March 23 - 29, 2011
March 23 - 29, 2011
March 23 - 29, 2011
9 NO. 28
Checking the Guv Mainstream media gave a pass to Gov. Haley Barbour’s speechifying. The JFP checks the facts.
AMILE WILSON; COURTESY DAVE DENNIS FOR GOVERNOR; ZIPPITY DOO DAH; CASEY HOLLOWAY
Cover photographs Courtesy Dave Dennis for Governor (above) and Thomas Beck (below)
THIS ISSUE: State CEO
Republican Dave Dennis wants to move into the Mississippi governor’s mansion next year.
........ Editor’s Note .............. Slowpoke ....................... Talk ................ Editorial .................. Stiggers ...................... Zuga ............. Diversions ................... 8 Days ............ JFP Events .................... Music ...... Music Listings ............. Body/Soul ...................... Astro ................... Puzzles ...................... Food . Girl About Town
erica speed The bold, red door to Erica Speed’s Fondren home is a fair indication of what’s inside: Local artwork and colorful fabric designs cover furniture while family pictures fill a variety of frames on tables and walls. Books about Mississippi rest on her coffee table. Her three dogs—a lab, a golden retriever and mixed breed—greet her with enthusiasm. Speed is a lover of family, community and life. Self-diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, she finds it difficult to balance family and other community commitments. But it may just be that she isn’t giving herself enough credit. She served as the president of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation from 2008 to 2009, promoting preservation and revitalization of the Fondren community. Speed also served as a board member since 2004. While she no longer holds an official position, Speed has not stopped serving the community. “Not being on the board is definitely less of a commitment, but I’m no less committed to Fondren,” Speed says. The Fondren Association of Businesses first developed while she was the FRF president, in 2009. FAB works with locally owned businesses to promote Fondren’s viability, while encouraging environmental stewardship, safety and planning the future of the Fondren business district. Speed says FAB was a project of FRF, and she worked closely with local business owner Jeff Good and other board members to get it started. She says forming FAB was all about bridge building.
As devoted as she is to Fondren, Speed recognizes the importance of all the Jackson area. Her husband of 18 years, Stewart, is a developer of the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland among other projects in the metro. “We’re all one big piece of pie. If one chunk rots, I promise, the rot will go around the other way. They’re doing great things; we’re doing great things. We’ve got to work together,” she says about the metro. Speed is originally from Atlanta and moved to Jackson in 1997. Though she and Stewart and their children, Isabelle, 14, and Warner, 11, returned to Atlanta in 2000, they soon realized Jackson was a better fit and returned in 2003. Just recently, someone asked Speed if she was scared to walk around Fondren. “No. My 14-year-old daughter walks up there with her friends to get a burger from Brent’s,” she replied. “I’m not scared; I’m elated to be in the city of Jackson.” During Fondren’s Zippity Doo Dah March 26, Speed is in charge of checking in the parade’s golf-cart floats and ensuring that they have a smooth ride down the parade route. She says she appreciates Jackson today for the same reasons she did when she and her family first moved to the area: “the warmth of the people and the ability to be involved.” —J. Ashley Nolen Disclaimer: J. Ashley Nolen’s uncle, David Waugh, is president of FAB.
22 For the ‘Chirren’ The weekend’s Zippity Doo Dah goings on are all about raising funds for Batson Children’s Hospital.
31 Art for Life Disability doesn’t stop DeAsia Scott from loving her life or creating beautiful art.
7 7 8 14 14 14 31 33 34 37 38 40 41 41 42 46
March 23 - 29, 2011
by Todd Stauffer, Publisher
Ode to Fondren
moved to Jackson because of Fondren. (I can hear a few of you cursing Fondren now.) More specifically, it was because of Rainbow Whole Foods, which a friend of ours had turned us on to during a dinner in Manhattan. Earlier in the spring of 2001, Donna and I had been in Memphis for her niece’s wedding; we’d driven a rental down into Neshoba County, where Donna was doing research and re-con for her master’s project on her hometown’s civil-rights history. On the way back, we’d scoped out some rental property in Oxford, a nice old Victorian on the main drag that we imagined could conceivably be temporary digs while Donna worked on a book. “Get off the Interstate at Lakeland, head west, and the road’ll just dead-end right there where the little natural grocery is ...” Words to that effect were the instructions we followed later that spring, as we got more and more serious about leaving New York City once our legal sublet on West 85th Street ran out. So we took that Lakeland exit, checked out Rainbow and realized its kinship with some of our favorite natural groceries over the years. It was a good home base for us as organics-obsessed vegetarians. Not too long later, as we committed to a longer stint in Jackson, we got to exploring. One particular excursion landed us at aging, hulking and pink-ish Wildlife and Fisheries Building that sat unused—and a bit unwelcome—on State Street. It would, in relatively short order, become the Fondren Corner building, marking an important milestone in recent Fondren history. Fondren had a clear landmark to tout its progress. (Funny story... I was just Googling to find the date of the Fondren Corner opening, when I came across a shot of the retro-styled
“Fondren Corner” sign on Flickr with the cutline, “Most likely dates from the mid-50s.”) Since then, of course, Fondren has grown up quite nicely. Mike Peters teamed again with the Mattiace Company on renovations to turn an aging school on Duling Street into Fondren Place, complete with a new office building and a fabulous upscale remodeling of the period school building itself. (Bonus: JPS got paid, and a government building was put on the tax rolls.) State Street has been graced with a beautiful architectural treatment to the Duvall Decker offices across from Fondren Corner, remodels of Butterfly Yoga and Mimi’s Café and, of course, a facelift that portions of State Street received recently at the hands of the movie crew filming “The Help,” leaving behind some paint and retro signage. Then there are the restaurants: Que Sera Sera’s beautiful patio renovation; Rooster’s relocation and the wonder-lunch that is Basil’s; Lenny’s phoenix-like appearance from the bowels of an old beer joint; and one veggiefriendly Mediterranean restaurant after another. Jeff Good and Dan Blumenthal made a bold move when they renovated a burnedout hulk on Taylor Street and turned it into a mecca for 7-year-olds all over Central Mississippi—Sal & Mookie’s. (Even more brilliant was their nod to us watering-hole obsessed non-7-year-olds, with the advent of Pi(e) Lounge.) Walker’s Drive-In fit the neighborhood perfectly before there was a neighborhood, and their second building (I call it the “dinner” building) has provided some of the best multi-bottle conversation-a-thons I’ve ever had. Swank sashayed into Fondren when Nick’s moved into its sparkly digs in the 3000 building—taking a risk by moving from its
long-time location into the heart of the “Arts District.” More recently, Mimi’s and Brent’s added short-order favorites and a “be seen” vibe to the local diner’s life. There’s even impeding sushi. And don’t get me started on Babalu. (Unless you’re buying. Tonight.) Retail? How about McDade’s saving the local grocery store, circa. re-defining the giftgiving experience, and all the wonderful art, fashion and style that make up the ground floors of Duling, Fondren Corner, Mitchell Avenue and the anchors of Rainbow Plaza. Plus great coffee, the Wide World of Chane and all of those day-in-day-out services that one expects from a small “downtown”—from shoe repair and alterations to wash-and-fold and spa pedicures. And don’t forget the ongoing renaissance in NoFo, where the Chinese restaurants battle for supremacy, a furniture warehouse appeared amid a nearly instantaneous renovation ... and retail is making a distinct comeback. Looking out my window, I see three colorful “towers” dotting the landscape; through the passageway created by Morgan Place I see the Duling School (Ba-ba-lu!... sorry) and the doors to Duling Hall—which elicit fond memories of our most overcrowded Best Of Jackson party ever and our first BOOM Fashion Show last fall. I see Everyday Gardener and the Fondren Village sign (“Alex ... I’ll take ‘Other Signs Not Dating From the Mid-50s’ for $600”) plus the playground behind Bellwether Church (formerly Chane’s skatepark) and Montgomery Hardware proudly flying Old Glory. When I had occasion to walk around Fondren Unwrapped this past fall with the founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, he was, rightly so, aghast. Even when I told him that Fondren wasn’t like that every night, seeing this neighborhood through the eyes of an impressed outsider was telling. This weekend, another moment in Fondren’s illustrious renaissance takes place. Here come the queens and wannabes to the first-ever Zippity Doo Dah parade. What they will see in Fondren is what we see every day out our windows—a homegrown small-business success story in the heart of Jackson. And if Fondren can be a source of pride for all of Jackson, it can also serve as a happy example of what is possible when people put their minds to it. What they won’t see is the hard work, late nights, dedication and persistence of these shop owners, restaurateurs, owners, managers and entrepreneurs who have cleaned out, fixed up, met, discussed, planned and executed a strategy to add yet another feather to Fondren’s cap. These local business warriors make Jackson’s arts district not just a nice place to visit, but one of the many and increasing reasons that people move to this fine city. We salute all of y’all this weekend—Fondrenites and those who love them—and remind you to enjoy yourselves, make some money, and ... Be Particular.
Ward Schaefer JFP reporter Ward Schaefer came to Mississippi to teach middle school, and is now a journalist. His hometown of Chevy Chase, Md., was not named for the actor. He is slowly learning to play banjo. He interviews Dave Dennis.
Thomas Beck The work of freelance photographer Thomas Beck, has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. His photography can be seen at www. beckphotographic.net. He took the parade cover photo.
J. Ashley Nolen JFP editorial intern J. Ashley Nolen studied English and print journalism. Among many identities, she’s a lover, a deep thinker, a dreamer, a traveler, a writer, a student and a teacher. She wrote the Jacksonian and a Zippity Doo Dah feature.
Andrew Dunaway Andrew Dunaway knew his friends and family were tired of hearing him talk constantly about food, so he took to writing about it. He’ll do his best to keep it to a dull roar. He wrote a food feature.
ShaWanda Jacome Assistant to the editor ShaWanda Jacome is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. and a Christ-follower. She is learning to be still and to let God be God (Psalm 46:10). She coordinated the Zippity Doo Dah features.
Jesse Crow Jesse Crow, a Pensacola, Fla., native, is a junior at Millsaps College. She enjoys playing with puppies, summer camp and going on long drives in her station wagon named Herman. She wrote a Zippity Doo Dah feature.
Robin O’Bryant Greenwood resident Robin O’Bryant is a stay-at-home mom, humor columnist and author. Her kids keep her laughing every day, and she documents family adventures on her blog, robinchicks.com. She wrote a Zippity Doo Dah feature.
Korey Harrion Web producer Korey Harrion is a saxophonist who runs a small computer-repair business. He enjoys reading, writing and playing music, origami and playing video games. He loves animals, especially dogs. He posts the Web stories for each issue.
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, March 17 Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, says he won’t participate in further redistricting negotiations despite the Mississippi Senate’s vote to continue negotiations. … The U.S. House of Representatives votes to end all federal funding for National Public Radio. Friday, March 18 Jackson City Council members approve a request to the Legislature that would prevent members from moving their offices out of City Hall because of the city’s population decrease. … Engineers at the earthquake and tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station attempt to restart systems designed to prevent overheating and keep radiation from escaping. Saturday, March 19 Thousands gather in downtown Jackson to watch the annual Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade. … U.S. and British ships and submarines launch the first phase of missile strikes on Libyan air defenses. …. The moon is 31,000 miles closer to earth than normal, an event that happens once every 18 years. Sunday, March 20 Ole Miss baseball loses 6-4 to the University of Alabama in a Southeastern Conference-opening three-game series.
March 23 - 29. 2011
Monday, March 21 Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin requests an FBI investigation after firing eight detention officers from the Raymond Detention Center because of allegations that they used inappropriate force on inmates. … Japanese workers are evacuated from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after smoke rises from two nuclear reactors.
Tuesday, March 22 Attorney General Jim Hood requests that the state Supreme Court set an execution date for death-row inmate Robert Simon convicted of killing a Quitman County family in 1990. … South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signs a law requiring women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to have an abortion, the longest waiting period in the nation. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
Redistricting Hits the Courts
ov. Haley Barbour’s crusade for more Republican districts in the Mississippi House of Representatives is putting him at odds with the Mississippi NAACP, which wants the U.S. Department of Justice to approve a map with more blackmajority districts. This week, the civil-rights organization asked a federal court to convene a three-judge panel to restrict state legislators from running in their current districts in August, arguing that the districts no longer fairly represent black voters. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said his group sued Barbour and the state to impose better-proportioned districts after talks broke down between the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Senate on a House redistricting plan last week. After the Senate voted down a House redistricting map for the second time this month, House Speaker Billy McCoy, DRienzi, said he would not bother to set up a conference with senators to hash out their differences because senators would likely accept nothing less than a House map creating fewer black-majority (and, therefore, fewer Democratic) districts. McCoy instead sent the plan directly to the DOJ, in outrage. “Nobody has ever meddled with the other (chamber’s) plan. Neither body, not the Senate nor the House, has ever secondguessed the other. This is against all precedent,” McCoy told the Jackson Free Press.
by Adam Lynch KRISTIN BRENEMEN
Wednesday, March 16 Four New York Times journalists go missing in Libya while covering rebels’ retreat from Ajdabiya. …. A federal judge permanently dismisses a 1971 lawsuit filed against Mississippi over prison conditions.
Approximately 150 Mississippi farmers grow sweet potatoes, which contribute s $19 million to the state’s economy each year. Mississippi’s top five sweet potato-producing counties are Calhoun, Chickasaw, Pontotoc, Yalobusha and Panola.
Does gubernatorial candidate Bill Luckett meet residency requirements? p 13.
But the NAACP wants this legislative barrier removed before August elections. “The old districts are mal-proportioned,” said NAACP attorney Carroll Rhodes, who filed a complaint in U.S. District Court last Thursday and a motion to convene the panel on Monday. Rhodes said new Census 2010 figures show the population shifted in many parts of the state, creating some districts with thousands more people than other political districts. Federal law requires districts to contain equal population portions. Marty Wiseman, director of Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government, said the NAACP suit will likely ramp up the pressure on the courts to deliver
a federally acceptable plan in short order, but he added that Republicans in the House and Senate appear to think that a conservative court will deliver two district maps favorable to Republicans. “Listening to the talk in the halls down there at the Capitol, the Republicans seem willing to roll the dice on getting a good Republican-appointed three-judge panel, because of all the judges appointed in the Bush administration,” Wiseman said. A similar situation arose from the Legislature’s inability to agree on a redistricting plan after the 2000 Census, and a three-judge panel redrew the state’s congressional districts in February 2002, almost in exact accord with Republican preferences, according to political author Jere Nash. The issue pitting the NAACP against Barbour is that Mississippi voters tend to split their party preference along racial lines, with a majority of whites voting Republican and majority of blacks voting Democrat. Bryant and Barbour want more Republican districts in the House in hopes of getting a new conservative, or even a Republican, House-elected speaker within the next decade. “This means not another Republican would get elected to the House of Representatives for the next decade—gerrymandered it so they made sure that that doesn’t happen. We make sure we got a Democratic speaker for the next 10 years,” Bryant said, while REDISTRICTING, see page 9
The New NPR
run “Haley, when Michelle said you should run, she didn’t mean for president.” —President Barack Obama poking fun at his potential rival for the White House, the portly Gov. Haley Barbour, on Saturday, March 12, at the Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C.
onservative Republicans seem to have a burr under their saddles when it comes to National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At the very least, they don’t want their tax dollars used to support anything cultural. The JFP staff came up with some new names for popular public programming just in case the folks at NPR and PBS need them. Use This
Instead of This
Stale Air. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fresh Air Real Amuricun Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . This American Life K Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sesame Street Between the Loins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Between the Lions Speaking of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Speaking of Faith Tell Me More … About Corporate Tax Breaks . Tell Me More Wait, Wait, Don’t Tax Me . . . . . . . . . . Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me Unregulated Marketplace . . . . . . . . . . Marketplace Wal-Mart Roadshow . . . . . . . . . . . . Antiques Roadshow Koch Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Car Talk Washington Sponsor Review . . . . . . . . . Washington Week in Review NO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NOVA And last, but not least, see Barbour the Grouch debuting as a new kids’ show puppet.
news, culture & irreverence
REDISTRICTING, from page 8
warning of the House-approved redistricting plan, at a March 8 Tea Party appearance at Eudora Welty Library in Jackson. Gov. Barbour is not remaining neutral in the fray. He issued a statement this month praising Bryant’s efforts to reject the original House plan: “Congratulations to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and the Senate for protecting the interests of all Mississippi voters. I hope the conference committee will craft a House plan that treats voters in every district the same.” McCoy has proved to be the only voice of opposition to some of Barbour’s more controversial decisions, including draconian cut proposals in public education and Medicaid. The Senate majority, dominated by Republicans and conservative Democrats, votes lock-step with the governor’s demands and has never managed to overturn a gubernatorial veto. The set-up, McCoy said, effectively merges the three branches of state government into two branches with the House being the lone voice of independence. But the NAACP’s interest and its majority-Democratic voting members hope the courts will deliver a plan creating more black districts if it follows the parameters of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires states to create minority-majority voting districts. Rhodes added that the panel, containing one 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and two federal judges, may be less prone to actively redraw state districts themselves and be more responsive to the NAACP maps. “The difference is this time around we’ve prepared an alternative plan for the court. The last time they were fighting over the legislative plan. We’re not going to ask the court to put the legislative plan forward,” Rhodes said. The NAACP maps, said the Hazlehurst attorney, are “still a work in progress,” although Rhodes said their plan is less concerned with protecting incumbents and more about reflecting the state’s 37 percent African American population. The NAACP plan for House districts preserves a proposed black-majority district in Hattiesburg, for example, and creates a new black-majority district in southwest Mississippi and another in east Mississippi. Rhodes said the NAACP plan contains “44 or 45 majority-black districts in the House and 15 in the Senate.” The current House plan has 39 majority-black districts; the current Senate plan has 12. Rhodes criticized an alternative Senate and House redistricting plan favored by the
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Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the NAACP wants the courts to prevent legislators running in districts with unfair racial proportions.
Mississippi Republican Party and the governor as only containing 14 black-majority districts in the Senate and only 42 black-majority districts in the House. The Senate has 52 total districts; the House has 122. New 2010 Census figures force the House and Senate to approve a new redistricting plan that evenly distributes the state’s population among districts. Both chambers must approve the other’s redistricting map. Mississippi has a painful history of folding black voters into white majority districts to decrease the chance of electing black legislators. For this reason, should the Senate and House reach an unlikely agreement prior to a court decision, both maps will still require review for minority vote dilution by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Wiseman said the NAACP suit may buttress the redistricting plan a majority approved in the House this month, if the NAACP redistricting plan bears enough of a resemblance to it. The Mississippi House Apportionment and Elections Committee voted this week to join the NAACP suit as an intervenor. The committee hired Jackson attorney Rob McDuff to represent its interests. “The main thing is to be involved in the process. The committee has a lot of information and expertise in the redistricting process,” McDuff told the Jackson Free Press. He could not say if the committee preferred its own plan over the NAACP’s plan. Breaking updates at jfpdaily.com.
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Every 10 years, based on the U.S. Census, legislators re-shape House and Senate political districts to evenly redistribute voting populations, with each chamber submitting its own version, subject to approval by the opposite chamber. The new maps do not require approval by the governor; however, the U.S. Department of Justice must scrutinize them for minority-vote dilution. The governor has no veto power over the maps and can only seek to influence them through allies in the Legislature.
How Redistricting Works
Legislature: Week 11
Jackson’s newest consignment shop is open for business!
Insurance and Excise Taxes
voiding buying car insurance will get a little harder with new legislation passed last week. The Mississippi House of Representatives and the Mississippi Senate agreed on a bill requiring motorists to own some form of vehicle insurance to qualify for a new car tag. The same bill also requires counties to check a state-created database for a motorist’s compliance with the new law before issuing or renewing a tag. State law already requires motorists to own minimum liability coverage for motor vehicles, and it requires law enforcement officers to check motorists for insurance cards during routine traffic stops, police checkpoints or after a traffic accident. But motorists can easily circumvent the process, said Kim Catchings, vice president of operations for Mississippi MoToSteps Motorcycle Safety Training Inc. “Anybody can sign into an insurance policy, get the card from the insurance company, and then cancel their policy and keep the card. That’s enough to fool police when they pull them over,” Catchings said. Mississippi is one of the few states that do not already maintain an electronic vehicle-insurance database. The new law compels the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to create a database containing up-to-date information on insurance policyholders, which would supersede information on an insurance card. It also demands that county tax agencies rely on the database rather than an insurance card when issuing or renewing a tag. Failure of a vehicle owner or operator to have insurance at the time of a police stop can net them a $500 fine and a suspended driver’s license for one year. HB 620 now heads to the governor. Evicting the Council? The Jackson City Council is playing legal catch-up to maintain full-time offices at Jackson City Hall. Current Mississippi law requires all cities with populations of 190,000 or more to maintain individual offices for council members at their respective city halls; however, 2010 Census figures reveal that the city of Jackson’s population dropped to around
170,000 citizens, invalidating council members’ right to permanent offices. Deputy City Attorney James Anderson said the city actually fell out of compliance with the law after the 2000 Census. “In 2000, KENYA HUDSON
Duling Building 622 Duling Ave Suite 205 601-672-6693 601-665-3820
by Adam Lynch
Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, said he does not anticipate any issue with a Senate bill allowing Jackson City Council members to retain their permanent City Hall offices.
the city’s population dropped to 184,000, and the offices are still here,” said Anderson, who does not think council members will face immediate evictions without changes in state law. Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, is submitting the bill allowing council members to keep their offices, but Horhn had to first submit a rule-suspension resolution last Friday in the Senate allowing the bill’s submission. The Senate passed the resolution and it awaits House approval. Council members learned of their violation after the legislative deadline for the submission of general bills had passed. Horhn said he expected the bill to easily survive the Senate. “No one seems to remember why the bill was needed in the first place, or what the motivation of the population requirement was,” Horhn said. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell said Jackson City Hall needs a permanent council presence. “City Hall is the people’s house, and with this being the capital city, the
differing opinions and views of elected officials at the council level, in addition to the executive level, is important,” Whitwell said. “This requirement made by the Legislature was intended specifically for the City of Jackson regardless of the population.” Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said he saw no wisdom in moving council members out of their offices because the building is already open full-time. “We have energy-efficient lighting here at City Hall, so I don’t think you can look at cost savings,” said Johnson, who could not supply a cost-assessment of maintaining council offices. “Just think about it: We wouldn’t shut the offices off. We can’t exactly board them up. I mean, what would we do with them?” Raising the Cost of Smokes Smokers face another tobacco tax if House and Senate conferees can agree. Distributors of cigarettes not involved in a $368.5 billion 1997 multi-state settlement with the state of Mississippi face a “tobacco equity tax” of $0.0135 per cigarette under the proposed law, which increases either 3 percent each year indefinitely, or increases based on the national standard for inflation set by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater. The new revenue goes into the state’s general fund. The bill, authored by Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, survived the Senate with a unanimous vote in February, but Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, inserted an amendment repealing the SB 3020 on June 30, one day before the bill’s July 1 activation date, forcing the bill into a conference between the House and the Senate. Legislators supporting the bill argue that cigarette manufacturers not involved in the historic 1997 settlement, orchestrated by former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, have an unfair financial advantage, and the bill would level the playing field. Other lawmakers claim the cash-strapped state simply needs the money. Johnson did not immediately return calls concerning the type of bill changes he seeks. Comment at www.jfp.ms
March 23 - 29, 2011
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by Ward Schaefer
Best Salon & Best Hair Stylist - 2010 & 2011 Best of Jackson -
Barbour’s Press Pass statements during the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts, with Republicans calling an expiration of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans a “tax increase.” The National Journal’s advance article zeroed in on another of Barbour’s prepared jabs: “Is there anybody in this administration who ever signed the front side of a paycheck?” It failed to note, that—for better or worse— Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, is a former investment banker, and his budget director, Jacob Lew, spent time with Citigroup.
nalists—this one included—might appreciate the lead time to prepare a story, they also often pick the most bombastic statements to write their stories, avoiding the hard work of actu601-397-6398 ally checking the facts. In advance articles about Barbour’s Chicago speech, the mere fact that Barbour was making the speech was the news. “In Chicago 1935 Lakeland Dr. speech, Barbour hits Obama on the econo601.397.6398 my,” The Daily Caller declared. “Can Haley Barbour Be the GOP’s Corporate Candidate?” Time.com wondered. Those early articles set the tone for coverage that followed. “Barbour Slams Obama on Economy and Energy,” The New York Times’ politics blog announced after the governor’s speech. “Haley Barbour: President Obama has been ‘AWOL’ on Entitlement Reform,” ABC News’ blog, The Note, announced. Almost all mainstream media coverage of Barbour’s speech cast it in terms of day-to-day horse race $1.00 off Well Drinks 2 for 1 Well Drinks of politics. Politico, the political-news website, Weekdays 4pm - 7pm Every Wed. 8pm - Close had the particularly blinkered headline, “Haley’s comet crashes into W.H.” Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog group that targets “conservative March 26 | 9:00pm | $5 Cover misinformation,” honed in on The Washington Post’s story. The Post’s Karen Tumulty 601-362-6388 dedicated the first five paragraphs of her article 1410 Old Square Road • Jackson to repeating Barbour’s attacks. She also qualified Barbour’s inflammatory comments about the white Citizens’ Councils to the Weekly ALL ARE INVITED TO Standard, referring to them as “a series of reJOIN US IN WORSHIP cent comments that have been portrayed as racially insensitive.” GALLOWAY UMC A later AP story did a far better job of 305 North Congress Street calling Barbour’s bluff. While Barbour bragged Jackson, MS about eliminating a state budget deficit withwww.gallowayumc.org out raising taxes, he raised the cigarette tax in 2009, the AP’s Liz Sidoti noted. Sidoti also briefly mentioned the “ton of federal money” Mississippi received following Hurricane Katrina, buoying the state’s economy. What she failed to say was that the state budget deficit didn’t disappear completely until the 2006 fiscal year, after state sales tax receipts increased sharply with a post-Katrina Palm Sunday, April 17 spending spree. 9:30 a.m. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Patrick Smith & Rodney Moore
National media coverage of Gov. Haley Barbour’s March 14 appearance in Chicago was largely uncritical and even fawning.
The AP, too, focused on Barbour’s critique of Obama and spent no time, in its first article, debunking his claims. It repeated Barbour’s characterization of the president’s economic policies as “government boondoggles like taxpayer-subsidized high-speed rail or other pet projects” and “having government take control of our automakers, financial sector, health-care system and energy industry.” The AP failed to mention that Obama’s health-care and financial-reform bills were far from “government control.” Barbour was repeating a Republican talking point that describes the health-care reform as a “government takeover,” even though the claim won the non-partisan fact-checking website PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” last year for its gross distortion of the truth. The tactic of releasing a speech to media beforehand is hardly unusual. But while jour-
adults in the Jackson metro read us in print or online. Our multimedia promotion offers aggressive rates on a combination of print, web and JFP Daily advertising.
For more information, call 601-362-6121 x11 or write email@example.com!
Palm Sunday Parade For the whole family!
11:00 a.m. Galloway’s Annual Church on the Grounds Worship on the Capitol Lawn under the Oak Trees across from the Church! Bring a blanket and/or chairs and dress for a picnic. Picnic lunch to follow the 11 a.m. Worship
Easter Sunday, April 23 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Easter Worship Service Sermon led by Rev. Dr. Connie and Joey Shelton
atching Gov. Haley Barbour seize the national media spotlight feels a bit like seeing a bully from high school making it big. “I knew him when he was fat and mean!” one wants to say. Like most unofficial contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, Barbour seems to be getting a pass from serious media scrutiny at the moment. His March 14 speech to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is a telling case in point. Barbour used the speech to attack President Obama over the economy and position himself as a Republican leader with the right answers. He repeated a number of hobbyhorses about both his record and Obama’s, many of which play loose with the truth, if not ignoring it outright. For mainstream media, though, the speech was too juicy an opportunity for classic horse-race-politics reporting to subject Barbour’s claims to serious evaluation. Here was Barbour, potential GOP presidential candidate, criticizing the president in his own hometown—the audacity! At least that was the media narrative. Barbour’s not-quite-a-campaign-yet organization apparently stoked this narrative by disseminating an advance copy of his remarks to media outlets. The Associated Press, Time.com’s politics blog, Swampland, the conservative website The Daily Caller and the National Journal all ran stories citing Barbour’s prepared remarks. Not surprisingly, the National Journal—which is aimed at beltway insiders—and The Daily Caller ran previews of Barbour’s speech without any significant attempt at challenging his claims. The Daily Caller quoted Barbour’s remarks at length, including his hyperbolic characterization of Obama’s presidency as “explosive spending, skyrocketing deficits, gargantuan debt, calls for record tax increases, government-run health care, out-of-control regulations and anti-growth energy policy.” While it may not be fair to expect a conservative publication to check Barbour’s statements, the governor’s allusion to “record tax increases” deserves a rebuttal. Barbour’s phrase cropped up in many Republican politician’s
by Lacey McLaughlin
COURTESY SEATTLE ART
“Dragon Fly Garden” is one of 380 public works of art that Seattle,Wash., has commissioned since 1973. Jackson wants to follow Seattle’s lead and allocate funds for public art installations.
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rtist Jennifer Dixon’s life-size tree installations fill the interior Bergen Park in Seattle, Wash. The five trees, made of various materials such as clay, metal, fossils and glass, are attached to tall cedar posts that originally served as reference points for the first U.S. land surveys in 1851. “Witness Trees” tells the story of Seattle’s Scandinavian immigrants and is one of 380 permanent public-art installations the city of Seattle has commissioned since 1973 as part of its percent-for-arts ordinance. In an effort to create more opportunities for artists and revive Jackson, city officials introduced an arts initiative last week modeled after Seattle’s program. “Four months ago the mayor told us that he wants to see 1 percent of all eligible capital-improvement funds to go to public-arts improvement in Jackson,” City Director of Human and Cultural Services Michael Raff said during a March 15 community meeting. The city is still determining the exact dollar amount that would go to public arts through capital-improvement funds and which of those funds are eligible for arts projects, Raff said. The city typically allocates capital-improvement funds to long-term projects such as buildings and infrastructure. The funds come from several sources such as federal, local and state allocations, and some grants or federal earmarks may not be used for arts. Raff said the city is seeking artists, community members and business owners to serve on a panel to plan projects. For the first project, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. wants the community to transform 340 traffic boxes at stoplights around the city into works of art. Raff said the initiative plans to provide compensation to artists for commissions in the future. Johnson, however, has not yet introduced an arts ordinance to the City Council. Johnson’s spokesman, Chris Mims, said the ordinance is a possibility, and the administration currently is looking into it. City officials have met with consultants from Seattle’s public-arts program, Raff said. In 1973, Seattle adopted an ordinance to allocate 1 percent of eligible capital-improvement project funds to commission, purchase, and install artworks in public settings such as parks,
libraries, community centers and roadways. Seattle now has 380 permanent and 2,800 portable public installations including photographs and sculptures displayed on a rotating basis in public buildings throughout the city. Additional Seattle projects include: a geometric sculpture framing the city’s skyline; a skylight sundial in a city library; and 25-foothigh artwork panels around the construction fence of city’s Civic Square, a public plaza under construction. Lori Patrick, spokeswoman for the city of Seattle’s Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, said the public-arts ordinance has changed the face of Seattle over the years as more artists have migrated to the city. “(Public art) inspired our work spaces, play spaces and really reflect our community,” Patrick said. “Seattle is a cultural capital. We are known for our arts and culture, and our landscape, our urban landscape, really reflects that through art.” Last year, Seattle’s public-art budget was $2.7 million, Seattle provides online applications and listings for its public-works project, and its art department plans specific projects each year that fall within budget. Seattle’s budget is significantly more than what Jackson likely will make available. For the current fiscal year, Jackson’s capital-improvement fund totaled $24,902,879. The proposed 1 percent allocation to public arts would be less than $250,000; however, the entire fund would not be eligible for the arts. “What we need is artists,” Raff told the Jackson audience of approximately 30 people at the March 15 meeting. “I challenge you guys to come up with a plan to paint 340 traffic boxes. ... All of sudden, it’s a quick way to say we are moving forward.” Greater Jackson Arts Council Community Outreach Coordinator Kimberly Jacobs said her group is on board with the plan. “This is a catalyst for economic development,” she said. “(Public art) has been a tool that brings people together and makes a great positive impact on the city.” For more information or to get involved, call Raff at 601-960-0335. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Ward Schaefer
The Home Front
f Morgan Freeman is Clarksdale’s most recognizable resident, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Luckett may be its second. An attorney and developer, Luckett runs two of his high-profile business ventures with Freeman, the Ground Zero Blues Club and Madidi’s Restaurant. While his commitment to Clarksdale may have a long history, his legal residency there may be a more recent development. Luckett’s eligibility to run has come under scrutiny with the release of documents suggesting that he has not been a legal resident of Mississippi for the five years state law requires. Coahoma County tax records show that Luckett first filed for homestead exemption in Clarksdale in 2008. Before then, he filed for the exemption in Tennessee. Homestead exemption is not the only criterion for determining legal residency, but other records also complicate Luckett’s claims to residency. The Associated Press reported March 11 that Luckett was registered to vote in Shelby County, Tenn., from 1996 to 2008 and had voted in Memphis as recently as Nov. 7, 2006. Luckett declined to answer AP’s questions about where he files homestead exemptions. On March 13, 2008, Luckett registered to vote in Coahoma County. He listed, as his dates of residency at his Clarksdale home,
December 2007 to the present. Before then, his registration form shows, he claimed a residence in Memphis from January 2002 to December 2007. Shelby County deleted Luckett from its voter rolls after his Mississippi registration. “I have lived in Mississippi for over 61 years straight,” Luckett said in a statement emailed to the Jackson Free Press. “Over part of that time I owned multiple residences, including a place in Tennessee. I’ve had a Mississippi driver’s license since I was 15 and have bought all my car tags here in Mississippi since my very first vehicle. I am a Mississippian, and my fellow Mississippians will choose their leaders, not political hacks playing games.” The state Democratic Executive Committee approved Luckett’s qualifications and those of Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree March 12, allowing both to appear on the primary ballot. State law allows challengers to a candidate’s residency to submit a complaint to the relevant party’s executive committee. The Democratic Executive Committee did not receive any such challenge, and the 10-day window for filing a challenge after the committee’s decision has expired. Dupree’s campaign does not have plans
to contest Luckett’s qualifications. “I think that’s up to the Democratic Party’s executive committee to decide whether or not he’s on the ballot,” said Sam Hall, campaign manager for Dupree. “As far as the mayor’s concerned, as far as the campaign is concerned, our only focus is running for governor and talking about what the mayor has done as mayor and what he will do as governor.” On Monday, Hall released an additional statement saying in part, “it seems clear to us that there are serious questions about whether or not Mr. Luckett has lived in Mississippi for the constitutionally required five years.” Nevertheless, Hall said, deciding Luckett’s eligibility “remains an issue for the Mississippi Democratic Party and Mississippi voters.” Barring a decision by the executive committee not to place Luckett on the ballot after certifying him, both candidates will appear on ballots for the Aug. 2 primary. After the primary, the next opportunity for a challenge would be to file a complaint with the state Elections Commission, which is composed of the attorney general, governor and secretary of state. With two Republican members on the threemember commission, such a complaint would be an attractive tactic for Republicans hoping to eliminate a gubernatorial opponent. Opponents could file a lawsuit challeng-
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Luckett faces challenges to his residency.
ing Luckett’s eligibility. State law requires the governor to reside in Mississippi for five years preceding the election. That means Luckett would have to prove that he was a legal resident of Mississippi on or before Nov. 8, 2006. The Mississippi Supreme Court has heard challenges to candidates’ residency qualifications. Its rulings have not delineated a simple means of deciding residency status. “The general rule in this state is that there is a rebuttable presumption that one’s domicile and residence are where his homestead exemption is filed,” Justice George Carlson wrote for the court in a 2007 case. “This court recently held that a potential candidate’s decision to forego homestead exemption in the county of his apparent residence is not definitive for purposes of determining his legal residence. … This court has never held that a decision to forego homestead negates the otherwise obvious establishment of a domicile.”
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
illy Wonka once said, “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” If you step beyond the famous red doors of Nandy’s Candy in Maywood Mart, you will see how 105% of love goes into creating a world of delectable confectionary mastery. Nandy’s Candy opened over 30 years ago and was groundbreaking not only for being the only handmade candy store in Jackson, but when Nancy Nandy’s Candy King opened her now famous red doors in 1980, she was one of the only woman-owned businesses in Jackson. “Opening my business was entering into a new frontier,” says King. “At that time, very few women were in business for themselves, or in the Chamber of Commerce, or taking a strong role in the community.” What a sweet 30 years it has been. King’s loyalty to her employees and her community have helped her maintain and grow her specialty business in a city she considers, “a great place to raise kids in a community-oriented city.” The Texas Tech graduate settled in Jackson with her husband and proceeded to build her business on the grounds of integrity, honesty, and as she puts it, “what you see is what you get.” Her devoted employees pass from generation to generation, with parents recalling their days behind the marble counter as their own children weigh and measure out the delectable treats nowadays. Many former employees often come back to visit when in town and make it a family affair to sample seasonal treats such as summer’s Snoballs or spring’s chocolate Easter bunnies. Special occasion or not, there is always a reason to visit the delightful Nandy’s Candy. Be it a bag of Jelly Belly® jelly beans in one of 50 flavors or a box of their best-selling American truffles, there is surely something for even the most discriminating of palates. Using only Peter’s™ Chocolate, a Swiss formula perfected by Daniel Peter in the 1800s, King and her staff whip up truffles, assorted creams, nut clusters, and other assorted treats daily in small batches using copper pots so each bite tastes as smooth and sweet as the next. For the Southern traditionalist, local favorites such as hand-dipped strawberries, chocolate cherry cordials, chocolate-covered artisan-whipped marshmallows, praline, fudge, and divinity are only part of the reason Nandy’s Candy has been featured in some of the most prominent culinary magazines across the country. Need a sweet way to say “Thank You” to a special client, creatively reinforce your brand, or make a special event truly remarkable? Making sweet associations and memorable impressions is Nandy’s Candy’s forte. Nandy’s can create special molds for corporate clients and design packaging for any of their candies to show your great tastes to clients and customers. No matter the season, Nandy’s Candy is your go-to place for any and everything sweet to make the occasion truly unique and special. Visit them at 1220 East Northside Drive, Suite 380, or visit www. nandyscandy.com for a full preview of the homemade delectable goodness 30 years in the making. Just like Wonka says, “little surprises around every corner” only at Nandy’s Candy.
opining, grousing & pontificating
Attract Creative Class With Art
he city of Jackson took a significant step forward last week when City Human and Cultural Services Director Michael Raff announced a public-art initiative. Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. has committed 1 percent of all eligible capital-improvement funds for public art displays around the city, and the administration is seeking community members to get involved. In a time when most public bodies are cutting arts and humanities budgets, it’s encouraging to see the city placing a priority on attracting the creative class to the city. Making public arts a priority seems like a no-brainer, but it’s often a program that gets pushed aside while huge developments and expensive public-works projects are advanced as economic-development panaceas. But an interesting city that prides itself on culture is a draw for developers when they want to purchase property and invest in a community. It is also a draw for young professionals and creatives who are the future of a thriving city. The program’s success, however, depends on the community’s involvement. The first project requires volunteers to paint 340 traffic-control boxes around the city. This is Jackson’s chance to put our words into action to create a blueprint of the future. City government might be pushing the idea, but it will fall flat without the public’s participation. The initiative is modeled after Seattle’s public-arts program—and while Jackson may not have the same amount of funds and resources as Seattle, we have a vast pool of talented artists and visionary leaders. Seattle’s program started in 1973, and the city now has thousands of public art works to show for its commitment. We encourage Johnson and City Council members to pass a publicarts ordinance that can stand on its own through future administrations and as an official commitment of basic funding. We call on artists, business leaders and all citizens to contribute their ideas and creativity to the initiative so that Jackson can become a cultural destination and positive example of forward thinking in Mississippi. But don’t wait for elected officials to push public art. The Jackson Free Press is going to show visual support of this idea by placing refurbished metal newspaper boxes in several spots around the city, but with a twist: Local artists have put their own spin on them. (See one outside Cups Fondren, painted by daniel johnson, right now.) We encourage others to engage in public art in whatever way possible (Figment Jackson on May 14-15 at the old Cola plant is a great way to inspire and be inspired; see jackson.figmentproject.org for details).
Good Deeds, Bad Events
March 23 - 29, 2011
ongressman Smokey “Robinson” McBride: “Greetings, citizens of the Ghetto Science community. Just as I speak, several events are happening around the world, in this country and even in the ghetto. All I see, hear and read about are wars, natural disasters, uprisings, rebellion, hate, intolerance, bigotry and racism. Everything negative is thrown in our faces. It seems like the crap has hit the high-speed power fan, slinging the troubles of this messed up world into our existential lives. “As your elected congressman and public servant, I am here to let you know that crap, mess, drama, trouble, gloom, despair and agony happens, and they are a part of this world’s order. However, along with order comes balance. The good deeds of concerned and sympathetic people follow bad events. “We are gathered here at the Clubb Chicken Wing Multi-Purpose Center to do a good deed by raising money through the ‘United Ghetto Science Team Tsunami Fund Drive,’ which I hope will help millions of tsunami victims in Japan. “Today’s tsunami fund drive features your favorite Ghetto Science Community vendors: Pork-N-Piggly Supermarkets, Crunchie Burger World, Chef Fat Meat’s Kitchen, Momma Root Doctor Holistic Health Care Center, Bubba Robinski’s Soy Protein Sausage Biscuits, Brother Hustle’s Juicy Juice on Ice Bar, Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store and more. “Help the victims of the tsunami with your purchasing power. Support the vendors and contribute to the ‘United Ghetto Science Team Tsunami Fund.’ 14 “Thank you, concerned citizens.”
A Call for Understanding
n March 25, 2011, the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, in cooperation with Jackson State University, will host Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan to deliver the keynote address at their annual Civil Rights Conference. To some, this selection makes sense, as Minister Farrakhan is a leader in a number of African American communities. To many others, however, this invitation to be the keynote speaker at a convention commemorating the Civil Rights Movement and honoring one of its many enduring messages, “Respect for All,” is not only perplexing, it is downright offensive. Minister Farrakhan has spoken out against Catholics for “subjecting black people to a white-kind of theology”; Jews for having a “dirty/gutter religion”; and homosexuals, whom he recently referred to as “swine.” Taking more accurately the universal message of the Civil Rights Movement to heart, this letter is not a call for silence, as that would be antithetical to the Movement as well. Rather, this letter is a call for understanding. We encourage attendees of Minister Farrakhan’s address to inform themselves of the larger history from which he draws and distorts. Through educating ourselves, we may draw a more accurate picture of our reality, not allowing potentially hatefilled or divisive rhetoric to divide our ever-improving community. Additionally, we encourage participation in the other programs that day more in tune with the Civil Rights Movement and the lessons it offers: • Hank Thomas, a Civil Rights Freedom Rider, will be delivering his stirring firsthand account at Millsaps College (1701 North State St.) at 12:30 p.m. as part of the Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Lecture Series. • Bishop Ronnie Crudup and his of New Horizon congregation will be joining the Congregation of Beth Israel (5315 Old Canton Road) for a
united prayer session focusing on “Civil Rights and Tolerance in a Diverse Community” at 6:15 p.m. All are welcome. By engaging in these ways, we follow honorably in the footsteps of diverse Americans who marched together, before us, helping our entire society embrace the vision that regardless of race or religion, creed or color, national origin, sexual orientation or political affiliation, no one should be excluded from noble heritage that is America: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. May we honor them and their message, on this day and every day, by honoring one another. Let’s continue to build and repair, not tear down or tear apart. Reverend Dr. T.W. Lewis Sister Deborah Hughes Reverend Frank Spencer Pastor Bruce Case Reverend Edward O’Connor Pastor Jim Becker Rabbi Valerie Cohen Dr. John Brashier Reverend Thomas Clark Reverend Phil Reed Reverend Su McLain Mr. Macy Hart Pastor Robert Blanton Dr. Susan M. Glisson Reverend Sally Fran Ross Rabbi Debra Kassoff Rabbi Marshal Klaven Mr. Charles H. Tucker Dr. Harold Kolodney, Jr. Peter H. Meyers, MTS Mrs. Beatrice Gotthelf Reverend Amy Joyner Finkelberg Mrs. Erin Read Summerlin Mr. Ricky Jackson
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Mitchell who saw the potential hidden from full view. She read my essays and poetry and called me “gifted” and “smart.” I’m not sure if those words saved my life, but I know for a fact that they redirected my future. I can’t help but consider the woman in the Bible who was unable to stand up straight for 18 years. Her back was terribly contorted. She stared at the ground mostly. While scripture records many individuals by name, her name is simply and rather cruelly just “Bent.” Then she encountered Jesus. He healed her from her ailment, helping her to stand up straight. But I think the real healing occurred when she received a new name. Refusing to burden her with a label that only set her apart as different, he called her “Daughter of Abraham.” That is when her life was changed and her future was redirected—not as a victim, but as a valuable member of the family of God (Luke 13). Shane Claiborne is a member of a monastic community called the Simple Way, located in one of the poorestneighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pa. He tells of a particular day when he walked down the street with a young man, Kasim, who lived on his block. A group of teenagers confronted the two of them, looking for a fight. Attempting to make peace, Claiborne and his young friend introduced themselves and tried to make friends. Yet, as they walked away, one of the teens picked up a club, and hurling it in their direction, it hit Kasim on the head. Angry and disappointed, Claiborne turned and called out, “You guys are created in the image of God, and you’re made for something better than this!” What impresses me is that he did not call them “bad” or label them “thugs.” Instead, he called them “creations of God.” Claiborne recalled that, at that point, the teens scattered in every direction. I can’t help but wonder if his words literally did change their direction … for the good. What words helped to form you into the person you are? What words wounded you or even stunted your growth? Our language can have a powerful impact on the lives of others, so as the president encourages, let us pause and choose our words more carefully. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can heal. Rev. Rob Hill is the pastor of Broadmeadow United Methodist Church in Jackson where he has served since June of 2005. A native of Forest, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University in 1997 and a master’s degree in divinity from Duke University in 2002.
What impresses me is that he did not call them “bad” or label them “thugs.”
CORRECTION: In last week’s St. Paddy’s “Schedule of Events,” (Vol. 9, Issue 27, March 16-20, 2011) we incorrectly identified the Scott Albert Johnson Band. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.
Explosions in the Sky 4/1 Robert Randolf and the Family Band 4/8 Carolina Chocolate Drops 5/7 Girltalk 5/24
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ticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” To be honest, I never liked that saying. I never liked it because it’s not true. I think it should read instead, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my spirit; words can cut to the heart.” According to Jesus, however, words can cause something worse. In his book, “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language,” Eugene Peterson paraphrases a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount saying, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22). Whether words cut or kill, the truth is that words have a profound effect. In the recent aftermath of the Arizona shootings, there was much talk about the use and availability of guns, but what I found more interesting were the questions of language. And while I believe strongly that we should limit gun rights, the questions of language and words revealed a deeper issue and presented a much different question. Almost immediately, commentators and pundits suggested that the words of some incited the violence. Some pointed to the lack of civility in recent political discourse as a contribution. These questions no doubt prompted President Obama to stand before a Tucson assembly and say: “It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” Did the words of others cause Jared Loughner to commit mass murder on January 8? I’m not sure we can ever effectively answer that question. But I do believe that we can say for certain that words caused Loughner to be the person that he is. I do not say that to excuse his actions but to suggest that words contribute greatly to our formation. Words can affirm us and build us up, but words can also break us and even kill us. As a child, I struggled in school. My grades did not reflect my overall ability and intelligence. I knew it, my teachers knew it, and my parents knew it. What I do know now is that I suffered from an undiagnosed learning disability. I will never forget the words used to describe me: “lazy,” “unmotivated,” “dumb.” It was an English teacher named Pat
Chief Executive: The JFP Interview With Dave Dennis by Ward Schaefer
March 23 - 29. 2011
Why are you running? I’ve never run for office before. I have been engaged in Republican politics. I was 16 state finance chair … and then national fi-
nance chair of different events, but in general terms, that’s all I’ve really done politically. I just feel compelled to do it, simply because we feel (that) once Gov. Barbour is out, there’s going to be a tremendous leadership void in this state. And the answers, from our perspective, come from the private sector. They come from a person that has the CEO ability, because the governor clearly is the CEO, the ambassador for the state, the salesman for the state, the face of Mississippi. We feel like our job experience, our job creation abilities, and the other aspects of things we’ve done, give us certainly a much more experienced position on being a CEO for the state. Barbour definitely has savvy with the corporate aspects of the job, but he’s also a real political operator. Couldn’t someone say that you’ve got this great privatesector experience but you haven’t COURTESY DAVE DENNIS FOR GOVERNOR
n 1995, then-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice announced his re-election campaign from the Gulfport home of Dave Dennis. Dennis had a lot in common with the governor. Both made their fortunes in the construction industry, and Dennis was an active Republican fundraiser who embraced Fordice’s brand of business-friendly conservatism. Dennis, now 58, hopes to follow in Fordice’s shoes. He’s launched a campaign for governor, challenging Republican frontrunner Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant. Like Fordice, Dennis is running on his private-sector credentials, casting himself as the government outsider who has “signed the front side of a check” to Bryant’s career as a bureaucrat. It’s a story that could strike a chord with anti-government sentiment rampant among conservatives. An Atmore, Ala. native, Dennis graduated from Auburn University in 1975 with a degree in industrial management. He worked for school-bus company Blue Bird for a little over a year before joining Specialty Contractors in Gulfport as its branch manager. In 1985 he bought the construction firm, now called Specialty Contractors & Associates. With business success, Dennis has picked up a host of civic and leadership credentials, sitting on boards of numerous community and business organizations. He served three terms on the board of the New Orleans Federal Reserve branch, spent time as chairman of the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and chaired Leadership Mississippi, a project of the Mississippi Economic Council. Dennis has two adult children with his wife, Jane, whom he married in 1973.
Dave Dennis believes in running the state like a corporation, cutting costs and promoting industry by making the state attractive to investment.
dealt with the nuts and bolts of the Legislature? I think America spoke very loudly and very clearly to that question in November 2010, and they’re going to speak toward it at the primary in 2011, in August, in this state. People want real leadership. They don’t want career bureaucratic politicians. I consider it a plus that I have not been all through legislative processes. I think leadership comes from being able to lead people, to understand business, to understand the business of the state. Most people I talk to think it’s an extreme plus that I have not done that. You’ve been introduced by Jeppie Barbour at a number of campaign events. Any chance of getting another Barbour’s endorsement? You would have to ask whatever Barbour you’re referring to. I would never put him in a position to answer that question. I don’t think he should endorse at this point.
Name: Dave Dennis Age: 58 Residence: Pass Christian, Miss. Born: Atmore, Ala. Education: Auburn University, B.S. Industrial Management Employment: President, Specialty Contractors and Associates Family: Wife, Jane; children, Kate and Padrick
Plain and simply, he’s got a legislative session going on. Obviously, I would accept (his endorsement) and be very grateful for it, but I don’t expect him to do that. We have had the chance, through the Republican Governors Association, to go sit down and talk to 21 governors with him, to talk about budget policy, strategy (and) tactics. You seem to speak pretty highly of Gov. Barbour. What specifically in his two terms are you impressed by or do you approve of? Well, I live in Pass Christian, down on the Coast, and I can tell you that in the post-Katrina environment, his leadership was really magnified and amplified, mainly because he took the bull by the horns and ran with it. Leadership is what matters, and Gov. Barbour clearly is a leader; he’s a serious leader. Now, in terms of specific legislation, I’m delighted with things such as tort reform, things that provide and foster an environment for business to grow—or it gives people the sense of fostering an environment that people want to invest in. That’s what he has brought to the table. He’s brought the ability to be a CEO and to talk face-to-face, CEO-to-CEO, with other leaders and people that want to invest in our state. That’s what he’s brought to the table. Yes, I am very impressed with his leadership style and his capacity to sell Mississippi, and I think that’s one of the major things the governor has to do. Something that Barbour has clearly focused on is energy. What should the state’s role in promoting energy be? Well, I think you should get all the energy sources and resources available and put them into the public arena, in terms of supply. If you look around the state energywise, you can look at Port Gibson, (at the) 1,443-megawatt (nuclear) reactor being upgraded. It’s going to likely be the largest reactor in North America. You’ve got the
COURTESY DAVE DENNIS FOR GOVERNOR
After moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to work for Specialty Contractors in 1976, Dennis and his wife, Jane, bought the company in 1985.
Does what’s going on in Japan change your thinking at all on nuclear power? No, it does not change my thinking. You’re looking at, from the best I understand, the fourth most catastrophic earthquake in modern recorded history in a general fault area. Grand Gulf, I know, is on the bottom reach of the New Madrid Fault—at least it’s close to it. But everything that I’ve heard, through MEMA and other people, suggests that the soil substrates where it rests would not lend itself to the kind of catastrophic (seismic) activity that you had in Japan. But to answer your question, the quick answer is no, it does not compromise my thought that clean, safe nuclear energy needs to figure into the program of our energy policy in this country.
What did the Gulf oil spill look like from where you were? Did that give you pause, in terms of the environmental consequences of certain energy sources? Jane and I live on the beaches of Pass Christian. Literally, we pay property tax on the white-sand beach of Pass Christian at my home. So, having said that, we’re very, very concerned with it, but at the end of the day, I think you have to pursue legitimate opportunities to be energy—if not self-sufficient, or independent, at least working toward that. That was a tragic accident out in the Gulf last April, an extremely tragic accident, but I am not opposed to drilling in the Gulf. Now, was it an environmental disaster? We may not know for a long period of time what the total impact of that spill is. You have to be conscious of those things. You have to drill safely; you have to do things safely. But from an environmental perspective, it caused probably as much psychological concern with people, and with tourists wanting to come down. It clearly put a veil over the coast for an extended period of time. The answer ultimately is you have to produce your resources that are available to you. That is what is available, and I am comfortable if it’s pursued in a safe manner, and in a regulated manner such that there are adequate safety concerns there. I don’t know what happened on this blowout, I don’t really know. We probably won’t know officially for some time. But it created a mess on the Coast, make no mistake about it. What about renewable energy resources like biofuels? Gov. Barbour seems to be touting a lot of these companies that are coming in.
The biomass, the biofuels—it does a couple things. One, to a degree it will stimulate the timber industry, which in reality is agriculture. It’ll stimulate some of those things. Is it the most cost-effective way, right now, as it’s getting cranked up, in its infancy? Probably not. Does it have the potential to move into the right direction? I think it needs to be pursued to see if that is, from an economic perspective and from a fuel-source perspective, if it’s the right answer. It very easily could be. I think you pursue them—you move in, you don’t jump into the bucket completely, but you step into the arena. You put your chips on the table, so to speak, to see if that’s the correct way to go. And you take some trial, incubator systems and you move them. That’s basically what Gov. Barbour is suggesting, from my perspective. What do you think of the state’s education system, and how should the next governor approach it? Currently, our appropriated budget in this state is, in round numbers, $5.5 billion. Roughly 60 to 62 percent is the public education arena, in terms of K-12, community colleges and IHL. But K-12 clearly, clearly we’ve got to look at how money is spent, whether it is top-heavy. The real question is: What dollars, per pupil, are getting in the classroom? And is it skewed properly in terms of classroom expenditures versus administrative expenditures? … Any business has to look at how your overhead is run. That’s mandatory. But in terms of education, we are a 1,000 percent proponent of public education. And you either educate kids or you run the risk of incarcerating them. That’s your bottom-line answer.
How do you feel about the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, then, that sets a target for what it says is the adequate amount of money for public education? We’ve only fully funded that one year, I think, under Gov. Barbour. Is that a reasonable target? Should it be fully funded? I think you always try to target education as fully funded. Absolutely that should be a target. Is it a reality in every year? You’ve got to be realistic, because there are many other items that take place in a budget. When education is pushing two-thirds of your appropriated budget, you’ve got to be careful in terms of not cutting other groups short. [Editor’s Note: All levels of education, from kindergarten through college, make up 60 percent of the state’s general fund, which does not include federal funds or some other state revenues. K-12 education only accounts for roughly 17 percent of the state’s total budget.] Now … the public-school systems have the option, if people on a local level do not feel like they’re getting adequately funded in certain arenas, of going back for the ad valorem differentials. That makes it a local issue for each local school system to determine if we feel like we’re underfunded. They can additionally go back and try to pursue it from a board of supervisor and other level for additional millages. But in terms of funding adequate education, you’re going to find very few folks that feel like you should not fund education adequately, both figuratively and literally, with the adequate education bill. What about pre-K? There’s a growing consensus that it’s important.
liquefied natural gas facility that’s gone (up) off the coast of Pascagoula. You’ve got the Kemper County facility with the gasification that, assuming it comes online, you’re going to have an exceptional amount of energy available to the state and in the state. One of the key ingredients for attracting legitimate, upscale businesses to come in with high-paying jobs is having not only an energy resource, but having an affordable energy resource. That’s what Mississippi has. We’ve got an extremely abundant ability to produce, and we’ve certainly got the resources and the capacity to provide both natural gas, electricity-wise, and other fossil-fuel resources. That’s the energy policy that, in a broad-brush commentary, we would offer. You’ve got to have energy to produce, and you’ve got to have energy to be a viable candidate to attract good businesses into your state. We would be very much in favor of providing it.
DAVE DENNIS, see p 18
JFP Interview with Dave Dennis from page 17 COURTESY DAVE DENNIS FOR GOVERNOR
look at how to cut them. And you’ve got to look at what is really necessary. … That’s what’s got to be done at the state. We’ve got to look at things that recur in terms of yearin, year-out expenditures. Likely, you’re going to find a lot of things that perhaps that we could likely apply to other items. And perhaps one of those other items would be early childhood education.
Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis is running an outsider campaign to be Mississippi’s next governor, touting his private-sector experience.
What should the state’s role be in providing or supporting it? Are you familiar with the Building Blocks program?
March 23 - 29. 2011
But if the state funds pre-K, that’s another thing to fit into the budget. Is that realistic? Should the state (pay for it)? It is a realistic consideration. But again, we need go back to the fundamentals of what makes the state work. The taxpayers are the customers of the state. The taxpayers ultimately will decide what they’re willing to pay for. And in the kind of economic environment we’ve been in for the last two or three years, it’s going to be difficult to find the money to go ahead and put it in play from a publicly funded point of view. That is indeed true. The question(s) then would become: Do you cut highway patrol? Do you cut corrections? Do you cut mental health in order to put that in place? That’s going to be a debate that’s going to have to be fought out 18 in public discourse.
Is it entirely about making decisions on one side of the ledger—cutting things out of the state budget? Not necessarily. My dad always taught me that if you’re running a business, look at your recurring expenses. ... Look at perhaps cutting 5 to 7 percent out every single year, if you can do that, because every year on the front end, you’re going to have new technology, new plant equipment. If you’re isolating education, you’re going to have new things you want to do. You’re not going to find one-tenth of 1 percent of folks that really and truly don’t feel you ought to educate kids at whatever age you can educate them. The question is: Can we pay for it? And if we choose to pay for it, if we have to make decisions, let’s talk about how those decisions should be made and what should be tweaked. But if you’ve got recurring expenses in education, in whatever arena you’re in, you’ve got to
I realize it’s politically challenging territory, but what do you think about the state’s tax structure? Two-thirds of the largest corporations in the state aren’t paying corporate income tax. Personal income tax brackets are the same as they were in 1984. Is there any room for updating tax brackets in the state? Didn’t Gov. Barbour put in place a tax commission to review all of that—a blueribbon commission, last year, to come forth? I think that’s still in discussion at this point. You can always look at things. I would just tell you, though, I am more about cost containment than revenue enhancement. ... You can always look at things, certainly, to see if they need to be updated. But would I just arbitrarily say we need to adjust this tax structure? I’m not prepared to say that. Going forward, what’s your vision of how the state should approach economic development? We’ve got several good economic horizons. The state Port (of) Gulfport likely will be the largest development you’ve seen in this state and the most significant development in terms of leveraging the success of this state, probably in our lifetimes, including yours. The catalyst for that is the Foreign Trade Zone. I chaired that Foreign Trade Zone as a thirty-year-old. That’s what we’ve been doing on the ground, running hard. You’ve got to look at your resources. The state Port (of) Gulfport is a major one. We have extreme energy resource availability, which we talked about a few minutes ago. Tourism is clearly an area that has enormous upside potential. It’s people who normally come into your state, not relying on your public schools, not relying on hospitals and other things that come in spend money and have a great time. They’re your greatest ambassadors when they leave the state as salesmen. That’s what part of the equation is. Those are some of the good horizons. Gov. Barbour has said that he is thankful for the contributions of
Well, I’m in an industry where we compete with people that perhaps have used legal or illegal immigrants. We operate a company that employs Americans and creates jobs for Americans. From an immigration point of view, that is clearly a federal issue. I went out and talked to Gov. Brewer in Arizona not quite two years ago about it, and it’s a different issue in our state than it is for (other) states. We’re not a border state. They’ve got other issues. What do you think of the immigration bills in the Legislature this year? I’m not going to give a broad, blanket comment, and that’s on any issue, until I see the final legislation. I will tell you, our company competes with illegals, and we do it with Americans that are taxpaying Americans. The jobs that we create are American jobs. … I would think that whatever can legally be put in play to enforce existing laws is a good thing. ... There are laws in place; we E-Verify employees. If enforcement were in place to take care of existing laws, I think most of your immigration problems would be WARD SCHAEFER
I am, yes. Leadership Mississippi—that was their project for several years. I chaired Leadership Mississippi from 2005 until early 2010, so I’ll let you figure out, from that perspective, my thoughts on it. I chaired it, I believe in it. Ultimately, you’ve got to get kids early. You’ve got to get them early, and you’ve got to get them into a mindset (where) they’re willing to learn. In terms of how do you fund it, how do you pursue it, there are a good number of pilot programs going on right now. … Many of them are going on around the state right now. They’ve been privately funded. Now, what is the state’s role? I think the state’s going to have to decide, and I think it will likely be two years from now—how do you fund it, is it something that we need to move forward with; some pilot program that’s successful? And if it is successful, how do we put the money in there? That’s what we’re going to have to look at. But I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
It sounds like you’re saying that a real increase in revenue is a long way away. Is that what you’re suggesting? Well, I didn’t remotely suggest that, but I do think that’s the case. I think you’re looking at probably a two-year run, minimally, perhaps even three years before we get back to the full tax revenue that you might’ve seen in 2007. We’ve got a long, hard road ahead of us, financially, in this state. It is going to take reasonable financial management, and there are going to have to be some tough decisions made. Some of them are things you’re asking right now. Do you do pre-K or do you do some other service? That’s the discussion that’s got to be taken to the people of the state for a decision. You can come up and say, “This is what we’re going to do, by golly,” but these are critical, lifetime decisions to be made for not only kids but for the general populace as it matures. And it’s one that is going to take discussion, because if choices have to be made, then those choices should be vetted within the public arena.
But then early childhood would become a year-to-year expense. It would become one, and it would be one that would grow fairly rapidly. That would be my sense of it. This is a discussion that is going to have to be taken to the public. It’s going to have to be discussed wideopen, but I am very much an advocate of early childhood education.
immigrants in helping to rebuild the Coast after Katrina. What does the immigration issue look like to you, from where you are in Gulfport?
Dennis faults Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the Republican front-runner, with “failed leadership” on the redistricting process.
neutralized. If we hire an employee, if we have somebody working on a job, we have to verify through the E-Verify system that they’re legal. Do you think it makes sense to enhance penalties on employers who don’t use E-Verify or are caught employing undocumented workers? I think there are pretty good penalties in place right now. Just simply taking people and DAVE DENNIS, see p 21
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JFP Interview with Dave Dennis from page 18
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant made headlines recently for comments about the Department of Justiceâ€™s oversight on voter redistricting. He said he thought it was outdated and unnecessary. Do you share his opinion? Realistically, it is well within the bounds of the state to request that DOJ take another serious, hard look at whether what theyâ€™re doing is absolutely necessary. Itâ€™s certainly an expense to the state, and it causes certain delays in certain areas. ... I think it is something that the Justice Department should respectfully be asked to revisit. How do you think the governor and lieutenant governor have handled redistricting? First off, the governor apparently has no veto power over it. So this is a legislative initiative. I just think that it amplifies the difference in leadership styles. Just candidly, I think redistricting has been more about
COURTESY DAVE DENNIS FOR GOVERNOR
busting themâ€”if youâ€™ve got a good reason, bust them. If people enforce the law, there are good laws in place right now. If people abide by the law and do it correctly, those things are in place. The immigration penalties the state imposesâ€”enhance them. Thatâ€™s fine. If we compete with illegal people, enhance them. Iâ€™m OK with that.
failed leadership than bad maps. You can take maps and negotiate solutions and you can come up with answers. But people elect leadership to solve problems, and I think the voters clearly would sayâ€”and itâ€™s been pretty evident the last couple of weeksâ€” there has been mighty weak leadership showing up on the lieutenant governorâ€™s side. Thatâ€™s not relative to the governor because, again, if you look into it, itâ€™s not a gubernatorial issue. How should the state approach preparing its workers for when the economy picks up? I think youâ€™ve got to have skill sets. For people to come into this state, invest in this state and grow a business in this state, they want to know that thereâ€™s a credible work force, thereâ€™s an ability of people to understand the work. Youâ€™ve got to educate the trades. Iâ€™m in a trade-oriented business. The apprenticeship programs that used to be in place 20 and 30, 40 years ago are no longer there. The job of educating and training, particularly with the skill sets of most of the trades, is now primarily vested in the community college system. I think youâ€™ve got to invest in it. The growth in industry in this state is going to be predicated on our ability to have a good blue-collar, work-force-trained, credible work force. So your answer is: Youâ€™ve got
Dennis has served as a fundraiser for Republican campaigns, but this yearâ€™s gubernatorial race is his first bid for public office.
to do it in education. Youâ€™ve got to do it in the work-force-training arena. Thatâ€™s some of what leveraged Toyota coming in. Thatâ€™s certainly some of what was part of the equation for Nissan coming in a few years ago. What do you think sets you apart from Lt. Gov. Bryant? The difference between the two of us is private-sector successful business and com-
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munity experience, â€Ś that, versus a career bureaucratic politician; thatâ€™s the difference. We have real-life experience from chairing the Federal Reserve for the Southeastern region three different times, chairing Leadership Mississippi, chairing virtually any business organization. Thatâ€™s the experience and skills that we bring to the table. Youâ€™re hiring a CEO to take Gov. Barbourâ€™s place. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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