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February 5, 2016

Fantasy Sports Site Offers 'Live Fantasy' Game for GOP Debate

By toddstauffer

The website BoomFantasy.com, which up until now has focused on sports, is launching a "live fantasy" game to coincide with the GOP debate planned for Saturday, February 6, 2016.

For sporting events, the website focuses on in-game predictions such as "What will be the result of Payton Manning's next throw?"

For the debate, questions will hinge more on typical talking points and drinking-game style observations, such as: "Who will Donald Trump go after next? Which will be mentioned first: Ted Cruz's Canadian citizenship or his questionable Iowa tactics?"

Saturday's Republican debate, which begins at 8 pm ET, will be the first ever non-sports event for the Stanford startup, according to a press release.

"Watching Trump and Cruz combat each other seems like more of a sporting event than the Nets-76ers game on Saturday evening," said Stephen A. Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Boom Fantasy, in the release. "Our live fantasy format adds fun and excitement to all types of events, not just athletic contests."

After Saturday's foray into politics, Boom Fantasy returns to football on Sunday, when the Broncos face the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

Boom Fantasy games can be played for real prize money in 12 U.S. states - California, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Residents of all states can participate in free-to-play tournaments, according to the company.

Boom Fantasy can be played at www.boomfantasy.com, and is available in the App Store and on Android.

February 4, 2016

UN Working Group That Came to Jackson Files Report on Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia, Afrophobia

By R.L. Nave

The United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent visited Jackson in late January. Read a column by human-rights attorney Adofo Minka on the significance of their work. Here are the group's initial findings:

WASHINGTON D.C. (29 January 2016) - The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent thanks the Government of United States of America for its invitation to visit the country, from 19-29 January 2016, and for its cooperation. This visit is a follow up to the 2010 visit of the WGEPAD and includes other cities. We thank in particular the Department of State for arranging the visit and the local authorities who met with the Working Group during our visit to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Jackson-Mississippi, Chicago and New York City. We would like to give special thanks to the hundreds of civil society representative organizations, lawyers and individuals from the African American community for sharing their concerns and recommendations with our delegation. We also thank numerous human rights defenders and activists who reached out to us from other parts of the country that we could not visit.

The Working Group regrets that it did not receive access according to the terms of reference for special procedure mandate holders to visit Mississippi State Penitentiary Parchman. It also regrets that it was not possible to meet with all of the high level state and local level authorities requested.

The views expressed in this statement are of a preliminary nature, our findings and recommendations will be presented in our mission report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2016.

During the visit, the Working Group assessed the situation of African Americans and people of African descent and gathered information on the forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance that they face. We studied the official measures and mechanisms taken to prevent structural racial discrimination and protect victims of racism and hate crimes as well as responses to multiple forms of discrimination. The visit focused on both good practices and challenges faced in realising their human rights.

We welcome the work of the Civil Rights centers, in all Government departments, and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission that implement the Civil Rights legislation through investigation of complaints, litigation, issuance of guidance and remedies including compensation.

We also acknowledge the work of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division regarding access to justice, investigations of excessive use of force by the police and patterns of discrimination.

We welcome the recent steps taken by the Government to reform the criminal justice system and combat racial discrimination and disparities through the following initiatives:

  • The Fair Sentencing Act.
  • The Justice Department's "Smart on Crime" initiative.
  • The report and recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to strengthen community-police relationships across the country.
  • The new Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Or Gender Identity
  • The Guidance for consideration ...

February 3, 2016

Yarber Responds to Airport Legislation: 'Takeover'

By toddstauffer

Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber responded today to a bill proposed by Senator Josh Harkins of Rankin County designed to give the Governor control of a regional board that would oversee the Jackson airport; the airport is currently run by a board that is appointed by the mayor of Jackson and confirmed by the Jackson city council.

February 2, 2016

Hillary Name-Checks Jackson Over Lead Contamination

By toddstauffer

Out on the campaign trail, former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton mentioned Jackson in comments that included a discussion of the lead-contaminated water problems that Flint, Michigan is facing.

According to a piece today in Salon.com, Clinton jumped out in front of her rival Bernie Sanders in embracing Jackson's lead-contamination issues as campaign fodder.

"I was concerned to hear that tests of drinking water in Jackson, Mississippi, revealed elevated levels of lead in some homes," Clinton said.

Reflecting a subtext that Michigan GOP-led state government had taken over Flint's water system, creating the lead-contamination problem and responding slowly to calls to act, Clinton continued: "I’m heartened that Jackson city officials are taking the right steps to fix the problem, including repeated testing and openness with the results, so families can stay informed."

"As the emergency in Flint, Michigan, has made clear, cities and states must treat these situations with the utmost seriousness, and do everything in their power to ensure that families – especially children – have access to safe, clean drinking water. And we as a nation must make urgent investments to modernize our utilities and infrastructure, to keep families and communities safe and healthy," Salon quoted Clinton as saying.

Mayor Tony Yarber, in a statement quoted by WJTV, responded: "We appreciate the acknowledgment of the City’s proactive response and transparency in dealing with our water concerns. Secretary Clinton notes that this appears to be a home-dependent issue. The results are pending on the second round of testing, but we must reiterate that our City’s water system is in compliance and our drinking water is safe. We will continue to keep the public informed."

Yarber went on, perhaps in an effort to make sure a potential future president of the United States heard about Jackson's infrastructure funding woes: "Serious concern has been expressed about the $540 billion funding gap that exists for water infrastructure in this country. That concern needs to be followed with a serious federal funding plan that invests more money in grant programs, particularly for disadvantaged communities.”

January 29, 2016

Mississippi Nationally Recognized for Not Lying

By sierramannie

Mississippi might not top every list in educational achievement, but at least it’s straightforward about it.

It pays to be honest. Achieve.org recognized the state for closing the “honesty gap”—the difference between how much students have actually improved on National Assessment of Educational Performance examinations and how much students are reported to have improved on NAEP examinations for the 2014-2015 school year.

A Mississippi Department of Education press release explains that the Achieve.org report released last May revealed many states mislead the public on whether or not their students are actually proficient in basic math and reading skills. Mississippi's NAEP results have improved, with figures in the double digits showing that improvement. In 2014, in fact, Bailey APAC Middle School and Northwest Middle School, both in the Jackson Public School District, outscored all other JPS middle and high schools on math assessments.

For narrowing the gap between actual test scores and reported test scores, HonestyGap.org recognizes Mississippi as a “Top Truth Teller” for the 2014-2015 school year.

Check out the full MDE press release here.

Sierra Mannie is an education reporting fellow for the Jackson Free Press and the Hechinger Report. Email her at sierra@jacksonfreepress.com.

January 28, 2016

Airport Bill Touching Down Next Week

By adreher

Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, is touching up a bill that proposes to change the Jackson airport commission structure. Harkins told the Jackson Free Press he will likely file his bill on Monday or Tuesday next week, which will change who appoints and who qualifies to serve on the airport's governing body.

The current commission is made up of five members, all appointed by the Jackson mayor. Harkins' bill will require the commission to include members from Madison, Rankin and city of Jackson. Harkins is still working on the details, but he said it is important for some commissioners to have aviation and business experience.

Jackson-based legislators have vocalized their distaste for the proposed bill, as well as Jackson business leaders calling the bill an attempted "takeover." Harkins said the city of Jackson will not suffer financially from the plan.

January 28, 2016

Bert Case, Legendary Jackson TV Newsman, Dies

By R.L. Nave

Bert Case has died.

He started in TV at WAPT before going to WLBT-TV for 40 years.

In 2014, Case rejoined WAPT.

Case, who would have been 77 this weekend, had been hospitalized since the fall.

Get more details about Case on WAPT.com.

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2016/jan/28/24333/

January 27, 2016

Fondren's First Thursday Lives

By micah_smith

After cryptic statements here and there and word of a return to New York, Fondren's First Thursday founder Ron Chane announced that his monthly event would be back in Fondren once more, though rumors of its demise weren't entirely unfounded.

Chane, who also owns local businesses Studio Chane, Swell-O-Phonic and Soma Wilai, took to Facebook to tell the event's many attendees that FFT will be reinstated starting March 3 and will continue each month through December 1.

"A new monster is coming," he wrote.

"54 days ago, things were left in limbo. The load of running the event was bearing, and the need for support was eminent. Leaving FFT as a cliff-hanger was intentional as strategy, as well as not knowing for sure it would return (without community help). We proved it could be revived and thrive. The new challenge was to build it around community involvement with shared ideas.

"Hence, the future of a new FFT is now. We have divided the district into four main zones: Duling, Fondren Plaza, State Street and the Capri Strip. The hybrid energy of shared decisions in each zone will now fuel the ever-changing shape of the event. Zones will make their own decisions on activities, music, vendors, food, etc. This will take the load off for us, allowing FFT itself to focus on the PR and creative direction so necessary to offer you an out-of-the-box experience. We will still stand for the same platform of offering a positive night of neutrality and equal community without political, religious or social activism. The same community-conscious rules will apply for music, vendors, etc.

"We ask that our supporters please be patient as we put the finishing touches on the structure, protocol, etc. We are not open quite yet. Our FFT.city site will resurface with new information and direction next Friday February 5th by noon. All inquiries will then be greeted with an auto-reply that points you to the link necessary. Two-way communication will start at that point.

"FFT will now go all months March 3rd - December 1st (including July 7th) and will remain 5pm until. The event will focus more heavily on the arts now. Vendors will still be represented, now on a rotating basis due to increased activities and available spacing.

"I still plan to focus on split-timing in Brooklyn, N.Y., as a source of pursuing creative ventures and creative inspiration both for myself and the event. As stated before, we will soon play again as less than perfect adults (kids, dogs, community lovers, corporation-haters, weirdos, creative liberal minded scarf wearing types, etc.)."

"Thanks again for reading long posts with bad grammar and misspelled words and for supporting unrealistic ideas."

January 26, 2016

Mayor Yarber Proclaims: It's School Choice Week in Jackson

By R.L. Nave

Mayor Tony Yarber, a former principal, issued the following proclamation for School Choice Week in Jackson:

RESOLVED, by the Mayor of the City of Jackson, Mississippi that: WHEREAS, all children in Jackson should have access to the highest- quality education possible; and

WHEREAS, Jackson recognizes the important role that an effective education plays in preparing all students in Jackson to be successful adults; and

WHEREAS, quality education is critically important to the economic vitality of Jackson; and

WHEREAS, Jackson is home to a multitude of high-quality traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, and non public schools from which parents can chose for their children; and

WHEREAS, educational variety not only helps to diversify our economy, but also enhances the vibrancy of our community; and

WHEREAS, Jackson has many high-quality teaching professionals in traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, and non public schools who are committed to educating our children; and

WHEREAS, School Choice Week is celebrated across the country by millions of students, parents, educators, schools, and organizations to raise awareness of the need for effective educational options; and

NOW THEREFORE, I, Tony T. Yarber, Mayor of the City of Jackson, do hereby recognize January 24- 30, 2016 as SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK, in the City of Jackson, Mississippi, and urge all citizens to observe this week.

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2016/jan/27/24260/

January 26, 2016

Renamed Hal's St. Paddy's Parade to Honor Hal White, Benefit Batson Children's Hospital

By MayaLMiller

This year, for its 33rd annual St. Paddy's Day Parade, Mal's St. Paddy's Parade is changing its name to Hal's St. Paddy's Parade in honor of the late Hal White. Proceeds from the event, held March 19, will benefit the Children's Heart Center at Batson Hospital for Children.

This is a full, verbatim release from the UMMC Division of Public Affairs:

Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade is changing its name to Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival in memory of Hal White, brother of parade founder Malcolm White and half of team that opened the well-loved Jackson restaurant and venue Hal & Mal’s.

The parade is set for March 19 in downtown Jackson. A supporter of Batson Children’s Hospital for decades, the event raised more than $25,000 for the hospital in 2015, a year when a downpour threatened to dampen the fun.

“I wanted to rename the parade to honor my brother,” White said. “The theme of the 2016 parade is ‘Hal-lelu-Y’all,’ in keeping with remembering Hal.”

Hal White died after suffering an aneurysm in 2013 at 64.

“Hal absolutely loved the parade,” White said. “He and I started the O’Tux Society, and Hal didn’t even live in Jackson at the time. He’d come march in the parade every year.”

Grand marshal of the parade this year is the Rev. Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton who served more than 12 years at St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson.

“He’s Irish,” White said, “and he was Hal’s priest for years. He baptized Hal’s granddaughter and said Hal’s (funeral) mass.”

O’Brien remembers Hal White as being “a good, solid family man, a guy who was comfortable being in the background and a man who was a very good father and a good husband. He took a great interest in whatever his children were doing and was very close to them and to his wife, Ann, too.”

Being named as grand marshal was “a great surprise,” O’Brien said, “but I am from Ireland.”

Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, the umbrella organization for Batson Children’s Hospital and all pediatric care at UMMC, said the annual parade and festival has been a benefactor to the hospital for decades.

“This annual event, one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S., is a showcase for music and entertainment in Mississippi,” he said, “but it also generates thousands of dollars for the state’s only children’s hospital, showing that this is a festival with a mission. We thank all those who have contributed over the years and this year.”

The fun begins March 18 with the Marching MAL-Function and Second Line Stomp, then starts with a bang March 19 at the Fleet Feet Sports St. Paddy’s 5K, a benefit for the Children’s Heart Center at Batson Hospital for Children.

Registration is open and will continue online until March 16 at www.fleetfeetjackson.com. Coloring contest, age group awards, team competitions, team prizes for best costumes, and most money raised for the ...

January 22, 2016

Walmart Closes 6 Mississippi Stores; Raises Worker Wages

By adreher

Walmart is closing six Walmart Express stores in Mississippi, all located in the northern part of the state in small towns. The store closures translate to about 180 lost jobs, but the national corporation said its main focus is to take care of the associates, offering them the option to transfer to nearby Walmart or Sam's Club stores. The Walmart Express stores in Belmont, Mantachie, Sardis, Walnut, Derma and Nettleton will close on January 28.

Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said that some associates will stay on in the Walmart Express stores until all inventory is removed by the second week of February. Associates that have not transferred will be paid for an additional 60 days, and those associates that have been with the company for a year or longer also have a severance option. Walmart is getting rid of most of the Walmart Express stores nationally, and to compensate for potential food shortages in communities where the stores are closing, Walmart will donate $3,000 to local food banks, Hatfield said.

On a more positive note for Walmart workers, all hourly employees can look forward to a wage increase of $10 per hour as long as they have been with the company since Jan. 1. Workers who started work after Jan. 1 can complete a training program in order to watch their wages jump to $10 per hour. The pay raise goes into effect on Feb. 20. Hatfield said that this is a part of Walmart's commitment to investing in their associates and doing things to ensure their employees are happy and engaged with their work. 2016 is Walmart's second year of a $2.7 billion investment in its workers.

January 21, 2016

Roy McMillan, Anti-Abortion Gadfly, Dead

By R.L. Nave

Roy McMillan has died after a long illness, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Frequent visitors to Fondren know McMillan as the brash, fedora-wearing, fetus-sign waving anti-abortion protester near the Jackson Women's Health Organization.

A bit of history on McMillan:

In 1995, a federal court ordered McMillan to stay 50 feet away from the clinic for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, enacted in 1994 after Dr. (David) Gunn's murder in Pensacola. According to court records, on May 3, 1995, McMillan made his hand into the shape of a gun and told clinic employees: "Y'all look like a bunch of birds on a telephone wire waiting to be shot off by a man with a shotgun...Pow, pow, pow, pow."

McMillan pickets the clinic each day they see patients by displaying signs that carry pictures of fetuses and messages equating abortion to genocide. He and his wife, Beverly, an OB/GYN and former abortion doctor, also oppose all hormonal birth control including the pill and the morning-after pill.

He told the Jackson Free Press that meeting Beverly in 1982 is how he became involved in the pro-life movement.

JFP reporter Casey Parks wrote of McMillan: "He was reluctant to even join the mission. He thought Beverly was cute and smart when he saw her speak, though, so he asked her on a date. She thought he was charming, and they quickly married.

The pro-life movement inundated the husband's life as the wife spent most of her weekends speaking around the state. He joined the pro-life movement rather halfheartedly—he agreed to oversee one of the pro-life publications. His master's in journalism from Columbia University would come in handy, he thought, and besides, he wanted nothing to do with sidewalk counseling or protesting. When a colleague suggested that Roy go out to the clinic to take some action photos, Roy got a little nervous."

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2016/jan/21/24204/

January 21, 2016

Secretary of State Proposes Revisions to MS Election Laws

By adreher

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has announced several revisions to Mississippi election laws that will bring our code up to date with current elections procedures and technology. Some of the changes include tightening down campaign finance disclosure laws for political committees and moving Mississippi's presidential primary vote day to the first Tuesday in March. See full list of changes reproduced below from the Secretary of State's press release:

  • Modernized Criminal Penalties: consolidates all election crimes in Chapter 13, Title 97 of the Mississippi Code; updates penalties to match fines and sentences applied to other felonies and misdemeanors

  • Online Voter Registration: modernizes and streamlines Mississippi's voter registration system; brings Mississippi in line with over half the United States which allow for online registration; will allow US citizens who are Mississippi residents who possess a Mississippi driver's license or DPS issued identification card to register electronically; will help eliminate errors and reduce costs of paper registrations

  • Pre-Election Day Voting: creates a 21 day no excuse voting period for citizens to cast their ballot before election day; voting will be conducted only at the County Courthouse during the pre-election voting period; any registered voter may cast a final vote during the pre-election voting period; eliminates the need for in-person absentee voting

  • Financial Disclosures to Voters: moves deadline for political committees to file a statement of organization from 10 days after receiving or spending funds to 48 hours after spending or receiving funds; increases transparency by requiring filers to itemize payments made to credit card issuers, banks, or online payment portals; places sanctions on political committees that failed to make required filings with the Secretary of State

  • Presidential Primary: moves Mississippi's Presidential Preference Primary from the second Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday; will make Mississippi have a stronger voice in choosing the presidential nominees

January 20, 2016

Almost 100,000 Mississippians Sign Up for HealthCare.gov

By R.L. Nave

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made the following announcement:

Since Open Enrollment began on November 1, about 8.8 million consumers signed-up for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov platform or had their coverage automatically renewed, including 97,909 Mississippi. Today’s enrollment snapshot includes the number of people who selected a plan or were automatically reenrolled within local media markets. This localized data provides another level of detail to better understand total plan selections within local communities. As of January 16,

9,186 consumers in the Biloxi-Gulfport local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan 13,046 consumers in the Columbus-Tupelo-West Point local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan 6,748 consumers in the Greenwood-Greenville local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan 38,481 consumers in the Jackson, MS local media market area selected or were automatically enrolled in a plan

“As expected, consumer interest is beginning to increase again as we near the deadline for 2016 coverage,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “We know we have more work to do and as we count down to the January 31 final deadline, we’re focused on making sure consumers understand that they must act soon to find affordable health coverage and avoid the fee for choosing to not have health insurance in 2016. Consumers should know that we’re here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace began Nov. 1, 2015, and runs through January 31, 2016. Consumers who enroll by January 31 will have coverage effective March 1. Having health insurance when you can afford it is now the law. If someone chooses not to buy health insurance and could afford to do so, they are at risk of paying a fee of $695 or more. Consumers are encouraged to visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, which can help lower monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

January 19, 2016

Senator Will Longwitz Headed to Madison County Court

By adreher

Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, is leaving the Senate to accept his recent appointment to the Madison County Court. In a press release from the Administrative Office of the Courts, Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. announced the appointments of Longwitz to Madison County Court and Judge Jim Greenlee to the Court of Appeals.

Waller said in a statement:

"I welcome Judge Jim Greenlee and Judge Will Longwitz to the bench. I look forward to their being sworn in so that they may assume their duties on the Court of Appeals and the Madison County Court. Both courts have high volume caseloads. The judiciary must operate at full strength so that the work of the courts is handled efficiently and expeditiously.”

No word yet on any special election plans to replace Sen. Longwitz. Stay tuned.

January 19, 2016

Indie Music Week: ICON Rundown

By micah_smith

From its industry panels to artist showcases, the team behind the first Jackson Indie Music Week, which ran Jan. 11 through Jan. 17, wanted the festival to recognize the talent and achievements already active in the capital city. Of course, nothing things says “recognition” like a shelf full of trophies, so JIMW was happy to oblige with the Jackson Indie ICON Awards on Thursday, Jan. 14.

The award show took place at Duling Hall and was a tribute to four of Jackson’s music-industry trailblazers: Freddie Young, Arden Barnett, Charlie Braxton and Bebop Record Shop owner Drake Elder.

Young has produced a variety of albums for Jackson hip-hop and R&B artists and was a big player in the local music scene in the 1970s, providing lead vocals for the funk act Sho-Nuff, which featured an ensemble of Jackson music stars, including bassist Sky Chambers, who presented the award alongside Bridget Archer of “Soul Train” and Jackson State University J-sette fame.

Barnett is the show promoter behind entertainment company Ardenland, who also appeared on JIMW’s “Do the Knowledge” panel where he discussed his philosophy on booking events. Ardenland mostly brings national touring acts, which has caused some to question why the company doesn’t do more for local acts. There are already great venues for local artists, he said at the panel, but he saw a niche and knew he could fill it.

Braxton, a McComb native, is an author, poet and music journalist best known for his various high-profile stories for hip-hop music publications such as The Source, Vibe and Murder Dog. In his articles, he often discusses the cultural impact of artists including OutKast and Notorious B.I.G. as much as the elements that made them singularly influential in the music world.

Elder’s name was a surprise addition to the proceedings—JIMW organizers had announced the other award recipients prior to the event—but given his legacy and deep connection to the local scene, his inclusion was more than welcomed. When the owner of the now-closed Bebop Record Shop died on Aug. 14, 2015, at age 62, friends, family and music lovers across Jackson mourned his loss and celebrated his commitment to music. Fellow ICON Award winner Barnett even held a memorial concert at Duling Hall on Aug. 19.

January 18, 2016

Woodrow Wilson Construction Moving Forward

By toddstauffer

On Friday, the City of Jackson updated their status on repairs on Woodrow Wilson Drive between State Street and I-55; crews will dig on Monday to determine the parts needed for repairs that will take place a few weeks from now.

January 13, 2016

Indie Music Week: Having 'Done the Knowledge'

By micah_smith

Despite somewhat of a rough start, the "Do the Knowledge" panel, one of the first major events for the inaugural Jackson Indie Music Week, delivered some useful advice for music-industry hopefuls.

January 11, 2016

Report: Mississippi Foster Care System 'Well Beyond Crisis'

By adreher

A report in the Olivia Y case, filed on Jan. 6, found that an infant died within five days after entering the state's foster care system. The report found that the state had not inspected the home where the baby died before the baby was placed there. Judith Meltzer, from the Center for Study of Social Policy, found that the baby's death was a result of poor documentation and failure to "properly collect and document information significant to the licensing process" and "record information in the case record."

Mississippi's foster care system has actually gotten worst, the report found. Only 2 percent of children entering the foster care system received a health exam within 30 days, and 2 percent of foster parents received all the relevant medical information on a foster child within 15 days of placement.

The Olivia Y case has been ongoing since 2004, since the state was sued by A Better Childhood, a national nonprofit advocacy organization, on the state's foster care children's behalf. On Dec. 22, 2015 the federal court issued an order requiring that the state create the Division of Family and Children's Services--separate from the Department of Human Services. Gov. Phil Bryant selected former Mississippi Supreme Court Judge David Chandler to be the executive director of the new division on Dec. 29, 2015.

The court order also requires increased compensation and technology for caseworkers as well as an increase in foster homes in the state. Executive director of A Better Childhood, Marcia Robinson Lowry said there are far too few foster homes and workers in the state, in a press release. "The facts could not be more clear," she said in the release. "The foster care system in Mississippi is well beyond crisis."

January 8, 2016

Airport Authority Hires Same Lobbyist the City of Jackson is Using

By R.L. Nave

The following is a verbatim press release from the Jackson airport:

Jackson, Miss. – At the Regular Meeting of the Board of Commissioners for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority held earlier this month, the Board of voted to engage the services of W.T. Consultants.

As the official lobbyist for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, Worth Thomas, along with the W.T. Consultants team will monitor and track all state and municipal legislation impacting the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. Additionally, W.T. Consultants will coordinate communications with legislators and other officials concerning impacts to the economic development of the JMAA enterprise including the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and Hawkins Field Airport.

“We are most excited about the addition of Mr. Thomas to our legal team”, said Perry J. Miller, Chief Operating Officer for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. “The gravity of his experience is an added value in assisting us to meet our legislative goals in support of our enterprise."

Established in 1996, W.T. Consultants has been engaged in lobbying and business consulting with congressional, state, municipal and other local entities. The firm has been in good standing with the State of Mississippi as a registered lobbyist and has established bi-partisan relationships with government and legislative officials including the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Mississippi Senate.

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