On June 14, Mayor Frank Melton held a press conference at the airport in Madison before boarding a private plane for a flight to Dallas. Melton was off, he said, to meet with a billionaire investor who wanted to invest in "everything," including the King Edward Hotel and Farish Street.
Melton was coy with the investor's name, and none of the other press in attendance knew who the investor might be, despite the fact that award-winning JFP reporter Adam Lynch reported on Melton's dalliance with Gene Phillips on April 19 ("Who Gets to Crown the King?").
Phillips, owner of Basic Capital Management, Inc., of Dallas, lords over one of the largest privately owned real-estate management companies in the country.
BCM and Phillips violated antifraud and stock accumulation reporting provisions in securities laws when they did not report a large acquisition of Greenbriar stock, according to a September 2002 filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Phillips and BCM settled the violation without admitting guilt, paying $850,000 in fines.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson is attempting to link Phillips to former Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher, saying Fisher accepted money and gifts from Phillips, his family and business associates, according to a March 20, 2006, AP story. Prosecutors say the bribe included a $25,000 check, another $25,000 in campaign contributions and $20,000 in office furniture. Fisher was impeached by the state House of Representatives and was later convicted of perjury and embezzling his own campaign funds. Phillips has not been indicted by a grand jury.
When one of the reporters present asked Melton about the agreements he had already made with the current group of investors in the King Edward Hotel, Melton replied, "The agreement is there, but what I'm looking for now is a back door."
Melton also said that he would continue to carry weapons on police raids, even in places where this is illegal. "I was elected by the people of Jackson to take care of crime," Melton said, "and that's exactly what I'm going to do. When the people of Jackson decide that they want me to do something different, then I'll do something different. I respect Jim Hood. He's a great friend and he's been very helpful to me personally. ... But my obligation happens to be to the taxpayers and the citizens of Jackson."
A reporter noted that this statement made it sound like Melton was ignoring Attorney General Jim Hood's instructions. "No ma'am," Melton replied, "not at all. But I was out last night, the night before last, the night before that and the night before that. And I did have weapons on me, and I have weapons on me right now."
We all asked really nicely, but Melton would not show us his weapons.
Melton also offered a first hint of his plans to tackle youth crime. "I'm not only going to arrest the children, but I'm going to arrest their parents, too," he said.
I asked him how he could do this within the limits of the law.
"Creatively," Melton replied.
Melton showed just how "creative" he is willing to be this Tuesday when he unveiled a proposal for declaring a state of emergency that would unilaterally expand the city's youth curfew ordinance to begin at 8 p.m. on weekdays. The proposal cited youth crime itself as a justification for declaring a state of emergency, though there is no evidence of a surge in juvenile crime.
Finally, the game of musical chairs on media contacts continues. When asked who the media should contact for information from the city, Melton said: "I think, at this point, I'd be more comfortable if you talked to me."
A reporter asked Melton whether Brendon Bell was still the spokesman for the police department. "I haven't spoken to Brendon in quite a while," Melton replied, "but if you need anything, all you have to do is call me."
The reporter pointed out that Melton is often very difficult to reach.
On Tuesday, Melton announced that Commander Tyrone Lewis would be the new city spokesman, and Commander Lee Vance would be the new spokesman for the police.
Around the same time, City Spokeswoman Carolyn Redd told JFP Editor Donna Ladd that all media inquiries should be directed to her, though she rarely returns our calls and has said in the past that she will not speak to us.
"I don't think there will ever be a single spokesman for the city," she said
You can say that again.
Early edition of the Public Eye. Some of this almost seems like old news and it was updated yesterday! Mr. Melton, could you take a day off so we can catch up with your crazy news cycles? ;)
- Brian C Johnson
How the people who supported this man can sit idly by and let him make a mockery of our great city befuddles me? How can locally elected leaders keep a straight face while condoning these antics, which fly in the face of the same Constitution they claim to understand and defend?
I was trying to find the appropriate spot to blog this entry. Hopefully we can get some dialogue started about this issue: Frank Melton has committed other violations that are being investigated by the AG. Does anyone know what he did and when he did it? He admits to packing guns, concealed and displayed, at all times. He continues to make a case for his life being threatened.
What is the status of this investigation? Will he be prosecuted as stated by the AG if he violates any of the laws broken in the past that were filed by the DA?
This issue should, in my opinion, should stay on the front burner. It will help to keep FM in check and it will als let us know if the AG is worth his salt.
As you can see from the photo in this week's issue of the JFP, Melton carried a firearm into St. Andrew's Cathedral last week. That explicitly violates the terms of the letter Hood sent him. I have no doubt that Melton is carrying his weapons into other restricted areas.
I assume that this is what the AG is investigating. We'll have to see what he decides.
- Brian C Johnson
By the way, here is a brief on where things stand with the attorney general now.
- Brian C Johnson