January 8 - 14, 2014
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JACKSONIAN CECIL BROWN
ermany borders Switzerland to the north, France is to its west and Italy to its south. Switzerland, therefore, recognizes four official languages—German, French, Italian and Romansh. In fact, Switzerland is not a nation but officially a confederation that famously remains neutral in international wars. In that way, Switzerland is an interesting and perhaps even apt choice for state Rep. Cecil Brown to vacation with his family before the notoriously divided Mississippi Legislature commences its 2014 legislative session. Just as Switzerland hasn’t always practiced neutrality, Brown, a north Jackson Democrat since 2000, says the Legislature hasn’t always been as polarized as it is now. “Debates changed,” Brown, 69, told the Jackson Free Press recently. Before 2011, Brown’s Democratic Party held power in the House of Representatives, and Republicans controlled every other branch of state government. Nevertheless, the parties had spirited exchanges over the big questions they faced about public education, health care and the budget before striking a compromise. Under the leadership of Speaker Philip Gunn, Brown not only lost his chairmanship but Gunn kicked him off the House Education Committee all together. Beyond asking questions and pushing for floor debate, Democrats know they can’t provide education funding increases.
“We’re just trying to keep them from killing public education,” Brown said. A Meridian native, Brown received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, and a master’s in public accountancy from the University of Texas and moved to Jackson in 1967. Before he retired in 2013, Brown spent 47 years working as a Certified Public Accountant and investment adviser, and he served as chief of staff to Gov. Ray Mabus, a Democrat. Brown long had an interest in education issues, but his marriage to Nancy Haas, a teacher who worked in four Jackson public high schools before working at Northwest Rankin High School, helped him take up the mantel when he won election to the Legislature in 1999. In that time, Brown has come to know more about the economics of public education than just about any other lawmaker. The battle of wills over education and other key issues is now underway at the state capitol. Brown said this session Democrats will attempt to drum up more public involvement in debates over education as well as Medicaid expansion, which is expected to be a hot-button issue once again in 2014. Brown points to two key reports published in recent years showing numerous health benefits and millions of dollars in potential economic activity from expanding Medicaid. “I’m hoping they come to their senses,” Brown said. —R.L. Nave
Cover photo of the Mississippi State Capitol by Trip Burn, design by Kristin Brenemen
9 The Long Haul
“For those who haven’t had a chance to find out, not only is (Rick Hill) a good artisan, a technician of his trade, but he’s also a wonderful human being, he’s very compassionate and understanding. He has patience, especially when you don’t understand something. He’ll sit down with you and explain it over and over again.” —Chokwe Lumumba, “Rick Hill Brings It Home”
19 Fresh Air
Kelly Bryan Smith wants you to hit the road and spend a day reconnecting with nature. Just leave the electronics at home.
28 Blues Mood
Bill Morganfield, Muddy Waters’ son, continues his family’s legacy of blues music, incorporating his own distinctive touch.
4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 ................................ EDITORIAL 13 .................................... OPINION 14 ............................ COVER STORY 19 ................................. WELLNESS 21 ......................................... FOOD 23 .............................. DIVERSIONS 24 .......................................... FILM 25 ....................................... 8 DAYS 26 ...................................... EVENTS 28 ....................................... MUSIC 29 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 30 ..................................... SPORTS 31 .................................... PUZZLES 33 ....................................... ASTRO
RENEE MALONE; KELLY BRYAN SMITH; TRIP BURNS
JANUARY 8 - 14, 2014 | VOL. 12 NO. 18
by R.L. Nave, News Editor
My ‘News’ Year Resolutions
y the time you read this, the 2014 regular session of the Mississippi Legislature will be underway. And there’s a good chance, by then, we’ll all already be kind of over it. Granted, this is only my third legislative session, which is nothing compared to some of my colleagues in the Capitol press corps and certainly compared to legislators who have served since the 1980s. Still, assembling this year’s Legislative Preview issue (see pages 14-17)—which includes contributions from Jackson city reporter Tyler Cleveland and freelance reporter Casey Purvis—and following presession news coverage has felt like listening to a coach’s post-game interview peppered with rote clichés and folksy wisdom. Oh, you’re going to take it one play at a time, eh? Profound. Now, to be fair to legislators—and coaches—myriad variables affect the legislative process, including the whims and wants of the legislative leadership, statewide and national political climates that can affect and be affected by what’s going on at the Capitol (i.e. the upcoming Republican primary for U.S. Senate), intraparty jockeying and the influence of interest groups. What you’re left with, if you spend any time in that environment, is the ability to anticipate the (non-)answer to just about any question posed to politicians and wonks alike. In all fairness, it’s not you, Mississippi Legislature; it’s me. I have a tendency get antsy when it feels like the news is getting tedious. In fact, that’s part of why I moved on from my last job covering state government, in Springfield, Ill. There, in a relatively short amount of time, I covered some big stories, including Rod Blagojevich’s gubernatorial impeachment and Barack Obama’s historic presi-
dential campaign. As a young reporter, I was grateful for the opportunity to do what I thought was important work, competing against veteran political journalists
In all fairness, it’s not you, Mississippi Legislature; it’s me. from bigger daily newspapers. Those were fun times, but the stories that I liked most took me to neighborhoods and regular people. For example, when Blagojevich offered up an idea to provide health insurance to every adult in Illinois under the state’s Medicaid program, naturally the political and policy debates around the plan were a huge part of our coverage. Important stuff for sure, but my favorite story from that episode was about a 70-year-old guy, nicknamed Rock, whose wife had a debilitating medical condition. Rock’s wife was unable to get health insurance because of the pre-existing condition—this was way before Obamacare— so to pay for her medications, Rock took odd jobs like demolishing vacant homes,
using little more than his bare hands. Blagojevich’s insurance proposal, along with his entire governorship, ultimately failed. I ran into Rock a few months later, and he told me that our story had caught the attention of a state agency official, who offered Rock a parttime job with health benefits that would cover his wife’s prescriptions. Rock’s story is the kind I love: one that combines complex policy issues and political posturing, but told through the experience of a citizen. I did lots of stories of stories like that and was proud of them, but eventually it was time to move on, so I wound up spending time in Seattle, Wash.; Boulder, Colo.; and Albuquerque, N.M. When the opportunity arose to come to the Jackson Free Press, I jumped at it. My family roots are in east Mississippi, and Jackson seemed like a fascinating place to work, an underdog news town. I wanted to come to the JFP and cover state government again not because I wanted to go back to rubbing elbows with muckety-mucks, but because I missed community journalism and writing about people like Rock. That brings me back to the current session. The thinking behind this year’s legislative preview was to get beyond relying on talking heads yammering on and on about what they think is going to happen this year and focus on some of the groups and lobbyists (no, they aren’t necessarily dirty words even if some have sometimes done some arguably dirty things), who are supposed to represent the interests of citizens to our lawmakers. I rarely make resolutions, but going into my first new year as JFP news editor, I’m challenging myself to think differently about the way I approach not just writing
about the Legislature this year, but all of our news coverage. Because at this point, I honestly can’t picture myself doing anything other than what I’m doing, or in any other place but Jackson, here are my goals for 2014: • Rely less heavily on meeting coverage and news conferences. Of course, we’ll still cover “pressers,” and will often write news stories based on them, but I’m making a commitment to push myself and other reporters here to always try to find people whom the news will affect. • Get out into neighborhoods. I tell myself to do this all the time, but now I’m putting it on paper. After living in Jackson for two years, there are still huge swaths of the city where I haven’t stepped a toe. That won’t necessarily mean showing up on the scene of a breaking news event, but it might mean getting far away from downtown for lunch or dinner or, from time to time, doing my grocery shopping at a different supermarket than the ones I frequent now. • Find diversity. Each week, when editing the features known internally as “littles” (i.e. Overheard, etc.), it bothers me if we’ve only written about middleaged men, or white people or African Americans. Jackson is a diverse city, and we do a better job than every other news organization in showing off that diversity. But we’re not perfect, and we can and will do better this year. • Finally, be more people-focused in general; in other words, we’ll look for the “Rocks” to tell more Jackson stories. I resolve to do these things and will work with any reporter who writes news for the Jackson Free Press to do the same. Feel free to help me out. Send ideas to rlnave@jacksonfreepress. com or call 601-362-6121 ext. 12.
January 8 - 14, 2014
Kelly Bryan Smith
City Reporter Tyler Cleveland majored in news/editorial journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi. He enjoys sports, southern cuisine and music. Send him tips at email@example.com call him at 601-362-6121 x. 22.
Kelly Bryan Smith is a Fondren mom, nurse and writer. In her spare time, she practices yoga, builds garage apartments and fights crime with her son Batman. She wrote a wellness story.
Former Editorial Intern Justin Hosemann is a native of Vicksburg. He recently graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. He wrote food and arts features.
Jordan Sudduth is a political consultant, golfer, fledgling actor and wannabe chef. He has a passion for film and has been working on a novel since May 2010. He wrote a film review.
Music Editor Briana Robinson wants to become an expert on all things music. Her other passions include dance and photography. Send her the music scoop at briana@ jacksonfreepress.com. She did Eight Days a Week.
Music Listings Editor Tommy Burton is keeping the dream alive one record at a time. He can usually be seen with a pair of headphones on. He wrote a music story.
Delta State University grad Zilpha Young is the new ad designer at the Jackson Free Press. When she’s not designing things, she’s usually watching too much Netflix or drawing cephalopods. She created many of the ads for the issue.
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.
Mississippi Museum of Art
A Trip toItaly
Please Donate in 2014
This evening features a guided tour through the exhibition led by artist Wyatt Waters and chef and restaurateur Robert St. John. Visit MSMUSEUMART.ORG for more information and to make your reservation.
DON’T MISS AN ITALIAN PALATE: PAINTINGS BY WYATT WATERS ON VIEW THROUGH JANUARY 12. !
MUSEUM HOURS: TUESDAY - SATURDAY, 10 AM - 5 PM; SUNDAY, NOON - 5 PM; MONDAY, CLOSED 380 SOUTH LAMAR STREET JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI 601.960.1515 MSMUSEUMART.ORG
Katherine Byrd Would’t Be Alive Today
Wyatt Waters (born 1955), Down to the Waterline, 2011. watercolor on paper, copyright © the artist.
Without Blood Donors
THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014 ! 7 PM
[YOU & JFP] Name: Kristin Ley (and Willow) Age: 29 Job: Artist, owner and operator of Thimblepress Location: State Street How long have you lived in Jackson? Iâ€™ve been back for three years How long have you been a JFP reader? 10 years Favorite book: Shel Silversteinâ€™s â€œA Light in the Atticâ€? Favorite quote: â€œLet your faith be bigger than your fear.â€? Secret to Life: â€œNot to plan everything. Let life surprise you.â€?
Write us: firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet us: @JxnFreePress Facebook: Jackson Free Press
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE OUR LEGISLATORS ACCOMPLISH IN 2014?
Thomas Barnes Amtrak expansionâ€” Meridian to Dallas and restoration of the Sunset Limited to Florida! Georgia Casey Purvis The Medicaid expansion. Eric Steven Achee Stop special interest deals and create jobs. Jeffery Taylor Although I know it wonâ€™t happen, Iâ€™ll say term limits! Susan Payne Womack Full funding of public education would be nice. Andriana Crudup Can they get rid of our state flag? Eric Steven Achee We have term limits. Itâ€™s called voting. Ingrid Cruz STATE: Repeal E-Verify, expand Medicaid and keep their rosaries off our ovaries. FEDERAL: Halt deportations, green jobs, assistance for people with student loans and job creation/unemployment benefits extension bills. Oh, and convicting a few people from Wall Street would be nice. Alice Hollis Watkins Get rid of Common Core in the state.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Defending the Castle Doctrine I have just read R.L. Naveâ€™s article, â€œKilling Quardious Thomas: A Castle Doctrine Case Studyâ€? (jfp.ms/quardious) in the Dec. 11-17, 2013, issue. I do sympathize for Tonya Greenwood in the loss of her son. I do not agree with her remark, â€œThey made the law so easyâ€”and just like that itâ€™s justified. (Quardious) never had a chance.â€? Yes, Ms. Greenwoodâ€™s son had a chance. He had the chance to stay at home that morning and not go out breaking into vehicles that did not belong to him. He had the chance to wake up and decide to do something constructive with his life. Instead, he saw the chance to vandalize automobiles for the reason, I am assuming, of stealing valuables to sell or exchange for drugs. As a recent victim of a home burglary, I cannot explain to you what was taken from me that evening, in addition to the possessions that I worked so hard for. No locks on the door can take away the feeling of insecurity or the violation I feel know-
ing someone was in the house and went through my personal belongings. After being out and returning home, I still experience apprehension and fear before opening the door to enter, afraid that someone has illegally entered my home again. Had I been at home when the low-life broke in, I would have used deadly force to protect myself and my belongings. Before anyone asks, â€œIs it worth taking a human life over possessions?â€? let me respond by saying, I am not going to sit or stand there waiting to see if the intruder just leaves or if they are going to physically harm me. Criminals should be asking the question, â€œIs it worth my life to break in and steal what is not mine?â€? To Ms. Greenwood I say, I donâ€™t see the Castle Doctrine as a law that makes it easy for anyone. Had I been at home and used deadly force to protect myself and my possessions, I cannot conceive of how I would be feeling now at the taking of someoneâ€™s life. To me the â€œeasyâ€? part would have been for Ms. Greenwoodâ€™s
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son to live according to Godâ€™s commandment, â€œThou Shalt Not Steal.â€? Honest, hard-working people are getting fed up with people taking from them. Ms. Greenwoodâ€™s son broke into vehicles, but it is my understanding that a vehicle is considered an extension of your home. How long would it be before her son graduated to breaking into homes? What if he broke into a vehicle and/or home and stole a legally owned and registered firearm and then used it himself to kill someone. Donâ€™t say it couldnâ€™t happen. I bet Ms. Greenwood would have never thought her son would be vandalizing and entering other peopleâ€™s vehicles. I, myself, am thankful for the Castle Doctrine law. I feel confident in saying that all law-abiding citizens do. Criminals, however, do take issue with it, Iâ€™m sure. Patty Saliba Brandon, Miss. Read the story and comment on this letter at jfp.ms/quardious.
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January 8 - 14, 2014
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