Pallet Ping-Pong | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Pallet Ping-Pong

Photos by Adam Lynch & Jaro Vacek

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton is continuing the war with A-1 Pallet Company this week, saying he will move ahead with the proposed demolition of the company despite a strengthened restraining order against the city.

"The Jackson City Council has approved the demolition of the A-1 Pallet Company. ... That decision is final," Melton said, adding that "as a gesture of good faith" the mayor's office is "willing to help the owners find a new location that is not in a residential neighborhood."

However, city zoning shows that A-1 Pallets, located at 1000 N. Mill St., is not in a residential neighborhood. Despite its adjoining location next to the Historic Farish Street Entertainment District, the company is in an industrialized zone.

Owners Charlotte and Monte Reeves filed a temporary restraining order against the city last month after the city council voted to demolish the business. The order holds until the Jackson Historic Preservation Commission can reach a decision on whether or not to allow the city to go ahead with its plans to demolish the structure.

The Commission voted to grant the business a 60-day reprieve to allow commission members to inspect the property and decide on the city's catalog of code violations against it. Code enforcement officers descended on the business in May, days after Melton declared he wanted the company gone by the end of the year. Officers found numerous violations, including blocked doorways, open pits and pigeons.

The Reeves say they have since cleaned up the site, but were not willing to wait for the commission to decide, instead filing a motion to extend the temporary restraining order. Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas granted the extension July 20, expanding the original order prohibiting the city of Jackson from interfering with business operations to prohibiting "the city of Jackson ... its mayor, city employees and any independent contractor with the city from demolishing any (of the company's) structures or buildings."

"Judging by the history of this mayor, I didn't feel safe not having a firm restraining order against him," Reeves said.

Melton is resolute in his letter, however, and demanded Judge Thomas defend his ruling. "There will be a discussion at the July 31 ... council meeting in which we will invite Judge Thomas to show cause for the extension," Melton wrote, adding that the matter is "a serious environmental issue" and that "the rules (must be) the same for everybody."

Judge Thomas' office did not return calls on the matter, though attorneys say the city would not likely be able to circumvent the restraining order.

"We ignore a restraining order at our peril," said Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matthew Steffey. "If the mayor moves against the order I would expect the mayor to be found immediately in contempt and fined as appropriate. It doesn't matter if every person in the city of Jackson, except the owner and the judge, stands up and says they oppose the court order, they still can't ignore an order from a valid court."

Steffey suggested that the city simply "move (the issue) forward to a court hearing."

To further bolster their protection, in June the Reeveses also filed a bill of exceptions in circuit court against the city's decision to tear down the property. The bill of exceptions itself effectively stalls any further action by a city council or a county board of supervisors until the matter is reviewed by a court. The city must now wait until Hinds County Circuit Court reviews the city's decision, and could put itself into expensive legal trouble if it acts before the court does.

The Mississippi Link filed a similar bill in 2006, after Melton vetoed the council's decision to award the city's legal ads to the newspaper. The Link later sued the city and won the right to publish legal ads.

Previous Comments

ID
67903
Comment

Everyone, don't forget about the protest tomorrow.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T10:07:29-06:00
ID
67904
Comment

Frank: “(T)he rules (must be) the same for everybody.” Except for the ones you don't like.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-07-26T10:11:09-06:00
ID
67905
Comment

golden, you must have seen McMillan's ad. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T10:30:26-06:00
ID
67906
Comment

Melton is resolute in his letter, however, and demanded Judge Thomas defend his ruling. “There will be a discussion at the July 31 ... council meeting in which we will invite Judge Thomas to show cause for the extension,” Melton wrote, adding that the matter is “a serious environmental issue” and that “the rules (must be) the same for everybody.” Now THAT I would like to see! You don't command a Judge to come show cause. FM has truly slipped to the other side of sanity.

Author
honey2me
Date
2007-07-26T10:50:29-06:00
ID
67907
Comment

golden, you must have seen McMillan's ad. :-) I have, but he was nowhere in my mind when I said that.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-07-26T10:53:41-06:00
ID
67908
Comment

melton really thinks he is above the law and I guess he is severely encouraged by his legal victories of distruction on this City and some of its citizens. I continue to wonder why he is so dead set on the A-1 Pallet Co. yet, the McCarty Holman (Jitney Jungle) warehouse is right down the street and is truly an eye sore. What formula does the stupid a$$ council and the dumb a$$ mayor use when deciding on who to mess with next? This man does not understand the unintentional consequences of his negative behavior: Or shall I say that he does not give a flip. Again, the City will be sued and WE will pay as he roams into the sunset finding another group of people who will be foolish enough to support him in his mean spirited undertakings.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-07-26T10:56:08-06:00
ID
67909
Comment

Now THAT I would like to see! You don't command a Judge to come show cause. FM has truly slipped to the other side of sanity. Isn't that typical - expecting a judge to kowtow to him. I don't think the judge will be there. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T11:01:23-06:00
ID
67910
Comment

An educated man, his age, would know better. Apparently melton did not have any civic or government classes during his 12 years of professional school earning three (3) BS degrees. Social Work, Journalism and his latest, PHysical Education. The man is a joke!

Author
justjess
Date
2007-07-26T11:07:47-06:00
ID
67911
Comment

I, personally, believe he's been challenged so little in his life that he has no idea that he can't always have his way.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T11:13:55-06:00
ID
67912
Comment

In other words, all the blind hero worship of him has created a monster.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T11:14:26-06:00
ID
67913
Comment

I will be happy to tutor the city government (indeed anyone) in basic civics.

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-07-26T11:16:33-06:00
ID
67914
Comment

Whatcha got, Wille? I wouldn't mind learning a thing or two myself.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T11:38:43-06:00
ID
67915
Comment

“If the mayor moves against the order I would expect the mayor to be found immediately in contempt and fined as appropriate." Castle Doctrine. Bolstered by the fact that these owners have gotten a restraining order against the perpetrator.

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-07-26T11:46:09-06:00
ID
67916
Comment

A shootout at OK Corral, huh LC? LOL

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T11:52:38-06:00
ID
67917
Comment

If in doubt, DRAW.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T12:12:41-06:00
ID
67918
Comment

I think LawClerk's point is that the Second Amendment is there to protect you from a tyrannical government that won't obey the law. One that would violate your rights, seize your property and put your life in danger at the barrel of a gun, or a baseball bat. Sound familar?

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T12:19:30-06:00
ID
67919
Comment

Right. Except it doesn't work that way. Ask that guy on death row from Jefferson Davis County, isn't it? (hmmm), for shooting the cop who busted in on him. And I'm so sure that the people that Melton pick on could defend themselves from a tyrannical government. Actually, maybe the Reeves could get away with it. Maybe. But it's not like firing on a tyrannical leader and the people he commands to go with him because the city/state won't do anything about him would help anything. We'll probably end up with a dead police officer like back when Skinner was killed by the RNA. (Which, from one way of looking at it, is an example of the kind of think you thing that all these guns are going to protect from—an unannounced attack from the police.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T12:24:42-06:00
ID
67920
Comment

i

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T12:25:07-06:00
ID
67921
Comment

Randy Weaver was was found innocent of all wrongdoing when he protected his family from the ATF/FBI. He was also paid a hefty sum in a civil proceeding.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T12:30:11-06:00
ID
67922
Comment

Right. But that same standard isn't applied to everyone. Thus my RNA example. I would say those folks were no more anti-U.S.-government than the Idaho crowd. But was spun very differently. I'm not, btw, taking sides in any of these. It's complicated, and this is my point.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T12:52:20-06:00
ID
67923
Comment

ladd; "I'm not, btw, taking sides in any of these. It's complicated, and this is my point." Agreed.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T13:01:42-06:00
ID
67924
Comment

Ladd, The Castle Doctrine is not applied to Police Officers. All I'm saying is that Mississippi just passed a law that says people can do what they need to to protect themselves in their car, home, or place of business. That is all. I'm not advocating anything here. The reason that some people pick on others is that they cannot defend themselves. Wonder why this kind of stuff only happens to certain individuals?

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-07-26T13:05:53-06:00
ID
67925
Comment

On the RNA point, I talked to an officer that was on the JPD and heard some pretty bad things about the RNA. He was there when Skinner was killed. I also had the chance to meet Randy Weaver in 2000 at a book signing. It's hard for me to compare the two.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T13:05:54-06:00
ID
67926
Comment

I've also heard some pretty bad things about Weaver. And I have the RNA police reports. As you know, you don't have to agree with the group "attacked" to see that the police overreact and put their own in danger. What happened to Mr. Skinner was awful, but the PD set up a very bad situation with the way they went in to a situation they knew was dangerous. And there are a lot of myths out there on that case, as I'm sure there are on Weaver, etc. Now, we're way-OT. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T13:22:31-06:00
ID
67927
Comment

Are the police on notice that Melton is going to demolish the Pallet Company? They need to protect that business, and if they are not going to, then we need to get the Governor involved, and if not him, then we need to get the Feds involved....

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-07-26T13:26:08-06:00
ID
67928
Comment

yup... I'm out of this one. :-)

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T13:26:12-06:00
ID
67929
Comment

You make a good point, LC. He has said publicly he is going to abolish it. That is a threat. Who is protecting the business and the owners' due process rights? Or, will the state do what it usually does with Melton, and let him do anything he wants? Sometimes, he seems like he must have dirt on most every public official in the state. Otherwise, why won't they do something to stop him?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T13:34:12-06:00
ID
67930
Comment

To LC's point: If Judge Thomas has an order in place, wouldn't the Hinds County Sheriff's Office enforce the TRO?

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T13:39:23-06:00
ID
67931
Comment

Cliff, I would hope so. Because honestly, this can only end bad if he goes in there with sledgehammers (which could be considered a deadly weapon) and starts busting stuff up and threatening people.

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-07-26T13:41:33-06:00
ID
67932
Comment

"Melton is resolute in his letter, however, and demanded Judge Thomas defend his ruling. “There will be a discussion at the July 31 ... council meeting in which we will invite Judge Thomas to show cause for the extension,” Melton wrote,..." So, a judge must show cause in king frankie's court? That's laughable, if not just downright stupid.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-07-26T13:43:20-06:00
ID
67933
Comment

You know it seems to me that Melton goes about all this stuff the wrong way. As the mayor, he should know how to use bureaucracy a little more efficiently. Take for instance, that crack dealer's house he knocked down. Get the code inspection people to check it out, obviously it couldn't come close to passing inspection. Condemn it, kick the guy out, then bulldoze it to rubble. Then, when the slumlord or whoever took it to court, give the property back to them. What do they have left? An empty lot and the satisfaction of beating Melton. Everyone wins! Jackson gets one less crack dealer and one less crack house. I see the same idea for A-1. As the mayor, push for "city beautification ordinances" much in the same way they have in Madision. Obviously, A-1 would never pass, as disgusting as it looks. Next, put a fine attached for everyday the place is in delinquence. Say, $5000 per day. Well, then they either clean up, or face a monster bill from the city. Everyone wins! They clean up, or they sell of the property. Instead, Melton believes his force of ego alone can demolish eye sores and crack houses. I really think he doesn't realize just how fun bureaucracy can be!

Author
Trust
Date
2007-07-26T14:08:05-06:00
ID
67934
Comment

Essentially, I agree with you, Trust. (Alert the media.) You have to go through proper channels. It is important to remember, though, that there hasn't been evidence of the resident of the duplex being a "crack dealer." That he's a drug user and a scrizophrenic, yes. And I know a few well-known folks in North Jackson who would lose their homes if drug use and mental issues were a reason to demolish a house. ;-) I also don't believe there has been evidence that the owner was a "slumlord," certainly not by typical landlord standards in Jackson. But your overall point is good.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T14:16:38-06:00
ID
67935
Comment

And I know a few well-known folks in North Jackson who would lose their homes if drug use and mental issues were a reason to demolish a house. ;-) Or Hollywood...

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T14:20:11-06:00
ID
67936
Comment

LOL. The house was horrible, even before Melton ventilated it with his sludgehammers. I'd say the person that owned that home was not a big fan of renovations, allowed it to decay and essentially was a slumlord.

Author
Trust
Date
2007-07-26T14:33:57-06:00
ID
67937
Comment

Always the charmer, Trust. Actually, the side that was left was not horrible, at least right after it happened. I looked all around it. Did they did just slumlord half of it? That said, I'm not saying Ms. Sutton did everything she could. But I know, well, landlords in Belhaven who won't fix things. If you support tearing down everyplace that isn't repaired, we ahve a big job on our hands. Besides, that still doesn't solve the basic problem that his was never proved to be a drug dealer's home. That was unproved rhetoric. I'd say that Melton wasted a lot of effort on this one if the point was to make a big dent in drug dealing in Jackson.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-07-26T14:39:34-06:00
ID
67938
Comment

LOL. The house was horrible, even before Melton ventilated it with his sludgehammers. I'd say the person that owned that home was not a big fan of renovations, allowed it to decay and essentially was a slumlord. History of the home

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T14:44:35-06:00
ID
67939
Comment

Quotes: Pearl resident Minnie Rhodes, who owned and ran the property before selling it to its new owner Jennifer Sutton less than three years ago, had Welch as a tenant at that time. She said it is not unlikely that Welch was using drugs and boarding other drug users. ... Minnie Rhodes comes with her own storied history involving the property. She says her deceased husband, Clifton Rhodes, built the now shattered house and its neighboring building “with his bare hands” in 1962. “At that time, Virden Addition was just another suburb,” says Rhodes, who with her husband owned more than 100 units of property throughout the Jackson area during the 1970s. “Those two houses on Ridgeway. There was nothing there. Just a shell. He built those houses from the ground up.” Rhodes lost her husband to prostate cancer in 2003 and still aches for Clifton. With no living relatives in Jackson beyond a daughter, she finds herself eyeing her husband’s old handiwork on Ridgeway Street with a ferocious air of protectiveness. “I know I sold the property, but it’s something my husband built. It’s a piece of him and his work, and that man loved his work,” says Rhodes, who considers the recent damage an attack on her husband’s memory. ... The home’s new owner Jennifer Sutton is a single mom who Rhodes describes as “never having missed a payment.” Rhodes says Sutton has regularly paid over the monthly price and was three-quarters of the way through her total payments when Melton allegedly struck. Rhodes says Sutton is working in an industry that is not kind to women. “Being a landlord in her part of town is no job for a woman,” Rhodes says. “Not these days. These days drugs are making the job dangerous, so I have to admire Jennifer’s will.” Sutton, who works full time in the health industry, agreed that it wasn’t easy keeping property up while working full time. “I work most of the time, and I can’t say I’m around to watch things 24 hours a day, but I believe my houses are clean,” she says. “I do what I can to keep them up and keep drugs out of them, but I can’t watch them all the time.” Sutton lives only a few streets away from the Ridgeway property, in a home overhanging the Livingston Road railroad tracks. It is a house inundated with houseplants and buried beneath the shade of large oak trees. The landlord said she went into the real-estate business in the hopes of helping make ends meet, and explains that profits are slim in a high-upkeep neighborhood like Ridgeway. She faces a very unique new setback now: home insurance in her neighborhood does not cover city officials with sledgehammers. “You can’t get insurance on property like this,” Sutton said. “You have to have liability in case somebody’s hurt, but you can’t get insurance on something like this. It’ll cost so much it’ll eat whatever profit you make.”

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-07-26T14:44:56-06:00
ID
67940
Comment

You know it seems to me that Melton goes about all this stuff the wrong way. truth O RLY? You just now realized it? As the mayor, he should know how to use bureaucracy a little more efficiently. Take for instance, that crack dealer's house he knocked down. Get the code inspection people to check it out, obviously it couldn't come close to passing inspection. Condemn it, kick the guy out, then bulldoze it to rubble. trust Aren't you forgetting that he was drunk, and has a penchant for irrational decisions? Even told you about the irrational part during the election. You guys should have listened better! Bureaucracy has it's place and it is specifically for instances like the Ridgeway incident.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-07-26T16:57:10-06:00

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