurred on a bill to transfer young prisoners out of the privately run Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which was at the center of a federal lawsuit and settlement over allegations of abuse. The plan calls for moving inmates from other Mississippi prisons to Walnut Grove and moving the youths at Walnut Grove to Rankin County, where the state-run Central Mississippi Correctional Facility operates. House Corrections Committee Chair George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, said the Rankin County site is â€œnot in close proximityâ€? to the state prison, however. Get breaking news updates at jfpdaily. com. Subscribe free.
Burdensome Regulation One Mississippi small business Bryant and other legislative leaders donâ€™t mind heaping onerous regulations upon is the Jackson Womenâ€™s Health Organization, the stateâ€™s only state licensed abortion clinic. On April 16, Bryant signed a bill that would require every doctor associated with an abortion facility to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The bill would also require those physicians to be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and a staff member trained in CPR would have to be at the facility at all times. Supporters of the measure, HB 1390, made no secret of the billâ€™s intent. Gov. Phil Bryant, who co-chaired the failed Person-
uring his 2011 campaign for governor, Phil Bryant promised that, if elected, his administration would closely scrutinize state regulations on small companies. â€œIâ€™m going to look at every regulatory agency in the state, and if that regulation is hurting businesses, weâ€™re going to see if we canâ€™t do something about it,â€? Bryant said at the Mississippi Economic Councilâ€™s annual â€œhobnobâ€? in November. Speaking to another MEC gathering last week, Bryant applauded what he considers a step in that direction in the Legislatureâ€™s passage of the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act. The thrust of the proposal, which passed the House last week 114-7 and cleared the Senate in March without a single dissenting vote, is to create procedures to review possible economic impacts of state regulations on small businesses. Under the law, which would take effect July 1, 2012, rulemaking bodies must consider possible adverse impacts of new regulations to a small business regulatory review committee. â€œSmall businesses are critical to our economy, and this legislation ensures that our stateâ€™s regulations are not unduly burdensome to our job-creators,â€? Bryant said in a statement. Also unduly burdensome is the process of drafting legislation. The American Legislative Exchange Council eases that burden by drafting one-size-fits-all legislation so lawmakers can concentrate on more pressing matters like closing abortion clinics and ridding their states of undocumented immigrants. ALEC, which has been described as a matchmaking service for big money corporations and biz-friendly conservative Republican state lawmakers, has a model known as the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the language of which closely resembles the Mississippi proposal. Senate Bill 2398 now awaits final approval in the state Senate.
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by R.L Nave
Changing ‘The Perceivers’ of Black Males Similarly, 19 percent of black male JPS students received out-of-school suspensions in
Tougaloo College President Dr. Beverly Hogan said black males need an environment that breeds confidence.
2006-2007 compared to 13 percent for white boys (district-wide, only 300 white males were enrolled in JPS during that period). Hogan believes that black males are no less capable of achievement than their coun-
terparts; they just need an environment that helps them build self-confidence. “When I look into the faces of African American males who enter our gates, I see the future leaders of the world,” Hogan said. To help nurture that growth, Jackson State has launched the “Call Me MISTER” initiative modeled after a program at Clemson University in South Carolina that helps create a pipeline of African American male role models and teachers to the state’s public schools and community-based organizations. Dr. Mark G. Hardy, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Jackson State University, emphasized the kind of intergenerational mentoring that the Call Me MISTER initiative promotes, which will involve getting over the stigma that many young people have against volunteerism. Overcoming stigmas and challenging stubborn perceptions is also critical, said Marcus D. Ward, associate vice president for development and alumni relations at Alcorn State University. In addition to “breaking myths about masculinity” among black males, Ward said work is needed to change myths about black males held by what he called the perceivers. “If you change the perceivers, the rest of the world will come along,” he said.
April 18 - 24, 2012
rican American students earning BAs in six years was 37 percent, four percentage points lower than the national average. By comparison, four-year colleges on average graduated about 53 percent of incoming students. Dr. Beverly Wayne Hogan, president of Tougaloo College, said the problems for black males did not start when they stepped onto campus but began early on in their lives. As evidence, consider the graduation rates for African American males: Nationwide, the Schott Foundation’s 2010 State Report on Public Education and Black Males found that 47 percent of black males graduated from high school, which closely mirrored the trend in Mississippi, where 46 percent of black males completed high school during the 2007-2008 school year. In terms of school discipline, the report concluded that black males in Mississippi and Jackson Public Schools receive stiffer penalties than whites. Schools handed out suspensions to 19 percent of black male students in Mississippi compared to 8 percent of white males during the 2006-2007 school year, according to the study. Likewise, based on proportions, black males were three times more likely than their white counterparts to receive school expulsions across the state.
s a young student entering the University of Connecticut in the mid-1960s, James Lyons received all the parental advice one would expect about being respectful and not hanging around the crowd. “No one advised me that I might lose my life,” said Lyons, who is now the interim president of Dillard University in New Orleans. Speaking through a recorded statement, Lyons participated in a discussion on issues facing African-American male students called “The African-American Male—Reclaiming Futures” at Jackson State University April 12. Lyons was the first among the panel of university and college presidents and other top officials to address recent Mississippi shooting deaths, including that of JSU freshman Nolan Ryan Henderson in late March (another took place at Mississippi State University), which Lyons said took the lives of two future leaders. The panel, part of an ongoing initiative between six institutions with large nonwhite student bodies, aims to foster academic achievement for racial minorities on their campuses, especially black males. A 2009 Associated Press analysis found that even at federally designated historically black colleges and universities, 29 percent of black males completed a bachelor’s degree in six years. Across HBCUs, the number of Af-
10 JCV7221-3 Visitors Spent Ad JFPress 9.5x6.167.indd 1
4/16/12 3:38 PM
by Todd Stauffer
CRM Isn’t Just for Sales Anymore
like a lot of CRM software, lets you track your clients and potential clients, save notes about them, blind-copy your e-mails to the CRM software (so they’re automatically archived with that client profile) and store other notes, and even images or documents such as quotes and proposals. You create “deals” (like “$10,000 design project”) that you can then “win” or “lose”—or edit to “$495 design project” once you’ve come to a realistic agreement with your client. Why do this? The trick with CRM software is that it can (a) remind you what you’ve said recently to a client or cusNimble CRM offers a “unified InBox” that features messages from tomer or colleague, your contacts whether they’re in email, Facebook,Twitter (b) help you manage or LinkedIn. the tasks you set as the next things you need to do for that people that you deal with and the businesses person and (c) collaborate with others in your you attempt to sell to. You can then track office. That means that even if they haven’t your interaction with those folks—make been dealing with that person, there’s a central notes of your calls, emails and drop-ins that repository of that information so your folks you attempt while you’re wooing them into can follow up intelligently with that client/cusyour universe—and then you can track the tomer and, hopefully, give them the informafollow-up, service and support issues that tion they need. you have once you’ve got them as a client. In the JFP sales department, we use a tool Some sales-focused CRM software offers called Capsule CRM (capsulecrm.com) that is tools like “sales pipelines” to help you make similar to Highrise, but geared somewhat spesure you’re pursuing enough sales leads and cifically to teams of sales people (as opposed to prospects so you can reach your sales goals. individual creatives). The heart of Capsule is a In olden days, these tools were expen- running list of Recent Activity, which lets me sive, network-based, enterprise software with see what the sales reps are doing (and they can names like ACT and Goldmine. By contrast, see what each other is doing) while putting inthe latest round of CRM are browser-based formation about all our clients and “suspects” “cloud” services that offer low per-month, per- or “prospects” at our fingertips in real-time. user charges. If someone calls in wanting to place an Ranked high among them is Highrise ad, the sales representative can immediately (www.highrisehq.com) from 37signals, the check the CRM to see if we’ve talked to this same folks who bring us the popular Base- customer before, so the sales rep can pick up camp project-management software. Highrise, where they, or a team member, left off.
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But what if you’re not in sales? CRM software can be useful for anyone in business, whether it’s for managing retail customers (particularly if you track personal preference information, like a consultant, curator or decorator might) or using the latest round of “social CRM” software that helps you track colleagues across their social media profiles. Nimble (nimble.com), for instance, is a very creative solution for tracking “people of interest” not just when they e-mail with you directly, but also when they Tweet or post something to Facebook or LinkedIn. Using the software’s “unified Inbox” you can see all sorts of messages—email and social—from the people with whom you’re having conversations. And like many of the CRM tools discussed, Nimble will integrate directly with other tools, like e-mail newsletter software MailChimp (mailchimp.com) so that you can get up e-mail newsletters and other interaction with clients or colleagues. One very impressive tool in this regard is Batchbook (batchblue.com), which is designed to take the “social CRM” concept to a new level. With Batchbook, you can really think of CRM as a shared contacts database for your company or organization, whether or not you’re selling things. (I’ve thought seriously about Batchbook for the JFP’s reporters and editors, for instance, so they could see other times a person has been contacted for stories or interviews.) Batchbook comes complete with the ability to perform “social listening” along with typical email tracking and phone call notes, plus it integrates a to-do list for assigning follow-ups to yourself or co-workers. It also offers the ability to easily create custom Web-based forms for people to request information or sign up for stuff—effectively adding themselves to your CRM database. From there you can follow up, learn more about your contacts and sell them something, offer them a service or just build stronger relationships. Todd Stauffer is the publisher of the Jackson Free Press. He has authored or co-authored more than 40 technology books.
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f you’ve ever worked in sales, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with some sort of Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software. If you haven’t had to walk that particular fiery gauntlet, a definition is in order: CRM software essentially enables you to enter contact information for
opining, grousing & pontificating
Police: First, Do No Harm
ontroversy has surrounded police pursuits for decades. Since numerous studies on the subject began in the late 1980s and early ’90s, law enforcement officials, legislators, citizens and the press have taken notice of the ever-rising death toll. The seven average deaths per week caused by pursuits is a small fraction of the 632 traffic deaths per week in America in 2010 (latest year data is available), but we are not talking about numbers on a spreadsheet, we are talking about human life. When human life is reduced to mere statistics, the impact of its meaning can easily be lost. The impact women like Milinda Clark and Kristie Priano and men like Paul Farris had on their families, friends, colleagues and classmates will never be lost. These people—a social worker and mother of two; a high school basketball player and avid community volunteer; a recent college graduate and frontman of a popular local rock band—lost their lives because someone chose to flee from the police and the police chose to chase them. We are not here to argue that police should not try to catch criminals. The oath police take, though, is to protect and to serve their community and the people in it. Officers failed to protect and to serve Clark, Priano, Farris and thousands of other innocent victims. Many factors contribute to the tragedies that so often follow police chases—policy interpretation, determining the risk the suspect poses to the community, lack of communication, adrenaline, a desire to catch the bad guys—and all of these must be processed in the minds of the officers in a split second. There has to be a better way. With new technologies and a statewide communication system already in use by many agencies in the metro area, catching criminals without a high-speed chase is easier than ever before. The members of PursuitSAFETY, all of whom have lost loved ones in pursuit crashes, are leading the way in educating the public, legislators and law enforcement officers in just how dangerous high-speed chases are and rewarding officers who find other ways to catch criminals. The real question that comes from Jacob Fuller’s cover story is: Which is more important to law enforcement officers: catching those accused of low-violence crimes or protecting the lives of the innocent? While the former certainly is a large part of their duties, what is the point if it is not to protect those who follow the law? It is a question of priorities, and if the criminals are taking priority in our society over the innocent, then we need to seriously reconsider the direction our communities are headed. It is up to the public to be proactive by demanding that our police officers first do no harm. And that state law has the teeth to save lives.
Support for Charter Schools
April 18 - 24, 2012
am a single parent of three school-age children, and I, like so many parents in DeSoto County support the Mississippi Charter School bill. Each morning, Monday through Friday, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get dressed, eat and make the 17-mile drive to school. I, like so many parents in DeSoto County, cross the state line each morning to take my children to a school that best meets their needs. I made the decision to take the kids to a school outside my district and state after three years of frustrations with the lack of attention my son was receiving in the DeSoto County School System. From kindergarten through the second grade, he struggled like so many boys do. Reading was a huge challenge for him, so I did what any good parent would do: I hired a tutor, talked with his teacher and even his principal so that we could “make a plan.” I was told time after time by his teachers that they had too many students in their classroom and couldn’t take the time out to give my son the help that he needed. There are so many children throughout our state that are slipping through the cracks of the public-school system. Our classrooms are overflowing, and our teachers are doing the best that they can in a system that is overwhelmed. I strongly believe that charter schools would give those children who are struggling in the traditional public school system a chance to flourish and learn in the environment that best meets their needs. Carra Powell DeSoto County
BY CHARLES SUHOR
Colonel Reb and His Cousin, R.I.P.
spent two days in Oxford, Miss., last fall when talk surfaced about bringing back Colonel Reb, the former Ole Miss mascot, through a petition to the Legislature. When I heard a PBS story about the Confederate symbols and songs controversy, it seemed like time to write my story. A direct connection in the 1940s between Ole Miss and my alma mater, F.T. Nicholls High School in New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward.The school’s namesake, General FrancisTillou Nicholls, was a Civil War hero, a governor and, later, state Supreme Court Chief Justice. We were the “Nicholls Rebels.” Our newspaper was The Rebel Yell. The mascot was a feisty old rebel in uniform, holding the Confederate flag in one hand and a sword in the other. In 1951, I led a school jazz band called The Rhythm Rebels and was a drummer in the marching band that drew cheers whenever we played “Dixie.” The link with Ole Miss grew from our band uniforms. They were way cool. We had gray Eisenhower jackets that came down to our waists. We wore Rebel hats. The trousers and skirts were white. Our band director was trumpeter Charlie Wagner. He told wonderful stories about his early years in Chicago when he played across the street from the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. One day in 1952, Wagner reflected on a sub rosa offer Ole Miss made to our school in the ’40s. The university would buy different uniforms for the Nicholls band and give other perks, he said, if the school gave up all of its Confederate symbols. Then, Ole Miss would have a corner on the nostalgic imagery of the South in the Civil War. The offer was tempting, but the administration declined it. I was glad to hear it, but not because of an
attachment to the antebellum South. The North should have whooped the South in that terrible bloodbath. No, I was glad because the Ike jackets were classy and didn’t hide the girls’ figures. After the 1960s school integration crisis, the school changed the team name to respect our black students. Our mascot became a bobcat. We stopped flaunting “Dixie,” and retired the codger in the logo. Some students and alumni were incensed. You can’t rewrite history, they said, and, boo-hoo, years of precious tradition would be lost. It was an insult to the white students, they said. I wrote a letter in praise of the change to the local paper. I pointed out Bob Crosby’s Bobcats, an all-white band of New Orleans jazzmen, recorded “March of the Bobcats.” The subtext, which I offer also to diehard Ole Miss Rebels, was this: Grow up. Nicholls eventually changed its name to Frederick Douglass High—another blow to some alumni. Fine by me. Douglass was, after all, a national treasure and decidedly on the moral high ground of history. After Hurricane Katrina, Douglass High became KIPP Renaissance School, part of the Knowledge is Power Program charter schools. Somehow, I’ve survived all this and will be attending the 60th reunion of the Nicholls class of ‘52 this summer. I’m sure we’ll engage in some tinkering of symbols, but I hope we all know that it’s the people and the experiences that count. The rest is nostalgia. Charles Suhor taught English and was English Supervisor in New Orleans Public Schools. Later, he was Deputy Director of the National Council of Teachers of English in Urbana, Ill. He had a parallel career as a jazz musician, critic and historian. Retired, he lives in Montgomery, Ala.
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he gray, roiling clouds that hung over the westbound lane of Interstate 20 were nothing short of a premonition. â€œWhat am I doing?â€? I thought to myself. â€œI should be at the office. I should be meeting my wife for lunch.â€? But selfishly, and like a man possessed, I pushed onward as if being hurled down the interstate by some nameless and immeasurable force. I turned the radio dial to the statewide talk-radio station. The topic was, of course, charter schools. It was quite the circus. Accusations, name-calling, lies and insults were directed at the professional educators of Mississippiâ€™s public schools. The host enlightened his audience with descriptions of public school districts as â€œfiefdoms,â€? each of which is its own â€œevil empire â€Ś ruled by a Superintendentâ€? from â€œthe dark sideâ€? and â€œwith an iron fist.â€? They even had the theme from â€œStar Warsâ€? playing in the background. As a public-school parent who has worked hard to develop the type of strong, community-member and Superintendent relationship essential to the success of all children, I was not amused. And, as the radio hostâ€™s litany of falsehoods continued and the Mississippi sky darkened the land around me, my anger rose. Later, as I rolled into Jackson and took the State Street exit off Interstate 55 to the capitol, I heard a proponent of charters on the program. At first he made the usual arguments: â€œparent choice,â€? â€œreform,â€? etc. It was the standard line that Iâ€™ve heard and read repeatedly in recent weeks, only to discover that study after study shows that charter schools essentially operate under the tried and failed philosophy of â€œseparate but equal.â€? But then he said something different: â€œIâ€™m not going to send my grand kids or kids to one of these inferior schools.â€? I was shocked. Not failing, not low performingâ€” â€œinferior.â€? I dialed the call-in number. â€œIâ€™d like to ask the gentleman a question. A moment ago he used the phrase â€˜inferior school.â€™ Iâ€™d like to know if he would be willing to go to one of these schools, look the teachers and the kids in their faces and tell them that they are â€˜inferior.â€™â€? And as I hung up, he responded, â€œYes. I absolutely would.â€? Shock turned into a cold acceptance of reality. At the Capitol, I parked my truck in view of the graceful facade of First Baptist Church. The church reminded me of just how far weâ€™ve strayed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom of God was found in children. Therefore, to refer to our public schoolsâ€” schools that consist mostly of children, not adultsâ€”as â€œinferiorâ€? or â€œfailingâ€? is to stray from the Gospel. The program had renewed my aware-
ness of the widespread misconceptions of American public education that are partially due to a misguided system of accountability labels. But largely, they are due to what former Mississippi Gov. William Winter called â€œthe fault lines of race and class and educational and financial disparityâ€? that exist in our communities. I was early and there wasnâ€™t much of a crowd, but when the start time of the committee meeting in room 204 drew near, between 50 and 75 people were in the hallway. A good portion were superintendents from across the state. They donâ€™t support the idea of non-district, autonomous charter schools that are self-governed and funded from the same pool of tax dollars that districts rely on for everything from hiring qualified teachers to adopting state-of-the-art curriculums to guaranteeing that little Johnny will have a computer in his classroom so that he can learn how to create a spreadsheet. These educators knew that charter schools have a proven record of skimming the best and brightest students away from district schools while enrolling a significantly lower percentage of special-needs and at-risk students than their district counterparts, according to a recent study done by Western Michigan University. The result is â€œsuccessfulâ€? test scores and showers of praise, while the districts are left with less money to educate the kids who the charter schools wonâ€™t take. They opened the doors around 1 p.m. and only allowed 10 people into the meeting room. Twenty minutes later, the doors opened again. The charter-school bill had officially died by a margin of one vote, 16-15. Loud applause and emotional shouts of joy rang throughout the hall. One superintendent shouted â€œGlory!â€?â€”perhaps relieved at being able to return to the business of educating children in the unified, traditional model that works when communities make it work and, yes, fails when communities allow it to fail. I called my good superintendent friend back home to tell him that it was over, but as I hung up the phone, five words flashed across the screen in a text message from a friend: â€œGovernor to consider special session.â€? Drained and dazed, I walked out of the capitol and headed back home. So, here we are. Back to square one in the fight to save Thomas Jeffersonâ€™s quintessentially American idea of a â€œâ€Ś system of general instruction, which shall reach every description of our citizens â€Śâ€? Except now, like the churning cumulus of a Deep South storm cell or the thunderous vitriol of an anti-public school radio host, it has escalated into a full-scale war. This story originally appeared on the authorâ€™s blog The Public School Warrior at mississippi123.wordpress.com.
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MICHAEL VAN VECKHOVEN
Code Blue: Police Pursuits Cost a Life a Day. Does It Matter? by Jacob Fuller VIRGINIA SCHREIB
Control tower. “They’re going about, looks like 90plus (miles per hour) right now,” said another voice over the radio. “It’s a gray Grand Marquis, gray Grand Marquis.” Ridgeland police sped after suspects down Spillway Road, from Ridgeland to Flowood, on the morning of Feb. 5. The cool, late-morning reservoir air rushed over their cruisers as Reservoir Patrol, Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies and Flowood police responded to the news that the high-speed chase was quickly headed to their jurisdictions. The chase continued down Spillway Road, with Rankin County officers joining the pursuit. Within minutes, the Grand Marquis turned onto Highway 25 in Flowood, and passed Pinelake Church, Good Shepherd and St. Paul’s Catholic churches, headed southwest at close to 100 mph
through two school zones, with police and sheriff’s cruisers close behind. “Going to kill somebody, might want to back off of him,” a voice said over the police scanner. “Do not get in the way of this suspect,” another voice said. Less than three seconds later, the words became prophetic. “10-50, Grants Ferry at 25,” an officer’s voice said, signifying that the Grand Marquis had crashed into another car. Milinda Clark was driving her beige, ’90s-model Nissan Altima on Grants Ferry Road, returning to Pinelake Church where she attended the early service, to pick up her two children from Sunday School. Clark saw a green light that signaled it was safe to cross the southbound lanes of Highway 25 at the busy Grants Ferry intersection and merge onto the northbound side of the highway. The gray Grand Marquis that led police on a high-speed chase for a little more than seven miles, from Kroger in Ridgeland to the intersection of Highway 25 and Grants Ferry, did not let Clark get through the light. The front bumper of the Grand Marquis met the driver’s side door of Clark’s
April 18 - 24, 2012
3 (PROVIDED Model Pursuit Policies BY MISSISSIPPI STANDARDS AND TRAINING)
Prohibitive - Vehicular police chases are not allowed under any circumstances Restrictive - Police chases are allowed under certain circumstances, as determined by the individual law enforcement agency and described in the agency’s policy Discretionary - Chases are allowed under any circumstance when deemed necessary by the officers involved and the commanding officer on duty
Altima at nearly 100 miles per hour. The social worker and 38-year-old mother of two died at the hospital later that day. The Felony Conundrum Jennifer Ford and Robert Williams, the suspects in the Grand Marquis that killed Milinda Clark that Sunday morning, had attempted to steal two grocery carts full of beer, meat and other food, worth $566.36, from the Kroger on Old Canton Road in Ridgeland, according to the Ridgeland Police investigative report. Williams never made it out of the store with his cart before an employee stopped him. A store manager detained Ford just outside the front door of the store, but let her go when he saw Ridgeland police arrive. Both suspects left the carts of food and went to their car. Sgt. Chad was the first on the scene. At that time, according to the Ridgeland Police Department, the commanding officer thought he witnessed Williams try to hit an officer with the vehicle. The commanding officer then gave police clearance to pursue the fleeing suspects. At the time of print, police have not confirmed the identity of the commanding officer who approved the pursuit, due to the ongoing investigation in the Ridgeland Police Department. So why did Ridgeland police deem it necessary to chase two shoplifting suspects, neither of whom got away with any stolen goods, at speeds up to 100 miles per hour? The Mississippi Department of Standards and Training offers three suggested policies for pursuit in the state. Each law enforcement agency must adopt a policy based on what they determine best fits their jurisdiction; however, laws do not require individual policies to
COURTESY JIMMY HOUSTON
ll units, Ridgeland PD in pursuit. Gray Crown Victoria on lower (Spillway) Road, request assistance,” a voice said over the police scanner from Reservoir
Ridgeland Police Chief Jimmy Houston says 99 percent of state agencies will comply with the toothless pursuit laws on the books.
adhere to one of the three suggested policies (see sidebar, this page.) The Ridgeland department has a restrictive policy on pursuits, meaning that its officers are only allowed to chase in cases of a violent felony, a felony by someone who is unidentified and is in a vehicle that does not have identifying plates, or a criminal who demonstrates a serious and immediate threat to the public. The department reported that the suspects’ Grand Marquis did not have a license plate. Attempting to shoplift $566.36 worth of groceries is a felony (the minimum amount to constitute a felony is $500), but the officers could not know the value of the goods Williams and Ford attempted to shoplift until after the pursuit began. Presumably, then, it was the commanding officer’s belief that Williams was trying to hit an officer with his car, along with the absence of a license plate on the
START Corner of Lake Harbor Drive and Spillway Road
OLD CAN TON ROA D
LAKE HARBOR DRIVE
ROSS BARNETT RESERVOIR
Krogers on Lake Harbor Drive
SP ILL WA YR OA D
Grand Marquis and lack of identification on the suspects, that warranted the highspeed chase under Ridgeland’s policy. Ridgeland Police Chief Jimmy Houston said that when a car does not have plates, it hinders the law enforcement officers from being able to track the car later, making a pursuit necessary. “The Supreme Court has said that there are times when a pursuit would actually be justifiable, and that is during a time when there has been a violent felony committed, when there is no opportunity for you to know who that person is. And you may pursue, if you weigh those issues,” Houston told the Jackson Free Press. In Mississippi, fleeing from the police “in such a manner as to indicate a reckless or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property” is a felony. Houston said that some courts have said that fleeing from police is a violent act itself. So even if Williams had not, or
VE D DRI N A L LAKE
Corner of Grants Ferry Drive and Lakeland Drive
Ridgeland police began chasing Robert Williams and Jennifer Ford at the Kroger on Lake Harbor Drive. Williams then led police across Spillway Road to the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Grants Ferry Drive, where Williams crashed into Milinda Clark’s Nissan Altima.
did not, attempt to hit an officer with his car, Houston believes a chase may still have been warranted under Ridgeland’s policy. The family of Milinda Clark wants to be sure the actions of Williams and Ford that morning did, in fact, warrant the pursuit that ended in Milinda’s death. Attorney Ashley Ogden, who represents Clark’s children and her estate, sent a notice-of-claim letter Feb. 29 to the Ridgeland city clerk and the mayor requesting that the city investigate the actions of the Ridgeland police officers involved in the pursuit. Clark’s family has declined comment due to the pending lawsuit. Under the Mississippi Torts Claims Act, which lays out how citizens can sue cities, the city has 90 days to investigate the claims made in the letter. After 90 days, the city must either inform Ogden that the Ridgeland police did something wrong and offer to settle for the
wrongdoing, or say that Ridgeland Police broke no laws or policies. In that case, the children and the estate must sue the city of Ridgeland if they wish to collect damages. The Thrill of the Chase Candy Priano, her husband, Mark, and her daughter, Kristie, were on their way to Kristie’s high school basketball game in Chico, Calif., in Candy’s minivan in January 2002. About the same time, another teenage girl decided to take her mom’s car for a joyride without permission. The joyrider’s mother called the police and asked them to be on the lookout for her daughter, whom she believed would be at a friend’s house, and asked police to bring her home. When police spotted the joyrider and turned on their blue lights, the young woman didn’t stop. She led police on a highspeed chase through a residential neighbor-
hood, where the Prianos were headed to Kristie’s basketball game. The chase soon ended, and the joyriding teenager returned home to her parents later that day, but without the car, which she had buried in the side of the Prianos’ minivan. The collision left Kristie Priano, a 15year-old avid community volunteer, dead. Candy Priano could not accept that her daughter had been killed because police were chasing a teenager whose only crime was taking her mother’s car for a joyride. Priano knew someone was responsible for Kristie’s death, and the police were the only adults involved. “So many of these chases are unnecessary,” Priano said. “They’re unnecessary because there are other ways to catch these drivers who do flee from the police, and there are drivers, in some cases, who are
Code Blue,see page 16
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OLD FAN IN R OAD
wo shoplifters allegedly stole the following from Kroger before officers chased them at more than 90 mph, resulting in the death of an innocent bystander.
Y S FERR GRANDTRIVE
April 18 - 24, 2012
tions, and the vast majority of the donations we get are from families who have been affected.” Voices for PursuitSAFETY organizers argue that even one death outweighs the positives of chasing suspects and criminals. Priano said they have received positive responses from law enforcement and even have three officers, including police chiefs Richard Schardan of Maryville, Ill., and Timothy Dolan of Minneapolis, Minn., on their advisory board. They hope to see law enforcement search for new ways to track down suspects, ways that do not involve high-speed chases and endangering the lives of innocent civilians. The organization rewards officers who find other ways to catch suspects with their yearly Safer Way Award. “The best way to catch is good detective work. (It’s) how many officers catch most of these suspects,” Priano said. Homant said that new technologies, especially in well-funded agencies, have helped make many pursuits unnecessary since his first research in the late 1980s. Highresolution cameras can capture license-plate numbers and help identify suspects, and easy-to-access information about suspects’ criminal histories helps officers catch suspects without vehicular pursuits. Tools like stop sticks—strips of spikes that puncture tires—can stop fleeing vehicles without a pursuit. “Those people who believe pursuits are important have alternative ways of catching people or alternative ways of stopping eluding cars other than just pursuing them and chasing them down,” Homant said. Access to those alternatives have lessened the need for chases since Homant began his research more than 20 years ago, but for the families of the dozens of innocent victims who are killed every year in America, chases are still too common. COURTESY VOICES INSISTING ON PURSUITSAFETY
not posing an immediate threat to public The key is to train officers in pursuit how dangerous police chases can be. The safety. ... Are (the suspects) going to pull policy, and train them often. “It needs to group wants more restrictive policies and over appropriately? Chances are they aren’t. be clear what the policy is,” Homant said. laws enacted involving police pursuits and We can’t trust these people to do the right “When you do (review policies often), most tougher penalties for officers who violate thing, so we have to put our trust in the po- police officers are fairly good about simply the policies. They have had little success in lice to do the right thing and to say, ‘How following policy. They’re happy to break convincing lawmakers. else can I catch these drivers, rather than chasing them?’” Right: Paul Farris and his girlfriend Kate In Priano’s case, there was Hoyt are seen here in 2006, before the 2007 a question of whether the teen crash that killed Farris and left Hoyt with had even committed a crime permanent injuries. before the police got involved. Bottom Right: Paul Farris poses for a photo Sure, the car was not in the at his 2006 graduation from Tufts University. teen’s name, and she had taken Farris was killed in May 2007, when a fleeing it without permission, but how suspect crashed into the cab he was exiting. many courts will charge a teenBelow: Paul Farris and driver Walid Chahine ager with a crime for taking were killed when a fleeing SUV struck this her mother’s car for a ride to a Metro Cab May 28, 2007. friend’s house? Had the police not gotten involved, the young woman likely would have returned home later that day, possibly to a scolding by her parents. And Kristie Priano would still be alive. Candy Priano wanted to know why police would pursue a fleeing teenager through a residential neighborhood for taking her mother’s car. At least one expert says it may be about the thrill of the chase. Robert Homant, who has taught criminal justice at the Finding the University of Detroit Mercy statistics to show the since 1978 and previously served danger proved more as a prison psychologist for eight difficult than Priano years, has published studies on had initially exhis research of police pursuits. pected. “There is no His work shows that the thrill of the chase mandatory reporting Left:Voices Insisting on often affects officers’ decisions and puts (of pursuit-related PursuitSAFETY co-founder them in situations where they can endanger deaths),” Voices coJon Farris helped start the non-profit organization with innocent bystanders. founder Jon Farris the goal of changing police “There is a tendency for personality said. “Some agencies chase laws, policies and factors such as sensation seeking to affect report, some don’t, perceptions. the quickness, let us say, with which an offibut you see it every cer pursued, broke off pursuit (or) followed day.” policy,” Homant said. To counter Some people enjoy adrenaline rushes, the problem, Voices while other don’t, Homant said. Those who has a new top prido are more likely to interpret possible purority—to create suit situations as ones that warrant a chase. the first nationwide “It’s not as if you’re going against polidatabase of deaths cy, so much as you’re interpreting the situa- off pursuits, if that’s what the policy is,” caused by police pursuits and call retion differently,” Homant said. Homant said. sponses. Priano has tracked the deaths us“I’ve had officers admit to me that it So was it an errant policy or an adrena- ing Google on a daily basis since 2004, was hard to break off chases that they knew line rush clouding an officer’s interpretation and Farris joined her in 2007. they should break off. After they broke of a good policy that led to Kristie Priano’s Since last year, their data (which could them off, they said, ‘Well, yeah I did the death? Wanting an answer to that question be incomplete) show that an average of sevright thing by not pursuing further, but at and hoping to keep other parents from ever en people die as a result of police chases and the time, it was difficult to do that.’ And having to ask it was why Candy Priano, call responses in America every week— a they described it as not wanting to be beat- along with family members of other police- death every day. At least one-third of those en by the person that was eluding (them).” pursuit victims, started Voices Insisting on deaths are innocent bystanders. Determining whether sensation seek- PursuitSAFETY, a nonprofit organization “We’ll continue to just input that ing was a factor in an individual pursuit sit- dedicated to changing laws, policies and (data) until we have a full 12 months, and uation is almost impossible, Homant said. practices of police pursuits. then until we have a couple of calendar Officers, though, should be trained to be Since 2007, Voices has talked to nu- years,” Farris said. “The biggest challenge is aware of the adrenaline rush and how they merous state legislatures, police depart- we don’t have resources. We’re a nonprofit. 16 are likely to react to it. ments and victims to educate them on just The monies that we have are solely dona-
Leaving Scars and Injuries Jon Farris co-founded Voices after his son, Paul, died as he and his girlfriend were about to exit a taxi in a residential neighborhood in Somerville, Mass., a densely populated Boston suburb. The 4.2-square-mile town has a population of 75,754, or 18,147 residents per square mile. (By comparison, Ridgeland has a population density of 1,352 residents per square mile.) Most residential roads in Somerville are lined with parked cars. Because of this, Somerville Police have a strict policy against pursuing fleeing suspects. But during the early morning of May 28, 2007, a state trooper saw an SUV make an illegal turn at a stop sign, and the officer turned on his blue lights. Javier Morales, with his pregnant girlfriend in the pas-
When Police Officers Say They Would Engage in Pursuits Violation
Level of Risk* Low High
Traffic Violation Property Crime: Misdemeanor Property Crime: Felony Stolen Vehicle DUI Violent Felony: No Death Violent Felony: With Death Officer Shot
43% 42% 64% 65% 70% 87% 96% 96%
10% 17% 34% 37% 43% 80% 95% 95%
* Risk was defined by level of traffic congestion, weather conditions, type of road (e.g., whether surface street, highway, or interstate), and area of pursuit (e.g., whether urban, rural, or commercial). In filling out the questionnaire, respondents themselves determined whether they felt their risk was high or low. SOURCE: SURVEY BY NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE
A StarChase GPS Tracking Projectile can replace high-speed chases by sticking to fleeing cars. Officers can launch them from their vehicles.
cies exist in overlapping jurisdictions, such as a sheriff’s department with a different police than the local police department. Law enforcement officers are only subject to the rules and policies of their agency, and when those policies differ from neighboring or overlapping agencies, the results can be disastrous. The problem of unshared wavelengths is one reason the state is implementing the Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network. Under the direction of Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, the group is implementing a statewide radio wavelength that will allow officers from different agencies to communicate with one another from their patrol vehicles at the touch of a button. Several cities and regions across the state are already using the radios, including most of the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River regions, as well as the Ridgeland Police Department. “Everybody in our area should be able to talk on the same police channel,” Houston said. “We talk to Madison (Police Department). We talk to Madison (Sheriff’s Office). We can talk to Holmes Community College. We can talk to Reservoir Patrol. But we cannot talk to Rankin (Sheriff’s Office). We can’t talk to Flowood (Police De-
Code Blue, see page 18
senger seat of the SUV, didn’t stop for the officer and began speeding through Somerville’s crowded streets. The state trooper was not bound by Somerville Police’s policy and pursued Morales down residential roads. Paul Farris, his girlfriend, Kate Hoyt, and the taxi driver, Walid Chahine, were sitting in one of the many cars parked on the side of the road in one of Somerville’s neighborhoods. As Farris exited the taxi, Morales lost control of the SUV and smashed the front end into the side of the cab. Farris died that morning. Chahine died later due to injuries suffered in the accident. Hoyt spent the next few weeks in intensive care, the next few months in the hospital, and will spend the rest of her life with scars and injuries that will never heal. With no uniform policy or regulations and a lack of radio communications between police agencies, the Somerville Police Department’s policy, which officers put into place to protect citizens, was ineffective in preventing Farris’ death. When one agency makes a policy, it only affects that agency. Chief Houston said that his department will assist in pursuits that enter their jurisdiction by setting up road blocks and laying stop sticks, also known as spike strips. They will not, however, join in the chase unless the department determines it is allowed under Ridgeland’s policy, he said. That decision, though, must be made quickly by the commanding officer on duty without the benefit of hindsight (such as knowledge of whether the cart contained enough groceries to render it a felony). The inconsistency in policy and lack of communication is where many pursuit problems arise. Though a highway patrol officer should know the area in which he or she works, police are too often unaware of local law enforcement policies. And because, in many cases, different agencies do not have access to each other’s radio wavelength, patrolmen are unable to immediately communicate with other agencies. Individual agencies’ policies are rendered ineffective when contradicting poli-
COURTESY VOICES INSISTING ON PURSUITSAFETY
Top Left: A woman and three teens were killed when an 18-year-old man crashed into this car while fleeing police in Stockton, Calif.,Feb. 20, 2001. Top Right: Kristie Priano, 15, was killed in Chico, Calif., when a teen fleeing police through a residential neighborhood crashed into her mother’s van on the way to Kristie’s basketball game in January 2002. Bottom Left:Voices Insisting on PursuitSAFETY cofounder Candy Priano helped start the non-profit organization after her daughter, Kristie, was killed during a police chase. Bottom Right: Kristie Priano, 15, was killed when a teen fleeing police through a residential neighborhood crashed into this van in January 2002.
April 18 - 24, 2012
partment). We can’t talk to Brandon (Police Department). And that is an issue,” Houston said. (They can also talk to Jackson.) Houston said access to the MSWIN system should be available statewide by the beginning of 2013. Buying the radios to get on the system isn’t cheap, but Houston said grants are available from the state to assist counties that wish to get on the system. The Jackson Police Department has installed the system. With such a system in place, it will be easier for officers crossing jurisdictional borders to communicate and adjust their plans accordingly, but when pursuits have started, officers are still only accountable to their agency’s policy. Even with heightened communicative abilities, the inconsistencies in pursuit policy can still cause confusion, because a chase that is warranted in one jurisdiction may not be what is best for the people in a community that the chase enters. When that is 18 the case, the chase often ends in tragedy in
that community, as it did in the chase that killed Milinda Clark. A Toothless Statewide Policy? Robin McCoy, Dana Lee and their friend, Steven Bledsoe, died as the result of a Florence police pursuit in February 2001. The girls were riding in a Lexus with their friend, Corey Tate, who had stolen the car from Herrin-Gear Lexus in Jackson. After officers spotted Tate speeding, they followed him to the parking lot of an Amoco gas station on Highway 49. Tate gave one of the officers his driver’s license and the vehicle’s identification number. Tate’s driver’s license was suspended, and the officer intended to arrest him for the charge. When he asked Tate to step out of the vehicle, Tate locked the doors and sped away. The officers involved knew the make, model, description and identification number of the stolen vehicle. They had Tate’s driver’s license. They knew Tate had three
passengers in the car with him. Yet they pursued Tate in a high-speed chase that resulted in the deaths of all three passengers. Tate survived. Robin McCoy’s parents, Linda and Larry McCoy, sued the state of Mississippi, the cities of Florence and Richland, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department and Tate for their involvement in the chase. They did not win any of their lawsuits, but their fight in the courtroom, as well as their visits and presentations to several state legislatures across the nation, got the attention of then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Musgrove appointed Linda McCoy as the only civilian on a commission with police and sheriff’s officers assigned with the task of suggesting a state law pertaining to police pursuits. “What they found was that in every jurisdiction, you basically had a different police-pursuit policy,” Larry McCoy said. “And there was no standardized method of training.” Chief Houston, who testified before
the Legislature on behalf of the commission’s bill, said the commission did what the state agencies needed at the time. “It brought about a knowledge of the fact that there actually needs to be something governing pursuits in the state of Mississippi,” Houston said. “The (policies) that we brought were Mississippi-specific.” In 2004, then-Gov. Haley Barbour signed the commission-recommended bill into law. “We were blessed to be at the ceremony—and the commission did make the recommendation,” Linda McCoy said. “However, they didn’t put any teeth in the law. There was no punishment for a department that did not put those policies in place.” Houston said a uniform punishment was not needed. When the state Legislature enacts a law, 99 percent of agencies in the state will adhere to it, he said. The commission did manage to make the punishment for those who flee the police more severe. Before the law the com-
A Costly Problem—and Solution Milinda Clark’s family is in process
an article on the website, the entire system costs about $4,500 per car. “It’s not (inexpensive), but it’s worth every dime that you pay for it,” Houston said. “We’re ready for it. If there were ways to (get it), I would have that technology in our patrol cars. “I wish we never had to pursue a car.
‘Going to kill somebody, might want to back off of him’ — Ridgeland police scanner, Feb. 5, 2012
on their hands, because once the city finds no wrongdoing, a lawsuit is the Clark family’s only possible further course of action. The Clark family could receive damages, but what pursuit victims’ families would prefer is to have their loved ones alive and well. They would rather there be an answer before the problems arise. Not damages after the fact. The MSWIN statewide communications system should help prevent deaths by providing instant, easy-to-use communication between agencies. Elsewhere in the country, law enforcement agencies are implementing technology that could help prevent the chases altogether. Like police helicopters, which aid many large cities in pursuits, the available technology is not cheap, however. In Los Angeles, police introduced the StarChase Pursuit Management System in 2006. Once on the front of police cruisers, the system can fire a GPS tracking devise, guided by a laser aiming mechanism, onto fleeing vehicles when police have a suspect in range. The GPS unit gives police the ability to track the suspects without having to keep them in site at the risk of endangering civilians. While the system is a great tool, most cities cannot afford it. On the StarChase website, each tracking devise costs $249.99, the chargers cost $29.95 and individual tracking projectiles are $525. The website does not list the cost of the GPS launcher, which has to be installed on patrol cars by a StarChase employee, but according to
I hate it, but I don’t know of any technology today that we could use that in some instances would stop a pursuit.” In Houston’s 10 years as police chief of Ridgeland, he said the department has had about 30 pursuits, and Clark’s death was the only resulting fatality of an innocent bystander. A National Institute of Justice survey of 555 residents of Aiken County, S.C., and Omaha, Neb., showed that the majority of the public agree with the police’s right to pursue. The more serious the offense, the more people agreed that a pursuit is warranted, while a higher risk to the public decreased the number who agreed to pursuits. “The only way to keep it from happening is to ban pursuits, and I don’t think that our public expects us to that. I think
that is the only sure-fire way that you could prevent all deaths in a pursuit,” Houston said in the interview. Sometimes, officers have to make decisions in gray areas, based on the available data, to pursue or not. And sometimes it doesn’t end well, he said. Homant believes police can reduce pursuits dramatically without an outright ban by using all the existing technologies. The sense of urgency among many communities to prevent chases has declined over the past 20 years, mainly due to technologies reducing pursuit deaths. That, coupled with many people’s tendency to view new police technologies as “Big Brotherish,” Homant said, has slowed the move toward eliminating police chases. While people aren’t arguing for a suspect’s right to flee the police, the idea of police being able to stop or track anyone’s car at anytime isn’t a concept that people can agree with either. The predicament lies with police chases killing innocent civilians on one hand, and a police force with more control over all vehicles on the other. “If there was a high-speed pursuit death in your local headlines once a week, then you might say, ‘Yeah, we need to do something about this. We can’t just let the crooks go. Good guys shouldn’t mind being stopped. Let’s get this technology to all our departments,’” Homant said. For now, it’s a question of how important it is to prevent pursuit-related deaths and injuries, how much technology are people willing to allow law enforcement to have, how much are they willing to pay for it, and how willing officers are to use technology and alternative methods, instead of engaging in high-speed chases. “With everyone, law enforcement included, people resist change,” Candy Priano said. “One of things we hear often from law enforcement is: ‘We have to chase. We can’t just let them go.’ I look at it as pursuit is not their only tool. Many officers initiate other resources and methods to apprehend these suspects.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Deaths Caused by Police Pursuits and Responses (on average, as recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a volunteer basis)
7 people per week 4 fleeing suspects per week 2 innocent bystanders per week (1/3 of all pursuit deaths are innocent bystanders) 1 police officer every six weeks
of using the Tort Claims Act to find out whether the Ridgeland Police Department followed their policy in chasing Ford and Williams. By the end of May, they will find out if the city of Ridgeland believes officers followed the policy. If the Ridgeland Police Department believes the officers followed the policy, the city will likely have a lawsuit VIRGINIA SCHREIBER
mission recommended passed, fleeing from police was a misdemeanor in Mississippi. Part of the new law elevated flight with a willful or reckless disregard for safety to a felony offense. “Police officers are putting all of the burden on the person who is fleeing, and he does deserve a great bit of the burden, but the commission also said the police officers would get police pursuit training,” Linda McCoy said. “They didn’t say what kind of training. They didn’t make any uniform laws.” “They have no standards that any police officer or police department has to meet. It is up to the discretion of all of the police officers’ captains, or whatever, to train their police officers (in) what to do during a police chase.” The law also failed to set a uniform regulation for when and why officers can pursue suspects. Individual agencies must adopt a policy on pursuits, but they are free to write whatever policy they choose. Similar laws are common among states with large rural areas. Densely populated urban areas often adopt stricter pursuit policies than rural areas, making it hard to get legislators and agencies to agree on a statewide policy, Homant said. A 1997 National Institute of Justice showed a direct connection between policy and the number of pursuits. In the study, police in the Miami-Dade, Fla., metro area, where a more restrictive policy had been implemented, showed a decrease from 279 pursuits the year before the policy chance to just 51 the year after. In Omaha, Neb., where a police implemented a more permissive policy, pursuits jumped from 17 the year before the change to 122 the year after. Houston said that he trains his officers once a year on pursuit policy and practice. Policy needs to be reviewed as often as monthly, Homant said, to assure officers’ adrenaline in the heat of the moment does not cloud their interpretation of what they have learned. The more often the policy reminders, the less likely officers are to break policy to pursue a suspect. While the Mississippi law did not lay out punishment for agencies or officers who fail to follow their implemented policies, Houston said other laws provide deterrents to breaking the policies. The Tort Claims Act provides citizens the ability to challenge the legality of officers’ actions during a chase and the ability to sue the city or department if they disagree about the presence of wrongdoing. “Attorneys love to see (policy violations), because that shows that department went outside the law to make a pursuit,” Houston said. Of course, those lawsuits often come after a pursuit results in injury or a death.
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oetry is like oxygen to Urban Raw, The Ugly Poet and Merc B. Williams. â€œGod gave John Henry the hammer, and He gave me the pen,â€? says Herbert Brown, 32, lyricist and poet, also known as The Ugly Poet. He is the author of â€œBeautiful Thoughts from The Ugly Poet.â€? To this trio, poetry is not just lines and rhymes; it is a binding substance that forms their friendship, a form of expression and a way of life. â€œWhether itâ€™s a poem or telling jokesâ€”to me itâ€™s just for the love of the art itself,â€? says Kelly Nash, 30, who works as a specialist at C Spire Wireless. His stage name is Merc B. Williams. For a while, Merc traveled from Hattiesburg to Jackson just for the poetry. â€œThat was my way of expressing myself,â€? he says. Merc adds that heâ€™s not sure what it does for others but says, â€œI appreciate the art of poetry.â€? Merc describes performing in the terms of an addiction. â€œItâ€™s like a drug,â€? he says. â€œWhen I get that micâ€”itâ€™s on. Itâ€™s like an out-of-body experience.â€? The trio can often be found performing at the club Suite 106. The clubâ€™s atmosphere is sophisticated, and the poets talk about kinds of subject matter from love gone wrong to erotic scenes and political topics. Poetry at Suite 106 functions the way a family does. Urban Raw, the administrator of the open mic, The Ugly Poet and Merc B. Williams are all hosts at Suite 106. They offer constructive criticism and support to other poets so they can hone their creative skills. â€œIf youâ€™re going to do something, you have to do it in a way that itâ€™s respectful to the audienceâ€? says Nathan Harper, 27, also known as Urban Raw. â€œIn all these other cultures in the old days, to be a poet was something sacred. It was a divine job. You prayed over your pen; you
The Poets of Suite 106
by Brittany Kilgore
prayed over your paperâ€”you were that sacred.â€? Gil Scott-Heron is one of many poets who inspires The Ugly Poet, and he admits to memorizing Shel Silversteinâ€™s poems before his own. â€œAll it is, is just human expression,â€? The Ugly Poet says, â€œThatâ€™s all it is. So youâ€™re supposed to write about whatever goes on in your mind. How else are people going to know what went on today 20 years from now?â€? He listens to Scott-Heron frequently, and says the poet talked quite a bit about what was going on in the â€™70s from social and political perspectives. â€œPoets â€Ś talk about what goes on in a society, the things youâ€™re not going to get in text books, the thing thatâ€™s not going to be mainstream,â€? The Ugly Poet says. â€œBut if you think you just have to talk about love or something tragic, what are you giving to the audience? I donâ€™t mean audience as in sitting right in front of you while youâ€™re on the mic, Iâ€™m talking about people 20, 30 years from now. What are they going to have to say about 2012? Thatâ€™s up to us.â€? Urban Raw adds, â€œIf you can just be genuine and honest about what you think and what you feel, itâ€™s good enough.â€? Urban Raw says he draws inspiration from Langston Hughes, Tupac Shakur and Keno Davis. To paint all these poets with one brush stroke would not be fair. So, what is in a name? Urban Raw is Urban Raw because he paints realism, he says, colors not too many people can see. The â€œMercâ€? in Merc B. Williams is short for â€œmercenary,â€? and the â€œuglyâ€? in The Ugly Poet acknowledges that everything is not always peachy. Life can have a grimy taste, he says. The three poets all have a formula. Urban Raw describes his formula as realism; itâ€™s two-toned, rather like day and night. His performance pieces include vulgarity, but his work has been accepted for publication in Jackson State Universityâ€™s lit-
Jackson poet Urban Raw, aka Nathan Harper, is a performer as well as one of the hosts at Suite 106.
erary journal Black Magnolias. His written poems are rich with figurative language and not as crude. As for The Ugly Poet, his formula is satire. Merc B. Williamsâ€™ formula is the substance that forms the core of the trioâ€™s friendshipâ€”the simple love of the art of poetry itself. Suite 106 (106 Wilmington St., 601-720-4640) features open-mic sessions on the first and third Saturday of each month at 9 p.m. Admission is $5, $3 to perform.
â€˜Waiting for This Momentâ€™
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COURTESY STARKVILLE AREA ARTS COUNCIL
Whether youâ€™re a kid or an adult, the Cotton District Arts Festival offers opportunities to have fun.
Maggie Bjorgum, co-chairwoman of the Cotton District Arts Festival, says the festival will entertain on many levels. â€œPeople can expect a lot of movement and a good time,â€? Bjorgum says. â€œWeâ€™ll have lots to do, see and eat.â€? With roughly 120 artisans showcasing their work, a dozen bands and 20 different food vendors, the daylong event
promises to fill bellies and minds with food and art appreciation. The Cotton District, Mississippiâ€™s first new urbanism neighborhood, has hosted the event since its developer, Dan Camp, and his wife, Gemma, helped organize the first celebration of fine arts in 1986. Grown from a few hundred people the first year, the event is now organized through the Starkville Area Arts Council. â€œWeâ€™ve got more imagination and creativity here than people realize,â€? Dan Camp says. And food, too. Jay Reed, a local food columnist who organizes the Taste of Starkville food vendors, says people should show up ready to eat. To make sure he has a strong appetite, Reed plans to run in the eventâ€™s 5K race first thing in the morning. He says he has a personal interest in making sure the festival provides interesting and delicious foodâ€”he wants to eat it. â€œIâ€™ll make sure Iâ€™m really hungry when I get there,â€? Reed says. One reason the Starkville Area Arts Council has succeeded with the event through the years is because it identifies the best people to coordinate different events. Food connoisseurs work with the food, and artists organize the arts vendors. Starkville painter Laurie Burton, coordinator for arts vendors, has worked for months to ensure the highest quality works will be available. The festival requires artistsâ€™ work to meet specific guidelines, which helps encourage uniqueness and quality craftsmanship. In all, the festival will have a mix of arts including panting, jewelry, woodworking, furniture, frames, posters, photography, ceramics and other media. The council awards prizes in six art categories, along with the Best in Show honor. And if festival attendees have questions about what they see, theyâ€™ll get answers. â€œEvery booth will be manned by the artist,â€? Burton said. â€œWe want everybody to bring money and buy, but we also want them
Congratulate The Staff of Underground 119 Would Like To
COURTESY STARKVILLE AREA ARTS COUNCIL
tâ€™s not everyday that you can munch on grilled ribs next to European-inspired statues surrounded by dogs in tutus to the strains of a bagpipe. But you can in Starkville in April. One of the most unique places in the stateâ€”Starkvilleâ€™s Cotton Districtâ€”transforms into Mississippiâ€™s capital for the arts for one day each year. On April 21, the Cotton District Arts Festival will fuse a wealth of music, food and arts for one of the premiere fineart events in the state, featuring pottery demonstrations and a mix of music including bluegrass, rock, soul, oldies, rockabilly and more. With the eventâ€™s cross-section of the artsâ€”culinary, music, visual and otherwiseâ€” organizers of the 26th annual Cotton District Arts Festival anticipate a crowd of 40,000 people. Attendance should receive a boost from Super Bulldog Weekend, the annual weekend combining Mississippi State University baseball and the spring scrimmage football game, which will include a half-time performance by the band Sugarland.
This yearâ€™s annual Cotton District Arts Festival promises a great day of music, food and artâ€”including the unexpectedâ€”in a historic section of Starkville.
to have a good time visiting with the artists.â€? A first-time artist at the festival, Jeremy Klutts of West Point will have his electric and acoustic cigar-box guitars for sale. Used by musicians from Jimmy Hendrix to B.B. King, cigar-box guitars have been around since the mid-1860s. â€œThey actually sound pretty good,â€? Klutts said. â€œI build all of them electric, so you can plug them up.â€? Attendees will have a chance to see art created, too. Starkville artists Dylan Karges and Robert Long will have pottery wheels at their booths to demonstrate their work. For music, the festival will have two stages, each with range of genres selected by veteran musical-event producers Larry Wallace, a banjo virtuoso with his own band, and Cindy Melby, a music teacher whose daughters perform in the Nashville-based band Nash Street. Headlining the festival is Grenada native Charlie Worsham, a much-sought-after Nashville musician who has toured with
both Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. Worsham, who first performed at the Grand Ole Opry at age 12 after winning a national banjo competition, has written songs for Dierks Bentley and performed on Eric Churchâ€™s most recent album. â€œCharlie is one of todayâ€™s best talentsâ€” not just in country music but across the board,â€? says Wallace, who taught banjo lessons to Worsham. Speaking by phone recently before a concert in Austin, Texas, Worsham said he always enjoys playing in his home state, especially in a festival setting. â€œI jumped at the chance to play in Starkville,â€? Worsham said. â€œFestivals are a little more of a fun, loose atmosphere.â€? Having just signed a recording contract with Warner Brothers, Worsham anticipates releasing his first solo album in 2013. Starkvilleâ€™s 26th annual Cotton District Arts Festival is Saturday, April 21. For more information, call the SAAC office at 662324-3080, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit starkvillearts.org/events.
OPEN WEDNESDAY â€“ SUNDAY
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