The League of Women Voters of the Jackson Area released the results of a legislative candidate poll that asked candidates if they support Amendment (Initiative) 42 with the options: Yes, No or Undecided. So far, seven Senate candidates and eight House candidates have responded. See your candidate's stance below.
John Horhn (D): Yes
Hillman Frazier (D): Yes
Sollie Norwood (D): Yes
David Blount (D): Yes
Josh Harkins (R): No
William Billingsley (R): No
Kathryn Perry (D): Undecided
Ray Rogers (R): Yes
Brad Oberhousen (D): Yes
Machelle Shelby Kyles (D): Yes
Kenneth Shearrill (D): Yes
Sam Begley (D): Yes
Tammy Cotton (D): Yes
Kathy Sykes (D): Yes
Adrienne Wooten (D): Yes
Cory Wilson (R): No
Jarvis Dortch (D): Yes
(Senate candidates who did not respond with "Yes, No or Undecided" answer: Barbara Blackmon (D), Kenneth Jones (D), Stephen Thompson (D), Eclecius Franklin (D), Will Longwitz (R), Ponto Downing (R), James Broadwater (R) and Dean Kirby (R). House candidates who did not respond with "Yes, No or Undecided" answer: Philip Gunn (R), Bruce Bartley (R), Joel Bomgar (R), Brent Powell (R), John Moore(R), Paul Buisson (R), Randall Stephens (R), Tom Weathersby (R), Wesley Wilson (R), Bill Denny (R), James Perry (R), Ed Blackmon (D), Debora Dixon (D), Earl Banks (D), Credell Calhoun (D), Alyce Clark (D), Plavise Patterson (D), Kimberly Campbell (D) and Corinthian Sanders (D).)
This post has been updated to reflect that Sam Begley, Democratic candidate for House District 70, Jarvis Dortch, Democratic candidate for House District 66 both support Initiative 42.
The mayor's office just sent out the following the release about the situation in south Jackson:
The City of Jackson will temporarily switch to the well water system in south Jackson as crews work to locate a 42-inch water line break.
The transition to the well system begins immediately to allow the city’s water system to recharge and alleviate low-water pressure in areas of south Jackson and the City of Byram.
As a result of the switch to the well water system, customers may experience discoloration and changes in taste and odor due to the well water mixing with surface water. This mix of well and surface water is safe to drink and use. City crews have already begun flushing hydrants to remove any discolored water from the lines.
Effective immediately, The City of Jackson is strongly urging voluntary water conservation measures for all customers served by the City’s Water System. The city’s Department of Public Works has determined that system-wide voluntary water conservation measures are needed at this time to allow the system to recharge and to improve areas of low water pressure as the city’s crews work to determine the location of a critical water line failure.
While the voluntary water conservation notice is in effect, all water system customers are strongly urged to eliminate nonessential uses of water, which include the following:
· The use of hoses, sprinklers or other means for sprinkling or watering of shrubbery, trees, lawns, grass, plants, vines, gardens, vegetables, flowers or other vegetation.
· The use of water for washing automobiles, trucks, trailers, trailer houses or other type of mobile equipment.
· The washing of streets, driveways, parking lots, service station aprons, office buildings, exterior of homes, sidewalks, apartments or other outdoor surfaces.
· The operation of an ornamental fountain or other structures making a similar use of water.
· The use of water for filling swimming or wading pools.
The city greatly appreciates your assistance in ensuring that all customers will continue to receive safe, adequate and reliable water service.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call 601.960.2723 or 601.960.1777.
The city's new water billing system, part of the controversial $91 million Siemens contract, is scheduled to go live at the end of August.
According to a city press release: "Residents will soon experience updates to their water billing as part of comprehensive upgrades the City of Jackson has initiated with Siemens through its water infrastructure improvement project. The Customer Care and Billing System (CC&B) implementation will provide the City with a modern software platform and enhanced management tools that will greatly improve the customer experience."
The new system should increase "efficiency of meter reading and water billing, eventual elimination of the need for estimated bills, and a reduced need for personnel to enter property" and "will also be able to track usage patterns, allowing the city to potentially detect leaks on a property through abnormal usage patterns. Implementation of the new system will occur in two phases."
Three key changes become effective Monday, August 31:
· Water bills will be sent MONTHLY (instead of every other month) for more timely information and more efficient budget management. Payments will be due on a monthly basis and bills paid through an automatic bank draft will be drafted every month.
· Customers will have a NEW ACCOUNT NUMBER that will need to be used for payment to be processed.
· The new bill format will be EASIER TO READ and provide more detailed account information. During the initial installation period for the CC&B, the City may need to estimate bills every other month as it verifies the system upgrade. The estimated bills will be based on an average of actual consumption from prior billing periods, and will be identified on the bill with the abbreviation (EST) immediately after the reading. Once implementation is complete, bills will begin moving to the monthly cycle and eventually will be based on actual meter reads/consumption each month.
The city continued: "Phase Two of the CC&B implementation is expected in late 2015, and will involve rolling out the system’s full capabilities so customers can experience the complete benefits of the system. This includes the ability to view water usage online, online payment options, and the ability to consolidate irrigation and residential water bills. Customers will be notified when these features are activated."
For more information on the CC&B implementation and the water infrastructure improvement project, please visit: www.jacksonms.gov/water. Customers with specific concerns about their bill should contact the City’s Water and Sewer Business Administration Office at 601-960-2000.
The Texas Department of Safety has posted a 52-minute video of the Sandra Bland traffic stop, showing the state trooper threaten Bland with a Taser, a detail that he didn't put in his arrest report.
The state admitted that it has not met court-order requirements in a 7-year-old lawsuit, Olivia Y v. Bryant, intended to change the state's foster care system. Gov. Bryant has agreed to hire an Executive Director of the Department of Family and Children's Services, which will soon become a cabinet-level position. Additionally, a group will be hired to consult with the state over the next four months and recommend changes necessary to protect Mississippi children going forward. Bryant has also agreed to call a special session of the legislature if the recommendations require legislative changes.
The press release from A Better Childhood, an advocacy organization that works on behalf of abused and neglected children, has been re-printed below in full:
Facing an evidentiary hearing for contempt scheduled to begin in federal court on August 10, the state has conceded that it has not met court-ordered requirements in the 7-year-old lawsuit, Olivia Y v. Bryant, intended to reform the state’s foster care system.
In an Agreed Order submitted to Judge Tom Lee on July 21, the state agreed with factual charges made against it in reports submitted by the court-appointed monitor. In the Order, the parties also agreed on steps that will determine whether the plaintiffs will continue to seek a receivership, this time based on specific recommendations from a neutral consulting group, or whether the state can and will make the changes necessary to finally reform the Mississippi foster care system.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who are all of the children in foster care in the state, had asked the court to find the state in contempt of the court orders for reform, and to appoint a receiver to take over the administration of the state’s foster care system. The state’s admission of non-compliance resolves the first part of the contempt motion. The order submitted to the court today directs the employment of an expert group to make recommendations to achieve compliance, and leaves open the question whether a receiver will be required to administer the state’s foster care system.
The lawsuit was filed in 2004, asserting widespread violations of children’s constitutional rights in the foster care system. Although the case was settled in 2008, the state has never been in compliance with the terms of the settlement.
This is the second contempt motion filed in the case. After the first motion, a new settlement agreement was approved by the Court, but failed to produce necessary results.
“It was clear to us, given the state’s history in implementing these court orders, that the state simply lacks the capacity or the will to run a child welfare system that protects the children of Mississippi,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of A Better Childhood, a national advocacy organization that works on behalf of abused and neglected children. “We have asked the federal court to appoint a receiver to take over the system. However, we think the appointment of a well-qualified expert group to make specific recommendations is an important step ...
Bryant arms the National Guard in response to concerns for soldier safety.
A new polling analysis published by examiner.com indicates something about Mississippi that has been in the works for a while: Based on recent elections, our state is trending blue.
Based on polling data on a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump showdown in 2016, Mississippi is one of the few Deep South states that would go for Clinton in that matchup.
This analysis might surprise many who think that Mississippi is the reddest state of the red (especially based on our statewide cavemen, er, elected officials). But several facts make it much more complicated than at first glance:
State Democrats have provided very few even-marginally-progressive options historically, giving younger and less-conservative choices to vote for, creating voter lethargy among those who might turn out and vote "blue" otherwise. That fact is actually changing this year, with several openly progressive (and female) Democrats getting at least some party support, instead of the pseudo-Republicans the party has tended to put up in the last 20 years.
More young people of all races are staying in Mississippi, and many of them are voting Democratic, and have since 2004.
Demographics, demographics, demographics. The irony of Mississippi being the state with the highest percentage of enslaved people in 1860 is that our state still has the highest percentage of African Americans and is more likely than much of Dixie to go blue first. Put simply, African Americans tend to vote Democratic, ever since the Republican Party embrace of Dixiecrats back in the late 1960s after national Dems supported civil-rights laws, and we have the highest percentage of black residents in the country.
And, let's be honest, even many Republicans don't want bat-shit-crazy Trump running this country.
Finally, to be honest again, a lot of white people like Clinton better than Obama (even if I'm not one of them).
So, there are no surprises here: Mississippi has been steadily trending blue for a while now. The question, as always, is: Will the people who can flip the state into the blue column turn out both this November (to save public-education funding and turn out a governor who makes us look like the most stuck-in-the-past state) and next November?
Time, and voter registration, will tell. Progressive (which is easy to be here by rejecting the radical right) Mississippians must find the will to stop giving up our power to sellouts to bigotry and backward ideas (and ideologues) to lift our state up. I've watched this will grow since we started this paper in 2002—and saw serious evidence of it when we turned back Personhood, shocking the nation—and I believe in upcoming elections we may well surprise the world once again. I've believed this was coming for nearly 15 years now.
Stay tuned and register to vote.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case, several media outlets reverted and retreated to their ideological lines.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, has garnered national attention in an article by Robbie Ward, former DJ reporter, on the Huffington Post about their now-public stance on same-sex marriage. The third-largest newspaper in the state will not be publishing same-sex wedding or engagement announcements. In a Bible-based op-ed piece, publisher and CEO of Journal, Inc., Clay Foster wrote that "while this decision will require states to issue 'marriage' licenses to same-sex couples, this does not make it acceptable to God." It does not make it acceptable to Foster, either, who advised employees not to post their opinions on same-sex marriage on social media. Employees were also told that if they disagreed with or "didn't like" Foster's op-ed, they could leave.
The Huffington Post printed parts of an internal email sent to leaders at weekly publications from associate publisher, Charlotte Wolfe, that said, "Our job is to report the news objectively and we can't do this if we're also on social media sharing our opinions. We have a right to our opinions, but because we are so tightly connected to our newspaper products, we don't need to vocalize this on social media."
It appears that the Daily Journal is the only news outlet, thus far, in Mississippi that has taken such a hard political (or biblical) line against the Supreme Court's ruling, asking employees to stay silent on the issue even in their personal, public personas.
Other Mississippi newspapers are not following the Daily Journal's lead. The Huffington Post article reported the Clarion-Ledger, The Commercial Dispatch and Starkville Daily News will all (continue to) accept same-sex marriage and engagement announcements.
Jonathan Sanders Story: Clarion-Ledger He-Was-No-Angeled the Black Horse-and-Buggy Driver Killed by White CopBy R.L. Nave
Sadly, it was only a matter of time before it happened here in Mississippi--a black man was killed by a white cop amid mysterious circumstances and officials are trying to keep tensions from simmering.
It happened on late Wednesday night in tiny Stonewall when, according to various media outlets, a 39-year-old black man named Jonathan Sanders had some sort of altercation with a white officer named Kevin Herrington.
Stewart Parrish, an attorney Sanders had once hired to represent him on a case, told Meridian television WTOK that Sanders was riding in a buggy exercising his horses when Herrington stopped Sanders, initiating an altercation that ended in Sanders' death, reportedly by choking.
The exact details are, of course, muddy. Early reports suggested that Herrington used a flashlight to subdue Sanders. Stonewall Police Chief Michael Street denied those reports, but hasn't gone into much detail about the incident that happened between 10:30 and 11 o'clock at night, citing his department's ongoing investigation. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is handling the case.
"We just ask that the citizens allow that to take place, not to try to take anything out in the streets. Our door is open," Street told WTOK.
Street's comments are an obvious reference to protests sparked by the deaths of African American men by--often white--police officers in the past year. Sanders' death is hauntingly similar to that of Eric Garner in New York City last summer. Like Garner, Sanders reportedly told Herrington that he couldn't breathe in the moments before he died, Parrish told the media.
The Guardian reported that Chief Street said "Sanders had no active warrants against him and that Harrington did not know who he was when the confrontation took place."
However, that didn't stop Jackson's local daily newspaper, the Clarion-Ledger, from using Sanders' mugshot (most other media outlets chose a picture of the victim warmly smiling with family members or with his horses; see below) and devoted the end of its story to talking about his rap sheet, writing:
"Sanders had crossed paths with authorities before. Circuit Clerk Beth Jordan said Sanders was out on bond from an April arrest for possession of cocaine, and that he had been convicted on charges of sale of cocaine in 2003."
The paper went on to point out: "MDOC Communications Director Grace Fisher said Sanders was given five years to serve with five years probation. He was released on May 23, 2007. Sanders' arrest record also shows arrests dating back to 2001 for disturbance of the family peace, sale of a counterfeit substance, domestic violence, and some traffic violations.
Several dozen commenters took the paper to task. Said one woman in the comments section: "Never fails; the weaponless dead victim is always prosecuted in the media to deflect how they ended up dead at the hands of police. Shame on the Clarion-Ledger."
As for the officer, the C-L made a point of noting that Herrington, according to Chief Street, "has never received any complaints of ...
Here's an interesting factoid for those of you discussing the Civil War and slavery about Hinds County, which contains Jackson, the capital, of course. It's from this link, where you can also link to a number of other Mississippi counties and see the numbers of slaves that some of the larger slave holders of the time owned. This was the scenario when "firewater" Gov. John Pettus led the secession of Mississippi from here in Jackson over slavery:
According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Hinds County population included 8,940 whites, 36 "free colored" and 22,363 slaves. By the 1870 census, the white population had increased 10% to 9,829, and the "colored" population had dropped about 8% to 20,659. (As a side note, by 1960, 100 years later, the County was listed as having 112,205 whites, more than a twelve fold increase, but the 1960 total of 94,750 "Negroes"was only about four times what the colored population had been 100 years before.)
It's tough history, but important.
Marriage—it's what brings us together.
That is, unless you live in Yazoo County and were planning on having a justice court judge officiate your ceremony.
Earlier this week, Judges Pam May and Bennie Warrington sent a letter to the board of supervisors saying they wanted to opt out of having to perform marriage ceremonies.
In a WJTV news report, Yazoo Supervisor Caleb Rivers presumed the letter was spurred by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages across the country. Rivers said the board voted unanimously to let the judges stop doing any marriages at all.
It was only a matter of time. Not long after the SCOTUS at the end of June, state Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, suggested that the state get out of the business of marriage licenses. Up in Grenada County, a circuit clerk who was retiring anyway bowed out a few months early because she didn't want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"I believe you can do whatever you want to do in the privacy of your own home but as for Yazoo County we're just not going to allow it," Rivers, the supervisor, told WJTV's reporter.
Love birds looking to tie the knot in Yazoo County needn't fret, though.
Robert Coleman, the circuit clerk there, confirmed to the JFP that his office will still be issuing marriage licenses.
It'll just be up to couples to find someone—other than justice court judges—willing to perform the marriages.
In an occasional blog series I'm inaugurating here, I'd like to pull forward some debate that's happening in the comments and examine a variety of the myths and legends that surround the South's participation in the civil war.
From the comments section came this one from Claude Shannon:
The war was fought over money and power. In 1860, 80% of all federal taxes were paid for by the south. 95% of that money was spent on improving the north.
Now I'm not a history scholar, but I do get curious when things just kinda sound wrong.
First... even if we assume that's true (which, as you'll see later, I can't) I think the construct is disingenuous, as it suggests that "the South" had very little say in the matter and no recourse but secession given the rapacious chokehold that the North apparently had on the South in terms of political power and usurious taxation.
It's a dramatic picture, but there are a few caveats:
1.) Democrats (the party that included most all Southern politicians) controlled Congress leading up to the Civil War (they lost the House in 1859) and had a Democratic president in the "doughface" Buchanan. (The term being one that suggests a Northern with Southern sympathies.)
2.) The Tariff of 1857 was authored and supported by Southern legislators (the primary author was Virginia Senator Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, who would later be pictured on the Confederate $10 bill) and it lowered tariffs to a level they hadn't hit in 50 years.
Remember that through most of 1800-1860 there was no income tax on individuals and businesses or other taxes (sales, property) as we define them today -- Federal taxes were almost exclusively tariffs on imports. (The Nullification Crisis had come when tariffs were considerably higher in order to pay down debts from the War of 1812.)
So, "taxes" were considerably lower leading up to the war.
But then... if there's evidence that "The South" paid "80 percent" of those tariffs they'd managed to lower, I can't find it.
As noted here, about 63% of Federal revenue was collected as tariffs on shipments that went through just the Port of New York alone. And those tariffs were collected from the merchants who imported them.
Aside from New York, there were certainly other ports in the North; so an argument that "The South" paid 80% of tariffs -- e.g. that 80% of imported and taxed goods went through Southern ports where the taxes were paid by Southern importers -- isn't correct.
(The tariffs were also protectionist in nature, and likely benefitted both the North and South as they made locally produced goods more attractive.)
If there's a more esoteric argument that says somehow the South ultimately bought 80% of those goods and therefore experienced the markup that came from them being taxes, I haven't seen it, but it would be interesting to read and parse.
One other point to make on tariffs -- the Southern states ...
We don't get to say we're number one in many good things, but here's a nice one... according to The Tax Foundation, $100 in Mississippi is worth the most of any state in the country (an equivalent of $115.21).
If there's anything we've known about Jackson for a while, is it's a pretty decent place to be "broke" (by which we mean college-student-level broke, not impoverished).
Mississippi native Duvalier Malone has started a petition to remove the Confederate symbol from the Mississippi state flag. The online petition form has over 1,100 signatures. In a statement, Malone said he "wants to create enough momentum for Mississippi to have another referendum vote on the flag, which will hopefully result in positive change."
The petition is written in letter format, and Malone cites recent racially motivated violence in Jackson as well as the Charleston massacre, saying that positive change can come from such atrocities.
He writes, "Now is the time to join forces and face this issue, which has cast a shadow on our state for too long. Even Republican Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn agrees: Now is the time to leave the Confederate battle flag behind us -- before another innocent person is attacked in its name."
As previously reported by the Jackson Free Press, unless Gov. Bryant calls a special session, the flag debate will have to wait until January for the Legislature. If the petition turns into a ballot initiative, it would need a minimum of 107,216 signatures, with specific number requirements from each of the five congressional districts.
He may not be leading money totals or straw polls, but Senator Bernie Sanders apparently did something that no other candidate has done yet in the 2016 presidential race... he had a record crowd last night in Wisconsin, pushing 10,000 people. Interesting.
During the last couple weeks of talking about the Confederacy (and the state flag that celebrates it), we've encountered any number of historic inaccuracies in the arguments of those who don't want to change our state flag.
One of them is that (a) not many white Mississippians even owned slaves and (b) that only 6 to 10 percent of Confederate soldiers owned slaves.
Here are the problems with that argument as the chart and link before bring into full relief. As you can see in this excellent MPB documentary, many Confederates soldiers were just 17 or 18 years old. But many of the soldiers' families owned at least one or two slaves.
Based on 1860 Census results, 49 percent of Mississippi households owned slaves at the start of the Civil War, and more than half the population of our state—55 percent—were slaves. Slavery was massive here and directed affected nearly half the white families in Mississippi, including some who weren't as wealthy as the planters who owned many slaves (and who were at first exempt from fighting in the Civil War when the Confederacy instituted a draft, but that's another subject).
The chart below shows the number of slaves in all of the states that existed at the start of the Civil War.
Also, read my column this week, "Driving Old Dixie Down," for many links to historic sources about Mississippi and other Confederate states at the start of the war, including extensive evidence of why the Confederacy formed: in order to have a strong central federal government to force slaves on any new states, and to ensure that it got its runaway slaves back.
Jere Nash, co-author with Andy Taggart of "Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2006," posted this information about the vote to change the state flag in 2001. It is from their book, and this is his verbatim post, with his permission, about the people who turned out to vote:
"As debate continues about what to do with the Mississippi Flag, I wanted to highlight some of the information Andy and I included in our 2006 book about the April 17, 2001 special flag election. More Mississippians went to the polls that day than voted in the 1999 governor’s election. The 1894 flag prevailed over the alternative new flag by 494,323 votes to 273,359. Of the 1,311 majority white precincts in the state at the time, only 43 supported the new flag. Of those precincts, eighteen were in the Jackson metro area and twelve were in university towns. According to the 2000 Census there were 43 precincts with no African American residents, and the margin in those precincts in favor of the 1894 Flag was 5,887 to 221, or 96.4 percent. In the 408 precincts which had 50 or fewer African Americans, the margin in favor of the 1894 Flag was 89,112 to 8,014, or 91.8 percent. Only two precincts at the time had no white residents. The margin in favor of the new flag in those two precincts was 421 to 5, or 98.8 percent. In the 94 precincts with 50 or fewer white residents, the margin in favor of the new flag was 23,098 to 1,115, or 95.4 percent. Our analysis of all the precincts showed that 90 percent of white voters supported the 1894 flag and 95 percent of black voters supported the new flag design."
Update: Now there are only three counties in the state not issuing same-sex marriage licenses according to Unity MS. The Campaign for Southern Equality and ACLU of Mississippi have compiled a map of the counties that are (and aren't) issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. For updates see the list here. Counties not issuing licenses are either waiting for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay on the Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant case or are waiting on new marriage licensing forms.
The counties currently not issuing licenses are:
Holmes and Issaquena counties are waiting for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay on the Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant case.
Smith County is waiting for an updated system and forms.
Resignation over Retirement: Circuit Clerk Resigns because She Won’t Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Due to ‘Religious Beliefs’By adreher
The Grenada County circuit clerk resigned today because she did not want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to an AP report, Linda Barnette has served as the circuit clerk in Grenada County for 24 years, and was scheduled to retire after the November elections. She decided she couldn’t wait, however, because legalizing a same-sex marriage goes against her religious beliefs.
According to Campaign for Southern Equality’s Lindsey Simerly, as of Monday 49 counties in the state are issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Technically the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. on Friday should overrule the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, that is expected to lift its stay on the Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant case soon. However, following a statement by Attorney General Jim Hood issued on Monday, some county clerks have decided to wait until the stay is lifted to begin issuing licenses. Regardless, Simerly also said that no one should have to drive more than an hour in Mississippi to get a marriage license now.
The Mississippi case will likely move forward after both sides have filed briefs requested by July 1.
Here's the report for the City of Jackson -- I can attest to the resurfacing on Jefferson; looking pretty good!
Crews repairing potholes on areas of N. Roach Street, Rose Street, First Avenue, Keele Street, E. Manor Drive, Meadowbrook Road, Harrow Drive, Northpointe Drive.
Crews resurfacing on S. Jefferson Street.