Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey L. Cole's letter to the state ethics commission.
Democratic nominee for the mayor's office Chokwe Lumumba has filed a general election campaign finance report, which you can read here.
Councilman Lumumba has raised $71,614 since April 28, and spent $74,696 in that same period, leaving him with $15,333 in the tank headed into the June 4 general election against three independent candidates.
Year-to-date, Lumumba has raised $140,367 and spent $133,988.
Some of his biggest contributors on this report are Samuel L. Agnew of Baton Rouge, La. ($15,000), SJG Consultants Inc. of Greenville ($8,000), Winston Thompson III of Madison ($5,000) and a "G. Williams" of Ridgeland ($5,000).
An email is circulating Jackson asking voters to write in the name of Ward 1 Councilman and lobbyist Quentin Whitwell, a Republican, for mayor in the June 4 general election.
The email implores supporters to back Whitwell but to keep it on the low, meaning not to spread the news via the Internet and social media.
The message, which someone forwarded to the Jackson Free Press, states:
"We need your help! A week from today we have one last chance to vote in a mayor that will work for us! We need each of you to text, send emails, to at least 20-30 people in Jackson to go write in vote Tuesday June 4th for Quentin Whitwell! We believe that the turn out for Chuckwe [sic] will not be huge, due to the fact he thinks he already has won. We have to keep this off Facebook, and on the low until the actual day June 4th! That day we need as many volunteers, to help get out the vote for Quentin. We need each of you to tell your neighborhood associations to send out an email, go door to door Monday and Tuesday. We will need signs made to hold up in ridgewood , Old Canton , and anywhere else. I truly believe if we all can do our part we can pull this off! Please let me know if you are willing to help in anyway!"
We left a message with Whitwell to get his response.
The entertainment value of tonight's city council meeting just skyrocketed.
Former mayoral candidate and Chokwe Lumumba supporter Regina Quinn contacted two of the three independent candidates asking them to drop out of the June 4 general election to select Jackson's next mayor.
Councilman Chokwe Lumumba won the Democratic runoff earlier this week, defeating businessman Jonathan Lee by more than 3,000 votes.
Friday morning, Quinn released this statement to the JFP:
"After witnessing the brutal run-off between Mr. Lee and Mr. Lumumba, I came to the conclusion that the City had had enough and needed to start the healing process sooner rather than later. Therefore, I contacted two of the three independent candidates to see if they agreed with me that it would be best for the City of Jackson to acknowledge that with 20,000 plus votes people had decided who they wanted as their next mayor, and that it was now time to start healing. If I erred, it was an error of the head but not of the heart."
"Apparently, the healing process will have to wait until June 4, 2013," she added.
The independent candidates are Francis P. Smith Jr., Cornelius Griggs and Richard C. Williams Jr.
You want to know why people are scared of Chokwe Lumumba? Here's a good place to start.
The headline that appears on a story that the WAPT web site (www.wapt.com) reads, "Lumumba wants to remove Christopher Columbus from history books."
The headline is misleading at best.
I was at the debate last Friday night when Lumumba made the comment that we need to stop teaching our children that Christopher Columbus discovered American in 1492. "Columbus didn't discover America. America wasn't lost, Columbus was," Lumumba is correctly quoted in the story as saying.
What the story doesn't do is put the quote in context. The way it reads, you'd think Lumumba was asked about education and launched into a Christopher Columbus hate-a-thon. He was asked how we can keep students from dropping out of Jackson Public Schools, and he answered that maybe if our black youth was learning a little bit more about black culture and roots, they might be a little more interested in school and have a little bit more self-worth.
Besides, Lumumba is right about Columbus and the wording "Columbus discovered America." You can't be the first person to discover something that someone else has already found. Native Americans lived here before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean; therefore, he cannot be the first man to "discover" America. Even if you don't believe that African people from the northern part of the continent crossed the Atlantic before Columbus—and some do—you can't deny that Christopher Columbus was not the first man to set foot in the Americas.
But the story on WAPT gets worse. It clumsily tries to explain Lumumba's beliefs, saying that he believes "people from northern Africa had been traveling to the North American continent years before Columbus did in 1492," and my personal favorite line of the story: "In fact, a Google search by 16 WAPT News shows the discovery of America is a widely disputed one."
Well, at least you did your homework.
Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Lumumba said the headline and the idea that he wants to remove Columbus from the history books is "disappointing."
"I never said that. ... What I was really saying is that we need to add the people who came before ... . I just want the history books to accurately reflect that Columbus opened the Western Hemisphere to Europe," he said. "He did not discover it." Lumumba said he has used that line hundreds of times over the years, and said it was curious that it was just getting publicity now.
The bigger issue is that here we are, two days after Lumumba won the primary runoff, and this is the headline on local news stations. The divisiveness hit Twitter and Facebook as soon as the race was called. It hit comment sections on web sites of the JFP and Clarion-Ledger shortly thereafter. Now it is in a headline on WAPT. Where will it be in a month? A year?
For his part, Lumumba said he's ...
The Association of Alternative Newsmedia has announced its award finalists for stories published in 2012.
A major sinkhole on Old Canton Road at Crane Boulevard that became a whipping post in the mayoral election is being repaired starting today.
The city sent out this alert this morning:
The City of Jackson Department of Public Works announces that it has closed Old Canton Road at Crane Blvd to through traffic. An emergency repair to a major sewer line at that intersection will begin today. Work should continue for approximately two weeks.
Motorists are urged to observe all traffic control devices. Detour signs are posted.
Also, someone posted this on the Nextdoor Fondren list on Monday:
someone posted this on the Fondren list Monday:
I posted the sinkhole on 311. Within hours, this was the response: PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR DAN GAILLET RESPONDS: This project is much bigger than meets the eye and will be part of the nearly $16 million in sewer improvements that will begin this summer. This project in particular is one of approximately nearly 20+ projects that we have in this, or much worse condition. This project involves not only repairing the collapse at the intersection of Crane/Old Canton, but includes the improvement of an additional 1200 feet of line up and down Crane Blvd to ensure that this type of collapse does not reoccur. The City has made the first important fix on Crane Blvd in stopping the wastewater from flowing into the creek with improvements to the existing manhole and broken line at the manhole. Unfortunately, with the size of the line, the depths at which it is, and the cost of the ultimate repair, this is not an “easy fix”. Public Works is as anxious as anyone and can sympathize with the frustration of not getting this repair done in a timely manner. However, we would ask for the Public’s indulgence and patience as we work towards rectifying this problem permanently.
This is encouraging.
This open letter came late on runoff night. We are reposting it verbatim. Send other "open letter" submissions (up to 1,000 words with verifiable facts and respectful tone) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Mr. Lumumba,
We are a white couple in our early 30s that live in Ward Seven who did not vote for you. That said, congratulations on winning the Democratic primary for the Jackson mayoral election tonight. While many people in town are celebrating with you, there are many people who have many fears about the next four years.
• What is going to happen with the infrastructure issues of Jackson in all wards? (Will the large sinkhole on Old Canton Road ever get fixed?)
• Will you be fair towards advancing all wards of Jackson and uniting the city?
• Will the public schools in our area be the best (or even a good) educational option for our children?
• Will economic growth be encouraged in all wards?
• Will there be a continued (or even an increase) in wealth and opportunities leaving the city out of fear and uncertainty?
• Will crime increase in the city?
Should you be elected mayor, we—and many other Ward 1 and Ward 7 residents—would like to work with you to help achieve solution to these long-standing issues facing Jacksonians.
We have chosen to raise our family in Jackson and consciously make every effort to support local businesses and restaurants. We have been extremely saddened to hear of businesses moving out of Jackson city limits and into surrounding cities. Our hope is that others will make a similar commitment to support Jackson. However, on paper, we realize that it does not make sense for us to live in Jackson.
• Our property taxes and car tags are significantly higher than other cities in the metro area.
• With businesses moving out of Jackson, it is often difficult to not give sales tax money to other cities in the metro area. (Once Sam's Club leaves its current location, should we go to the new Madison store or the one in Pearl? We want to keep our sales tax money here, but these are the real decisions we face.)
• The crime rate and perception of Jackson intimidates many of our friends/family who don’t feel comfortable coming to our house at night.
• We don’t feel like we can send our kids to their assigned elementary school as it is a “failing” school with a level 2 rating without a multi-racial environment.
• Our roads and pipes are crumbling.
But we love it here. We love our neighbors. We love the local restaurants. We love the festivals/events. We love our church. We love the future that we believe Jackson can have.
We chose to live here to be part of a movement … moving Jackson forward. We don’t want to leave the city. So, how can we partner together, with you to help Jackson—all of Jackson?
Together, I hope ...
Long-time Jacksonian Dorothy Triplett sent us this letter earlier today. It is reprinted verbtim:
I supported Mayor Johnson in the primary, and was disappointed that the voters (only 30 percent of the eligible voters) chose not to send him into the runoff. Once I pushed that disappointment down and asked myself for whom I would vote in the runoff, I began my ongoing struggle.
I know and respect both candidates. Both have distinct strengths and weaknesses, as do we all. I have talked with both, attended numerous forums/debates/political accountability sessions and found myself wavering back and forth between them. I've seen/heard the nastiness and the subtle advertising, and my stomach has turned with dismay at the way they (the ads and phone calls, not the individual candidates) played on the fears of citizens, and divided them racially and economically and by neighborhood. I listened to dear friends in both camps tell me why I should vote for one and not the other. I respect their views, and honor their commitment to their candidates.
When I cast my ballot—and I do believe each vote counts—I will do so prayerfully and without fear, and with the knowledge that, ultimately, it's not up to whomever we elect as mayor, but up to US—each and every one of us—to lead this great city into the future.
We will have to give our new mayor our support and put aside our angst and anger, our fear and foreboding, and have the faith that we can do great things, and continue the already-begun journey of changing the negatives of old, crumbling neighborhoods, absentee landlords, long-neglected infrastructure, results of our recent economic downturn (now thankfully moving upward), etc., etc., etc.
We will be better served by focusing on the positives and building on the vision of what CAN be. We will have to band together across this city with people we know and those we have yet to meet and work TOGETHER to make our city shine. And perhaps, if we do that with genuine purpose and resolve, with honesty and intentionality, and with the knowledge that we ALL have value, good ideas and skills, and richness of experience, we will find out more about ourselves and each other.
Dorothy Triplett Jackson
Regardless of who wins, Jackson will be setting a new course, much different from the one Mayor Johnson had charted during his terms. The old center has not held, and the voters have already expressed their eagerness to forge a new one.
WAPT just released Mason-Dixon poll results that show that mayoral candidate Jonathan Lee's lead has shrunk three points since Friday, and Chokwe Lumumba's support has increased seven points. Lee leads 46 percent to 42 percent going into tomorrow's pivotal run-off face. The poll showed 12 percent still undecided. Lee led 49 percent to 35 percent in poll results released Friday.
The poll shows that Lumumba leads with black voters 46 percent to 36 percent with 18 percent undecided. Lee leads Lumumba 87 percent to 4 percent with white voters with 9 percent undecided.
The newest poll results come after several controversial campaign days, which included an anti-Lumumba TV ad using what Lee called "sound bites" to question Lumumba's religious faith, strength as a Democrat and like for police officers. The same day, news hit that Lumumba was also running a controversial ad, featuring Rep. Bennie Thompson endorsing Lumumba and questioning Lee's Democratic credentials.
Today, campaign controversy increased further with news of controversial flyers left on cars during church services, but any fallout from that is not likely reflected in the polls, yet.
The poll showed that 46 percent believe that Lumumba defeated Lee in a pivotal debate Friday night with 31 percent saying Lee won. The poll shows the debate had a huge impact: Lee led by 47 percent among debate watchers before the debate with only 38 percent of them supporting him afterward. Lumumba's support among debate waters jumped from 33 percent to 50 percent after the debate.
The poll has a +/- 4.5 margin of error.
Several new endorsements have happened over the weekend. Today, The Clarion-Ledger endorsed Jonathan Lee for mayor, after endorsing Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in the primary. Sen. John Horhn, who ran for Jackson mayor, four years ago, has also endorsed Lee.
Over the weekend, new Sen. Sollie Norwood, formerly a JPS school-board member, endorsed Lumumba.
If you know of others, feel free to post them below. We will update this page with a full endorsement list Monday.
As we approach the mayoral runoff, which will most surely decide Jackson's next mayor, the rumors are flying fast and furious. One we heard yesterday is that Chokwe Lumumba "killed an FBI agent and got away with it." This is a false assertion. But it surely morphed out of his history as a young organizer with the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), based in Jackson in the early 1970s. As we explain in this article in 2005, the then-racist police department essentially had an angry stand-off with the militant Republic of New Afrika, headed by Imari Obadele, that culminated in an early-morning Waco-esque raid on the group's heavily armed headquarters in west Jackson. (JPD even brought the Thompson tank.)
The resulting gunfight left a police officer dead and an FBI officer injured. The legal battle that followed was complicated, in no small part because Obadele was not present, but local authorities wanted him punished for the crime. There were also state-federal jurisdictional hurdles to scale, but ultimately eight of the "RNA 11" ultimately served time, ironically because lawyers used the precedent set in the federal trial of Klansmen in Neshoba County who conspired to kill three civil rights workers. In the 1960s, a state court wouldn't convict them, but several went to prison for a time under a federal civil-rights conspiracy charge.
RNA member Chokwe Lumumba was not present, did not shoot anyone and did not serve time.
I came to Jackson in 2007, and thus my introduction to the politics of the city was the spectacular flameout and slow death spiral that was the last half and ignominious end of the Melton administration.
This open letter to mayoral candidate Jonathan Lee just came via email. Here it is, verbatim:
Jonathan Lee Candidate for Mayor of Jackson Public Letter
Dear Mr. Lee:
After watching one of your recent campaign commercials in which you portrayed Chokwe Lumumba as radical and racist, I was compelled to offer you a different world view.
I am a native of Yazoo city, the hometown of Michael Espy and Haley Barbour, two of our state’s most recognized political figures. Like Mike and Haley, I am a product of the public schools system, a graduate of Yazoo City High School. My ACT scores ranked me in the top 10 percentile in the country, and I was fortunate to earn distinction as a National Merit Finalist and accordingly received numerous scholarship offers.
Sarah King, my black, Northwestern University-educated high school guidance counselor told me….”You need to matriculate at Williams College, where you will be nurtured and taught to be a critical thinker. With a Williams College education, you will be equipped to change the world when you return to Mississippi. ”
So, naturally I chose Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Mrs. King was right on point. Williams College satisfied my natural thirst for knowledge and enlightenment, but it also showed me how easily one can cast seeds of discord and destroy a community.
Williams had a total of 60 black students enrolled in all classes. All of the students, from every conceivable ethnicity, were the top students in their high schools. A staff person in the admissions office remarked in one of the dining halls that they were pleasantly surprised at how well the minority students were performing – – especially the “10 percenters”. What was a 10 percenter?!
Shortly after this statement resonated, the campus newspaper ran a story that said Williams College was participating in a social experiment known as “Affirmative Action” and had elected to admit 10% of the students who would not ordinarily qualify for admission to the college.
The college wanted to honor its moral obligation to society by giving underprivileged, socially disadvantaged students the opportunity to obtain a Williams college education, but the newspaper article made the “10 percenter” concept appear as something to be ashamed of instead of portraying it as the wonderful program that it was.
Almost immediately, all students were trying to determine who was a 10 percenter. Some of them would be mean-spirited and say things that were destructive. A few said things like, “we know Herb Irvin is a 10 percenter, because he is from Yahoo, Mississippi”! All of a sudden, the black students were no longer on academic parity. Because of this 10 percenter phrase, the black students’ academic ability and capacity were questioned by the non-black students and the faculty, as well as by their fellow black students.
Some of the best black students left before graduation, because they didn’t believe that they earned the right to be there.
Against the advice of my classmates and friends, I ...
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson is wading into the Jackson mayor's race, and endorsing Councilman Chokwe Lumumba over political upstart and businessman Jonathan Lee.
In the R-and-B-laced radio ad, Thompson refrains from naming Lee but says: "When I see Republicans from Rankin and Madison counties endorsing the other so-called Democrat, I know something is fishy."
Thompson goes on to say that the Republicans supporting the other candidate are the same people who "opened their checkbooks last fall for Mitt Romney in an effort to kick President Obama out of the White House."
As JFP city reporter Tyler Cleveland has pointed out, six of Lee's 10 biggest contributors have given to the GOP or Republican causes in the past. Thompson hits every buzzword, saying "these Republicans want to pass charter schools, create voter-ID laws, cut Pell Grants, end Medicare and reduce Social Security benefits."
At the end of the ad, Thompson advises voters not to fall for "old Republican tricks" and to "vote for the real Democrat" on May 21.
In other states I've lived, it would have been highly unusual for a Congressman to get involved in a party primary. Perhaps this is normal for Mississippi. Or, maybe it's just normal for Rep. Thompson?
The campaign to elect City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba as mayor announced several endorsements from key city leaders Friday morning in front of City Hall.
Among the endorsements Lumumba received were State Representatives Earl Banks and Jim Evans and District 5 Hinds County Supervisor Kenneth Stokes and his wife, Ward 3 City Councilwoman LaRita Cooper Stokes. Former mayoral candidate Regina Quinn, who endorsed Lumumba through a press release earlier this week, was there to back up her reasons for endorsing the one-term Ward 2 Councilman for mayor.
"I'm here to strongly endorse Chokwe Lumumba to be our next mayor," Quinn said, adding that she came to her decision after "serious thought." Quinn cited a past Clarion-Ledger story that revealed that women in Jackson were being paid, on average, 73 percent of their male counterparts were for the same job.
As she said in her press release, Quinn stated she thinks Lumumba is the only candidate who will take swift action to correct what she called a "sad situation" in terms of women's pay.
After Banks and Evans pledged their support for Lumumba, Kenneth Stokes, speaking on his behalf and for his wife, who was in Chicago on Friday, took an opportunity to defend his candidate against some of the attack ads launched by his opponent in the May 21 runoff, Jonathan Lee.
The ad shows Chokwe Lumumba making a speech on Feb. 13, 2009, at what looks like a book store, where the candidate talked openly about the police, religion and the Democratic Party. The ad uses Lumumba's own words to lead viewers to believe that Lumumba doesn't like police, isn't a "Barack Obama Democrat" and doesn't believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"(The accusations against Lumumba are) just nonsense coming out of evil people's mouths," Stokes said. "Chokwe has done more work with young people in this community, coaching basketball and mentoring them, showing them there's a better way to live. As Charles Tisdale would have said, Chokwe is a man among men. He's the type of leader who won't back down. This is Jack-town, and we need a man. I'll repeat it in case somebody didn't hear me - We need a man."
Lumumba has already said publicly that the clips from the video featured in the ad were taken out of context, that he has always supported the Jackson Police Department and that if voters watched the full video, they would see he wasn't implying what the ad infers.
Stokes finished his statement by saying he didn't intend to cuss, but that the Jackson Free Press "can kiss my ass!" He made this point with emphasis to a round of laughter from the assembled city leaders behind him. When asked after the press conference why he made the statement, Stokes said he said it because the JFP should have endorsed Lumumba, but did not elaborate more on the record. The Jackson Free Press has not endorsed a mayoral candidate for the runoff.
Lumumba concluded the ...
A local television report apparently has people confused about whether they can vote in the Democratic runoff for Jackson mayor and city council if they didn't bother to vote in the runoff. The answer is yes. Here is a statement from Jackson City Clerk Brenda Pree:
“ All registered voters are able to vote in their municipality’s runoff whether they voted in the first primary or not; however, there is no cross-over voting (i.e. if the voter voted in the Democratic Primary on May 7th, they must vote in the Democratic Runoff and vice versa for Republican—they cannot switch parties). A voter must be registered 30 days prior to the first Primary (May 7th) in order to vote in the Primary or Primary Runoff.”
Note that Jackson did not have a Republican primary this year, so it opens the door for any non-Democrats to flood the polls on Tuesday for the Democratic runoff.
That's the law, man.
Verbatim statement from the US DOJ:
MISSISSIPPI CORPORATION PLEADS GUILTY AND AGREES TO $ 1 MILLION FINE FOR ILLEGALLY FILLING PROTECTED WETLANDS
WASHINGTON – Mississippi-based Hancock County Land LLC (HCL) pleaded guilty today to the unpermitted filling of wetlands near Bay St. Louis, Miss., and agreed to pay a $1 million fine and take remedial measures for two felony violations of the Clean Water Act, announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Gregory K. Davis. HCL admitted causing the unauthorized excavation and filling of wetlands on a 1,710 acre parcel of undeveloped property in Hancock County, west of the intersection of Route 603 and Interstate 10.
According to the charges filed in federal court in Jackson, Miss., when HCL purchased the property, it had been informed by a wetland expert that as much as 80 percent of its land was federally protected wetland connected by streams and bayous to the Gulf of Mexico and, therefore, that the property could not be developed without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Such permits typically require that developers protect and preserve other wetlands to compensate for those they are permitted to fill and destroy.
The charges allege that in spite of additional notice of the prohibition against filling and draining wetlands without authorization, HCL, principally through its minority owner /general contractor, hired an excavation contractor to trench, drain and fill large portions of the property to lower the water table and thus to destroy the wetland that would otherwise have been an impediment to commercial development. In pleading guilty, HCL admitted that it knowingly ditched, drained and filled wetlands at multiple locations on the Hancock County property without having obtained a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers as required under the Clean Water Act.
It is a felony under the Clean Water Act for any person knowingly to discharge pollutants into waters of the United States, including wetlands, without a permit. A corporation convicted of this offense is subject to a penalty of not more than $500,000 per count.
HCL agreed and was ordered to pay to the federal government a total penalty of $1 million ($500,000 for each of the two counts). HCL also agreed and was ordered by the court to restore and preserve the damaged wetlands as provided in separate agreements HCL reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a citizen group, the Gulf Restoration Network. The agreements require HCL to re-grade and then re-plant, with appropriate native vegetation, the wetland area it excavated and filled and donate approximately 272 acres of the southwest quadrant of its property to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain to be preserved in perpetuity. HCL is also required to fund its management and maintenance, to pay $100,000 toward the litigation costs of the Gulf Restoratio
"Look, Judge, if we've got to pay for justice around here, I will pay for justice. I've paid other judges to try to get justice, pay you, too, if that's what is necessary."
That statement, made by attorney Chokwe Lumumba to Leake County Circuit Judge Marcus D. Gordon on October 17, 2001 got Lumumba in trouble -- big trouble.
Gordon cited Lumumba for contempt, fined him $500 and ordered him to serve three days in the county jail. According to an Associated Press story written at the time, Lumumba was referring to the fine itself, meaning that he would happily pay the fine if it meant justice for his client at the time, Henry Payton.
A 2003 tribunal recommended a public reprimand for Lumumba but the bar sought a harsher punishment.
"Instead, the Mississippi Bar wanted Lumumba suspended from the practice of law for an unspecified period of time. The Mississippi Bar stated that the length of suspension would be left up to this Court to determine," records show.
The court ruled that in addition to the fines he'd been ordered to pay, a six-month suspension of Lumumba's law license would be appropriate. Lumumba appealed the decision to the Mississippi State Supreme court on the grounds that his speech was protected by the First Amendment. Both courts disagreed.
However, the appellate court found in August 2003: "Lumumba's behavior was done in the presence of the court and intended to embarrass or prevent orderly administration of justice. Further, it was both disrespectful to the judge and disruptive to court proceedings. We cannot fathom any situation that would warrant such behavior. This Court finds that the statements made toward the judge about how he can better get along with lawyers in the future, about the judge's "henchmen," about being proud to be thrown out of the courtroom, and about paying the judge for justice were made to embarrass the court or impede the administration of justice. This Court finds that the statements go far beyond zealous representation of one's client, and makes a mockery of the court and its proceedings."
In 2005, the state Supreme Court declined to hear Lumumba's appeal. The state high court reinstated Lumumba to the bar in 2007 with an 8 to 1 decision.