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December 19, 2014

Say it With Ya Chest: Kevin Hart is Coming to Jackson

By R.L. Nave

See, the way Thalia Mara Hall is set up....

Kevin Hart will perform in Jackson on Jan. 25.

Tickets went on sale today for the show, slated for Thalia Mara at 7 p.m.

One of the biggest-name stand-up comedians and actors in the business, Hart will appear in a film called "Top Five" directed by Chris Rock. Fellow professional funny people Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Whoopi Goldberg will also appear in the film. Hart will appear in three other comedies in 2015, including The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard, opposite Will Farrell and Ride Along 2, a sequel.

Other film credits include Little Fockers with Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, Death at a Funeral, Fool’s Gold and The 40 Year Old Virgin.

A press release also states that Hart’s other television credits include, hosting BET’s classic stand-up comedy series Comic View: One Mic Stand, ABC’s The Big House, which he also executive produced and wrote, and recurring roles on Love, Inc, Barbershop, and Undeclared.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2014/dec/19/19802/

December 17, 2014

Holly Springs Becomes 9th City To Pass LGBT Resolution

By AnnaWolfe

A Human Rights Campaign press release acknowledges the efforts from the Holly Springs Mayor and Board of Alderman to welcome its LGBT community. The release reads:

Jackson—Last night, the Holly Springs, Mississippi Mayor and Board of Aldermen passed a resolution recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). The city joins eight other communities in the Magnolia State whose leaders have acknowledged and valued its LGBT residents.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Mississippi Director Rob Hill released the following statement in response to the city’s actions:

“We applaud the Mayor and Board of Aldermen for taking an active step to create a welcoming space for LGBT Mississippians who call Holly Springs home. Leadership requires courage and the board’s decision represents the true values of Mississippi. This is a clear example of elected officials putting the Golden Rule into action.”

During last night’s meeting, Alderman at Large Timothy Liddy stated the following:

“For the City of Holly Springs to attract good citizens, home owners, students, businesses, and employees, we need to stay competitive with other communities in Mississippi and throughout the nation. A Resolution Affirming the City of Holly Springs Commitment to Diversity is one step in achieving this goal.”

Announced in April 2014, HRC Mississippi is part of HRC’s Project One America, a lasting investment concentrated in the Deep South by making progress on three fronts--changing hearts and minds, advancing enduring legal protections, and building more inclusive institutions for LGBT people from the church pew to the workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

December 17, 2014

Winnipeg Blue Bombers To Hold A Free Agent Tryout At Smith-Wills

By bryanflynn

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2014/dec/17/19771/

Any football players looking for another chance to play the game? Here is your chance to make an impression on professional scouts.

It doesn't matter if you didn't play college ball or just played at the junior college level or in the SWAC or the Sun Belt or Conference USA or the SEC.

Grant Worsley, Owner and General Manager of the Jackson Showboats, with his Worsley Group has partnered with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League to host a free agent tryout on January 24, 2015.

The tryout will be held at Smith-Wills Stadium (1200 Lakeland Drive) at 1:30 pm. There is a $100, cash only, registration fee. This tryout will consist of non-padded combine testing drills and one-on-one drills.

Anyone wanting to participate needs to dress for weather conditions and to run. Other scouts for other teams could be in attendance, if possible.

To register by email, or for more information or any questions, email Danny McManus at dmcmanus@bluebombers.com or Grant Worsley at 769-203-2108.

December 16, 2014

Jackson Advocate: Kenny Stokes Going After His Old Ward 3 Council Seat After All

By R.L. Nave

Tonight, the Jackson City Council is scheduled to discuss a date for a special election to replace former Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes, who will be heading to the county's judges' bench.

The Jackson Advocate, one of two local newspapers highlighting news of interest to the African-American community, reported that Cooper-Stokes' husband, Kenneth Stokes, will indeed run to recapture the Ward 3 seat he held until 2011.

There had been wide speculation that Kenny Stokes, who represents District 5 on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, would run for his old seat after having his power on the board greatly reduced in the past year.

Stokes, whose mother recently passed away, told the Advocate that he wanted to keep the seat in the family because of such traditions in the near-west-side ward, such as the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. His mother blessed the decision before her death, he said.

"We've got to continue taking to the streets to encourage people to stop the violence. And it's not a little thing that they can't afford to to pay their water bills. Our people are struggling just to get by," Stokes told the Advocate.

With a Stokes get-out-the-vote machine that should be studied in political sciences, the announcement is likely to make Kenny Stokes the front-runner in the field.

Albert Wilson, who ran for the seat in 2013 and competed in the special election for mayor this year, reportedly already has campaign signs up.

Another question mark is Pam Greer, the founder of a nonprofit that promotes violence prevention and supports families of violent-crime victims. Greer also ran for the Ward 3 post in 2013 and has remained a vocal critic of city government on social media. She told the Jackson Free Press that is fasting and would make up her mind when the fast concludes.

Going back to the referendum on the 1-percent sales tax, 11 elections have taken place somewhere in the city of Jackson, since January 2013.

December 15, 2014

Hinds GOP Plays 'Obama Card' Against Carson in Ward 1 Race

By R.L. Nave

A mailer is going around northeast Jackson attempting to link Dorsey Carson, a Ward 1 Jackson City Council candidate, to President Barack Obama.

Obama, an African American Democrat, is very unpopular among Mississippi Republicans.

The mailer, reportedly produced by the Hinds County Republican Party, depicts a photoshopped Obama with his arm around Carson even though the color of the president's hands in the photo don't match.

The Ward 1 race concludes with a runoff between Carson and Republican investment manager Ashby Foote tomorrow, Dec. 16, and is officially nonpartisan. Carson is a Democrat who contributed to Obama's election campaign and ran for the state Legislature as a Democrat, both facts that the direct mailer point out.

The push card also claims that Carson "criticized Mississippi to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder" over the state's redistricting plan. In addition, the flyer purports that Carson donated $500 to former Congressman Travis Childers over Sen. Thad Cochran in the recent U.S. Senate race.

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2014/dec/15/19747/

December 11, 2014

LaRita Cooper-Stokes Resigns. What's Next for Ward 3?

By R.L. Nave

As expected, Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes last night tendered her resignation from the Jackson City Council to take a seat on the bench as a county judge.

Cooper-Stokes' departure makes the second mid-term resignation of a sitting council member in less than four months. In August, Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell left unexpectedly to move his family to Oxford. Whitwell's replacement will be determined by a runoff on Dec.16 between attorney Dorsey Carson and investment advisor Ashby Foote.

Now that Cooper-Stokes has officially vacated the seat, the currently five-member council will have to set a special election for Ward 3, which could happen as early as the next regular meeting on Tuesday Dec. 16, the day of the Ward 1 runoff.

Ward 3's special election could prove very entertaining.

Albert Wilson, who ran for the seat in 2013 and competed in the special election for mayor this year, reportedly already has campaign signs up.

Another question mark is Pam Greer, the founder of a nonprofit that promotes violence prevention and supports families of violent-crime victims. Greer also ran for the Ward 3 post in 2013 and has remained a vocal critic of city government on social media.

The most interesting possibility is that Cooper-Stokes' husband, Hinds County District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes could seek his old seat. Stokes held the seat until he joined the county board in 2011; Cooper-Stokes replaced him in 2012 after a contentious special election that wound up in court. Stokes hasn't been very happy on the relatively quiet county board lately and could want to go back the higher profile city council.

Going back to the referendum on the 1-percent sales tax, 11 elections have taken place somewhere in the city of Jackson, since January 2013.

December 9, 2014

Rep. Bennie Thompson Wants Hearings on Deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Others

By R.L. Nave

Mississippi U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, joined fellow black lawmakers in calling for in-depth hearings on the deaths of several African American men killed by police this year.

Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary, respectively, joined Thompson in asking for congressional hearings on the killings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.

In both those cases, local grand juries recently declined to indict the police officers who killed the men despite the presence of muddled evidence that a trial could illuminate. The non-indictments also sparked new waves of demonstrations across the country, including in Jackson.

“We firmly believe that events in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere have fractured the trust of Americans in the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the Congressmen wrote in a letter to the Republican chairmen of their respective committees.

“The federal government has a critical role to play in ensuring that all Americans are treated equally before the law, especially by their local police, and it is our responsibility to exercise oversight of the funding and resources that the Federal government allocates to these local jurisdictions. Hearings into these topics will be important early steps on the long road of healing across the country.”

December 5, 2014

Gov. Bryant Gives Dr. Aaron Shirley His Day, Keeps Flags Full-Mast

By R.L. Nave

Gov. Phil Bryant declared Dec. 5 to be Dr. Aaron Shirley Day in Mississippi in honor of the medical pioneer who passed away last week.

Shirley was born in Gluckstadt, but moved to Jackson at an early age. Shirley attended Lanier High School and graduated from Tougaloo College in 1955 and Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tenn., in 1959. He completed his residency in pediatric medicine at the University of Mississippi in 1965.

In 1970, Shirley founded the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and, in 1997, the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. Aaron also served as president of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. The Jackson Medical Mall was set up in an abandoned shopping center; the facility is a valuable asset in helping revitalize a disadvantaged area of Jackson. Shirley, in 2010, also launched a program to dispatch physicians to rural areas.

In addition to the proclamation, state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, had also asked Gov. Bryant to order flags around the state lowered to half-mast in remembrance of Shirley but was told the custom is to lower flags only to honor fallen law enforcement and military personnel and elected officials.

Horhn called the denial disappointing and said the state's policy on when flags can be placed at half-mast may need to be clarified.

"I think he deserves that distinction," Horhn said of Dr. Shirley. " Aaron Shirley was one of the finest Mississippians this state ever produced."

Funeral services for Dr. Shirley take place Saturday Dec. 6 at the UMMC Conference Center at the Jackson Medical Mall at 11a.m.

December 3, 2014

Did Lt. Gov. Get Fact Wrong on Common Core?

By AnnaWolfe

At Stennis Press Forum at the Capital Club Monday, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves called Common Core an example of government overreach and pledged to work to scrap the standards during the upcoming legislative session.

He cited the situation in Oklahoma, in which he said the U.S. government stripped the state of its ability to set its own education standards after dropping Common Core. This, he said, constituted a "hijacking" of state education standards by the Obama administration.

That was incorrect, however.

In reality, the federal government stripped Oklahoma of its waiver because when it decided not to use Common Core, it had no educational standards in place, which violates the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

A joint statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright stated that Common Core has been "attached to an unprecedented level of misinformation."

"For example, Oklahoma had its U.S. Department of Education flexibility waiver revoked because it did not have standards in place when it dropped the Common Core State Standards. Having rigorous standards is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Mississippi remains in charge of its education policies and must remain committed to higher standards," the statement reads.

December 1, 2014

State Education Leaders Respond to Lt. Gov.'s Statements on Education

By AnnaWolfe

At the Dec. 1 Stennis Press Forum, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves spoke about upcoming efforts for education reform, touted school choice alongside greater funding and announced plans to move away from Common Core standards.

Mississippi Department of Education leaders responded with this statement:

Joint statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright on Lieutenant Governor’s remarks on education

While we fully support the Lieutenant Governor’s desire to set the highest possible standards for the students of Mississippi, we have grave reservations about changing the playbook in the middle of the game. The Mississippi Board of Education adopted the state’s College- and Career-Ready Standards in 2010, which set a new baseline expectation for what students should learn and achieve. The need for higher standards was made evident by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which evaluated education standards in every state. The institute deemed Mississippi’s math standards “mediocre,” and described our English standards as among “the worst in the country.”

Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards are by far the highest academic standards we have ever had in the state or the nation. Mississippi is one of 46 states that voluntarily adopted these rigorous standards to prepare students for the demands of 21st century careers. Both Gov. Phil Bryant and former Gov. Haley Barbour endorsed the standards when they each signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that denoted the State of Mississippi as a Governing State in the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.

Though we now have our highest academic standards in history, the standards have always been viewed as the floor, or minimum, of what to expect from our students. The state Board of Education and Department of Education will continue to aim high by always raising the bar for academic achievement. We welcome the opportunity to partner with lawmakers and stakeholders in this effort.

We understand that the term “Common Core” has become a lightning rod in some political circles, and as a result, has become attached to an unprecedented level of misinformation. For example, Oklahoma had its U.S. Department of Education flexibility waiver revoked because it did not have standards in place when it dropped the Common Core State Standards. Having rigorous standards is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Mississippi remains in charge of its education policies and must remain committed to higher standards.

The Lieutenant Governor’s proposal to drop Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards and write new ones is not as simple as it may appear. Developing new standards is a multiyear, and very expensive, process. Implementing new standards also takes several years. Just ask the thousands of educators and school leaders around the state who have invested a tremendous amount of time, work, training, and resources to implement our College- and Career-Ready Standards. These costs include millions of dollars invested by local school districts for textbooks, curriculum materials, and professional development. Changing course after our ...

November 19, 2014

Jackson NAACP: Hinds Elex Commish Connie Cochran Should Resign

By R.L. Nave

The Jackson branch of the NAACP is calling for the ouster of Connie Cochran, the chairwoman of the Hinds County Election Commission, for problems during the Nov. 4 general election.

Some precincts saw unexpectedly high turnout. Some of those polling places ran out of ballots late in the evening, which touched off a mad scramble to print more. Agitated by the long waits, some voters left without casting their ballots.

Later, Connie Cochran—the chairwoman of the Hinds County Election Commission—admitted that the commission failed to follow a state law mandating that enough ballots be printed for 75 percent of registered voters. Cochran took responsibility for making the call to save the county money.

Wayne McDaniels, president of the local NAACP, said through a press release: "Ms. Cochran violated thousands of Hinds County residents’ constitutional rights and broke the state law by not having enough election ballots at the time of voting. In addition, the Jackson City Branch NAACP is also asking for any other commissioner’s resignation if they voted with her or supported her actions."

Board Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen told supervisors that Cochran's statements to local media would likely result in legal action. He cited a state law that makes violating state-election requirements a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fee.

This week, supervisors took the additional step of formally asking Robert Shuler Smith, the county's chief prosecutor, and Attorney General Jim Hood to sanction the five-member election commission after amending a motion to single out Connie Cochran, the District 4 representative, for reprimand. District 4 Supervisor Tony Greer voted against the motion to ask for sanctions.

November 18, 2014

Governor Snubs Public Education Funding

By AnnaWolfe

Keeping with the status quo, Gov. Phil Bryant has shorted public education in his 2016 budget recommendation. Below is a press release from Better Schools Better Jobs.

JACKSON – Supporters of a citizens' initiative to require full state funding for K-12 education insist Gov. Phil Bryant's 2016 budget proposal does little to resolve chronic under-funding, saying it's a good reason Mississippi voters should support their cause.

“Gov. Bryant's budget once again shortchanges Mississippi's school children,” said Patsy R. Brumfield, communications director for Better Schools, Better Jobs, which gathered nearly 200,000 signatures earlier this year to support a constitutional amendment to require the state to fully fund its part of K-12 schools.

Monday, Bryant announced his latest budget plan, which he said increases public school funding by more than $52 million.

Initiative advocates said Tuesday the increase does not improve basic K-12 funding, rather chiefly funds the second year of a teacher pay raise, which isn't part of the basic funding formula passed by the Legislature in 1997 and fully funded only twice.

“If anyone were waiting for a reason to support the Better Schools, Better Jobs Initiative that will guarantee funding for our students, Gov. Bryant just gave them one,” Brumfield added.

Dr. Ray Morgigno, superintendent of Pearl Public School District near Jackson, was not impressed with Bryant's proposal.

“I am disappointed that this budget really doesn’t do much to address the underfunding we have been facing,” he said.

The governor's plan still leaves K-12 school funding about $260 million short of the standard recognized by the Legislature as “adequate.”

“Fully funding MAEP would help districts deal with the increase in basic costs along with all of the mandates that are put on districts each year,” Morgigno said. “Unfortunately, the governor's proposal shows no truly improved commitment to education in our state.”

He said Bryant's budget proposal does nothing to help shore up the underfunding for mandates such as more technology in the classroom and curriculum needs to prepare for the continually increasing testing requirements, among others.

“The other issue that we are not addressing are the increases to keep up aging facilities, air conditioners, heaters, buses and rising textbook costs,” the Pearl school leader said. “Energy costs to heat and cool buildings continue to climb each year.”

The constitutional amendment initiative goes to the Legislature, when it convenes in January.

November 18, 2014 | 1 comment

Stanford: Gun Carry Laws Linked To Increase in Violent Crime

By Todd Stauffer

So you know that conventional wisdom that says the people are safer with a lot of guns around?

Turns out maybe not so much.

"The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates" of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder, said Donohue.

Earlier studies (including the frequently debated and arguably debunked work of John Lott) suggested that carry laws were correlating with lower incidents of violent crime; by extending the amount of time studied, however, the National Research Council poured cold water on the Lott theory, and now Stanford's new study sees things trending even further in the direction that kinda makes more sense -- more guns equals more violent crime, particularly assaults with a deadly weapon.

Of course, how much is open to interpretation, but the notion that more guns equals less violent crime seems to be put to bed by its own number crunching.

November 13, 2014

Roger Wicker to Lead NRSC, but For How Long?

By R.L. Nave

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, the junior senator from Mississippi, will now be in charge of keeping the Republican's newly won majority in the upper chamber of Congress.

Senate Republicans, who will hold a majority for the first time since 2006, picked Wicker over Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the home state of the outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“I am thankful for the confidence and the support of my colleagues,” Wicker said in a statement released Thursday from his office. “I intend to roll up my sleeves immediately to ensure that we have the resources available to preserve our Republican majority. This Senate Republican leadership team is ready to go to bat for the American people, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

The role of the NRSC came into play during the Republican Senate primary in Mississippi this year. A media-buying firm that placed racially charged ads for a pro-Thad Cochran super PAC, All Citizens for Mississippi, was also used by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Some members of the Republican party, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, cried foul arguing that the NRSC should remain neutral in primary contests. Cochran went on to defeat his opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Laurel, in a run off and went on to win a seventh term in the general election.

By all accounts, Wicker will have his work cut out for him to keep the Senate from slipping back into the hands of Democrats in 2016 when several Republican seats are up for grabs in states where President Obama has done well the past two cycles.

If Democrats field a strong presidential candidate who can excite the base, Wicker's chairmanship could be short-lived.

November 10, 2014

Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner to Posthumously Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

By R.L. Nave

Verbatim press release from the office of the U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plans to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner:

“Fifty years ago, the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were taken away from us at a far too early age,” said Thompson. “These three young men, and countless others, paid the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to help bring equality to the state of Mississippi. Bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor to these three men is a fitting tribute for their contribution toward making this country a more perfect Union. I commend President Obama for honoring these men and look forward to carrying on the spirit of their effort.”

On May 29, 2014, Congressman Thompson and members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to President Obama requesting for the Presidential Medal of Freedom be bestowed posthumously to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (letter attached).

Established by President John F. Kennedy, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States. The award has been awarded to over 500 recipients who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented posthumously at the White House on November 24, 2014.

November 10, 2014 | 1 comment

Reeves, Bryant Giving McCrory Donations to Charity

By R.L. Nave

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will make a donation to a Mississippi charity in the amount his political campaign received from indicted Rankin County businessman Cecil McCrory.

McCrory was indicted last week along with former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme.

A former Rankin County Republican lawmaker turned businessman specializing in corrections consulting, McCrory has donated $1,500 to Reeves over the years. Reeves will donate that amount to the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi, his office said today. McCrory also contributed at least $1,300 to Gov. Phil Bryant, who told the Associated Press that he would give that sum to the Salvation Army.

Several other Republican elected officials have received similar donations from McCrory, including Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey, Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney. Former Gov. Haley Barbour and former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck also received contributions from McCrory as well.

A search of state campaign-finance records show that Epps made two contributions totaling $225 to Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who appointed Epps to MDOC's top post in 2003.

November 5, 2014

Neo-Confederates Introduce Heritage Initiative

By AnnaWolfe

The Secretary of State posted a new initiative to its website that reads:

Initiative #46 would amend the Constitution to restrict or define Mississippi’s heritage in the following areas: religion, official language, state flag, nickname, song, motto and state university mascots. Further, the initiative would prevent the consolidation of Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, and Mississippi Valley State University, designate the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month,” and reinstate Mississippi’s Constitutional boundaries.

The initiative was filed by Arthur Randallson, Magnolia State Heritage Campaign Director and former Tea Party of Mississippi Chairman. Randallson also previously proposed an initiative to amend the constitution to designate Colonel Reb the official mascot of the University of Mississippi.

Some say his current initiative is a way to declare Christianity the official religion of Mississippi. This pretty clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, so it doesn't seem that the initiative would pass tests of constitutionality. Either way, the amendment proposal won't appear on the ballot in 2015 unless the group gets 107,216 certified signatures.

November 5, 2014

MDOC's Chris Epps Resigns; Agency Looks for Temp Commish

By R.L. Nave

Christopher Epps, the long-tenured commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections has resigned effective today.

The letter of resignation he submitted to Gov. Phil Bryant did not state a reason for the unexpected departure nor has MDOC made one public.

The Clarion-Ledger cites "multiple sources" who confirm the existence of a federal probe, but the newspaper does not specify whether Epps is the subject of the investigation.

Epps had been the longest serving prison chief in state history.

Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove first appointed Epps to lead the agency in 2002; two subsequent Republican governors, Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant, kept Epps in place.

MDOC is searching for an interim commissioner.

November 4, 2014

5 Things I Wonder About this Election Day

By R.L. Nave
  1. What happened to Thad Cochran's black-vote turnout machine?

After the incumbent made it into a runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Cochran's campaign launched an all-out blitz aimed at getting African Americans who did not participate in the Democratic primary to vote in the GOP runoff. It worked then. But with the exception of a poorly attended rally in downtown Jackson and some ads in the Mississippi Link, Cochran isn't going as hard for blacks to show up at the polls today. Makes you go hmmmmm.

  1. What was Travis Childers thinking?

When he talked at the Neshoba County fair this summer about raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women and expanding health-care access, I thought those were solid populist issues that could appeal to traditional Democratic voters—blacks, women and young folks—as well as blue-collar whites. All he really needed to do was to go around the state hammering those three talking points into the heads of sensible people who'd tuned out the Cochran-McDaniel legal shenanigans. Childers didn't even need much money to do that. And as a successful businessman, could have driven around the state on his dime. Instead, he remained silent; his campaign ignored interview requests from reporters. And when it became clear that his opponent would be Cochran, all Childers wanted to do was talk about debates, which almost never works.

  1. Could there be a tea party 'Bradley Effect'?

When Tom Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angeles, ran for governor of California in the 1980s, some polling organizations projected that he would win. After he lost, narrowly, the term "Bradley effect" came to describe where people tell polltakers they will support a minority candidate because it seems politically correct, but then vote for the white candidate in the booth. A lot of McDaniel supporters claims they won't vote for Cochran under any circumstance and are looking at Childers as viable alternative. I wonder, though, if we'll see some version of the Bradley Effect, where tea-partiers vote for the Republican Cochran, but tell people they cast a protest vote for Childers or another candidate.

  1. Why is Chuck C. Johnson so quiet?

Remember when Johnson, a California-based blogger, blew into Mississippi and got the whole state all a-twitter during the Republican Senate primary? Remember how local media spent weeks chasing anti-Cochran "stories" that Johnson broke on his website. Apparently, Johnson got bored with us and headed up to Ferguson, Mo., to write about the protests surrounding the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown. After that, he got really interested in Ebola. So interested in fact that he was booted from Twitter for publishing the home address of a nurse who had worked with an Ebola patient. Considering his heavy involvement—some might even say influence—in #mssen, it's a mystery why has yet to weigh in McDaniel's once-and-for-all defeat at the Mississippi Supreme Court.

  1. Maybe Blacks should just vote in GOP primaries from now on

If Thad Cochran returns ...

November 4, 2014

Let's Keep Abortion Safe, Legal for All Women.

By AnnaWolfe

What Rev. Joseph Dyer has done in his column published in The Clarion-Ledger today is suggest that white women, who he stresses are inherently more privileged, should have more rights than women of color. His column is called "Let's keep abortions safe, legal for white women," and he calls this proposal a "compromise."

"This compromise tells the children of black women that they are worthy, and desirable, and have been from the moment of their conception ... My compromise means that they will always know that their lives were protected, not just by their mother, but also by the law of the land," Dyer, pastor at St. Michael Parish in Forest, Miss., writes.

Leaving the option of abortion only up to white women, he says, tells white children "that the larger society was iffy about their value and worth at that time in their vulnerable lives."

He acknowledges that his "compromise" is horrible and racists, "but isn't that what compromise means, putting up with the disgusting to bring the nice a little closer?"

I assume the "nice a little closer" Dyer is referring to is the abolition of abortion for women of color. Only, Dyer seems oblivious to the fact that abortion is currently a right of all women in every state in the country (despite the fact that it is quickly being diminished by anti-abortion activist attempts).

To say that abortion should only be legal for white women is to say that abortion should be illegal for black women, which would only strengthen systematic oppression and racism against them. To "keep abortion safe, legal for (only) white women" is to make abortion dangerous for women of color.

Dyer says that his compromise will tell black children they are worthy, but instead it tells black women that they are not worthy of choosing when to become a mother and strips them of their autonomy.

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