Celebrate St.â€ŠPatrickâ€™s Day with
Saturday, March 16,â€Š 2013â€Šâ€Š
Music, Food, Fun, Friendsâ€Śâ€Š
March 6 - 12, 2013
Donâ€™t miss the St. Paddyâ€™s Day celebrationâ€Š at â€Šthe only Irish Pub in Jackson!â€Š 6QDPNJOH.VTJD
3/7 Vulcan Eejits 3/8 Jason Turner and Brian Jones 3/9 Shawn Patterson 3/11 Karaoke 3/12 Open Mic w/ Jason Bailey 3/13 Pub Quiz 3/14 Dead Irish Blues 3/15 Doug Frankâ€™s Triple Threat
3/16 Block party 9a - 12a 3/17 St. Paddyâ€™s CĂŠilĂ with Emerald Accent 2p -5p 3/18 Karaoke 3/19 Open Mic w/ A Guy named george 3/20 Pub Quiz 3/21 Spirits of the House
3/22 Blind Dog Otis 3/23 Cassie Taylor and Stace Shook 3/25 Karaoke 3/26 Open Mic w/ Jason Bailey 3/27 Pub Quiz 3/28 Legacy 3/29 Scott Albert Johnson Band
JACKSONIAN DAPHNE HIGGINS
aphne Higgins was born in Clarksdale in June 1961, one of 10 siblings. The big family made her into a people person, she says. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in mass communications at Jackson State University in 1983, she continued her education in public relations at the University of Memphis. Higgins got married and moved to Jackson with her husband, John, in 1992. “He’s from Jackson, so that was my reason for working here, ” Higgins says. Together, the couple has two children: a daughter Charence, now 18, and a son, J.P., who is 16. In 1992, Higgins started a 13-year sales career at The Clarion-Ledger. She left the paper in 2004 because of her son’s learning disabilities. “I felt I was fixing my son,” she says of giving up her full-time job. “I wanted more time with him—and my complete focus.” In October 2008, Earnestine Alexander convinced Higgins to volunteer and sit on the board of Dress For Success Metro Jackson. Alexander is the sister of DFSMJ’s executive director, Pat Chambliss, who asked Higgins to come on staff a year later. Dress For Success is an international organization that helps improve the lives of women and has 129 affiliates in 13 countries. It provides professional clothing, retention programs and support to instill confidence and secure jobs. Women come to Dress For Success through referrals. The DFSMJ Career Center helps clients create resumes and conducts mock
interviews so that they’ll be ready to land a job. DFSMJ then dresses them from head to toe for interviews through the Suiting Program. As a program coordinator, Higgins has dressed women from Mississippi Valley State University, the Rankin County Department of Human Services, the Jackson WIN Job Center and dozens of other local referrals. “When a woman comes here, I dress her inwardly more so than outwardly,” Higgins says. “I help her realize she is filled with potential, and her outfit complements her person.” After a woman finds work, she can return to Dress for Success for a full week’s worth of professional attire. The Going Places Network, Professional Women’s Group and financial literacy programs help women gain professional skills, network and advance in their careers. In partnership with DFS, departmentstore chain J.C. Penney invites customers to easily make contributions to local chapters. “When we pull up our screen, it shows us this month’s donations. At the end of each transaction we ask customers to round up their dollars for donations to DFS,” says Teresa Powers, a J.C. Penney sales associate in Flowood. “I believe that God sent me here,” Higgins says of her work with Dress for Success. “I was successful in my communications career, and now it’s time to do this.” For more information about Dress for Success Metro Jackson, call 601-985-9888 or 601364-1722. —Angelica J. Allen
Cover photograph by Trip Burns
10 Running Man
“Just like everybody else, when I graduated in 1974, I wanted to get as far away from Mississippi as possible. … So I went to California and spent four years in the Army as a military policeman from 1974 to 78. Then I decided there was no place like home.” —Robert Thompson, “Thompson: Family Man.”
28 Good for You
First lady Michelle Obama praises improvements in Mississippi school lunches as a success story in her fight against childhood obesity.
31 Mini City
MMA’s public-art project, “C3: Creativity. Conversation. Community.,” gives participants a chance to learn about the city by building replicas of vital neighborhoods.
4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 .....................................BUSINESS 14 ................. EDITORIAL CARTOON 15 .................................... OPINION 16 .............................. COVER STORY 25 ................................LIFE & STYLE 26 .....................................HITCHED 28 ........................................ FOOD 31 ...............................DIVERSIONS 32 .......................................... FILM 33 ............................... EIGHT DAYS 34 ............................... JFP EVENTS 36 ........................................ MUSIC 37 ..........................MUSIC LISTING 38 ...................................... SPORTS 39 ............................... ASTROLOGY 41 ............................. CLASSIFIEDS 41 .................................... PUZZLES 42 .............................................GIG
COURTESY JULIAN RANKIN ; OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY LAWRENCE JACKSON; JACOB D FULLER
MARCH 6 - 12, 2013 | VOL. 11 NO. 26
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Time to Think Small
’ve been a bit amazed of late to hear all the hoopla over Sam’s Club deciding to leave Jackson for suburban pastures. I’ve even heard talk of people leading protests against it—as if that would mean squat up in Arkansas where Walmart Corporate makes its profitability decisions. I’ve heard others say that the loss of Sam’s Club must, must be the city’s fault, presumably because we didn’t offer the megacompany enough tax incentives or, perhaps, because every city official didn’t drop down on his or her knees and beg them to stay. All the enraged chatter reminded me of when the very odd mayor of Madison, Mary Hawkins-Butler, wanted people to march in protest because Starbucks was closing down. Seriously, folks. I’d march for Cups or Koinonia, but Starbucks? Is there really anyone reading this who thinks that the non-Mississippians who profit off these (inter)national businesses give two licks about the effect they have on communities? I remember two Starbucks outlets opening across the street from each other and near a local coffee shop in Manhattan. Of course, the local one closed and, later, both Starbucks shops followed. The Walmart monster is not the only bad friend of communities, but it’s among the worst. Just notice all the big-box shells it leaves behind in one part of town (on land where it displaced smaller businesses and trees to build in the first place) in order to move to another area and build an even bigger store to undercut the locals and hawk all those goods from China. Yes, I get that you can save a little money on a case of toilet tissue and baby diapers in Sam’s Club—but let’s be honest. When’s the last time you went there and only bought a case of diapers? These places make their billions by luring us in to “save” a little on necessities and then sell us a bigger barbe-
cue grill or a case of vanilla candles we won’t use in three years. Don’t believe me? Do the homework. Research shows that people do not “save” much at big-box outlets; they end up spending more for more stuff. And not all of that stuff is quality. I can’t remember the last time I bought a key in a big, impersonal chain store that worked for any length of time. Meantime, I can pop around the corner and get Jason Meeks at SE Lock & Key to make me two high-quality keys covered with musical notes or martini glasses for about $5 as I did this week. And while I’m there, I can play with his Yoda
Seriously, folks. I’d march for Cups or Koinonia, but Starbucks? bobblehead and find out the gossip about who’s doing what around our neighborhood—from crime to new businesses. In fact, that is the optimum word: neighborhood. You can’t build a neighborhood around strip malls filled with big-box outlets and chains. They’re built for traffic, not pedestrians. You’re lucky you can find a sidewalk that’ll get you out of one strip mall to the next one. And note how strips of bigbox outlets become outdated in a few years, with places like Walmart and Sam’s Club just following the developers farther out, leaving ugly shells behind. There is a better way. When I hear folks complaining about Sam’s moving, I can’t help but wonder if they’d call for a march if, say, the McDades
suddenly couldn’t afford increased rent in Westland Plaza. This is a local couple who has methodically opened grocery stores in vacant spaces that big chains deserted. Yes, they are business people, and they believe in their ability to thrive in a variety of neighborhoods in the city. These are the sorts of businesses residents need to support because they’ve got our backs. And because they invest more of their own money locally. And because it’s authentic small businesses that appeal to newcomers and good job creators. Of course, Jackson has a bad habit of having eyes bigger than our stomachs, or wallets. We keep getting pulled into giant plans of people who are going to “save” the city with one or another huge taxpayer-funded project, whether Two Lakes, a new arena, Farish Street or even the convention center. While some of these ideas are better than others and have less hanging in the balance while we wait for them—like, say, flood control—the worst part is that, as a community, we put way too much stock in them. And there’s the “just wait until …” syndrome that ends up hurting our city and making us think an elected official is going to suddenly transform the city by making it easy for one or another developer to fulfill their huge dream. I’m fine with smart developers trying to make big stuff happen (as long as it’s environmentally sound, doesn’t cost taxpayers too much and doesn’t do more harm than good), but we really need to get over the whole “next big thing” cycle where we wait around for a grant or a tax break or somebody to do something. Each of us can do something right now. We can decide to push back on bigbox outlets (not to mention corporate media; ahem) that send our dollars out of town. We can tell Sam’s Club not to let the screen door hit its corporate butt on the way out as
we double down on supporting those who actually help build our community. And we must get over the idea that it has to cost more to shop or eat at a local restaurant. I can have breakfast cheaper at Brent’s Drugs than at many of the chain buffet breakfast joints. Don’t believe the hype. It is time to think small. We need just as much thought and public talk about supporting local non-chain businesses as we hear about the Jackson State stadium or the need to build an arena downtown. Sure, research those ideas and pursue the ones the public vets and, ultimately, approves. But right now, we can spend our money at soul-food restaurants around the city like Collins Dream Kitchen where they, yes, know our names. And for the love of all things holy, let’s get some creativity going in the empty storefronts downtown. I’m fully aware that the owners of empty downtown buildings hope that someday they’ll reap the harvest of all the development down there. But in the meantime, let’s not warehouse spaces. They need to rent them affordably to small businesses that can bring a creative spirit downtown—or make them available to artists to do creative storefronts and artisan stalls inside like we see in cool cities from Austin to Asheville. I’ve said this for years, and for years, I’ve been embarrassed that friends and colleagues that I proudly stash in the King Edward Hotel must look out their windows at our city’s inability to understand the power of small. If you haven’t heard, small is the new big. Local is where it’s at. Community isn’t corporate. Authenticity isn’t eating at the same bagel shop you can find in any major city in America. Jackson’s success lies in thinking local first. Each of us has a role to play. The key is to stop waiting for the next big thing. It may never happen.
March 6 - 12, 2013
Kelly Bryan Smith
Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. in 1997. She’s an award-winning writer and the JFP’s news editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She wrote for the cover package.
Reporter R.L. Nave grew up in St. Louis, graduated from Mizzou (the University of Missouri), and lived a bunch of other places before coming to Jackson. Contact him at 601362-6121 ext. 12. He wrote for the cover package.
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 news stories.
Copy Editor Dustin Cardon is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. An English major from Brandon, he enjoys reading fantasy novels and wants to write them himself one day. He wrote for the cover package.
Music Editor Briana Robinson’s hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She is a junior at Millsaps College. She wrote music, arts and wellness features.
Kelly Bryan Smith is a busy mom, writer, brain tumor survivor and nursing student living with her small son in Fondren. She enjoys cooking, swimming, reading and collecting blue eggs from her backyard chickens. She wrote a food story.
Sportswriter Bryan Flynn is a lifelong Mississippi native who lives in north Jackson. He also writes a national blog, playtowinthegame.com. He lives with his wife and their four cats. Follow him @jfpsports. He wrote the sports feature.
Formally educated at MSU, Brad learned the most important lessons of life on the small farm he was raised in The Sticks, Miss. He likes anything to do with the outdoors (including long walks on the beach). He is a sales account manager.
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Nominate Young Influentials!
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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LOCALLY OWNED ALTERNATIVE TO A BIG-BOX CHAIN BUSINESS? Jamie Roth Fair Trade store.
Blake McMillan The cherokeedriveinn. com.
Stephen Douglas-Butts Stamps. McDadeâ€™s. Keifers.
Karen Wilson Ingram Froghead Grill.
Jo B. Williams Lemuria Books.
Pete Halverson Hudsonâ€™s.
Jill Butler In Jackson? McDadeâ€™s. Metro area? Little Jimmyâ€™s Meat in Ridgeland.
Sarah A. Faulkner Cups. Phillip Young-venom Rollins Comic Commander.
ho are the young movers and shakers in your community? Weâ€™re looking for entrepreneurs, artists, businesspeople, fashionistas, developers and beyond. Send your nominees (age 40 and younger) for this yearâ€™s Young Influentials to email@example.com. Look for the 2013 Influentials in the July issue of BOOM Jackson magazine. -OST 6IRAL 3TORIES AT JFPMS
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-OST 6IRAL %VENTS AT JFPEVENTSCOM
March 6 - 12, 2013
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Shane Crowe Brandon Discount Drugs, Polkâ€™s, Cowboy Maloney/Riverwood Home Appliances. Ashe Nicole Hemphill Heroes and Dreams: Comics and Collectibles, or Cups. Bob Soukup Rainbow Grocery, Fair Trade Green and the veggie restaurant.
Plow Mule Any and all small local establishments of the area. Smittyâ€™s on North State by Tougalooâ€”great place for cold beer. Bill Gray Montgomery Hardware. WakeUpMississippi.org Repeat Street Metro Jackson. Robin Webb Rainbow Foods.
Lindsey George Georgeâ€™s Museum Cafe! Lori Boyer Rickman Lakeland Music.
Don Allan Mitchell Books: Lemuria. Clothes: Kinkadeâ€™s. Loafs of Bread: Broad Street.
Amanda Joullian Ragland MS Music and Blue Rooster.
April McKinley Montgomery Hardware and Beemonâ€™s Drugs!
Melissa Burks Dearman Mayflower and Roosters!
Laurie Bertram Roberts Rainbow, McDadeâ€™s, Montgomery Hardware and Cowboy Maloney.
Savanah Perry Livingston Farmerâ€™s Marketâ€”great produce, local people and fun times to be had!
Duan Carter Buy electronics from Cowboy Maloneyâ€™s, groceries from McDadeâ€™s or Paul Anthonyâ€™s, Burgersâ€”gotta go with Stampâ€™s on Dalton. Clifton Whitley III Rainbow Cooperative. Deirdre Danahar Lemuria, Montgomery Hardware, the Mississippi Farmerâ€™s Market, Circa Urban Artisan Living, Sal & Mookieâ€™s. Larry Butts Huttoâ€™s. Tom Freeland For an occasional visitor, it would be Lemuria, Choctaw Books, the grocery part of Mr. Chenâ€™s (I know thereâ€™s more than one of those) and a number of long-time Jackson restaurants, particularly the Mayflower, Walkerâ€™s, etc.
Cari Fowler Paul Anthonyâ€™s. Amy Ladd Moore La Di Da in Canton.
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Thursday, Feb. 28 The U.S. House passes an expanded Violence Against Women Act to give domestic violence protections to gays, lesbians and transsexuals, among others. â€Ś President Barack Obama urges the Supreme Court to overturn Californiaâ€™s same-sex marriage ban. Friday, March 1 The authorization of a drug court for Mississippiâ€™s Fifth Circuit Court District completes statewide coverage; all 22 circuit court districts now operate drug courts.. â€Ś The sequester, across-theboard automatic federal spending cuts of $85 billion, goes into effect. Saturday, March 2 Mississippi State University Bulldogs end a 13-game losing streak with a 73-67 victory over Ole Miss. â€Ś The Mississippi Wildlife Federation names MSU professor Steve Demarais Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. Sunday, March 3 Scientists announce that a Mississippi baby born with HIV more than two years ago appears to be cured of the virus. â€Ś More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in commemorating a famous civil-rights march in Selma, Ala.
March 6 - 12, 2013
Monday, March 4 State House Transportation Chairman Robert Johnson says state needs to increase its gasoline tax to pay for highway maintenance. â€Ś Cardinals will talk to Vatican managers about allegations of corruption and cronyism in the Catholic Church before electing the next pope.
Tuesday, March 5 The Mississippi Alliance of State Employees and state workers protest legislative efforts to privatize the stateâ€™s child-support program. â€Ś The Senate Intelligence Committee confirms John O. Brennan as director of the CIA. Get news updates at jfpdaily.com.
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JSU Aims High in Stadium Bid by Jacob D. Fuller
ackson State University is aiming for a lofty peak, hoping to fill what some see as a real need in the capital city with its plan to build a $200million domed stadium on campus. David Hoard, JSU vice president of institutional advancement, said the university will attempt to fund most of the 50,000seat dome with public funds, including $30 million to $60 million in new market tax credits and $40 million to $50 million in amusement tax. JSU hoped to get as much as $75 million in general-obligation bonds from the state Legislature, but a House bill that would have provided the funds died last week. â€œMany of the stadiums at state institutions over the past 50, 60 years have utilized state money,â€? Hoard said. â€œItâ€™s not just a stadium for Jackson State. We see it as an investment for the city, the county and the region. The economic impact will be dramatic.â€? The announcement comes on the heels of a city-ordered study for a new arena in Jackson. With that study, Washington, D.C.-based Brailsford and Dunlavey suggested that the city build a $115-million, 12,000-seat arena near Farish Street. The engineering and management firm suggested the arena with the intent to host sporting events, concerts and ice shows. That study was the result of several years of talks. Downtown Jackson Partners first began the conversation in 2008. The Jackson Chamber of Commerce took the lead on raising money for a study for a few months in 2010, before passing the lead over to the city, which hired Brailsford and Dunlavey to conduct the study. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said at a
JACOB D. FULLER
Wednesday, Feb. 27 Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian is found dead near a Mississippi River levee. â€Ś U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy voices skepticism on the need to keep Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requiring states with a history of discrimination to get approval before making changes in election law.
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JSUVice President of Institutional Advancement David Hoard unveiled artist renderings of the proposed $200 million dome stadium Feb. 27.
city council meeting in January that the city will not be able to fund such a project any time soon, but that the information could be useful to Jackson State in its stadium endeavors. Hoard said JSU plans to use the stadium for more than the Tigersâ€™ football and basketball games, including many of the same events that Brailsford and Dunlavey suggested: major concerts and professional sporting events. â€œWeâ€™re in communications with the (New Orleans) Saints, (Atlanta) Falcons and the (Tennessee) Titans to come here for exhibition games,â€? Hoard said. He also mentioned the possibility of NBA games held in the dome stadium. The arena study found that a modern
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he following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen independent businesses and local economies, and is reprinted here with permission.
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indoor facility with seating of 12,000 or more could draw a large number of major concerts that pass by Jackson on their way to cities like Memphis, New Orleans and Atlanta. University Vice President of Business and Finance Michael Thomas said JSU sporting events in the dome will only take place a few dozen days out of the year, but that with all the other activities included, the stadium could be in use about 200 days per year. There is still a hope that JSU could get some help from the Mississippi Legislature. The House passed a general obligation bonds bill for projects on college and university campuses, and legislators could still choose to add JSUâ€™s stadium to that bill. Hoard said JSU isnâ€™t down and
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out if that doesnâ€™t happen, though. JSU plans to let students vote on an optional student stadium fee to help raise funds. The school will also sell stadium naming rights, priority season tickets and luxury boxes to fund the build-out. â€œThere are about 13 or 14 various streams that add up to about $320 million, so we have options in case something doesnâ€™t work out,â€? Hoard said. He added that the priority seating, naming rights and sky-box rentals will make up the entire private contribution to the stadium. For priority seating, JSU is also hoping to get 2,500 donors to contribute $7,500 each, allowing them to purchase eight priority season tickets over a three-year span. That would contribute $18.75 million to the stadiumâ€™s construction. Events such as concerts and NFL exhibition games, along with JSUâ€™s plans for enrollment growth, constitute a need for such a large stadium. â€œItâ€™s projected that in the next seven years, weâ€™ll be at 15,000 to 16,000 students,â€? Hoard said. â€œIf they bring a friend, thatâ€™s 30,000 students right there. That doesnâ€™t include our alumni base and their friends.â€? JSU hasnâ€™t shown a need for a 50,000-seat football stadium in several years, though. Support for the athletics program has dropped in recent years, despite success on the field. JSU averaged a home crowd of just 14,461 fans in four games at Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2012. That was down from an average of 23,166 in 2011. Over the two-year span, the largest reported crowd at a JSU home game was 38,722 at a matchup with Arkansas Pine Bluff Oct. 8, 2011. Many stadium expansions and constructions come after the need for more seating is apparent, not in preparation for it. In cases such as football-stadium expansions at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University in the early 2000s, as well as proposed expansions in the fundraising stages at both of those universities, the schools had multiple sell-out crowds in recent years prior to expansions. The other major difference in the expansion at Ole Miss is that the school is not asking for public funds; theyâ€™re using all private money for the projects. A recent USA Today report on university athletic revenues shows Jackson State may not be capable of raising much in the
way of private donations for the stadium. In 2011, the most recent year the data is available, JSUâ€™s athletics program reported $6.9 million in revenues, and the exact same amount in expenditures. In other words, the JSU sports program, like the majority of NCAA programs, does not make a profit. The most glaring number in the study is the reported contributions from private donors to the JSU athletic program from 2006 to 2011: $0. By comparison, conference rival Alcorn State University reported $150,448 in contributions over that time period. The University of Mississippi reported about $37.2 million and Mississippi State reported about $29.7 million. Ole Miss is in the process of raising funds for the Forward Together project, which includes a major football stadium expansion and a new on-campus basketball arena. The school has estimated the total cost of the project at $150 million, and is offering priority seating and luxury-box incentives, as well as naming opportunities to boost donations, much like JSU. Unlike JSU, however, Ole Miss is not asking for public dollars. After 18 months of fundraising, the Forward Together project has raised $77.5 million. About $60 million came in the first six months, and donations have dropped to just more than $17 million over the past year. More than $15 million of the raised funds have come in the form of direct gifts. Thomas said the timeline for completion is still unclear, but JSU hopes to get the stadium built as quickly as possible. Without major public help, that may not be any time soon. Jackson State, a school with about $42 million less than Ole Miss in annual athletic revenue, cannot currently afford to build a $200 million stadium on its own. â€œThereâ€™s going to be a mix. Thereâ€™s going to be some private dollars, thereâ€™s going to be some public dollars, and some dollars are going to be funded through the anticipated revenue from the project,â€? Thomas said. Apart from wanting a stadium on campus, JSU is feeling pressure to get out of the universityâ€™s current football home, Veterans Memorial Stadium. That stadium, first opened in 1950, sits in the middle of the strip of land along Woodrow Wilson Avenue that several groups hope to transform into the health-care corridor.
We see it as an investment for the city, the county and the region.
DISH | Candidate
Robert Thompson: Family Man by Jacob D. Fuller
If elected, what is your top priority?
Number one: Citizens definitely need to have a voice.
March 6 - 12, 2013
How specifically would you make that happen?
We used to have, and I don’t see them anymore, those community meetings (in Ward 4). They don’t exist anymore.* I don’t know what happened, but they used to have those community meetings. I think we should have a town-hall meeting, a round-table meting. I remember being a Boy Scout, and we’d have roundtable meetings. Somebody from each community should be able to come in and let (the city council) know what’s going on in the community. I was just looking at Frank Melton’s photo up there (on the shelf). One thing you need is city councilmen who are going to support the mayor, whoever the mayor may be. One of the things that I truly believe is if you increase patrolmen in the neighborhoods, crime will go down. I have a
problem when I go running in the morning, 26 miles, and can only count three policemen, out of 26 miles. Something is wrong. We need more policemen out there.
So what should be the top priority as far as spending that money?
from more police, what can we do to change that?
The sewer system in my neighborhood. I live in west Jackson; there’s some-
Get the community involved in a community-watch program. We need to be able to let the citizens know (that) we don’t want your name, just call. We’ve got to be proactive. In my neighborhood, we have about five homeowners. I live in a transient-type neighborhood by Lake Elementary. We’ll call one another: “Do you hear somebody shooting?” “Yeah, it sounds like it’s over on that road.” And we’ll call someone up on that road. I think that’s what we need: to emphasize getting involved. I think someone said a long time ago, “If you don’t say nothing, nothing is going to be done.” Neighborhood watch programs—they used to work.
JACOB D. FULLER
obert Thompson is no stranger to comebacks. This May, he’s hoping to rally from a 2005 defeat by Frank Bluntson to win the election for Jackson’s Ward 4 City Council seat. Born in the rural Delta just northwest of Yazoo City, Thompson left his home state soon after high school. “Just like everybody else, when I graduated in 1974, I wanted to get as far away from Mississippi as possible,” Thompson said in an interview. “So I went to California and spent four years in the Army as a military policeman from 1974 to 78. Then I decided there was no place like home.” Now a hospice chaplain, Thompson has suffered setbacks. After working for 10 years as a counselor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Thompson suffered from heart failure in 1992. He didn’t let it beat him, though. He now runs to stay fit and even competes in marathons. Thompson’s political views have changed over the past eight years. In 2005, Thompson ran as a Republican, but is running as a Democrat this time around. He said abortion played a large role in his party affiliation last time around, but that the advice of a pastoral mentor, Ron Lovelace, changed his view on the hotly debated subject. “One time, he said, ‘Now Robert, do you say that God said you’re going to choose this day who you’re going to serve? If that’s the case, isn’t God pro-choice?’” Thompson said. Now he calls himself a Yellow Dog Democrat. “So I’ve changed.” Thompson visited the JFP offices Feb. 28 in his signature wide-brimmed black hat to talk about some his plans for city council.
Jackson Public Schools almost faced losing its accreditation last summer. What can the city do to help turn that around and make sure we’re providing the best education for our kids? Robert Thompson is back on the ballot this year in the Ward 4 Jackson City Council race. This time, he’ll have a “D” beside his name—and a more “pro-choice” attitude.
You run 26 miles every day?
No, I run 15 (miles) every other day. I do marathons. No, I compete in marathons. Those potholes? We have a problem. Let’s start downtown (fixing the potholes) and get downtown taken care of and trickle out into the community. Coming downtown is terrible. A lot of times I run early in the morning. I’ve got to be able to see. When I get downtown, I’ve got to look down to make sure I can plant my feet. It’s terrible; it is terrible. (Recently) the city council, for some reason, said they couldn’t support the mayor when he wanted to do something with repaving the streets. Who cares if election time is coming up? If we can get it done during election time, let’s get it done. The city is facing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of water, sewer and street repairs. What would be your top infrastructure priority, and how would you look to fund it?
Number one: (We get) brown water. Something needs to be done. I’m thinking, I have five children in school now. I’ve been PTA president several times. During the (Earl) Watkins administration, the community supported an increase in taxes to support the school system. I think if the mayor, along with the city councilmen, lets the city know: (what) money is for (what project), we will say yes. We want to be able to see something. I think we’ll say yes.
thing wrong. Every time it rains, the streets are flooded. Something is wrong when every three months, I need to call the fire department or something to come out and turn on the fire hydrant so the water can clear out. Like I said earlier, if we truly let the citizens know where this money is being spent, I think we’ll say yes. From what I’ve read, I believe they are saying we need to replace our water system. A large portion of it, yes.
In my area, yes, that would be a top priority. Something is wrong when you turn the faucet on, and you look at this water and, you’re scared to drink it. The mayor is wanting to implement a local option, 1-cent sales tax that the voters would have to approve. Would you support that sales tax to fund infrastructure improvements?
The answer is yes. As a citizen, if you tell me we’re going to have a 1-cent sales tax for X-amount of dollars over X-amount of time—earmark it for whatever project it’s going to be and when that project is completed you’ll cut it off—I think the citizens will go with that. We want to see something, to know that there will be a beginning and an end. I’ll support it, and I think the citizens will support it. You mentioned crime and police. Jackson has, if not a crime problem, a crime perception problem. Aside
One thing I like that is going on is that schools should be a safe haven for kids. I recently read that certified policemen are in the Jackson Public School system. I think that’s a great thing. First—and I know this is a legislative problem here—the mayor, along with the citizens, need to get on the horn and let the (state) Legislature know education needs to be fully funded. Something is wrong when you can go to Memphis and receive, as a teacher, thousands more (in pay) than in Mississippi. We’re losing our teachers to these border states. Comment and read more of this interview at www.jfp.ms. Email Jacob D. Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org. *Editor’s Note: Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and Jackson City Council members hold community meetings in each ward on a monthly basis.
Robert Thompson Born: Louise, Miss. Age: 56 Political Experience: Ran for Ward 4 council seat in 2005; lost to Frank Bluntson. Education: Bachelor’s in criminal justice, concentration in juvenile justice from Jackson State University, 1982; Humphrey County High School, 1974 Family: Wife, Evelyn, nine children, including five still living at home
The corridor would include a vast collection of medical and other health-rßelated services, retailers and manufacturers stretching from Interstate 55 to Interstate 220. The plans include using the land where Veterans Memorial Stadium sits to build medical-related businesses and hospital expansions. Under state law, when JSU begins playing home football games in another venue, management and ownership of Veterans Memorial will transfer to University of Mississippi Medical Center. There are four possible sites for the location of the on-campus stadium, Thomas said. JSU currently owns about 60 percent of the land on one of the proposed sites, 80 percent on two of the sites and 100 percent of the land on one possible site. If built, the stadium would be the only on-campus domed football stadium in the entire southern United States. JSU football coach Rick Comegy said the stadium could give the Tigers a big recruiting edge in the SWAC. “Young people today enjoy nice facilities,” Comegy said. “I think (the dome) is going to make a great impact on our program when kids come up and visit and see the modern stadium and the technology that, hopefully, will be in there. Construction plans also include a parking lot for tailgating close to the stadium, Thomas said. JSU is exploring the possibility of an adjoining parking garage. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email Jacob D. Fuller at jacob@ jacksonfreepress.com.
Slow and Easy by Bethany Bridges and R.L. Nave
ive Mississippi prisons are already pri- last summer. Inmates accused CCA employ- pay for infrastructure projects if a two-thirds vately run, but Adams County could be ees of mistreatment and held dozens of staff of citizens approve the plan. Two of these the first in the state to turn operations of members hostage. The prisoners beat one bills—Senate Bill 2145 and HB 523, both of its county jail over to a private firm. guard, Catlin Carithers, to death. which would have opened the possibility of House Bill 1688, sponsored by Rep. “That stuff happens everywhere in any levying local-option sales taxes to municipaliRobert Johnson, D-Natchez, would ties statewide—died in commitauthorize Adams County to contee last week. tract with Corrections Corporation Rep. Edward Blackmon, of America, one of the nation’s largD-Canton, opted not to send est prison management corporathe bill to the House floor for a tions, to house its inmates. vote. Though Blackmon supAdams County officials say ported the intent of the bill, it they are looking into how much simply didn’t have enough supit would cost taxpayers to build a port, he said. new jail versus hiring CCA, which Jackson’s final hope could already runs a federal facility in Natrest in HB 546, which would chez. Darryl Grennell, president of restructure the oversight comthe Adams County’s Board of Sumittee to allow Jackson more pervisors, told the Jackson Free Press discretion on how to spend the that the county wants legislation just revenue collected from the tax. in case it decides to go with CCA. The bill was assigned to the Sollie Norwood (right), with wife, Joan, looking on, is sworn in Adams County District 1 Senate Finance Committee as as Jackson’s newest state senator. Supervisor Mike Lazarus said conof Tuesday’s deadline to pass tracting with CCA would be a cost bills originating in the opposite efficient solution considering the chamber out of committee. condition of the county’s crumbling facility. type of prison,” he said. “It just happened in “CCA has the staff, transportation, Hinds County.” Norwood Joins Senate kitchen and other things that are needed to The Raymond Detention Center, which For the first time in what seems like run a jail. This could save us a lot of money the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office, runs was forever, the Hinds County delegation to the because we wouldn’t have to worry about that also the scene of a riot last year. Hinds Coun- Mississippi Senate as well as the Democratic stuff,” Lazarus said. “Our current jail is aging ty officials have also discussed building a new caucus is at full strength. and is in need of repair. Building a new jail jail as well as contracting with a private firm Sollie Norwood, a former Jackson Pubwould cost anywhere from $8 million to $10 to run the detention center. lic Schools Board of Trustees member, who million. Contracting with CCA would be a won a Feb. 26 special election to replace late cheaper route for us right now.” Slow Action for Jackson Sen. Alice Harden, took the oath of office Built in 1974, Adams County’s jail can Several pieces of legislation that would Monday afternoon. house between 74 and 80 inmates per day. If benefit the capital city area remain alive, if only Norwood, who takes his seat with twoCCA takes over management of the jail, the barely. A law passed in 2009 would have al- thirds of the legislative session over, said he company could build a new facility with a ca- lowed the city of Jackson to ask citizens to raise wants to hold a listening tour to hear conpacity of 200, Lazarus said. money through a referendum, but Jackson of- stituent concerns, work on Medicaid expanLazarus seems unfazed by the safety re- ficials did not like the provisions dictating the sion as well as ways to attract new businesses cord of the CCA-run Adams County Cor- makeup of a required oversight committee. and promote existing small businesses in the rectional Center, which primarily houses A number of bills introduced during district. immigrant detainees for the federal Bureau of the current session would have given cities Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Prisons, and was the site of a tense prison riot the option of levying a 1-percent sales tax to Nave at email@example.com.
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