September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
JACKSONIAN JANE USTINOVA
ane Ustinova followed a different path than most into the world of banking and helping others become financially sound. She is a loan officer with Members Exchange Credit Union and became a certified financial counselor in May. “I enjoy helping people,” Ustinova, 28, says. “I recently read that Mississippi was the second worst state for borrowing practices and bad credit scores. A lot of people are struggling, and I am very inspired to help people organize their budgets and build up their credit. … I like to see people be able to buy something like a car because they followed advice that I gave them. It brings a smile to my face.” Ustinova came to Jackson by way of Russia. She started as an exchange student at Brandon High School in 2001 and 2002. She returned in August 2005 to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College. She completed her BBA and MBA in finance at Millsaps College in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Her full name is Evgenia Ustinova. “I was actually named after Jane Eyre,” she says. “The closest my mom could come (to) was Evgenia.” Ustinova says coming to Mississippi was different for her because she grew up in a big city—Irkutsk, Russia, which has a population of 587,891 people. “When you come from another coun-
try, you have learn to live all over (again),” she says. “It was an adjustment just having to learn to drive everywhere versus walking or taking public transportation.” She says that insurance, education and health systems are different, too, but because she’s young, she adjusted more easily than some do. Ustinova was working at Members Exchange when she realized that she would enjoy giving financial seminars. She pressed management to host such events but realized that the company wasn’t large enough, yet. She later discovered that it did provide individual counseling. In December 2013, the company selected two people to pursue certification in financial counseling, and Ustinova was one of them. “That was probably my greatest achievement this year,” she says. She also recently became engaged to Cesar Vazquez, an attorney from Mexico who is continuing his legal education at Mississippi College. The two plan to wed in spring 2015. “We laugh about it. I came from Russia, and he came from Mexico, and we met in Mississippi,” she says. “I try to tell people to take control, don’t lose hope and to have a clear strategy for their future,” Ustinova says about people’s financial hardships. “The point of having a (counseling) session is to instill these three things and help (people) realize them.” —Tommy Burton
Cover photo of Dalicia Jordan (6th grader at Rowan Middle School) by Trip Burns
11 Fear of a Brown Mississippi
Gov. Phil Bryant is hellbent on closing the state’s borders to undocumented adults and children.
29 The Fontourage
“(Susan) Fontenot is half creative genius and half psychic, as all great interior designers are.” —Carmen Cristo, “Fontenot Designs’ Fontourage”
26 Budget Wedding
For Christianna Jackson, getting married meant creating an amazing wedding on a small budget.
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 14 ................................ EDITORIAL 15 .................................... OPINION 17 ............................ COVER STORY 26 .................................... HITCHED 27 ......................................... FOOD 29 .............................. DIVERSIONS 30 ...................................... EVENTS 31 ....................................... 8 DAYS 32 ....................................... MUSIC 32 ....................................... BOOKS 34 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 35 ..................................... SPORTS 36 .................................... PUZZLES 47 ....................................... ASTRO
BILBRO; TRIP BURNS; TRIP BURNS
SEPTEMBER 10 - 16, 2014 | VOL. 13 NO. 1
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
About Those Pesky ‘Soft Skills’
surprised no one more than myself when I flippantly wrote a prediction of where I’d be in 10 years for the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s 2000-2001 yearbook: “At some southern state university helping non-Ivy journalism students, especially African Americans, figure out how to infiltrate the media elite.” Wait … what? Up until I decided to get a mid-career master’s degree, I had no idea that I would ever return to Mississippi to live, much less be focused on helping young southerners infiltrate the elite of anything. Most of you know I had run from the South the day after graduating from State, thinking I would only return for holiday dinner. But graduate school in the Ivy League did something unexpected to me: It brought all the pieces of my past together into a puzzle I wanted to complete, in no small part due to frustration with elitism and out-of-touch journalists who had no real sense of what the South and Middle America were like or even that very smart people are born and grow up here, many of whom never leave. With my self-designed “social-justice journalism” studies at Columbia—focusing on the rights and potential of children, especially non-whites, by drawing on great minds in Columbia Law School, Teachers College, the Institute for Research in African American Studies and the j-school—I brought myself back full circle to what I now realize is the driving force of my life and work. I want young Mississippians to have a shot at their full potential—and not have to leave their own damn state to do it. Our history may have stunted our growth as a state, but this riddle is solved from within, by our people pursuing our passions, thinking big, striving to learn, and using the knowledge to lift our state and each other up. If we all have a purpose in life, pre-ordained or not, this one is mine. I’m sick of brain drain; tired of young people growing
up believing they must leave if they don’t conform with meanness and prejudice; and worn slap out over non-Mississippians assuming the worst about us, while knowing full well that this state’s residents are responsible for what others think of us. We can change that reputation, but first we must focus hard on our state and its educational opportunities, not to mention our personal desires to learn and keep growing. We must believe in ourselves and our
Most of us share a sort of inferiority complex. potential, and that of our neighbors. But I don’t know a Mississippian who denies that most of us share a sort of inferiority complex. It’s not hard to figure out why, but my quest is to help myself and others overcome it. That inherited self-esteem problem hit me between the eyes at Columbia. I was nearly 40 and already an outspoken writer and journalist. But among so many students who seemed to grow up knowing how to speak up and out confidently, and to walk up to remarkable speakers like Henry Louis Gates and Jimmy Breslin and ask for career advice, I was suddenly tongue-tied. I may be known for being outspoken and confident these days—and I am—but I spent agonizing time at Columbia watching, listening and thinking about my upbringing. You see, as the child of uneducated, blue-collar parents, I wasn’t taught the same
“soft skills” as many of my fellow students. It hit me hard to see how, despite my writing talent and thinking ability, my confidence could dwindle and shrivel in the “nursery school of the media elite,” as I heard Randall Rothenberg call it one time in my opinionwriting class (taught by the great Victor Navasky, who quietly taught me much). At first, I struggled with whether I was “good enough” to be there. I even saw a therapist for the first and only (so far) time in my life—she was an art therapist with an apartment filled with amazing paintings, and she just listened as I finally faced my destiny. Sitting in her Upper West Side home office, I started to see what my life just might be about: coming home and doing my part, bringing what I had learned. Challenging fellow southerners to energetic greatness, sharing and teasing out huge ideas. And, most vitally, trying to catch our young people soon enough to help them believe in themselves and our state’s potential, before they ran, leaving Mississippi without their brilliance. Or stayed behind, mired in self-doubt. I write now about that quiet, deep-listening therapist publicly for the first time because, I’m guessing, getting a Kellogg Foundation leadership fellowship is opening me up to so many truths about myself. The fellowship’s strong focus on self-development is forcing me to see that to help “lead” our community to take better care of its vulnerable children requires me giving up, and challenging, more of myself than I ever have. It requires admitting my weaknesses and allowing others to help me strengthen them. My driving personal goal for starting the JFP (and BOOM Jackson), was to fight the forces that run smart Mississippians off. I simply cannot express how important it is to me that our state become a place where it is expected that we’re intelligent, and that we leverage those smarts in loving, compassionate actions that bring progress here and
weaken the stranglehold that mean people have had here for a long, long time. That potential lies in our young people. All of them. Not just those at St. Andrews or Jackson Prep; I’m talking about the remarkable spirits with nimble brains who are hungry for knowledge and inspiration in every Jackson public school, who live on every street in our city and suburbs, who dream of more than many think is possible for young Mississippians. Not a single one of them should believe they must leave to be great and change their world, or that they’re lesser due to their family circumstances. Not a one. This obsession is why we welcome to many young people to the JFP offices, especially during the summer when they often outnumber the staff. Parents send us middleschoolers and high-schoolers, and college students find their way here in droves. The JFP-U experience we give them, in our better moments, is a real-world dose of what life and work are really like. At the JFP, we glorify hard work, and we worship teamwork, which includes helping each other and not getting in each other’s way of doing a good job or completing tasks. I think of my younger self when I see interns, job applicants and even staffers who struggle with the “soft skills” of planning, staying positive rather than complaining, problem solving, good communication and improving their work ethic (all of which I literally work on every day of my life). In many cases, no one has told them that these soft skills will make or break their careers, or help them stay happy and balanced even in tough times, but I get that not every parent knows these things, either. Mine didn’t; neither did many of my teachers. We owe young people these life lessons as early and as often as we can facilitate them. We also owe it to our state and its future. Not to mention to ourselves.
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist and author or co-author of 12 books. He has won over a dozen major awards in his expansive career and served as editor-in-chief of Odyssey Couleur travel magazine. He wrote the cover story.
R.L. Nave, native Missourian and news editor, roots for St. Louis (and the Mizzou Tigers)—and for Jackson. Send him news tips at rlnave@ jacksonfreepress.com or call him at 601-362-6121 ext. 12. He wrote several news pieces.
Investigative Reporter Anna Wolfe, a Tacoma, Wash., native, studied at Mississippi State. In her spare time, she complains about not having enough spare time. Email her at anna@jacksonfreepress. com. She wrote a news story.
Feature Writer and Tishomingo County native Carmen Cristo studied journalism at Mississippi State University and wrote for the Starkville Free Press. She likes Food Network, ’90s music and her husband. She wrote food stories.
Christianna Jackson is a Jackson native and a former Jackson Free Press summer intern. She loves finding new ways to use her English degree. She’s an active mom and a fashionblog addict. She wrote about her wedding for “Hitched.”
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 compiled the listings and wrote the Jacksonian. Send gig info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistant Editor Amber Helsel graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s in journalism. She is short, always hungry and always thinking. She wrote a music review and helped coordinate this issue.
Delta State University graduate Zilpha Young is the ad designer at Jackson Free Press. When she’s not designing things, she watches Netflix or draws cephalopods. She created many of the ads for the issue.
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September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
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Comments on â€œLakeland Costco Site Non-Negotiableâ€? by Anna Wolfe
September 10 - 16, 2014 â€˘ jfp.ms
jaytown Has anybody thought about looking at the land on the south side of Lakeland further east towards the river? The old Mississippi Blood Services building is vacant ... . There are a lot of older, fully depreciated buildings in that area that seem to produce no income for the owners or the city. The whole area might benefit from razing those properties and redeveloping them into a tax-and-jobgenerating Costco development. Even if the City had to help and make some concessions to acquire that land, it might be worth it. Of course, the devil is in the details. The current owners of that property might all of a sudden decide that they â€œloveâ€? the property more than itâ€™s worth in the market. Anyhow, if the numbers worked out, it could be a win-win. Thatâ€™s my 2 cents worth. sarahmina Although I didnâ€™t vote for Tony Yarber and still have serious reservations as to his loyalty to the majority citizens of Jackson, I pray that in this test of his loyalty, he will be victorious. The histories of urban cities that are governed by African Americans are replete with the same kind of stories. Efforts to empower, enhance and build economically are met by the economically powerful with every obstacle possible. Zoning has always been one way to prevent progress when the progress is not controlled by the institutional power base. The state of Mississippi has never been favorable to a black-run Jackson. I have absolutely no doubt that the dissent he is receiving would not be there if the capital city was white run. Do we have to perpetuate the same old story line? Absolutely not. Costco would be a gem in that it would provide good-paying jobs and taxes to the city and its most in need citizens. The opposition seems to be coming from those who live in the gated enclaves of the city and who are the least in need of good jobs. Win or lose Mayor Yarber, this is your opportunity to prove the critics wrong and show that you will stand for what is right.
I think Costco is being unreasonable by going Lakeland or bust, but that does seem to be the one and only option on the table if we want them in town. Theyâ€™re in a position to make demands, and theyâ€™ve made one. Iâ€™ve done some more digging, and according to the municipal code, planning board members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council (for renewable four-year terms). If there are four vacancies (and I believe there are exactly four), the mayor could appoint new members to the committee and get the rezoning approved 7-6, assuming nobody changes their votes.
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Jackson31 Judging by the comments on this article, there seems to be a misapprehension that the only problem with the zoning for Costco is that a few stubborn residents oppose progress. The truth is that the matter is somewhat more complicated. The city has not been forthcoming with their intentions for the public lands in question, and in regard to the use of such public lands, any citizen of the city has a right to an opinion. Problems with the cityâ€™s methods and proposals on the Costco issue include the following: 1) The city has asked to re-zone far more land than it claims is needed. 2) The city implied to the zoning board that re-zoning would not affect use of the land, making the board wonder why it needs to be re-zoned in the first place. 3) Use of the land for a Costco arguably
does not benefit the museum district, which is itself important to Jackson. 4) The land in question is used by childrenâ€™s baseball teams, a college baseball team and contributes to the infrastructure utilized by several area festivals. 5) The area proposed for re-zoning includes a park that residents have a right to try to protect just as much as any other neighborhood tries to protect their own parks. 6) Costco might not even come if the land is re-zoned. Giving up public lands that everyone can use and enjoy is a significant issue and Jacksonians have every right to demand better explanations from the city before consenting to such proposals. The cityâ€™s plans, either directly stated by the mayor or insinuated by the city to the zoning board, seem to be to build a Costco (that hasnâ€™t definitely promised to come) on park land that wonâ€™t be disturbed and on a baseball field that childrenâ€™s teams can still use while also leaving Smith-Wills Stadium standing, even though the city really wants to tear it down. If that sentence seems confusing, you now have a good idea why the cityâ€™s plan is meeting such skepticism. The board was correct in its decision to deny re-zoning. tomhead1978 jackson31, what would strengthen your case, exponentially, would be if you went on the record under your own name and told people where they can find documentation to back up your account of the meeting. If youâ€™re telling the truth, there is a distinct possibility that many of us donâ€™t understand the situation correctlyâ€”but saying so anonymously without giving us a way to check out what youâ€™re saying creates fear, uncertainty and doubt, and what we need is clarity. Jackson31 TomHead, I agree that posting with oneâ€™s real name is better than posting anonymously, but I just started commenting and am hesitant to reveal my real name at this time. Suffice it to say, I am a resident near the area proposed for re-zoning, and it is fair to take that bias into account. As for my points, I did attend the planning board meeting on my own accord, not even knowing any other opposition would be there. My points are easily documented:
1) The city intends to re-zone more land than needed for a Costco. The Jackson Free Press states that Mayor Yarber indicated Costco would be built on the Memorial Field and Smith-Wills Stadium would not be torn down at this time. Yet, per publicly available planning board documents, the city has asked that the Memorial Field, Smith-Wills, the city park next to it, and state-owned land across the street be re-zoned. That is more than the mayor himself says is needed for Costco. 2) The city implied re-zoning would not change land use. As records from the planning meeting and news coverage show, the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office has concerns about whether the land at issue could be used for anything other than parks. In an effort to ease concerns, the city noted that re-zoning would not necessarily change use. This prompted, per JFP, the attorney for the opposition to ask why the land needed to be re-zoned then. 3) Use of the land for a Costco does not benefit the museum district. As JFP and other news coverage shows, representatives of the leadership of the Mississippi Childrenâ€™s Museum and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame were at the meeting to voice strong opposition. They should know what benefits their own museums. 4) The land in question is not vacantâ€”the Belhaven University website shows that Belhaven uses Smith Wills for baseball. Other coverage of the proposed re-zoning notes that Murrah High School has ties to the memorial field. As an area resident, I know that teams play frequently at all of the affected fields. 5) The area being re-zoned includes a city park. Again, see planning board maps. At the planning board meeting, the opposition attending was especially angry that the city had not provided advance notice to them that the park would be re-zoned. 6) Costco might not ever come anyway. News coverage has frequently noted that Flowood is also under consideration, even though its sites are less than ideal for a Costco. That explains my points. I would be happy to answer any other questions about my concerns. Editorâ€™s note: Above comments have not been factchecked. The JFP does not endorse any website comments.
Ellison Farms, LLC owner/operator Scott Ellison, located at 279 CR 68, Chickasaw County, Woodland, Mississippi is seeking eighteen temporary farm workers and laborers for potato crops; two days of training will be provided. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at $9.87 an hour, beginning September 25, 2014 and ending November 25, 2014. Employer will provided housing, cooking facilities and transportation to stores to purchase groceries for workers located in areas where it will not be feasible to return to at the end of the working day. After workers have completed 50% of the work contract period, employer will reimburse worker for the cost of transportation and subsistence from which the worker came to work for the employer to the place of employment. The type of work contemplated will be performed in all weather conditions including extreme heat, will include labor performed by hand, extensive walking, bending, stooping, and lifting crates of potatoes, repair of potato crates, and use of hand tools such as shovels and hoes will be required. Removing debris and weeds from field together with other field preparation such as digging water furrows with hand tools, will be part of everyday routine. Required tools will be provided by employer at no cost to worker. Interested workers may contact Scott Ellison at 662-542-7095 or by mail at: Ellison Farms, LLC, 279 CR 68, Woodland, MS 39776, in order to schedule an interview, or your nearest State Workforce Agency. The Houston WIN Job Center, 210 South Monroe Street, Houston, MS 38851. The job order number for this job is 104365. If selected, you will be guaranteed three fourths of the work hours between the start date and the end date of the job as listed above.
37th Annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival
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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 Washington County Convention Center Fairgrounds 1040 Raceway Road • Greenville, Mississippi Main Stage & JukeHouse Artists
KeKe Wyatt • Syleena Johnson • Sweet Angel Bobby Rush • Willie Clayton Grady Champion • Lucky Peterson Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers Leo “Bud” Welch, Jr. • Liz Davis
Purchase Tickets Online at: www.ticketweb.com For Additional Information www.deltablues.org
3PONSORED "Y Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE) and MACE Affiliate Organizations and
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
Gates Open @ 10:00 AM, Festival Starts at Noon Advance Tickets (Until 8/31) ................ $25 General Admission.............................. $30 Children Under 12.................................. $5 All Access/Backstage Passes............ $100
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Thursday, September 4 Ukraineâ€™s leader discusses closer ties with NATO at a meeting with President Obama and other NATO leaders in Wales, despite threats from Russia that Ukraineâ€™s NATO ambitions will derail peace talks. â€Ś The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rules that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution. Friday, September 5 Seeking to counter Russian aggression, NATO leaders approve plans to create a rapid response force with a headquarters in Eastern Europe that could quickly mobilize if an alliance country in the region were to come under attack. â€Ś U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announces that the U.N. is establishing an â€œEbola Crisis Center,â€? with a goal of stopping transmission in affected countries within six to nine months. Saturday, September 6 A cease-fire in eastern Ukraine largely holds back fighting but appears fragile as both sides of the conflict claim the others have violated the agreement.
September 10 - 16, 2014 â€˘ jfp.ms
Sunday, September 7 The new Palestinian unity government faces a new crisis after President Mahmoud Abbas threatens to dissolve his alliance with Hamas if the Islamic militant group does not give up power in the Gaza Strip.
Monday, September 8 The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation gives the prestigious Lasker award for clinical medical research to five scientists for key discoveries about breast cancer, Parkinsonâ€™s disease and the bodyâ€™s handling of defective proteins. Tuesday, September 9 President Obama meets with congressional leaders to form plans for a coalition to combat the Islamic State group, with the plan to be announced Wednesday.
Taking Aim at Guns, Low Wages by R.L. Nave
plan designed to regulate guns in the city of Jackson moved a little closer to fruition this week. Since late last year, Ward 4 Councilman Deâ€™Keither Stamps, who also presides over the city council, has been tossing the idea around of requiring gun-owners to report their firearms stolen within 48 hours of the discovery of the theft. This morning, the full council adopted the ordinance, clearing the way for the measure to be voted upon. The ordinance would also make the discharge of a firearm within the city limits a misdemeanor. Stamps said the requirement is aimed at curbing such practices as shooting into the air during New Yearâ€™s Eve and Independence Day celebrations. Information on injuries and fatalities from stray bullets alone is hard to come by. However, response to yearly incidents of people being killed or hurt by falling bullets has prompted several police agencies around the nation to initiate public-awareness campaigns asking people to refrain from shooting into the air. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell, who recently announced that he would step down from his post in October, questioned how the proposed ordinance would work in concert with the Mississippi Castle Doctrine, which justifies homicide in certain instances, such as self-defense. â€œI want to make sure if someone comes to my house, and I have to discharge my weapon to protect my person that I wonâ€™t
Wednesday, September 3 Organizers of New Yorkâ€™s St. Patrickâ€™s Day Parade announce that they will allow the first gay group to march under its own banner. ... The U.S. Justice Department announces plans to open a wide-ranging civil-rights investigation into the practices of the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department.
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Ward 4 Councilman Deâ€™Keither Stamps wants to regulate potentially dangerous guns in the capital city.
be charged with a misdemeanor,â€? Whitwell said at the meeting. Monica Joiner, the cityâ€™s attorney, said that the language of the ordinance would cover individuals who discharge weapons for reasons that are â€œsubstantiated.â€? City Minimum Raise Closer In other city council actions, the lowest-paid City of Jackson employees moved closer to seeing a pay raise after the Jackson City Council moved along a measure that has near-unanimous support. With Whitwell as the lone objector, the council agreed to put a minimum-wage
pay increase up to a full vote. Currently, the minimum wage for city employees mirrors the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Under the plan, the wage would rise to $8.75 per hour within a year, then $9.70 the next year and $10.65 after three years. â€œWhat we pay our workers simply is not right,â€? said Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. â€œWeâ€™ve got some real imbalances, and I wish we had some money for cost-ofliving increases for everyone.â€? Minimum-wage earners, Priester pointed out, can least afford to absorb inflation. When the cost of living increases, people who make minimum wage essentially
Motivation Summer by Amber Helsel This weekâ€™s issue features on story on children backsliding during the summer, and how we can help them. Here are some of the Jackson Free Press staffâ€™s most motivational summer memories. Carmen Cristoâ€”When I was in high school, I went to the coast to volunteer at a soup kitchen for a few days in the summer. It kind of gave my bratty teenage self-centered mind a new perspective. It began turning the wheels for future things. Amber Helselâ€”When I was in grade school, summers were my most favorite time to read. I would do it as much as I could, and the books would inspire me to write my own stories.
Tommy Burtonâ€”I marched with the Americanos Drum & Bugle Corps from Appleton, Wis. For two months straight, I toured the country, sleeping on gym floors, rehearsing for eight to nine hours a day, which culminated in a public performance each evening. Melanie Collinsâ€”I rode my bike every day, which motivated me to do something more: cheerleading.
Micah Smithâ€”My middle-school friends and I would choose a style of music, study it and try to write songs that fit the genre. Todd Staufferâ€”One summer when I was a kid, we were taken care of by a woman who forced us to play outside for most of the day in spite of the 110-degree Dallas heat. That inspired me to go to college and get a professional job so I could work in air conditioning in the summer.
are taking a pay cut, he added. The council also approved entering into an agreement with Citizen Observer, based in St. Paul, Minn., to permit Jackson police to receive and respond to anonymous text messages, pictures and web tips, as well as expand awareness to the public via crime and emergency notifications. The system also has features that include automatic publishing to social networking and websites as well as integrated crime mapping and web tips, which allow citizens to view crime data. Long on the wish list for Mayor Tony Yarber, the purchase of the tip system stalled as council members worked out privacy concerns and questions. Chief Lee Vance helped convince the members who were on the fence. â€œWe believe this software is going to be beneficial to us in catching criminals,â€? Vance said this morning, before the item passed unanimously. The system will take between one to two months to get up and running. Several mayoral appointments that were on the agenda today were held so that confirmation hearings could take place next week. Cheerleading for the Capital A major Republican power player who helped Mayor Tony Yarber win his current position is in line to be the City of Jacksonâ€™s next lobbyist. The Jackson City Council was scheduled to vote on a professional-services contract with Hayes Dent Public Strategies and Cornerstone Government Affairs at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 9. The council voted to move the contracts to the Legislative Committee, which Ward 6 Councilman Tyrone Hendrix, a longtime Democratic Party operative, chairs. Dent served as the chief of staff for former Gov. Kirk Fordice, and he was the Republican nominee for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District in 1993, running against now-Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who won his first term that year. Dentâ€™s previous lobbying firm, also based in Jackson, was called Southern Strategies Group. Another principal in Dentâ€™s firm, Steve Browning, worked under both Gov. Haley Barbour and U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, and was a primary architect of tort reform in Mississippi. Tony Geiger, an officer of the Republic Group, is a member of the Mississippi Republican Party executive committee. Dent told the Jackson Free Press that he has worked with the city since 2004 when he helped get legislation passed for the Jackson Convention Complex. â€œWeâ€™ve been committed to trying to help the City of Jackson as it interacts with the state of Mississippiâ€”
clearly two separate groups of government that ought to be working together better than they are,â€? Dent told the JFP. Shrewd Move or Payback? Dent is also the principal owner of a firm that Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber hired during his mayoral campaign earlier this year. The Republic Group LLC, which Dent owns but is a separate business entity from the lobbying firm, was Yarberâ€™s media buyer during the campaign. Beyond one $4,400 payment to buy ads responding to anti-Yarber attack ads from a political-action committee the late Precious Martin established, itâ€™s unclear how much Yarberâ€™s campaign paid the Republic Group. The next campaign-finance reporting deadline for this yearâ€™s mayoral race is Oct. 28, 2014. Early in the race, the Republic Group commissioned a poll that showed Yarber neck-and-neck with Chokwe A. Lumumba, the son of the late mayor. Yarber and Lumumba went on to compete in an April 22 runoff. Hiring Dentâ€™s firm could be seen as a shrewd move for Jackson, a largely Democratic city whose relationship with the Republican-dominated Legislature has been tumultuous. Others might see it as a way to reward the firm for its help procuring the mayoral seat for Yarber. During the campaign, the firm was adamant that it did nothing to help raise funds for Yarber. The firmâ€™s website states that Republic Group â€œworks to create a uniquely integrated action plan for each of its clients that includes; general strategy development, image and brand building, financial solicitation, operational budgeting, creative direction, and the implementation of enterprise media marketing plans.â€? And, it adds, the effort is often successful, even in districts where â€œprobusinessâ€? candidates donâ€™t always do well. â€œThe Republic Group boasts a cumulative win average of over .700 and has gained an industry moniker for helping elect pro-business candidates in historically hostile districts as well as protecting valuable incumbents.â€? Cornerstone Government Affairs is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Jackson and four other cities around the nation. The registered local agent for Cornerstone is Joseph K. Sims; the board of directors are Geoffrey J. Gonella and Beckie Feldman. Local lobbyists are Joe Sims, Susan Sweat and Camille Scales Young. On Aug. 26, the city council voted to extend a contract approved earlier this year with John Waits of Chicago-based Winston & Strawn to lobby for Jackson on Capitol Hill. Waits has held the contract in recent years. Trip Burns contributed reporting. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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TALK | business
The Dollars and Sense of the Costco Fight by R.L. Nave
he called a vote for neutrality between the Yarber administration and the residents and directors of nearby museums who oppose the Lakeland location. “I definitely saw the pros and cons on
fore the seven-member city council. Unlike planning board members, who are appointed, council members may feel more intense political pressure to vote in favor of granting the zoning request re-
land that is proposed for the Costco, Mississippi Department of Transportation information shows. Interstate 55, between the Fortification Street and Northside Drive exits, sees traffic counts of between 100,000
gardless of the uncertainty around Hosemann’s position that the land would revert to state ownership. Yarber rebuffed accusations that his administration has been secretive with plans for the project, which late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba initiated and kept quiet, saying the retail giant asked the city to not “talk about it (until) we got over some initial hurdles.” Besides, the mayor added: “The way we look at it, when we got here, Costco was sitting in the frying pan, and they were really dictating the terms. There were no alternate sites. That is the only site they have their eyes on. We’ve talked to them about some other sites, but their numbers say in order for them to be successful, that’s the site they need to be in. So we haven’t been able to do any negotiating on where the site would be because the site piece was kind of non-negotiable.” Some speculation has arisen that Costco should pursue the former Sam’s Club location just off Ridgewood Road in north Jackson, but Yarber points out that Sam’s, a division of Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, left that location because the building was in disrepair and the company thought it could be more profitable in Madison. The Lakeland site, Yarber believes, represents a catch-all for some of the highest traffic counts in the Jackson metro. Some 50,000 vehicles traverse Lakeland near the
and 125,000 vehicles. The profit potential is great, especially for a company that doesn’t have particularly large profit margins, just 2 percent of overall sales. Costco makes money by carefully surveying sites around the country and moving where the company can maximize its profits. Going into the 2014 fiscal year, which began Sept. 1, 2013, the IssaquahWash.-based company planned to spend between $2.3 billion and $2.5 billion on expansion, which would include opening 30 to 36 new warehouses. That was an increase from the $2 billion Costco spent to open 26 new stores in fiscal 2013. Yarber added that he has had two cordial conversations with Hosemann, who seems entrenched in his position that the land would revert back to state ownership. In the meantime, the city’s legal department is preparing for a possible showdown. Lawyers for Jackson plan to argue that the reversion to state ownership happens at the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, not after rezoning as Hosemann has argued. “One doesn’t allow anything to happen. One allows construction to happen,” Yarber said. “That’s what the attorneys are working through, and we think that we’ve got a really strong case.” Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
ostco Wholesale Corp. is a business. Specifically, it is a $100 billion company, one of the 20 largest in the United States and one of the biggest retailers in the world. On a per-share basis, Costco’s stock ($126) is more valuable than Apple’s ($98), and the company is showing no signs of slowing down. Despite its shimmering reputation for paying higher-than-market-rate wages and offering excellent employee benefits, Costco is not a charity. In looking to relocate to the Jackson area, Costco is not making an altruistic overture, bestowing a gift on the people of the capital city and expecting nothing in return. So between Costco’s profit expectation and the emotions of Jackson residents who felt spurned by businesses, such as Sam’s Club—a Costco competitor—and Puckett Machinery that have moved out of town in recent years, the city’s elected officials feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. In fact, the loss of Sam’s and Puckett became political fodder against former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in his failed 2013 re-election bid. A prime sticking point is the position of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who has told the city that any change in use of land on Lakeland Drive, just east of Interstate 55, which was deeded to the city specifically for parks more than 50 years ago, would trigger a reversion provision, allowing the state to take back control of the land. Jackson’s current mayor, Tony Yarber, declined to speculate on whether the ageold tension between Jackson, a Democratic stronghold, had anything to do with resistance from state officials such as Hosemann, a Republican. “Politically, it is a win,” Yarber said last week. “It’s a statement that we are vibrant. It is a huge statement for Jackson, and it says, despite the (negative) news clippings, here is the other side of Jackson’s story.” Nor is Yarber buying Hosemann’s story about the state retaking possession of the land near Smith-Wills stadium. In a telephone interview Sept. 5, Yarber said the property was used for non-recreational purposes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rendering Hosemann’s point moot. Yarber hopes to make that case to the Jackson City Council. The planning board, which rejected the city’s zoning request Aug. 27, makes recommendations that the city council then accepts or rejects in whole or in part. Yarber said he does not have a timetable for putting the appeal before the full council. Bo Brown, a former Ward 4 councilman, was the lone member who abstained in the August planning board meeting, which
Mayor Tony Yarber is preparing for a fight over the proposed Lakeland Drive site for a new Costco in Jackson.
both sides of it. If you ask me does the city of Jackson need new tax revenue, I would have to say yes. If you ask me does the city need to invade on the green space that we have ... (and) the traffic congestion it would create, I would say those are things to consider as well,” Brown said. City ordinances permit parties to appeal recommendations from the planning board to the council; Yarber said his office is planning to appeal to the planning board first, but ultimately wants to get the issue be-
Jackson Planning Board Members Michael Booker Samuel Mitchell Bennie Richard Vivian Dotson Zelma Carson Richard Clayton Jimmie Robinson Jim McGraw Joyce Jackson William “Bo” Brown Barron Banks Jean Coppenbarger Larry Weems SOURCE: CITY OF JACKSON
TALK | state
Gov. Bryant’s Fear of Immigrants
or some people, it’s snakes; for others, spiders. And yet others have absolutely crippling fear of buttons (koumpounophobia). Gov. Phil Bryant’s biggest phobia clearly is that a bunch of people are trying to sneak into Mississippi. This is evidenced in his recent stated opposition to a program that places a handful of immigrant children in foster and group homes around the state each year. Last week, Bryant told federal officials that Mississippi would no longer accept children through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program is 100 percent funded through the federal government but funnels the money through the Mississippi Department of HuTRIP BURNS
Gov. Phil Bryant wants to shut down a program that started 34 years ago to help immigrants who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power.
man Services to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson, which has run the program for 34 years. There are currently 27 participants in the program, but Bryant believes that President Barack Obama wants to use the program to flood Mississippi with children who arrived in the U.S. illegally through Mexico. Bryant laid out his rationale to Mississippi Public Broadcasting recently. “This program started after the Vietnam War to bring Vietnamese children over here. … Many of the children that are coming now are from areas like Venezuela and El Salvador and Mexico, the same countries that we see children flooding into the United States. I want to make sure that these two programs are not being blended and if it takes terminating that program or suspending it until we can make certain of that, I am willing to do that,” Bryant told MPB. Bryant’s fears appear to be without basis in rationality. The children who participate in the program, who are come from warand disaster-torn countries, receive refugee
status from the United Nations, giving them legal immigration status, explains Greg Patin, executive director of Catholic Charities in Jackson. From there, the charity recruits foster families to place children with or places them in a group home that houses eight boys who come from countries in Central America, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Like other kids, the children attend local schools, and the charity provides tutors if necessary as well as support from cultural specialists who help with the transition to a new country. “They generally know very little English when they get here, but they learn so fast,” Patin said, adding that the children also receive therapy and case management through the charity. Bryant, who is Methodist, met with several faith leaders Sept. 4 for what a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Jackson called a cordial meeting. Officials declined to discuss the meeting at length, but said through a statement that Bryant “was assured the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program operated by Catholic Charities for 34 years serves refugee children coming into the country legally from a number of countries across the globe” and that Bryant “promised to carefully consider the situation.” This isn’t the first time Bryant has put his toe in the waters of international affairs. On July 18, Bryant sent a letter to President Obama expressing outrage at the U.S.’ growing trend of taking in and helping migrant children. It began: “I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the ongoing crisis at the United States’ southern border. Illegal aliens—many unaccompanied children—are flooding into our country in record numbers.” Despite the fact that Obama has also deported people in record numbers, Bryant has often locked horns, albeit unsuccessfully, with the White House over immigration policy. In 2012, a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued thenU.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano over Obama’s executive order that ended the practice of deporting young people whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally as children. The agents, who were represented by Kris Kobach, Kansas’ controversial secretary of state who is credited with helping develop anti-immigrant legislation in several states, claimed that the new policy prevented them
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
by R.L. Nave
TALK | state
from fulfilling their sworn duty. In October of that year, Bryant joined the lawsuit on the state’s behalf, making Mississippi the only state to be a plaintiff in the federal suit, filed in Texas. In July 2013, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor
dismissed the suit because the district court lacked jurisdiction. Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, which is providing legal services pro bono to some of the children in the program, said Bryant’s latest move is part of Bryant’s long history of using immigrants as a punching bag to score points with his conservative political base. In 2006, then-state Auditor Bryant commissioned a report that concluded un-
documented immigrants cost state taxpayers millions of dollars based on “significant education, law enforcement and health care costs, as well as substantial lost tax revenues and other economic losses.” At the time, Bryant estimated that 49,000 “illegal aliens” resided in the state. The Pew Hispanic Center placed the number of undocumented immigrants at 45,000 in 2010. Contrary to Bryant’s assertion, however, unauthorized residents are not
eligible to access such government benefits as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Chandler characterizes Bryant’s report and previous public stances on immigration issues as “full of misinformation.” “Phil Bryant will do things and say things without thinking—and that’s being kind,” Chandler said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
MPB Blocks Late-Term Abortion Discussion by Anna Wolfe
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
just thought the other day, ‘My Michael Getler said 10 states did not air would have to refuse to broadcast more than It is also about the complex reasons that their God, I can’t retire,’” said Dr. the program—at least on the Monday it just comedians on talk shows and films like patients seek their services and the ethical diSusan Robinson, one of the was meant to air. “Typical ‘POV’ carriage, “After Tiller”—which documents real stories lemmas surrounding these decisions.” only four doctors who openly specialists say, is about 55 percent of the of women and their health-care providers, Late-term abortions have been a point perform third-trimester abortions in the stations and 73 percent coverage of the both in difficult situations. of controversy in recent Mississippi legislaUnited States. “There aren’t enough of us,” country’s TV households. This program The trailer for “After Tiller” illustrates tive sessions culminating with the passage she laughed, sadly. She told her story in the looks like 48 percent and 60 percent, re- the emotion surrounding the nation’s abor- of a 20-week abortion ban in April 2014. documentary “After Tiller,” which aired spectively,” Getler wrote. tion debate on both sides. It shows images The ban prohibits women from receiving Monday, Sept. 1, as part of PBS’ abortions after halfway through “POV” documentary series. their pregnancy, which is often deIn Mississippi, where access fined as the marker for late-term to abortion is in constant jeopardy, abortions. The only exceptions of the documentary didn’t air, howevthe ban are for women facing lifeer. Mississippi Public Broadcasting threatening pregnancies or serious Executive Director Ronnie Agnew injury or in cases of severe fetal decided to replace the show with abnormality. The law doesn’t mean other programming due to its conwomen in Mississippi aren’t receivtroversial nature. ing late-term, even third-trimester, The documentary chronicles abortions in hospitals and in serithe lives of four third-trimester aborous circumstances. tion providers in the wake of Dr. Late-term abortion is still a releGeorge Tiller’s death. Tiller was a vant topic for women in Mississippi, Wichita, Kan., abortion doctor who not only by how they can be affected was shot and killed while attending directly, but in how the narrative church services in 2009. surrounding women’s reproductive Agnew declined an interview health is formed. Even those who with the Jackson Free Press but refight for abortion rights for women, leased a statement saying that MPB “After Tiller,” which aired Monday, Sept. 1, as part of PBS’ “POV” documentary series, was blocked Roberts explained, can have a difhas the right to choose its program- by Mississippi Public Broadcasting Executive Director Ronnie Agnew. ficult time grappling with the idea ming. “I respect POV and the conof late-term or third-trimester abortent it produces, but we will always reserve MPB’s Public Relations Director Mar- of protests, bullet holes in windows (of tions. As taboo as abortion is in Mississippi, the right to make programming decisions garet McPhillips, who is Republican U.S. abortion provider Dr. Warren Hern’s office late-term abortion is even more so. based on what we think will appeal to a wide Sen. Roger Wicker’s daughter and U.S. Sen. in Boulder, Colo.), tears in clinic waiting “We can’t agree on it (late-term aboraudience. We were pleased to air two locally Thad Cochran’s former spokeswoman, sent areas and hugs in procedure rooms. It por- tions) because we don’t talk about it,” produced documentaries on Monday night,” Getler’s statement to the JFP. Both Wicker trays the lives and struggles of those dealing Roberts said. Agnew wrote. and Cochran are on the record as opposing with hard decisions. Agnew said Mississippians can still But community concern over the abortion rights. It is not propaganda, Roberts explains. watch the documentary online. public-radio censorship grew throughout The refusal to air “After Tiller” isn’t “We, in Mississippi, do not have con“I feel confident that anyone who the week. Laurie Bertram Roberts, presi- the first time MPB has cut, or moved, pro- versations about abortion outside of these wants to watch ‘After Tiller’ will be able to dent of Mississippi’s chapter of National gramming based on what they, or those very charged, very partisan, very stunted con- do so at pbs.org,” he wrote. Organization for Women and an occa- who influence them, deem inappropriate. versations that are political. Very rarely are But not everyone has access to the Insional columnist for this newspaper, said In 2010, MPB cut and then moved to a these personal stories ever shown. So here’s a ternet. Agnew’s attempt to squelch an intelAgnew was wrong for cherry-picking the later time slot the afternoon show “Fresh chance for that to be shown in an apolitical ligent discussion about late-term abortion, POV documentary series. Air” after host Terry Gross interviewed co- way,” Roberts said. or “protect (women) from hearing about “When MPB chooses to air a pro- median Louis C.K., who made a remark In his statement, Getler wrote that the abortion,” according to Roberts, is parallel to gram such as ‘POV,’ then they should air about his sex life. Those who supported documentary “is not about the broad, heat- the way men in Mississippi Legislature try to the program,” Roberts said. She said Agnew MPB’s controversial decision called the ed, decades-long debate about abortion. It is “protect” women from abortion itself. They shouldn’t use his personal gauge of appro- show “left-wing propaganda.” about these four doctors who, in the wake make the decisions; women are supposed to priateness to either show or refuse to show “Where does it end?” Roberts said, add- of the assassination of Dr. Tiller and facing go along with their choices. certain shows. ing that if Agnew wants to censor every story intense protest from opponents and fearing Comment at jfp.ms. Email Anna Wolfe at A statement from PBS Ombudsman that would offend conservative viewers, he for their own safety, carry out this procedure. email@example.com.
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September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
LIVE MUSIC ON TWO STAGES
You Say â€˜Riot,â€™ I Say â€˜Uprisingâ€™
r. Announcer: â€œIn the ghetto criminal-justice system, the people are represented by members of the newly established Ghetto Science Community Peace Keeping Unit: police officer and part-time security guard at the Funky Ghetto Mall Dudley â€˜Do-Rightâ€™ McBride, attorney Cootie McBride of the law firm McBride, Myself and I, and guest rookie peace officer Brother Hustle. This is their story.â€? Dudley McBride: â€œThis long, hot summer of 2014 continues for us, fellas. Our dispatcher called for us to maintain the peace at an Electric Slide and Minimum Raise Protest Rally at Crunchie Burga World. It looks like things might escalate like neck bones in a pressure cooker. Crunchie Burga World Corporate Office has already ordered the militarized Cootie Creek County Police Department to deal with the protesters.â€? Cootie McBride: â€œWe need to be there before an uprising ensues. It looks like today will be a training day for rookie officer Brother Hustle.â€? Dudley McBride: â€œUprising? Donâ€™t you mean riot, Cootie?â€? Brother Hustle: â€œCootie used the correct word: â€˜uprising.â€™ The protesters are executing an act of resistance against Crunchie Burga Worldâ€™s current minimum-wage policy.â€? Cootie McBride: â€œWhatâ€™s happening at Crunchie Burga World is similar to the 1968 sanitation workersâ€™ strike in Memphis, Tenn. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor Peopleâ€™s Campaign organized it.â€? Dudley McBride: â€œAll semantics aside, we need to keep the peace at this organized rebellion before something unfortunate happensâ€”like a riot. The Law-N-Order SUV is ready to go.â€? â€œDoink, doink!â€?
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September 10 - 16, 2014 â€˘ jfp.ms
Â° 2EPUBLICAN 'OV 0HIL "RYANT ON THE 5NACCOMPANIED 2EFUGEE -INOR 0ROGRAM WHICH HE BELIEVES COULD BE A BACK DOOR TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION INTO -ISSISSIPPI
Why it stinks: First, of course, is the sheer amorality of suspending a program that helps children in order to score political points with the anti-immigration lawâ€”an utterly abominable position to hold. Beyond that, the law probably isnâ€™t on the governorâ€™s side. Interfering with the program, which takes in kids the United Nations has deemed to be political refugees, would be tantamount to Bryant setting foreign policy. To be clear, a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirms that only the president can establish foreign policy. The case was the result of a Massachusetts law that sought to impose economic sanctions against Burma for alleged human-rights abuses. Later, courts also ruled that several states could not divest from Sudan during the genocide in Darfur. So, short of getting himself elected commander-in-chief or asking President Obama very nicely, Bryant is likely fighting a losing battle against these immigrant children.
MPB: Donâ€™t Treat Us Like Children
nce again, Mississippi Public Broadcastingâ€”which receives public dollarsâ€”has initiated a form of censorship to keep certain controversial content away from a Mississippi audience. Anna Wolfe reports this issue (see page 12) that a PBS â€œPoint of Viewâ€? series documentary called â€œAfter Tillerâ€? was aired around the country Sept. 1, but MPB Executive Director Ronnie Agnew blocked it in our state. The documentary displayed the work and lives of the only four doctors openly performing abortions after the third trimester in the United States. Named after abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, who was killed by an anti-abortion activist while in church in 2009, the film is undeniably contentiousâ€”especially in a state that continually works to limit the accessibility of abortion. Agnew attributes his decision to pull the programming to the controversial nature of the film. This censorship is emblematic of a society afraid of discussion of difficult issues. â€œAfter Tiller,â€? which presents how complicated late-term abortion is, could have created thought and dialogue here on both sides of the debate on a topic that even many pro-abortion rights advocates donâ€™t agree on. The point shouldnâ€™t be whether we agree or disagree with the content. The laws in Mississippi already prohibit abortions after the third trimester, and there isnâ€™t a serious push to change that; weâ€™re grappling with having any access to abortion whatsoever in the state. Weâ€™re not convinced that â€œAfter Tillerâ€? would change the minds of anyone on the issue
of abortion. The documentary is not â€œleft-wing propagandaâ€? as some PBS programming has been called. It is a film that embraces human stories and evokes empathy on the part of the viewer. Women here still face situations like the ones presented in â€œAfter Tiller.â€? With stories seldom told, the doctors invite the viewer into very emotional and personal experiences surrounding pregnancy and reproductive choices. Mississippians deserve access to information, just as residents of other states do. We need to be informed, and we donâ€™t need paternalistic censorship of content that can help us understand difficult issues. Those in power in Mississippiâ€”overwhelmingly menâ€”already control most discussion of reproductive health on their terms, wasting time and money in the Legislature trying to pass restrictions on legal abortion and install loopholes to effectively ban the constitutional procedure in the state. Agnew justified the cancellation by saying the film is available online. But that is a cop-out for public stations such as MPB. To block discussion about a controversial but legal procedure in our country is irresponsible and shows a certain contempt for MPBâ€™s audience, our intelligence and our ability to handle complex content. Mississippiansâ€”and all adultsâ€”deserve the opportunity to have difficult debates and hear complicated, humanized stories without public censorship. And we sure donâ€™t need a daddy telling us what we canâ€™t see. MPB needs to stop treating Mississippians like children.
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t last Julyâ€™s Neshoba County Fair, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann upped the ante on the usual GOP talking points of â€œbusiness good, government badâ€?; stateâ€™s rights; Obamaâ€™s failures. After a few minutes of selfcongratulation, he said: â€œNinety-nine percent of Mississippians believe their government should balance its budget, should follow the laws passed by its citizens and believe in protecting their right to privacy of their personal information. But you know, there is always that 1 percent of naysayers who believe the sky is falling, and they believe the Constitution is a living document and state law should be enforced only when it is favorable to them. The same 1 percent also does not believe in Friday night football, hunting and fishing, reading with their grandchildren, having church friends, the value of hard work, or planting trees for future generations.â€? What? This went beyond dog-whistle speechifying to â€œus versus themâ€? divisiveness and downright dishonesty. Hosemann implied that this 1 percent is un-American. Itâ€™s a diversion from the fact that the richest 1 percent of Americans hold 35 percent of the nationâ€™s wealth. Mississippiâ€™s wealth gap is among the widest in the nation. Then, last week in The Clarion-Ledger, the secretary declared a USA Today column by Alan Draper, a history professor at New Yorkâ€™s St. Lawrence University, â€œmisleading, inaccurate and an example of lazy journalism mixed with weakly guised prejudice.â€? At the end of a piece about civil-rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, Draper swung at Hosemannâ€™s political tent pole: voter ID. Draper wrote: â€œLike literacy tests and poll taxes Mississippi used in the past to deprive blacks like Fannie Lou Hamer of the right to vote, the stateâ€™s new voter ID law will have a discriminatory impact on minorities. Less than 10 percent of voting-age whites in Mississippi do not have a driverâ€™s license while almost 30 percent of voting-age blacks are without one. That is, eligible black voters are three times as likely as whites to lack the most common form of government-issued ID required to vote.â€? Hosemann responded, writing, â€œThe unsubstantiated claim as to the availability and the possession of photo identification by any voting population is totally false.â€? Not so. Draperâ€™s statistics come directly from the Mississippi Department of Motor Vehicles. â€œIn two statewide elections, which included both Democratic and Republican primaries, 99.9 percent of Mississippians exhibited satisfactory photo identification,â€?
Hosemann continued. â€œNo one was deprived of their right to vote.â€? But counting IDs of people who voted proves nothing about those who didnâ€™t. It doesnâ€™t say how many could not get IDs, or how many didnâ€™t try because they are convinced, again, that Mississippi is denying their rights. Hosemann aimed similar antipathy at a 2012 Brennan Center for Justice study, â€œThe Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification,â€? calling it â€œpurposely inaccurate and misleading.â€? Yet, the Brennan Centerâ€™s statistics, like Draperâ€™s, are accurate. In December 2012, Hosemann commissioned a voter exit poll that showed 97 percent of white voters had IDs, compared to 84 percent of black voters and 80 percent of those with incomes less than $15,000. That left 38,000 voters without IDs. Now, Hosemann hypes the 2,000 voter IDs issued since then, instead of the 36,000 not dispensed. He crows about award-winning ads, but fails to say how thatâ€™s remotely relevant. Finally, Hosemann said St. Lawrence University has a â€œminorityâ€? enrollment of 3 percent (the schoolâ€™s website states that 11.8 percent of enrollees are students of color) and challenges comparison to Mississippiâ€™s universities, but itâ€™s a false equivalency. St. Lawrence is a private liberal-arts school in a state with a black population of 15.9 percent. A fairer comparison is to Millsaps College, whose black enrollment was 10.8 percent in 2012, in 37-percent black Mississippi. Hosemann would have us believe that the 1 percent is the problem. â€œAnd, that 1 percentâ€”well, they can just get off their butts and move somewhere else,â€? Hosemann said, closing his Neshoba speech. Voter ID is not about voter fraud. What little voter fraud there is occurs in absentee ballots, which do not require IDs. Republican voter suppressionâ€”whether through voter ID, gerrymandering or limiting access to pollsâ€”is real, as Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai famously admitted in 2012: â€œVoter ID, which is gonna allow Gov. (Mitt) Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania; done.â€? Turzai isnâ€™t the only Republican to admit that voter ID is a suppression tactic. Mississippi ranks dead last in The Pew Charitable Trustâ€™s Elections Performance Index published last April. As Draper told me, to say IDs â€œcureâ€? fraud is similar to saying laws restricting abortion access â€œprotectsâ€? women. Itâ€™s demonstrably not true, and Hosemannâ€™s specious arguments wonâ€™t make it so. Ronni Mott is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor in Jackson.
â€˜They can just get off their butts and move somewhere else.â€™
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September 10 - 16, 2014 â€˘ jfp.ms
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Hosemann Twists Voter ID Facts, Again
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ON VIEW THIS MONTH! SEPTEMBER 27, 2014 – JANUARY 4, 2015
September 10 - 16, 2014 • jfp.ms
Spanish Sojourns: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain is organized by Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Terra Foundation for American Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Robert Henri and Spain, Face to Face. An Exhibition about Connoisseurship, Conservation, and Context is organized by the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi.
Local presentation of these exhibitions is made possible through the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are sponsored in part by the city of Jackson. Support is also provided by:
380 SOUTH LAMAR STREET / JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI 39201 601.960.1515 / 1.866.VIEWART / MSMUSEUMART.ORG Robert Henri (1865-1929), The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain), 1912. oil on canvas, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, 1914.002.0001. (Detail)
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Why We Must Prep Now for Next Year by Nick Chiles, The Hechinger Report
A Rich-Poor Disparity Researchers have found that students across the board lose about two monthsâ€™ worth of math skills during the summer months. But in reading, middle-class students actually improve over the summer, while low-income students lose more than
have to spend so much time reviewing material students were taught the prior school year that children who were already behind their wealthier peers will lag even further. Material forgotten. Time lost. Money wasted. An argument can be made that sum-
mer slide is the most severe under-addressed problem in the American education ecosystem. After all, fixing it would mean stomping on the American idyll of lazy sun-drenched days. Summers are the precious amber of so many childhoods. Year-round schools? That would be like desecrating apple pie. NICK CHILES
two months of achievement. This means that if children are not intellectually stimulated during the summer, if they donâ€™t do reading and other activities to keep their brains firing at optimal levels, they will need weeksâ€”if not monthsâ€”to get back up to speed in the fall. Teachers will
Cayden Taylor, 11, sits in the library of Operation Shoestring in Jackson.
â€œThe issue is incredibly important and has a tremendous potential to change outcomes for kids in this country,â€? said Sarah Pitcock, CEO of the Baltimore-based National Summer Learning Association. â€œI think the reason we donâ€™t see it talked about as much as you would expect is there are a
lot of entrenched systems and infrastructure built around summer break. And there are also widely held beliefs that summer is a time off, summer is a time for rest and vacation and all of those things that comprise the idyllic summer. But that kind of summer does not exist for at least half of the children in this country who live in poverty.â€? In Mississippi, the stakes are about to be heightened exponentially in the coming school year with the third-grade â€œliteracy gatesâ€? testing in May; most third graders must pass a reading proficiency test or be held back. Students who regress during the summer could find themselves sliding all the way back to another year in third grade. Educators believe one of the best ways to keep students engaged during the summer months is with programs that mix fun with academic enrichment. Thousands of such programs across the country step into the breach to make a difference in the lives of young people, particularly in poor communities. If the nation is going to make a substantial dent in the summer slide, expanding and enlarging these programs would be a good place to start. While sheâ€™s never heard the term â€œsummer slide,â€? 11-year-old Cayden Taylor is quite clear on what can happen to her and her classmates when they return to school after a lazy summer. â€œWhen you go back, you forget everything,â€? she said. But for this rising sixth grader in the Jackson Public Schools system, this summer was different. This year, Caydenâ€™s mom enrolled her in Operation Shoestring. An Exercise in Triage For more than 40 years, the nonprofit Operation Shoestring has fought gamely to provide academic enrichment, remediation and support to kids in Mississippiâ€™s largest city. In addition to an after-school program, Shoestring offers a six-week summer program that provides both academic stimulation and activities. The program staff is proud of the progress they have been able to make with students during the summer monthsâ€”progress PRUH6800(5VHHSDJH
September 10 - 16, 2014 â€˘ jfp.ms
rive down a dusty road in the Mississippi Delta in July, and you will quickly come across a familiar scene: Kids walking. Out of the house, no particular destination in mind. Ambling along. But the walking may be better than the alternative: Stopping. Itâ€™s the stopping that gets you in trouble. â€œIn the summer, all kids do is stay cooped up in the house, or walk around and get themselves in trouble,â€? said 18-year-old Kanita Perkins, who lives in Drew, described as the geographical center of the Delta, 20 miles or so east of the dizzying bends of the Mississippi River. This entire region has become the American metaphor for scarcity, a land where dire poverty has defined existence for more than a century. For parents in the Delta looking for summer activities for their children, itâ€™s largely a DIY affair: Do it yourself. There are so few programs for young people that families are left to their own devices if they want some meaningful enrichment for their children. And most of them donâ€™t have the money for the fancy summer camps that middle-class parents sign their kids up for without a second thoughtâ€”cooking camps, dance camps, drama camps, music camps. As students around the country began returning to school last month, many from low-income families were at a loss because of how they spent their summer. For far too many children in the United States, there is such a significant academic regression during the summer months that studies have shown it is responsible for most of the achievement gap between poor and middle-class students. In educational jargon, it is known as â€œsummer learning lossâ€? or â€œthe summer slide.â€? A vital question is: What we can do now to reverse its effects next summer?