April 13 - April 19, 2011
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April 13 - 19, 2011
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April 13 - 19, 2011
9 N O . 31
Museum To Be Lawmakers approved funds for a civil-rights museum in Jackson. Now comes the hard part, again.
COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY; AMILE WILSON;AMILE WILSON; KEITH ALLISON
Cover photograph of Mitchell Moore by Andy Culpepper
THIS ISSUE: JPD Too Slow?
One Jacksonian raises Cain over what she characterizes as JPD’s glacial response to her case.
........ Editor’s Note .............. Slowpoke ...................... Talks ................ Editorial .................. Stiggers ...................... Zuga ................ Opinion ............. Diversions .................... Books ................... 8 Days ............ JFP Events .................... Music ...... Music Listings .................... Sports ...................... Astro ...................... Food ...... FLY Shopping
darrell “doc” cousins Darrell “Doc” Cousins doesn’t care about making a few extra dollars. All he sees is a pair of brown leather boots in need of some polish. “Care for a shine?” he asks in the middle of our interview. He goes about the act with the precision of a painter. The polish and waxes are his paints, and his rag and blow dryer his paintbrushes. With the motto, “When you look good, you feel good,” Cousins opened The Shoe Shine Doctor and Company in Jackson about a year ago. Cousins’ main location is the Shops and Parking at Jackson Place, and he can also be found at the Marriott Hotel and the Jackson Convention Center. Cousins, 55, spent 25 years in California and five years in Las Vegas, where he opened several shoeshine parlors. While in California, he got a job at NBC Studios after shoe shiner Floyd Jackson retired. There, Cousins shined shoes for hosts and contestants on game shows, soap operas and various talk shows. “You’ve got to be a special person to go and to represent NBC Studios and be able to approach different stars who needed a shoeshine,” he says. He finds the conversations with his customers rewarding. “I love shining shoes and being able to meet people. I have a lot of famous faces on my wall,” Cousins says, pointing proudly to the photos of him with his customers.
Cousins has had the pleasure of working with B.B. King, Clint Eastwood, Jay Leno, Whitney Houston and many others. One of his trademarks is using a blow dryer to melt in the wax and rejuvenate the leather. “I have a passion for it,” he says. “I love seeing the leather come back. That’s why I call myself the shoeshine doctor.” Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Cousins has been in the business for 43 years. He learned the trade when his father started a shoeshine company after retiring from a steel mill. “I love shining shoes, and now I’m able to give it away,” Cousins says. He is the only shoeshiner offering free shines in Jackson, although he accepts donations. Cousins believes that after one shoeshine, customers will return and even bring drop-offs, for which he charges $7. When not working, Cousins enjoys playing the xylophone and sewing. Cousins made his way to Tupelo in 1999 and quickly earned popularity. He was featured in the National Inquirer for his quality shoeshines. He made the move to Jackson a year ago after the Tupelo economy started going downhill and Parkway Leasing requested his service. “I’m trying to grow and do better for myself. Jackson is a great place to live,” Cousins says. “I saw that Jackson was growing and wanted to be part of it.” — Briana Robinson
14 Jackson Biz Starting a small business is a risky venture. Meet some intrepid entrepreneurs who make it work.
38 Age Just a Number Do high schoolers have the maturity to make it in the pros? Age may not be the best predictor.
6 6 7 12 12 12 13 27 29 31 32 35 36 38 39 40 46
Lacey McLaughlin News editor Lacey McLaughlin is a Florida native who enjoys riding her bike around Jackson. She is always on the hunt for news tips. E-mail news tips to her at Lacey@jacksonfreepress.com or call 601.362.6121 x. 22. She wrote the cover story.
Andy Culpepper Freelance photographer Andy Culpepper has an ever-changing array of techniques and styles. He photographs weddings, music videos and model shoots. See his work at photogenicforever.com. He took the cover photograph and photos for the cover story.
Briana Robinson Briana Robinson is a former JFP editorial intern and is originally from New Orleans. She graduated from St. Andrew’s and now attends Millsaps College. She enjoys dancing, taking pictures and listening to sweet music. She wrote the Jacksonian.
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 [Fly] shopping page.
Andrea Thomas Advertising designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time. She designed ads and helped lay out pages for this issue.
Charlotte Blom Charlotte Blom lives in Hattiesburg. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she balances between introversion and extroversion. Her penchant for discovering beautiful, bizarre things sometimes overrides practicality. She wrote an arts feature.
Crawford Grabowski A veteran public school teacher who recently earned her masters, Crawford Grabowski is discovering the joy and sleep deprivation of being a new parent. She lives with her husband, Jim, daughter, Daise, and too many damn cats. She wrote a food feature.
April 13 - 19, 2011
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.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Fresh and Local, Every Day
ne night a few weeks ago, Todd and I left the office at our too-usual time of 8 or 9 p.m. We ran through McDade’s to pick up dinner supplies. As we pulled up to the traffic light at Duling and North State, I saw a purple glow outside my right eye. “Ooooo,” I squealed. “The sushi place must be testing its lights!” Like many Jacksonians, I have been counting the months waiting for Fatsumo to open within walking distance of our home and office. Then I looked ahead, and I could see the new Campbell’s Bakery crew painting its interior, prepping for their opening a few days later right in the middle of one of the city’s most authentic-looking strips of local businesses. (And, yes, I now have cannoli within walking distance; who needs New York City?) I’d already watched the Petra Café crew out my office window for weeks work long days renovating the old Jerusalem Café, dragging their exhausted selves away late at night. It is impossible for me to overstate how much I just adore this kind of local, hardworking, roll-up-the-sleeves commerce. I loved getting up back in my Manhattan days, walking to get a bagel and newspaper, watching the deli owners hose down the sidewalks and arrange the flower bouquets. There is nothing more authentic than a community of small business owners who believe in their wares and their customers and their community. I’m crazy about hard, passionate work, and little is harder than being an entrepreneur. Trust me. To me, this is exactly what free enterprise looks like (and smells like when you’re lucky enough to work next to a bakery or a Petra). We hear a lot about “rebranding” lately. But in those conversations, I seldom hear mention of the need to actively and darn near militaristically support “the little man” (as singer Alan Jackson called local business owners in his tribute that makes me, yes, tear up every time I hear it. I’m a sentimental locavore). Folks, our local businesses are the heart and freakin’ soul of our city, and our metro, and they are the foundation that any sustainable renaissance will rise upon. Not only do they—we—spend a larger percentage of our expense budget on other local vendors, helping create more jobs, but local businesses are what makes a place “cool.” Quick, think of a city you love to visit that is filled with one cookie-cutter chain or development after another? Now picture the truly cool cities and all those quirky locally owned businesses that create the authenticity and sense of place that makes you want to go back, or steal their ideas for Jackson. A few years back, we attended a newspaper convention at the convention center in Philadelphia, Pa. On breaks, I couldn’t wait to get out of that monstrosity and explore the city. I wasn’t trolling for another Gap; I was looking for the nearby Reading Terminal Market (slogan: Fresh & Local, Every Day), filled with the little guys of Philadelphia: vendor after vendor selling local flavor. Progress and “place” is all
about the little man (and woman). It is time that we talk and act and spend local every chance we get. If we truly care about our city’s future and the kind of authenticity that is going to (a) keep people here, (b) lure others here to live and invest, and (c) become a tourist magnet, we must keep our local fixation front of mind at all times. We have immense creative talent here. We don’t need to outsource our design or most anything else. Right here in the metro, we have local bookstores and health stores and boutiques and consignment shops and sign makers and corporate swag dealers and cannoli makers and sushi chefs and falafel folders and interior designers and florists and office-supply stores and much more. If we’re really worried about investment in our community—and the cost of losing it—we must tend our own local gardens first. We must re-invest our pennies and dollars every chance we can, and in whatever ways we can afford, right here at home. And I mean in the Jackson metropolitan area. We must start sinking or swimming together as a metro. We have delightful local restaurants and locally owned services and shops in Jackson and in our bedroom communities. It’s time to end goofy word wars—hey, I’ve done it—that try to make us choose between spending inside or outside the city limits. That is thinking tiny. None of us has to choose. I can eat dinner at Fatsumo (which I did last Friday, amid the purple glow; yum), and I can drive out to RideSouth in Brandon to rent a fun “trike” (which we did for Mal’s St. Paddy’s parade). Folks who live in the suburbs can pop into E&L for barbecue before heading home to the reservoir, and then stop at Mimi’s for breakfast on the way in to work. I was thrilled to see a tweet from Richard
Florida (the “Creative Class” expert) this week showing that a national business publisher had ranked Jackson as the 27th city “most conducive to the creation and development of small businesses.” I sent out my own breaking tweet to a community that, yes, hungrily gobbles every bit of small business progress that we throw y’all. Why? Because you get this local thing. Yes, Austin is No. 1 (of course), but Portland, Ore., came in 28th, right behind us. But get this: The survey ranked the “100 metropolitan areas”—precisely because a city is only as good as its “metro,” and vice versa. Imagine: Not every metro fights like starved chickens in a city-v.-burbs cage. Many understand that our fortunes are linked. (Try telling suburbanites around Austin that they need to talk down their city, or avoid shopping there, to somehow make themselves look better. Riggght.) Another report shows that boomers are returning to cities as their kids leave the nest. David Lynn wrote in Retail Traffic Magazine (told you I’m a local-business geek) that they are seeking “smaller, more manageable living quarters in vibrant, entertainment-driven environments.” This trend is helped along by rising transportation costs and a “general preference for mixed-use communities.” As a result, retail strategies are changing to meet their needs, as well as appeal to all the young creatives and professionals who are moving in droves to cities or “close-in neighborhoods” across the U.S. (up 26 percent since 2000, according to CEOS for Cities). Just how are the retail strategies changing? Guess. (Hint: the words “local” and “authentic” are in the answer somewhere.) Donna Ladd is also the editor-in-chief of BOOM Jackson magazine (@boomjackson on Twitter). The next issue hits the streets June 1.
Now Comes the Hard Part, Again Capitol Museum and the proposed Museum of Mississippi History. Holmes said the civilrights museum, though, would likely need its own outside fundraising authority. “(Fundraising) cannot be totally under the auspices of the department, to talk about COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY
ississippi’s lawmakers may have approved $20 million in bonds for a state civil-rights museum last week, but the project still has major hurdles to clear before becoming a reality. Chief among those is a private fundraising effort, the same thing that doomed an earlier incarnation of the project. Legislators approved H.B. 1463 earlier this month at the behest of Gov. Haley Barbour. The bill authorizes $20 million in state bonds for a civil-rights museum in downtown Jackson and another $18 million for an adjacent state history museum, with the funds for both also meant to cover the cost of a shared parking garage. For the civil-rights museum, however, the bill specifies that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History can only spend bond funds on pre-planning and construction. Funds for acquiring and stocking the museum with artifacts will be harder to come by. The bill specifies that the state cannot issue any bonds to fund artifact acquisition until MDAH provides proof that an equal amount of private, local or federal funds are available. To meet that matching requirement, MDAH likely will need the help of a private fundraising campaign, said Hank Holmes, the agency’s director. The new history museum already has a private benefactor in place: Since 2005, the Foundation for Mississippi History has raised funds for the Eudora Welty House, the Old
While a private foundation already exists to raise funds for a state history museum (pictured), a proposed civil-rights museum needs a new outside fundraiser.
that kind of money that we probably will need for the match,” Holmes said. “I am in hopes that there will be a civilrights museum foundation established also. We need the outside assistance of those kinds of groups to raise the money.” The need for private fundraising stalled the previous effort to build a civil-rights museum. Barbour first appointed a commission to oversee the proposed facility in 2006. That effort foundered after the commission awarded the museum site to Tougaloo College, how-
by Ward Schaefer ever. When Barbour restarted the effort this year in his annual state-of-the-state address, he asked legislators to fund a museum specifically in downtown Jackson near North and Amite streets and adjacent to the planned state-history museum. After Barbour’s announcement, Tougaloo President Beverly Wade Hogan released an incendiary statement suggesting that the governor was responsible for letting the project die by not appointing a non-profit board to oversee fundraising for construction. “Following the action by the commission and acceptance by the governor, the governor was to appoint a board of directors that would form a non-profit organization to organize the construction, funding and operation of the museum,” Hogan said. “To my knowledge, this part of the process has not been fulfilled.” Holmes said that he hopes that artifact donations will minimize the cost of filling each museum with exhibits. “We have always depended on donations of artifacts,” Holmes said. “We have very rarely had any funds to purchase anything. We’re hoping that that philanthropic spirit will continue, and people will want their artifacts to be housed in the museums.” Construction should begin within two years, Holmes said. The Department of Finance and Administration oversees all state buildings and would select an architectural firm to design each facility. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
The Business Wish List No, this isn’t a list of stuff we wish we had for our business. It’s a list of businesses (or business-related items) we wish we had so we could buy more stuff locally. Got it? Good! Taco trucks A comic book shop in Jackson (no offense) Vespa shop Movie theater Organic burrito shop Quirky gay-run card and gift shop Non-proselytizing taxi service Sidewalks on both sides of the streets Local, all-night breakfast place Full-time music venue in Fondren Personal concierge service Diners that deliver Local “zip-car” micro-rentals Bike rentals Canoe rentals Cupcake airstream Segway rentals Newsstands Ethiopian food
“A lot of our state leaders are coming from Rankin County, and Rankin County is looking at pursuing these buildings. They want the Department of Public Safety and the state Tax Commission.” —Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell about the need for the Jackson to work hard to retain state agencies inside the city limits.
Wednesday, April 6 Gov. Haley Barbour signs a $422.8 million bond bill to pay for more than 100 economic development projects including road improvements and projects for state agencies and universities. … The Associated Press obtains a letter that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wrote to President Barack Obama asking him to stop the unjust war in Libya and wishing him luck in the next election. Thursday, April 7 The Mississippi Senate votes to end the 2011 legislative session without approving new redistricting maps that would have redrawn House and Senate districts and ended a federal lawsuit the NAACP filed in March. Friday, April 7 President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reach a late-night agreement to cut about $38 billion in federal spending preventing a government shutdown. … Police capture 122 people suspected of gang and drug activity in the Mississippi Delta with the help of the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force. Saturday, April 8 Gov. Haley Barbour travels to Greenville, S.C., to speak at the Greenville GOP Convention and the Spartanburg GOP Convention. … BP announces that the company has purchased part of Cat Island off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. … About 100 people gather at Fondren Park on Dunbar Street for its grand opening. Sunday, April 9 Ole Miss defeats Georgia 12-7 during the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series. Monday, April 11 The Two Lakes Foundation proposes to partner with the Levee board in its pursuit of a smaller lake plan that does not flood portions of Mayes Lake. … Jackson City Council approves a $1.8 million contract with energy management company Johnson Controls. Tuesday, April 12 The Mississippi Small Business Administration announces that its office has set a lending record of 460 loans for this fiscal year totaling $198.5 million for Mississippi businesses. … Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is hospitalized in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
news, culture & irreverence
This week, The Business Journals ranked the Jackson metropolitan area as the 27th best business climate in the nation. Jackson fell from its previous spot of No. 24 in 2010, but made a significant increase from its rank of No. 67 in 2009. (Portland, Ore., is No. 28.)
Developer David Watkins offers Metrocenter, delays ‘Strip’ razing. p 11
by Adam Lynch
Redistricting Goes to Court
T APPELLATE COURT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER BEVERLY PETTIGREW KRAFT
he courts likely will decide Mississippi’s redistricting maps after the state Senate voted to end the session last week without adopting a new redistricting map. After passing a flurry of appropriations bills ahead of the deadline, legislators remained
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves recused himself from an NAACP suit against the state over redistricting because he was an NAACP member.
in session last week primarily to decide on new redistricting maps. When senators voted to close the session last Thursday, April 7, however, they essentially left the redistricting matter to the courts. That is, unless Gov. Haley Barbour calls for a special session to specifically take up the House and Senate maps. House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said Senate leaders refused to let the full Senate consider a proposal that would have redrawn House and Senate districts and ended a federal lawsuit the NAACP filed in March. “By refusing to consider the joint resolution approved by the House, the Senate is knowingly forcing the taxpayers of this state to pay for two legislative elections and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses, all in the name of hoping to achieve a partisan advantage in the upcoming campaigns,” McCoy said. The NAACP filed its lawsuit last month in federal court, asking a judge to impose new
redistricting maps upon the state. President Derrick Johnson said the current districts are no longer constitutional because of population shifts the 2010 Census uncovered. Senate and House districts must contain an evenly distributed population between themselves. The House and Senate must each approve the map from the opposite chamber, but the Senate refused to pass the House plan three times. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican running for governor, says the House plan does not create enough GOP districts to reflect growth in the state’s conservative areas. The NAACP, meanwhile, complains that a House and Senate substitute plan submitted by Republicans does not contain enough black-majority districts to reflect the state’s significant black population. Blacks, however, tend to vote Democratic. Last week marked the Senate’s third refusal to approve the House plan. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, told reporters that the House did not submit the maps correctly when it submitted them as a joint resolution—a stance also adopted by House Republicans such as Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian. Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, said there was nothing improper about the resolution the House sent to the Senate. “If both chambers agree to vote on that resolution, then it is jointly agreed to by both parties. Hewes is looking for a reason not to allow the senators to get an up or down vote on the issue,” he said. The court is having a hard time holding the redistricting hot potato. U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves, a NAACP member, recused himself from presiding over the case Monday. He also resigned from the NAACP at the same time. This happened mere weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Dan Jordan recused himself from the case because of a relative running in a legislative race this year. Judge Tom Lee is now presiding over NAACP v. Haley Barbour, et al. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Changing the Lobbying Game
C April 13 - 19, 2011
ities will have a more difficult time pulling down federal money in Congress’ continuing war on earmarks. Jackson lobbyist John Waits, of Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group Winston and Strawn LLP. said Congress’ new behavior is a game-changer in terms of delivering the goods for Jackson and any other city in the state, however. Waits said the anti-earmark environment in Washington had made getting money for the city more difficult. The anti-earmark crusade sank a massive federal appropriations om-
by Adam Lynch
nibus bill during the lame-duck session, costing Jackson $5 million for projects such as the renovation of Fortification Street, he said. “It’s a new environment requiring you to meet these new challenges, but there are alternative ways to seek funding, be it more emphasis on competitive grants or other kinds of federal funding through states,” Waits said. “Money that would have gone to earmarks will now be going to competitive grants in particular agencies, and some of those agencies want to spend that money for their own purposes and not through competitive grant programs.”
by Adam Lynch
House Polarizing, Report Card Says /HJLVODWLYH5HSRUW&DUG6DPSOHU
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tance, and get a â€œgood voteâ€? classification. Senators and House members may vote a variety of ways on the bills, earning them an in-between score of C, B, or D. Barber noted last year that the Senate scale consisted mostly of an extreme collection of As and Fs, with little variance, while the House report card contained a wider scale of Bs, Cs and Ds. Thatâ€™s not the case this year. While the Senate remains as polarized as it was last year, the House is gravitating toward the same divided stance with a series of As and Fs, and little else. Most politicians either completely supported all bills or utterly rejected them all. They rarely supported or rejected just a few. Mostly, he said, it was all or nothing. â€œMy guess is that the answer is called (Gov.) Haley Barbour,â€? Barber said. â€œThereâ€™s always been this kind of pattern, but not as stark as it is this year. (Barbourâ€™s) got a big war chest out there, and heâ€™s been known to say, â€˜If you donâ€™t vote with me, Iâ€™ll find a candidate to run against you who will.â€™â€? Many legislators, Barber added, do not personally advocate comparably extremist notions while in private company. â€œSome of these legislators are really nice
guys when theyâ€™re out by themselves,â€? Barber said. â€œIâ€™ve have really intelligent conversation one-on-one with some of them over a cup of coffee or in their office, but then they get in a group, and they just go to hell.â€? Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said he noticed the polarization in the House, as indicated by the Business and Industry Political Education Committee legislative scorecard. â€œI think that when you have a House that elected a speaker by such a close vote, youâ€™ll have pretty stark dividing lines,â€? Snowden said. â€œThat doesnâ€™t mean there are not gray areas in the way people think, but we donâ€™t have a â€˜maybeâ€™ on our voting board. Itâ€™s either green or red.â€? Snowden said the governor was not the source of the partisanship in the House. â€œPartisanship in the House has more been our doing, but thatâ€™s not necessarily a bad thing,â€? Snowden said. â€œWhen I first got here, it was a go-along, get-along kind of system where you scratch my back, and I scratch yours. But now, with the two-party system, if you have an R or D by your name (voters) expect it to mean something in Jackson, and thatâ€™s caused some friction.â€? Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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he Mississippi House of Representatives is becoming as politically polarized as the Mississippi Senate, says political and community activist Rims Barber. Barber released a 2011 political report card grading legislators based on their votes for up to 10 progressive bills that writhed their way through the 2011 legislative session before it adjourned this month. Barber, a minister who came to the state in 1964 at the request of the National Council of Churches to help with civil-rights work during the historic Freedom Summer campaign, regularly advocates for a variety of progressive issues at the State Capitol. His annual report card classifies legislators based on their support or opposition to certain bills. His Senate report-card findings stem from votes on bills like SB 2179, which, if it had passed, mandated that local and state law enforcement demand proof of residency from people police suspect of being undocumented residents. Another bill is SB 2289, which transfers financial penalties for open-meeting violations to individual violators rather than the public body the violator represents. Barber also includes SB 2570, which removes state employees from the protection of the state personnel board for two years and classifies employees as â€œnon-state serviceâ€? personnel. Barber said he had to be picky in selecting bills. Both chambers tend to vote unanimously or nearly unanimously on the vast majority of bills that hit their floors. â€œThese are bills that didnâ€™t pass 120-tonothing,â€? Barber said. â€œI look for vote splits, because 120-tonothing doesnâ€™t tell us anything.â€? Controversial bills, he said, tend to be civil- and human-rights bills and amendments, including education, and workersâ€™ and votersâ€™ rights issues. The grading scale ranges from â€œAâ€? to â€œF,â€? with an â€œAâ€? representing a favorable vote for the legislation and an â€œFâ€? for an unfavorable vote. Votes are not based on a â€œyeasâ€? or â€œnays.â€? A legislator can vote to oppose a regressive bill, such as SB 2055, which restricts voter assis-
Best Salon & Best Hair Stylist
- 2010 & 2011 Best of Jackson -
by Adam Lynch
JPD Too Slow on Theft?
afternoon.” By Wednesday, Parker, a University of Mississippi law student, had visited numerous merchants and asked for video of suspects who had used the card at the time and date specified by the credit-card companies. She said most merchants were not helpful. “Many of them delete their film after three days or seven days,” Parker said. She turned over every purchase time and date AMILE WILSON
April 13 - 19, 2011
1935 Lakeland Dr. 601.397.6398
n Monday, March 14, Jackson resident Torri Parker and her boyfriend returned to her car parked at Parham Bridges Park after a workout there and discovered the passenger-side window knocked out and her purse missing from the vehicle. So began a spring break spent doing her own detective work. Parker immediately called the police to report the theft. The responding officer gave her a card containing her case number and a contact number for follow-up. On Tuesday, she spent part of the day calling credit-card companies, she said, to get lists of merchants who used her stolen credit cards. By Wednesday, March 16, she still had not heard anything and went to JPD’s Precinct 4 offices and threatened to call the mayor on the department’s lack of progress. So far, Parker said, police have made no arrests in the crime, and she remains angry that a detective did not appear to have taken her case until she approached the Precinct 4 commander March 16. Parker said her detective, Jaye Coleman, told her he’d taken the case “30 minutes” after her rant at Precinct 4. “When I went to meet with that detective 20 minutes after talking with (Deputy Chief Brent) Winstead, he told me that he’d just got my information 30 minutes prior. It’s pretty obvious to me that when I made my commotion that’s how the case was assigned,” Parker said. Winstead disputes Parker’s characterization. “She’s not accurate about that at all. The case occurred on the 14th. We received the case on the 15th, sometime in the middle part of the day. The investigator was assigned the case that afternoon of the 15th, and he got in contact with us the next morning on the 16th,” Winstead said. Winstead said the detective had reviewed the case “that morning,” but that he had been out of town the day before his meeting with Parker, and had been “following up on another case in Louisiana that
Jacksonian Torri Parker said she has done more work on her credit-card theft case than Jackson police officers have.
to her detective that Wednesday, she said, and continued follow-up with her detective on merchant conversations throughout the course of the week. On Thursday, Parker said her detective had made a few rounds visiting merchants to try to collect video footage. Winstead said it was to no avail. Winstead said the merchants the investigator contacted during the course of Parker’s investigation had no useful footage available. “The stores that said they had it when she talked to them, they say they didn’t have it when we talked to them. I don’t know exactly where the communication breakdown was as far as that goes,” Winstead said. But Parker said her detective moved too slowly to gather film footage on his own before the evidence was gone on Thursday. “A lot of (merchants) told me straight up that they don’t keep it long—like three
days—and if (police) don’t get it within three days they won’t get it,” she said. Winstead refused JFP access to Parker’s detective, and would not confirm that Coleman is the detective on the case. He said that the department “followed proper procedure.” Police, he added, don’t talk directly to banks and credit-card agencies to ascertain locations of post-theft use of the cards, unless the crime victim gives them the information. For this reason, he suggested that any crime victim provide information on post-theft transactions to an investigator as soon as possible. JPD spokeswoman Colendula Green said the process takes time. “A lot of people want fast results, but there’s a process that we have to go through. A report had to be written, and once it’s processed and in the system it has to be assigned to the detective,” Green said.“But (Parker) was taken care of.” Madison Police Department Master Sergeant Kevin Newman said that the Madison Police Department also does not contact merchants directly to gather video data on stolen cards unless the victim hands investigators the date and time of the fraud. However, Newman said Madison police will wrest film footage of a customer committing fraud within 24 hours, if necessary. “If there’s a manager on duty, sometimes, we can get it in a couple of hours, but never more than 24 hours. If we need something right away, the merchants are pretty good at getting us what we need. If we know that they’ve used it at the store we’ll act immediately,” Newman said. “We have a lot of time up here to look into things, so if something happens we throw our resources at it.” City Spokesman Chris Mims told the Jackson Free Press that persons wishing to lodge a complaint against police policy or police officers can call Police Chief Rebecca Coleman at 601-960-1217 or file an Internal Affairs Report investigation by calling 601-960-1674. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Adam Lynch
Put It in the Mall
Watkins Development LLC Vice President Jason Goree said the under-used Metrocenter Mall is a good location for the Mississippi Department of Revenue.
Ben Allen complained that the taxpayerfunded 190,000-square-foot building at its proposed Lakeland Drive location would be “more expensive than any building constructed by the private sector,” including Parkway Properties’ recently constructed Pinnacle office building, Allen wrote on DJP’s blog. Kirby said the department needs to relocate from its present facility on Springridge Road in Raymond, a few miles from the Metrocenter. He said that facility recently suffered a dangerous gas leak and also costs the state $900,000 a year to lease.
Fondren Strip Safe for Now by Lacey McLaughlin
COURTESY DAVID WATKINS
Whitney Place partner Jason Watkins said he and his father, David Watkins, are reconsidering replacing a strip of Fondren businesses with a mixed-use development.
avid Watkins’ plans to replace a 1938 strip of Fondren businesses on North State Street with his Whitney Place development are on hold after more than 300 residents signed a petition against demolition of the strip. “With the petition and some feedback we have gotten, we have agreed to basically keep an open mind to other plans before we moved forward,” Jason Watkins, a partner in the development with his father, said last week. “We haven’t pushed our plans any further.”
Watkins added that the developers were keeping an “open mind” about the strip. Attorney Arin Clark Adkins, one of the founders of “Save Our Strip,” a group trying to preserve the buildings and that started the petition in January, said residents are satisfied with the developer’s reconsideration. She added that the developers are asking architects to produce alternative designs for consideration. “The hope is that a redesign can be planned that is not cost prohibitive,” Adkins said. “I think the financing is still an issue of what’s been proposed and what’s ultimately going to be developed. The thought is: If it’s not cost prohibitive, then they will consider a redesign.” The originally proposed $80 million development would replace the existing buildings on State Street from Mitchell Avenue to Hartfield Street with eight acres of retail shops, apartments, a boutique hotel, and green space for concerts and festivals. Watkins said in October that the buildings had significant structural damage, and that preserving the buildings wasn’t an economically viable option. He added that construction could begin as early as fall 2011. “We like the initial plans; however, we are open to reconsidering plans if what we saw was a proper use of the space in terms of density for the area and the area behind the existing strip,” Jason Watkins said.
The new facility, wherever it is, has to meet specific standards. “Not just any building will work because of the work flow and the paper flow,” Kirby said. He added that the issue is now out of the hands of the Mississippi Legislature, leaving the state Department of Finance to make the final decision. He said the $3 million bond bill does not restrict the potential site to the Lakeland Drive area. “Nothing is in stone by any means,” Kirby said. “We’ll see what they decide at DFA.” Whitwell said developers and city leaders need to work aggressively to prevent government agencies from relocating out of the city. “A lot of our state leaders are coming from Rankin County, and Rankin County is looking at pursuing these buildings,” Whitwell said. “They want the Department of Public Safety and the state tax commission.” Kirby, a Pearl resident, said he had tried to move the Department of Revenue to Rankin County last year, but that the Democrat-controlled House rejected the bill because House members wanted the facility in Jackson. Goree said Watkins Development would not be a sore loser if the DFA went with a different location, as long as the department moved to a private development similar to the mall. “If (other Jackson developers) were able to offer them something better, we as a company would be fine. But ultimately we want it done by the private sector,” Goree said. “If you’re building something that’s not a museum, it needs to be done by the private sector because it’s cheaper.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
velopment. They consider the state of Mississippi a bad neighbor after construction of the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services center at 3771 Eastwood Drive. “(After construction) they did not prove themselves to be a good partner with the neighborhood because they have not replaced any trees to rebuild the buffer. That, in itself, left a bad taste in the mouth of the people who live in that area,” Whitwell told the Jackson Free Press. Whitwell said other locations in Jackson would better serve as the department’s new location. “There are a number of downtown sites that could be retrofitted and leased, as well as other sites such as the Metrocenter, that I think would allow the tax commission to relocate to nicer, more cost-effective places (that) would be better for the metro,” Whitwell said. Goree said the mall space can easily accommodate the department for “significantly less” than $50 million. The space is already modernized and energy-efficient. He said the arrangement would also generate taxes for the city by encouraging a built-in customer base for mall merchants and by not adding to the city’s tax-exempt state-owned property. A new state-owned facility on Lakeland Drive would create another drain on the city, which already suffers from more than 30 percent of its property owned by untaxed state agencies or non-profits, he said. Downtown Jackson Partners President
atkins Development LLC Vice President Jason Goree is promoting the Metrocenter Mall as the potential new home for the Mississippi Department of Revenue. “We thought our building would work because it wouldn’t be a big adjustment for the current employees and the people that normally make business there, and the mall has easy access in and out,” Goree said. Watkins Development leases out the first floor of the mall’s former Belk department store to the city of Jackson’s water and sewer department and other city agencies. Goree said Belk’s second floor is empty, however, and could easily accommodate, with only minor build-out, the Department of Revenue’s need for 180,000 to 200,000 square-feet of space. David Watkins, Watkins Development LLC chief executive officer, was one of several city developers and representatives, including former Mayor Kane Ditto and developer Ted Duckworth, who protested a legislative bond bill setting aside $50 million for construction of a new 190,000square-foot building for the department at the corner of Lakeland Drive and Ridgewood Road. Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, reduced the bond bill to provide $3 million for a study to find a new home for the department. Critics such as Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell say the state should not build a 190,000-square-foot facility at the Lakeland Drive location because residents abutting the land will not welcome the de-
opining, grousing & pontificating
Let the Private Sector Work
ackson developers are pushing for the state government to move the Mississippi Department of Revenue into privately owned property somewhere in Jackson, and we can’t blame them. Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, says the department’s current headquarters in Raymond is aging and dangerous. The problem, however, is that state leaders appear to want the headquarters in a new state-owned building near Lakeland Drive. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell and Jackson former councilman and Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen say Kirby and his crew initially pushed for a $50 million bond bill funding construction of the Lakeland facility. Kirby said as much himself, giving us a reasonable gauge on what this new building could conceivably cost taxpayers in these days of steep budget cuts. Remember the fight over $20 million last month in K-12 education funds, and the battle over a $55 million museum complex in downtown Jackson? These were big issues, yet the Senate nearly passed $50 million in new debt to fund a brand new building near residents that Whitwell says don’t really want to see any new state-owned development in their back yards. Developers David Watkins, Ted Duckworth and others say they already have facilities sitting in Jackson that could either accommodate the department already, or soon could with only minimal build-out. Watkins, in particular, wants to lease property in the Metrocenter Mall to the department. Watkins Development LLC Vice President Jason Goree said they’re willing to offer the state a 20-year lease-to-own deal, which can handle the kind of space a government agency needs, for considerably less than $50 million. The city of Jackson is already moving some of its administrative offices into the same mall. This healthy recycling should continue. In addition, Goree said facilities at the mall meet strict safety standards and are already energy efficient and up-to-date. The location offers a quick connection to Interstates 20 and 220, and will generate revenue at the neighboring mall shops that will be happy to sell state workers their lunch and other products. Imagine being a state worker who gets to hoof it through the air-conditioned mall interior to Sears to take care of Christmas shopping right after work. After 20 years, the state could own the property, depending upon the lease deal. This set-up offers the added plus of being privately owned property, at least for a few decades, which will not create another government-owned revenue sink inside the city of Jackson. We already have enough of those with more than a quarter of city property untaxable.
Operation ‘Cover Your Butt’
April 13 - 19, 2011
oneQweesha Jones: “It’s another special edition television broadcast of ‘Qweesha Live and Direct.’ My special guest is Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride, beloved congressman of the Ghetto Science Community, district 707-1/2. He is here to talk about the Ghetto Science Team’s ‘Operation Cover Your Butt When Crap Hits the Fan’—aka the ‘Government Shutdown Backup Plan.’ “Congressman, last week, the government was like a falling cat able to land on its feet in a nick of time. Whew! A lot of folks were glad that the government avoided a shutdown. You and the Ghetto Science Team’s Government Task Force had plan weeks before the shutdown. Tell the viewers about it.” Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride: “Qweesha, the government task force and I do our best to understand the complexities of our world, country, community and society. The winds of change just keep blowing our minds. Nevertheless, we work hard to anticipate catastrophic events. This is why we developed ‘Operation Cover Your Butt When Crap Hits the Fan Government Shutdown Plan.’ I want to assure residents of the Ghetto Science Community that when the government goes kaput we will have your back and pick up the slack. Finances, health care, transportation, housing, food, etc. will remain intact. I’m proud to have a team of great minds capable of making up a government shutdown backup plan for the ghetto science community.” BoneQwesha Jones: “Looks like you’ve been reading Aesop’s Fable, ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper.’ He would be proud of you.” Smokey ‘Robinson’ McBride: “Thanks, Qweesha.”
he federal government was able to avert shutdown. Whether or not you actually believed it would happen, it stands to reason that all of us should take pause at how close a shutdown actually came. About an hour before the deadline, lawmakers finally agreed on a compromise. This raises the timeless query on whether the true needs of the people sometimes get lost in partisan politics. A shutdown would have meant hundreds of thousands of federal workers would have been sent home. National Parks and federal agencies would have closed, and our military personnel would have been working for free. In the end, they were able to agree on nearly $80 million in cuts below what President Obama had proposed. As this drama unfolded before our eyes, Democrats and Republicans made like two cliques on opposite ends of the playground, each trying to convince us that their side was the “righteous” one, that their position was the one best for America. Republicans say they want to work with the President. They want a health-care bill, they want more jobs, they want clean air. But they want to do it by leaving money in the hands of business owners and hoping it trickles down to the rest of us. They want to severely cut programs that assist the less fortunate of us to sustain, primarily education. With only moments left before the deadline, the Repubs dug in on Planned Parenthood, saying they won’t fund abortions, despite the abundance of information to the contrary. We danced shamefully close to the Smithsonian closing its doors because Rep. John Kyl erroneously stated that abortion makes up 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. Another Republican said that PP existed to “help kill black babies before they come into the world.” Come again? We’re not going to fix what’s
ailing America by resting the blame solely on the backs of this country’s blue-collar workers, poor and disenfranchised. Let’s be clear: Democrats cannot absolve themselves of blame, either. When they had a large majority in Congress, they failed to pass a budget. Any good card player knows one thing: When you’ve got a hand full of spades you don’t waste time holding them. With a prime opportunity in play, Dems should have been trying to get the agenda instead of trying to simply keep their seats. Party leaders felt they had a better chance of getting elected if they didn’t do anything “controversial.” We all know how that turned out mid-term don’t we? Dems elected to kick that “budget can” down the road, and that decision almost led us to a government shutdown. Then there’s the Tea Party, which, like them or not, has an agenda and makes decisions based only on that agenda. They pushed Republican compadres into a corner where they couldn’t compromise. Now that they have, some Tea Party members say they will get rid of Speaker John Boehner in the next election. For you and me, it seems “politics as usual” has become the “politics of conflict.” One side is spending so much time trying to figure out how to “one up” the other that nothing gets done. And the trail it leaves is a tragic one: kids going to school in failing school districts, with parents who are part of the stifling unemployment numbers, preventing them from having viable health insurance. The cycle continues because we allow the twoparty system to dominate—two sides that profit from telling us why something “can’t” happen instead of working on the reasons it can. If we, as voters, don’t get a clue, we’ll continue to fall for this ruse.
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Learning from Austin
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thought to myself. However nostalgic or naive that statement may seem, the point remains. A city that feels active, energetic and healthy feeds itself. The identity a city creates becomes a cycle of positive or negative energy that permeates everyday life. Spending time in Austin, one gets the sense that â€œquality of lifeâ€? isnâ€™t simply a marketing tagline or an effect of isolated renewal projects, but rather a primary driving force of the public and private sectors of Austin. And while itâ€™s easy to criticize and blame city officials for all that ails our city, I saw firsthand in Austin itâ€™s the collective power of the people who demand action from their elected officials that make a city better, not the other way around. The results are clear. From expansive bike routes and â€œpedicabsâ€? (a large fleet of bicycle taxis sanctioned by the city), to numerous green spaces and eco-focused planning initiatives, Austin has a clear identity. The city made investments years ago in cultural and physical infrastructure that are now bearing fruit at an unprecedented scale. Visitors come from all over the world to experience the richness of Austinâ€™s culture and the energy of its nightlife. While numerous urban-renewal projects are underway in Jackson and commendable progress has been made, we still often find ourselves in a position of â€œcatching upâ€? to other cities that progressed on similar issues years ago. Jackson, however, has an opportunity to seize on its potential and push forward in a way that changes the minds of those not only in our own suburbs, but the nation. A city that was once plagued with poverty, crime, and negative perceptions can become a thriving center for culture and entertainment. The stereotype of Mississippi as a backward, intellectually inhibited place ironically provides us with great potential: No one expects us to succeed. As a volunteer helping organize the upcoming FIGMENT arts festival (May 1415), I constantly get peppered with questions from those wanting to know how we were able to convince FIGMENT, a nationally recognized festival once only held in New York and Boston, to come to Jackson. The answer is simple: We didnâ€™t let external and internal stereotypes tell us what we could and couldnâ€™t do. The endless negativity and bad press our city receives can one day be the catalyst that springboards Jackson onto the national map. If Austin teaches us anything itâ€™s this: Lead, donâ€™t follow. Neil Polen is an intern architect with the Jackson Community Design Center.
â€œThis is how a city should feel,â€? I thought to myself.
PR21/<1HDU*URZLQJ(O3DVR 7H[DVQGVDIHVW86&LW\ 2ZQHU)LQDQFLQJ1R &UHGLW&KHFNV0RQH\%DFN*XDUDQWHH)5((&RORU %URFKXUHZZZVXQVHWUDQFKHVFRP