August 31 - September 6, 2011
August 31 - September 6, 2011
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contents FILE PHOTO
8 Cost of ID Enacting a voter ID law in Mississippi won’t hit taxpayers in the wallet, right? Or will it? AMILE WILSON
Cover photograph of Vick Ballard Courtesy Mississippi State University
THIS ISSUE: ............. Editor’s Note
rick cleveland Rick Cleveland steps out of the melting Mississippi heat and into Sneaky Beans in Fondren. “It was a mistake to walk here,” he says. “I hate this heat, and I hate Yazoo clay.” Cleveland is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Hattiesburg, and a perennial winner for Best Columnist in the Jackson Free Press’ annual “Best Of” reader poll for his sports writing at The Clarion-Ledger. “It’s a great honor to be chosen as Jackson’s best columnist, but it isn’t really fair,” he says. “You see, Donna (Ladd) is a great writer, but she usually only writes one column a week, whereas I write four or five columns a week. I could write two or three stinkers and still have time to redeem myself.” Cleveland and his family have spent many years in the Jackson area, first residing in Rankin County and then moving to Fondren so that his daughter, Annie, could attend Murrah High School’s Academic and Performing Arts Complex. “I love Fondren, especially the diversity, the convenience, the people and the music scene,” he says. Writing is a Cleveland family tradition. Cleveland’s brother Bobby is an outdoors columnist and assistant sports editor for The Clarion-Ledger and his son, Tyler, is trying his hand at sports writing in Hattiesburg. His father, Robert “Ace” Cleveland, was a sports writer for the Hattiesburg American in the
late 1940s and the Jackson Daily News in the ‘50s. Ace was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame posthumously in 1998. Rick Cleveland has been writing about Mississippi sports for more than four decades, but still has a never-ending enthusiasm for sports. “Each game is a passion play,” he says. He has been to 26 Super Bowls, yet Cleveland says he would rather spend Friday night at a high-school football game such as Weir vs. Mize, the perennial class 1A rivalry before Mize moved up. “The whole town is involved with those games, and it is as close to the pure game as you can get,” he says. Cleveland has covered many famous Mississippi athletes and recites from memory a long list that includes Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Archie Manning, Ray Guy and Brett Favre. His most memorable sports moment wasn’t football, though, but soccer. “Watching the 2006 World Cup final between the French and the Italians with my family in an Italian bar in London, England,” he says. “When Zindane head butted the Italian player, the bar went crazy. When the Italians won, we all poured out of the bar into the street and started dancing. It was amazing.” In describing his love of sports writing, Cleveland quotes his great friend and mentor, the late Mississippi author Willie Morris: “We always write best about the things that we care about best.” —Richard Coupe
28 Sky Meets Trees The Mississippi Delta inspires artist Pryor Graeber’s work; her vivid imagination makes it art. TOM RAMSEY
4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 12 ................... Editorial 12 .................... Stiggers 12 ........................ Zuga 13 .................. Opinion 28 ............... Diversions 30 ....................... Books 32 ..................... 8 Days 34 .............. JFP Events 37 ....................... Music 38 ......... Music Listings 41 ................. Astrology 42 ........................ Food 46 ......... FLY Shopping
Without a Republican opposing him in November, Tyrone Lewis forges ahead with his plans.
42 No Dorito Zone Tom Ramsey offers a dramatic (and delicious) departure from the same old game-day food.
Bryan Flynn Sports writer Bryan Flynn is a lifelong Mississippian who resides in Richland. When not writing for the JFP, he writes a national blog, playtowinthegame.com. He lives with his wife and their four cats. He wrote several football preview features.
Diandra Hosey Bay Springs native Diandra Hosey played women’s basketball at Jones County Junior College and Mississippi College. She has a law degree from MC School of Law, and is an associate with the law offices of Matt Greenbaum. She wrote a football feature.
Doctor S Doctor S is the JFP’s sports consultant. He is a graduate of Miskatonic U., where he majored in Cthulhu Studies and was a member of the varsity 43-man squamish team. He wrote a football feature and graciously passed SWAG duty.
Richard Coupe Richard Coupe is an avid fan of the beautiful game, a husband, brother and father of four. He’s still wondering what he wants to be when he grows up. He interviewed Rick Cleveland for the Jacksonian feature.
Torsheta Bowens Torsheta Bowens is originally from Shuqualak, Miss. She is a mom, teacher and coach. In her free time, she loves to read. (She just doesn’t have any free time.) She reviewed books.
Meryl Dakin Meryl Dakin is a recent USM grad in English literature and aspiring journalist. She looks forward to many long years of enjoying fascinating people, exciting travel and abject poverty in her chosen field. She wrote an arts feature.
Meredith W. Sullivan Meredith W. Sullivan is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She spends her days dreaming about where to travel next. She is enjoying life in Fondren with her husband and Diggy dog. She styled FLY.
August 31 - September 6, 2011
Account executive Ashley Jackson, a Brandon native, loves volunteering with youth, cooking, doing homework, wearing awesome shoes, and dancing like a fool while playing her extensive vinyl collection.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Learning to Win
ear the end of August every year, I start getting jittery. Yes, I’m ready for cooler temperatures. I also like being a Libra and having an October birthday—the big 5-0 this time!—and I love the crispness and smell of Autumn air. Football weather, I call it, just like my daddy did. My stepfather, Willie Hoyt Smith, never had a son, or any child of his own, so I was it. We shared a love of cats—“them rascals!” he would yell out about them as I chased one or another around the house in a raucous game of hide-and-seek. Later, when I moved up north, I would get envelopes willed with snapshots of his latest cat-rascal, often without even a note. When I called him, though, we didn’t usually talk about cats. We talked sports. This surprised my city friends who never heard me talk about any athletic enterprise. I was in big-city mode by that point, and sports didn’t fit my new life, I thought then. But it’s what daddy and I had connected on since I met him when I was in the fourth grade. He loved any sport and just about any team that could play. In homeroom at Neshoba Central, the guys at first were surprised that I knew “the scores” (especially if it involved football or basketball). And I was one of the loudest fans at all high-school games, screaming my head off even as I sat in the band section shivering in my flag-girl shorts and white go-go boots and bright lipstick. My life is nothing if not a dichotomy. Daddy would be at every Neshoba Central home game, home or away, watching me play in the band, and regardless of whether our team was worth anything (usually not). Then Marcus Dupree emerged at our rival, Philadelphia High School, or Philly as we called it. (We also had uglier words for it.) Then, Daddy would manage to go across town for a game now and then, especially if we were playing out of town. I understood. “Marcus,” as everyone called him, burst into our world when I was a junior and he was a freshman, as I was recently reminded watching the ESPN 30 for 30 “The Best That Never Was” documentary about him. He was so good that he simply rocked our realities. The ESPN film contains footage of Marcus that was lost for years, but watching it, I felt like it was yesterday when my daddy would tell me about all the opposing players fighting over pieces of Marcus’ tear-away jersey, then later of us and the world waiting to hear where he would end up playing in college (a bigger question than “who shot JR?” even). I remember reading Willie Morris’ outstanding “The Courting of Marcus Dupree” years later—a book that is really more about race relations in a town famous for the lack of it and that ends on a high note before Marcus went to the University of Oklahoma and, indeed, became “the best that never was.” Watching his former coach, Barry Switzer, in the film, my disdain for the cocky coach over the years bubbled back up. Daddy and I and so many others blamed Switzer for not
knowing how to inspire Marcus to be all that he could be. Daddy used to say, “Kids from the South don’t always know how to win.” He often said something similar about the teams we both loved: the New Orleans Saints (which he always called “them-damned-Saints”) or my alma mater Mississippi State, especially. Thinking back, I realize how astute this observation was about the South, and not just about our sports teams. We’re so often raised in the shame-soaked South to not be winners, to believe we’re meant to be bottom of the barrel, to even think we don’t deserve to be excellent or to be noticed. We’re told to be ashamed of our state, our city or our region, or maybe our accents (I tried to get rid of mine for a while, along with my love of sports). We’re told too often that we’re not good enough. And when we’re capable of proving them wrong, maybe a Switzer comes into our lives: a coach or a boss or a teacher who is out of touch with the fact that we, especially if we come from poor backgrounds, might not be as up on the life-management skills; our people were too busy refighting the Civil War or ironing pants for a living to teach us well. We might not be good at networking, yet. We may not know how to manage our time. Maybe we grew up eating terribly unhealthy food or we’re surrounded by people who don’t have those skills to share with us. Or all of the above. In the ESPN film, Switzer—now older and hopefully wiser than when he tried to take a gun on a plane some years back—expressed regret that he didn’t coach Marcus better. But even more poignant, the film showed how Switzer wasn’t Marcus’ only nemesis: He was surrounded by people greedy for a piece of his fame and folks, including his mother, who just
didn’t know how to teach him to stay great. The film revealed a tragedy of bad timing and unfortunate circumstances, and a confused, ill-equipped young man surrounded by people who didn’t know how to have his best interests at heart. The hardest part to watch is when Marcus says he regrets not going back to Oklahoma: what might have been. In that way that sports metaphors have a way of taking hold of my psyche, I could feel the weight of missed opportunities of myself and other Mississippians who just don’t always know how, or believe they can, reach out and grab the, er, Super Bowl ring. I also thought about our city and our state and how we settle for much less than we can be. Like Marcus, our community can get caught up in petty whining about those who challenge us to be better, and we can get lazy about what it takes to go the distance. Or, we listen to corrupt “mentors” out for an easy buck (as Marcus did). I’ve long thought that we need to teach ourselves to win, to be the best. First, of course, we need to believe we can. But, equally as important, we must give up the idea that anything worth doing well is supposed to be quick and easy. It was clear that Marcus didn’t return to Oklahoma, in part, because Switzer didn’t go easy enough on him or treat him like the superstar he hadn’t earned the right to be just yet. No doubt, though, Switzer had no idea how to motivate him, and many of our most successful “leaders” don’t know how, either. That means we must motivate ourselves and those around us. We must work hard and well; learn to manage our lives and emotions, focus on the task at hard, think best, live large, and be loud and proud. Oh, and to leave our guns back at the house. We can’t bully our way into success and safety. Ask Coach Switzer.
Have a ZEN moment.
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Aug. 25 Mississippi receives $8.1 million in a lawsuit against Brown & Williamson tobacco company following allegations that B&W used a third party to avoid paying money owed from the tobacco lawsuit settlement. â€Ś Evacuations begin in North Carolina as thousands of residents and tourists flee inland to escape the approaching Hurricane Irene. Friday, Aug. 26 Habitat for Humanity announces five new green-certified housing complexes for the elderly to be opened in Bay St. Louis Aug. 29. â€Ś The first rains of Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, bringing 110 mph winds and waves up 9 feet high. Saturday, Aug. 27 Hurricane Irene kills 21 people and leaves 1.5 million homes without power on the East Coast. â€Ś Author Stetson Kennedy, who exposed the Ku Klux Klan, dies at the age of 94.
August 31 - September 6, 2011
Sunday, Aug. 28 Dozens visit Martin Luther Kingâ€™s memorial in Washington, D.C., on with the anniversary of his â€œI Have a Dream Speechâ€? despite the fact that a dedication service for the memorial was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. ... The New Orleans Saints beat the Oakland Raiders in a preseason game.
Monday, Aug. 29 Hinds County Board of Supervisors denies Milwaukee Toolsâ€™ request to not pay $1.4 million in property taxes due to a clerical error. â€Ś Gov. Haley Barbour calls a special session to consider bonds for an economic-development project. Tuesday, Aug. 30 The city of Jackson breaks ground on a $340,000 project for landscaping and sidewalks at the corner of Mill and Pascagoula Streets. â€Ś The Rev. Al Sharpton announces he will begin a stint as an official MSNBC talk-show host on Monday. Get news updates at jfpdaily.com.
Budget Wars Whimper to a Close
he Jackson City Councilâ€™s approval of a 75-cent per hour raise for city employees making less than $17,000 per year may not make it into the cityâ€™s final budget for fiscal-year 2012, which starts Oct. 1. City Council members demanded a special meeting Aug. 24 over budget concerns but ended up only passing two amendments: the pay raise and hiring a policy analyst in the city clerkâ€™s office. Council members previously challenged Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. over their involvement in budget process, and council President Frank Bluntson also sparred over Johnsonâ€™s refusal to release a list of all city employee names and their salaries. By the end of the special meeting, however, council members seemed satisfied with the budget for 2012. At the Aug. 24 meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba made a motion for all city employees making less than $17,000 a year to receive an additional $2 per hour. Under the mayorâ€™s proposed budget, all city employees will receive a 2 percent raise in January 2012. An addition to the mayorâ€™s raise, Lumumbaâ€™s proposal would have gone into effect Oct. 1 and would cost the city approximately $262,080, he said. â€œWe have the job of expressing the peopleâ€™s wish,â€? Lumumba said. â€œThe way we see it, the people in our city do not wish to be working at poverty wages. Although we canâ€™t
by Lacey McLaughlin KENYA HUDSON
Wednesday, Aug. 24 The University Club in downtown Jackson announces that it is closing its doors after more than 30 years. â€Ś Following rebel victories in Tripoli, a group of international journalists are freed after being imprisoned in a hotel for days by armed Gadhafi loyalists.
The first football player to appear on a Wheaties cereal box was Walter Payton, former Jackson State University player and Chicago Bear from Columbia, Miss. Payton died in 1999.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree hit the ground running post primaries. p 11
solve all the problems in one fell swoop, we can try to address these problems.â€? Deputy City attorney James Anderson Jr. warned council members that the additional raise could cost more that Lumumbaâ€™s estimate because of workerâ€™s compensation insurance and overtime payments. He also said it could result in legal problems if some workers made more than their supervisors. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell then made a motion to decrease Lumumbaâ€™s proposed raises to 75 cents an hour because of the additional costs, and council members passed the motion. The council, Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba is pushing for more however, has yet to pass raises for low-paid city employees for fiscal-year 2012. next yearâ€™s budget and the raise may not make it to the final version. Whitwell also pushed to fund a study Johnson expressed concerns about how to improve Parham Bridges Park, which is in the last-minute raise would affect other areas his ward. He pulled back his motion, when of the budget. â€œIf we are going to try to im- Johnson said that it would overlap work that prove the pay of lower-paid workers, we are the city was already doing, and suggested that going to need more time to assess it,â€? Johnson Whitwell help form community partnerships said. â€œIf not, we are going to run into some BUDGET WARS, see page 7 problems in terms of litigation.â€?
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â€œIt wouldnâ€™t be a political memoir but a book about lessons of leadership in a mega-disaster.â€? â€”Gov. Haley Barbour at an Aug. 29 press conference regarding his plans after he leaves office.
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news, culture & irreverence
BUDGET WARS, from page 6
for Parham Bridges Park like the Fondren community had done to build Fondren Park. The Ward 1 councilman rescinded his original motion, and Johnson promised to take care of park maintenance when alerted of the issues. “It was obvious that there wasn’t an appetite for just singling out one park among my colleagues, and I respect that,” Whitwell said. “The mayor assured me that there is plenty of money in the budget for him to get employees and staff to handle upkeep and landscaping at Parham Bridges.” Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes proposed that the city hire a stenographer to transcribe meetings, but that motion failed. Stokes expressed concern that the city clerk’s office was not providing detailed meeting minutes and wanted an account of meetings similar to court transcripts. “If you come up with a transcript of some of our meetings that are three hours long, it’s going to be difficult to produce the minutes,” Johnson said. Jackson City Clerk Brenda Pree told council members that her office’s budget includes the purchase of an agenda software program called NovusAgenda that will allow the clerk’s office to go paperless. The software provides a searchable database by topic or date so that the public can access meeting minutes. Pree said that the software will cost $38,000 over the course of five years, which would include a maintenance agreement. “Right now what we have is working for
us, and what we are asking for in this budget cycle is to go paperless, which will enhance us even farther,” Pree said about the meeting minutes. The council budget committee had held a recap meeting Aug. 17 to offer amendments to the budget. At that meeting Lumumba made a motion for the city clerk’s office to include a policy-analyst position, for which the finance department found additional funds. Council members voted to hire a second analyst Aug. 24. Bluntson said at the Aug. 24 meeting that he was still determined to obtain the salaries and names of all city employees, and came armed with copies of former attorney general’s opinions stating that public employee salaries and names can be disclosed to the public. “We want to check everything out,” Bluntson said. “It’s a matter of public record.” Johnson points out that determining employees’ salaries is an administrative function and not for the city council to decide. The Jackson Free Press filed an open-records request for the documents on Aug. 26. Regarding the budget process and the council’s concerns, Johnson recommend that the council and administration begin working on the 2013 fiscal-year budget in January so the administration will have more time to make adjustments to the budget on the council’s behalf. Whitwell said the biggest point of the special meeting was to demonstrate to the mayor that the council wants a stronger presence in the budget process, and said he was satisfied with the mayor’s response. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Football and Fashion by Elizabeth Waibel
Lumpkins BBQ is offering tailgating packages.
New location, expanded hours Steve’s Downtown Deli and Bakery will open a second location at 200 S. Lamar St. in a few weeks. Owner Steve Long said the new restaurant will have a similar menu to the one at the South Congress Street spot. Long plans to start out serving lunch and breakfast. He will eventually offer a variety of vegetarian options, daily taco or burrito specials and southern noodle bowl specials. The Lamar Street location will open in mid to late September. Visit stevesdowntown.com or call 601-969-1119 to check out the menu or place an order.
A Football Feast Lumpkin’s BBQ (182 Raymond Road) is offering tailgating packages for football season this year. Customers can order packages that feed 25 or 50 people and include ribs, whole smoked chickens and pulled pork. They come in boxes made of recycled pallets and will be around until the Super Bowl. Call 601-373-7707 to order.
COURTESY LUMPKINS BBQ
new Canton boutique is bringing more fashionable clothing options to plus-size women in the Jackson area. Bishie Chrissi’s (313 Franklin St., Canton) offers trendy clothing and accessories, such as distressed jeans, party dresses, shirts, shoes, bracelets and earrings. Christy Luckett, who owns the boutique, said she decided to open a plus-size boutique because there are only a few in the area. Since the store opened Aug. 20, she says people have responded enthusiastically to what Bishie Chrissi’s has to offer. Bishie Chrissi’s is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Call 601-398-7066 for information.
Best Salon & Best Hair Stylist
- 2010 & 2011 Best of Jackson -
by Elizabeth Waibel
Putting a Price Tag on Voter ID
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August 31 - September 6, 2011
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While many people have driverâ€™s licenses, 107,094 people bought photo IDs from the Department of Public Safety in 2010, paying more than $1,499,000. If voter ID passes, thatâ€™s $1,499,000 that the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office estimates DPS will lose in revenue, not counting a possible uptick in reSen. Joey Fillingane, who sponsored Mississippiâ€™s voter ID quests for IDs once they ballot initiative, may have put an unrealistic price tag on are required for voting. implementation. Regardless, $1.5 million per year is dramatically more than Fillinganeâ€™s photo ID law in 2006 because people had to $100,000 estimate. pay to get copies of their birth certificates. Fillingane said he does not agree with Fillingane said he took the language for the Budget Officeâ€™s estimate. He thinks the the initiative from Indianaâ€™s voter ID law. But Legislature will create a new ID only good for when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indivoting and not for driving, cashing a check or anaâ€™s voter ID law in 2008, it said that people other things that require identification. who had trouble getting copies of their birth â€œI donâ€™t think that given our current bud- certificates or who faced other obstacles to votget condition that we would do anything but ing might still successfully challenge the law. that,â€? he said. The state would still have to The ultimate responsibility for impleprovide IDs in later years as more people reach ment the initiativeâ€”and adequately funding voting age, although not nearly as many as in itâ€”rests with the state Legislature. Fillingane the first year, Fillingane said. said the initiative would apply to absentee votThe Brennan report points out that ers as well as those who go to the polls; people voter IDs are a recurring cost: â€œMany voters would have to show a photo ID to request an who lack the accepted IDâ€”young and low- absentee ballot. Lea Anne Brandon, assistant income voters, and those who rent rather than secretary of state, said she does not think apown propertyâ€”are highly mobile, and states plying the ID requirement to absentee voting will have to bear the costs of re-issuing new has been addressed, yet. In 2007, Attorney IDs for these voters whenever their names or General Jim Hood said his office had conaddresses change.â€? ducted 38 voter-fraud investigations within But just offering photo IDs for free is not the prior three years. Almost all of them were enough. Based on court cases in other states, absentee issues. the Brennan Center found that photo IDs The Legislature will also have to decide must also be readily accessible. Some states how much to spend on educating the public have expanded the number of offices where about new voting procedures through methpeople can get IDs, are keeping offices open ods such as TV and radio public-service anlonger and opening mobile units. All of those nouncements, special websites and mail camchanges, helpful as they may be, add to the paigns, in addition to the cost of educating cost of putting voter ID in place. poll workers about the new policy. Missouriâ€™s Supreme Court struck down a Comment at www.jfp.ms.
L ACE Y â€™S
he debate surrounding voter ID in Mississippi has focused on political and historical arguments, rather than funding. While its proponents have lauded voter ID as essential for preserving the democratic process, opponents have claimed it is an effort to discourage African Americans and other minorities from votingâ€”especially those old enough to remember Jim Crow-era tactics such as poll taxes. In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has only upheld voter ID laws when states provide photo ID free of charge to those who do not have one, concludes a paper by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. As far as the courts are concerned, requiring people to purchase their IDs is an unconstitutional poll tax. The Mississippi initiative mandates that the state will provide free photo IDs free to anyone who doesnâ€™t have one and canâ€™t afford to buy one. Today, state ID cards are $14, although they cost $17.92 to manufacture. The initiative does not specify who would determine whether someone can afford to pay. The Brennan Center report points out that a federal court blocked Georgiaâ€™s voter ID law because it required people to take an oath that they could not pay to get free IDs. The court said people might be reluctant to take the oath out of embarrassment or because they did not know if they qualified. The initiative states that providing free IDs could cost up to $100,000, depending on how many people requested one. State Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, sponsor of the initiative, said that amount would be reached only if everyone in the state old enough to vote applies who doesnâ€™t already have some kind of government-issued ID. â€œOf course, that wouldnâ€™t happen,â€? Fillingane said. Giving away $100,000 worth of free ID cards may not be a lot of money, but itâ€™s also not the entire cost of enacting voter ID. Hereâ€™s how it works: Mississippi will hand out free IDs. But not just for one year. The state must do it every year for new voters and every time someone needs a new ID.
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by Lacey McLaughlin
Ward 3 resident Jannette White says abandoned property has led to lower property values and crime in her neighborhood.
annette White, 51, has lived on the same plot of land on Smith Robinson Street in the Virden Addition for the majority of her life. In 1987, White built a house next to her mother’s house so that she could be her caretaker. Her mother died in 2006. She points to a boarded-up home across the street at 2815 Smith Robinson St., which White says has been vacant since 2001—10 years. Faded “for sale” signs lacking a contact or realty company are in the yard. White says she doesn’t know who would buy the property because the house lacks floors and has structural damage. She says the home has attracted drug deals, transients and even stray dogs. “It’s a hot mess across the street,” White said. “… Before, there were four or five dogs there, and I wouldn’t let my grandchildren go outside.” White attended the city’s Ward 3 meeting Aug. 16 armed with a photo album that she calls the “famous book.” In the book, White posts pictures of derelict properties to show to city officials. During the meeting,
she showed the city’s Solid Waste Division Manager Vernon Hartley a property that had accumulated trash, and the next day, the city picked it up. “I feel like we got something accomplished,” White said. An unidentified woman answered the phone number listed on the for-sale signs at 2815 Smith Robinson St., and said this reporter had dialed the wrong number. The Hinds County tax rolls list Peters Bryce Financial Corp., a real-estate firm based in Utah, as the owner of the property. Last year, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, banned the firm from conducting realestate business there after it repeatedly did not appear at hearings about neglected property. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the company owned 40 properties there and owed more than $4.7 million in fines for unkempt properties. The company owns six properties in Jackson. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said in his July State of the City address that his administration was “redoubling” its efforts to clear neigh-
borhoods of burned structures and speed up the backlogged cases of derelict properties. Last year, Mississippi enacted legislation that allows the city to impose penalties on property owners who break the city’s codes. Before, the city placed tax liens on properties for cleaning and home demolition, but property owners did not have to pay the fines until they sold their property. The new law adds the fines to the owner’s property taxes, due Feb. 1 each year. The city has also instituted a hearing officer to determine fines or give property owners more time to restore their homes. Last week, the Jackson City Council approved an order for the city to hire contractors to clean up 77 dilapidated properties. The city’s Community Improvement Division also conducted hearings on 237 more properties by the end of the month, and those soon will be sent for the council’s approval to hire contractors to clean them up as well. The majority of the properties require weed removal or windows boarded up. Despite the city of Jackson’s push to clean up property, Claude Smith, manager of the Community Improvement Division, said that the city has not demolished any homes this year. It has, however, removed eyesores such as junky cars from property. For the past year, the mayor’s administration, the Department of Planning and Development and the Community Improvement Division have worked to streamline and improve its code-violation process. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program provides funds for demolition and boarding up homes. The city currently has $450,000 in CDBG funds, which will likely carry over to fiscalyear 2012, which starts Oct. 1. “I think the process that we are in now is going to work a lot better and be more effective,” Smith said. “It gives us more time to work a case. Before now every time we had an issue, (or) a technicality would come up with the case, we’d have to start it over.” Smith added that the city should start
demolishing properties within a few weeks. The city’s strategy is to not just clean up one property in an area, but to tackle neighborhoods and clean all derelict properties at once. Code enforcement officers regularly patrol areas and receive tips from citizens about suspect properties. The officers locate property owners and notify them of violations before a scheduling a hearing. Once hearing officers conduct hearings, the city council must approve the properties for clean up. Property owners have 10 days from the date of the hearing officer’s determination to appeal the process. The city’s environmental review board and building officer also review code violations for approval. Fine are between $1,000 and $1,500 depending on the property, and property owners must also pay the contractor’s fees for the clean up or demolition. Jackson Planning and Development Director Corinne Fox said that if homeowners aren’t notified properly, the city could face costly lawsuits. She said all parties involved ensure that the process runs smoothly and avoids litigation. “We redid the whole process in terms of notification and going through the proper procedures,” Fox said. “We have always gone through proper procedures, but we did not have a designated hearing officer, and now we do have someone who is designated just to hear these cases, (who has) been able to speed up the process somewhat. … We determined that we need to be more thorough in our notification process, and that’s what has taken so long.” Smith said that the majority of derelict property owners move away or have inherited land from deceased relatives. To find the owners, officials research the tax rolls to determine the last person who paid property taxes. Smith said this can delay the process, but even if the city has exhausted all efforts to contact unresponsive property owners, officials can still proceed with the clean up process. “That means that we lose all hope of recouping our money for the expense of the property,” Smith said. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Getting it Right
by Elizabeth Waibel
August 31 - September 6, 2011
party atmosphere filled the Convention Complex Friday night as supporters celebrated the victory of Tyrone Lewis, set to become Hinds County’s first black sheriff since Reconstruction. “I want you to know, I didn’t start off running for sheriff to be the first black sheriff; I aim to be the next best sheriff,” Lewis told supporters. He added, however, that it was not a coincidence that the reception fell on the same weekend as the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “You are looking at a part of his dream,” Lewis said, adding that he intends to be “the sheriff for everybody.” Lewis is a former Jackson police officer and acting police chief, appointed by the late Mayor Frank Melton. He ran an aggressive grass-roots campaign, collected endorsements from city and community leaders, and used social media to build up support. Lewis defeated longtime Sheriff Malcolm McMillin in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary by slightly more than 2,000 votes. He does not face a Republican challenger in November’s general election. After days of ballot questions, McMillin issued a statement conceding the race Aug. 11, which said some people campaigned for Lewis “on their view that Hinds County now needs a black sheriff—a requirement I obviously could not meet.” Although Lewis’ supporters repeatedly said the celebration was not about him being black, and Lewis pointed to the fact that people of several races were present, the audience was overwhelmingly black. Othor Cain, managing editor of the Mississippi Link, told the group that Lewis’ campaign was “above board,” and they should embrace the fact that they had elected a black sheriff. “I’ve always known that Hinds County was large enough with African Americans to have a black sheriff, so why not celebrate this man for who he is tonight?” Cain said. “Don’t be ashamed of that, don’t be afraid of that. Celebrate your blackness—it’s a good thing.” Terris Harris, the master of ceremonies, said Mississippi and Hinds County have come a long way. “Tyrone would not have won if he didn’t get some white supporters,” he said. “President Obama would not have won if he did not get some white supporters, and Johnny DuPree will not win if he doesn’t get some white supporters.” A representative for Johnny DuPree, Democratic candidate for Mississippi governor, was at the reception to congratulate Lewis. Dennis Sweet, a Jackson attorney who hosted the event, told people that if they are Democrats, DuPree needs their support. During the event, supporters repeatedly said Lewis can “clean up Hinds County and
Preparing for the Future Hinds County Sheriff-elect Tyrone Lewis is celebrating his win in the primary election and looking ahead to taking office in January 2012.
Jackson.” Lewis promised to work with other law enforcement agencies in the area and with the community to reduce crime. “For those individuals that have been creating havoc in this community, we will defeat you. … I-55 runs north and south, I-20 runs east and west. Take your choice,” he said. “For those of y’all that are looking for safety and peace, we’ve got your back.” Lewis told the Jackson Free Press that his transition team is gathering information to see what is working and what is not, so he has not made any personnel decisions, yet. “I can tell you this—this community voted for change, and they wanted change, so I’m going to give them change,” he said. “If that encompasses making changes inside of the department, then that’s what we’re going to do. But we know they wanted change to feel safe and to be safe in the community, and we’re going to give them that as well. We have to make sure we have the right people in place to make sure they get that.” Lewis said he does not know of anyone specific who he wants to put in place, but he is not in a hurry to make staffing decisions. “We want to make sure we make the right decision and pick the right personnel to make sure that we’ve got the right operation in place,” he said. Two days later, on Sunday night, Clinton police arrested Aaron B. Banks, Lewis’ campaign manager, for driving under the influence. Banks was charged with first-offense DUI after he was involved in an accident on Clinton Parkway in which alcohol was present, Clinton Chief of Police Don Byington said. Banks has also been charged with contempt of court for failure to appear in court for an earlier traffic citation, Byington said. There were some injuries in the accident, Byington told the Jackson Free Press, although he did not know the extent because the police report was not ready as of Tuesday. Lewis referred questions about the arrest to Banks or his attorney. He said everyone is accountable for their own actions, and he has “moved from campaign mode to transition mode.” Abundant Spirit Glory Empowered Church on Cooper Road in Jackson lists “political consultant and grass-roots organizer” Aaron B. Banks as its pastor, but the church would not comment or confirm the connection. Banks did not respond to phone calls. WLBT erroneously reported Monday that Banks was arrested Friday night, the same night as Lewis’ campaign celebration. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
COURTESY JOHNNY DUPREE
by Lacey McLaughlin
Aiming to Make History
attiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree proved that grass-roots organizing matters more than cash when it comes to winning the Democratic Party nomination for governor. Now, many voters are wondering about the likelihood of DuPree winning the governor’s race against Republican Phil Bryant on Nov. 8. On Aug. 23, DuPree beat Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett in the primary runoff election for the Democratic Party spot on the November ballot. Luckett received more donations, but DuPree ran an aggressive, race-neutral campaign and poised himself as a people’s politician with more than 20 years experience serving in government. On Aug. 17 Dupree reported $601,403 in campaign contributions for 2011, while Luckett reported $906,041. DuPree is the first black Mississippian since Reconstruction to win a major-party nomination for governor. In the Aug. 2 primary, DuPree had 4,000 more votes than Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant. But those numbers may not be an indication of DuPree’s chances over Bryant. The majority of counties in Mississippi have a high number of Democratic candidates in local races, and because the state does not have open primaries, more voters vote in Democratic primaries
than in the Republican primaries. Marty Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute for Government at Mississippi State University, said that despite race, the chances for any Democrat to win the governor’s race would be slim this election cycle. “There are a lot of people out there will cast a Democratic vote, but the (Democratic) party structure is in disarray right now and mixed up with arguably the best Republican strategist we have ever had,” Wisemann said, referring to Gov. Haley Barbour. Wiseman predicted that DuPree could still hold his own, however. In the last governor’s election in 2007, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Arthur Eaves received 43 percent of the vote. Wisemann also noted that Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood received more votes than Barbour. But DuPree’s candidacy raises unknowns about the number of black voters who will turn out Nov. 8. “Everyone is going to know about DuPree before the election rolls around. If he can massively turn out the African American community and put together coalitions (to counter) some of these other (positions) the Republicans are taking. … he might be able to get over the hump,” Wisemann said. Political author Jere Nash said DuPree needs about 38 percent of registered white
voters to vote for him. “If you assume on Election Day that the African American turnout is between 25 and 28 Johnny DuPree won the Democratic primary runoff for governor. percent, and then you as- Can he win the race in November? It hinges on turnout. sume the white turnout is 75 to 72 percent, then the Democratic nominee would need to get vide lower class whites along the line of race.” 38 or 39 percent of the white vote to win,” Orey also said that the national attention Nash said. DuPree received after the runoffs will help him Nash added that DuPree likely would get the name recognition he needs: “Clearly, need 90 to 95 percent of the black vote to win. he will need to obtain white crossover voting In 2008, President Barack Obama received 95 in the general election. The positive of that is percent of the black vote in Mississippi and 43 that being the mayor of Hattiesburg and a napercent statewide. tive son of the area will allow him to possibly Jackson State University political sci- obtain votes where Democratic candidates ence professor D’Andra Orey said he doesn’t may not have been as successful in the past.” think Republicans or Tea Party members will Sam Hall, DuPree’s campaign director, launch direct racial attacks, but will instead use said 80 percent of voters who voted in the “southern strategy” tactics of going after issues primary came back to the polls for the runoff, such as welfare. Orey said DuPree would be which is “unheard of.” Hall said DuPree will wise to focus on issues that affect lower-class focus on making government more efficient whites such as jobs and the economy. through technology and better management. “The biggest challenge is to create a struc“What he has been able to do in ture that would coalesce his base of African Hattiesburg and the plans that he has laid out Americans with progressives and lower-class during this campaign I think speak to what whites who typically vote on the Republican people want most right now in this state,” Hall ticket,” he said. “The Republicans have done said of the Democratic nominee. a great job of using the southern strategy to diComment at www.jfp.ms.
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
he best way to describe eating the most authentic Chinese cooking in Jackson is to prepare yourself for not only a great meal, but an unexpected adventure. Welcome to Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Cooking and Oriental Grocery. The first thing you notice about eating at Mr. Chen’s is the quality of the food, served piping hot, fresh from the kitchen, using only the freshest ingredients. Authentic cuisine takes on a new meaning at Mr. Chen’s. With offerings like salted, crispy frog legs; spicy intestines in a hot pot; tossed jelly fish in sesame oil; Mr. Chen’s is the place to Jin Xiu Li experiment in true Chinese cooking. For those not so adventurous, you will find delicious Chinese staples like Shrimp with Vegetables, Kung Pao Beef, and Sesame Chicken, just to name a few. For vegan and vegetarians out there, Mr. Chen’s provides a wealth of vegetarian options such as varied tofu dishes, sautéed sweet pea leaves, bok choy with black mushrooms, and so much more. What truly makes Mr. Chen’s unique is that it is not your ordinary restaurant. Mr. Chen’s is also an Oriental grocery with the most colorful, oneof-a-kind products. From fresh produce to exotic meats, this isn’t your everyday supermarket. With aisles full of imported delicacies, it’s almost as fun to shop at Mr. Chen’s as it is to eat there. Take a walk to the back of the store to the seafood department and you will find exotic seafood like conch and jellyfish alongside live lobster, crab, and tilapia, among other finds. Eating at Mr. Chen’s redefines fresh-caught: You can choose your fish right from the tank and have it prepared and served in any number of delicious ways. In addition to exotic food stuffs, Mr. Chen’s Oriental Grocery sells Asian textiles, decorations, cookware, and lucky bamboo, in addition to a vast variety of other specialty items. One specialty that is not often found in Chinese restaurants is “Bubble Tea.” Served chilled or frozen, Bubble Tea is flavored tea with tapioca pearls at the bottom. The tea can be liquid milk-based, similar to a Chai or frozen frappachino, with the pearls suspended in the ice. Bubble Tea is always served with a big straw for a perfect taste combination of both the pearl and tea. So whether you are looking for a truly authentic Chinese meal or just needing to stock up on some exotic soy sauce, make your way to Mr. Chen’s, where you don’t have to scale the Great Wall of China to experience real Chinese cuisine in Jackson.
opining, grousing & pontificating
Pick Better Battles
ackson city government could be a prime example of democracy in action. The Jackson City Council and the administration of Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. could see their roles as they are designed, working hand-in-hand within democracy’s intentional system of checks and balances. Instead, council and the mayor’s office too often act out adversarial roles, reacting with the same kind of swaggering animosity toward each other as we see played out in Washington, D.C. The recent meetings regarding the budget are a perfect example. Both the administration and the council know (or should know) the budget process. Yet the council, in what looks like a purely politically motivated move, put the administration on notice that it hadn’t had enough input in the process, and called a special meeting to add last-minute amendments. After the bombast and sparring regarding the city budget in the council’s regular session Aug. 23, the Aug. 24 meeting was practically a non-starter. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell, the most outspoken member regarding the mayor’s not fully integrating the council in the budget process, offered one amendment, to fund a study for Parham Bridges Park in his ward. Whitwell did not have the support of fellow council members, the proposal duplicated other city plans and, appropriately, the amendment died. The council passed two amendments at the special meeting: one giving low-wage employees a 75-cent-an-hour raise (down from an originally requested $2 an hour) and another hiring an analyst for the city clerk’s office. The first amendment, proposed by Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, came out of nowhere, and could prove not to be viable from a legal or budgetary standpoint. Such a proposal may have had a better chance if it had been proposed in a timely manner. The second amendment was pro-forma. Then there was council President Frank Bluntson’s request for a list of city employees, their titles and salaries. Regardless of Bluntson’s reasons for wanting the information (they are irrelevant from a legal standpoint), this isn’t his first dance. As outsiders looking in, the request came as an 11th-hour demand, and it put Johnson on the defensive. Bluntson then escalated the confrontation, threatening legal action if Johnson was not forthcoming. We’re curious, too, as to Bluntson’s reasons for wanting the information and have requested a copy through the Freedom of Information Act. There may be nothing to see, but regardless, Johnson has no standing in denying to provide it. The council and the mayor’s office could do a lot better job of picking their battles. In a time when many U.S. cities are on the edge of insolvency, Johnson’s budget may prove to be a marvel, and the sparring makes the entire bunch look like posturing peacocks. No one expects them all to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” but they can surely serve as better examples of a unified city government.
Hump Day Disco
August 31 - September 6, 2011
ig Roscoe: “At Clubb Chicken Wing, a lot of my unemployed customers have jumped on the gripe, moan and complain bandwagon. The vibe here is so sullen that it’s affecting my staff and other customers. I really empathize with those who have been laid off, but I can’t tolerate this aura of gloom, despair and agony at my club. “Clubb Chicken Wing is a place where people come to forget about their troubles and worries, not a place to sit around and mope. It’s time to lift the morale and confidence of the Ghetto Science community. I want Clubb Chicken Wing to live up to its motto: Chill with the ‘peoples’ at Clubb Chicken Wing, where the party is jumpin’ and the grease is poppin’. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce Clubb Chicken Wing’s Weekly Hump Day Job Network Session and Disco. Every Wednesday night, the hopeless will become hopeful with the Back Room Resume Writing Workshop and Job Counseling Rap Session. “Lady ‘Fancy’ McBride will provide dress-for-success, hygiene and grooming tips for job seekers who want to look good and get a job. “Sharpen your computer literacy and social networking skills with IT guru, Aunt Tee Tee Hustle. “Closing out the evening is the Hump Day Disco, featuring the Battle of the Unemployed Deejays. “And don’t forget the extended Hot Wing Happy Hour. Remember: Hot Wings are free for unemployed workers who show their severance-pay check stubs to Little Momma Roscoe at the door.”
Stop Waiting; Start Working
n past columns I’ve spoken about what has been coined the “savior complex,” the tendency of a group, party or race to expect one individual to be the answer to all that ails it. It’s the thought that by electing or appointing the perfect person to a position of power, we can sit back and watch as they magically make everything better with the stroke of a hand. In the black community, locally and nationally, the story has played itself out all too often. Some thought that Martin Luther King Jr. would end all the problems in the black community. When things didn’t move fast enough, out came the complaints. When the Montgomery bus boycott didn’t yield immediate results, folks whispered that King “may not be the one.” When former Jackson Mayor Frank Melton declared he would end crime in 90 days, some folks rejoiced. They actually believed that they could sit at home and watch Melton conduct a one-man crusade against criminals. It’s always easier when you can sit back and watch. Hell, when things fail we can just blame him and absolve ourselves of any culpability. Well, we all know how that “experiment” worked out. Crime still happens in Jackson, and we quickly realized that it would take a concerted effort between our leaders, law enforcement and the courts to curb crime. No one person signals a solution. When America elected its first black president in 2008, I cautiously celebrated. While it was indeed a historical moment, I hoped that black folks wouldn’t mark this as a milestone where all our problems would be fixed. Then there were the “Obama’s gonna pay for my gas and mortgage” clips on You-
tube, and it became an omen of things to come. Fast forward to 2011. President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped below 50 percent. Pundits say he’s losing traction with his black voter base. Unemployment has risen to nearly 16 percent in the black community, and some have rested that issue squarely at the feet of our president. Listen. Blaming Obama for problems in our community is a stretch, at best. Saying that’s he’s not doing enough to address unemployment is a little premature as well. But then again, for those of us who expected everything—from monthly “Obama money” to more black sitcoms on TV— it’s probably a rude awakening. You realize Obama is not a savior. He is but a man, a vessel with no magic, a leader who can only be as effective as his colleagues in Congress and a leader who can only be as effective as his followers. There are no worldly saviors. And though we expect much of our public officials, they cannot singlehandedly change policy within the confines of government. King couldn’t end racism and inequality with speeches and marches. Melton couldn’t end crime with his unorthodox methods, and Obama’s unquestionable swagger is not going to put folks to work or a chicken in every pot. It’s going to take work, work from us all to steer this ship into calmer waters. And, to paraphrase the recent words of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on MSNBC, if you don’t think Obama is focusing enough on black folk, then what’s the alternative? Do you think Rick Perry, Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann have a “black agenda” to roll out? And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
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ny poll conducted in Mississippi posing the question â€œWhatâ€™s your favorite NFL team?â€? would probably produce results something like 94.5 percent Saints, 2.5 percent Cowboys, 1 percent Colts, 1 percent Packers, and 1 percent â€œOther.â€? Iâ€™m part of that â€œOther.â€? So is that Buffalo Bills fan I met at Fenianâ€™s Pub a while back and that lady who passes me on Lakeland Drive every morning with her Washington Redskins bumper sticker. Most Mississippians who grew up in the â€™70s, â€™80s and early â€™90s were fed a steady diet of Saints, but not all of us digested it. Some of us rebelled, often influenced by nothing more than football cards and The George Michael Sports Machine (Google it). Many of us ran to the comfort of Marcus Allen and the Raiders, others to the Montana-to-Rice-era 49ers. Regardless of how and why we landed where we did, each one of us has our story, and those stories interest me. Mine? Glad you asked. It was Millsaps College, Jan. 11, 1987. I was a short, goofy, 11-year-old sitting in the Franklin Hall dormitory lobby, waiting for my parents to finish visiting my older sister Mary, a Millsaps freshman. She was the smart one, the pretty one, the one who listened incessantly to The Police and forced me to go watch the movie â€œDuneâ€? for purely Sting-related reasons. It was at the precise time, on a tan Zenith TV in that lobby, that I witnessed â€œThe Drive.â€? Of course, I didnâ€™t know it was â€œThe Drive.â€? At the time, it was â€œThe 4th Quarter of the Game I Was Watching Before We Went to Burger King.â€? What it became was the worst thing to happen to the city of Cleveland since Lake Erie caught on fire. (Sorry, LeBron. Your exodus doesnâ€™t rank third in my book.) It was 98 yards that changed my life. John Elway ripped the heart out of the Cleveland Browns, one scramble and one clutch conversion at a time. But John Elway wasnâ€™t the one that earned my undying devotion. That day, I fell in love with the Cleveland Brownsâ€”a team with Bernie Kosar, a wily quarterback who looked more like the comedian Gallagher than a hero. A team with a battery-tossing end-zone section called the â€œDawg Pound.â€? A team with uniforms plainer than the ones I sported in the pee wee league. All those rugged football context clichĂŠs seemed to fit them: â€œblue collar,â€? â€œhard-nosed,â€? a defense that will â€œbend but not break.â€? Their fan base mirrored the team, tooâ€”factory worker types. They were the â€œRust Belt Folk.â€? Celebrity stargazers could leave their Sharpies at home for Browns games. On Jan. 11, 1987, the Browns became
my rock. A sealbrown and burntorange rock with no discernible logo, but my rock, nonetheless. Unfortunately, the rest of the league would be filled with too much paper and not enough scissors. Following â€œThe Drive,â€? a rare sequel that eclipses the first ensued: 1988â€™s â€œThe Fumble,â€? starring Earnest Byner. The Browns mustered one last challenge in 1990, but were dealt a convincing 16-point loss to Elway and co. in the AFC Championship Game. Then, the absolute unthinkable happened: In 1996, the Cleveland Browns, eight-time league champions (the last being in 1964), movedâ€”no, were movedâ€”to Baltimore, a town that the Colts jilted in 1984. A Brown became a Raven. A purple and black Raven with â€” gasp! â€” a logo on his helmet. The proud Browns fan base, myself included, retreated to our VHS memories and old Sports Illustrated articles. In 1999, the NFL awarded the city of Cleveland with another Browns franchise. It wasnâ€™t the same. It was like humoring your parents but knowing that the goldfish in the fishbowl wasnâ€™t your old buddy, Roscoe. My Roscoe, the old Browns, had been flushed down the toilet four years ago. I was looking at a stand-in, a wannabe Browns goldfish. Although they remain one of four teams in the league to have never made a Super Bowl, the Browns are on the up-and-up. Iâ€™m part of that, and Iâ€™ve got a Bernie Kosar football card in my wallet to prove it. Football does this to us. It helps define us by what we are and what we are not: Republican; Democrat; Methodist; Baptist; Bulldog; Rebel. Many of my favorite memories are from football games. Itâ€™s why accomplished men and women in their 50s and 60s scour Internet message boards looking for the decision that an 18-year-old from Walnut, Miss., makes about attending college. It frequents groomsâ€™ cakes at weddings. It gives us something better to chat about in elevators other than, â€œItâ€™s hotâ€? or â€œItâ€™s really, really hot.â€? Itâ€™s a sport for everyone, by everyone. Former Redskins quarterback and current ESPN broadcaster Joe Theismann said: â€œNobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.â€? Well said, Joe. Iâ€™m glad you and the rest of the gang are back. Ben Garrott hails from Winona. When heâ€™s not working to improve childrenâ€™s mentalhealth services, he promotes hockey-free Sports Centers. Ben lives in Fondren with his beautiful wife and lovely daughter.
Football gives us something better to chat about in elevators other than, â€˜Itâ€™s hotâ€™ or â€˜Itâ€™s really, really hot.â€™
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