May 22 - 28, 2013
JACKSONIAN ANNE WELCH
nne Welch believes Jackson has the potential to be one of the country’s great biking cities. “Jackson as a city is a very bikeable city,” she says. “We’re a very small city. It’s easy to get from Fondren to downtown; from downtown you get to JSU, and you pass Midtown on the way.” As a leader in the Jackson Bike Advocates, Welch wants to convince other Jacksonians to see the city the way she sees it. Welch, 26, got interested bicycling while at Mississippi State University. “In college, I started riding regularly, commuting to class and work by bike, and really just fell in love with biking and bike culture,” she says. So when the Jackson native returned to the capital city after graduation, she found kindred spirits in the Jackson Bike Advocates. Welch says she’s seen Jackson’s bike culture grow exponentially in the past three years, but plenty of hurdles—or potholes— still sit in the group’s path. “Our roads are obviously really bad,” Welch says. “I was in Atlanta (last week), and I was riding with my friend and we were riding on this road and I hit one or two potholes. He apologized and said, ‘I’m sorry, this is one of the worst streets in town.’ I said, ‘This is like one of the best streets in Jackson.’” One solution, Welch says, is legislation other cities have passed called the “complete streets” initiative, which says that when plan-
ning a project (a new road, renovation, expansion, etc.) planners must consider all users of the road and analyze the need for things like sidewalks or bike lanes—without community member having to call for them. “The only real way to make a community safer for cyclists is to have more cyclists on the streets. And the only way to get more cyclists is to make our city bike friendly,” Welch says. “So you put (complete streets) in place and over time as we rebuild the city we’ll end up with a pedestrian and bike-friendly city.” While the group waits on infrastructure to catch up, it is working to educate the community. Over the summer JBA will open its new community bike shop in Midtown. There, community members can learn to fix bikes and about bike safety. Welch says the shop will offer an “Earn a Bike” program where people volunteer their time, go through the training process, and then can pick out a bike from the shop, fix it up and take it home for free. Even though the shop isn’t officially open, yet, JBA has been working with a group of fifth graders from Midtown Partners this spring to teach kids about cycling. In addition to running the community bike shop, Jackson Bike Advocates works with the cycling community at large to host Allycat races (where participants must race to different spots in town and check them off), and bike polo matches. —Kathleen M. Mitchell
Cover photo of the Fondren After 5K by Trip Burns
10 A FIGMENT of Imagination
Jackson once again played host to FIGMENT last weekend. The nonprofit out of New York celebrates its third year in Mississippi with a bigger, better and more colorful interactive creativity festival.
24 Blooming Beauty
Our resident Girl About Town shares her recent education on flower arranging.
32 Unusual Blues
Longtime musician Taj Mahal brings his layered, multifaceted sound to Duling Hall.
4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 .................................. BUSINESS 14 ............... EDITORIAL CARTOON 15 .................................... OPINION 16 ............................ COVER STORY 22 ............................. LIFE & STYLE 23 ......................................... FOOD 24 ................... GIRL ABOUT TOWN 25 ............................................ GEEK 26 .............................. DIVERSIONS 28 .......................................... FILM 29 ............................... EIGHT DAYS 31 ............................... JFP EVENTS 32 ....................................... MUSIC 33 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 34 ..................................... SPORTS 35 .................................... PUZZLES 37 ....................................... ASTRO 38 ............................................ DIY
DAVID RAE MORRIS; JULIE SKIPPER; TRIP BURNS
MAY 22 - 28, 2013 | VOL. 11 NO. 37
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
The Future of Jackson Depends on You
he signs showed up overnight around Ward 1 and parts of Ward 7: “Vote Today: The Future of Jackson Depends On It.” The texts and emails started arriving: “Tomorrow the future of Jackson will be determined.” The Facebook and Twitter posts, supporting one of the mayoral candidates, continued the theme: “The world will implode into a zillion pieces Tuesday if you don’t vote for my candidate!” OK, I made the last one up, but certainly not the first two. My first reaction to the mysterious white signs was a journalistic one: Who did them? Is it a campaign trying to target just white voters? Are they really only in certain parts of town? (They were; I drove the city and looked because investigative blood flows through my veins.) By Tuesday, ironically for the folks who targeted only certain areas, hearing about the Ward 1 and 7 signs seemed to motivated people all over town to get and vote, which was the best possible outcome. The more voters, the better. Always. But here’s the other thing about the signs. They hit a nerve with me precisely because the sentiment is so backward and inaccurate and alarmist. Part of our problem in Jackson is that we allow ourselves to be divided by people who convince us that the person in the mayor’s office is the key to everything. They tell us that development downtown is blocked by the mayor; local businesses can’t thrive because of the mayor; the potholes are there because of the mayor; people kill people because of the mayor. Or the creative class can’t happen without the mayor (which we’ve helped prove wrong without ever involving a mayor’s blessing). Seriously: We’re supposed to wait around for one or another mayor to come along and save everything, including our businesses, for us? This is the worst kind of reliance on the government. And it’s really a
dumb notion used for political purposes. What this absurd notion actually does is disempowers citizens, and keeps them fighting among themselves. We have a handful of loud and divisive folks with platforms in the city who have told us continually how much Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. sucked when clearly they didn’t like him and their egos were all up in it. I’m just going to be honest: I always
We’re supposed to wait around for one or another mayor to come along and save everything ... seriously? have long respected Mayor Johnson, and he sure was a lot better than other mayoral options we’ve faced in the last decade, but I never once have asked him for permission to do a damn thing. And, funny, Mayor Johnson has never gotten in my business’ way. He was respectful back, and the city and the JFP sometimes got annoyed with each other. But there wasn’t a whole lot of trailer-park drama in our relationship. It was professional, and it wasn’t co-dependent or alarmist. But to hear some of these campaigns, especially one, tell it: that mayor destroyed everything and made it impossible to get anything done. Of course, that was an ego-
driven lie, but it didn’t matter. Many of the same people who have pushed that meme against him—since way back when he became the city’s first black mayor in a tough battle in the 1990s—have never let it go. No matter at this point; it worked. He’s out. And by the time you read this, barring some big chad-apalooza, we’ll have a new mayor. And probably half the city will hate him and dog him for four years no matter what he does. Because, you know, our future depends on that mayor. Wink, wink. And I have a big old lake to sell you. There’s nothing true about that. Think about it. Eight years ago, a fake “unity” coalition convinced Jackson voters that Frank Melton was the savior of everything and would cure crime in 90 days. (One candidate this year has promised to fix potholes in three days. Ahem.) Of course, he had no idea how to run the city and not a whole lot of interest in anything but amassing power, playing cop and probably weeding a bunch of files out of the system, truth be known. But we were told he was the man who was going to save us from ourselves, and Johnson, and our future depended on electing him! We couldn’t convince people that he was a charlatan, at first, no matter what we reported. And guess what? He screwed up about everything he touched as mayor and—drum roll—we voted him out in four years and brought back a mayor who actually had a grasp on reality, if a whole lot duller by comparison. If the new mayor is a screw-up, we will do the same thing. Jackson’s future does not depend on him succeeding. The people who sell you that bill of goods are trying to distract you in some kind of Orwellian fantasy where all you do for four years is whine about the administration instead of digging in with your own initiative. We sensed some buyers’ remorse in the two weeks since voters ousted Johnson
in the primary. We saw a lot of extreme, unethical campaigning and efforts to paint one of the candidates as “the others.” We saw a heap-ton of racism in social media, and we heard the usual chorus of people who are going to run kicking and screaming from the city if Mr. Lumumba won. It was pitiful and depressing. The JFP did not endorse either choice that we faced in this runoff due to both men’s high negatives—which the last two weeks brought into starker focus than before the primary. But one of them will be mayor unless an independent candidate really surprises us in June. And either man can make a good mayor if we hold him accountable and give him a chance without ridiculously high expectations (like potholes being filled in three days). But the biggest favor we can do for Jackson is to take the emphasis off one man, or seven people, being our savior. And the last thing we need to do again is to slam our entire city’s progress in a scorched-earth attempt to unseat a mayor. That was one big collective insult to all of us, and any campaign that does that ought to be summarily dismissed. (Note that for the future.) Folks, it takes you, and you, and you, and you, and me to build a great city. We each have to step up to our responsibilities and stop complaining about what others aren’t doing. How can you help? Are you shopping at local businesses? Are you mentoring a young person? Are you helping keep an eye on your neighbor’s house? Are you part of efforts that build the kinds of amenities that residents want? Are you voting for policies that help get our people out of poverty? The list goes on, and there is at least one task on it for everyone. Please remember: No matter who you voted for on May 21 or who won, the future of the city depends on you. You’re up. Please don’t let us down.
May 22 - 28, 2013
Kathleen M. Mitchell ShaWanda Jacome
Kathleen can usually be found running around Fondren leashed to a giant speckled hound named Teddy Roosevelt. Say hi if you see them taking a break outside Babalu. She coordinated the cover package and wrote the Jacksonian.
ShaWanda Jacome is an elementary librarian in JPS. One of her favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” She contributed to the cover package.
Pamela Hosey is originally from West Point, Miss. She loves to write, read James Patterson novels and spend time with her family. She contributed to the cover package.
Amber, a graduate of Ole Miss, is an editorial assistant by day and a server by night. She loves to talk and eat, but is incapable of doing both at the same time. One day she hopes to conquer the great Flabbus. She contributed to 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. Call him at 601-3626121 ext. 12 or email rlnave@ jacksonfreepress.com.
An LA. boy transported to the South at an early age, Nick Judin began his quest to produce video games at the age of 6. Nick spends his free time writing, reading and playing games. He wrote the Geek feature.
Kimberly Griffin is a fitness buff and foodie who loves chocolate and her mama. She’s also Michelle Obama’s super secret BFF, which explains the Secret Service detail.
Advertising Designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland. Andrea is a lover of all genres of music, fashion and good food. She spends her free time exploring everything Jackson has to offer.
Sponsored in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.
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WHAT SONG OR SONGS PUMP YOU UP FOR RUNNING AND EXERCISE? Susan Weatherford The theme from â€œRocky.â€?
Trip Burns Daft Punk: â€œHarder Faster Stronger.â€?
Tim Murphy Macklemoreâ€™s album â€œThe Heistâ€? is great for working out. Tegan and Saraâ€™s latest, â€œHeartthrobâ€? sets a pretty good pace too. When I need something rockier I gotta put on DragonForce, â€œThrough The Fire and Flames.â€?
Andrea Smart Chick Thomas Kristin Brenemen said â€œVertigogoâ€? by Combustible Edison.
Kelly Bryan Smith Alicia Keys, â€œGirl on Fire.â€? Keith Davis Everything by Midnight Oil or The Clash. I know, Iâ€™m stuck in the 1980s. Darius Williams Spinners: â€œRubberband Manâ€? (running) Young Jeezy: â€œGo Crazyâ€? (upper body) DMX: â€œRuff Ryderâ€™s Anthemâ€? (When youâ€™re feeling good about yourself) MOP: â€œAnte Upâ€? (When fatigue sets in) Luther Vandross: â€œGlow of Loveâ€? (Because itâ€™s a good song)
Andrea Smart Chick Thomas Coming from someone who works out all the time (Iâ€™m working out right now at my desk): â€œI Could Be The Oneâ€? by Avicii, â€œWe Got The Worldâ€? by Icona Pop, â€œJust One Last Timeâ€? by David Guetta and basically anything EDM. Kathy Self Robertson â€œSay It Ainâ€™t Soâ€? by Trademark Show. Michael Kennedy Jamiroquaiâ€™s â€œCanned Heatâ€? always gets the heart pumping and makes me run extra sassy. ShaWanda Jacome â€œMoves Like Jaggerâ€? by Maroon 5 and â€œShowStopperâ€? by tobyMac.
Shellie Zeigler The new Fergie song from The Great Gatsby soundtrack, â€œA Little Party Never Killed Nobody.â€? Amber Helsel â€œThrift Shopâ€? by Macklemore and â€œRadioactiveâ€? by Imagine Dragons. Allison Reid Iâ€™ve really been loving Icona Popâ€™s â€œI Donâ€™t Care (I Love It).â€? Great song to get pumped up. Jerri Dear-Wallace I listen to Lady Gagaâ€™s â€œPoker Faceâ€? and Gnarled Barkleyâ€™s â€œCrazyâ€? when I run. Ariss King â€œGreen Lightâ€? by John Legend featuring Andre 3000, â€œMake It Bun Demâ€? by Skrillex & Damian â€œJr. Gongâ€? Marley, â€œA Voltaâ€? by N.A.S.A. featuring Sizzla and Amanda B., â€œThe Pretenderâ€? by The Foo Fighters, and â€œLose Yourself to Danceâ€? by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams.
Jessica Mizell â€œBouncinâ€™ Backâ€? by Mystical and â€œRunâ€? By Phoenix. Lisa Marie Kiefer Billy Idol: â€œDancing With Myself.â€? Chase Van Velkinburgh I must be weird. I listen to metal when I run. ShaWanda Jacome Youâ€™re not weird. ... My husband listens to metal to get pumped up to work out. Shirley L. Walker â€œCanâ€™t Hold Usâ€? by Macklemore (Ray Dalton). Nikki Thomas Tegan & Saraâ€™s â€œCloser.â€? Ashleigh Risher I teach Zumba and â€œDanza Kuduroâ€? is a good song and â€œLovumb.â€? Brian Sims â€œCruiseâ€? by Florida George Line, Nelly remix.
Malcolm Johnson â€œWobble Wobble.â€?
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May 22 - 28, 2013
s t a e r T r e m m Su
(Next door to McDades Market Extra) Mon. - Sat., 10 am - 9 pm Maywood Mart Shopping Center 1220 E. Northside Dr. â€˘ 601-366-5676 www.mcdadeswineandspirits.com Always Drink Responsibly
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Wednesday, May 15 Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature announce that they are working on proposals to keep Medicaid alive and funded in the budget year that starts July 1. â€Ś Akein Scott, the suspect in the Motherâ€™s Day parade shooting that wounded 19, is arrested in the Little Woods section of New Orleans.
Friday, May 17 A veteran police officer accidentally kills Hofstra University junior Andrea Rebello while firing at an intruder named Dalton Smith, who had Rebello in a headlock and was holding her hostage. â€Ś Suspected thieves rip out a safe from the wall of a hotel room near the Cannes Film Festival and make off with about $1 million worth of jewelry inside. Saturday, May 18 The National Park Service celebrates the day in 1938 when the NPS assumed control of the historic Old Natchez Road, today known as the Natchez Trace Parkway.
May 22 - 28, 2013
Sunday, May 19 Syrian government and rebel forces clash in the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border. At least 40,000 civilians are in the town. â€Ś A number of tornadoes strike the central U.S., killing two people and injuring at least 39.
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Was Hindsâ€™ Circuit Courthouse Sabotaged? by R.L. Nave
he elevators in the Hinds County Circuit Court building are hanging on by a thread. For weeks, the elevators have been plagued with issues that appear to be a combination of age, sabotage or both. At times, only one of the two elevators in the five-story courthouse functions; at other times, both elevators have been inoperable. At this weekâ€™s Hinds County supervisorsâ€™ meeting, District 3 Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun requested for funding to upgrade the elevators, which could cost nearly $300,000, but Calhounâ€™s motion was unsuccessful, failing on a 2-2 vote. Graham said the elevators require only modernization, by replacing five broken coils. But Calhoun also read from an email that board President Robert Graham wrote suggesting some of the elevator issues may have resulted from foul play. In the email, Graham stated that two employees of the company that formerly did elevator maintenance work for the county would no longer be allowed in the courthouse. â€œTony, who works for Dixie Elevators, the company that presently maintains our service, says he has evidence that Mr. Davis entered HCC under false pretense stating that he needed to inspect the elevators,â€? Graham wrote of the county courthouse. While there, (Davis) turned off the power to the elevators. The power was restored the next day after the present technician with Dixie Elevators discovered what had happened.â€? In addition to preventing the men entry to the building, county officials locked the elevator control box to prevent tampering. In the meantime, the running the
Monday, May 20 Ed Day resigns as president of Mississippi Power. His replacement, effective immediately, is Ed Holland. â€Ś A massive tornado in Moore, Okla., kills 24 people, including nine children.
READY TO RUN?
Tuesday, May 21 Voters go to the polls to select the Democrat likely to be Jacksonâ€™s next mayor. â€Ś Iranâ€™s election overseers remove potential wildcard candidates from the presidential race, blocking a top aide of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a former president who revived hopes of reformers.
unning might be the oldest form of exercise on Earth, but each year, hundreds of people discover its power anew. Here are some interesting and little-known facts about the worldâ€™s most popular, easiest and cheapest athletic activity.
courthouse has been a challenge because people needing to get to courtrooms and offices on the upper floors must take the stairs, which is especially problematic for people participating in court proceedings
unfair to the citizens who pay taxes.â€? Mary Troupe, executive director of Just Advocacy, said she has heard a lot of complaints from disabled people who have been turned away from jury duty. PEGGY HOBSON-CALHOUN
Thursday, May 16 Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, attends a 50th commemoration of Medgarâ€™s assassination in Jackson. â€Ś The ceiling of a Cambodian factory that makes Asics sneakers collapses on workers, killing two people and injuring seven.
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Hinds County Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun (not pictured) wants to give the elevators in the Hinds County courthouse a facelift.
such as trials and jury selection. Mississippi state Rep. Alyce Clarke, a Democrat from Jackson, who walks with a cane, uses the building often to attend youth and drug courts. She said she is disappointed the board did not vote to replace or fix the elevators, nor did Graham allow her to address supervisors. â€œThey hurt my feelingsâ€”the fact that they didnâ€™t do anything about it,â€? Clarke told the Jackson Free Press. â€œItâ€™s
â€˘ Over 1 billion pairs of running shoes are sold worldwide each year. â€˘ 104.3 calories are burned every mile when running at a 10 minute/mile pace. â€˘ The fastest mile was run by Moroccan, Hitcham El Guerrouj in 3:43:13 in 1999. Interestingly enough, the second fastest record holder is the second place winner of the same race. â€˘ The oldest person to complete a marathon, Fauja Singh of India, was born in 1911,
â€œThatâ€™s not what people with disabilities want to do. We want to be as much as part of community life as possible,â€? Troupe said. â€œYou should not have to say â€˜I cant do itâ€™ because itâ€™s not accessible. We want to fully participate in the community.â€? A message left for Hinds County maintenance Director Michael Harrington was not returned. Comment at jfp.ms .Contact R.L. Nave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
making him 100 years old at the time. This marathoner didnâ€™t even start racing until he was 89 years of age. â€˘ When we run, the human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet. â€˘ In order to burn off a Big Mac
(540 kcal), a 140 pound female would have to run for 52 minutes at a 10 minutes/ mile pace. â€˘ Running burns about 50 percent more calories than walking. â€˘ Three surprising animals that are faster than the human being: a domestic rabbit, a cat and a kangaroo. â€˘ Three surprising animals that are slower than the human being: an elephant, a squirrel and a domestic pig. SOURCE: ANYTIMEHEALTH.COM
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Valley Title Building Has New Owner, No Water by R.L. Nave
ering at Koinonia Coffee House. Graham, who represents northeast Hinds Countyâ€™s District 1 on the board, said the keys to the countyâ€™s business-development strategy are safety, education and recreationâ€”whether people have something to do besides go out to eat, he said. The supervisor touted budget-saving measures such as privatizing certain pieces of the Hinds-run Raymond Detention Center, including medical services. Negotiating better deals on pharmaceuticals and having TRIP BURNS
Economic-development deals such as the sale of the Valley Title Building must be put together in secret, Hinds County Supervisor and board President Robert Graham said.
more on-site medical staff instead of shuttling prisoners to and from the hospital saved the county $1.5 million, Graham said. In October 2012, the board contracted with New Rochelle, N.Y.-based Quality Choice Correctional Healthcare to provide medical care for county inmates. QCCH replaced Reddix Medical Group, headed by Dr. Carl Reddix, which terminated its agreement with Hinds County citing a lack of county-provided nurses and non-medical staff at the jail making medical decisions. The county also privatized food services and is conducting a feasibility study to consider privatization of the jailâ€™s entire day-to-day to operation. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at email@example.com.
he long-dormant Valley Title Building, located at 315 Tombigbee St., will not have taxpayer-paid utility services â€” but it does have a new owner. However, officials from Hinds County, which owns the property, are mum on who the owner is or how the deal was struck. â€œI canâ€™t say what the business is, because somebody from Madison County has probably got this room bugged, and theyâ€™ll probably be trying to get them to come to Madison County,â€? Hinds County Board President Robert Graham said May 10. This week, District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes asked if the new owner could take over paying for its utility expenses. However, since the new owners have not closed on the purchase, the county must continue paying any expenses. At Stokesâ€™ urging, the board voted to shut off the water in the building until the new owners take possession of it. The 40,000-square-foot building, located at the intersection of Tombigbee and Congress streets, formerly housed Mississippi Valley Title Insurance. The county Board of Supervisors agreed to purchase the building for $2.5 million in 2007, using funds from a $30 million bond issue. To sweeten the deal back then, supervisors attached $1.76 million in federal stimulus bonds as an incentive for buying the building. The tax-exempt bonds, officially called Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, function much like the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone Bonds that helped finance private development in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Federal legislation allows private entities to issue these bonds, the sale of which then provides capital for development projects. Graham also said that, contrary to popular belief, people and businesses are moving to the countyâ€”just not at a fast enough pace to keep up with companies that are leaving. Because communities in surrounding counties â€œstealâ€? away businesses headquartered in Hinds County with tactics such as offering free land, Graham said, Hinds officials remain tight-lipped about the countyâ€™s economic-development projects. â€œWe donâ€™t use names; we use codes, and we have to use those particular codes in order to maintain secrecy as to who wants to move to Hinds County,â€? Graham said, responding to a question at the gath-
TALK | arts
Kids Being Creative: FIGMENT 2013
May 22 - 28, 2013
The shoes hanging from this structure were typical of the “decorations” for FIGMENT 2013, a festival designed to show off the creativity of the Midtown Arts Districts professional artists and bring out the artistic side in festival-goers.
they are about to wrap it up. Inside, the overhead lights go off, and the laser lights come on. Jackson’s hottest young spinner, D.J. Young Venom, takes the stage and delights the now college-age-only crowd. Nine other D.J.s will perform before the night is through. Tents are pitched in the back yard for camping. The environment is safe, and the drinks are cold. This is how Midtown does FIGMENT, an annual interactive arts festival. “It’s always just so awesome and humbling that it happens like it does,” Midtown Partners spokeswoman Whitney Grant says. “We had a great turnout Saturday, and into the night. Dozens of people showed up to volunteer and help us pull it off, and we definitely got the first hot days of the summer.” Jackson is one of seven cities in the United States to host FIGMENT, which is a non-profit based out of New York that aims to spread creativity through events similar to the one in Jackson. The other six cities are New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh and San Diego. They’ve been holding the event since 2007, and this was their third in Jackson since 2011. Looking back at the weekend, Gandy says he thought patrons, especially the kids, had as good a time expressing themselves as he did watching and teaching them. “I felt
he sun is beating down Saturday, May 18, like it hasn’t before in 2013 as dozens of people move through the streets of Midtown toward 126 Keener Ave., the heart of FIGMENT Jackson. As this reporter and trusty photographer Trip Burns pass over Wightman Street, we see a display to the left under a tent with whirligigs, man-sized curly q’s and other manners of artwork nestled in what would otherwise be a blighted alley. We bear right on Wilson Street headed for Keener, passing a painting table and a chalk-drawing area littered with dozens of kids—ages 3 to 60—on their hands and knees turning what mayoral candidates would have called a crumbling street into a 1,500-foot work of art. When we finally arrive at Keener, a crowd of 75 or so is spread throughout the rustic warehouse-turned-art studio manned by local painter Greg Gandy. He’s transformed his usually disheveled studio space into a playground for the creative. Six 6-by-4-foot canvasses line the walls, and a table in the middle of the studio holds most every color paint you can imagine. Children of all ages, their parents and college students let their inner-artist pour out as Gandy looks on with a seemingly painted-on grin. There is no entrance fee; visitors get friendly greetings and paintbrushes. “It’s crazy,” Gandy says as he welcomes us in. “I must have had 10 to 20 people in my studio painting every minute of (Saturday). Grab a paint brush.” As we walk through the back door, we step out onto a serenely manicured lawn (part of Gandy’s work-for-cheap-rent agreement). The band is jamming out on a stage set up at the east end. A small crowd is gathered in front, getting down like it’s 15 degrees cooler. On the west side of the lawn, a camping tent or two sit next to a brick fire pit in the shape of Mississippi. It’s completely full of sticks and vines Gandy has pulled off the fence to get the yard ready for the event. A dome-climber jungle gym sits outside the iron fence that encloses the back yard—complete with colorfully decorated triangle sections, some covered, others striped or criss-crossed. Dozens more children run around inside and outside the structure, surrounded by tents where parents sit and watch their kids play as they take in the sun. Skateboarders and bicyclists shout to each other as they ride up and down the street. Flash forward to Saturday night. It’s 10 p.m., and another group of musicians is on stage. There have been four others in between the first band and this one, and
by Tyler Cleveland
FIGMENT 2013 stretched nearly five blocks, much more spread out than it had been in past years, when it was held in the old Coke plant on Highway 80.
like things went really, really well,” he says. “It was hard to tell how many people were there because it was so spread out, but my station was crowded all day. Kids were in and out of there. It was very well attended.” Gandy is shopping the paintings, which everyone who passed through the studio worked on in some capacity, to an art studio in order to raise money for future Midtown events, the next FIGMENT included. Last weekend’s event may be over, but
Grant says she hopes the program helped build momentum for Midtown headed into the next gallery tour on June 1. “What I’m really happy about now is that we have this really interesting sculpture garden,” Grant says. “… We also built a pizza oven together over at Pearl River Glass Studio. I’m always, and again this year, really happy with the fact that this happens, and that it happens right here in Midtown.” Photo gallery at jfp.ms/figment2013.
TALK | education
Common CORE to Standardize Public Education by Tyler Cleveland
By the 2014-2015 school year, a new standard will be in place for Mississippi public school students, thanks to Common CORE, a new national standard already adopted by 45 states.
II and junior-level math. Giving a presentation at Koinonia Coffee House last Friday, Mississippi Association of Educators spokeswoman Beverly Brahan said the tests are going to help Mississippi’s K-12 be more prepared for college or a career after graduation. “Education is the bedrock for a strong community,” Brahan said. “This program is an effort to get our students in Mississippi on par with the rest of the country, so they are prepared for college or a career when they graduate from our public schools.” Prepared for college is the key phrase there, because viewed as a whole, Mississippi has struggled getting public school students ready for the next level of education.
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Whether the new standards are the key to bringing Mississippi’s schools up to the national average remains to be seen,
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but the problem is clear as day—in 2012, Mississippi students average composite ACT score was 18.7, a full 2.4 points below the national average (21.1). According to statistics at ACT.org, only 11 percent of Mississippi’s 28,288 students who took the ACT in 2012 reached national benchmark scores in all four major categories—English, reading, math and science. Lanier High School biology teacher and Ward 5 city council candidate Bettye Dagner-Cook said she thinks that one reason the numbers look that way is because of the No Child Left Behind bill, which former President George W. Bush signed into law in 2001. “I think we need one comprehensive test and not all these different types
of standardized tests,” Dagner-Cook said. “They take four right now—Algebra I, Biology 1, English 2 and U.S. history from 1877 to present. I think that’s one of the reason children drop out of school. They want to blame a lot of that on other things, but I think reading problems are a big reason kids drop out. That English II test is a lot of reading, and if you don’t understand one word in the sentence, that can make you choose the wrong answer. “I swear, I think No Child Left Behind was designed to kill the public school system. They couldn’t pass that voucher system, so they went another way. At least that’s my interpretation of events.” Dagner-Cook said she fears Common CORE could end up hurting students in the short run, just as No Child Left Behind did, because of how quick the implementation process is moving along. “We need to start at kindergarten and be brought on gradually,” Cook said. “It’s coming into play 2014-2015, and some school systems are already getting ready for it, and Jackson better get ready too. We really still don’t know all the ins and outs of the (Common CORE) yet, but the students are going to have to do a lot of reading, inferring, going through the scientific method, and understanding of vocabulary. …I feel like they are just going to bring it in all at once and it’s going to be a whopper.” Brahan admitted they do not expect outstanding test scores from Mississippi schools in the first few years of the testing, but added that she was hopeful it would improve over time, thanks to the implementation of the program. “(In that first year) It’s probably not going to be pretty,” Brahan said. “But it should put our kids on track to be on par with kids from all the other states, and it will pay off in the future.”
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what students will be expected to learn by the end of each grade, starting in kindergarten and increasing each year to English FLICKR/ELIZABETH ALBERT
ississippi is consistently behind the eight ball when it comes to public education, but a new plan being implemented right now could change our students’ educational outcomes in the future. That plan is a new program referred to as Common CORE. It’s not another standardized test, and it isn’t a part of No Child Left Behind. It’s a standard program, designed to level the playing field for students across the country by providing consistency for appropriate academic benchmarks for every school in the nation. It’s already been adopted by 48 states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The Mississippi Department of Education adopted Common CORE under former Gov. Haley Barbour in 2010. It must be fully in place by 2015, so the adjustments are coming to Mississippi, and soon, whether teachers and schools are ready or not. “There’s been a lot of conversation about the transition,” State Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson. “A lot of the teachers are going to have to have some extra training so they understand how it works and how to adapt their teaching style to the new standards.” Brown added that this is not the first change to the curriculum in the state’s history, and that the new teacher training is worth it because “… the idea as a whole is a good one.” Under the guidelines for English in the new program, students are expected to be grade-level proficient in reading, writing, speaking and listening before they can progress to the next grade. In math, students must show that they possess both procedural skills and conceptual understanding of covered content. The National Parent Teacher Association is circulating a guide for parents showing
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TALK | business
The Odd Way UMMC Buys Stuff by R.L. Nave
he quagmire that ensnared Jackson the best price on supplies is of paramount Earlier this year, UMMC took those mayoral candidate Jonathan Lee’s concern. Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for steps, issuing a request-for-proposals for a family business, Mississippi Prod- UMMC, said that even if the hospital can GPO. Angie Bolivar, a Novation spokesucts, raises questions about the re- save 5 percent on the $150 million it spends woman, said the RFP is not evidence that lationships between government agencies, on purchasing each year, it is worth taking a the company’s relationship with UMMC group purchasing organizations and inter- second look at its GPO agreement. had soured. mediary distributors such as MPI. Shawn Rossi, a spokeswoman for the “Hospitals put out RFPs from time The saga began in 2008, when the Mississippi Hospital Association, said GPOs to time to confirm the value they are reUniversity of Mississippi Medical Cen- play a big part in controlling expenses as ceiving from their GPOs. In addition to ter entered into a contract with Irving, health-care costs continue to rise. that, in the case of state institutions like Texas-based Novation LLC, the nation’s largest group purchaser with 2,911 hospital members nationwide and contracts totaling more than $37.8 billion per year. Like other mega-corporations, Novation’s advantage is that it leverages its massive member network to get rock-bottom prices for customers such as UMMC from manufacturers. In theory, hospitals like UMMC benefit from a GPO arrangement by getting goods at cheaper prices than if they bought directly from manufacturers. Manufacturers benefit by being able to sell huge quantities of products at a guaranteed price point. Suppliers like MPI benefit as well. Under the agreement, MPI receives what’s known as an interJonathan Lee says his family’s company is on the hook for $200,000 because it got caught in the middle dealer stock price from a manuof a contract dispute between one of the state’s largest hospitals and a national contract purchaser. facturer at an “artificially high price,” then sells it to UMMC for less than MPI paid for the goods. “Supplies make up the second highest University of Mississippi Medial Center Once MPI proves the company sold the goods to the right person at the right price expense in most hospitals, and health care (UMMC) they are often required by the and not on the disposable-goods black mar- group-purchasing organizations play an im- state to put out RFPs at designated interket, the manufacturer gives MPI a rebate on portant role in using volume purchases to vals. We believe that is what is occurring the back end. negotiate discounts,” Rossi said. here,” Bolivar wrote in an email. But five manufacturers are suing MPI But Mississippi lawmakers have quesLee has said that MPI wasn’t notified and four of those companies have received tioned whether UMMC is getting the best that its contract would not be renewed so it default judgments in two states, while an- bang for Mississippi taxpayers’ bucks. In continued ordering products that the comother lawsuit from a Wisconsin-based com- 2011, the legislative Joint Committee on pany cannot sell but that manufacturers pany is pending. Lee, who participated in a Performance Evaluation and Expendi- want to get paid for. In all, MPI owes various tight race for mayor against Ward 2 Council- ture Review (PEER), questioned whether vendors approximately $200,000, Lee told man Chokwe Lumumba on May 21, hinted UMMC’s $126 million deal with Nova- the Jackson Free Press in April. that his company’s legal problems surfaced tion was a good deal for taxpayers after “That may come down to one side verwhen the deal between UMMC and Nova- complaints arose about the hospital’s pur- sus the other,” Mazurak said of the disagreetion went bad. chasing practices and specifically wheth- ment with Lee over timing of when UMMC “When a contract goes south with a er UMMC was getting the best prices alerted MPI that the contract would not be contract provider, then everybody is involved through Novation. renewed. He said the hospital provided because they’re the conduit,” Lee told the “UMMC should identify and consid- “weeks, if not more, heads up” to MPI that Jackson Free Press editorial board in April. er all reasonable alternatives in procuring the contract was ending. Lee said his company is now stuck with products and managing its supply chain,” In the meantime, UMMC has conproducts a company ordered but has not the report states. tinued to use MPI as a vendor but not paid for nor can it resell the goods to another The report goes on to say that should at the same levels the hospital did when customer, but it remains unclear why. UMMC decide to continue its arrangement it did business under the group-purWhether the relationship between that Novation, the hospital should conduct chasing agreement. UMMC and Novation actually went sour is thorough reviews to ensure that the GPO Comment at jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at unclear so far, but hospitals say that getting delivers the lowest possible prices. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Service and Repair
May 22 - 28, 2013
GTC Spectrum Corporation proposes to construct the following sites for radio communication purposes along the Illinois Central Railroad Company right-ofway along Mileposts 733.58, 736.05, 738.24, 742.50, 745.49, and 748.14 within Hinds County, MS. This will be a new construction involving 60-ft tall folding monopole towers on previously disturbed land.
Questions or comments regarding these facilities should be directed to Fax Number 713-541-0479.
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5/17/13 2:32 PM
Survival of the Poorest
oneqweesha Jones: â€œLive from the Hair Did University School of Cosmetology and Vocational Studies television production studio, itâ€™s a special edition of â€˜Qweesha 2013â€™. The topic for tonightâ€™s show is â€˜Survival of the Poorest.â€™ My guest is Moâ€™tel Williams, super producer, entertainment publicist, announcer, herbal Viagra distributor and co-author of the â€˜Poor Peopleâ€™s Survival Guide Booklet.â€™ â€œMoâ€™tel, in your survival guide booklet, you suggest that poor folk will have to â€˜sacrifice to surviveâ€™ in a society of greed and selfishness. Havenâ€™t the poor sacrificed enough?â€? Moâ€™tel Williams: â€œRich folk, corporations and the government want the poor to sacrifice more. For example, some politicians want poor workers to sacrifice their overtime pay. Congress is pushing so-called â€˜comp timeâ€™ legislation that allows employers to stop giving workers extra pay for overtime work. So, in my â€˜Poor Peopleâ€™s Survival Guide Booklet,â€™ I have a chapter describing what poor working people will sacrifice during this financially challenging period.â€? Boneqweesha Jones: â€œSo, how will the poor survive?â€? Moâ€™tel Williams: â€œThe poor will survive by patronizing businesses that treat workers and customers fairly. Spend money wisely. Express concerns and complaints to political representatives, businesses and corporations. Encourage family, friends and community members to work together and respect each other. Therefore, poor folk must sacrifice their apathy and learn how to survive and counter act corporate exploitation and government marginalization.â€? Boneqweesha Jones: â€œAnd Lynne Cheney did not write a poignant standard English introduction for the Poor Peopleâ€™s Survival Guide Booklet.â€?
May 22 - 28, 2013
Â°$EMOCRATIC 53 2EP "ENNIE 4HOMPSON IN A RADIO AD ANNOUNCING HIS ENDORSEMENT FOR #OUNCILMAN #HOKWE ,UMUMBA