May 25 - 31, 2011
May 25-31, 2011
9 N O . 37
contents KENYA HUDSON
6 Budget Shuffle Jackson takes one from column A and one from column B to make up for budget shortfalls. AMILE WILSON
Cover photograph by Aaron Phillips; Cover design by Kristin Brenemen
THIS ISSUE: ............. Editor’s Note
larita smith … (and) sleeping on the train,” she says. “But I’d never do without it. I’d never give up seeing where I’ve been.” Smith was married to J.C. Mixon, who traveled for work, and she lived in Venezuela for six years until relocating to New Orleans in 1962. A mother of three (Martha, Richard and Claude), Smith had numerous odd jobs in New Orleans, along with gallery exhibits, private showings and a booth on Jackson Square. She moved back to Jackson in 1982 to take care of her ailing parents and has lived here since. Her love for Jackson is obvious when she reminisces about places in its past such as Livingston Park, which included a man-made swimming beach, golf course, castle-like buildings, dancing pavilions and a zoo. It is partially preserved at the Jackson Zoo, she says. “It was a beehive of activity,” the artist recalls. The artist hopes her retrospective art show has captured her many life experiences and travels in its sketches, acrylic and watercolor paintings, multi-media works, collages and even a light show. “I’m a living camera pen,” she says. “I feel like I am a camera—a camera with a pen on it, rather than an artist.” See “LaRita Smith: An 87-year Retrospective” through June 26 at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St., 601-960-1500). —Holly Perkins
17 What’s Happening? “There’s Nothing to Do!” If you’re guilty of being bored in Jackson, you can only blame yourself. ANDREW DUNAWAY
LaRita Smith is exhausted. Not only has she been painting until 3 a.m. and cutting countless strips of paper for collages with gluecovered hands, she’s been doing it at age 87. As Smith settles into her chair at the Arts Center of Mississippi, she looks around at the collection of her life’s work and lets out a sigh. “I’m just wiped out,” she says. She’s lived a lot of life in those years. Smith was born in Piney Woods in a leap year, the oldest of nine children. She moved to Jackson at age 5, and it was while living here that she discovered her love of art. “We lived in rented houses, and some of the wallpaper was ragged, and my mother always let me draw on the walls,” Smith says. “That’s the key to my art career, because other people don’t let their children draw on the walls, you know.” Her love of art strengthened when her schoolteachers recognized her talent and displayed her work. Though she had some art education while attending Louisiana State University majoring in journalism, she says her real education came from traveling. “Japan. That was my art education,” Smith says. She scoffs at the term “well-traveled.” Although she’s traveled to five of the seven continents, it has not been luxuriously. “I travel so cheap. People get the idea that I’m really snazzy because I’ve been to all these places, but I went carrying my own suitcases
6 ................... Slowpoke 7 ........................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 ................. Kamikaze 12 ..................... Stiggers 12 ......................... Zuga 13 ................... Opinion 17 ............. JFP Listings 34 ................ Diversions 35 ...................... 8 Days 37 ...................... Arts 38 ......... Music Listings 41 .................. Astrology 42 ......................... Food 46 ........................... FLY
Artists in Jackson aren’t starving. They make it work through planning and collaboration.
42 Deep Roots Southern cookbook author and entrepreneur Sara Foster comes back to her Tennessee roots.
Creative Class Rising
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
How to Define Business Casual: Part 2
• If you like the tie-less look, we recommend a shirt with a button-down collar. Or, if you want to look a little more contemporary, a crisp white shirt with a spread collar. Never leave more than one or two buttons undone at the neck. Any more undone and you’ll look like an extra from a soap opera. • If you’re not going to wear a jacket or sweater on top of your shirt, spend a few extra minutes pressing it in the morning, or invest in a few non-iron shirts. Noniron shirts are essential to the modern man without time to waste.
• You can wear jeans to the office, but only if they are a darker or medium wash without a lick of fading. If you don’t have nice, crisp jeans, choose chinos or wool trousers and save your jeans for the weekend. • Bonus Tip: You would do well to always keep a well-pressed white or blue shirt, silk tie and jacket in your office. If you have these key items on hand, you can always do a quick change if something important pops up. There’s nothing more impressive than a man ready for anything. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
May 25 - 31, 2011
We welcome your questions and feedback on our Facebook page, @RogueMensStore on Twitter, or at therogue.com
Latasha Willis Events editor Latasha Willis is a native Jacksonian, a graduate of Tougaloo College and the proud mother of one cat. She sells design pieces at zazzle. com/reasontolive. She compiled the Summer Preview listings.
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 Lacey@ jacksonfreepress.com or call 601.362.6121 x. 22. She wrote the arts feature story.
Aaron Phillips Originally from Texas, Aaron Phillips has lived in Mississippi for more than a decade. He works for a local graphic design firm, and is a freelance photographer. He photographed the cover image and took photos for the arts feature.
Holly Perkins Holly Perkins loves the arts— acting, painting, photography, writing and music. In the fall, she will be a sophomore at Belhaven University, and she hopes to travel the world. She wrote the Jacksonian.
David McCarty David McCarty is a Jackson lawyer and an artist originally from Sandusky, Ala. The zine publisher and man-about-town wrote a music feature story.
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 wrote a road-trip story.
Jeffery Yentz Jeffrey Yentz is a pen-and-ink artist, health-care architect, husband and father. Born in Wisconsin, he learned that the blues began in Chicago. Now he knows that Mississippi is where the blues started and where it lives. He wrote arts stories.
May 25 - 31, 2011
Advertising director Kimberly Griffin is a Jackson native who likes yoga, supporting locally owned businesses and traveling. In her spare time she plots how she can become Michelle Obama’s water holder.
by Valerie Wells, Assistant Editor
Me, Pulling You
was not about to lie down in a body imprint left in the grass no matter how much the artist encouraged me. Looking at the impression of a fallen body in a bed of violets was enough for me to feel raw. I didn’t want to feel more real than that. At least not on that Sunday afternoon. FIGMENT, a huge project displaying interactive art that invited playful participation, was in Jackson May 14-15. I only spent an hour or two there. I miss it already. By all appearances, FIGMENT embodied the anti-children’s museum. It wasn’t that it was anti-children. Far from it. In many ways it was a child’s paradise that adults dipped into if only for a moment before becoming self-conscious and pulling back. If anything, it was anti-museum. It was free. I didn’t see a single exhibit with a corporate sponsorship. (Although, many people did work hard to pull it together and might have had their feelings hurt that they didn’t get enough credit.) At first glance, it looked like a mess, with boxes and plastic bins strewn around the grounds of the old Coca-Cola plant. Dancers moved through martial arts in slow motion, or maybe it was martial artists dancing to the steady drumbeat. A small girl in a red leotard ran through the middle of the nearly mime-like dancers. Her spontaneous part was unscripted, yet it went together beautifully with timed choreography. Kids wrote their names with their fingers on the floor of a room covered with cinnamon instead of sawdust. The scent enticed me to hang around a few minutes longer. Nearby, kids skated up and down ramps in one of the empty plant structures. A group of crazy people in white walked around silently, prophesizing an artistic event. Kids naturally climbed on the sound-and-color monkey bars while adults watched before they would tentatively hit a button to change the beat or add a layer of music. It was a lot to take in. What seemed so minimal at first actually had depth. I initially had walked through quickly, and was actually leaving when Debby, one of the producers from New York, led me back into the complex like a quest guide. This time, I went into the buildings and saw so many living, breathing definitions of art and was pulled in without even realizing I had crossed over. I walked away energized with creativity. I was ready to renovate a strip mall and maybe paint a seascape. At the other end of the spectrum from FIGMENT’s large cardboard box facsimile of the Pearl River and the like is the stately Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. At first, I had some cold notion of what this entity was. Something elitist, I suspected. The institute awards poets, novelists, painters, photographers and composers. Many of them are academics who already have made a mark in their field. All of them have strong Mississippi connections,
although many have moved away to prestigious positions in other states. Natasha Trethewey, one of my favorite poets, is a good example. Born in Gulfport, she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters honored her in 2001, 2003 and in 2007.
Grab these chances not only to see paintings and hear music, but to learn to cook an exotic meal or dance a new step you usually wouldn’t. Now a professor at Emory University, the institute again will award her this year for her book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (University of Georgia Press, 2010, $22.95). The institute’s awards come from a juried competition. Judges, who are also at the top of their game but are from outside the state, review the nominees’ work. Politics, loyalty and sentimentality don’t play a part in picking the best work. The institute gave the first awards in 1980. Every winner gets $1,000. This year, the awards gala is June 4 in Ocean Springs. Mary Anderson, daughter of Walter Anderson, will emcee. Nine artists will get awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award is going to Mary Garrard, an Indianola native, for her feminist perspectives in art history. Her book, “Artemisia
Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art” (Princeton University, 1991, $49.95), is classic art criticism. The institute seeks out the best of the best, the Mississippians who have proved to the world they are spectacular artists. Often, we look outside the state for validation. Sometimes, inside the state, we don’t value the arts we already have here. We have so many opportunities to be artists, inside and out. This arts and events preview issue of the Jackson Free Press is jammed with opportunities for you to experience life artistically. That doesn’t mean anyone is going to make you bang a drum or write your name in cinnamon. It does mean you should grab these chances not only to see paintings and hear music, but to learn to cook an exotic meal or dance a new step you usually wouldn’t. Go out of town and touch an outdoor sculpture, smell a rose garden, taste a town festival. Stay in Jackson and go to one of those museums you’ve never been to although you have lived here for years. Go hear a band that plays a genre that you haven’t really listened to before. Join a book club. Buy a piece of art from a Jacksonian, even if it is just a little acrylic painting, a piece of jewelry or some unusual yard art. Take lessons. Learn to draw. Teach your children to observe nature and capture that moment in a poem. Get out a red pen or a green one and circle the places you want to go and the people you want to meet. This is me pulling you into an interaction with this copy of the JFP. Experiences are waiting for you. You don’t have to have a doctorate. You don’t have to be rich. You do need to be alive and willing to grab what is right here waiting.
he Jackson City Council is willing to approve a budget revision next week filling a $4 million budget shortfall, Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba believes. “This revision appears necessary,” Lumumba said. “I don’t think the council will oppose this revision at this time.” Halfway into the budget year, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. pitched a proposal to the council last week to shift some city funds from savings to cover shortfalls. “The total amount of revisions is a little over $4 million, and most of that, about $3.5 million, will be coming out of our applied-fund balance. The remainder, $600,000 or so, will be coming out of savings that we anticipate,” Johnson told the Jackson Free Press. The city’s “applied-fund balance” is a reserve fund that does not have a council-imposed restriction on its minimum amount. It is composed of savings created in some city departments, many due to budgeted employee positions that remain unfilled. Johnson said one of the biggest drains on the budget is the city’s arbitration conclusion with JATRAN bus workers. That arbitration resulted in $984,000 in back pay and vacation costs paid to unionized bus drivers and mechanics, and an annual increase of about $550,000 for those employees in the 2011 budget. In addition to an extra $1 million that
Council Recalculating Budget
The Jackson City Council will vote next week on Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.’s proposal to shift more than $4 million from city savings to cover shortfalls.
Johnson expects JATRAN employees to need this year, rising gas prices are forcing the city to add another $200,000 to the bus budget. The city also must add $1.2 million to its tort-claims fund. State law requires Jackson to have about $2.5 million in the fund, according to the mayor, who said the city only has “about $2 million” in the fund now. Johnson said the city needs to add an additional $700,000 in anticipation of future claims.
by Adam Lynch Lumumba said he felt the city could preserve more money in its tort claims fund if it changed its habit of appealing so many unfavorable court opinions to higher courts. “We need to take a better look at settling some of these cases earlier on. I know of a couple of cases that became very expensive because we continued to pursue the things and appealed in court and the court ruled against us. We have to look at that (behavior) very closely,” Lumumba said. Police overtime also remained an issue, having run up $1.1 million in costs. “We’ve had a lot of (police) visibility, and we’re still not fully staffed for the officers that we’re budgeted for,” Johnson said. “Plus, even those that we have on staff are not always out patrolling. They may be on medical leave or on military leave or be on desk duty.” The city remains 40 officers short of its 500 budgeted officers, despite the graduation of recruits earlier this year. The city also needs to fill a $275,000 shortfall in its municipal early-childhoodcenters budget, match a $40,000 AmeriCorps grant, and repay $100,000 to its “grasscutting” budget, because it borrowed that amount to fund needed demolition work. The Council budget committee approved the proposal last week, and will put the issue before the regular Council for a vote May 31. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Summer In/Out List Why is it in? Why is it out? Because we say so. ‘Nuf said.
Vintage Seersucker “Thor” “Pirates of the Caribbean 4“ “Bridesmaids” Lil B Adele “The Voice” Craft beer Pickled ramps Adult milkshakes Sneaky Beans Stonewashed denim Biking to work
Talbots Spandex Schwarzenegger Super dramas “Something Borrowed” Odd Future J-Lo “American Idol” Crap beer Pigs feet Frappuccinos Be-Bop Argyle Working to bike
hoot “Rankin County doesn’t give a hoot about Hinds County.” —Ward 1 Jackson City Councilman Quentin Whitwell regarding the unlikelihood that Rankin County legislators will remove a commission to oversee a 1-cent sales-tax increase in Jackson.
Wednesday, May 18 Staff Sgt. David D. Self of Pearl is killed during an insurgent attack in Afghanistan. … The U.S. Senate votes down a Republican-sponsored bill that would have speeded up the process for oil companies to obtain off-shore drilling permits. Thursday, May 19 The Jackson Police Department reports that overall crime in Jackson has dropped by 20 percent in the past year. … The first marker for the Mississippi Freedom Trail is unveiled at Bryant’s Grocery in Money, where 14-year-old Emmett Till allegedly whistled at a white woman and was later murdered. Friday, May 20 A new Gallup Poll shows that 53 percent of Americans support gay marriage. … Five Mississippi schools find out that they are eligible for more than $6.9 million in 2012 from the Mississippi Department of Education for school improvements. Saturday, May 21 The Mississippi River levees are put to the test after the river reaches historical flood levels and leaves thousands of families homeless. … Iceland’s most active volcano, Grimsvotn, begins to erupt. Sunday, May 22 Tornados rip across the central U.S. killing more than 100 people. … Gov. Haley Barbour apologizes to the Freedom Riders on behalf of the state for the hardships they endured while challenging Jim Crow laws in 1961. Monday, May 23 Death row inmate Robert Simon Jr. asks a federal appeals court to stop his execution scheduled for May 24. … Myrlie Evers-Williams returns to Jackson and speaks at the unveiling of “Freedom Sisters” at the Smith Robertson Museum. Tuesday, May 24 President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama travel to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth. … The third marker for the Mississippi Freedom Trail is unveiled at Jackson’s former Greyhound Station with several of the original Freedom Riders in attendance. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com.
news, culture & irreverence
Police arrested Guillaume Apollinaire, a poet and friend of Pablo Picasso, on suspicion of stealing the “Mona Lisa” from Paris’ Louvre Museum in 1911. When police questioned Apollinaire, he blamed Picasso, who was then brought in for questioning. The two men were later released.
Just how much radioactive water did Grand Gulf put into the Mississippi? p8
by Adam Lynch
It’s That Time Again! Jesse Robinson’s Birthday Party Thursday, March 26 | 7-12 PM $10 Cover Charge F Jones Corner 303 North Farish Street | Jackson, MS 39202 For more information call 601.983.1143 | 601.362.8019
May 25 - 31, 2011
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he Nuclear Regulatory Commission still has not assessed how much radioactive tritium Entergy Mississippi employees accidentally released into the Mississippi River late last month. Inspectors with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were on site earlier this month at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson after Entergy Nuclear filed a report showing that workers flushed radioactive water into the river after heavy rains in the area. Employees found the water April 29 at the unused Unit 2 turbine building, which is only partially constructed, and pumped what they believed to be harmless rainwater out of the building and into a channel bound for the river. An alarm alerted workers to the presence of the radiation in the water. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission public affairs officer Lara Uselding told the Jackson Free Press May 16 that the nature of the spill made it difficult to determine precisely how much of the isotope reached state water. “We have inspectors following up on this. I’ll send you any new information we have on that,” Uselding said. “Although the concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking-water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river,” Uselding told the Natchez Democrat May 4, despite not knowing how much of the isotope was released before workers stopped flushing it from the turbine building. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission classifies tritium as a “weakly radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen.” Tritium has a half-life of 12.3 years, but the hydrogen atom bonds easily with the oxygen atom in water to create tritiated water, which is imperceptible by taste or smell, making it seem no different from regular water. The NRC reports that Tritium is also used in some neon-glow paints, including the glowing hands of some wrist-watches. Tritium, which is created by some nuclear reactors, was the basis for Vermont legislators’ reluctance this year to extend Entergy Corp.’s license for its Vermont Yankee nuclear-power plant by another 20 years. The Vermont Senate voted in 2010 to shut down the plant in 2012 due to pollution, after Entergy discovered tritium leaking from an underground pipe at the reactor. The full Vermont Legislature has yet to vote on the issue. Even though the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said this month that it will extend Entergy Corp’s license by another 20 years, without permission from the Vermont Legislature, the plant would
Entergy Nuclear, a division of Entergy Mississippi, and government officials do not know precisely how much radioactive water the company flushed into the Mississippi River last month.
still have to shut down in 2012. The Grand Gulf incident follows an April 13 public assessment of safety performance for the Grand Gulf Nuclear plant. The NRC determined in April that Grand Gulf “met all cornerstone objectives” in its 2010, yearlong performance review and that the facility “operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety.” Entergy Nuclear spokeswoman Suzanne Anderson said the company had not updated news of the event since the initial spill, but said no significant amount of radiation had escaped. “It wasn’t (spilling) for very long before tritium was discovered,” Anderson said. “The last estimate GE-Hitachi provided, in late 2008, was approximately 147 percent higher than their mid-2006 estimates,” Hughey testified, adding that Entergy requested the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves the construction of every nuclear plant, to suspend its consideration for the Grand Gulf 3 project Jan. 9, 2009. Entergy Mississippi incurred $51 million in costs while planning to build the third reactor, however, and requested from the Public Service Commission last year the option to charge ratepayers for the $51 million in costs of completing the third reactor should the company finish construction at a future date. The PSC did not render a decision on the issue at their May meeting, and is still considering the request. The company proposes to create an “Allowance for Funds Used During Construction” account, which does not produce revenue for the company but will allow Entergy to get a return on its investment if the plant is ever included in the rate base. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Adam Lynch
Best Salon & Best Hair Stylist - 2010 & 2011 Best of Jackson -
Deficit Hawks Push Oil Tax Breaks
.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, who took in $31,900 in cam- some tax breaks. The service concluded that Wicker both voted May 18 to paign contributions from the oil and gas in- the repeal of other related tax breaks, such maintain $2 billion in annual tax dustry in 2009 and 2010, declared that the as the deduction for increasing oil producbreaks to the world’s five largest bill “would have increased (the nation’s) de- tion of aging wells, do not affect601-397-6398 smaller oil private oil companies. pendence on the importation of energy from companies, while the big five oil companies Wicker and Cochran, both Mississippi foreign countries, many who are not support- “earned over $32 billion in net income in the Republicans, voted “no” on a procefirst quarter of 2011.” The organization dural measure requiring 60 affirmaconcludes that the repeal is likely to have tive votes to allow discussion of Senmore of a negative impact on companies ate Bill 940, a bill that would limit “in periods of low oil prices” rather than federal tax deductions oil companies these days of $100-a-barrel oil. may take on drilling and developBoth senators refused to allow disment costs, recouping losses on failcussion upon removing the tax break, ing oil and gas wells. despite both making deficit reduction The bill also would curb tax the foundation of their GOP political breaks to big oil companies for techplatform. Wicker acknowledged in a nology related to oil and gas well inMay 16 statement that Joint Chiefs of jecting, which includes carbon dioxide Staff Chairman Mike Mullen called the and other chemicals. The bill would growing debt the greatest threat to the have affected ExxonMobil, Shell Oil nation’s national security, and that credit Co., ConocoPhillips, Chevron Corp., rating agency Standard and Poor’s issued and oil-spilling industry bad guy BP America’s first-ever negative credit outAmerica. look this year. “The major oil companies have Wicker said the federal governaccumulated more than $1 trillion ment is “borrowing 40 cents for every in net profits over the last 10 years dollar it spends and is set to spend more and collected more than $40 bilthan $1.6 trillion more this year alone lion in tax breaks during the same than it takes in.” He called on President period, but have invested negligible Barack Obama to accept the fact that amounts of those funds into research “spending cuts must begin now and be and development of the production real and enforceable.” of clean and renewable fuels made in Both stopped short of allowing the United States, leaving consumers spending cuts to extend to federal with few if any choices at the pump,” U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, of Mississippi, refused to debate hand-outs to oil companies, however, ending tax cuts for five of the world’s wealthiest oilthe bill states. even when the legislation expressly Cochran and Wicker, however, producing companies last week, despite the resulting steered savings toward the deficit. The savings easing the nation’s deficit. said they consider removal of the estibill outlined that the net amount of mated $2 billion in annual tax breaks any savings gained from cutting taxto be a tax increase on oil companies. ive of American interests.” payer-funded subsidies to oil companies “The Senate should instead be consid“The suggestion that the appropriate “shall be deposited in the Treasury and used ering serious ideas to reduce the deficit in response to soaring gasoline prices is greater for federal budget deficit reduction or, if ways that will not discourage investment in taxation upon the companies that produce there is no federal budget deficit, for reducdomestic energy production and, in the end, gasoline runs counter to common sense,” ing the Federal debt in such manner as the not place more of a burden on consumers and Wicker added. Secretary of the Treasury considers appromake our nation more dependent on foreign Both statements run counter to the priate.” oil,” Cochran said in a statement. Cochran findings of the non-partisan Congressional Senate Bill 940 died with only 52 votes received $2,000 from oil and gas companies Research Service, which found that the high favoring the motion that would have allowed in 2009 and 2010, according to Congress- price of oil will encourage domestic oil pro- the bill to be debated. Three Democrats from monitoring non-profit opencongress.org. ducers to keep producing, despite the loss of oil and gas supply states joined the GOP in
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Tax Commission Battles Continue FILE PHOTO
“We just want hot wax!”
May 25 - 31, 2011
ity and state leaders are debating whether a 10-member commission will have to oversee a proposed 1cent sales-tax increase in Jackson. The city’s roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure are in need of approximately $76 million in upgrades and major repairs, and the increase would fund that work. The tax would not apply to retail sales of food at grocery stores and restaurants, or to hotel and motel rooms. Over the course of 20 years, the sales tax is estimated to raise $300 million. In a May 2 memo, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. outlined Mississippi Senate Bill 2389, which mandates that a “local” chamber of commerce gets to appoint four members of the commission. Although the four members must own businesses within the city, they do not have to be residents. Mississippi’s governor, lieutenant governor and its speaker of the state House of Representatives each get to appoint a single member to the commission, giving Jackson’s mayor the power to appoint the three
remaining members. The law also requires that the commission establish a master plan for all streets, roads, sewage and drainage repair. Now, Jackson City Council members must approve the sales-tax initiative and put the tax to the citizens for a referendum vote. The tax needs 60 percent voter approval to go into effect. In his memo, Johnson wrote that the sales-tax referendum vote should be submitted to voters only if the chamber gives its power to the city to choose the commission members. He added that the council should adopt an ordinance specifying how those members would be selected, and another ordinance defining the master plan and allowing the city to implement that plan. “The term ‘establish,’ as used in the 2011 Act, would mean an adoption of a master plan submitted by the city without any changes by the commission,” he wrote. Some public officials such as Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, and Ward 1 City Councilman Quentin Whitwell claim that
because the commission is not funded and its members can’t hire consultants or engineers, its power is minimal. “I think the city officials are looking for monsters where there are none,” Horhn said. “It would be in everyone’s best interest if the city were to get this underway and demonstrate to the Legislature that the process is working, and then go back in two years and try to get commission removed.” Whitwell, who said the majority of his ward is against the increase, wants the city to go forward with the tax because he doesn’t see any better solution to fund the infrastructure repairs. “The mayor and council members are hung up on adoption of this optional sales tax, when the only other solution is to raise (water and sewer) rates by 400 percent,” Whitwell said. Ward 2 Councilman Chowke Lumumba, however, says that current law states the commission has the power to approve the master plan and funds, which oversteps the role of the city council. “I’ll be the first to admit that we need the money very badly,” he said. “What is going to happen is that I’m going to try to look at the best plan we can get and make a decision based on that. I’m not going to compromise on principle. The principle is that the people should decide.” Lumumba added that Jackson’s elected officials should have the ultimate power because they represent the best interests of people living in Jackson. He said he had not seen figures backing Whitwell’s assertion that water and sewer rates would need to rise by 400 percent to fund the repairs without the tax increase, but is advocating that the city look into other financing options such as loans and more efficient water meters. City spokesman Chris Mims said the mayor is still negotiating with the chamber over the appointments, but hopes to have the issue resolved soon. Comment at www.jps.ms.
by Lacey McLaughlin
Be-Bop Record Shop, which has been a vendor local albums and records, will close its doors May 28 after 37 years.
s Kathy Morrison surveys the crowds browsing CDs in the aisles at Be-Bop Record Shop May 19, she is reminded of a time before iPods, MP3 players and iTunes. “It used to be this full every day,” she says about the 1980s and 1990s. After 37 years in business, Be-Bop announced that it will close its doors at Maywood Mart May 28. Bargain hunters and employees have been coming by in droves to reminiscence about the store, say their goodbyes and stockpile on music purchases. Sales have declined over the last few years. Hurricane Katrina destroyed Be-Bop’s Biloxi store beyond recovery. Then, when it came time to renew the lease for the Maywood Mart location, Morrison couldn’t negotiate with the landlord for a lower rent. Over the years, Be-Bop has become a Jackson staple where patrons could find a wide selection of music, local bands’ albums, vinyl records and event tickets. Closing the store wasn’t an easy decision, Morrison says in between answering customers’ questions. “This has been most of my life,” she says, adding that Katrina was one of the biggest setbacks. “That was just one big catastrophe,” she says. In 1974, Morrison, a Jackson native, opened the first Be-Bop store in Fondren next to the old Capri Theater with partners Drake Elder and Wayne Harrison. At its most successful juncture, Be-Bop’s Jackson locations included County Line Road and Metrocenter Mall. Competing with big-box retailers that sold CDs at lower costs and online music downloads resulted in Be-Bop closing its County Line Road location in 2008 and Metrocenter in 2010. Be-bop closed its Starkville store in 2007.
he Downtown Business Improvement District may expand up to the second block of the Farish Street Entertainment District, which includes Peaches Restaurant and the Alamo Theater. Representatives from Downtown Jackson Partners, which represents the district, will discuss the expansion plans in a meeting Thursday, giving property owners in the district an opportunity to participate. The district consists of 66 square blocks, and includes 135 businesses and properties, said John Gomez, DJP associate director. In 1996, the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that created business improvement districts and allowed cities to levy an assessment on all taxable property in those districts. The law allows for the city of Jackson to collect 10 cents on each square foot of buildings and on “unimproved” real estate on properties located within the district. The Hinds County Tax Collector’s office collects the BID fees along with the owner’s property taxes. The city of Jackson then distributes those funds to Downtown
Jackson Partners. In September 2010, Jackson City Council members renewed the district for the current fiscal year, with $1,028,613 of generated BID fees slated to go to Downtown Jackson Partners. In return, DJP provides security, landscaping, marketing and event services, and economic development assistance to the property owners. Downtown Jackson Partners also recruits additional businesses and real estate development projects for the city. City spokesman Chris Mims said the funds collected from property owners for the BID do not qualify as public funds. DJP charges the businesses for the services, and the city collects and distributes those funds. “All of the businesses pay into this,” Mims said. “This is not taxpayer dollars; this is their money. It just funnels through us.” In August, owners will vote on reauthorizing the district through mail-out ballots. A 70 percent majority vote is required for BID reauthorization and expansion. “On Thursday, we will present a plan on what properties will be included within the Business Improvement District and its boundaries, what the rate assessment will
Downtown Biz District May Expand; Disaster Jobs Available
Be-Bop’s closing isn’t unique. Over the last decade, well-known CD stores such as Virgin Records closed most of its 23 stores, including its mega retail outlet in New York City in 2009. Billboard Magazine reports that CD sales fell by 20 percent in the U.S. in 2010. Giving the gift of music to customers has been a fulfilling and fun career, one that Morrison will look back on with a smile. “We have always been very supportive of local musicians by selling their CDs or vinyl for them. We’ve always loved doing that and exposing customers to their music,” she says. “It’s always been about the music.” Larry Barnes has been a loyal customer at Be-Bop for as long as he can remember. As he walked through the store, he tried to balance dozens of CDs such as B.T. Express and Johnny Taylor in one hand and a lava lamp in the other. Barnes frequently makes the 45-minute trek from his home in Crystal Springs to buy his favorite CDs. “I hate to see it going out like this,” Barnes says. “I spent a lot of time in these stores,” Barnes says, adding that he’ll probably go to Walmart to make his music purchases in the future.” While Morrison is sad to see an era come to an end, she looks forward to retirement, and says she will still maintain a small space in the former shop to host events and sell records. During the store’s last day, May 28, she invites local bands to perform. “We’ll be here selling whatever’s left and partying,” she said. “We want to have a good send off.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Lacey McLaughlin
be, how we are funded, and what programs we are going to put the money toward,” Gomez said. “Then that will be submitted to the City Council, and the City Council will set an election.” Gomez added that it is important that downtown property owners attend the meeting. “This helps shape a plan for the next five years for the Business Improvement District, so we want to hear input from property owners,” Gomez said. Downtown Jackson Partners’ BID property owner planning meeting is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.) State Hiring Disaster Workers The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is hiring more than 500 temporary workers to help communities recovering from tornados. Workers can earn $7.25 per hour to $25 per hour for approximately six months’ work clearing debris, aiding social workers, rebuilding homes and businesses, and providing humanitarian aid. Funds for the jobs come from a $7 million national-emergency grant through
Downtown Jackson Partners’ 66-block Business Improvement District is up for reauthorization.
the U.S. Department of Labor. The state will give job priority to storm victims. For information on applying, visit mdes.ms.gov. Market in Fondren Moving The Market in Fondren is on hiatus for a few weeks in preparation for moving to the green space at the corner of Old Canton Road and Duling Avenue on June 17. The market features handicrafts, prepared foods and artwork from local vendors. The market will be open in its new space from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from June 17 through November. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Have a new business or moving to a new location? Send business updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Day The Music Died
opining, grousing & pontificating
Chamber, Work With the Mayor
he Jackson Free Press has often agreed with Sen. John Horhn over the years, and we’re finding that new Ward 1 City Councilman Quentin Whitwell can be a breath of fresh air out of north Jackson on many issues. However, they are both wrong on a concern vital to Jackson: The city should not agree to allow a commission potentially containing non-Jackson residents to develop a master plan about how a proposed 1-cent sales-tax increase to fund infrastructure would be distributed. This should not be an issue. We wish Sen. Horhn had led an effort in the Legislature away from this slap in the face at the capital city. We have a responsible mayor (whom Horhn ran against), and we have a city council that represents the taxpayers of Jackson. It is an insult to all of us to attach strings on our local tax increase that allow a “local chamber” to appoint business owners who may not live in Jackson into roles that could cast deciding votes for a master plan on using the funds. We can understand that Whitwell wants to get on with the tax increase (which he says his supporters oppose). We also know that Whitwell is a lobbyist (his “constituent office in Ward 1” lists his Meadowbook Strategies office number on quentinwhitwell.com) whose clients do not necessarily represent the best interests of all Jacksonians (his 2011 lobbyist clients include payday lenders Cash in a Flash and Advantage Capital Partners, per the secretary of state’s office). That is, Whitwell’s support base may skew him away from a wise solution on an important debate about the mayor and the city retaining a level of “local control” and a semblance of independence from the kinds of businesses that Whitwell is willing to represent before the Legislature. There is an easy fix, and it’s called unity. The Chamber does not have to fulfill the Legislature’s wish that it skew this commission away from the best interests of the entire city of Jackson. That chamber—which the Jackson Chamber is a part of—should behave responsibly and give the mayor the authority to appoint those commission members as he has requested. History provides context for this short-sighted and brazenly political move. Since Jackson became a majority African American city (as a result of white flight), the state has tried to force a backward paternalism on our (black) leaders. With a mayor like Harvey Johnson Jr.—a man who wisely stays the course on ensuring that resources are spread beyond the special interests in Ward 1 and the suburbs— our city is perfectly capable of making these kinds of decisions. It is insulting, and perhaps worse, to try to force the state’s silly mandate on the capital city. The antiquated games should stop. The Chamber should do the right thing and agree to work with the mayor, not against Jackson.
May 25 - 31, 2011
iss Doodle Mae: “Jojo amazes me. He always keeps his staff and customers grounded during crazy times. On May 24, 2011, some anxious customers anticipating the end of the world rushed inside Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store to purchase various items like canned food, bottled water, flashlights, radios, etc. Consumer chaos engulfed the entire Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store and staff. Folks bought anything and everything they could buy. I actually witnessed frenzied customers fighting over the remaining supply of New Testament Bibles in the books and magazine aisle. In the midst of the in-store mayhem, Jojo spoke calmly into a bullhorn.” Jojo: “My precious customers: I’m happy and thankful that you came to shop at Jojo’s Discount Dollar Store. And I also know that judgment day is coming soon. However, I do suggest that each of you take a few minutes to read your newly purchased Bible. I recall my elders fervently warning me about judgment day, but they also referred me to Bible scripture from Matthew 24. “‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. … So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’” Miss Doodle Mae: “After successfully calming everyone down, Jojo skillfully promoted his discount dollar store’s post-judgment refund and Memorial Day Weekend Summer Vacation Sale. “Remember: In the ghetto everything is everything, and everything at 12 Jojo’s is still a dollar.”
et’s put some accurate information onto the turnpike, shall we? Crime in Jackson is down. Dropping. Heading south. It’s a slow decline, yes, but a decline, nonetheless. For those of you who liken Jackson to the streets of Medellin, Colombia, during the Pablo Escobar era, I’m sorry to inform you that overall crime has dropped 5 percent since this time last year. Not much I know, but the telling statistic is the fact that violent crime has gone down more than 20 percent within the last year. Those violent crimes that some in our neighboring counties love to hang their hats on? Yep? Those numbers are falling. The thing I have found the most telling from the recent dust-up about campaign ads is that if you allow someone else to tell your story, it could forever define you. If you don’t challenge inaccurate information, then it tends to become truth to the disenfranchised among us who aren’t privy to correct stats. It also feeds into the fears and misconceptions folks have about race and class. Let’s be clear! Jackson has its issues. Jackson has crime. But stop trying to paint Jacksonians as slackers who don’t want safety for our families. Stop trying to imply that law enforcement in neighboring counties work harder or better than our own. Stop acting as if we’re happy with the way things are. By all means, stop cherry picking the same city crime “rankings” from 2009 and 2010. Whenever the conversation turns to crime, naysayers invariably point to lists that say Jackson is either eighth or 14th on the list of most dangerous cities in the country. That’s all they have. And unfortunately, that’s all some folks need
to see. Never mind the fact that the FBI has consistently warned not to use these rankings as an accurate measure of a city’s crime or the effectiveness of its law enforcement. Never mind that it has cautioned over and over again that those numbers take into account everything from a murder down to spray painting a school. The numbers are skewed, folks. Loaded. Inflated to scare you. Mark Sandridge wants to keep Jackson’s crime and criminals out of Madison County. And although several folks have told me that he’s a great guy (I’m sure he is), I find it hard to discern just how he will do that without profiling—without stopping as many cars with Hinds County tags as his manpower will allow, or tricked-out cars, or vehicles with black kids in them. His supporters will tell you that is exactly what he needs to do, and some small-minded Jacksonians will applaud him. My question is, how many jabs do we take before more people stand up and tout the progress we’ve made? The Jackson Police Department has given the numbers I cited at the beginning of this column to the media. Yet I’ve seen few headlines about it. As for local TV stations, shame on you for still leading with mayhem at 6 and 10. Shame on you. As a citizen, I expect those who are charged with leading me, protecting me, to step up and say something when the loudmouth on the playground starts talking trash. We have positive news that we can use to fuel a better Jackson. The people just have to hear it. And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
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Love Lost and Gained
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out and support the neighborhood. On Sunday, my friend Kate and I drove down U.S. Highway 80 to the old Coca-Cola bottling plant, where the event took place. The siteâ€™s neon-orange logo, modern in style, identified the site colloquially as â€œThe Plant,â€? as if it were an old and reliable friend. The use of the space hinted at the promising possibilities of revitalizing south Jackson. Given its use for artistic purposes that weekend, south Jackson seemed connected to Fondren, whereas usually these sections of town seem disparate. Suddenly, Jackson seemed larger and more unified. From the moment Kate and I set foot on site, FIGMENT offered the opportunity to deepen our bonds through experiencing â€œweirdâ€? art. FIGMENT requested that participants bring something to the event. Kate and I brought our keen observation skills and ability to connect our surroundings with trends in pop culture. We scoured the grounds to witness each project offered, but were most charmed by artwork that really demanded interaction. These included a white, fan-inflated Visqueen tunnel, which we thought would make the perfect backdrop for a Kanye West video, given the Crayola paint neon scrawls on the tunnelâ€™s walls. The wooden photo booth, which local photographer Roy Adkins and industrial designer Andy Hilton created, also pleased us. It used a small aperture to cast images from outside the booth onto a wall before us, much like an old camera. Later, Roy took our portrait and showed us the image: two girls standing around in the dirt, pondering artistic riches that somehow, suddenly, surrounded us. If anyone can exclude herself from â€œthe neighborhoodâ€? at times, itâ€™s me. I have grown wary with age, and having experienced hurt and heartbreak, make fewer steps and with unease. Iâ€™m no longer as bold and vulnerable as I used to be. But the continuing solace of Jackson is that there are enough impassioned individuals to step in where others falter. For every shy introvert, there are extroverts working to put on community events that provide opportunities for the neighborhood to come together, venture out and forge connections in public spaces. FIGMENT is a shining example. It provided hope that, despite the ebb and flow of particular Jacksonians in and out of the city, there is something special here that continues to inspire the formation of community. I encourage Jacksonians to keep putting on and coming out to events like FIGMENT; I want to encourage myself. As Arcade Fire sings, â€œitâ€™s for your own good. Itâ€™s for the neighborhood.â€? Sophia Halkias is an editorial assistant at the University Press of Mississippi.
CORRECTION: In â€œFreedomâ€™s Main Lineâ€? (May 18-24, Vol. 9, Issue 36), we printed Robert Parker Adamsâ€™ name incorrectly in the photo caption. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.
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