August 3 - 9, 2011
August 3 - Augu st 9, 2011
9 N O . 47
contents JERRICK SMITH
6 Study the Studies Is the Jackson Redevelopment Authority making careful decisions with public money? KATE MEDLEY
Cover painting by Anthony DiFatta. See story about DiFatta on page 26.
Cedric Willis has waited too long for Jackson to make up for the years he lost behind bars. JERRICK SMITH
shae goodman-robinson During the summer when she was young, she would tutor her peers in a variety of subjects under her family’s carport. It showed that she was destined to be a teacher, she says. Goodman-Robinson received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1982 and 1983, respectively. She has worked in all types of educational roles for more than 20 years. A Catholic, Goodman-Robinson also finds her job spiritually gratifying. She strives to live by the example of the school’s namesake, Sister Thea Bowman, an African American nun of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who was born in Yazoo City. Sister Bowman shared the message of God’s love through her teaching career, Goodman-Robinson says, and she is glad to be able to do the same. “I am happy that I can provide a loving, Christ-centered learning environment,” she says. Goodman-Robinson absolutely adores the children she works with. One of the more rewarding parts of her job, she says, is seeing the light-bulb go off when a child learns something new. “You can’t do anything but smile when a student gives you a big hug and says eagerly, ‘Guess what I learned today?’” she says. “I love to see the light in their eyes.” —Sadaaf Mamoon
14 DJP Evolves The rest of the story on Downtown Jackson Partners uneven and oftencontroversial history.
42 School Goodies Half the fun of going back to school is new cool stuff, from pencils and notebooks to backpacks.
Shae Goodman-Robinson’s life is centered in west Jackson. She was born and raised in the area. Her parents, Alex and Lula Goodman, still live in her childhood home, and her children (son, Cornelius, 17, and daughter, Tori, 16) attend Jim Hill High School, her alma mater. Two years ago, Goodman-Robinson returned to work at her old elementary school, Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School. “I’ve come back to where I received my educational and spiritual foundation,” the 52year-old says. “I’m trying to give back to this community for all that I’ve received.” Goodman-Robinson is the principal of the small religiously affiliated school that teaches approximately 60 children from prekindergarten through sixth grade. The school formed in 2006 as a merger of St. Mary and Christ the King Catholic schools, founded in 1954. Though the school provides a Catholic foundation, children from different Christian faiths attend the school from across the Jackson metro area. When she was growing up, GoodmanRobinson thought she might become a lawyer. But she has great respect for educators; five of her father’s six sisters were teachers. “I think teachers are the pivotal influence in most peoples’ lives. Behind a doctor, there’s a teacher. Behind the president, there are teachers. It takes a teacher to educate the greats,” Goodman-Robinson says.
MEREDITH W. SULLLIVAN
4 ............. Editor’s Note 4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Stiggers 13 .................. Opinion 26 ............... Diversions 28 ....................... Books 29 ..................... 8 Days 30 .............. JFP Events 32 ....................... Music 33 ......... Music Listings 37 ........................ Food 41 ................. Astrology 42 ............ Fly Shopping
Lacey McLaughlin News editor Lacey McLaughlin is a Florida native who enjoys riding her bike around Jackson. She is always on the hunt for news tips. E-mail Lacey@ jacksonfreepress.com or call 601362-6121 x22. She wrote the cover story and Talks.
Meredith W. Sullivan Former New Yorker Meredith Walker Sullivan is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is enjoying life in Fondren with her husband and Diggy dog. She coordinated and styled the back-to-school feature.
Tate K. Nations Tate K. Nations is an interactive developer, photographer and videographer from Ridgeland who enjoys skateboarding. He photographed the back-to-school feature.
Elizabeth Waibel Cub reporter Elizabeth Waibel grew up in Clinton. In May, she received her journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She likes coffee and trying new cake recipes. She wrote Talks for this issue.
Andrea Thomas Advertising designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time. She designed tons of ads for this issue.
Jason Huang Editorial intern Jason Huang loves life and welcomes all adventures. Nothing can compare to stumbling on an unexpected adventure, living it and then walking away with a strut. He wrote the Jacksonian and an arts story.
Anita Modak-Truran Anita Modak-Truran is a Southern convert, having moved here from Chicago more than a decade ago with her husband and son. She loves the culture, cuisine and arts in these parts. She reviewed “The Help.”
August 3 - 9, 2011
Web Producer Korey Harrion is a saxophonist who runs a small computer-repair business. He enjoys reading, writing and playing music, origami and playing video games. He loves animals, especially dogs.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Second Best Ideas
vividly remember the day when Ward 1 City Councilman Ben Allen bounded into my office at the Jackson Free Press. During the Frank Melton mayoral administration, it wasn’t unusual for Allen to pop by; we didn’t agree on everything and fought like banshees on the Internet from time to time, but we were on the same page when it came to some of the crazy coming out of city hall. We found common ground on the need for Jackson, and particularly downtown, to get its groove back. That day, Allen’s cheeks were pinker than usual. He closed my door and excitedly filled me in on Melton’s latest attempt to stop the HRI renovation of the King Edward Hotel, then a hulking shell. For reasons that I still believe were mostly about Melton being a brat, the mayor wanted to halt the efforts of David Watkins, Deuce McAllister and others to do something positive with that monster. Allen had used his political clout and prowess to save that project (he can tell you how if he wants). It was a thrilling story, and one that made me proud to know that particular Reagan Republican. As Sam Begley says in this week’s cover story, Allen got between Melton and a wrecking ball. Now, Allen is the president of an organization that has evolved from a less-than-stellar launch to one that has helped downtown Jackson start looking like what she could be. When we started the paper, John Lawrence was in that role, and Todd and I would spend time at the Hal & Mal’s bar with Lawrence talking urban planning and smart development and lambasting the public’s inflated desire for parking over great mixed-used developments. We launched the JFP in 2002 with the goal of doing everything we could do to champion smart development and to get our readers, especially the young ones and the empty nesters, excited about staying and living in the cool apartments coming online downtown. Todd wrote our first cover story, “Creative Class Rising,” filled with big ideas about what was possible if we’d all just decide it was. We then launched BOOM Jackson magazine in summer 2008 after Todd returned from consulting with the publisher of BOOM Louisville in Kentucky. Todd’s vision was an annual magazine that captured the progress and diversity of the city’s renaissance—and that championed discussion of big ideas for our city. Now BOOM is a thriving quarterly. Of course, big ideas can be expensive, and projects like an arena or a convention center hotel all require some public funding. That isn’t a deal killer, but it does mean that a responsible citizenry and newspaper have to study and discuss the projects—and sometimes advocate less expensive and ambitious alternatives. Sometimes developers and big-idea folks don’t want to hear objections, but public questions and transparency lead to projects we can all be proud of, and are willing to fund. The fact that the public cares enough to question an idea—especially one that requires that taxpayers ante up—is healthy, and we
have that here these days. When we started the JFP, it could be hard to find a person under 30 (and not many over) with hopes that Jackson would rise from a broken-down city crippled by flight, much less one at 100 percent occupancy in downtown housing as it is now. We launched this newspaper, and later BOOM, with the belief that this kind of progress was possible. We believed, and started giving voice to others who believed. Even as other media in town obsessed over crime, endorsed a cowboy mayor who promised to end crime in 90 days, declared the city nightlife “non-existent” and published columns that proclaimed the King Edward would never see life again, we kept believing. And doing our homework. And questioning. That has led to more public engagement, which is a double-edge sword for someone who wants to do a big project. They need public support, but it can be hard to hear public criticism of your pet project. The JFP believes firmly in the need for compromise and for looking for the “second best idea,” as Roger von Oech advises in his guidebook on thinking big, “A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative.” Sometimes the first amazing idea won’t work, or in the case of development, it is too expensive or simply can’t get enough folks behind it. So what should we all do together? Keep talking, debating, suggesting, challenging until someone comes up with the second best idea (or maybe the third or fourth). Often, it is that follow-up idea—a compromise—that is the most brilliant, and workable. I’m happy to report that we seem to be seeing that process unfold with flood control for Jackson. For years, the thinking about flood control was binary: Either we had to get behind with John McGowan’s very ambitious
and controversial Two Lakes concept, or the U.S. Corps of Engineers was going to erect big, ugly levees and ruin everything forever. There was a lot of hand-wringing in that either-or debate, and the JFP took some whacks to our heads from folks who didn’t like that we refused to get behind Two Lakes due to costs, eminent-domain issues, environmental concerns and unlikelihood of the feds buying in. But we stayed the course, doing our homework and stories about the pitfalls of Two Lakes and of a levees-only plan, and calling for the community to “unlock” the debate and consider other options. In 2010, the Levee Board did just that by refusing to choose Two Lakes as our locally preferred option and by listening to the Corps’ warning that we should stop bickering and get on with it to strengthen our levees before another big flood hit. That, in turn, allowed something else to happen. Once McGowan and his team were definitively told “no” on Two Lakes, they started rethinking—and came up with their second best idea, based on concepts that had been back-burnered in the Lakes-v.-Levees battle. They recently showed me a map (I’m still waiting for them to give me one; ahem) of their “one lake” concept. They talked about its environmental aspects and how it doesn’t flood Mayes Lake, will help Town Creek downtown and even provide development opportunities on top of expanded “super levees.” I don’t know, yet, if we will endorse this second best idea; I’ll get back to you after doing more journalistic due diligence. But I endorse the idea of informed compromise, healthy debate and the dissent that leads to it. These are practices that I hope grows in popularity as we continue to figure out how to make Jackson all she can be for residents and businesses alike.
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, July 28 Luke Woodham, who murdered his mother in 1997 and then shot nine Pearl High School students, killing two, buys an ad in the Rankin County News announcing he will ask the governor for clemency. … Candidates for governor give their stump speeches at the Neshoba County Fair. Friday, July 29 A U.S. District Judge rules that President Richard Nixon’s secret grand jury testimony during Watergate should be released to the public. … A Hinds County Circuit Judge rules that an initiative to restrict eminent domain can be placed on the Mississippi ballot in November. Saturday, July 30 The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reports that the FBI is investigating a new suspect in the case of skyjacker D.B. Cooper who parachuted from a plane in 1971 with $200,000 and never found. … Malco Grandview Theatre in Madison screens “The Help,” a movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel set in 1960s Jackson. Sunday, July 31 Government security forces shell the city of Hama, Syria, killing more than 100 people. … A 42-year-old man in Pascagoula is struck by lightning and dies. Lightning has killed ten Mississippians from 2001 to 2010.
August 3 - 9, 2011
Monday, Aug. 1 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases rules requiring insurance companies to cover birth control in all new plans starting in August 2012. … A survey by The Princeton Review ranks the University of Mississippi No. 3 on its list of top U.S. party schools.
Tuesday, Aug. 2 President Obama signs a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and keep the United States from defaulting on its debt. … Mississippians go to the polls for the primary elections. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com.
JRA Proceeds with Caution
by Lacey McLaughlin
ackson Redevelopment Authority board members want to determine the feasibility of two high-priced developments that the quasi-government agency may help finance. During a July 27 board meeting, JRA members discussed the possibility of issuing bonds for a $27 million parking garage with adjoining commercial space and a cooling system. The board also discussed the potential of hiring an independent consultant to perform a feasibility study on the proposed convention center hotel. Old Capitol Green developer, Full Spectrum South, is asking JRA to help to finance a $27 million project. Full Spectrum has additional funding sources such as state bonds and New Market Tax Credits to move forward on the commercial space, JRA attorney Zach Taylor told the board. The parking garage would be located on Full Spectrum property between Hal & Mal’s Restaurant on Commerce Street and a former Greyhound bus station. During JRA’s June 22 meeting, board members approved a motion for the developer to submit a term sheet that would outline an agreement between JRA and Full Spectrum on financing the project. The board voted to give Full Spectrum 30 days to submit a term sheet, but has not received the document, yet. Full Spectrum Development Director Malcolm Shepherd said Aug. 1 that JRA should receive the
Wednesday, July 27 A suicide bomber assassinates the mayor of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Taliban claims responsibility. … General Electric Aviation announces a $56 million factory in Jones County to build components for aircraft engines and systems. The factory will employ 250 workers and is expected to begin production in 2013.
Sen. Billy Hewes, a candidate for lieutenant governor, sings and plays drums and harmonica for a rock band called Cut Bait. The band plays everything from Led Zeppelin to Foo Fighters covers.
Incumbent Attorney General Jim Hood spoke out at the Neshoba County Fair. p 11
Old Capitol Green developer Malcolm Shepherd says his development’s proposed parking garage and commercial building will ultimately pay for themselves.
term sheet by the end of the week. Board members asked several questions about the feasibility of the project During JRA’s July 27 meeting. The garage would have 888 total spaces, and Full Spectrum has guaranteed that it will have 500 spaces leased from office workers and approximately 179 spaces for residents. “Once there is something that is specifically spelled out, and we have got the data they have provided, we will know that this is what they are committing to do and what is expected to happen,” Taylor said.
JRA Executive Director Jason Brookins said he could not yet predict how soon the parking garage would begin to generate revenue after construction. Full Spectrum has predicted that the parking spaces will generate $1.7 million per year with $700,000 from tenants and $975,000 from visitors. Saying that he could not immediately confirm those numbers, Shepherd said they sounded accurate. Full Spectrum has submitted a feasibility study to JRA, and JRA see page 7
Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen is an emotional guy when he talks about downtown and when he writes on the DJP blog, Downtown Now (downtownjacksonms.blogspot.com). To get a visual on his words, we ran a few of his blogs through Wordle (wordle.net) to generate this word cloud.
lie “A man who would lie about another man’s hunting license is liable not to tell the truth about other things, too.” —Tate Reeves, state treasurer and candidate for lieutenant governor about his opponent, state Sen. Billy Hewes, at the Neshoba County Fair July 27.
news, culture & irreverence
JRA from page 6
the Jackson Free Press submitted an open records request to obtain the study. Shepherd said he did not know the exact lease fee for annual parking spaces but did say that daily parking rates would be around $12 per day, which is comparable to other garages in the city. Shepherd told the Jackson Free Press last year that Full Spectrum had already invested more than $1 million in the project and has conducted several feasibility studies for residential, retail and office space. He added that the JRA would own the development in full after seven years. “New Market Tax credits will reduce with the amount we would have to borrow from JRA and thereby allow the revenues from the parking garage to more than pay bond notes. … We would use the difference in what is owed and generated into a saving accounts that would accrue interest and reduce the amount of time for repaying the bonds,” Shepherd said. Full Spectrum is leasing the proposed garage property from the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration with the intent to purchase. Shepherd said that if the JRA agrees to help finance and own the garage, it would signal to the city and county that the project is moving forward. The state Legislature approved $20 million in bonds for the project in 2009 through the county. “The funding is still available and we are still working with the city and county to get those funds,” Shepherd said. In a separate issue, the Stimley-Brown law firm filed a lawsuit July 22 against Full Spectrum South and its parent company Full Spectrum New York claiming that the developers owe a minimum of $40,250 in rent at their office building at 802 North
St. in Jackson. Stimley-Brown is the landlord and is asking for permission to evict the company. Full Spectrum attorney Walter Weems said that the lawsuit does not have anything to do with the future development. “The essence of the dispute revolves around the landlord’s obligations to repay repairs under the lease,” Weems said. “Over the last year Full Spectrum has made extensive repairs that were the landlord’s obligation, and rent was withheld to pay for those.” Stimley-Brown representative Chad Brown said that Full Spectrum did not have authority to make repairs under the lease that they executed with Stimley-Brown. The board also approved a motion for Brookins begin informally soliciting proposals to determine the feasibility of backing the convention center hotel. JRA has agreed to issue urban renewal bonds for the project, and the city is negotiating with the hotel developers on a financing structure. “We would like to hire a third party to help us look at our options financially whether it is be a publicly owned hotel or a privately owned hotel,” Brookins said. TCI, a Dallas-based real estate firm, bought four blocks of property along Pascagoula Street to build a $200 million hotel and retail space in 2007. The development has stalled due to financing issues, and TCI has conducted its own feasibility study, which determined that the hotel would need to charge $150 per room per night to pay its debt service. “You want this study to be with someone you trust,” Taylor told board members. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Education Update by Elizabeth Waibel
Test Scores Show Progress Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 scores for the 2010-2011 school year show that for the first time in Mississippi more than 50 percent of students in each grade scored proficient or above in language arts. Each year, students in third through eighth grades take the tests, meant to measure school and district performance. In the Jackson Public Schools, a
Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation
higher percentage of seventh- and eighthgraders than last year scored high in language arts, and third- and fourth-graders fared better in math. The percentage of JPS sixth-graders scoring proficient or above in language arts and math went down from last year, however. Nancy Loome, executive director of The Parents’ Campaign, a K-12 advocacy group in Mississippi based in Jackson, said what stood out to her about the test scores is the improvement at schools statewide, despite reduced resources. “Teachers are working really hard to make sure students get what they need,” she said. More results, including those from individual schools, are available from the Mississippi Department of Education website at orsap.mde.k12.ms.us/ MAARS. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
2011 Celebrity Roast Honoring Dr. Rathi Iyer
Friday, August 5 Silent Auction & Cocktail Hour: 6:00pm Roast: 7:00pm Jackson Country Club 345 Saint Andrews Drive $75 per person
August 6, 2011 at 9:00 AM
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(108 SUN SALUTATIONS) benefiting the Center for Violence Prevention
To pre-register online, go to http://yogafornonviolence2011.eventbrite.com Call 601-500-0337 or 601-932-4198 for donation and participation information. Yoga for Non-Violence | mscvp.org
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Pressure to get a storyâ€”whether it is celebrity trivia or shocking wrong-doingâ€”may blind reporters in the quest to beat the competition and please demanding bosses. In Mississippi, a similar pressure can come down from publishers to reporters. Itâ€™s not necessarily about grabbing a shocking headline. Itâ€™s usually more about pleasing advertisers. PROMPT COMMUNICATION
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verybody does it. Thatâ€™s essentially the explanation ABC broadcaster Chris Cuomo gave for the television networkâ€™s practice of paying for photographsâ€”a tricky way of paying sources to speak. â€œI wish money was not in the game, but you know itâ€™s going to go somewhere else,â€? Cuomo told Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Daily Beast. â€œYou know someone else is going to pay for the same things.â€? Last week, ABC announced it would no longer pay for exclusive interviews such as the one with a woman who texted former congressman Anthony Weiner or the wooing of accused child-murderer Casey Anthonyâ€™s family. So maybe not everybody thinks itâ€™s right to pay a source for access. The ABC decision came after the British phone-hacking scandal of the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, News of the World. Reporters hacked into voice mails for stories. British tabloids have a cocky kind of pride about their wild sensationalism, but this cruel mining of privacy shocked even the Brits. News of the World closed operation as readers associated journalism with garbage diving. If some good came out of the evil, perhaps one could understand the. The News of the World crime of phone-hacking wasnâ€™t to expose corruption, weapons hoarding or genocide. It was to get sensational news that doesnâ€™t affect most peopleâ€™s lives. Even when a reporter thinks spying on voice mail is for a greater good, itâ€™s still against the law. Two reporters at the Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett-owned newspaper, exposed corruption at Chiquita International in 1998. The story detailed bribery of Colombian officials, banana plantations run under different names and allegations of drug smuggling. The Enquirer apologized after it learned one of the reporters, Mike Gallagher, hacked into voicemails of Chiquita officials. He pled guilty to felony charges and was sentenced to five years probation and community service. Gannett paid Chiquita $14 million in damages, Editor and Publisher reported in 2001.
News of the World hacked into voice mails looking for sensational stories.
This writer has worked for several Mississippi newspapers that pushed for unethical journalism. Some were subtle about it, some were blatant. Some of them still do it. A common practice at many county weeklies in Mississippi is the unmarked â€œadvertorial.â€? To boost sales or to make nice with important people, newspapers will essentially sell space without labeling it as advertisement. An advertiser may write his copy or a low-level employee writes it, and the advertiser proofs it. The editor or the publisher will run this item without giving any clue to the reader that it is paid advertising. Another advertorial in many small Mississippi newspapers is the first-time advertiser
bonus. Itâ€™s a soft story that a business gets when advertising for the first time. Hereâ€™s another subtle type of advertorial. The advertiser really thinks the paper should do a story about her new services. After all, she has been advertising in the paper for years. Doesnâ€™t she deserve some kind of special treatment? Thatâ€™s one of the many problems of running advertorialsâ€”it teaches a community that news space is for sale. It also makes readers assume that any story running in such a publication probably got there because someone paid for it. It is a thin line for papers based on a heavy advertorial model when it comes to political endorsements. Yes, of course itâ€™s legitimate to write a story about a shop providing new services, but it should be done without any thought of whether or not that business buys advertising. Advertising and editorial departments should be separate. This is basic, something many codes of ethics outline (including that of the Jackson Free Press). The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics says this: â€œJournalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the publicâ€™s right to know.â€? It goes on to list things journalists should do, including â€œdeny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.â€? I have worked for Mississippi publishers who laughed at these ideas. I have worked for some who didnâ€™t like the practice of running advertorials, but felt they had no choice in an always-bad economy. The customer is always right, some said. Others would just shake their heads and try to explain in paternal tones that â€œeverybody does it.â€? No. You should know that everybody does not do it, and that Mississippi publications donâ€™t have to be corrupt. If you know of specific examples of a publication offering some kind of unmarked advertorial deal, let me know about it. Write Valerie Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Ronni Mott
Cedric Willis has yet to accept the city’s offer of a settlement in his $36 million malicious prosecution lawsuit.
fter 17 years, Cedric Willis may get some measure of compensation from the city of Jackson for a wrongful conviction that cost him 12 years of his life. In 1994, Jackson police arrested Willis, then 19, for murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green exonerated him of all charges in 2006. Willis did not commit the crimes for which he was imprisoned. At the time of his release, Willis received no compensation for the 12 years he spent in prison—three years awaiting trail and nine at Parchman Penitentiary. He left prison penniless, jobless, uneducated and untrained, all through no fault of his own. In 2007, he sued the city of Jackson and the Jackson Police De-
partment for malicious prosecution, asking for $36 million in damages. Last week, the Jackson City Council agreed in executive session to offer a settlement to Willis, City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen confirmed Friday. “The just and proper thing to do was to offer some settlement,” he said. Teeuwissen, who would not confirm the offer amount, added that no state case law yet exists to guide his advice to the council; however, similar federal claims have been decided in favor of the prosecution. “Having said that, I think everyone would like to see some sort of restitution” for Willis, he said. Teeuwissen also said he is hesitant to set a precedent for civil liability given his fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Jackson. “It’s not an easy situation to deal with,” he said. Reached in New Orleans July 28, Willis’ attorney, Robert McDuff, said he could not comment. The attorneys had not spoken by Friday afternoon, Teeuwissen said. “I need to get this over with and go forward with my life,” Willis said. “As far as dealing with the courts, I’m ready to get that out of my life. “ In his suit against the city, Willis accuses Gerald Jones (a JPD sergeant in ‘94, and recently named Jackson Public Schools security director) of fabricating information regard-
ing a confidential informant who supposedly tagged Willis for the murder of Carl White Jr., during the armed robbery of White, his wife, Gloria, and daughter, Jamilla. The same informant supposedly fingered Willis for an earlier armed robbery of a couple near Queen Eleanor Lane, where the perpetrator shot the husband in the leg and brutally raped the wife. Willis’ suit also accuses Jones—along with former JPD officers Ned Garner, Jim Jones and Joe Wade—of ignoring witness statements that the perpetrator was about 160 to 165 pounds (Willis weighed 230 pounds). Police could not tie Willis to the perpetrator’s car because he did not own one at the time. Ballistic evidence proved the perpetrator used the same .45-caliber automatic weapon for both crimes; however, DNA testing proved Willis was not the rapist—twice. Instead of rethinking the arrest and indictment, then-Hinds County prosecutors Ed Peters and Bobby DeLaughter convinced the trial judge, Breland Hilburn, to disallow the DNA evidence and witness testimony in support of Willis’ innocence. Two hours before Willis supposedly robbed the first couple and raped the woman, he was with his then-girlfriend, Tiffany, when she gave birth to his son, C.J. Peters and DeLaughter quietly dropped
the rape and armed robbery charges (the jury never heard this information) and gained conviction of the wrong man. As county prosecutors, however, both have immunity from prosecution in the Willis case. Willis found work after his release through his family and a network of sympathetic supporters. His advocates successfully lobbied for a new law that provides compensation to innocents who serve time for crimes they did not commit. For the 12 years he lost in Parchman, Mississippi agreed to pay Willis $500,000 over 10 years, the maximum allowable. He got the news in December 2009, 15 years after his arrest. Willis has paid off the mortgage on his mother’s house since the state began paying restitution. “They cost me 12 years; I can’t even explain it,” Willis said last year. “There’s so much that could’ve been done. Me and my son could have had a better relationship. … I missed his first steps, his first words. I miss my grandmother—she passed away while I was in prison. There’s a lot of emotion there. I can’t explain this loss.” To date, the actual perpetrator of the 1994 crimes has not been brought to justice. To read more about Cedric Willis’ story, read “Deepest Midnight” at www.jfp.ms.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
f there is one thing the Chester family knows, it’s good, home-style cooking. Family matriarch Terry Chester has cooking in her genes, which she passed down to her two children Macy and Chad. Macy started her “Cosmopolitan Catering by Macy” over a year ago when a long-awaited space in Fondren opened up. It was just a few short months later, after much demand for a daily lunch business, that she was able to expand and open Cosmopolitan Café in the heart of Fondren. If you’re looking for true Southern blue plate, good feeling, tummy filling goodness, look no further Macy Chester than Cosmopolitan Café. From pork tenderloin cooked with wood chips over a charcoal grill with a side of sweet-and-sour green beans to drunken chicken smoked chicken salad, this is not your ordinary lunch spot. What brought Macy to Fondren was the sense of community and family that goes along with being a business there. “Businesses support each other,” she says. “You meet fun, funky, cool people from every walk of life here. It’s a real business family, which for us, as a family run-business, was important.” From fresh, farmers’ market produce used to make everything homemade on site, to Chad’s famous meat selections, there is truly something for every palate at Cosmopolitan Café. In fact, Chad has won numerous steak and rib grilling competitions as a young man actively involved in 4-H. Some of his personal favorites include baby back ribs and beef brisket…he’s even working on a unique burger, the “Cosmo Burger,” which will debut in a few weeks. Just make sure you save room for dessert. The homemade strawberry shortcake is to die for and the chocolate chess pie, a Chester family recipe, can hardly last through lunch. Busy day? No time to think about dinner? Pick up a pre-made casserole which is sure to please the whole family. If there is one thing the family at Cosmopolitan Café is bursting with, it’s creativity. Ever had a crawfish cheesecake? What about a sundried tomato, bleu cheese, or Mexican cheesecake? For a tasty alternative to sliced cheese or the cheese ball you inevitably get (or give) during the holidays, give this savory, pretty option a try. Looking for a place to party? Hold your next special event cosmopolitan style with food sure to wow even the finickiest guest. You’re never too busy to enjoy good, home-style food at Cosmopolitan Café. With their signature good food and quick service, you will be in and out in no time.
City Offering Settlement to Cedric Willis
by Lacey McLaughlin
Searching for Dems at the Fair
Democratic candidates were outnumbered at the Neshoba County Fair last week.
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s Democratic governor hopeful Johnny DuPree took the stump at the Neshoba County Fair, he looked at a majoritywhite crowd waving signs supporting Phil Bryant and Gov. Haley Barbour. It was clear he wasn’t preaching to the choir. As he spoke about education reform, the audience talked among themselves while the media stood idly in front of the stage. A few DuPree supporters stood at the edge of the Founders’ Square pavilion holding signs. “Do you know that in the top 150 businesses in Mississippi, 120 don’t pay taxes?” he asked the crowd. “I want a show of hands, how many people out there don’t pay taxes?” No one raised their hands—possibly because they weren’t listening. “That’s what I thought,” he said. DuPree wasn’t the only Democrat to brave the stage. Public Service Commissioner candidate Addie Green, treasurer candidate Connie Moran and governor candidate Bill Luckett also spoke July 28 to the Republicanheavy audience. The majority of Democratic candidates shied away from social issues and played up
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their strengths in economic development, job creation and education. Luckett went as far as bringing a tool belt on stage with him as he talked about his efforts revitalizing Clarksdale. The audience abstained from heckling the Democrats, which is a step up from past years. Bryant and Barbour, however, appeared to have rock-star status and received a standing ovation. The crowd chanted and stood up, waving their signs as Bryant took the stage. Bryant attempted to appeal to right-wing voters with pointed statements about individual responsibility. “I’m not responsible for keeping you well,” he said. “I’m not responsible to make sure your children are not obese. That’s your job. I’m also not responsible to make sure that the children in this state don’t get pregnant as teenagers. That is the parent’s responsibility.” Moran, who is running as the only Democrat for state treasurer, highlighted her background recruiting new business and industry to the state when she worked for the Mississippi Development Authority and rebuilding her town after Hurricane Katrina. “As a Democrat, we seem to be outnumbered,” Moran
told the Jackson Free Press. “We joke around and say it’s the Republican Woodstock.” The cabins of former Democratic Secretary of State Dick Molpus and former state senator Gloria Williamson provided a safe haven for Democrats. On July 27 she held a luncheon for Hood. More than 200 came. “People often come across our cabin and stop and are surprised,” Williamson said. After giving his speech, Luckett attended a Yates Construction luncheon where he networked with the mix of Republican and Democratic business leaders. At one point, a man from Scott County approached Luckett and told him that he supported Dave Dennis for governor, but since his county’s races were predominately Democratic, he would vote for Luckett in the primary. “Dave and I have very similar backgrounds,” Luckett told the man. “We are job creators, and we want to do what’s best for the state and stop cronyism. ... Dave and I both got into this race for the same reason: We do not want Phil Bryant running this state.” Democrats were once the majority in the state. When people at the fair were asked what changed, they simply said: “Ronald Reagan.” Reagan’s historic speech at the 1980 fair focused largely on “state rights”—a historic code word for segregation. His speech is notorious as a “southern strategy” speech in a county with a violent race past. Philadelphia resident Mildred Estes, wore a T-shirt supporting Bryant. She and her husband, Eric, will vote in the Democratic primary because the majority of candidates running for office in Neshoba County are Democrats. Mildred says it doesn’t bother her that she can’t vote for Bryant in the primary because she knows enough people support him and he’ll make it through. Her husband, Eric Estes, is more reticent about which candidate he supports for governor. “I am not a Republican,” Eric Estes claimed. “I always vote for the right man, and it just happens that he’s been a Republican every time.” See jfppolitics.com for election updates.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
by Elizabeth Waibel
Best in Show
601-362-6383 Mary Zimmerman firstname.lastname@example.org
he Neshoba County Fair has a Ferris wheel, deepfried food, livestock shows and 4-H exhibits, but the best entertainment is the political theatrics that take place under the pavilion in Founder’s Square. Political candidates—each with an accompanying entourage—promote their platforms in short speeches. In addition to outlining policy, they must be entertaining enough to lure potential voters from their shady porches and along roads that alternate between muddy and dusty to see the Attorney General Jim Hood takes questions from show. Political enthusiasts come reporters as supporters provide a cheerful backdrop for the cameras July 27 at the Neshoba County Fair. out in force, hanging 4-foot-tall signs on cabins and donning matching T-shirts to represent day were the back-to-back speeches by the Retheir “teams.” For once, political rivalries take publican candidates for lieutenant governor, precedence over those of sports, with signs for state Sen. Billy Hewes and state Treasurer Tate candidates outnumbering even Bulldogs or Reeves. With no Democrat in the race, Hewes Colonel Rebs. and Reeves worked hard to seal the deal ahead Speeches by candidates for statewide po- of the Aug. 2 primary. The matchup attracted sitions began July 27. Some campaigns offered several rows of sign-wielding fans who planted T-shirts, fans and flyers, and some candidates lawn chairs directly in front of the stage to lend attracted standing-room-only crowds. their energy to the speeches. In the campaign for attorney general, Reeves’ campaign offered a ride and Republican challenger Steve Simpson devoted lunch to those who wanted to join him at the most of his time behind the podium to blast- fair. Reeves accused Hewes of lying by claiming Democratic incumbent Jim Hood and ing Reeves had only gotten a hunting license challenging him to a debate. to run for lieutenant governor. Reeves held up “Mississippi has not had a conservative what appeared to be several hunting licenses Republican attorney general since Reconstruc- and assured the audience that wasn’t true. tion, and I think it’s time for that to change,” “A man who would lie about another Simpson said. man’s hunting license is liable not to tell the Hood seemed at ease behind the podium, truth about other things, too,” he said, to great barely acknowledging his opponent. He tout- applause from supporters. ed his efforts to prosecute and prevent domesA hunting license is a strange prerequisite tic violence and Internet crimes, making sure for holding public office, but at the Neshoba to draw attention to a group of women and County Fair, politicians work overtime to girls in bright pink shirts marked “Women for demonstrate Mississippi credentials, slipping Jim Hood.” university allegiances and anecdotes about “The Internet has become the crime their children in between self-deprecating scene of the 21st century,” he said, adding that humor and jabs at their opponents. At “MisMississippi must educate young ladies on the sissippi’s Giant House Party,” it’s important to dangers of sexting, sending sexually explicit strike the right balance between bold attacks messages or photos via text messages. on unpopular policies and folksy humor. After speaking, Simpson and Hood gathHewes, a Senator from Gulfport, assured ered with supporters and reporters behind the the audience he was not a “career politician”— pavilion to reinforce what they had said during a harsh epithet in this year’s campaigns. their 10-minute speeches and pose for photoSeveral times during his speech, he tried graphs. When the cameras turned on Hood, with mixed success to teach the audience to members of his campaign held up signs be- chant, “It’s your money!” along with him as hind him, smiling, to form a backdrop. they waved fans to ward off the late-July heat. Later, he took a break in talking about By the end of the day, discarded campaign cybercrime to greet acquaintances passing by signs littered the sawdust floor and wooden and commiserate with them about the heat. benches in the pavilion, along with paper fans “You’re not hot, are you?” one of the women advertising political parties, businesses, door asked, laughing. “Well, now I’m soaking wet, prizes and ballot initiatives. so I can kind of handle it,” Hood said before Hood said his goal at the fair was just to turning back to talk about policy once more. get back out and visit with people. “People just Sometimes it’s good politicking to put on hold like to see you and talk to you, see how you’re the statements and speeches for a few minutes doing,” he said. “People in Mississippi vote for to greet an old friend’s grandson in a stroller. who they like, you know?” Two of the most popular events WednesComment at www.jfp.ms.
College Style Tips: Part Two
Part 2 of the “College Style Tips” covers items you’ll need for fraternity rush. I’d like to thank two of our customers, Michael Stevens & Tony Esposito, for their much needed help with these tips! Some items they mentioned in addition to what is listed below are: comfortable brown /tan loafers or driving moccasins, brown/tan belt, & I’d recommend only wearing black shoes if you have on a black suit or coat. Remember, you can never go wrong if you keep it simple & classic.
1st round: a couple pair of nice flat front shorts & a collared knit shirt 2nd round: flat front khakis or dress slacks with a button front long sleeve shirt (navy blazer is optional during the 2nd round) 3rd round: suit or navy blazer with a tie. You’ll most likely be wearing a tie for 2 or more days so I’d recommend you have at least 3 or 4 from which to choose. Good luck guys!
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opining, grousing & pontificating
Time for Justice
he wheels of justice grind very slowly, but sometimes they grind in the right direction.” Hinds County Circuit Court Tomie Green spoke those words to Cedric Willis March 6, 2006, as she was exonerating him of all charges against him, setting him free 12 years after his arrest. Willis was an innocent man, unjustly charged and imprisoned. One of the real travesties in the Willis case—and there are many—is that records show that the men who prosecuted Willis in 1997, Ed Peters and Bobby DeLaughter, purposely suppressed the DNA evidence that was eventually used to get Willis out of prison. In a back-room deal, the prosecutors convinced the trial judge, Breland Hilburn, to toss out the DNA evidence that they knew cast enormous doubt on their entire case. They also managed to get witness testimony that supported Willis’ alibis disallowed. Any thinking person would have to wonder why such powerful men would be threatened when the evidence shows that they had the wrong man. Rather than working for justice, they seem only to have had their personal box scores in mind. Furthering the injustice, the perpetrator of the crimes—a robber, murderer and rapist—has never been found, nor is there an active search for him. Neither Peters, DeLaughter nor Hilburn can be held criminally liable for their actions. As public servants “just doing their job” the law sides with prosecutors; however, no lawmaker in his right mind could have had such intentionally inflicted travesties in mind when creating laws to protect prosecutors and judges from honest mistakes. The Willis prosecution wasn’t a mistake. Far from it, it was about as intentional a subversion of the laws as can be imagined. And it could have cost a man his life. In an inspired bit of synchronicity, Peters and DeLaughter’s dishonesty and greed finally reached a tipping point about the same time Mississippi got a little religion and passed a law giving cash restitution to exonerees. The Mississippi Supreme Court disbarred Peters, and DeLaughter spent 15 months in prison for lying to the FBI. The two Hinds County big shots got their wrists slapped for an unrelated case of judicial bribery. Clearly, if the two of them have shown extraordinary callousness and disregard for the law in these two cases, the chances are damn good they had a hand in other undertakings that most of use will never have any knowledge of. Shield laws should not be used to excuse negligent, dishonest or egotistic behavior. And Jackson is too small a town for such people to go unnoticed. Last week, the JFP got word that the city of Jackson is offering Willis a settlement in his $36 million lawsuit. Though the city would not confirm the amount—and of course, will not admit to any wrongdoing through the offer— we know that Willis is ready to be done with the legal community of Jackson, which has not, in the larger scheme of things, done him any favors. It’s way past time to end this sham, Jackson. Earn back some legal integrity.
Loosen the Screws
August 3 - 9, 2011
r. Announcer: “On this episode of ‘All God’s Churn Got Shoes,’ psychologist Judy McBride counsels a recently laid-off worker who is close to the edge and trying not to lose his head.” Judy McBride: “Theodore ‘The Loose Booty Disco King’ Johnson, why are you here? Two years ago, you raved about your 22 years of job security with benefits. I remember those days when you burned up the dance floor, thrilled the young ladies and made the guys jealous. Then you settled down when you got a good job with that company and went into obscurity.” Theodore Johnson: “I’m depressed, angry and scared because that company laid me off a week ago. What am I going to do about the mortgage, medical bills, utilities, car payments, etc. And my wife is tired of me wetting the bed.” Judy McBride: “Is stress causing your incontinence?” Theodore Johnson: “It’s the pressure of being unemployed in this slow economy that makes me weep, wail and cry uncontrollably at night. That’s why I wet the bed. The stress of bill collectors ringing my phone and scaring my wife when I’m not home gives me a mid-ranged migraine. I think I’m going insane, and I might just hijack a plane.” Judy McBride: “Sometimes events in life force you to make adjustments, just like that company did when it laid you off. It’s time for you to loosen those screws. Rise up and move forward. Hijacking a plane won’t help you.”
What We’ve Learned
t’s frustrating. Those of us who preach progression, who practice tolerance, see it daily. Despite the Herculean efforts of most of us, we still have some among us who are not willing to embrace diversity. The more I read, the more I listen, it seems those who reminisce for the days of old have become more vocal. Across party lines, across racial lines, across gender lines, some of those charged with being an example for my generation have let us down. My mother grew up in Neshoba County—in Philadelphia to be exact. I spent summers in the place that seemed almost mythical to me from the stories she told me. Ironically, she never told me of the horrors that took place there. She never told me of the hate she experienced. Save for a few stories of bad experiences at Jackson State University before Lynch Street was blocked off, I never heard much of her encounters with racism. Those stories, the dark past of my mother’s hometown, came later, after my own research. Perhaps she wanted to wait until I could process the information better. Perhaps she wanted me to learn on my own. Either way, it turns out that Neshoba County wasn’t strictly about kids chunking rocks and picking wild plums off the tree. This past week was the annual Neshoba County Fair. I like to call it “The Place Where Time Stands Still.” It’s hard for me to just dismiss it as a “Republican” event. I’d love to think it’s just people looking for public officials who have the same political views or beliefs that they do. I’d love for it to be purely political. But, in form and content it reeks to me of a place where folks who long for the good old days like to go to be around like minds. This is the place where Ronald Reagan launched his infamous southern strategy. It’s the place where politicians throw caution to the wind and spout all
the catch phrases they know will work with folks who liked Mississippi better when “folks knew their place.” Where else can you tell folks how you really feel about those welfare mamas, illegal aliens and wretched poor people? If you’re like me, you’re tired of the Internet cowards who spout tough from behind a keyboard, saying things they would never have the courage to say in public or directly to someone’s face. But we must realize that they speak for a lot of folks who walk among us every day thinking these very same things. The level of tolerance in this state, from folks of all races, seems to drop by the day, and it saddens me. I’m just venting, but when will some white citizens stop being afraid of black leadership? When will the ills of this state no longer be placed on the backs of black folks? When will black leadership stop playing the tit-for-tat game with white businessmen? And since it’s this issue’s cover story, when will some black folks stop thinking that Downtown Jackson Partners is the Illuminati, created to hold you down? I can only hope my youngest daughter doesn’t have to deal with this crap. I pray every day that when she becomes old enough to vote, she can visit the Neshoba County Fair and be among more than five black people. I hope she can make business or political decisions not based on “getting back at white folks.” Yes, the “old angry white men” have let me down, but the “old angry black men” have let me down, too. Admittedly, I’m frustrated. They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, methinks there are many of us—black and white—who have learned nothing at all. And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
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Dealing with the Devil EDITORIAL Managing Editor Ronni Mott News Editor Lacey McLaughlin Assistant Editor Valerie Wells Events Editor Latasha Willis Editorial Assistant LaShanda Phillips Cub Reporter Elizabeth Waibel Music Listings Editor Natalie Long Fashion Stylist Meredith Sullivan Writers Quita Bride, Marika Cackett, Scott Dennis, Bryan Flynn, Brandi Herrera, Garrad Lee, Natalie Long, Larry Morrisey, Robin O’Bryant,Tom Ramsey, Doctor S, Julie Skipper, Ken Stiggers Editorial Interns Mary Blessey, Dustin Cardon, Callie Daniels, Alexis L. Goodman, Jason Huang, Brooke Kelly, Sadaaf Mamoon, Briana Robinson, Amelia Senter, Brianna White Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris
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y great-grandfather, DeeDee, was half Native American, according to my mother’s family folklore, I can believe that. He and my great grandmother, Mamie, played a major role in my upbringing. DeeDee didn’t sermonize, and he didn’t dictate. He simply stated his observations and taught me through his actions. He would point out a trash pile someone left in the woods and say something like: “You see that, Casey? That’s polluting the land. When you do something like that, you hurt the land you live on. If you hurt your land, you hurt yourself.” So I learned not to litter. “Casey, you can’t ride that horse anymore,” he’d say. “See how she limps? She’ll be crippled if you ride her, and we might even have to put her down if she’s suffering and can’t be helped.” So I learned that doing no harm was often the best first course of action. “Casey, I think you played hooky today when you coulda gone to school,” he said. “You and I both know you told a story about being sick so you wouldn’t have to go to school.” I learned to use my conscience as a moral compass. Most of the time, he taught me about life without saying a word. When he was still healthy enough, we’d walk together through the pasture that connected my parents’ house to his, and he would point out different trees and name them for me. He taught me not just to look, but to see what was in front of me. I think the most important lesson DeeDee taught me was this: You should never take more than you can give back. It is as relevant now as it was then, because from what I can see, we have become a taking kind of society. We have no problem shopping in a store that outsources its manufacturing labor to developing countries with lax or non-existent labor laws, just so we can buy stuff at lower prices. We seem to have no problem turning a blind eye to the working poor who may be going hungry themselves just so we can eat a cheaper hamburger. Do we ever look at the plastic-encased chicken breasts at the grocery store and wonder about the life that chicken had? Did it live out its days in a cramped cage where it was unable to turn around before it finally met its demise and ended up in our grocery buggy? I suppose I have a bleeding heart.
Does it really affect me directly if an undernourished 12-year-old in an overseas sweatshop sat with shoulders hunched and neck bent for hours constructing my jeans and hundreds more? Does it affect me that he maybe had to not only go to bed not only exhausted, but hungry as well? So what. As long as the jeans were on sale, you may think, it shouldn’t bother me. “I’m not an activist,” you may be thinking. “I can’t change the world. It’s not my problem, and it’s not my fault. And besides, what can I do about it? I think if DeeDee was still here, he’d say that particular line of reasoning is what’s gotten our nation into the fix it’s in today. He would probably say that contributing, even indirectly, to the suffering of others is an act of spiritual indecency that will not go unaccounted for. DeeDee didn’t attend church much, but he was a man who believed in a day of judgment. For years, we Americans have enjoyed having the upper hand. We’ve helped install dictators in other countries, allowed Big Business to do as it pleased with our natural and human resources—as long as it gave us greater purchasing power. We have spent for the sake of instant gratification and have fallen asleep at the wheel. We have allowed our politicians to take liberties with our constitutional rights in the name of national security. We were too busy watching reality TV to take notice of what was happening to us. But to turn a blind eye to how an end is achieved is to make a deal with the devil. Apparently, our time is up, and he is coming to collect. And here we stand: wounded, uncertain, bemused, with empty pockets and the realization that we helped make this mess. Is it too late to begin again? “Casey, the question is, what can you do about it?” DeeDee would probably ask me. I think this could be a good lesson for everybody. No use crying over spilt milk. You just clean it up. Casey Purvis is a Fondrenite who loves planting flowers and watching the birds in her backyard. She is a sucker for a suspenseful movie or thought-provoking documentary. She is owned by Phoebe, a 9-yearold Lhasa apso. She works as a nurse in a local hospital.
DeeDee didn’t attend church much, but he was a man who believed in a day of judgment.
NOW HIRING The Hinds County Economic Development Authority, Jackson, Mississippi, is seeking an economic development professional for the position of
Director of Business Development The Business Development Director assists the Executive Director in the day-to-day responsibilities associated with industrial and commercial development and redevelopment activity, including implementation of the Authority’s strategic plan.
This position will also oversee and direct all aspects of the Authority’s recruitment efforts and the organization’s business retention/ expansion program. The full position announcement can be obtained at the Authority’s website
Deadline for submission of required materials is August 15, 2011.
No phone calls please.
Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
MEASURING PROGRESS The Evolution of Downtown Jackson Partners by Lacey McLaughlin
August 3 - 9, 2011
owntown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen resembled a proud father during a presentation to downtown property owners at the Mississippi Museum of Art on May 26. A video displayed images of a vast cityscape, streets filled with smiling young professionals and renovated lofts. “We are proud,” the large projection screen read. “Proud of our progress.” If you hadn’t been to Jackson in 20 years, you might not recognize the city on the screen. “Doesn’t that just make you want to cry?” Allen asked the group after the video. He seemed to be holding back tears of his own. The presentation, created by Hilda Owen, DJP board secretary and Communication Arts Company co-owner, showcased Jackson’s milestones and many projects Allen says he had championed when naysayers said otherwise. The organization manages a 66-block Business Improvement District under a law that the state Legislature enacted in 1996. The law allows any city in the state to form a BID and levy an assessment on all taxable property in those districts. DJP charges property owners 10 cents on each square foot of buildings and “unimproved” real estate located within the district. DJP is up for renewal Aug. 16. The district must undergo a reauthorization process every five years. In recent weeks, property owners have cast votes for or against the BID—and subsequently Down14 town Jackson Partners, which manages it.
The district must receive 70 percent approval or it will dissolve. In addition to recruiting potential developers and facilitating developments, DJP offers marketing assistance to businesses, year-round landscaping, daily street sweeping, event promotion and an online directory of real-estate property. In 2009, DJP opened a marketing center inside the Electric 308 Building at 308 E. Pearl St. that BID members can use for free. Allen isn’t one to put his emotions on the shelf. The story of how the presentation made him cry is one he would later tell twice to Jackson City Council members to demonstrate the emotional stake he has in downtown Jackson. That passion can resonate with city dwellers and advocates who have big dreams for their city. Allen likes to stand up in a room full of people and give passionate speeches that are a cross between a comedy routine and a pro-Jackson monologue. Speaking to a group of community members April 1 at Koinonia Coffee House, Allen even took a few friendly jabs at the suburbs to make his point about Jackson’s uniqueness. He shared a story about joking with Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler about “diversity” in the suburbs. “In Madison, your diversity is what color BMW do you have,” Allen said he told her. “It’s where do you play golf: Annandale or Reunion?” Hawkins Butler didn’t return calls to confirm the story. Allen likes that joke, having also told it in a post on the JFP website in 2008. “We do not want our only diversity
to be what color is your BMW,” Allen said, referring to the suburbs. A Rocky Start Downtown Jackson needed a shot in the arm in the early 1990s. The city was hurting from decades of flight, which resulted in empty buildings and unkempt property. In 1993, under Mayor Kane Ditto’s administration, a group of downtown investors and business owners formed Capital Center Inc. The organization raised money from local business owners and developers to provide security, landscaping services and marketing downtown. Cities had begun using BIDs in the 1970s—Toronto was the first—as a way to restore downtown cores at a time when many Americans were migrating to the suburbs. BIDS in New Orleans have been so successful that the city has implemented multiple BIDs. Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Leland Speed, who was chairman of Eastgroup Properties at the time, served as chairman of CCI. Franklin “Kim” Kimbrough, who now works in economic development in Pensacola, Fla., served as president. “We ran that for three years on a tin-cup basis—just on the basis of contributions,” Speed said. “The city made a contribution at that time, but the bulk of it came from raising money that property owners kicked in. … We were raising close to a million a year.” In 1996, Mississippi Transportation
Commissioner Dick Hall authored a bill to establish BIDs in Mississippi, along with coauthor Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson. “It was at a time when we were seeing a transition in Jackson from a government that was predominately white to predominately black,” Horhn said. “As a result, community leaders felt that this law was a way for mostly white businesses to circumvent any kind of authority presented by the majority-black leadership.” Horhn said that the entire Farish Street Entertainment District was originally included in the proposed BID boundaries, but BID advocates ended up excluding the district due to opposition from the black community that might have cost votes. Now, more than 15 years later, Downtown Jackson Partners is proposing to add the second block of Farish Street in the BID’s expansion; the first block is already included. “The irony of the whole thing now is that there is a strong interest in (including Farish Street) in the district,” Horhn said. “People realize that it wasn’t the ulterior motives they thought it would have. It was something meant to enhance businesses, and today they want to be a part of those enhancements.” In 1996, CCI failed to get enough property owners’ votes to authorize the district. The next year, however, it was successful. Speed maintains that the Legislature established tight restrictions for authorizing the BID, such as requiring 70 percent approval from property owners, as a tactic to see it fail. BIDs in other states typically require less
The future site of the convention center hotel still sits vacant.The project has stalled due to financing issues, causing great consternation for the city. Until recently, Downtown Jackson Partners promised great things from the developer,TCI. Not any longer..
definitive answer,” Allen replied with a tinge of defensiveness. “… Now I would have to go through (Jackson Public Works Director) Dan Gaillet who is a very competent, capable, wonderful guy that we lost and got back. I can’t answer that,” Allen replied. Scott tried her question again. “If you have property owners (who) are moving toward the capacity to do something that will absolutely benefit downtown, … how does the BID insert itself in this process in order to assist these things?” she asked. Allen took a few detours before answering Scott’s question. “Well it’s not ‘insert,’ it’s ‘be a part of the process,’” Allen said. “If you take something like Old Capitol Green, it’s not as complicated as you think. Listen to me: If a building cost $1 million to build, it assesses for $600,000. For every $100,000 in assessed value, there is $16,000 in taxes. … So if someone is going to build an $800 million business, do the math. You can work it in your head. For every thousand dollars in tax income, you got $15,000 in money you can bond. I’m just going to lay it out to you: There are people in downtown Jackson who want crazy prices for their buildings. They won’t work. … In your instance, when you want to do this massive infrastructure in a $1.1 billion deal, run the number on what that generates in bonds—it’s a fortune. “To answer your question: You can’t believe everything you read in the press. But I did read in the Jackson Free Press today that (Old Capitol Green developer Malcolm Shepherd) feels really good about the project moving forward,” he added. Scott wasn’t satisfied with Allen’s response—in fact, she felt like he had skirted around the issue. “If you make a statement like that, are you saying that you aren’t or you are capable of facilitating it? My perception is that DJP are there to help facilitate things, but maybe not,” Scott told the JFP. “Maybe it is just security, landscaping and things like that. It wasn’t clear.” As of press time, Old Capitol Green had missed a deadline to submit a term sheet to the Jackson Redevelopment Authority to negotiate a cost-sharing agreement. And on Friday, July 22, the Stimley-Brown law firm filed suit against Old Capitol Green develop-
ers Full Spectrum South and Full Spectrum New York for not paying rent at their 802 North St. office over the course of a year. Full Spectrum South developer Malcolm Shepherd said he could not comment on the lawsuit and assured that he would submit the term sheet to JRA by the end of the week. DJP Board member and developer David Watkins was one of the most vocal supporters of the BID at the meeting. Watkins and HRI Properties of New Orleans redeveloped the King Edward Hotel and Standard Life Building. Together, they pay $51,815 in BID assessment fees for those properties, and Watkins has also agreed to pay the assessment fee for the future Farish Street Entertainment District he is developing, even though the Jackson Redevelopment Authority owns it and is not required to pay taxes or fees. Because JRA is a quasi-governmental agency, it also does not have a vote in the reauthorization process. “If you look at where we were in 1996 and where we are today, the difference for downtown Jackson has really been this organization,” Watkins said at the May 26 presentation. “The only way for us to have the resources we need to do what we need to keep downtown Jackson clean and safe is to go through with this BID.” Watkins and Allen worked together to save the King Edward Hotel, including when then-Mayor Frank Melton tried repeatedly to derail the project. DJP board member Sam Begley says that Allen “stood between (Melton) and a wrecking ball” to keep the hotel from being completely demolished. The night of May 26, 15 of the 17 property owners attending the meeting voted to expand the district to include the “second block” of Farish Street—from F. Jones Corners to the Alamo Theatre—and start the reauthorization process. Scott and her father were the only two opposition votes. The vote cleared only the first of many hurdles for reauthorization. Then DJP had clearance to ask the city council to set a public hearing within the next 30 days. After the hearing, the Council set an election date for Aug. 16. During the month leading up to the election, DJP mailed ballots to owners. Under state law, the property owners themselves must send the their marked and
signed ballots directly to the city clerk’s office. A city attorney then verifies the votes after Aug. 16, and it is final. ‘Move Your Arms and Legs’ Block By Block Ambassador Kay Washington and her colleagues know just about every business owner, employee and street in downtown Jackson. DJP contracts with Block By Block, to provide safety and maintenance in the 66-block district. Block by Block is owned by Nashville-based SMS Holdings, along with numerous sister companies offering security, janitorial and facilities services to U.S. cities. SMS Holdings donates heavily to Republican Party candidates throughout the country. DJP Associate Director John Gomez said that DJP uses a national company because of its “knowledge and involvement in downtown projects from working in cities all over the country.” The company hires locally for the Jackson office including management, Gomez said. On July 28, the ambassadors won the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau’s “Shining Examples” award. Even in the most unbearable heat, Washington is outside from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, carrying her large trashcan filled with rakes, trash bags and cleaning products. Ambassadors are on the streets until 10 p.m., when patrols from Securitas Security Services Inc. take over for the night shift. Block By Block has nine ambassadors. Property owners pay the ambassadors’ salaries through their assessment fees. Washington has worked as an ambassador for the past two years after she got laid off from Nissan when it moved a manufacturing line overseas. After a thunderstorm the night before, the morning of June 23 is uncommonly cool and overcast. “Move your arms and legs,” Washington calls out to man she knows as he walks during his morning exercise routine. “That’s what I always say to the people working out.” The man gives a friendly wave. As
DJP, see page 16
What About Me? Ben Allen, a Vicksburg native, graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and political science in 1973. He ran for Jackson City Council in 1996 and won after working for a yearbook publishing company, Taylor Printing, for more than two decades. After Frank Melton was elected in 2005, Allen soon became a critic of the controversial mayor’s tactics. Then, he unexpectedly resigned from Council June 20, 2007, citing health problems. “Recent events and subsequent tests have confirmed that the effects and demands of this position, coupled with the demands of my personal and professional life, have a defined, adverse impact on my health, both short and possibly long term,” Allen wrote in a handwritten resignation letter. On Nov. 1, 2007, Allen began his job as Downtown Jackson Partners president, saying his health had improved. Since 2007, and during Allen’s tenure, DJP has helped fund various marketing studies including a downtown parking study, a retail study and another on property owners. The marketing budget also includes promotion and funding of special events such as Downtown After Dusk and the inaugural legislative conference last January between legislative officials and Jackson’s business community. During the May 26, 2011, presentation, Allen gave an overview of growth that occurred in the BID since 1996. It includes big projects like the renovated Plaza Building, King Edward Hotel, Standard Life building, Tombigbee Lofts and the mixeduse Electric Building. The district has a total of 200 apartment units. . DJP researches financing options for developers who have an interest in downtown properties to help them determine if a project is economically feasible. “I have these tax guys on my speed dial,” Allen said. “That’s what we do. It might be hard for people to understand, but I don’t know about a deal that happens in this city that (developers) don’t call us about.” When it came time for questions, there were a few moments of silence, but then from the back of the room came a voice of concern. Tanya Scott is the managing partner of Ceva Green, a proposed $70 million mixedused development planned for State Street. Scott and her father, Corbett Scott, purchased the property six years ago to border another proposed development, Old Capitol Green. She says Ceva Green has struggled to get the city to assist with infrastructure needs, even as Old Capitol Green has attracted more public support, assistance and attention from Downtown Jackson Partners. “How does the BID assist with our infrastructure needs so the development can move forward?” Scott asked. “If you would have asked me three years ago, I would have been able to give you a
than 70 percent approval. Memphis, for example, does not even have an election, and property owners have no choice in paying an assessment fee.
DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS, from page 15
August 3 - 9, 2011
‘Virtually Crime-Free’ Before Allen took the DJP reins in 2007, then-President John Lawrence had decreased the security budget as crime steadily dropped downtown. Lawrence was at DJP from 2001 until 2007 when he left to start his own development consulting business in Memphis. “The vast majority of our funds were going to our safety and security patrol program,” Lawrence said. “But we reduced it a lot when the need wasn’t as strong. Incidences cut dramatically and improved over a six-year period.” From 2002 to 2006, DJP’s public safety budget steadily dropped from $400,000 to $300,000. From 1996 to 2001, the district had an annual average of 280 crimes including minor offenses, but that dropped to 79 incidences in 2001; 90 in 2002; 92 in 2003; 75 in 2004; and 96 in 2005. Wackenhut compiled the crime numbers and JPD does not have crime totals available for the BID. 16 In 2007 DJP reduced its public safety
budget to 30 percent, or $270,947. Public safety now accounts for 33 percent of the budget, or $284,240. On May 26, Allen told property owners that before the BID was established, downtown Jackson had an average of 458 crimes per year, a number provided by Wackenhut Security, DJP says. Now, they report, there are an average of 93 incidents per year including minor offenses such as trespassing. During a June 7 Jackson City Council meeting, Allen reported that downtown is “virtually crime free.” In his current role, Allen routinely challenges those who push a crime meme about Jackson—a radically different tone than when he co-hosted the Ben & Larry Show on WJNT-FM along with Larry Nesbit. Then a Ward 1 city councilman, Allen played to a constituency that was more fond of hearing about “thugs” and crime in Jackson, and he didn’t hesitate to feed that need. In an April 17, 2003, email to a Fondren resident, later forwarded to others including the Jackson Free Press, Allen said that a Clarion-Ledger columnist was coming
disclose how the salaries break down for individual staff members. When former DJP President Lawrence started his role in 2001, the assessment rate for business owners was 8 cents per square foot, but during the 2006 reauthorization, the BID increased its assessment rate to 10 cents per square foot. From 2001 to 2006, the organization operated on an $800,000 to $900,000 annual budget. During Lawrence’s tenure, DJP’s marketing and economic development budget made up just 10 percent of the overall budget. He says that while he decreased the marketing budget during his term, the organization’s long-term plan was to increase its marketing and economic-development efforts as soon as it had the resources. “We stopped doing special events that took up a lot of the budget,” Lawrence said. “An event called First Night took up a lot of staff time. We stopped doing that and reallocated funds to other events. That’s one of the reasons the numbers look low, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t doing things.”
COURTESY DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS
Washington sweeps leaves from the sidewalk on West Street, she says hello to everyone who passes by. “We really are the eyes and ears of downtown,” she says. “I know all the business owners, and I can tell if someone isn’t doing what they are supposed to.” The ambassadors reported a monthly average in 2010 for assisting pedestrians 656 times, contacting property owners and building managers 216 times, covering 807 miles by bike, assisting with 19 vagrant calls and assisting stranded drivers three times. The ambassadors not only keep downtown clean and safe, but they are also a good public-relations strategy even though crime tends to be low downtown. Many people come into Jackson for the first time to attend meetings at the convention center or at government offices, and they meet a smiling, attentive person eager to help them. The ambassadors, who are always clad in yellow shirts, also have a working relationship with the Jackson Police Department. JPD Assistant Chief Lee Vance said the patrols have been a welcome addition to downtown and praised the partnership between the organizations. The ambassadors, he said, are always on the lookout for criminal activity. Washington also gets some out-of-theordinary phone calls. In May, she had to help move an armadillo from the front of Keifer’s Restaurant on Congress Street. A few weeks ago, a prisoner escaped from the back of a police car, and the ambassadors clued in law enforcement officials on his whereabouts. But most days Washington spends her shift filling up her trashcan and assisting people any way she can. The ambassadors remove an average of 8,962 pounds of trash per month. Prior to Block By Block, DJP contracted the Wackenhut Corp. to run a 24-hour security service. DJP hired Block By Block in 2008.
This map shows the proposed borders for Jackson’s Business Improvement District.
on his show to co-host that Friday. “I need calls ON CRIME from victims … short, sweet, and horrible …. Please line up a few po’d victims to call in…,” he wrote. Downtown Jackson Partners’ 20102011 fiscal-year budget is $1,043,613, and the majority of budget expenses go toward security. DJP spends $491,125 on administration, which includes payroll for five fulltime employees and five contracted employees at $301,000. Downtown Jackson Partners spent $132,850 on landscaping and maintenance and $120,00, on marketing and economic development. Gomez said that he could not
Arena or Not? West Jackson businessman Bill Cooley was a little skeptical when he decided to go on DJP’s annual peer city development trip to Little Rock, Ark., in July 2008, just months after Allen started leading the organization. He couldn’t understand what was so great about Little Rock. Each year, DJP rents a charter bus and takes a group of Jacksonians to a mid-size southern city on an educational trip. When Cooley saw Little Rock’s 18,000seat multi-purpose Verizon arena, he was sold. The trip inspired Cooley and more than 50 Jacksonians to spearhead efforts to
bring a similar arena to Jackson. “We came back and were fired up about the arena,” Cooley recalls. Verizon Arena cost $52 million and was paid for with a one-year, 1-cent tax increase that voters approved in a referendum. It is actually in North Little Rock, a city just north of Little Rock. “I was looking for my hammer to go out there and build an arena in Jackson. … What I really saw was a city that didn’t have a lot going for it and could do it.” Cooley was one of 55 people who attended the trip (including the publisher of the Jackson Free Press). A few months later, some members from the trip met at the University Club to discuss the possibility of Jackson having its own arena. At the request of the Melton administration, Gomez said, DJP then facilitated a series of meetings with interested parties resulting in a steering committee, with Cooley as its chairman. The committee agreed to write a request for proposal for a company to research the feasibility of a downtown arena. An RFP Committee, made up of city and county leaders, formed to select the winning proposal. In May 2009, the committee selected Populous Sports of Kansas City, Mo., from the nine proposals. Although Allen maintains that DJP did not have a vote or a role in getting Populous to do the study, Populous submitted a description of its services totaling $150,000 for conducting a study directly to Allen on July 20, 2009, listing DJP as the company’s primary contact. Populous’ website states that the company offers design and consulting services to arenas, which raised questions about its objectivity in conducting studies to determine whether or not Jackson should build one. It also offered in its July 20, 2009, proposal to DJP to provide a “pre-design” services such as landscape architecture and on-site construction representation for an additional fee. Populous did not return phone calls for this story. By early 2010, questions were arising, including in this newspaper, about the role Populous might eventually play with the arena as well as concerns about the arena’s costs. Little Rock’s Verizon Arena has only been profitable in six of 11 years of operation, losing money in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011. Allen waved away those concerns in a Feb. 17, 2010, comment on the DJP blog about people who questioned Two Lakes, another of his pet projects: “Some remind me of the folks that scream ‘We can’t pay for an arena!!!!’, which may be true, but I trust the opinion of the company that studied/ built/managed Yankee Stadium, more than the locals and our attitudes.” Allen wrote in an April 2011 email to the Jackson Free Press that the original RFP specified that Populous could not be part of the process after the feasibility study, but that limitation is not apparent in the RFP provided to the Jackson Free Press. On May 25, 2010, newly elected Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. met with Allen
Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen (left) and developer David Watkins asked the Jackson City Council to support the Business Improvement District at a June meeting.
Downtown Jackson Partners. “Now we have a selection process, scored it and are now approaching the firm with the highest score to negotiate a contract,” Johnson said, adding that once negotiations are complete, the city will announce the company to conduct the feasibility study. City spokesman Chris Mims said the city plans to fund the study with the pledges Downtown Jackson Partners and the Chamber helped bring in and does not have another plan to fund the study. “We are expecting people who made pledges for this study to honor those pledges,” Mims said. “Once we get everything ironed out, then we will be expecting that to occur. But what we wanted to make sure specifically was that the city didn’t sit on its hands, and that we selected a firm to conduct a study so that we hold our pledge to that process.” Duckworth, who pledged money for the study, said it’s unclear where the pledges stand with the change in leadership and the amount of time that has passed. “Now that the city has taken over, there are still those pledges hanging out there, but they need to be updated based on the quotes (the city) gets based on these companies,” Duckworth said this month.. Jackson Chamber President David Powe said the city, chamber and DJP worked hand-in-hand on the study, and he is confident that there is still solid support for the arena. “I don’t think (the study) has lost momentum,” Powe said. “As you work with so many people working forward on this issue, you want to make sure people are being cautious and making sure that the right things are going along the way. All of us need to keep working together.” The Elephant and the Lion A peek back into history reveals an unsteady relationship between Jackson’s black community and the BID’s leadership, and a long history of race politics. Former Mayor Kane Ditto, who is white, worked hand-inhand with business leaders for the BID’s cre-
ation in the 1990s. In 1997, Johnson became Jackson’s first black mayor after winning the election with 70 percent of the vote—beating Ditto in the city’s Democratic primary election. At the time of Johnson’s election, the Legislature had recently established the BID process, and many blacks in the community viewed the Jackson BID as a way to preserve the city’s traditional white power structure even as the city became more African American. The majority of BID members and supporters were white and affluent. Stephanie Parker-Weaver, the executive secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the time, was one of the most vocal opponents of the district. She says CCI took the place of a similar organization called Downtown Jackson Inc. “They claimed that they were going to be the cheerleaders for downtown, bring in businesses and establish a security force in boundary of a 64-block area,” Parker-Weaver said. “The Downtown Jackson Inc. was a vision of bipartisan group of individuals who wanted to see downtown grow, but the greed factor of CCI took over. They basically kicked out coalition members under DJI to form their own little clique of property owners who were primarily wealthy and white.” In 1996, Jackson Advocate Publisher Charles Tisdale filed a lawsuit against the city of Jackson, Ditto, Speed and Jackson City Council members. Parker-Weaver claims that the black newspaper publisher filed the suit after discovering that Jackson City Council distributed funds to CCI without a contract through the city’s claims docket. Tisdale died in 2007. Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba remembered when the suit was filed. The attorney said he was tempted to represent Tisdale but wasn’t available at the time. “I agreed with them that it looked like a problem. At the time, they thought that the money that would come from CCI would be used to make its own decisions and govern itself,” he said. “I wasn’t in favor of our resources being used for a selected group
who is more affluent than most of us.” Because of Mississippi’s history of violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice must give preclearance to the BID’s election process. During the 2000 reauthorization, Johnson withheld the district’s assessment fees of $255,432 until the Justice Department issued clearance. The BID election was extremely controversial with media reports of ballots being hand-delivered by the group to the city clerk’s office in violation of state law. In 2001, CCI changed its name to Downtown Jackson Partners. Parker-Weaver believes this was an attempt to distance the organization from a tarnished reputation. Speed, however, maintains that the name seemed to confuse people about the organization’s mission. Tisdale’s outcry caused the BID to face opposition at every turn. Developer Cornelius Turner, who is black and was the CCI vice chairman at the time, said he believes the organization was, and is, a plus for downtown’s future despite opposition from the black community. “Downtown Jackson Partners was a group that became controversial before Harvey (Johnson) became mayor for the first time,” Turner said. “Tisdale used to hit it tooth and nail, and his reason was that white people owned all the property downtown, but black people were the majority in the city.” Turner added that the group has become more diverse over time. “I think that Jackson has gone far enough along now … that control of the city isn’t going to be controlled by any one person,” he said. “I think it’s pretty well diversified now.” During a June city council meeting, Lumumba raised concerns about the BID creating an economic divide between disadvantaged parts of the city and downtown. He cited Harlem, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., as cities where gentrification displaced residents in some neighborhoods. “Gentrification does not help us,” Lumumba said. “It just reshuffles us and creates the same problems we have in other spots.” After the meeting, Lumumba said he wasn’t necessarily against the BID, but he questioned whether the organization could do more to address the racial disparities that exist in Jackson. Allen and board member and local developer Mike Peters told Lumumba that including people of color on its board and advisory board is a step toward addressing issues such as gentrification and minority-business participation. Board members have a vote on DJP’s president position and all other business matters. Advisory board members do not have a vote but meet regularly with DJP to voice their opinions. Of the 21-member board, seven members are black, and seven out of 20 are black on the advisory board. Socrates Garrett own-
DJP, see page 19
to discuss planned and proposed projects in downtown Jackson, including the arena idea DJP was pushing. “For about a year, the project was shelved,” Gomez wrote in a June 24, 2011, email to the JFP to explain why the project momentum seemed to wane. “Mayor Johnson never seemed really excited about the prospect, but did not discourage these efforts, either.” More than a year later, on June 16, 2010, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce agreed to jumpstart the project and formed a new steering committee. Cooley chaired the steering committee, which helped secure more than $66,500 in pledged donations from supporters throughout the state. Gomez said that the goal was to raise $80,000 for the first phase of the study, which would have determined the feasibility of an arena. The second phase, which would have cost another $80,000, would have determined location, construction costs and financing options, and was contingent on a $80,000 grant from the Hinds County Economic Development Authority. Building an arena in Jackson would need the support of Johnson and his administration. During a Dec. 9, 2010, Jackson Chamber of Commerce meeting, Johnson said he wanted the city to have a more authoritative role in the project and spearhead leadership efforts. “With this in mind, the leadership and ownership of the arena project was graciously and enthusiastically turned over to the mayor,” Gomez wrote. Johnson told the Jackson Free Press in January 2011, however, that it appeared the study was losing momentum. “The message that I got was that it would probably fall off the table because there was no longer any leadership there,” Johnson said. “… I said, ‘Well the city will take over, will step into that spot.’ There was a lot of fanfare in rolling out the effort, and we certainly would want to try to complete that.” The mayor started the entire selection process over and appointed a new selection committee. Gomez maintains that DJP did not have a vote in the selection process and that its role in the arena study was managing a pro-arena website and serving as a conduit of information. The RFP Committee that selected Populous included DJP board member and developer Ted Duckworth who represented DJP but did not have a vote on the proposal, Gomez said. Jackson State University Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Troy Stovall was also a DJP board member at the time but represented JSU and not DJP. Gomez said DJP hasn’t been in contact with the city about the project since December. Johnson, however, maintains that he reached out to DJP by offering Duckworth a position on his new arena committee to conduct a new selection process for a company to conduct the feasibility study. Three different companies, including Populous, presented new proposals in June 2011 to the committee comprised of representatives from the city, the Chamber and
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Development Politics In 2002, John Lawrence and Johnson appeared to butt heads over a redevelopment plan DJP introduced to the city council to revitalize the King Edward Hotel and add 600 apartments to the city. Implementing the plan would have required $29.4 million in public funds. Johnson said the plan overlapped with projects the city was already working on. The city had also recently designed a master plan called FABRIC. “He’s preaching to the choir,” Johnson told The Clarion-Ledger then about Lawrence’s plan. Johnson also raised concerns that property owners in the BID would be unlikely to support future citywide tax increases. The past issues Johnson had with the BID foreshadow the current relationship between the two entities—one that can resemble a power struggle framed by partisan race politics. Allen and Johnson have very different personalities and political leanings. Allen, a self-described “advocate” and Reagan Republican, likes to be front and center, and is not one to hold back his opinions, including of Johnson’s administration. He grabs onto big ideas and hates to let go. Johnson, one of the state’s most prominent Democrats, is more reticent and pensive over ideas, and doesn’t always volunteer information about projects and deals his administration is involved in. He is known for taking his time. The mayor is also not one to automatically embrace the desires of the city’s business elite—a fact that has caused some consternation and led many business leaders to support his opponents in mayoral elections—whether Daryl Neely, Frank Melton or, most recently, Marshand Crisler. In 2004, then-Councilman Allen said in a JFP interview that he hadn’t voted for Johnson, but was working with him. “I supported his opponent (Daryl Neely), which could be political suicide. But after it was over with, I went to see (Johnson) and said, ‘Look, I’ve got one or two things to say, my hat’s in my hand because you’re the mayor, I’m a no-power city councilman.
I want you to know that you’re my mayor, I’m going to support you, and I’m not going to try to be a stick in the mud or hurt you in any way, and I want to work together.’” Allen said then that he had learned a lesson when he supported Neely against Johnson in the election. “The truth is, I made a huge mistake last time, when I came out and unfairly and overtly supported the mayor’s opponent.” However, in the 2005 election, Allen voted for Melton, he later told the JFP. When Johnson took the job back in 2009, Allen refrained from publicly supporting any candidate, perhaps because he and
“When you have two entities providing services to the same areas, there has to be a very clear distinction on which entity is responsible for which service,” Johnson said. “That’s critical to a relationship running smoothly. In reviewing the plan they have for reauthorization, that’s one of the things that I pointed out. There needs to an affirmative statement that the city and DJP would work in a cooperative way.” Allen refused to be interviewed for this story, and thus could not be asked for a response to Johnson’s statement. The success of the BID is indeed contingent on a healthy and successful relationCOURTESY DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS
er of Garrett Enterprises is a black DJP board member but said he could not comment on the BID because he has been absent from several board meetings. Gomez said board members are not required to attend a certain number of meetings. DJP executive board member Sylvia Stewart, who is black, is the co-owner of Peoples Insurance Company and Monroe Animal Street Clinic. She said she has been associated with the BID since 1994. “The board is not made up of not only property owners who own property in the BID, but it also has business members from the (city’s) central business district,” she said. “… There are black people, white people and males and females on the board. It’s also socio-economically diverse.”
Downtown Jackson Partners and other sponsors started Downtown At Dusk to bring more people downtown after business hours.
Crisler had publicly knocked heads before Allen resigned from city council. Now, though, with Allen heading Downtown Jackson Partners and the mayor in his third term, the men’s relationship seems more strained than Allen described it in 2004, with the two seeming to keep their distance from two sides of a political divide. Allen hasn’t always been able to keep his personal politics off the DJP brand. At times, the DJP blog seems to be an extension of Allen’s personality and Republican politics on a site that is promoting a solidly Democratic city. On March 19, 2010, for instance, he posted a video criticizing president President Barack Obama’s federal spending, which DJP took off the front page after emails criticizing the group for playing partisan politics. DJP board member Sam Begley, whom Johnson appointed, said that despite Allen and Johnson’s often-public differences, the city and DJP are dependent on one another. For one thing, Johnson has the authority to appoint four board members to DJP’s 21member board. Those appointees currently are Begley, David Watkins, Debra Griffin and Mende Alford. On July 5, Johnson told the JFP that he believes DJP should work with the city to establish a more clearly defined relationship between the two.
ship between the city and DJP, Sen. Horhn said. “In an ideal situation, DJP and the city would work hand in hand. My sense is that there is a good bit of tension. It comes down to power. Some people seem more concerned about who controls development,” he said. “The city is like an elephant, which is strong and steady, and DJP is like a lion— very nimble and very quick to move and agile,” Horhn said. “They are passionate. Each is needed to preserve the kingdom. “Each has a role they play, and I think that if each understands their role, then all is well in the Kingdom.” What About the Little Guys? Sept. 22, 2010, was just one of the days that Allen—once a Mississippi State cheerleader—declared himself a “prophet” for Jackson. He seemed giddy over a ClarionLedger story indicating that Old Capitol Green was moving forward. “For years I have been dubbed ‘the cheerleader’. Looks like the “cheerleader” is actually the ‘prophet’....,” he wrote (punctuation his). Still, Allen doesn’t always take credit for downtown’s successes. “Read my lips; I do not have vision,” Allen told city council members during a June 7 meeting. “What we do is visit other places to see how they do things and try to copy them.” To avoid reinventing the wheel, Allen
has pushed for programs and projects that are near identical to other cities. These include contracting with Block by Block; pushing a proposed Town Creek development that would create waterfront property next to downtown, like Chattanooga, Tenn.; and providing seed money for Jackson to have its own business incubator, just like Birmingham, Ala. As much progress as the city has made in the last two decades, especially with largescale projects such as the King Edward, Standard Life and Pinnacle Place, there are still critical challenges on the horizon. Developers are complaining that the vacancy rate for office buildings downtown is rising; Gomez, however, said that of the 3 million square feet of office space available in the BID, 70 percent is currently occupied. DJP has been a proponent of a city project that would transform Capitol Street back into a two-way street to increase foot and car traffic and bring more businesses downtown—an idea that media archives show date back to the Dale Danks Jr. mayoral administration, and which Johnson has also long pushed. But the project is still several years away. Then there is the challenge of small retail businesses and restaurants. While downtown is the home of 30 restaurants, several spaces sit empty, as do many storefronts. In late May, Wired Espresso Café owner Gary Davis closed his café on State Street. Located in owner John Arthur Eaves’ building, the café sat next to several empty storefronts with for-lease signs. Davis said the lack of foot traffic took a toll on his business. On weekends and nights, there just weren’t enough people downtown. Gomez said DJP helped Wired with marketing efforts, but he understands that the lack of traffic outside of office hours can be an obstacle for business owners in downtown. Gomez also pointed out that Parlor Market on Capitol Street has not relied on the downtown’s lunch and business crowd and has been able to bring people downtown nights and weekends. He said that DJP offers lots of services to business owners, even if they aren’t the ones paying the BID’s assessment fee. Two new businesses, Smoothie King and My Cup Runneth Over Bakery are scheduled to open at the end of the summer. Gomez said that DJP was not involved in recruiting those businesses and have not yet been in contact with them. “We provide them with demographics for the area,” Gomez said. “We will help them navigate the permit process. We will look at our contacts and see if there are any business loans available.’ Still, Gomez said DJP has placed priority on residential developments over retail for the time being. “National companies aren’t coming here because we are far below
DJP, see page 20
DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS, from page 17
DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS, from page 19
There’s A New Skinny Girl In Town
August 3 - 9, 2011
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the residential numbers that they are looking for,” he said. “They are not just going to locate downtown unless they have the numbers. That’s why we think it’s so important to get our residential base up.” But by Gomez’ logic, residential occupancy rates at 100 percent means that downtown desperately needs to see more residential spaces come online before the small business and retail base will grow. Due to a lag in new residential developments in the hopper, it could be a while before units are available. This lag is no more evident than with the 300 apartments long promised as part of the TCI convention-center hotel deal that now may never happen. In 2007, Dallas-based developers TCI purchased four blocks along Pascagoula Street in front of the Convention Center as the future site of the supporting hotel with the support of then-Mayor Melton. Allen has long been a proponent of the convention center and the TCI hotel, even as the JFP and others urged caution, but it’s unclear whether he played a direct role in recruiting or advocating for TCI to oversee the development. A May 2010 Clarion-Ledger article said that Allen “talks regularly with TCI and has seen marketing materials prepared for what has been called a $200 million development.” TCI developer Mark Small said he had met with Allen a few times about the development but that DJP had no formal role in the process. The developers, who are connected to controversial Texas businessman Gene Phillips, a friend of Melton’s, haven’t yet broken ground on the development— citing a poor economy and lack of financing options. All the while, the land sits empty, essentially locked out of development. On May 27, 2010, Allen announced on the DJP blog that “the (TCI hotel) dream should be a reality soon” and that the actual hotel “would be second to none.” He wrote that a deal with the city was imminent and vital: “If local governments do not have ‘skin in the game’ in developments of this size, private money becomes uncomfortable. Private investments go where they are comfortable.” He said that TCI would finance 300 apartments if the city could provide adequate funding to help guarantee the hotel “was securely financed.” Allen ended the post with a promise: “You WILL NOT recognize downtown Jackson in three years. No I am not a cheerleader. I am a prophet (grin).” At the time, the city had approved a non-binding cost-sharing agreement that essentially made the city a co-signer for TCI to finance the $200 million project. But the developers have been unable to obtain funding sources and, in March, submitted a proposal to the city asking it to consider 50 percent ownership of the hotel. The mayor has made it clear that the city isn’t pleased with the TCI saga; it’s not the deal he would have wanted, but the city has no choice but to play it out. Allen now appears to share others’
doubts about the viability of the TCI project. In a February 2010 email to the city, Allen wrote that “the developers may be near snake eyes” and suggested two alternate firms to take over the project: Dallas-based developers Garfield Traub and Missouribased developers John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts. Because TCI owns the land, it’s difficult for the city to bring in another developer to take on the project. City spokesman Mims said the city is not considering anyone else to do the project at this time. Additional downtown developments include developer Mart Lamar’s renovated buildings on Capitol Street including five lofts above Parlor Market and Metro Shoe Repair. Allen told city council May 26 that he is working with a developer who wants to renovate the Lamar Life Building to include residential units. Other proposed retail units for downtown include the $65 million mixed-income housing development Ceva Green; Old Capitol Green on Commerce Street; and residential units at Jackson Place and the Regions Deposit Guaranty building. Jackson Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Jason Brookins said during a July 27 JRA board meeting that Don Hewitt of Advance Technology Building Solutions is renovating the Regions building. Hewitt did not return calls for more details on the project. (Re)Building Trust Getting a 70 percent majority vote from property owners for reauthorization is not an easy task. In recent weeks, DJP has even gone door-to-door to get the votes they need to keep their own doors open. The owners of downtown’s largest properties have weighted votes, but Gomez said that, historically, it’s been a collection of smaller property owners who have been instrumental in reauthorizing the district. Property owners have until Aug. 16 to mail their ballots to the city clerk’s office. Not voting is recorded as a no vote. “The larger property you have, the more you are paying,” Gomez said. “Some of these buildings aren’t making a whole lot of money right now because they are vacant.” While there is a lot of local support for the BID, getting out-of-state property owners to vote is one of the biggest hurdles. “It’s an issue in cities all across America right now,” Lawrence said. “… If you are a property manager that lives in Chicago and you are just looking at a spreadsheet and see that this one particular property is producing so much revenue and expenses, you might say, ‘If I don’t vote for this BID, it will cut my expenses.’” Lawrence said it’s harder to convince property owners when there isn’t a personal relationship established; out-of-town owners don’t see the day-to-day impact DJP has on downtown. The out-of-town properties in the Jackson BID include the Marriott
COURTESY DOWNTOWN JACKSON PARTNERS
Block By Block is a national organization that provides patrols and landscaping to BIDs throughout the country. Ambassador Kay Washington is pictured above.
Hotel at 41,184 square feet, the future site of the convention center hotel with 28,050 square feet and the Regions Plaza building at 56,018 square feet. Gomez said that the owner of the Marriott has historically voted no. Alfred Crozie of TCI Investments did not return calls for this story. Mark Small, president of MJS Realty (an offshoot of TCI), initially oversaw the convention-center hotel project and said Aug. 1 that he was not aware of a DJP reauthorization process. Parkway Properties, a national real-estate investment trust with headquarters in Jackson, is located in the BID. Chief Executive Officer Steve Rogers said his company is supportive of the BID and will vote yes. Gomez also said that 61 percent of properties inside the BID are exempt from paying taxes because they are government entities, churches, or non-profits, and therefore do not vote for reauthorization or pay an assessment fee. The majority of property on the second block of Farish Street is owned by the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and is currently vacant while Watkins finalizes leases with new tenants. Adam Hayes, co-owner of F. Jones Cor-
ner, said he isn’t crazy about paying additional fees for services he would like the city to provide, but said he is supportive of the BID and will vote yes during the reauthorization. Gomez said that DJP will collect approximately $30,000 annually by including Farish Street in the BID. Rev. C.J. Rhodes, pastor of Mount Helm Baptist Church, the city’s oldest African American church, and president of the Farish Street Main Street Association, said that business owners and residents in the area have questions about the BID’s impact on the district. The business owners are not necessarily property owners, however.—a primary complaint of opponents such as Tisdale and Parker-Weaver back in the days of fighting CCI in the late 1990s. “There have been some concerns,” Rhodes said. “What are the ramifications for smaller business? If they do pay, what kind of economic impact will it have?” Roderick Ephram, who runs Peaches’ Cafe on Farish Street with his mother and company owner Willora Ephram, said at first he had questions about the BID’s expansion, but Watkins has brought him into the process. He said he supports the BID because he sees it as a sign that the Farish Street En-
tertainment District will soon come online. He also said that the presence of the ambassadors will help curb crime in the area. As the JFP goes to press, DJP board members are saying that they believe they have enough votes pledged for reauthorization. But Tanya Scott still plans to vote no. Over the past few months, Scott says she has received several calls from DJP representatives asking her to vote “yes,” but she says that it’s too little too late. “There has been an eagerness to have individuals who were feeling somewhat disfranchised by previous years to feel better about how things are going,” she said. “But the challenge that I have is that I have been a property owner since 2006, and I don’t see how we benefit directly as the result of the business taxes we are paying.” “To attend a meeting of the same body that we are paying money to (who) are supposed to represent us, and the individuals who are on the board don’t think it’s necessary to shake our hands and thank us for coming, I don’t see where my support or money is necessary,” Scott added. Scott says that she mainly just wants to have a place at the table. She worries that board members and representatives are making promises to help with her development only to get her vote. She sees their offers as empty promises. Otha Burton, an urban planning professor at JSU and former director of planning for city, said that BIDs are an important aspect of revitalizing a downtown area but only if they are managed correctly—and everyone must be welcomed to participate. He said DJP must work to resolve any lingering mistrust people have from when the BID first formed. “History says that mistrust is justified,” Burton said. “We have evolved over the past 20 years from when there was a decline and erosion in the city’s tax base. Now we are smart enough to say, ‘This is our community—black and white, public and private sector.’ We’ve got to find common ground because that mistrust is pulling us down.” Documents discussed are linked to the story at www.jfp.ms.
Includes Drink & Choices of Fresh Vegetables
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Wednesday:Roast Beef Thursday :Chicken Diane or Grilled Pork Chop Friday:Meatloaf or Chicken & Dumplings
3’Z A Crowd (Classic Rock)
(Traditional Irish Music) FRIDAY 8/05
Dandy & the Lions (Folk)
Liver Mousse (Indie)
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August 3 - 9, 2011
BACK 2 SCHOOL
PHOTOGRAPHER: FASHION STYLIST: HAIR/MAKE UP: MODELS:
Tate Nations Meredith W. Sullivan Smoak Salon Katie Fulton and Cedric Hampton LOCATION: Smith Robertson Museum
Katie is wearing a white blouse with a peter pan collar and pleated skirt from Parker School Uniforms (price on request); a coral Kensie sweater ($58), white flower headband ($26), orange teardrop earrings ($12.50), orange bib necklace ($40), an owl adjustable cocktail ring ($15) and pearl bracelet ($15) from Frock Fashions; black cuff ($16.95) and yellow Lexx Perry cuff ($5), neon braided Ettika bracelet ($24.95) and gold bangles ($22.95) from Material Girls; and gold Sperry Top Siders ($15) from Designer Discount Fashions. Cedric is wearing a gray v-neck sweater, navy slacks and plaid book bag from Parker School Uniforms (price on request), blue and white checkered shirt ($8) from Bargain Boutique; orange slap bracelet ($20) and Vans ($69) from Swell-O-Phonic, and a paisley scarf ($31) from AZUL denim.
Katie is wearing a navy shirt with white polka dots ($4) and floral pants ($8) from Bargain Boutique; white Ettika rhinestone bracelet ($44.95) and green beaded necklace from Material Girls; a green flower ring ($10) and orange beaded wrap bracelet ($12) from Frock Fashions.
Cedric is wearing a gray BigStuf t-shirt ($6) and striped IZOD shorts ($6) from Bargain Boutique; and the brown belt is his own. He is also wearing an orange slap watch ($20) from Swell-O-Phonic.
Katie is wearing a blue printed Rebecca Taylor dress ($12), pink floral cardigan ($8), yellow striped Express blazer ($10) and ivory Banana Republic belt ($2) from Bargain Boutique; gold cuff ($5) from Orange Peel; yellow Lexx Perry bracelet ($5) from Material Girls; and orange beaded hoop earrings ($10) from Frock Fashions.
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Katie is wearing a Mink Pink leopard print dress ($79.95), red Urban Expressions bag ($46.95) and toggle initial bracelet ($29.95) from Material Girls; floral Poetic License sneakers ($49.95), orange beaded necklace ($15) and leather bracelet ($12) from Frock Fashions; Arden B tshirt ($4) from Bargain Boutique; black blazer ($7) from Salvation Army Family Thrift Store; and vintage bow pins ($2 each) from Repeat Street.
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he Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, 528 Bloom St, Jackson, is extending its Freedom’s Sisters exhibit to Aug. 22. The museum has also extended the Ida B. Wells is one of deadline to Aug. 22 Freedom’s Sisters. on an essay contest open to students in grades 4 through 8. Writers should explain who their favorite Freedom’s Sister—or any influential person—is and why. They can also tell what they are doing to continue the Freedom Sisters’ legacy. First prize is a $5,000 U.S. savings bond, second prize is a $2,500 savings bond, and third place wins a $1,000 bond. The Freedom’s Sisters exhibit, where this photo shoot was set, focuses on 20 women who, through their efforts, brought liberty and justice to African Americans. Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hammer, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks and 13 other women leaders are featured. Hours for the exhibit are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Ticket prices are $4.50 for regular admission; senior tickets $3; $1.50 for children under 18. Call the museum at 601-960-1457.
Material Girls, 182 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-4533; Frock Fashions, 111 Colony Crossing, Suite 270, Madison, 601-898-4643; Bargain Boutique, 5070 Parkway Drive, 601-991-0500; Salvation Army Family Thrift, 110 Presto Lane, 601-366-1073; Repeat Street, 626 Ridgewood Road, Ridgeland, 601-605-9393; Swell-O-Phonic, 2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-366-9955; Parker School Uniforms, 2001 Airport Road N., Suite 308, Flowood, 601-939-6366; Designer Discount Fashions, 111 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-8532522; The Orange Peel, 422 Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977; AZUL denim 733 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite E, Ridgeland, 601-605-1066
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Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. George Barnes, Vice President for Administrative and Student Services, 34175 Hwy. 18, Utica, MS 39175, 601.885.7001.
FILM p 28 | 8 DAYS p 29 | MUSIC p 32 by Jason Huang
COURTESY TONY DIFATTA
Work as Inspiration
the community. … I did that for almost 10 years, and now I’m about to start teaching the AP art program at Madison Central High School. What’s your take on the status of arts in Jackson? Right now is a really tough time for all of the arts. When people have lost money on their homes because their home values are falling … arts is one of the first things to go, unfortunately. It adds to the quality of life of any community that has a strong arts (scene). I mean, look at Fondren After 5. It’s the same people (who display), but it creates an atmosphere that attracts people from the outside who want to come here and spend their time in the city and enjoy the culture that they have. Do you have any inspirations? I think the work itself is inspiration. (That’s) part of the reason I change what I’m doing. I work in cycles and series. I push an idea or experiment with something for a while, and as long as I’m feeling (that) I’m learning or growing from that, I work on it for maybe a year or two or three years. For instance, I started this series of abstracts for a show, and it continued on and ended up for several different shows. When I finished that period of work, I started on another body of work, landscapes or portraits. I’ve taken something from those abstracts and synthesized them into my portraits as well. And I work on portraits for a while, and when I’m not growing there, I’ll move on.
Jackson artist Anthony DiFatta gets inspired with new ideas as he works on existing projects.
A August 3 - 9, 2011
nthony DiFatta got the first art show of his career at Nunnery’s Gallery after he donated some of his paintings to a HeARTS Against AIDS fundraiser. Mike Nunnery saw his work and proposed the exhibit. The popular Jackson artist, who now has shows all over the country, still helps arts organizations. Most recently, he donated paintings for the Greater Jackson Arts Council annual fundraiser, the Storyteller’s Ball on Aug. 11. A Hattiesburg native, DiFatta got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He worked as a graphic designer before becoming a teacher and artist. DiFatta, 43, has lived in Jackson 15 years. He is married to Melissa DiFatta, and they have a son, Preston.
What kind of artwork do you do? Well, I try a lot of different things: abstracts, portraits, landscapes, still lives, illustration. I’ve done illustrations for cover art in the Jackson Free Press and Jubilee!JAM, the music festival. I’m working on a poster for the Mississippi International Film Festival in October, and I’m doing some artwork for a composer in Austria.
What made you want to be an artist? I’ve always liked to draw. I guess the first exposure was when I was really young. I used to stay at my grandmother’s, and she had a little secretary (desk) and had paper and pencils and crayons and modeling clay. She really taught me how to draw and work with clay and things like that. She was a bit of a folk artist herself in Hattiesburg. That was what we did together when I was real little. That was sort of how it all started to me. It never really slowed down or stopped. Where did you go from there? I painted full-time for a little while, and then I got married. My wife and I started talking about starting a family. We bought a bigger house. … I went back to part time for a steady income. Even if you’re sort of successful here in Mississippi, it’s still a tough way to make a living. I didn’t want to go back to commercial art. My wife had been one of the attorneys for the Department of Mental Health. She told me they had art teachers out at the state hospital in Whitfield. So I split my time working at the Mississippi State Hospital and working out in
What’s your history with the Storyteller’s Ball? I’ve never been directly involved with it before. I’ve been involved with the Art Alliance (now Greater Jackson Arts Council) and I think (it is) a really good positive organization for the arts in Jackson. It has always been one of the funnest parties in the year. They have a theme every year, and the theme carries throughout the evening. It was completely unexpected that they chose to honor me this year. I think, what artist from Jackson really came from the ’80s? Tell me about teaching. Completely unplanned; I never planned on being a teacher. That’s why I had to go the alternate route to get my teaching license because I wasn’t planning on teaching. It has caused me to look at art in different way, at the creative process as something (that is) improving someone’s life. What advice do you give future artists? Learn the fundamentals. Listen to your teachers. Learn from people that have come before you. Make sure the work’s good, and then get it out there. Don’t worry about trying to come up with a gimmick or a style, because when you’re working or creating work, your style will come out. Don’t try and find something for the sake of finding something different. Let it be a natural process. The Storyteller’s Ball is at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Arts Center of Mississippi, 201 E. Pascagoula St. Tickets are $50. For information, call 601-960-1557.
by Anita Modak-Truran
Inside Their Skins Noah Maze’ All Levels Anusara Yoga
Friday, August 19 - Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011 10-12:30pm Hearts of Courage--Standing Poses and Backbends Standing Poses will prepare our legs, pelvis and spine to ‘bend over backwards.’ Engage your heart and embody your courage and be nourished by these powerful poses.
3:00-5:30pm Inside-Out & Upside-Down-Twists, Forward Bends, Hip Openers and Inversions Yoga invites an expanded and extraordinary experience of this life. We will use these poses to shift and expand ourselves to deeper levels of appreciation and bliss. Sunday, August 21, 2011 10-1:00pm Grace and Power--Hand Balancings and Backbends Come prepared to work and play hard in progressive sequences of hand balancings and backbends. Expect good strong work in poses, technical details and refinements, and a passionate call to be your best. Weekend + Art of Sequencing (Early Bird by August 5-save $80) - $175 Weekend + Art of Sequencing (save $60) - $195 Weekend Workshop (Early Bird by August 5- save $50) - $150 Weekend Workshop (save $40) - $160 Single 2 1/2 hour session - $50 Sequencing or Sunday session - $55
Public schools do more than educate children. They measure a city’s pride. They reflect community. They predict the social and economic well-being of a city’s future. For 20 years, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson has worked to keep our public schools strong, to empower parents as leaders for positive change, and to engage community support of our public schools.
August 3 - 9, 2011
Join us. For our city. For our children. For our future.
Founding Chapter, Parents for Public Schools, 1989 200 N. Congress, Suite 500, Jackson, MS 39201
Friday, August 19, 2011 3:30-6:00pm Strategies for Success: Art of Sequencing For teachers and committed students, this interactive lecture and exercise based session will take your sequencing (of your classes and your practice) to new levels of creativity and efficacy. 6:30-9:00pm Take Your Seat-Forward Bends and Hip Openers Asana means ‘seat’ and refers to your physical posture, and also the seat you take in your mind and heart. In this opening session, we will seat ourselves in a high intention, and embody this intention in a sequence of deepening forward bends and hip openers.
ate Taylor instinctively understood No response. Finally, she just blurts out: “Are what he had in common with the you having unnatural thoughts?” Charlotte characters in “The Help.” Like his simply cannot wrap her mind around the fact childhood buddy Kathryn Stockett, that her daughter wants a profession, not a who wrote the bestselling novel, and the film’s marriage and family. producer Brunson Green, Taylor grew up in The bossy and sharp-tongued Minnie Jackson. For the handful or so who may not bears the most difficult burden of all. She’s have read the book, “The Help” is set in the the victim of domestic abuse at home, and Jackson of the early 1960s, where separate she works for the abusive Miss Hilly, who is was thought equal, the White Citizen Coun- nothing like Missus Walters (Sissy Spacek), cil and the Ku Klux Klan ruled, and Byron De La Beckwith murdered Medgar Evers. Fully aware of the complex dynamics that underlie Mississippi’s civilrights history and how Mississippians loathe Hollywood clichés, Taylor doesn’t reduce the movie adaptation of “The Help,” which he directed from his screenplay, into simplistic black-and-white stereotypes. The movie trailer warns Skeeter (Emma Stone) meets with Aibileen (Viola Davis) us that some scenes may be and Minny (Octavia Spencer) in the film adaptation of funny, and that’s the brilliance “The Help.” of the film. Instead of using a heavy hand of blame to condemn past wrongs, “The Help” starts with her sweet and eccentric mother. When Minny a simple premise: Everyone has a reason for uses the indoor toilet at Missus Walters’ sugwho they are, even Miss Hilly (Bryce Dallas gestion, Miss Hilly terminates her on the spot Howard), who raises money for starving Afri- and then spreads rumors that Minny is a thief. can children, yet refuses to allow her domestic After Miss Hilly’s slanderous rampage, the help to use the family commode. When the only white woman who will hire Minny is the characters in this film are at their most lu- sexy outcast Celia (Jessica Chastain), who had dicrous, Taylor puts us inside their skins, so the audacity to marry Miss Hilly’s beau from we’re laughing—and sometimes crying—at Ole Miss. Miss Hilly is an equal-opportunity ourselves. hater for all who undermine her in any way. The movie chronicles the relationThose of us who live in Mississippi know ship among Aibileen (Viola Davis), Skeeter that none of this is far-fetched. Southern (Emma Stone) and Minny (Octavia Spencer). women—bless their hearts—are big personWhile their stories are touched by the changes alities. That’s why we love them, flaws and in southern life at the time, they are not rep- all. I can’t imagine a more perfect ensemble of resentative figures of the era. This film is es- actors to bring these characters to life. Stone, sentially about how they change each other Davis and Spencer partner flawlessly, and their through Skeeter’s compassion, Aibileen’s sor- performances achieve a beautiful equilibrium. row and Minnie’s anger to find the courage to Janney, who is one of my favorites, brought tell their stories. tears to my eyes, both from laughing and cry“I knew I would be a maid,” says ing. I do not profess to be impartial, but the Aibileen, who cooks, cleans, irons and polish- performances in this film, particularly from es silver for the Leefolt family. The Leefolts are Spencer, Davis and Stone, are Oscar caliber. stretched beyond their means, but appearance Under Taylor’s skilled direction, we care is important to Miss Leefolt (Ahna O’Reilly), about the characters. This movie ropes us in who suffers from postpartum blues, has the and gets us involved. We see something less personality of a sponge and exists only to nod flashy than race riots, but something more her head in agreement with her bossy Junior grand and telling. With the exception of Miss League friends. Aibileen keeps her feelings se- Hilly, who is stoked into the perfect hypocret and loves as her own the red-hot hollering crite, the women in this film are not rigged Mae Mobley (Eleanor and Emma Henry). up. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minnie are imper“You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” fect and scarred, but remain hopeful. Aibileen repeats to her young charge. One woman told me after the screening Skeeter, who was raised by their family’s that it was important for her daughter to see black housekeeper Constantine (Cicely Ty- the film. “Times have changed in Jackson,” son), understands Aibileen’s devotion to the she said. “I wanted her to see what it was like. child. Her mother, Charlotte (Allison Janney), … Back then no one could imagine an Afriignored her when she was a child because she can American president, but it’s happened.” didn’t fit into her own third-runner-up, beau“The Help” is eloquent, funny and ty-queen shoes. Charlotte loves her daughter, does more to promote racial understanding but doesn’t understand her and tries to figure than most other movies made about the her out. “Your eggs are dying,” she tells her. Deep South.
BEST BETS August 3 - 10, 2011 by Latasha Willis email@example.com Fax: 601-510-9019 Daily updates at jfpevents.com
CREATIVE PROCESS STUDIOS
The “No Frame, No Glass” art show at the Mississippi Library Commission (3881 Eastwood Drive) hangs through Aug. 30. Free; call 601-432-4111. … John Ruskey talks about his adventures on the Mississippi River during History Is Lunch at noon at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). Bring lunch; call 601-576-6998. … The Supakidz host Wasted Wednesday at Dreamz JXN. … 3’Z a Crowd performs at Fenian’s at 9 p.m. … Ole Tavern has karaoke. … Fitzgerald’s has music by Jazz Beautiful with Pam Confer. … At Table 100, Jimmy Jarratt performs at 5:30 p.m., and Charles Scott performs at 7 p.m. … Karaoke at Philip’s on the Rez, Ole Tavern and Pop’s. … The open jam with Will and Linda is at Pelican Cove. … Brian Jones is at Time Out.
The Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Mississippi Trade Mart (1200 Mississippi St.) and runs through Aug. 7. $8, $4 ages 6-12, children 5 and under free, $20 weekend pass; call 601-206-5703. … The Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation’s celebrity roast for Dr. Rathi Iyer of Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital is at 6 p.m. at Country Club of Jackson (345 Saint Andrews Drive). $75; call 601-366-5874. … Lanier High School alumni host the Bulldog Silent Scream Auction at 6 p.m. in Jackson Medical Mall’s Community Room (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). Free admission; call 601-262-3054. … The opening reception for the Print and Ceramics Showcase at The Commons is at 6:30 p.m.; Emily Baker performs. The show hangs through Sept. 16. Free; call 601-3523399. … Evelyn Lozanda of VH1’s “Basketball Wives” hosts Summer Seduction at Dreamz JXN; Boo Rossini performs.
The Yoga for Non-violence fundraiser starts at 9 a.m. at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.) and benefits the Center for Violence Prevention. $25, donations welcome; call 601-500-0337 or 601-932-4198. … The Mississippi Sports and Fitness Expo is at 2 p.m. at Smith-Wills Stadium (1150 Lakeland Drive). $10, $5 ages 6 and under; call 601-672-2087. … The Midtown Throwdown concert is at 4 p.m. at Star Grocery (1723 Bailey Ave.) in the parking lot. $10 in advance, $12 at the gate, $5 children, call 601-352-3381. After-party at Dreamz JXN; Big K.R.I.T. and Pretty Ricky perform. … Smithfield Fair performs at 6 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church (4000 Ridgewood Road). $10, $8 Celtic Heritage Society and Jackson Irish Dancers members; visit celticfestms.org. … The Mississippi Chorus’ Summer Showcase at Union Station (300 W. Capitol St.) is at 6 p.m. $35, $200 table of six; call 601-278-3351 to RSVP. … Salsa Mississippi (605 Duling Ave.) hosts Burn the Dance Floor at 7 p.m. $10, $5 with college ID; call 601-213-6355.
Tony Davenport’s artist reception (artwork above) is at 5 p.m. at circa. Urban Artisan Living.
The Small Business Expo is at 10 a.m. at the Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). Free admission; call 601-750-2367 or 601-316-5092. … Fondren After 5 is from 5-8 p.m. Free; call 601-981-9606. … The opening reception for Tony Davenport’s art exhibit is at 5 p.m. at circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road). Free; call 601-362-8484. … Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.) gives dance lessons at 5:30 p.m. and a Fondren After 5 After-party from 8-10 p.m. Free lessons, $5 after-party; call 601-213-6355. … The Storytellers Ball Juried Exhibition opening reception is from 6-8 p.m. at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). Free; call 601960-1557. … Tonya Youngblood performs at Dreamz JXN.
Art House Cinema Downtown at Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.) shows the films “Aida” at 2 p.m. ($16) and “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” at 5 p.m. ($7). Visit msfilm.org. … The “Let’s Get Dirty!” wine tasting is at 4 p.m., at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N.). $50; email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. … The musical “Oklahoma!” at Black Rose Community Theatre (103 Black St., Brandon) ends its run with a 2 p.m. show. $10; call 601-825-1293.
The “Freedom’s Sisters” exhibit at Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St.) hangs through Aug. 14. $4.50, $3 seniors, $1.50 children under 18; call 601-960-1457. … Fenian’s, Burgers & Blues and Irish Frog have karaoke. … Martin’s hosts an openmic free jam.
The Our Neighborhood Project Exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.) in Trustmark Grand Hall shows through Aug. 21. Free; call 601-9601515. … Pub Quiz at Hal & Mal’s. … Jesse “Guitar” Smith is at Burgers & Blues.
The Jackson 2000 luncheon is at 11:45 a.m. at Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St.). $12; email email@example.com to RSVP. … See the musical “Assassins” at 7:30 p.m. in the Warehouse Theatre (1000 Monroe St.); runs through Aug. 14. Limited seating. $20, $15 seniors and students with ID; call 601-982-2217. More events and details at jfpevents.com.
Smithfield Fair performs at 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at Covenant Presbyterian Church. T.J. SHUFLIN
jfpevents JFP-SPONSORED EVENTS Radio JFP on WLEZ, at WLEZ 100.1 FM and wlezfm.com. Join Donna Ladd and Todd Stauffer every Thursday from noon-1 p.m., where they discuss vital issues and play local music. This week’s guest is Susan Womack of Parents for Public Schools. JFP sports writer Bryan Flynn gives commentary at 12:45 p.m. Listen to podcasts of all shows at jfpradio.com. Free; call 601-3626121, ext. 17. Fondren After 5 Aug. 4, 5-8 p.m. The monthly event showcases the local shops, galleries and restaurants of the Fondren neighborhood. Free; call 601-981-9606. Yoga for Non-violence - 108 Sun Salutations Aug. 6, 9 a.m., at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). All levels of ability and endurance are welcome to participate in the yoga mala. Proceeds benefit the Center for Violence Prevention. $25, donations welcome; call 601500-0337 or 601-932-4198. Midtown Throwdown Aug. 6, 4 p.m., at Star Grocery (1723 Bailey Ave.), in the parking lot. Performers include Sir Charles Jones, Mike Jones, That Joker, Inspired Praise, Midnighters Blues Band, Recognition, Lil’ Al, Noo Noo and Calico Panache. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Boys and Girls Club. Tickets sold at Star Grocery and Mr. Pete’s (311 W. Northside Drive). Parking available at Jackson Medical Mall. $10 in advance, $12 at the gate, $5 children; call 601-352-3381. Jackson 2000 Luncheon Aug. 10, 11:45 a.m., at Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St.). Museum director Pam Junior discusses the “Freedom’s Sisters” exhibit. Lunch and museum tour included; please RSVP. $12; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Storytellers Ball Aug. 11, 6:30 p.m., at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). The theme is “Flashback to the ’80s.” Activities include live music by the Gary B. Sure! Band, choreographed performances to ’80s music, food, a cash bar, an Electric Avenue silent auction and a $5,000 Dynasty Drawdown. Proceeds benefit the Greater Jackson Arts Council. $50; call 601-960-1557. Mississippi Happening. Guaqueta Productions hosts the monthly broadcast. Download free podcasts at mississippihappening.com.
Events at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). • Adult Fall Softball League Registration Aug. 1-Sept. 9. The Department of Parks and Recreation is conducting registration for the upcoming season. The league consists of co-ed teams with a limit of 20 players per team. The deadline is Sept. 9. $250 per team; call 601-960-0471. • Small Business Expo Aug. 4, 10 a.m. The Minority Business Network hosts the promotional event for small and minority businesses in the common area. Promote a business, sell products or services, recruit new customers and network with other business owners. Booth space and sponsorships available. Free admission, $25 booth, $15 booth for network members; call 601-7502367 or 601-316-5092. • Bulldog Silent Scream Auction Aug. 5, 6 p.m., in the Communtiy Room. The Lanier High School National Alumni Association hosts the silent auction to raise money for scholarships.
BE THE CHANGE Celebrity Roast Aug. 5, 6 p.m., at Country Club of Jackson (345 Saint Andrews Drive). The honoree is Dr. Rathi Iyer, sickle cell specialist at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. Silent auction included. Proceeds benefit the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation. $75; call 601-366-5874. Operation Sunscreen through Aug. 24. Purchase sun-care protection package to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each package contains sunscreen, lip protector, a thank-you note and gum or candy. $25 donation; call 601-201-1979. CARA Recycling Program, at Community Animal Rescue and Adoption (960 N. Flag Chapel Road). Mississippi’s largest no-kill animal shelter collects empty laser or toner cartridges and used cellphones and sends them to FundingFactory in exchange for cash. Email email@example.com. (5225 Hanging Moss Road). Come for health screenings, school supply giveaways, prizes and children’s activities. Free; call 601-981-1817.
Jackson Arts Collective Monthly Meeting Aug. 1, 6 p.m., at The Commons at Eudora Welty’s Birthplace (719 N. Congress St.). Every first Monday at 6 p.m., the Collective Steering Committee meets to discuss business of the previous month and listen to local artist proposals for the sponsorship of events that fall in line with their mission. Open to the public. Call 601-497-7454.
Jackson Audubon Society Bird Walk Aug. 6, 8 a.m., at Mayes Lake at LeFleur’s Bluff (115 Lakeland Terrace). An Audubon Society member will lead the walk. Bring binoculars, water, insect repellent and a snack. Call ahead to borrow a pair of binoculars. Adults must accompany children under 15. Free, $3 car entrance fee; call 601-956-7444.
Survival Spanish Aug. 1-22, at Lingofest Language Center (7048 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland). Learn basic conversational Spanish from 10 a.m.-noon or 7-9 p.m. Mondays Aug. 1-22, or 10:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. Saturdays Aug. 6-27. $98, $30 materials; call 601-500-7700.
“I Love Lucy” Costume Contest Aug. 6, at Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Ave.). In honor of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, have your picture taken in your best Lucy Ricardo costume. Winners receive gift cards or certificates to Fondren businesses and Babalu’s sister restaurant, Table 100. Call 601-366-5757.
“History Is Lunch” Aug. 3, noon, at William F. Winter Archives and History Building (200 North St.). John Ruskey of Clarksdale talks about his adventures on the Mississippi River, including a recent trip during its record-breaking high stage. Bring lunch; coffee and water provided. Free; call 601-576-6998. Precinct 1 COPS Meeting Aug. 4, 6 p.m., at Jackson Police Department, Precinct 1 (810 Cooper Road). These monthly forums are designed to help resolve community issues or problems, from crime to potholes. Call 601-960-0001. Coffee and Contacts Aug. 5, 8 a.m., at Body Anew Medical Spa (113 W. Jackson St., Suite 3-A, Ridgeland). Join the Madison County Chamber of Commerce for an hour business card exchanges and networking. Bring at least 75 business cards. Free; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fashion Mixer Aug. 5, 7 p.m., at Downtown Cafe (105 E. Capitol St.). The networking event for photographers, models, designers, musicians, artists, bloggers, business professionals and entrepreneurs includes music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Fashion stylist J. Bolin is the Project Spotlight honoree. For ages 18 and up. $10; visit thechanellerenee project.blogspot.com. Community Health Fair and Back-to-school Bash Aug. 6, 9 a.m., at Hanging Moss Church of Christ
Art and Antique Walk Aug. 6, 5 p.m., at Historic Canton Square. Take a stroll back in time to enjoy the square, local artisans, craftsmen and musicians. This month’s theme is “Back to Basics in Canton.” Free; call 800-844-3369. Burn the Dance Floor Aug. 6, 7 p.m., at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). Enjoy ballroom dancing from 7-9 p.m., a free salsa class at 9 p.m. and a salsa party from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. $10, $5 with college ID; call 601-213-6355. Let’s Get Dirty! Wine Tasting Aug. 7, 4 p.m., at BRAVO! (4500 Interstate 55 N.). Sample pinot noirs made from grapes grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. RSVP. $50; email mitchelle@ bravobuzz.com. Summer Commencement Exercise Aug. 8, 6 p.m., at Tougaloo College (500 W. County Line Road, Tougaloo), in Woodworth Chapel. LeRoy G. Walker Jr., chairman of the Tougaloo College Board of Trustees, is the speaker. Call 601-977-7735. Jackson Chamber of Commerce Community Forum Aug. 9, 6 p.m., at New Horizon Church International (1770 Ellis Ave.). The topic is community development in south Jackson. Call 601948-7575, ext. 233. Exchange Student Program Call for Host Families through Aug. 15. SHARE! is looking for volunteers
Mississippi’s Creative Economy
he Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission host a summit on Mississippi’s Creative Economy Aug. 10 at the Jackson Convention Center. The event addresses how Mississippi’s artists, architects, writers, filmmakers and other creative professionals strengthen the state economy. It will showcase existing creative communities in the state, and attendees will learn how their own creative endeavors can help the local economy. The
by Chris Baltz
summit will include talks on subjects such as the state of the Delta Blues and the culinary arts, roundtable discussions, breakout sessions and a best-practices panel. Gov. Haley Barbour gives the keynote speech. The summit is from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A Blues Trail marker unveiling and a reception at the King Edward Hotel are from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free, but registration by Aug. 4 is required. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/3d3u479. CLIPART
August 3 - 9, 2011
Parents & Kids Magazine’s Back-to-school Pajama Party, Aug. 4, 6 p.m., at YMCA Ridgeland (888 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland). Children in kindergarten through second grade enjoy music, bedtime stories, goody bags and refreshments. Parents must accompany children. Pre-registration required. The first 100 registrants receive a surprise gift. Free; call 601-366-0901.
Items include autographed memorabilia from Monta Ellis. Free admission; call 601-262-3054. • NACA Homeownership Workshop Aug. 6, 8 a.m. The session is held in the Community Meeting Room. Free; call 601-922-4008. Events at Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St.). $9, $8.20 seniors, $6 children ages 2-12, members and babies free; call 601-352-2580. • Back to “Zool” Aug. 6, 10 a.m. See what the animals do while they are at “zool.” Meet the zoo docents and education staff, and learn what animal education is really like. • Splash & Slide through Aug. 7. Children get to enjoy inflatable water slides and story time in addition to access to the zoo.
to host international high school exchange students for the 2011-2012 fall semester or school year. The exchange students arrive in late August. Sign up by Aug. 15. Call 800-941-3738. Jackson Inner-city Gardeners Call for Volunteers through Aug. 30. JIG needs volunteers to help maintain plots and harvest vegetables. The produce will be donated to help feed the homeless and elderly and will be sold to the community at affordable prices. The garden is at the corner of W. Northside Drive and Medgar Evers Blvd. beside the BP gas station. Volunteers can help Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 8-11 a.m. JIG sells produce at the garden Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-noon. Call 601-924-3539.
WELLNESS First Friday Free ADHD Screenings Aug. 5, by appointment, at Office of Suzanne Russell, LPC (665 Highway 51 N., Ridgeland). Licensed professional counselor Suzanne Russell offers free 30minute ADHD screenings for children. Free; call 601-707-7355. Mississippi Sports and Fitness Expo Aug. 6, 2 p.m., at Smith-Wills Stadium (1150 Lakeland Drive). The event includes basketball, football and golf competitions, a children’s sport playground, a Zumba showcase, vendor booths, health screenings and giveaways. $10, $5 ages 6 and under; call 601-672-2087. Zumba Fitness Classes. The Latin-inspired aerobics classes are held at two locations. $5; call 601-209-7566. • Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 9 a.m., at Dance Unlimited Studio, Byram (6787 S. Siwell Road, Suite A, Byram). • Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m., at Dance Unlimited Studio, Florence (3091 Highway 49 South, Suite E, Florence). Diabetes Support Group Meeting ongoing, at Baptist Health Systems, Madison Campus (401 Baptist Drive, Madison). Baptist Nutrition Center hosts the meetings on third Thursdays at 1 p.m. Free; call 601-973-1624.
FARMERS MARKETS Jackson Square Farmers Market through Sept. 25, at Jackson Square Promenade (2460 Terry Road). Hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Free admission, $5-$10 vendor fee; call 601-372-7157. Byram Farmers Market (20 Willow Creek Lane, Byram), through Oct. 29. The market is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Call 601-373-4545. Mississippi Farmers Market (929 High St.), through Dec. 17. Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Call 601-354-6573. Old Farmers Market (352 E. Woodrow Wilson Ave.), through Nov. 12. Hours are 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 601-354-0529 or 601-353-1633. Jackson Roadmap to Health Equity Project’s Farmers Market (2548 Livingston Road) through Dec. 17. Hours are 9-6 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Call 601-987-6783.
STAGE AND SCREEN Art House Cinema Downtown Aug. 7, at Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.) Films include “Aida” at 2 p.m. ($16) and “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” at 5 p.m. ($7). Visit msfilm.org. “Oklahoma!” through Aug. 7, at Black Rose Community Theatre (103 Black St., Brandon). The musical tells the love story of a cowboy and a farm girl. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m Sunday. $15, $10 seniors, students and Sunday shows; call 601-825-1293. “The Dixie Swim Club” through Aug. 14, at Actor’s Playhouse (121 Paul Truitt Lane, Pearl). The comedy is about five Southern women who rely on each other for advice and support. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. $15, $10 seniors and students; call 601-664-0930. “Assassins” Aug. 10-14, at Warehouse Theatre (1000 Monroe St.). Fondren Theatre Workshop presents the musical about assassins and potential assassins of American presidents against the backdrop of a carnival game. For mature audiences. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Limit of 75 seats; credit card reservation recommended. $20, $15 seniors and students with ID; call 601-982-2217.
MUSIC Smithfield Fair in Concert Aug. 6, 6 p.m., at Covenant Presbyterian Church (4000 Ridgewood Road). The band’s music has Celtic, bluegrass and Appalachian influences. $10, $8 Celtic Heritage Society and Jackson Irish Dancers members; visit celticfestms.org. Summer Showcase Aug. 6, 6 p.m., at Union Station (300 W. Capitol St.). The fundraiser for the Mississippi Chorus includes music by local professional performers. Guests can bring a a picnic basket, hors d’oeuvres and tablescape, and a prize will be awarded for the best one. Enjoy a silent auction of classic items and services. Iced tea and lemonade provided. RSVP. $35, $200 table of six; call 601-278-3351. Vinyl Night ongoing, at North Midtown Arts Center (121 Millsaps Ave.). Play, sell and swap records, and enjoy music from local deejays from 6-9 p.m. Fridays. Free; call 601-376-9404.
LITERARY AND SIGNINGS Events at Lemuria Books (202 Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N.). Call 601-366-7619. • “Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography” Aug. 4, 5 p.m. Editor Edgar Grissom signs booka; reading at 5:30 p.m. $225 book. • “Theatre State” Aug 9, 5 p.m. Jack Boettcher signs books; reading at 5:30 p.m. $12 book. Story Time on the Side Porch Aug. 3, 3:30 p.m., at Eudora Welty House (1119 Pinehurst Place). The program is for children in kindergarten through third grade. This week’s book is “The Giving Tree.” After the reading, the children make pine cone bird feeders. Reservation required. Free; call 601-353-7762. Mississippi Writers Guild Conference Aug. 5-6. The Literary Arts on Stage reception is at 5:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Library Commission (3881 Eastwood Drive), and the workshops are at 8 a.m. at the Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.) with registration at 7:15 p.m. Speakers include Lynn Cullen, Sefi Atta and Diane Williams. Guild members receive a $20 discount. Half-day and group rates available. $145, $116 seniors and students; visit mississippiwritersguild.com.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Book Reading Aug. 8, 11 a.m., at Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St.). Lynn Evans reads to 11th graders, surrounded by the zoo’s bird collection. The book is required reading for the JPS Summer Reading Program. Free for readers, regular admission for parents and siblings; call 601-352-2580.
CREATIVE CLASSES Events at at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). Call 601-213-6355. • Free Dance Lessons and Fondren After 5 Afterparty Aug. 4, 5:30 p.m., A different dance style is taught every 30 minutes until 8 p.m. Enjoy swing dancing at the after-party from 8-10 p.m. Free lessons, $5 party. • Argentine Tango Workshop Aug. 6, 5 p.m., at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). John Malone and Shellie Hubbard teach basic moves and molinetes at 5 p.m., and ochos and parades at 6 p.m. $10 one class, $15 both classes. Easy Summer Dinner Party Class Aug. 4, 6 p.m., at Viking Cooking School (Township at Colony Park, 1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland). Topics include making a dry rub, grilling fish, making Green Goddess dressing and making a summer dessert. $89; call 601-898-8345. “Let the Beat Drop” Breakin’ Workshop Aug. 6, 2 p.m., at Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club (605 Duling Ave.). Choreographers Johnny Burgess and Jonda Ross give breakdance lessons. $15; call 601-213-6355. Shut Up and Write! at JFP Classroom (2727 Old Canton Road, Suite 224). Sign up for the workshop series of JFP Editor-in-Chief Donna Ladd’s popular non-fiction and creative writing classes starting this fall. Fees TBA; call 601-362-6121, ext. 16.
A M A LC O T H E AT R E South of Walmart in Madison
ALL STADIUM SEATING Listings for Friday, Aug. 5th - Thursday, Aug. 11th Rise of the Planet of the Apes PG13
Friends With Benefits
The Change-Up R Cowboys & Aliens PG13
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (non 3-D) PG13
Crazy, Stupid, Love PG13
Winnie the Pooh G
3-D The Smurfs PG
The Smurfs (non 3-D) PG
Horrible Bosses R
3-D Captain America: The First Avenger PG13
Transformers;Dark of the Moon (non 3-D) PG13
Captain America: The First Avenger (non 3-D) PG13
OPENS WED 8/10 The Help PG13
GIFT CARDS AVAILABLE DAILY BARGAINS UNTIL 6PM Online Tickets, Birthday Parties, Group & Corporate Events @ www.malco.com
EXHIBITS AND OPENINGS Craft Exhibit Aug. 1-31, at Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland). See metal work by Jennifer Taylor. Free; call 601-856-7546. Tony Davenport Opening Reception Aug. 4, 5 p.m., at circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road). The show features Davenport’s jazz-themed paintings and paintings of Jackson landmarks. Free; call 601-362-8484. Storytellers Ball Juried Exhibition Aug. 4-11, at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). See works from Mississippi artists with a 1980s theme through Aug. 11. Artists include Grace Orsulak, Ginger Williams, George Miles, Kathleen Lea and Carrie Roebuck. Hours are Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday 1–5 p.m. The opening reception is from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 4. Free; call 601-960-1557. Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza Aug. 5-7, at Mississippi Trade Mart (1200 Mississippi St.). Come for hunting and fishing exhibits, lectures and animal demonstrations. Aug. 5 is Kids’ Day, and children under 12 get in free while adults receive a $1 discount. $8, $4 ages 6-12, children 5 and under free, $20 weekend pass; call 601-206-5703. Print and Ceramics Showcase Aug. 5-Sept. 16, at The Commons at Eudora Welty’s Birthplace (719 N. Congress St.). The local art exhibit includes ceramics and prints such as woodcuts, screen prints, etchings and monotypes. The opening reception is at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5; Emily Baker performs. Free; call 601-352-3399. Check jfpevents.com for updates and more listings. To add an event, email all details (phone number, start and end date, and time, street address, cost, URL, etc.) to email@example.com or fax to 601510-9019. The deadline is noon the Thursday prior to the week of publication. Or add the event online yourself; check out jfpevents.com for instructions.
Old Fannin Road Farmers Market (1307 Old Fannin Road, Brandon), through Dec. 24. Hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon- 6 p.m. Sunday. Call 601-919-1690.
Carnival Folk ecutive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission in Jackson, established Renaissance as a base for area artists to produce original scripts and perform classic plays. The Howells built off this philosophy and in May 2003, they put on “Through the Looking Glass.” Denise Halbach, Boyd Campbell and Sam Sparks joined with the Howells to perform “The Lion in Winter” in November 2003 to fully launch the Fondren Theatre Workshop. FTW bands together when an interest arises and sends out notifications for production help. “We work with and through the community,” John Howell said. The group holds open auditions and invites everyone. Once it has assembled enough cast and production members, FTW begins planning the performance space. With limited organization, FTW has no limits on the types of productions it chooses, including plays and musicals that may be considered “adult” oriented, such as “The Vagina Monologues” and the upcoming “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” It is also an outlet for new artists to work in the theater and for audiences to see and hear new plays. Through that, FTW builds off the community’s interest, not tying it down to conventional plays. “We bring an expanded repertoire of material,” Howell said. The group will stage “Assassins” for the first time ever in Jackson because FTW mem-
August 3 - 9, 2011
have an album to bring to music class. I couldn’t wait to get to the album-swap portion of music class. After saving up my money, I bought my first records (Tracy Ullman’s “They Don’t
The cast of “Assassins” rehearses. From left, Squeakie Fromme (Beth Kander), Lee Harvey Oswald (John Howell) and Samuel Byck (Brent Hearn) listen to John Wilkes Booth (Danny Dauphin) as he tries to convince Oswald to take his place in history.
bers responded to the interest of its director, Jerry Farley, who is also New Stage Theatre’s production manager. “We want to develop local talent and promote the community,” Howell said. The Fondren Theatre Workshop is not a professional group of actors with a strict organization. Rather, it is a vehicle for those in the community, experienced or not, to be involved, whether they are interested
in acting, writing or directing. “It is an arts outlet with many ways to participate,” Howell says. “… It has accelerated the energy in Jackson.” Fondren Theatre Workshop presents “Assassins” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10-14 at the Warehouse Theatre, 1000 Monroe St. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students and senior citizens with I.D. For information or to reserve tickets, call 601-982-2217.
Tales of a First-Grade Rocker
by Natalie Long
s my siblings and I were growing up, my daddy turned us on to The Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers and for balance, the gospel group The Happy Goodman Family by my daddy. I knew the words to “Elvira” long before learning “Jesus Loves Me,” but we enjoyed all types of music. That began to change for me in first grade. A music teacher would come once a week and allow us to bring our own records. I was so excited. But then I realized that my classmates had either way hipper parents than I did, or they had teenage siblings. The records they brought to school were way cooler than the ones I owned. The only records I owned were Strawberry Shortcake and Sesame Street Live. I knew Daddy wasn’t about to let me take his records to the schoolhouse. I remember kids bringing Culture Club, Sugar Hill Gang and Duran Duran to class, and I thought that was so awesome. I pestered my parents until they bought me Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” so I could
COURTESY FONDREN THEATRE WORKSHOP
ultiple voices filled the pale green room at a rehearsal for “Assassins,” a Stephen Sondheim musical about presidential assassins with a carnival theme. Five people with open notebooks sat around the piano at the Warehouse Theatre on Monroe Street, New Stage Theatre’s new space in Belhaven. Mandy Kate Myers stood in a flowing turquoise dress and began belting out melodic notes. You’d never know that this was her first time seeing the music. Other than their musical talent, everyone looked and dressed like people one would meet at the grocery store or see filling their car at a gas station. But these are members of the Fondren Theatre Workshop, a theater group that draws from the community for its performances. In addition to not having set directors, cast or production staff, this theater also has no permanent space, so FTW “borrows” unlikely places such as The Cedars or Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative. The group frequently puts on its productions as benefits for non-profits. In 2003, John and Diana Howell felt the need for a community theater in Jackson. Both had theater backgrounds, and they saw no real outlet for novices or amateurs to participate in theater other than being an audience member. FTW got its inspiration from the Renaissance Theater Workshop, a Jackson-based theater group that existed from 1997 to 2001. Tim Hedgepeth, once the ex-
by Jason Huang
Music from the summer of 1984, like Prince’s “Purple Rain,” brings back memories.
Know” and Van Halen’s “I’ll Wait”), and I was thrilled to share them with everyone. They’d finally see just how cool I was. Secretly, I worshipped those albums and was glad my cool factor won over my toughest
critics—Mrs. Tucker’s first-grade class. The album swap drove me more toward rock ‘n’ roll, and I now have a deep appreciation for all music that falls under it. Album swap was my Pandora’s music box. When summer arrived, my friends and I had a blast dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” soundtrack, staying up late to watch “Friday Night Videos,” learning Pat Benatar’s dance in “Love is a Battlefield” (I can still do it!) and making crazy costumes with our moms’ scarves, pretending we were in Ratt’s “Round and Round” video. Every summer since then, I pull out my 1984 summer play list and put it on heavy rotation at the house. I’ve had a great summer so far this year, and some in the past, but the summer of 1984 was the best. Right now, Jackson’s smokin’ hot with summer concerts. Wednesday night, hit up Will and Linda at Pelican Cove’s Open Jam Night, Dreamz JXN hosts Wasted Wednesdays, and Poets II has DJ Cadillac. Thursday, blues icon T-Model Ford plays at Hal and Mal’s, Hot Shots in Byram hosts Karaoke, and Jason Turner plays at Fuego’s. Start off Friday the right way by check-
ing out Dandy and the Lions at Fenian’s, Cucho and Amigos at Underground 119 or the Art Institute at Ole Tavern, and especially don’t miss North Midtown Arts Center’s first of many Vinyl Nights. The Martini Room at The Regency hosts Martini Fridays. One of Jackson’s most beloved bands, Hunter Gibson and the Gators, celebrates its 20-year anniversary at Shucker’s with a two-night gig, Friday and Saturday. Also on Saturday, Smithfield Fair plays at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Double Shotz perform at Sportman’s Lodge, Martin’s hosts Cadillac Funk featuring Gary Burnside and The Bailey Brothers, and Shadz of Grey play at Philip’s on the Rez. On Sunday, Sophia’s in the Fairview Inn has Knight Bruce playing piano during brunch, and the King Edward hosts Howard Jones Jazz Trio at their Sunday brunch. Check out Martin’s late night jam on Monday, and then head to Ole Tavern when it starts up its Pub Quiz. On Tuesday, Jesse “Guitar” Smith will play Burgers and Blues, and Underground 119 kicks off its new Tuesday night event with Jesse Robinson and friends. Have a great week!
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