June 15-21, 2011
June 15 - 21, 2011
9 N O . 40
contents TOM BECK
COURTESY CASSIO BATTEAST
6 Forward Farish Farish Street developer David Watkins puts $4 million of his money where his mouth is. FILE PHOTO
Cover photograph of Tyrone Lewis by Kenya Hudson
THIS ISSUE: ............. Editor’s Note
cassio batteast ership development program. It provides young men with mentors, tutors, lifestyle classes and recreational activities. The program is year round. One part of FAITH Inc. is the Knowledge Institution, a New Generation of Scholars, or KINGS. There five components within KINGS: a basic mentoring program; a college prep program; a support program for young men to stay in college; helping incarcerated males get their GED and re enter society; and Father University, a program that gives young fathers the resources Batteast didn’t have when he was a young father such as parenting skills and job training. Becoming a mentor for young males might scare some people but Batteast welcomes the challenge. “I feel like everyone’s a role model, regardless of if I didn’t have the program, I’m still in a situation where there’s going to be some young person that’s gonna look to me, even if I don’t want them to,” he says, adding, “There is a lack of positive role models. Drug dealers are role models, too, but I consider myself a positive role model for young men and women.” Batteast says his passions are his daughter and his work with FAITH. “Everything I do is for her,” he says, later adding, “I truly believe we all have a moral obligation to someone else besides ourselves. —Jonnett Johnson
14 Opening Doors Former Jackson Police Chief Tyrone Lewis puts his hat in the ring for Hinds County Sheriff. AMELIA SENTER
Cassio Batteast is slow to talk about himself, but his infectious smile and upbeat personality shine through as he talks about his experiences working with young men. Batteast, 31, is a case manager with Catholic Charities and the founder of Fathers Active In Their Hoods, known as FAITH Inc., a summer camp for men of color. Batteast is a 2003 graduate of Tougaloo College with a bachelor’s degree in child development and is currently studying at Jackson State University to get his master’s degree in urban and regional planning. In 1997, at 18, he became a father. Growing up in a single parent home, Batteast and his four siblings had no example of what a father should be. Like many other new single fathers, he thought money could take the place of quality time. Batteast said his daughter, Lyniss, now 13, once called him by his first name instead of “Dad.” “I had to learn how to be a father,” Batteast says. Once he tapped into paternal side, though, Batteast became “Super Dad.” “We have a great relationship now; we talk about everything,” he says. Batteast also became a father figure to his sister’s two sons when she was deployed to Iraq in 2008 until last December. “I was in a position to do it, and I stepped up and did it,” he says. It was around this time that Batteast started FAITH Inc. FAITH is a male lead-
4 ................... Slowpoke 6 ........................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 ..................... Stiggers 12 ......................... Zuga 13 ................... Opinion 22 ............... Gift Guide 29 ................ Diversions 30 ...................... 8 Days 32 ....................... Music 33 .......... Music Listings 36 .................. Astrology 36 ......................... Food 41 ................ Body/Soul 42 .... Girl About Town
Jackson Public Schools is sued for an alternative school that punishes kids for minor violations.
29 From Inside Artist Charles Smith brings his art alive—hot and fresh—by bringing his life to his art.
Kids in Cuffs
Adam Lynch Award-winning senior reporter Adam Lynch is a Winona native and graduate of Jackson State. He and his family live in North Jackson. E-mail tips to adam@ jacksonfreepress.com, or call him at 601-362-6121, ext. 13. He interviewed Tyrone Lewis.
Kenya A. Hudson After studying political science at JSU and public policy at Pepperdine, Kenya A. Hudson is deciding whether or not to pursue a doctorate degree. Until then, she is a freelance photographer and Web designer. She took the cover photo.
Amelia Senter Editorial intern Amelia Senter attends Tulane University in New Orleans and is a Jackson native. She wrote an arts feature and a Guys We Love profile.
Jordan Lashley A native of Philadelphia, editorial intern Jordan Lashley loves culture and the arts. She is an avid reader and animal lover. In the fall, she will pursue her master’s degree in English at Mississippi State University. She wrote a Guys We Love profile.
Jonnett Johnson Editorial intern Jonnett Johnson is a super cool senior at the University of Southern Mississippi. She wants to be the next Carrie Bradshaw. She wrote the Jacksonian and a Guys We Love profile.
Dustin Cardon Editorial Intern Dustin Cardon is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi from Brandon. He idolizes J.R.R. Tolkien and also enjoys playing RPG video games in his spare time. He helped edit many pages in this issue.
Christy Dawson Graphic design intern Christy Dawson enjoys travel and good food. This summer she is attempting to make a T-shirt quilt and is available for design work. email christydawson@ymail. com. She helped design ads and layout pages.
June 15 - 21 2011
From Jackson originally, Rachel Bush is a graphic design intern. She plans to return to Delta State in the fall, and complete her double major in graphic design and photography. She helped design ads and layout pages in this issue.
by Valerie Wells, Assistant Editor
Men I Love
he small hallway just outside the courtroom buzzed with potential energy. It was family court a couple of years ago somewhere south of Jackson, and sparks were possible. Two divorced parents came to resolve custody of their child. Everyone waited on the judge to show up. A few people sat inside the courtroom, but most paced in the hall, getting a sip of water and going to the restroom. The mother’s family and friends clustered in a group while the father and his supporters stood closer to the door. Sideways glances and nervous over-the-shoulder glimpses ricocheted between the two camps. An older woman wearing pale blue pajamas worked her way down the hall to the ladies’ room. Nearby, the father spoke to friends about the challenges of his job, his plans for the future. He was a tall man, well over 6-and-a-half feet, towering above everyone else who was there that day, strong with wide shoulders and a solid build. He was a working man, but on that day he wore a new, dark suit that accentuated his large presence. He remained calm and steady, polite even, as he made small talk about football teams and cold fronts. The older woman wearing pale blue slowly crept back up the hall and stopped briefly when she noticed the tall, strong man. “Hello,” she said, calling out his name. She paused waiting for the deference, the respect, the homage she thought was her due. She didn’t get it. The father stood there without looking at the older woman who had gone to great lengths and expense to hurt him. She was on the mother’s side in this legal battle. He ignored her, which to many may seem rude, but in this complicated family saga, it was the kindest thing he could do. He continued speaking to his friends in his slow, steady voice, never getting loud or talking faster. He did, however, start to turn red. She stood a few seconds longer, seemingly shocked that he didn’t respond to her. She had lost her power. She waddled off and the tall man’s feet grew roots into the hard floor of the courthouse. He stood even taller and the air around him seemed to respond. It was as if his force field surrounded all of us standing near him, protecting us. The moment struck me with awe. This 30-something giant, who deeply loved his child and was determined to protect her, stood here now as a man of conviction, sturdier than any oak tree. I almost didn’t recognize him as my younger cousin. When I was 13, he was a goofy baby who could barely stand up in his crib on shaky legs. He’d smile at me and I’d sing, “I’m Your Boogie Man” to him. He would dance in that side-to-side rocking way babies dance in cribs when silly cousins sing. To see him become this strong protec-
tor, this oak tree, amazed me. He prevented his daughter from living in a dangerous, maybe abusive, scenario. My love for him was so intense in that moment. His restraint tempered his strength. Men who care about children, who stand fast to protect them, who work hard to make this world better and safer and even a little bit more fun are absolutely men we love. So many men fit that description here in Mississippi. I’ve had a chance to meet them: the hardworking bureaucrats who get grief from every side but still do their best, the dreamers who dare to say the unthinkable and push us to the next stage of advancement, the calm intellectuals who take their time planning and thinking. Consider Dr. Herman Taylor, lead investigator for the Jackson Heart Study, a huge deal in medical history and the local economy. We met at Broadstreet Bakery for a breakfast meeting a few months ago, and he ordered granola. As he patiently explained his work and its implications for future generations, I couldn’t help but think how lucky his children are to have such an intelligent and generous father. I wonder how many great men and fathers we meet all the time without noticing that quiet strength. In this issue of the Jackson Free Press, we acknowledge just some of the Men We Love. You’ll find profiles of several men we admire who are good people doing great things. Life is better because they are here. Obviously, it’s not only men who create this vivacious society of ours. The men in my life know I prefer to focus on women who make a difference but rarely get credit. Every once in a while, it’s good for me
to stop and pay attention to these silent, strong men in my midst. I’m also one to quickly point out the Men Who Disappoint Us: the priests who abuse children, the politicians who think with the wrong head, the fathers who don’t care, the guy in an oversized pick-up truck who cuts me off, the good old boys who want to control our thoughts and bodies. We often pay attention to the bullies and the sensational screw-ups. Take time with me to reflect on the Good Guys. I spent a weekend with my family recently, catching up with my grown sons and their exploits. My husband and I sat with them outside way past twilight as they dissected culture and politics. My younger son, who works in the film industry, sees artistic nuances everywhere. My older son, a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, told us about his challenges mentoring middleschool students who need help with math as well as the presence of an adult male. The idea humbled me that my baby could be that man. As he talked, we heard a kitten mewing. The poor creature was stuck in an odd hole near the roof line of the house and kept peeking its fuzzy head out. My sons jumped up, grabbed a ladder and went into action, stopping everything to rescue her. I was still sitting in amazement at their energy, youth and compassion. It turned out to be a complicated retrieval. Their dad chuckled. I looked at him and was glad he was their father. He smiled back at me, and I felt washed over with love for this oak tree of a man who is always steady, always there, always carrying that potential energy.
FONDREN THEATRE WORKSHOP PRESENTS
CONTACT the Crisis Line is a local nonprofit agency staffed by volunteers offering help to persons in crisis 24/7 since 1971. For confidential help call 601-713-HELP (contactthecrisisline.org)
A NIGHT OF NOSTALGIA
news, culture & irreverence
Standing at 23.5 inches, the height of two soda bottles, Junrey Balawing, 18, from the southern Philippines holds the record as the world’s shortest man in the “Guinness Book of World Records.”
Watkins ‘Tired of Screwing Around’ ADAM LYNCH
Wednesday, June 8 Delta Airlines says it will reimburse the $200 bag fee each it charged to American solders who brought back more than three pieces of luggage from Afghanistan. … The Southern Poverty Law Center files a federal civil rights lawsuit against Jackson Public Schools for mistreating students at the district’s alternative school.
Socrates Garrett and the Levee Board say “yes” to a conflict-ofinterest policy. p 9
Thursday, June 9 Gov. Haley Barbour appoints Leslie Lee to serve as state public defender… The Port of Gulfport receives a final $481 million in federal funds to complete its restoration. Friday, June 10 The state of Alaska releases thousands of Sarah Palin’s emails from her first two years as governor. … The Senate Judiciary Committee approves Attorney Felicia C. Adams as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi. Saturday, June 11 Rep. Anthony Weiner announces that he is receiving professional treatment and requests a leave of absence from the U.S. Congress after his sexting scandal. … The Mississippi Braves suffer their 10th straight home loss to Chattanooga, 2-3. Sunday, June 12 A fire burns 850 acres in Jackson County. The Mississippi Forestry Commission says arson or carelessness is to blame. … Newt Gingrich gives a foreign-policy speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition accusing the Obama administration of placing more importance on being politically correct than on using common sense.
June 15-21 2011
Monday, June 13 Minnesota Republican and Tea Party supporter Rep. Michele Bachmann announces her run for president. … A federal court judge sends former Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and two former judges back to prison.
Tuesday, June 14 Hope Enterprise Corporation, a community-development organization, announces its membership with NeighborWorks that will assist with local and regional affordable housing projects. … The majority of American students have insufficient knowledge of American history, according to test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com.
Farish Street developer David Watkins said he is investing more than $4 million to comply with a B.B. King Blues Club lease agreement.
fter a host of leasing delays, developers of the historic Farish Street Entertainment District have decided to sweeten the deal for entertainment venues by kicking in almost $5 million in personal build-out money. The Jackson Free Press reported last month that B.B. King Blues Club signed a lease deal with Farish Street developer Watkins Development, LLC, but that the nature of the deal commits Watkins Development to fund further construction and
build-out for the venue. David Watkins, President and CEO of Watkins Development, said he got tired of waiting for investors and loans and decided to prop up the build-out with his own funds. “I put $4 million into it, and I’m continuing to put more money into it. That’s personal money,” Watkins said. “It’ll be alright because the reward will be worth it. I got tired of screwing around. We’ve made a gut-wrenching decision that we’re just going to move forward, to put more money into
by Adam Lynch
the project. Whatever money the tenants have come up with, we’re going to backfill those shortstops with additional equity investment from us.” Watkins made the announcement after The Clarion-Ledger ran a story reporting the Jackson City Council’s impatience at seeing slow progress on the Farish Street Entertainment District. Last Tuesday, Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen gave the council an update on various developments including Farish Street. Allen told the council that the state of Mississippi had backed out of a $5 million loan for the project, which has pushed Watkins to overcome the $5 million financial void. “How that turned into Ben Allen saying the project is stalled is honest-to-God beyond me,” Allen told an audience of about 50 at Koinonia Coffee House June 10. Allen made no reference to the project being on hold or on the shelf during his portion of the council presentation, which included input from Jackson developers Mike Peters and Ted Duckworth on the need to reauthorize the DJP-managed business improvement district. In fact, Allen told the council that he believed Watkins would succeed in opening venues in the district soon. News of Watkins’ most recent personal investment arrives almost three years after the developer took over the Farish Street District WATKINS, see page 7
Stuff My Dad Says
Dads say the darndest things, sometimes not making a lick of sense. We asked readers for a sampling of their favorite dad-isms. Here’s what they told us:
“Anything after midnight is for the devil.” “You’re riding the gravy train. I do all the work.” “I’m not mad at you. I’m just irritated you had the audacity to keep me up at night worrying about you.”
“The possums are after me.” (when he shivered).
When cutting grass, my dad never says, “I do front-yard work.” Instead he calls it “the work you would want people to drive by and see.”
“You were country before country was cool.”
“I’m so hungry I could eat the southern end of a northbound donkey.” “How that turned into Ben Allen saying the project is stalled is honest-to-God beyond me.” —Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen regarding The Clarion-Ledger’s misinterpretation of his statements during a Jackson City Council meeting June 7 regarding development of the Farish Street Entertainment District.
“Anything you can do after 10 p.m., you can probably do before.” My dad was an announcer at little league games. The phrase I heard most often when pitching was (almost mumbling), “Hit bats man.”
“Want in one hand, sh*t in the other; see which one fills up first.”
news, culture & irreverence
renovation project from Memphis developer Performa Entertainment. Watkins paid Performa more than $400,000 and assumed $1.5 million in debt after Performa proved unable to complete the renovations. Watkins had been expecting a $5 million state bond from the Legislature to supply the build-out money, but legislators did not include the $5 million in a $420 million bond package for statewide projects this legislative session. The arrival of the B.B. King Blues Club heralds the opening of other venues, according to Watkins. “They finally agreed to (move in) in December, so we know we got B.B. in December. That triggers three other clubs that were waiting for B.B., so they’ll hopefully be in by December or soon after,” Watkins said. “Thankfully, these other three clubs already have their (build-out) money. We hope to have five clubs open by December. The remaining seven or eight will be open within 12 months,” Finding venues to sign leases on Farish Street is no easy feat, because Watkins and developers want the area to host considerably high-end venues. “We want young clubs and young and local entrepreneurs, but we require that they have some financial stability and depth, because the last thing we want are revolving doors. We turned away a whole lot of clubs where the owners did not have the financial stability to pay the rent. If they generate less than $1 million in revenues, they’re not going to stay in business down there,” Watkins said.
by Adam Lynch
The Jackson Zoo is asking the city to back its attempt to restructure debt.
He adds that most venues opening in the area must expect to serve “500 meals a day.” Watkins said the main reason he was personally reaching into his own pocket was because of “the pressures of the public and the politicians who want to see something right now.” So far, developers expect Wet Willie’s Daiquiri Bar and Red Rooster to be the next venues to open this year or early next year. Watkins said he also expected an as-yet unnamed upscale cigar lounge and premium liquor club to also open its doors. Although Watkins Development LLC is in charge of developing the district, the property is owned by quasi-government entity Jackson Redevelopment Authority, which has been holding off charging the developers lease money as they jump through an army of hoops. Jackson Redevelopment Authority member John Reeves told the JFP last month that Watkins was having a difficult time gathering local investment in the project. “The banks, it seems, don’t consider Farish Street to be a high priority,” Reeves said. He added that if anybody was likely to complete Farish Street it would be Watkins, the developer who spurred the renovation of the King Edward Hotel and the Standard Life Building. The Farish Street project is 85 percent complete. Watkins expects total investment in Phase 1 of the project to be $11.7 million after build-out costs. Every restaurant, Watkins said, is required to have four days of live entertainment a week. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
he Jackson Zoological Park, which faces re-accreditation this year, is looking to tackle its money-issues. Zoo Director Beth Poff said the zoo will ask
the city to back the facility’s attempt to restructure $880,000 in debt. “The city is essentially guaranteeing that it will be honoring its (lease) agreement with the zoo for the next eight years or so, and that the amount (the bank) gets will be continuing, so the bank will be comfortable in restructuring the debt,” Poff said. Mims said that if the city commits to the restructuring, it will not be required to dedicate any extra money to the zoo’s budget. Instead, the city would steer a portion of its annual allocation to the cost of the restructuring, rather than directly to the zoo. “Still, this is very preliminary right now, and we’re waiting for the details,” Mims said. Poff said attendance at the zoo has fallen in the last three years during the recession and that it has had to lay-off some personnel and eliminate some unfilled positions to adjust to the revenue drop.
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WATKINS, from page 6
by Adam Lynch
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he Mississippi Supreme Court is setting itself up for a consistency clash if it votes in favor of a ballot initiative giving rights to microscopic human eggs. Jackson attorney Robert McDuff argued before the full Mississippi Supreme Court June 6 that a ballot initiative giving rights to human blastocysts amounts to an illegal modification of the state constitution. Steve Crampton, general counsel for Lynchburg, Va.-based conservative non-profit Liberty Counsel, argued in favor of the Personhood Initiative. The initiative joins several other ballot issues that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann submitted to the state Legislature this year after the proposals received enough qualifying signatures to appear on the November ballot. A second ballot issue limits the state’s use of eminent domain to claim privately owned property specifically for public projects like road construction. That second initiative would end the state’s ability to claim private property to benefit for-profit corporations. Both attorneys deny that the battle lines are over the legal definition of a human being, and neither asked judges June 6 to render a decision on that complicated issue. Rather, the lawyers argued whether the initiative violates the very language of the state constitution. Crampton told reporters that the ballot initiative merely clarifies existing state law by determining the point of human existence, while McDuff said the clarification itself is a modification. “Installing a definition of a word is a modification. It is a proposal for a new portion of the Bill of Rights,” McDuff said. “When they define a word, for which the definition has not been previously settled, they are making a modification that the Mississippi Constitution requires be proposed through the Legislature and placed on the ballot by the Legislature rather than an initiative created with signatures gathered from around the state.” Justice Jess Dickinson told McDuff that the ballot initiative portion of the state constitution did not exist prior to the 1992 alteration of the constitution that created it. Dick-
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inson suggested that if voters viewed the ballot initiative as illegally superseding the language of the constitution, that they could rightfully vote against it in November. “If you say that people look to desire to place that limitation in the language ... (then) you have no reason to oppose this, because when this gets on the ballot, and the people vote, they’re going to vote consistently with ADAM LYNCH
THURSDAY - June 16
Attorney Rob McDuff argued June 6 that a ballot initiative should not be able to alter the Mississippi Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
that desire they have, and they’ll turn this (initiative) down,” Dickinson said. The court, which recessed, could be leaning in favor of allowing the Personhood Initiative if Dickinson’s arguments prove to be the opinion of the majority, despite constitutional language stating that “the initiative process shall not be used ... for the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this constitution.” If justices vote to allow the initiative to proceed, the conservative court may have to tie itself in a knot trying to placate Republican ally Leland Speed, interim executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, who filed a suit in Hinds County Circuit Court challenging the legality of a Mississippi Farm Bureau-sponsored eminent-domain ballot initiative. Speed, who did not file suit in his role
with the MDA, but as “a taxpayer and qualified elector,” opposes the eminent-domain restriction initiative because, the suit states, the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 “prohibits use of the initiative process for the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the constitution’s Bill of Rights.” It is essentially the same argument McDuff used against the Personhood Initiative. “The enforcement of Section 273(5)(a) is necessary to protect the Bill of Rights from the initiative process,” wrote attorney Fred Banks, representing Speed. “While some land owners may think Initiative 31 enhances their property rights, it will in fact take away sales opportunities from many property owners. In addition, if the initiative process can be used to modify or repeal property rights, it could be used in the future to take away those rights if a popular majority chooses to do so.” Last year, plaintiffs opposing the Personhood Initiative took their suit to Hinds County Circuit Court, but newly appointed Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Harrison, appointed by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, kicked the issue to Supreme Court by ignoring the constitutional language and concluding that Personhood Mississippi had collected enough signatures to get started. Hinds County Circuit Court has not ruled on Speed’s suit. But if the court punts the second initiative to Supreme Court, judges ruling in favor of the overriding strength of the ballot initiative for the Personhood Initiative would be hard pressed to explain the sudden deterioration of that strength when confronted with an initiative opposed by Republican leaders like Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour refused to restrict eminent domain during the 2009 legislative session despite overwhelming bi-partisan support from the state’s Republican and Democratic legislators. The governor vetoed a bill restricting eminent domain that year, arguing that excluding eminent domain for for-profit companies would discourage business growth in the state. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
pearl river talk
by Adam Lynch
Levee Board member Socrates Garrett said he approves of a new conflict-ofinterest policy to move forward flood control along the Pearl River.
Board was signing on to the resolution was the foundationâ€™s willingness to foot the boardâ€™s half of the study cost it shares with the federal government. Corps attorneys, however, told Levee Board attorney Keith Turner that the board needs to have a strict conflict-ofinterest policy in place for PRV contractors before moving forward with any work arising from the resolution. Turner submitted to the board June 13 a four-page draft policy that demands from contractors a detailed disclosure of financial interest in the project, among other things. One requirement is â€œa list of the contractors, subcontractors and members of each entities immediate familyâ€™s interests in real property locatedâ€? in the area affected by the new lake or levees. The agreement, drafted by Turnerâ€™s office, restricts deals made with contractors who are friends or family members or who offer special considerations. â€œIf we were retaining (a contractor) to
go out and do the work it would be a different situation. John has already acknowledged (the need for this) because some of his people have property in the project area, and the Corps was concerned about conflict of interest and wanted to have a policy in place before we moved forward,â€? Turner told the Jackson Free Press. The USACE only recently decided to consider offering federal financing for a flood control plan containing a lake. For years, the Corps refused to allow a locally preferred lake plan to get federal review and instead insisted that a levee expansion was the only viable option for flood control in the area. The Corps claimed a new lake would pose a threat to local wetlands. It altered this view last year. The JFP previously reported that McGowan and his family members, as well as members of McGowan Working Partners, Levee Board member Leland Speed and other supporters owned land in the Two Lakes footprint. That footprint is different from the proposal the Levee Board is now considering; however, some areas overlap. Turner described the draft confict-ofinterest policy, which applies to the Levee Boardâ€™s service agreement with the foundation, as â€œpretty tight.â€? â€œIâ€™m sure it will get tweaked some more, but the fact is weâ€™re trying to be as above board and open as possible,â€? Turner said. Levee Board member Socrates Garrett said he had reservations about the restrictive nature of the policy but was among the members who voted unanimously in favor of it for the sake of moving the process along. The list of contractors and technical consultants proposed to form a percentage of the foundationâ€™s board include Wildlife Technical Services Inc., and Sol Engineering Services, among others. Also see www.jfp.ms/pearlriver. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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he U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is demanding compliance with a new conflict-of-interest policy before it will approve a partnership of the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, aka the Levee Board, and a local non-profit that wants to build a lake development along the Pearl River. An April resolution the Levee Board made with John McGowan-backed Pearl River Vision Foundation allows the foundation to â€œassist and representâ€? the Levee Board in negotiations with the Corps to create an updated flood-control plan for the Pearl River. The foundationâ€™s vision matches that of a majority of the Levee Board in that it seeks to create a new lake in the Pearl River between Hinds and Rankin counties by dredging the river and installing an underwater dam near downtown Jackson. The board says the lake can be big enough and deep enough to contain floodwater comparable to the historic Pearl River flood of 1979 without endangering the scenic campgrounds around Mayes Lake and portions of LeFleurâ€™s Bluff state park. The non-profit foundation proposes to partner with the board in its pursuit of a lake plan and act as the go-between for the board and the USACE to herd the lake plan through the complicated federal approval process. One expensive step in that process involves the district coming up with a $2-million portion to help finance an estimated $4-million study of the proposed lake plan. The federal government would pay for the other half for the Corps. McGowan Working Partners spokesman Dallas Quinn said the Foundation would put its own engineers on the project, which would make the Levee Boardâ€™s $2 million match unnecessary. Levee Board Chairman Gary Rhoads said one of the main reasons the Levee
Corps Requires Conflict of Interest Policy
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he details are too similar. A school security officer leads a student to the stairs near the gym. He closes one cuff on the child’s wrist and the other on the stair railing. He leaves the student alone for hours. Many Capital City Alternative School students tell the same story. They claim extreme and excessive treatment for infractions such as not wearing a belt, wearing the wrong shoes or talking back. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court June 8, saying Jackson Public Schools unconstitutionally punished students over minor offenses. Children as young as 9 face severe punishment for dress code violations or talking back at the alternative school, neither of which are crimes. A 15-year-old girl loudly called out the name of a friend in the hall to get her attention. A “campus enforcement officer,” the suit alleges, told her to “shut up.” “Who are you talking to? I ain’t your child,” the girl said. For talking back, the officer walked the girl down the hall where they met principal Marie Harris, the suit alleges. She asked where the officer was taking the student. “To the stairway,” he said. Harris allowed him to continue. The officer cuffed the girl to the railing and left her alone for hours. Jackson Public Schools released a statement last week saying it takes any allegation of this nature seriously. “The JPS legal department will respond to the lawsuit in the appropriate legal manner,” the statement reads. “JPS is totally and fully committed to providing a safe learning environment for all of its students.” Jody Owens, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center office in Jackson, said he is waiting to hear back from the school district. JPS has 21 days to respond to the complaint. “We want to bring this to a quick resolution,” Owens said. The lawsuit details other allegations from other students. Earlier this spring, the suit says, a boy showed up at school without his belt. The 16-year-old walked up to the
metal detector that all the students at the alternative school have to go through. The boy reported to in-school suspension for violating the dress code. A counselor offered him a replacement belt so he could go to class. Bobby Walden, assistant principal, stopped the counselor. The boy protested. He wasn’t physically aggressive, and he didn’t threaten anyone. For talking back, the assistant principal told a school safety officer to take the boy to the school gym and handcuff him there. Officer Franklin McGee, the suit alleges, took the boy to a spot in the gym next to the stairs leading up to the stage, handcuffing him to the railing. One cuff went on the boy’s wrist, the other on the railing. No one uncuffed the boy so he could eat lunch. Someone brought him food, and he ate cuffed to the railing. The SPLC lawsuit claims that the boy faced the same punishment three more times that week for not following the dress code. “This excessive use of restraints was not designed to reduce or curb misbehavior or prevent violence,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also alleges: • A 14-year-old boy who wore a stocking cap to class threw his papers on the ground and refused to do his schoolwork. When he was left alone, cuffed to the railing, he yelled out because he had to go to the bathroom. The school safety officer refused to let him go. When the cuffs came off at the end of the school day, they left marks on his wrists. The boy got similar punishments for wearing mismatched shoelaces and not bringing back paperwork. • A 14-year-old boy refused to take off his shoes during a routine search. He didn’t want to do it and went to class upset. A school safety officer dragged him by his belt to the gym. The officer handcuffed his arm and leg and shackled the handcuffs to the pole. The boy said it was too tight. A school official called his mom, but when she got to the school she wasn’t allowed to go to him. The officer uncuffed the boy and brought him to the office to his mother. She saw bruises and scratches on his wrists that he didn’t have that morning. • A 15-year-old boy was dancing and rapping in his classroom. Walden told him to stop. The boy stopped. “Boy, you look like you got an attitude,” Walden allegedly said. Two security guards took the boy to the gym and handcuffed him to the stair railing. The cuffs left marks on his wrists. The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the school from cuffing students and to protect the students’ constitutional rights. Comment at www.jps.ms.
by Adam Lynch
JPD Investigating Communications Failure
The Jackson Police Department is investigating Leslee Foukal’s recovered car being held in the city impound lot for weeks without notifying the owner.
Vance would not speculate on whether the departmental breakdown happened at vehicle check-in at the impound lot or after the employee did a vehicle check. “It’s too early to say what happened,” Vance said. “I really am sorry that it appears that she had all of these things happen to her in the course of this investigation, but I’m glad she notified us of what has happened because that gives us an opportu-
nity to review our procedures.” Vance added that if department procedures are not working or if they allow people to “fall through the cracks,” then the department intends to fix the problem. “If there’s something we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to her or anybody else,” Vance said, “that’s what we’re going to do.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
t first thought, you might think you know Outback Steakhouse. Sure they serve USDA Choice steaks and imported Danish Blue Cheese and make their soups, salad dressings, and sauces from scratch everyday (oh, and yes, that includes Outback Steakhouse the hand-cut croutons and homemade chocolate sauce). Sure, they were voted #1 Best Steak in the 2009 and 2010 Zagat surveys. But did you know they are great patriots too? In 2002 a team of Outbackers travelled to Afghanistan to feed troops stationed there. The idea was to bring a little bit of food and comfort from home to the brave men and women serving our country overseas. Thus, Operation Feeding Freedom was born. Since that first trip, another six trips, serving troops in Djibouti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and aboard the USS Nimitz in Bahrain have taken place. Overall, 167,000 troops have been served. Given that this is SEC country, to not mention the Outback Bowl would be a penalty! The Outback Bowl is a New Year’s Day college football game matching teams from the SEC and Big Ten Conference. 2011 was the 25th anniversary of the Outback Bowl. What makes Outback so unique is that it’s hardly just a steakhouse. From fresh soups and salads, to the famous bloomin’ onion, to great chicken and fish dishes, every member of the family leaves happy and full from a trip to the Outback. With a gluten-free menu, Outback offers a variety of options that allow even those patrons with food allergies to find a great meal at Outback. Need something special to wash down that steak? Try one of the many signature cocktails from Outback’s expansive drink menu. Or, choose from a great selection of craft beer or wine, with options that will pair perfectly with your dinner. Make sure you save room for dessert, because with offerings like the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under, classic New York-style cheesecake, and Carrot Cake, good things truly do come to those who wait. Can’t decide which to choose? Go for the Sweet Adventure Sampler Trio and have a bite of all three. With so many incredible, tasty options there is a menu full of reasons to eat at Outback. Perhaps the most important reason is patronizing a restaurant that truly believes in giving back. From Operation Feeding Freedom to Outback’s other charitable actions, eating good never felt so good.
Unaware that her Jeep was tucked away in the city lot for weeks, Foukal rented a car May 5 and purchased a replacement vehicle May 11. “That had been my sole mode of transportation,” Foukal said. “I couldn’t put off owning a vehicle any longer.” On May 12, Foukal says she called the impound lot and discovered that her vehicle had been sitting there for the past 13 days. Foukal retrieved her vehicle the next day, but the windows had been left down, allowing rain and other elements in. Seven days later, on May 20, a detective called Foukal to tell her that JPD had found her vehicle and stowed it at the impound lot. Foukal claims that someone in the department had identified her stolen vehicle as early as May 10, however, one day before she pointlessly purchased another vehicle. Foukal said she received a letter May 26 informing her that her stolen car was on the lot. The letter is dated May 10, she said, even though its postmark is May 25. “My real goal is to make sure that standard operating procedure is changed and that cops cross-reference vehicles when they tow them and that they’re getting out calls when they’re on the impound lot, and I’m not sure if that’s happening,” Foukal said.
COURTESY LESLEE FOUKAL
ackson Police Department Assistant Chief Lee Vance said he is looking into suspected communication failures that held a crime victim’s car in impound for more than a month. “I just got a letter from her… and I’ve got my investigators as well as my people in the precinct reviewing not only the letter but the procedures that we have in place,” Vance said. Leslee Foukal, manager of Sneaky Beans on North State Street, says JPD’s poor interdepartmental communication cost her more than $1,000. “I think this is a case of people in the department not talking to other people in the department,” Foukal said. Unidentified thieves stole Foukal’s 2000 Jeep Cherokee from a Jackson parking lot April 21, she told the Jackson Free Press. She reported the theft to JPD and received a case number the next day. Eight days later, on April 29, police found and towed Foukal’s Jeep to the city’s impound lot. The department did not recognize the vehicle as Foukal’s, however, even though she supplied the vehicle’s VIN and tag number to a detective on April 25, four days before the Jeep arrived at the impound lot.
opining, grousing & pontificating
Treating Children Worse Than Dogs
andcuffing and shackling children is despicable. Yes, children break rules and need discipline. Yes, they can be rude and annoying. Yes, they can push your limits even if you are a trained professional. None of this means you can handcuff children to a stair railing and leave them unattended for hours. You wouldn’t treat a dog that way. Some might not care, but you do. You get upset when you see a dog chained on a short leash trying to eat. If you notice it’s been a few hours, you might really get upset at the unfeeling and neglectful owner. You might be brave enough to free the dog or to confront the owner. Each of us should care that Jackson children are treated worse than dogs for not adhering to a strict dress code or sassing back. It’s not uncommon for kids to do things like that. You did it yourself, or your own kids do it now. These acts are not crimes. After gathering stories from many students in different grades who attended Capitol City Alternative School at different times, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class-action suit in federal court asking Jackson Public Schools to stop excessive and extreme punishments for minor offenses. Students said school security guards handcuffed and shackled them for wearing the wrong shoelaces, talking too loud or having a smart mouth. You wouldn’t treat your great-grandmother that way. Someone might, though, if she were locked away in a nursing home and no one ever visited. It’s hard to imagine someone preventing her from going to the bathroom. If you knew, you would at least speak up. You might even take action. Alternative schools are not prisons. They are schools. Teenagers are not scary monsters or thugs we must eliminate. They are children. Their brains aren’t fully developed. Dehumanizing an entire demographic doesn’t solve any problems. It makes all of us less human. Zero-tolerance, tough-love policies that make life unbearable for children who misbehave frequently turn out to be class and race related. Rich kids, white kids, preachers’ kids—all kids act up, sass their elders and push the limits of any dress code you impose. We suspect it was similar repeated infractions of dress-code violations and back-talk that sent these students to alternative school in the first place. But alternative schools shouldn’t be a holding pen where one assumes its students are only going to jail anyway. With that assumption, school administrators might act as if the children in their care are only there to learn what they can expect in prison. Except prisoners get legal counsel, and children don’t always have an advocate. Their parents don’t always know what happens at school. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Capitol City Alternative School and JPS violated the constitutional rights of these Jackson children. If they are right, this abuse must stop.
June 15-21, 2011
iss Doodle Mae: “Jojo hired a few college graduates to work during the summer at his Discount Dollar Store. The temporary summer employees reported to work with their heads hanging low. They are depressed because of the struggling economy and the lack of employment in their field of study. The $40-thousand-dollar-a-year job is just a dream deferred. Today our scholars must settle for a minimum-wage job at a dollar store in the ghetto. Jojo felt the college graduates’ shame and frustration during the new employee orientation session, so he decided to give his new employees a much-needed pep talk.” Jojo: “You’re thinking that this job is way below your standard. Don’t allow this temporary circumstance to control your thinking. In the meantime, apply your acquired knowledge to develop and grow in the discount dollar store business. As an entrepreneur with a college education, the possibilities are endless. You could advance to the level of store manager, regional director or owner of several stores. All it takes is a good idea, plenty of diligence and lots of focus. Just do the best you can each day. Help someone along the way. And, in time, your star will shine when you make your dreams come true.” Miss Doodle Mae: “Oh, well. Jojo did his best to motivate the disappointed college grads. Now it’s time to get the store ready for the Jojo’s 12 Discount Dollar Store Father’s Day Tie and House Slippers Sale.”
LETTERS Dear Editor, @$$holish! That was the best adjective I could coin on my first impression. A friend/coworker gave me a copy of the JFP to read because he appeared in an article. After reading that article, I flipped through the rest of the issue. My eyes fell on the contributor’s photos. For this issue (Vol. 9, Issue 36) the main article featured the story of the Freedom Riders who risked their lives and personal freedoms. So, as what I assume was meant to be a “tribute,” the contributors posed in “mugshots” similar to those of the Freedom Riders who were arrested. Not sure if my first impression was an appropriate one, I shared my opinion with a friend. “Presumptuous,” she called it. (By this time, I had also come up with “pompous” and “pretentious.”) I asked my friend who gave me the paper. He offered, “Yeah, I saw that,” with a shaking of his head, “I don’t know what they were thinking.” (His father worked with the movement in McComb in the early ‘60s.) I was suddenly reminded why I read the JFP at all. It’s free and that’s about it. I know many people who love to read your paper. I like to read multiple perspectives so I’ve tried not to let my attitude of the Fondren/north Jackson area taint my perspective. As a south Jackson native and current west Jackson resident this can be difficult, although we do seem to share a mutual distaste for Madison. It would seem that the JFP sees itself as a kindred spirit of the Freedom Riders. The main lesson that I take from the story of the Riders is to make the effort to put myself in someone else’s shoes. So when I attempt to do that, when I try to imagine how the Riders must have felt and then imagine what they must think when they look around at today’s society, I see myself 50 years later opening the JFP and seeing a parody of my mugshot. It brings me back to my first impression: “What a bunch of A-holes!” —Randy Payne
Editor responds: Yes, Mr. Payne, the staff mugshots were a heartfelt homage to the courage of the Freedom Riders, without whom we would not be publishing our newspaper. The column the photos framed made that point clearly. We were inspired by the Freedom Rider photo exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art where visitors could make and display their own mugshots. The Riders’ return to Jackson was wonderful and emotional for everyone involved. Again, God bless them. Dear Editor, An otherwise good feature, “Good Ideas, Family,” (Vol. 9, Issue 35) is missing the fact that children born are people. Environment is vital, but it is not everything, as the feature seems to indicate. People are born hardwired to some extent, as in homosexuality, and environment doesn’t change that. People are born with intellectual abilities, athletic abilities, artistic abilities, etc., and an environment that encourages these abilities will give each person the chance to optimize their ability. But not all ability is the same and it cannot be nurtured to be the same. Would it not be a boring world if there were not differences? As a parent with three children who could not be more different, I struggled with the implication that nurture was the hands-down only factor in growing a responsible person. —Jill-Allyn (McCluskey) Editor responds: As we stated in “10,000 Hours to Genius,” emerging neuroscience disproves status quo thinking regarding children: that they are either born dumb or smart. Nature may provide a baseline; however “80 percent or more” of what we consider intelligence comes from what happens after we’re born. These new discoveries were the basis of many of our features regarding children.
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ear Dad, I accepted this assignment about a month and a half before it was due. I really do not know why I agreed, because I knew it was going to be difficult. Not that I couldn’t find the words, but I worried that I would not thank you the way I should for everything you did for me as my father. But tonight I realized why. Less than four days before this assignment deadline, my wife, Lisa, explained in a condensed fashion why I accepted it. In the matter-of-fact tone she has with me sometimes, she said, “You accepted because it is time to write about him.” Dad, I often look back at the times we spent together. The first recollection I have of us is sitting in an oilstained stall at the Sonic on Clinton Boulevard on an early Saturday morning in the late ’70s. You moved us here from the Delta to build that restaurant and forge the American Dream. You wouldn’t go inside until you heard the prediction from that voice over the radio of the Mississippi State football game. Thank you for building that restaurant, working seven-day weeks and teaching me to relish the short opportunities to include sports in my life. I recall, especially in the summer, the many hours we spent in the backyard and on the field, practicing and playing baseball. Thank you for pushing me to be a pitcher and the best I could be. But most of all, thank you for letting me pursue other positions because I had the tendency to hit the biggest target at the plate. The batters feared me. Those times you taught me forgiveness, love and acceptance. One of the most important traits you taught me is giving. You worked those seven-day weeks, sent me and two others to private school, had time to teach and play, and provided fresh fruits and veggies from your garden. You taught me the excitement of giving at Christmas. Those presents flowed out from under the tree like a mature root system. Never did we go without, and looking back, it was too much. And now, I admit that my son receives too much as well. Thank you for teaching me one part of his happiness. There are many more thank-yous that I could pen, and fortunately, most were shared in the last few months we had together. I never thought cancer would be your demise. That is why I wasn’t there for a long period after the diagnosis.
Heck, you survived near-death car crashes, being shot by an armed robber, multiple trips to the emergency room and rearing three children. You could handle the big “C.” I missed your last Father’s Day because I was stubborn. Eventually, I brought your gift and am comforted by that. I want you to know that it took me a while to realize it, but you taught me that every day should be Father’s Day. We never know when our last day will be. And in those last months, weeks and days together, they were all Father’s Days. I thank you for fighting the way you fought, like the true Delta farmer you had in you. I can’t imagine missing the first three to four weeks of school because the crop was ready. Thank you for teaching me toughness and tenacity. As a father, you were holding on for me, and I know that. You knew your first grandson was being born soon, and you wanted so badly to see his face, hold him, laugh with him and nurture him. But the outcome of your life was underway, and you realized it. You told me you wouldn’t make it until then so that I could prepare myself, and so we could have the conversations we hadn’t had. I will never let the day disappear from my memory when you wanted me to tell you the big secret we were keeping. You had to know the baby’s name, you said. I conceded and told you our baby would be named Wells. His name carries part of yours, and we chose it to honor you. You cried, and I cried because you taught me it was OK. Thank you. But, Dad, most of all, thank you for showing me love. You are still my rock and I know that I disappoint you in ways, but there is that forgiveness thing you have. I love you and tell Wells about you all the time. I miss you. I thank you, and hope that you still have that smile deep in your heart. The smile of joy you taught me. Love, Langston
It took me a while to realize it, but you taught me that every day should be Father’s Day.
Roy Ellis Moore died Dec. 1, 2002. Wells Bowen Moore was born March 19, 2003. Langston Moore lives in Fondren with his bride, Lisa. He enjoys flea marketing, exploring historic downtowns and photography. He is employed by a statewide, non-profit agency. Follow him on twitter @lstonmo.
CORRECTION: In Volume 9, Issue 39 (June 8-14, 2011) we printed the wrong last name for our “Hitched” couple on the cover. They are Brittany and Geoffrey Simmons. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.
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•3.1 mile run and walk begins at 7:30 a.m. •One Mile Fun/Wellness Run, all ages immediately following the 5K. •Tot Trot ages 3 & under - free •Over 166 awards will be awarded
*Plenty of watermelon and beverages for participants. *Three water stations will be provided to keep everyone hydrated ! Discount fees through June 24. Race Day registration begins at 6:00 am. For information
call 601-982-8264 Sponsored by Baptist Health Systems and Pinelake Baptist Church, benefitting The MS Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
The JFP Interview With Tyrone Lewis by Adam Lynch
June 15 - 21., 2011
You know about the bills, the headaches and the drain upon resources that is the county jail. There’s also the lack of resources and the rotten budget. Why do you want to be sheriff? I’m a public servant. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I got out of college. Some people find their calling later in life. I was lucky enough to find my calling early in life. I was very successful at the Jackson Police Department, and I want to take those successes to the highestranking law-enforcement agency in the county. What’s the difference between the police department and the sheriff’s department? The sheriff has more authority and more power. And he has to do more things with resources because he has more than 14 one municipality to deal with.
You’re right about that, and there will be an issue with spreading those resources over those municipalities. Places like Clinton and Jackson will compete for patrol vehicles. How do you strike a balance between those places? The key to that is developing relationships and partnerships with their municipal police departments. Most of them are small, like Bolton, Edwards and Clinton, and everybody needs to sit at the
table. No one entity can do it by themselves. We have a Bolton Police Department that doesn’t have but two or three people in it. You want to define what their issues are. If its drug-related, for example, then you want to team them up with the sheriff’s department’s narcotics team and the state drug task force. It’s a matter of shuffling manpower to where the needs are, and you can redistribute manpower on a daily basis. With the police department, we followed our COMSTAT assessment and deployed manpower where the greatest need was, often differently every week.
yrone Lewis, former Jackson Police officer (1983-2010), police chief and Democratic candidate for Hinds County Sheriff, is not a small man. He stands about 6 feet, but his barrel chest is like a cowcatcher on a 19th-century steam locomotive. When he flexes his arms, the muscles beneath the skin tumble over one another like a bag of basketballs. This year will mark Lewis’ second attempt at replacing Hinds County Sherriff Malcolm McMillin, who beat back Lewis four years ago with the support of rural areas and fair support inside the city. Lewis believes the tables may have turned this time around. During the interview, Lewis made a point to introduce “American’s Toughest Sheriff,” a book by controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for making inmates live in tents to make space at the county jail and wear pink. Lewis says he’s not as controversial as the Arizona hothead, although like Arapio, he is looking to devise new ways of solving old problems.
Overcrowding at the county jail is a popular issue. What’s your plan to deal with it? You need to have a better relationship with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and with the commissioner himself. The county houses a lot of state inmates, but you’ve got to think of the safety of the inmates and the employees. If there’s room at the state facility, they need to house their own prisoners. Also, you want to keep prisons open to more violent offenders versus less violent offenders. I want to look at workrelease programs. There’s no need to pull over somebody and incarcerate him for three days over a $35 speeding ticket. You’re looking at a food service bill and medical bills, which can drive the $35 gained to a $5,000 bill. It’s better to develop a work-release program for people to work off their fines, and it frees up space as well. This kind of program requires permission from a judge, right? Yes. You’d think judges would be all over this tactic already. It has to be presented to them first, and you have to befriend them. I think I have a pretty good relationship with a lot of the judges, including two of the new judges, Judge Jeff Weill, who just got elected, and Melvin Preister. I’d be willing to sit down at the table and talk to them. It’s a matter of presenting this to them.
Name: Tyrone Lewis Age: 50 Born: Jackson Education: Jackson State University, bachelor’s degree in mass communications
Employment: 28-year veteran of Jackson Police Department, retired Currently: Democratic candidate for Hinds County Sheriff
How much do we bring in from the state for housing their prisoners? $29 per day, per inmate, approximately. Is that money we can afford to give up to make space for our local folks? It depends on our (county) assessment. If you’re housing more violent offenders, then no; you have to clear out your serious offenders first. Revenue will definitely be important, but it shouldn’t be a key factor when you’re facing serious overcrowding.
Lacelle and W.D. McClendon discuss concerns over breakfast with Tyrone Lewis during a campaign event June 8.
what had to be jettisoned? Nothing. Nothing had to go. In fact, we brought programs back. We were able to bring back programs like the Quality of Life program. We brought back the reserve unit. You have no plans when you walk in the door of considering lay-offs? No. Layoffs aren’t even on the table? No. Is that a healthy way of considering budget solutions, by removing options from the table? I don’t think it’s an option that we have to consider.
Cutting paperclips did that? Seriously, what sacred cows had to go? When you say sacred cows, what do you mean? Personnel?
How would you have handled the issue of abuse at the county jail? I’m the former training director for the Jackson Police Department. What we need to look at is their hiring practices, and we need to have criteria for hiring jailers and then make sure they get the appropriate training. The state requires correction officers to go through 80-hour training courses—funds reimbursed to the agency that sends them off for training. They need that, and continuing education training as well. Also, you can’t just hire anybody who wants a job. It requires hiring people with patience, integrity and the understanding that they’re going to be locked up as well.
These guys aren’t paid much.
How did you work out a 3 percent budget cut? What was that fairy magic? We went through the budget with a fine-tooth comb, prioritized need, whether we had to cut paper, paper clips and pencils to save public safety, and we gave up those things that we could do without.
What kind of personalities will work for that kind of money? That’s something else you’ve got to look at. We’re the largest sheriff’s department in the state, and we should set an example as far as salaries, training and equipment. We need a salary adjustment to get the best and brightest people. Supervisors will tell you that we don’t have the budget resources to spare for salary increases almost every time. What will you say different to convince them? I’m very frugal. I’ve proven that I’m a good manager of money. They have to see a proposal to show them exactly how the money’s being spent, line item by line item. They have to see where the raises will be going. We need to be able to show supervisors how the money is being spent so that we can afford to put raises where they need to go. Running for sheriff means there’s room for improvement in the office. What do you plan to do differently from the incumbent? I’m going to be more visible in incorporated areas in Jackson, and I’ll be more transparent with taxpayers’ money, and I’ll be more accessible. I don’t think enough of that in Jackson. There’s a misunderstanding that the sheriff is restricted to the rural areas, and that’s not the case. Hinds County is more than just rural areas. I definitely plan to be seen in more neighborhoods so the public gets a sense of safety seeing deputies involved in their neighborhoods.
More visibility means getting more people out on the street. How many deputies are there? The figures I got on paper last month was 118 certified deputies. They’ve got 81 reserve deputies. That gives you a large number. I want to look at the budget to see how many more than 118 we can hire, for the sake of visibility, and I want to conduct more classes for reserve deputies. They’re not paid, so they don’t affect the budget, and they’re obligated to the department for at least 16 hours a month. That’s what I did as Jackson police chief. You saw a police vehicle at almost every red light because reserve officers helped offset the sworn officers. Do reserve officers get their own patrol vehicles? Yes, and we need to do an assessment to see what is the budget for vehicles. That’s good, because there’s a brick wall waiting for you to beat your head on regarding gas allowances. You have to always anticipate gas prices being a problem. Again, we need an assessment by a team of the brightest and best minds to break down areas to patrol into smaller beats, like we did in Precinct 1, to make sure we have quicker and better response time and more efficiency with our gasoline. We’ll have to be creative. As technology changes, so must law enforcement.
How do you intend to deal with budget shortfalls? It’s not a tough question for me. When I was picked to be interim chief April 1, 2009, the first thing they told me was to cut the budget by 3 percent without disrupting public safety. At the time, the budget was $38 million. We were able to cut that budget and maintain our manpower without disrupting public service. The sheriff’s department is smaller than JPD, and we need to assess it and see what we can cut while keeping public safety in place. I notice they’ve got a furlough right now, but public safety should be the last division with a furlough. I would look in the budget to see how many deputies we can afford to hire to put on the street, and I want to supplement their numbers by revamping and re-instituting the volunteerreserve unit.
TYRONE LEWIS, see p 16
JFP Interview with Tyrone Lewis AMILE WILSON
Thereâ€™s a lot of construction going on across Hinds County. You have to take advantage of whatâ€™s out there. Until you can get where you want to go, we want to try to open up doors to get you where we can.
Johnny Wilson speaks with Tyrone Lewis at a campaign event.
Fuel-efficient vehicles? Hybrids? If theyâ€™re affordable, and we can budget for them. And you also have Segways. Thereâ€™s a lot of creative technology to help run a department. Itâ€™s tough enough convincing supervisors to replace your old cars. Good luck. What plans to do you have to try to counter recidivism? Weâ€™re going to develop strong partnerships with other agencies that we donâ€™t have now. We donâ€™t want criminals thinking they can come here and do bad business in this county. Itâ€™s the same fear you get in Madison or Rankin County. We need to put our egos aside and bring everyone to the table. If there are mentoring programs or college incentive programs that need to be reinforced for crime prevention, we need to do that. We donâ€™t need to reinvent the wheel. There are programs out there. Also, we need to do an evaluation of each person that comes to the jail to put them back in society, and make them a more productive person. Itâ€™s hard to get a job if youâ€™ve got a record. People just donâ€™t hire you. How can you help that? I donâ€™t have all the answers, but I intend to bring work programs to the table and introduce them to inmates going back into society. I want to introduce potential employers to potentially good workers.
You mentioned that you would work more with surrounding law enforcement to combat crime in the area. We deal with many of the same clients, or criminals. Iâ€™m able to extend an olive branch to different agencies. As police chief, we were able to form teams and partnerships with other agencies. This implies that the guy in there already isnâ€™t doing enough. In what ways is he not doing all he can to be a good partner with Madison and Rankin counties and other agencies? Iâ€™ve had talks with agencies in the tricounty area, and theyâ€™re looking to form relationships with the Hinds County Sheriffâ€™s department â€Ś which they donâ€™t have now. So thereâ€™s a barrier to these types of relationships in Hinds County? Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been told by the agencies that Iâ€™ve been speaking with. Whatâ€™s the downside to forming relationships with these other agencies? Do you have to share more of the bust money gathered from arrests or something? Thatâ€™s not the big issue, but it may be part of the issue. Most of it is territory and ego. Everybody wants to be the shining star and get the credit, but as far as drug interdiction thatâ€™s something everybody should be a part of because everybody gets a part of the pie, whether itâ€™s $1 or $2. You know what kind of personalities you could be dealing with, right? Remember Madison County sheriff candidate Mark Sandridge, the guy describing Hinds County as the kind of place
from page 15
where people eat their own children or something like that? Could you work with a personality like that? I can. Iâ€™m the type of person who believes in building relationships rather than building walls. I will be the one to reach out and keep that line of communication open, rather than putting up walls. â€Ś We need to stay involved with other agencies and city government to send a message that this is a safe place to live and shop. Law enforcement has to take a new attitude in public safety. They have to be in touch with city government. They have to be in touch with county and state government to attract the tax base and keep a community thriving. You canâ€™t sit back and not be involved in the planning and development of a community. Letâ€™s a get a gauge on your personal feelings. Say a deputy catches two African American young people sharing a joint. Do these young people need to be in jail? I think there needs to be some consequences behind that, but jail time is a question that depends on the amount. The underlying factor that everybody is missing when it comes to youth is that we may have a problem with youth, but the youth have their problems because weâ€™re not holding adults accountable. Let me rephrase this: OK, Letâ€™s say we got a couple of 43-yearold slackers caught in a car with a joint. Again, philosophically, do you think they need to be in jail? Well, according to the law, they should be arrested. I canâ€™t be the top lawenforcement officer and tell my deputies to look the other way. But is that a waste of resources? Admittedly, youâ€™re not a legislator; youâ€™re a sheriff. But if you had a chance to change it, would that be a law that needed changing?
Iâ€™ve been looking at this situation across the nation. In other states theyâ€™ve legalized this kind of thing. My opinion, as a law enforcement officer, is that the jury is still out on whether or not it should be. Under the law, they should be processed by the system. But should they stay in jail two or three days for that? No; I donâ€™t agree with that. Iâ€™d prefer to put them on a work-relief program, and then maybe see if they need any rehabilitation help. Yeah, those guys would welcome that rehabilitation, I can tell you. Hey, remember the Arizona bill that almost made it through our Legislature this year? It would have demanded that your deputies inquire about suspectsâ€™ residency status and then hold them in jail if they are determined to be undocumented residents. What were your personal feelings? I still have mixed feelings about that law. Of course, whatever the Legislature passes as law we have to enforce, but we would have to be creative enough to find ways to house them. Anything thatâ€™s on the books you have to enforce, and as a sheriff, you have to be creative with the resources you have to accommodate a situation like that. Iâ€™ve seen some creative work, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He already had in mind what he was going to do with his tent city. That would be an option I would be looking at. Take off your sheriffâ€™s hat for a minute and put on you accountantâ€™s visor and tell me: Were you nervous about that bill? I was. Because of the potential drain that it represented to the county budget? Most definitely. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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June 15 - 21, 2011
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