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BEASTIE BOYS: BETTER WITH AGE LEE, P 31
FREEDOMâ€™S SISTERS ROBINSON, P 26
LEARNING EARLY SKIPPER, P 42
"'5&3 5)& '-0 0% MCLAUGHLIN PP 14 - 23
June 1-7, 2011
June 1 - 7, 2011
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contents ADAM LYNCH
6 Closing Gates Should Jackson neighborhoods put up walls and gates and still expect city services? KENYA HUDSON
Cover photograph by Aaron Phillips
Former Jackson City Councilman Marshand Crisler may be on your ballot come November. “We are part of what we call the continuum of care—a conglomerate of agencies who work together,” Funches says. “We are a resource to connect people with what they need.” The 52-year-old refers Jackson’s homeless people to one of a variety of programs after assessing their individual needs. Each of these programs is designed to address the participants’ immediate requirements while taking the necessary steps to get them ready to enter the job market and find a home. Funches partners with at least 25 non-profit service agencies and programs in Jackson, which include mental-illness assistance, drug and alcohol treatment, shelters, food services and job opportunity assistance. She makes at least 10 referrals each day. Recently, Funchess headed a program called the Jackson Transitional Homeless Program, assisting participants in building their résumés and preparing for employment. Then, each participant was partnered with various local non-profit businesses as employees. Cases such as these fuel Funches’ drive to help the homeless and downtrodden. Funches lives in Heritage Hills in south Jackson with her husband, Freddie. Together they have five grown children. For more information on Jackson’s programs for homeless people or to connect with an agency that provides services to homeless people, call the City of Jackson at 601-960-1489. —Jordan Lashley
34 No Chirps Here Before we had baseball, Americans played its British forerunner: cricket. Try it out! TOM RAMSEY
athy Funches is driven to aid the less fortunate to find their way to a better quality of life. Funches has participated in many mission trips to developing countries. Just last year, she traveled to Bolivia to provide assistance to an orphanage. She realized, however, that her passion for helping the oppressed could be fulfilled at home. “I wanted to help all who are less fortunate,” Funches says. “It became my mission to advocate those types of issues (in Jackson)—to give a voice to those who do not have one.” Funches, a Jackson native, graduated from Provine High School in 1977. She earned an associates degree from Phillips Junior College in Jackson and worked for Allstate Insurance. Returning to school many years later, she earned a bachelor of arts in biblical studies with an emphasis in missions at Belhaven University in 2002. She became an ordained minister in 2003. Funches, who was looking for a way to bring her mission work to Mississippi, became active in the lives of Jackson’s homeless people. She worked at Stewpot Community Services for four years before the city of Jackson hired her as its homeless program coordinator in December 2010. There, she partners with Jackson’s non-profit agencies and serves as the liaison between those in need and the program providers that can address and aid them.
36 Pop-up Cooking What is a pop-up restaurant? Enlighten your palette with dining’s hottest new craze.
COURTESY UMESH REDDY REMATA
4 ............. Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 ........................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 ..................... Chatter 12 ..................... Stiggers 12 ......................... Zuga 13 ................... Opinion 26 ................ Diversions 28 ...................... 8 Days 29 ............... JFP Events 31 ....................... Music 32 ......... Music Listings 35 .................. Astrology 36 ......................... Food 41 ................. Body/Soul 42 .... Girl About Town
Crisler Runs Again
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. Email Lacey@jacksonfreepress. com or call 601.362.6121 x. 22. She wrote the cover 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 and the cover story.
Briana Robinson Briana Robinson is a 2010 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School where she worked on the yearbook and school newspaper. Her hobbies include photography, ballet and ballroom dancing. She wrote an arts feature.
Tim Roberson Tim Roberson is a Jackson native and graduate of the University of Mississippi. He is the editor of the digital music magazine, Play Music City and the owner of Light Bulb Writing Studio in Jackson. He wrote a music feature.
Tom Head Freelance writer Tom Head is a lifelong Jackson native. He has written or co-written 24 nonfiction books, is a civil liberties writer for About.com and is a grassroots progressive activist. He wrote a book review.
Andrea Thomas Advertising designer Andrea Thomas is the newest member of the JFP design team. Andrea is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time.
Bryan Flynn Sports writer Bryan Flynn is a lifelong Mississippi native who resides in Richland. He edits the JFP’s new sports blog, jfpsports. com. Follow him on Twitter @ jfpsports. He wrote a sports story.
June 1 - 7, 2011
Tom Ramsey is a lobbyist and former investment banker who teaches private cooking lessons, runs with the bulls and has produced an album or two. He owns Ivy & Devine Culinary Group (www.ivyanddevine.com). He wrote a food feature.
by Ronni Mott, Managing Editor
Reverence and the River
love thunderstorms. From the safety of a covered porch, a nighttime thunderstorm can be a truly awe-inspiring natural lightand-sound show on par with the best July 4 fireworks. Just watching those jagged stabs of light streaking across a dark sky can produce visceral reactions: They can make me gasp suddenly or force me to say completely dumb and unbidden things like “whoa!” The air itself ducks for cover in the rushes of wind that accompany thunderstorms. In the dead of night, you might hear me cussing those storms. Awesome or not, 3 a.m. is no time to wake me with loud noises and flashes of light. My girl-kitty, Tallulah, agrees whole-heartedly. Thunderstorms send her with alacrity to places where I will never find her, and I’ve tried. Nature, taken as is, is always humbling in the best sense of the word, having the ability to leave us mere humans dumbstruck in the face of her beauty and power. Whether it’s a multi-colored sunset or a baby’s first breath, an icicle breaking light into a rainbow or the red claw of death, mere humans simply cannot come close to replicating what the natural world does with ease. Awesome, though, doesn’t cancel out devastating. Just within the last several weeks, Mississippi and her neighbors have dealt with a rash of wreckage and death left in the wake of lethal tornadoes. Combine nature’s killer side with our predilection for controlling our environment, and you get even more “interesting” events. Last summer’s oil catastrophe in the Gulf is one example. Another is Japan’s ongoing struggle to control the radiation leaks from its damaged Fukishima plant after the one-two punch of an earthquake and tsunami. After a devastating natural event, mere acceptance is way, way down on the list of our reactions. After an initial surge of fear or sorrow, catastrophic events tend to temper our will to fight. We’re in a hurry, after all, to clean up and get on with our lives. We’ll rebuild stronger. We’ll figure it out so it doesn’t happen again. We’ll dredge the river and buttress the walls. We will be back. But as the Yiddish saying goes: “Men plan; God laughs.” We set ourselves up when we do battle with the natural world. It seems every time humans try to outwit nature, we come out with the proverbial short end of the stick. The clouds don’t care that you picked the least likely day of the year for rain to celebrate outdoors. Tornadoes don’t check to see if we have insurance. And the Mississippi River doesn’t care about our paltry little levees, though for now, they’re holding most of the river back. It is ironic that all that rich black Mississippi Delta soil—some of the best soil for growing things on the planet—has to be under water every so often. When it is, the water destroys crops and farms and the lives and homes of people who live there. It’s ironic that California sunshine comes with the San Andreas Fault, too, but that doesn’t stop Californians
from living in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Our Delta derives its richness from the occasional Mississippi River flood (hence “alluvial”) leaving its nutrient-rich deposits. And as much as we try to control the river with our grandiose schemes to re-route it or build levees to guard against it, the river always wins in the end. To me, the most surprising thing about Mississippi River floods is that they surprise us. Maybe it’s more resigned than surprised. Snaking through some 2,300 miles of the United States from Lake Itasca, Minn., to 95 miles south of New Orleans, the river neatly cuts the country in two. It touches 10 of our 50 states, or 31 states if you count its major tributaries, the Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Red rivers. It’s the fourth longest river in the world. It is a natural wonder. Mississippians knew this flood was coming. The Mississippi is nothing if not slow (in a relative kind of way), never flowing faster than about 3 mph. The National Weather Service has been talking about the flooding since January due to heavy snow in the Midwest. It has taken months for the snowmelt to merge with the ordinary heavy spring rains to bring record flood crests to our shores—months of watching and waiting, because, really, we could do little else. Nature tends to work that way. Try to stop the rain if you’re not clear about that, or the coming heat of summer. And now, we’ll watch and wait until the river decides to recede from our homes and farms. With any luck, we got out what we needed to get back in, clean up and rebuild. Some folks already know they’re not that lucky. This time, the river has taken what she wanted from them, and she won’t be giving it back. My mother told the story of an ancestor whose house was struck by lightening back
in the days when that was still common. The woman, a great-great-great-great aunt I think, lived in the country. This being mountainous terrain, it wasn’t unusual for people to house their animals below the house facing west with the house on top, facing east (or maybe it was north and south). This particular lightening strike killed the animals in the barn, ripped the woman’s shoes off and burned her feet. She never walked again, I was told. I bet she didn’t love thunderstorms. If you’re into contests, attempting to defy and control nature is a fool’s game. Nature always wins in the end and invading our cozy homes, our refuges, is standard fare. Ultimately, all of us succumb to nature whether we like it or not. That tends to scare us silly regardless of the fact that none of us will escape. In our more primitive traditions, the sheer majesty of nature evoked fear, gratitude and reverence. Fear for what she could take away; gratitude for what she provided; reverence for all that and everything else. It’s not difficult to understand when you look at rooftops and treetops dotting what could be lakes but were actually farms a month ago. Imagine life without the NWS telling us what’s probably coming tomorrow. My heart goes out to the people dealing with nature’s latest caprice. In the bigger scheme of things, this flood will fade from memory like the flood of 1927. A hundred years from now, who knows what form this footnote will take. Lots of folks would like to think that we can tame nature or fool her or continue to befoul her without consequence. I am not convinced. If nothing else, I think I’ll treat her a little better than before. You know; show her some reverence.
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news, culture & irreverence
The Port of Vicksburg is the country’s 11th largest port, shipping thousands of products such as cottonseed and coal. The recent Mississippi River flooding has prevented barges from reaching the port, interrupting the transportation of goods.
To Gate Or Not to Gate?
by Adam Lynch
Wednesday, May 27 Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy announces that he will not run for re-election. … The Mississippi Department of Revenue reports that gaming revenues fell 11 percent from March to April. … After 25 years of being on the television, Oprah Winfrey hosts her last show.
Marshand Crisler wants to be your next transportation commissioner. p 10
Thursday, May 26 The U.S. Census Bureau releases data showing that in 2010, married couples represent just 48 percent of all households. … Freedom Riders return to the Mississippi State Penitentiary for the first time in 50 years to tour the facility. Friday, May 27 Actor Jeff Conaway, who played in the sitcom “Taxi” and the movie musical “Grease,” dies at age 60. … Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards gives his testimony during the 8th day of his public hearing on whether the JPS school board should renew his contract. Saturday, May 28 After 37 years in business, Be-Bop Record Shop closes its last location in Jackson due to an overall decline in sales over the past several years. Sunday, May 29 President Barack Obama tours areas of Joplin, Mo., a week after one of the worst tornados in decades killed more than 210 people. … Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin arrives via motorcycle to the annual Rolling Thunder rally in Washington, D.C.
June 1-7 2011
Monday, May 30 Approximately 75 people gather at the Hinds County Courthouse for its 35th Memorial Day program to honor fallen solders. … President Barack Obama pays his respects to fallen solders at Arlington National Cemetery.
Tuesday, May 31 The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists cell phones as possible cancer-causing agents. … National home prices reach their lowest levels since the U.S. housing crisis in 2006, due to foreclosures. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com.
Jackson residents could erect gates to their communities, and still have the city pay for their streets, under a proposed ordinance.
ackson residents could vote to gate their neighborhoods around city-maintained streets under an ordinance Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell proposed this week. Whitwell said at a May 31 Jackson City Council meeting that he wants to make it easier for a majority of a particular city neighborhood to vote to erect a gate to their community, and make it so that they do not have to pay for infrastructure inside the walls. “We have no ordinance that specifically
addresses gates, so the mayor has adopted his own policy on gates, and that’s that 100 percent of all citizens (in the neighborhood) must approve of it (before it can be built),” he told the council. Whitwell’s ordinance allows residents to build a gate with only 75 percent approval from residents—the supporters would finance it, he said—and it does not force residents to maintain their own roads as is typical in Jackson gated communities. The councilman called his ordinance a “traffic-calming mea-
sure” that would not require a pass code or security clearance. “It’s an automatic gate,” the councilman said. “It’s still a public neighborhood. You just pull up, and the gate opens automatically. It’s just a way to slow people down, and if there is something suspicious going on, it gives the citizens a chance to identify or apprehend (a perpetrator).” Whitwell is advocating for the new ordinance for residents of north Jackson’s highend Avery Gardens neighborhood, which is already enclosed in a barrier, and only has one ungated entrance on County Line Road. Jackson residents do not use the enclosed neighborhood as a thoroughfare. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. argues that gates delay city firefighters and police access to the sequestered community, and said such a gate could pose an insurance risk to cumbersome city or contracted vehicles, such as garbage trucks. He also said the gate may be a problem for city employees who must visit homes to read water meters. Whitwell indicated that the gate idea is about more than traffic, however. “There are neighborhoods all over the city that want this. They’re begging for it,” Whitwell said. “There are too many people right now just wandering around neighborhoods, or just driving through neighborhoods scoping out (burglary) opportunities, and we’ve got to be vigilant, and we’ve got to have GATE, see page 7
by Jonnett Johnson and Dustin Cardon The courts delayed Robert Simon Jr.’s execution, perhaps indefinitely. With that in mind, we asked a few Jacksonians if they thought the death penalty is fair, and why or why not? “It depends on what the crime is, so sometimes I can go for it, and sometimes I feel it’s unjust.” — Brenda Tangle “Never. First of all, it’s expensive; it costs more to kill someone than it does to house them in prison for life. There’s no way to reverse a bad decision in a death penalty case; there’s no way to reverse killing an innocent person; and it’s disproportionally used against minorities and people who are poor. I just don’t think that it’s necessary.” —Laurie Roberts “I think it’s a harsh punishment. I don’t think anybody has the right to decide when another person should die. I know taking life is wrong, but I’m kind of indifferent about it. I’m not sure a death sentence is the right form of justice.” — Rishi Patel
“We’re going to see a rash of knot heads at Parchman. We’ll have to put cameras into every cell on death row because they are all going to claim they fell and bumped their head.” —Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in a May 26 Associated Press interview about death-row inmate Robert Simon Jr.’s request for a mental-health evaluation.
“I think the death penalty is necessary, yes. Because it’s not fair for people to arbitrarily kill people. What about those people who get murdered who haven’t done anything? And when those who are found guilty of murdering people ... whatever the judge pronounces, if he pronounces the death penalty or if a jury of a individual’s peers, I think it’s fair. Particularly when the evidence is without question.” — John W. Sanders III “I don’t like it at all. I don’t agree with it whatsoever.” — Justin Defee
news, culture & irreverence
GATE, from page 6
Ward 1 Jackson City Councilman Quentin Whitwell has proposed a city ordinance for gated communities.
our citizens feel safe. Whatever we can do to deter crime to be proactive is a good thing.” Critics argue that gated communities promote an enclave mentality that can result in urban fragmentation and separation. In the classic new-urbanist bible, “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream” (North Point Press, 2000, $18), the authors warn that “gated pods” create “income-segregated housing,” which too often contain the people “voting down necessary taxes” for inner-city needs, schools parks and maintenance of the public realm, such as infrastructure and roads. “Meanwhile,” the authors (including über-urbanist Andres Duany) point out, “these people often pay hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars a month to their homeowner’s association to maintain their personal archipelago. The rest of the world is expected to take care of itself.” The homeowners’ costs for construction and maintenance of the barrier could prove a burden to residents with lower incomes and could, therefore, promote a kind of community gentrification that encourages residents with incomes only above a certain level—or means that only the wealthy can afford the perceived luxury of a community gate. Neighborhood designer and self-professed “New Urbanist” Susan Lunardini, who is also owner of Southern Consultants, said community gates can bring communities together rather than isolate them from the rest of the city.
“When MDOT temporarily blocked off my neighborhood to work on a Frontage Road project, it was the calmest time our neighborhood had. The children played in the street, and there was no fear of traffic causing problems,” said Lunardini, who added that a gate without a pass code should adequately reduce both crime and traffic by imposing a delay before departure. “If somebody knows they have a greater chance of being watched or photographed during their delay, it will act as a crime deterrent,” she added. Lunardini added that she opposes the idea of a homogenized gated neighborhood consisting of people with the same type of income—which critics say the ordinance could help create. “Even though I think gates make safer neighborhoods, I’ll never agree that a gated community should contain the same kind of people. I don’t believe in separating young people from old people or rich people from poor. Society that works can’t work like that,” she said. “Suburban Nation” warns about just such a “seccession of the successful,” and details the harms to a city’s sustainability that results from such tactics. “The unity of society is threatened not by the use of gates but by the uniformity and exclusivity of the people behind them,” the authors warn. Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba said citizens behind the gates should adopt the costs for maintaining the gated roads, because the territory would no longer have easy public access. “They’re basically cutting off community circulation. The reason why we pave those roads are not just so they’ll have good streets, but so that anybody in the city who wants to drive past there will have a good road to drive on,” Lumumba said. Lunardini said citizens should not have to adopt that financial responsibility. “They pay the same taxes they did before the gate went up, so they city should be responsible for the street, in my opinion,” she said. If the ordinance passes, however, it would be open to other neighborhoods on Plantation Boulevard and similar streets, which drivers occasionally use as an alternative route when traffic on County Line Road becomes congested. Council President Frank Bluntson put the ordinance into the Council’s Planning Committee with no discussion. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
2011 Italian Festival
Benefitting the Friends of the Hudspeth Center
Sunday June 5 at 1:00 pm
• Games for the W hole Family • Spaghetti Eating Contest • Silent Auction • Arts and Craft Vendors Sponsorships & vendor space available. Call 601.919.2829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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June 17 | 4:00 pm Dr. Hairston is celebrating 5 years of private practice and we are having a celebration party.
Join us for food and fun. Giveaways, door prizes, trunk show Vogue, Polo, Ray Ban, D&G, and more
“Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream” by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck. (North Point Press; 1st edition 2001, $19). “… [The authors] set forth more clearly than anyone has done in our time the elements of good town planning.” —The New Yorker
1316 North State Street, Jackson • Belhaven District www.987eyes.com
Read More About ‘Gated Pods’
by Lacey McLaughlin
Property Owners to Vote on Biz District COURTESY DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS
within the BID with 24-hour security patrols, trash removal, year-round landscaping and promotional services in addition to promoting downtown real estate. This year, DJP will spend 30 percent of its estimated budget of $1,016,930 on marketing and development, and another 30 percent on safety. The Hinds County Tax Collector’s office collects the BID fees along with the property owner’s property taxes. The city of Jackson then distributes those funds to DJP. In September 2010, Jackson City Council members renewed the district for the curIn order for a 66-block Business Improvement District to continue its existence, 70 percent of property rent year. The BID is expected to owners must approve the plan. generate $1,028,613 this year. The funds, however, do not qualify as ow that property owners approved public funds because the city only approves an expansion plan for Jackson’s Busi- and funnels the fees to DJP. nesses Improvement District May The plan approved last week expands 26, Downtown Jackson Partners the district to the second block of the Farish must obtain 70 percent majority vote from Street Entertainment District, which includes property owners to prevent the district from Peaches Restaurant, the Alamo Theater and dissolving. “The vote has historically been F. Jones Corner. The Jackson Redevelopment very, very close,” Downtown Jackson Partners Authority owns the majority of the property, President Ben Allen wrote in a May 20 email and Watkins Partners holds a 45-year lease to to residents. develop the entertainment district. Last week, 15 out of 17 downtown JackDavid Watkins, CEO of Watkins Partson property owners approved a plan that ners and Downtown Jackson Partners vice would expand the Downtown Jackson Part- chairman, urged property owners to reauners’ Business Improvement District by add- thorize the district during the DJP’s May 26 ing a block of Farish Street, and maintain as- meeting. “If you look at where we were in sessment rates for properties to receive services 1996 and where we are today, the difference from DJP at 10 cents per square foot. for downtown Jackson has really been this orIn 1996, the Mississippi Legislature ganization,” Watkins said. “The only way for passed a bill that created Business Improve- us to have the resources we need to do what ment Districts and allowed cities to levy an we need to keep downtown Jackson clean and assessment on all taxable property in those dis- safe is to go through with this BID.” tricts. The law allows DJP to collect 10 cents Watkins added that the JRA, a quasi-govon each square foot of building space and “un- ernmental agency, is not required to pay the improved” real estate on properties in the dis- BID fees, and Watkins Partners will likely pay trict. In return, DJP provides support services those fees to receive DJP’s services. for the properties. The district must undergo a F. Jones Corner co-owner Adam Hayes reauthorization process every five years. said he favors his business being added to the DJP provides businesses and residents district despite the extra fees.
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“I don’t like giving money away,” Hayes said. “The city of Jackson should be providing these services. But I don’t mind. If it means it’s for a better Jackson, that means we are eventually going to grow, and that’s a small price to pay in my mind.” Tanya Scott is managing partner of Ceva Green, a proposed $70 million mixed-used development planned for State Street at the site of a former abandoned Cadillac dealership that is in the BID. She and her father, Corbett Scott, purchased the property six years ago to border another proposed development, Old Capitol Green. She says they have struggled to get the city to assist with infrastructure needs. Scott wants DJP to play a more active role in helping developers work with the city for infrastructure needs. Three years ago, the Legislature approved $20 million in state bonds for Old Capitol Green infrastructure, but the city of Jackson and Hinds County must commit to co-sponsor the loan before Old Capitol Green can receive the money. The infrastructure would help both developments. “If there are monies sitting out there, then it becomes (a matter of) trying to identify the partnership that would exist between the master developer, private developers, the city and everyone else involved to be able to make that infrastructure come to fruition,” Scott said. On May 27, Scott met with Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. about Ceva Green and Old Capital Green needs, and said she was hopeful about the city’s support. City spokesman Chris Mims did not immediately return calls. DJP submitted the plan to the council May 31, and the council must set a public hearing for the plan this summer. After the hearing, all business owners can vote through ballots they get in the mail. Property owners who do not vote will count as “no” votes. David Price, owner of the commercial real-estate firm DNP Corp. located inside the district, said he favors reauthorizing the district but questioned its effectiveness. “How much of a difference do they make?” Price asked. “I’m not sure. But at the same time, how do you operate a downtown like this without one?”
!CONCERT DATE CHANGE!
by Adam Lynch
Yes on Budget Shift, Electric Cars
The Willie Nelson Concert Will be June 8 instead of June 7
Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett Simon warned the mayor that the city would have to account for unused bus routes or face stiff budget problems next year.
Barrett-Simon said. “I hope we can look at running our bus services more efficiently, or we’ll face similar (budget) problems in the future.” Johnson said his administration would consider revising bus routes for the 2012 budget year. “We need more paratransit services than fixed routes in some areas,” Johnson said. Paratransit is a method of public transport that more closely resembles an on-call taxi service than a fixed bus route. Some versions of para-transit in other cities include door-to-door transportation service, which can include specialty transportation services for special-needs or disabled customers. Going Electric The city of Jackson is looking ahead to the not-too-distant future and trying to seize funding for a new city infrastructure devoted to commuters driving plug-in electric vehicles. On Tuesday, the city council authorized city administration to submit applications for up to $500,000 in U.S. Department of Energy funds and grants related to a new Clean City program establishing housing and services for commuters riding batteryoperated cars and motorcycles into the city. The funding is timely as new auto-makers roll out the 2013 line of more affordable electric vehicles such as the $33,000 Nissan Leaf and the upcoming Ford Focus Electric. Both vehicles have a driving range between 60 and 100 miles between charging, depending upon the type of driving, which presents an opportunity for the city to offer re-charging services. Jackson developer Full Spectrum South is already preparing to take advantage of the emerging electric economy. Malcolm Shepherd, Full Spectrum South development director, said his company will be breaking ground this year on a new robot-assisted parking garage that will include charging stations for electricity-based vehicles. The garage will be located near Hal & Mal’s Restaurant on South Commerce Street. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Tuesday June 8 at 7:30 Jackson Convention Complex Services Desk at Northpark Mall Charge-By-Phone at 800-745-3000 Online at Ticketmaster.com
he Jackson City Council approved a $3.5 million budget revision this week, funneling budget savings into new shortfalls found halfway into the budget year. “We’ve discovered some shortfalls that were not expected when we first devised the budget,” Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said. “The money will be coming out of our applied-fund balance.” The city’s “applied-fund balance” is a reserve fund that does not have a council-imposed restriction upon its minimum amount. It is composed of savings created in some city departments, many due to budgeted employee positions that administrators left unfilled this year. After more recent revisions last week, the city will add $1 million to the city’s bus budget and $1.1 million to the city’s police budget. The city concluded a third-party arbitration discussion with JATRAN bus employees, which 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. Johnson said the city is adding another $112,000 to the bus system’s gas allowance due to rising fuel prices. The city is also adding $620,000 to its tort claims fund, $40,000 to match an AmeriCorps grant and $300,000 to its medical insurance claim fund. The city is self-insured, and must contend with rising health-care costs on its own. Other shortfalls the city needs to fill include $275,000 in its municipal earlychildhood-centers budget and a repayment of $100,000 to its “grass-cutting” budget, because it borrowed that amount to fund needed demolition work. Minutes before approving the budget revision, Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon suggested the administration consider re-aligning some under-used bus routes. “I was going to work recently and saw one of those big buses cross the intersection, and I could see that no one was on that bus,”
by Adam Lynch
Weighing Both Sides
You were originally contemplating running for the Public Service Commission. Why did you decide on the transportation commission? Both central districts are largely the same 22 counties. They go as far south as Jefferson County and as far east as Lauderdale County. I know that transportation is something that affects each and every one of us in our daily lives. It has so many implications for growth and development in our state. I want to make progressive change in this state and put us on the map as a destination state, and creating a strong, vital infrastructure is the key to doing that. We also want to take a look at opportunities for small and minority businesses. Our state could use a little boost in the realm of minority participation in MDOT contracts. We’d like to see more small businesses, both female- and African American-owned businesses, have an opportunity to bid on some of the contracts that come through the department because we want to be good stewards about growing our small-business community.
June 1-7, 2011
What are your priorities as commissioner? There are some projects that have been too long ignored. I think the people of the Delta would appreciate Highway 61 being expanded and widened from Clarksdale to Port Gibson. We’d like to look at what feasibility study has been done on that, and how this project can be completed at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We need to open up the Delta for development. And it’s a safety issue as well. It’s too long a stretch of highway with poor lighting to be two lanes. Also, one of the things I’d like to look at is seeing if we can help cities like Jackson maintain city-owned highways. These are state highways, but through agreements, the 10 city has become responsible for maintaining
them. I think we already do a pretty good job in some of these rural areas, but I think we can do more to offset some of the city’s costs in maintaining highways like State Street, which is Highway 51, and Medgar Evers (Boulevard), which is Highway 49. As city councilman I remember asking MDOT to keep maintenance up on those roadways. I think the voters would appreciate any help we can provide to Jackson. They want their capital city to be attractive. But the main thing I want to promote is consensus building. They cry in the community that there’s too much infighting and politics going on at MDOT. They’ve made a lot of news lately.
Age: 42 Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice; master’s in public policy administration. Crisler is working on a doctorate in urban regional planning at Jackson State University with a concentration on environment and land use. Current job: District director for Hinds Community College’s adult education program. Candidate for Transportation Commission, Central District Past Public Office: Two-term Jackson city councilman for Ward 6 Family: Married 24 years to Charlotte; three children
ormer Jackson City Councilman Marshand Crisler thinks he will have an advantage as a Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner for the Central District. Crisler, who is a district director for Hinds Community College’s adult education program, said the priorities of the commission become obvious when viewed from the vantage point of a city leader. The Jackson Democrat faces Dorothy Benford, another Jackson Democrat, in the August primaries and either incumbent Republican Dick Hall or Madison County Supervisor Timothy Johnson in the general election. If Crisler wins, he will enter an ongoing tug-of-war for limited highway resources as cities compete for funding of new interchanges and roadwork. The failed Interstate 55 Reunion Interchange proposed for the city of Madison is one example of a growing municipality contending for resources.
Jackson resident and former city councilman Marshand Crisler said he believes MDOT should use more minority contractors in highway work.
Speaking of that, what was your take on the (former MDOT Executive Director) Butch Brown firing? Should commissioners have let him stay on until his June 30 retirement? Brown has been a big help to the city of Jackson on certain projects, and we had a great working relationship, but the commission needed to make a decision on the direction of the executive director. Still, as long a tenure as Brown had with MDOT, I truly don’t believe that a couple of months would’ve made a difference. The way it was done publicly is what the community is telling me was their problem with it. We have to be more professional about the way we handle personnel matters. There has been some concern about the lack of communication between the commission and voters. You can have more meetings and better relationships with the local government and municipalities. We need to have standing meetings throughout the district, talking about the issues affecting the district.
Nobody knows these issues like local government, and I think those leaders should have some input on decisions because they know how important things like Highway 61 is to Greenville and Port Gibson, and I would like to get their input before I make a decision affecting them.
way to create jobs in our local communities. With unemployment as it is, infrastructure is a shot in the arm. And then there’s the more immediate issue of saving wear and tear on your vehicle. Nobody wants their car rattling apart because roads have not been maintained.
The American Society of Civil Engineers says infrastructure has been declining across the nation, with roads and bridges in a state of decay compared to what they were 30 years ago. Is that the way you see it, too? It’s clear that there’s not enough being done in road and bridge construction and upkeep, but one of the things I’m also promoting is sustainability. As a (doctoral) candidate at Jackson State University, my area of expertise is environment and land use, and I know that we need to be developing products and roads that have longevity. We need to use material that will last 20 to 25 years as opposed to five or 10 years. That’s being frugal with the tax dollars.
You watched all the drama behind the failed Madison County project, the Interstate 55 Reunion interchange. Do you expect to encounter considerable pull between cities when it comes to road projects? As a commissioner, you have to make sure you are making decisions that are equitable across the board, and fair and impartial. If you govern that way consistently, you’ll have no problem. Drive through the central Mississippi corridor, and you can see there are disparities in how state dollars are being spent. It’s clear that some right-of-ways look better than other right-of-ways. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we are impartial in our appropriations to cities and towns.
I didn’t even know they had options. I thought asphalt and concrete was all they have to pick from. That’s what the average citizen thinks, so don’t feel bad, but there are a lot of options out there. How do you grade the state’s fuel tax? What is it, 18 cents a gallon? Is that enough, considering what all we need to do? That’s one decision that I don’t have to make. That’s up to the Legislature, but higher taxes are not what we need. We can manage with what we’ve got. Voters tend to link words like “infrastructure” to words and phrases like “paradigm” and “going forward.” Their eyes glaze over when they hear them. How do you excite voters about something as mundane as a bridge? First of all, you tell them that the stability of that bridge is going to connect companies and corporations to your cities and counties, which bring jobs. The idea that really resonates with voters is that this is a
Would you consider allowing the Interstate 55 Reunion interchange? I’m going to go visit folks in Madison to hear what they’ve got to say on the matter because I’m hearing, like many citizens, only one side of the story. But I want to get all sides of the story before I make a good decision. I know Madison is a great city, and you want to make sure you do right by communities that we consider hallmarks. What is your take on the longstalled Airport Parkway, which is intended to create a new route from the city to the international airport in Rankin County? We want to make sure we get folks to and from the airport in the most convenient manner, if not simply for the sake of commerce. We want to have a discussion with the airport commission and talk about where we are with that. There’s no denying that it has moved at a snail’s pace, and we want the system unclogged on that particular project.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
by Valerie Wells
Court Stops Simon Execution MDOC
obert Simon Jr., 47, gets to live a little bit longer on death row. The state of Mississippi planned to kill him May 24, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the execution just hours before the scheduled time. The state lawyers arguing for Simon’s execution and the lawyers defending him meet again June 6 in appeals court. Simon’s defense says that he hit his head in January and that Mississippi Department of Corrections didn’t allow Simon’s own doctors to look at him, although state doctors did examine him. For that reason, the federal panel ordered the stay of execution. Simon’s lawyer had requested that the court thoroughly review his mental-health claims, including that the knock on the head in January left him less aware of his circumstances. The Associated Press reported last week that Attorney General Jim Hood predicted more “knot heads” would appear on death-row who would slip and fall at Parchman to avoid execution. The state sentenced Simon to death for the murders of Carl Parker, Parker’s wife, Bobbie Joe, and their son Gregory. He was tried separately for the murder of their daughter Charlotte and was sentenced to life. The four were found dead in their burned home on Feb. 2, 1990, in rural Quitman County. Mississippi uses a three-drug cocktail to execute condemned prisoners. Pentobarbital, a barbiturate anesthetic, replaced another drug, sodium thiopental, which had been the standard anesthetic used in lethal injections across the country. In January, however, Hospira Inc., the only American supplier of sodium thiopental, announced that it would stop manufacturing the drug. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Hospira faced opposition from the Italian government when the pharmaceutical company planned to produce the drug in Italy. Hospira also faced pressure from activists to stop making the drug.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Robert Simon Jr. a stay of execution last week.
Advocacy organizations challenged the switch to a new drug. Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice, an anti-deathpenalty group, and Mississippi Cure, a criminal-justice reform organization, filed a lawsuit against MDOC April 14 arguing that the state failed to follow its own legal requirements for providing public notice when changing the combination of lethalinjection drugs. Along with the two organizations, three death-row inmates with impending execution dates also signed onto the lawsuit: Benny Joe Stevens, executed May 10; Rodney Gray, executed May 17; and Robert Simon, who would have died May 24. Mississippi Department of Corrections officials said in an official statement that they await the court’s opinion in Simon’s case and stand ready to carry out the orders of the court. Mississippi has 58 prisoners on death row. Two of those inmates are women. Of the 58 condemned, 33 are black, 24 are white and one is Asian, MDOC reports. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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Summer Fashion Tips for Men:Part 1
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suits, and gray suits. All of these to be worn with brown shoes and instead of matching a dress shirt and tie, throw on a cool sport shirt on casual Fridays.
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opining, grousing & pontificating
‘Gated Pods’ a Bad Idea
adly, Councilman Quentin Whitwell’s ideas are going downhill since he pushed for a food-truck ordinance. Last week, we explained why he is wrong about the potentially Chamber-dominated sales-tax commission; this week we are dismayed to see him pushing an ordinance to allow (presumably well-to-do) neighborhoods to vote on and erect gates to their communities. In one breath, he says it’s about “traffic-calming,” but the neighborhood he says he’s doing it to please (Avery Gardens) has only one entrance; it’s not like they have people speeding through to get to work. In the next breath, he acknowledges that the gates are for “safety” reasons—which leads to the uncomfortable notion that they are really about profiling and slowing down certain people who might drive through the areas. More likely, they are better making people feel safer because they don’t see “the other” tooling around their streets. Sadly, this is not far removed from Madison County sheriff candidate Mark Sandridge’s promise to keep Madisonians away from all us heathens south of County Line Road. To boot, Whitwell wants taxpayers to keep paying to maintain the infrastructure behind the gates, and it’s fine with him if a quarter of the residents don’t want the ugly thing, or to be associated with the message it sends. The truth is that gated communities are not healthy for communities, as new urbanist Andres Duany and co-authors point out in no uncertain terms in their 2000 book “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.” They show how “gated pods” tend to contain people who are against taxes (except when used to pay for their needs): “The rest of the world is expected to take care of itself.” They write that the worst part about “gated pods” is when they lock in homogenous groups of similar income levels and ethnicity. Then, many kids (thankfully not all) who grow up in these insular backgrounds seek out the same thing: “Unfortunately, the segregationist pattern is self-perpetuating.” And worse: “A child growing up in such a homogenous environment is less likely to develop a sense of empathy for people from other walks of life and is ill prepared to live in a diverse society. The other becomes alien to the child’s existence, witnessed only through the sensationalizing eye of the television.” In addition, they write, the poor in turn have little understanding of the middle class and their problems, or how they can become a part of such an alien world. In our ridiculously segregated city with such a blood-thirsty media, this explains why crime and fear of “the other” is so out of proportion with reality, when people are at far greater risk of being physically harmed or killed while driving home to their “gated pods.” Still, if people want to gate their pods, it’s their business. But Whitwell shouldn’t try to stick city government in a pod where it doesn’t belong.
Looking for a Brighter Day
June 1-7, 2011
ister Ice Creamy Man: “I’m sad and reflective today after hearing about the passing of Gil Scott-Heron, one of my favorite artists ever. His brotherly like spoken words planted a ‘critical thinking’ seed in my young and fertile my mind around 1975, when I heard these lyrics from his signature piece titled ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.’ “‘ ‘Green Acres,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on ‘Search for Tomorrow’ because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day. The revolution will not be televised.’ “It was hard for me to accept what he said because I really liked ‘Green Acres,’ ‘Petticoat (Hooterville) Junction’ and the other television shows. Nevertheless, Gil Scott-Heron’s words opened a new door for me. While my peers listened to the pop, disco, funk. soul and R&B music genres, I immersed myself in the music, poetry, and expressions of artists like Gil Scott-Heron and Nikki Giovanni. After I finished art school, I really understood why the revolution would not be televised, because the revolution is in my mind. “Therefore, I need to share with the kids the wisdom and knowledge my adopted brother Gil shared with me. On today’s ice cream run, I’ll pay tribute to brother Gil Scott-Heron by playing the entire re-mastered CD of ‘Small Talk on 125th Street and Lennox’ through the loud speaker of my Mister Ice 12 Creamy truck.”
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Council Considers Gate Ordinance Since the gates would be automatic it wouldn’t cut off any “community circulation.” Anyone that wanted to go through these gates would still be able to do so. Sounds like a good idea to me, especially in Precinct 4 where house burglaries are up 32 percent year-to-date over last year. Thirty-two percent. That number is straight from JPD’s crime report, before Donna (Ladd) or someone starts asking me where I pulled that number from. — RobbieR How would automatic gates cut down on house burglaries? Will they have the same criminal detectors that Mark Sandridge appears poised to use? ;-) —Todd Stauffer I think the logic goes that if the burglars find it difficult to access the neighborhoods with cars, it will cut down on the burglaries because moving the loot is harder. That or they won’t be able to make high-speed get-a-ways waiting for the gate to go up (hee!). Personally, I think temporarily deploying video cameras in high crime areas might make more sense. As to the gates themselves—who pays for the initial installation? Who pays for the maintenance issues that will crop up when the gates are damaged? — Pilgrim
I’d be interested to see if there are any before-and-after studies as to how these affect crime. Could be there’s a noticeable effect; I’m imagining a transitory one if nothing else is done in terms of crime watches, cameras, etc. — Todd Stauffer Very interesting comments from Councilman (Quentin) Whitwell. Because on another conservative blog in town Whitwell provided an email statement that the gates were about public safety, not traffic calming. Whitwell’s statement said in part: “I am introducing this resolution because public safety is the most important issue in Jackson. We do not want to allow for potential criminal activity to fester. We want to be pro-active, and we want to send a message that although streets are public, roads are not to be used to scope out potential criminal activity. Jackson is a great place to live, and we are going to protect the property values of those people who choose to live here. Other counties and cities in the surrounding area have them. So should we.” Whitwell’s not-so-subtle message doesn’t appear to be that different from the Mark Sandridge campaign ad. I guess when he recently fashioned himself as a “tell-it-like-it-is politician,” the councilman failed to mention the part about pandering “depending-on-the-audience.” — GeoRoss
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hen the Clarion-Ledger reported April 21 that several area religious leaders converged on the state capitol to speak out against the death penalty, I broke my rule and opened the comments where readers can respond anonymously. I wasnâ€™t surprised to discover that most of the comments were negative, but one comment disturbed me more than others. The reader argued that â€œministers should confine themselves to matters of the spirit. â€Ś It kind of makes me ashamed to call myself a Methodist when my church leaders are acting way outside their area of profession and use my tithes to pay for it.â€? I am certainly not ashamed that this reader is a â€œMethodist,â€? but I am ashamed that in the all the years he has been a Methodist, he somehow got the impression that spirituality and issues of human justice are somehow mutually exclusive. I suspect he views religion and faith solely as a tool by which we gain access to heaven. He understands that the main function of clergy, particularly in the Christian tradition, is to tend to the souls of people lest any be lost and miss the rewards of the afterlife. While I do not disagree, it is impossible to read the Bible without encountering its call to care for the welfare of the world. The story of Zacchaeus, the â€œwee little manâ€? in Lukeâ€™s gospel (chapter 19:1-9), is often told as a childrenâ€™s story. However, when you consider the kind of person he was in relation to his community, there is nothing childish about it. A tax collector for the Romans, he was reviled by people from whom he collected, often defrauding and swindling them in the process. His name translates as â€œpure and righteousâ€? but it had become a sneer on the lips of his people. A powerful turnaround occurred when he encountered Jesus, or rather, Jesus encountered him. Looking up at the little man perched in a tree, he said, â€œZacchaeus, come down, for Iâ€™m going to your house today.â€? At Jesusâ€™ recognition and gracious acceptance, Zacchaeus comes down from his tree and proclaims: â€œHere and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.â€? Only after Zacchaeusâ€™ pledge to share his wealth does Jesus say, â€œToday salvation has come to this house.â€? With all that we know about Jesus and his talk of good news to the poor, how can Christians reconcile ourselves to a society that practices voracious consumption and a system of wealth built on the backs of the poor and vulnerable? Jesus says that the peacemakers are
the children of God, but how do we Christians reconcile ourselves to a culture that overwhelmingly blesses the war makers? We live in a land where murder is illegal, but that is exactly what we do to those who murder. We know well the commandment, â€œThou shalt not kill,â€? so how do we reconcile ourselves to living in a country that utilizes the death penalty to â€œsolveâ€? the problem of killing? The answer is that we cannot reconcile ourselves to any of these things. When government policies and practices of this nation or any nation are in direct conflict with the gospel, it is our obligation to stand up and say so. We must demand and work for a world that is more peaceful, more just and more equitable. Back in 1954, a middle-aged housewife and recent law school graduate from Atlanta, Ga., decided to enter the race for Georgiaâ€™s governor. Grace Thomas ran as the only woman in a field of nine candidates, and she was the only one to embrace Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Courtâ€™s controversial decision to integrate the public schools. Needless to say, she ran dead last. In 1962, she ran again. This time the Civil Rights Movement was in full bloom, and when Grace Thomas spoke of racial harmony and progress, she received death threats. Rev. Tom Long tells about the day Thomas gave a campaign speech in the little town of Louisville, Ga. The centerpiece in Louisville is an old slave market where human beings were bought and sold. She decided to give her speech under the canopy of that slave market. She addressed a gaggle of farmers and merchants, and she pointed at the slave market and said: â€œThis, thank God, has passed and the new has come. Itâ€™s time for Georgians to join hands, all races together.â€? Somebody in the crowd shouted at her, â€œAre you a communist?â€? â€œNo!â€? she said. â€œWell, where did you get those goldarned ideas?â€? She thought about it for a second. She then pointed at the steeple of the First Baptist Church, and she said, â€œI got â€™em over there in Sunday school!â€? When I consider all that I learned in Sunday school, thereâ€™s no way I can be quiet. Rev. Rob Hill is the pastor of Broadmeadow United Methodist Church in Jackson where he has served since June 2005. A native of Forest, he earned his bachelorâ€™s degree from Mississippi State University in 1997 and a masterâ€™s degree in divinity from Duke University in 2002.
He somehow got the impression that spirituality and issues of human justice are somehow mutually exclusive.
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