JFP Interview: Who Is Ben Allen? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JFP Interview: Who Is Ben Allen?

The controversial councilman on being conservative, Mayor Johnson, gun control and meeting Muhammad Ali. The unabridged version.

Ward 1 Councilman Ben Allen comes toward me, walking like an aging prize fighter the morning after his final fight. His broad shoulders sway like the top of an anchor moving from side to side in the water. The blond city leader then sits back down behind his wide, smooth desk in his Lakewood Drive office where he moved a few months back after he was carjacked. As he talks, he often folds his hands in front of his stark blue eyes, one a little red. When Allen looks through the clasps of his hands and leans back, beneath pictures of a younger Allen with his hero, Ronald Reagan, I catch a glimpse of him young, in his hometown of Vicksburg. At 53 years old, he is the same age as my father; his prized fighter stature, his boyish quirks and his age all left me asking: Who is Ben Allen?

Even as I envision Allen bouncing in a ring, he tells me he was a cheerleader at Mississippi State where he majored in marketing and political science and graduated in 1973. Suddenly, his image switches from long shorts and high tops to tight pants and stunt lifts.

Allen is the only Republican on the Jackson City Council and has run Taylor Printing (college yearbooks) since 1975. His persona, perpetuated by his ebullient radio show persona and public fanfare, is that of a staunch conservative. His public arguments with Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes have dominated his spot in the news cycle and cemented his place as the conservative element of the alleged voting bloc on the council. But his answers about issues ranging from gun control to the government's role in daily life might surprise you. I think that he may have surprised himself.

JFP: Why did you run for City Council?
Ben Allen: Well, in 1996 at my hunting camp, Joe Lauderdale, who at the time was a public supervisor, said, "Look, Ben, Angus is not going to run for City Council, why don't you run?" I told him I really wasn't interested in doing that, I just, you know, wasn't. The City Council at that time had a reputation for a lot of bickering and fighting. Irrespective what anybody thinks today, it is a totally different ball game than it was then. The personal turmoil between council members was very messy. But I love Jackson, I vested myself in my business interests, and I just thought I'd do it. And I 'm glad I did. It has been a good experience, a very good experience. But, I had no big burning desire to get into politics, I just love the city. My wife and I decided in 1994 that we were not going to leave Jackson. We owned three different properties in Madison, but we didn't want to leave. We lived in a neighborhood, Heatherwood, that was heavily victimized by crime. Back then, it was in the formative years of getting private security. Most homes were built in the '60s and '70s, and didn't have deadbolts on doors. It was pretty bad. Anyway, things settled down. Joe Lauderdale was instrumental, and Terry Harris, and (we) got the neighborhood back on the same sheet of paper. We formed these great homeowner associations; we just decided we didn't want to leave, and that is when I decided to run for City Council. I live at 2517 Meadowbrook Road.

How is your constituency different from others parts of the city?
It's changed. When I first ran, my ward was probably 92 to 93 percent white and Republican. Look at Parham Bridges Park; it was all white. Now it the most diverse park in city. Right now I still have essentially what would be on the ballots as a white Republican conservative ward. But, there is a lot of changing going on here and in the city. Two or three city clerks live in my ward. Shelly Clark was just appointed to Channel 18, so it is a diverse ward. Not as diverse as perhaps Dr. (Leslie) McLemore's or Bettye Dagner-Cook's would be as far as percentages. The last census was about 82 or 83 percent white, probably 17 percent black, and then, of course, a small percentage of other minorities. I think by the next census it will probably be majority black.

Why do you think your ward is changing?
The dynamics of what's going on. The chief of police lives in my ward. People move to Ward 1 because the perception is there and probably the reality, that the crime situation is more settled, a neighborhood type thing. Now, what must be said in fairness, one thing that promotes stability in a ward are clear, unequivocal zoning lines. My ward has clear zoning lines. Some of the issues we have to bring up in the city with apartment moratoriums and liquor store moratoriums are absolutely senseless. But if you look at our zoning map and the way it is, we have to do these things. In my ward this is not an issue. Someone wants to put up a liquor store, it is clearly delineated where it can be or can't be. But you take some areas of the city, we have a shotgun when it comes to zoning. For a lot of people it is a stability factor. Plus, I think the crime situation—I think that people feel safer sometimes.

Is your constituent's ideology shifting at all?
It is. My ward has a lot of elderly people that have lived in these neighborhoods for a long, long time. In the areas where property values are high, they are high because there are homes that are going through what is called scraping. They are taking $90,000 homes that people are buying for $200,000 and knocking the houses down and building news ones. You see a lot of young professional people doing this. So, you have young professionals who are able to do this, the older people who have lived there forever, and then you have the Eastover area, where there are a lot of people who have been professionals and are, perhaps, in the higher tax bracket or whatever. So, in the Eastover area, they are totally and completely stable. (But) for the love of Pete, you know my Ward doesn't have a public high school or a public middle school, with the taxes that we pay. There is a study group that is coming in to try to give recommendations to the city of Jackson. We need a middle school in Northeast Jackson, for right or wrong, perception or non-perception, you've got people black and white with combined incomes of say, 50, 60,000 dollars a year, there whose children reach an age where they need to go to a middle school or high school so they are either bused across town to Chastain or send to private schools. But, you know what, they can't afford it. So they pick one of the eight communities around Jackson, and they send their kids there. That is the disadvantage that we have, that's also an advantage, if you look around Jackson, Miss. If you are moving in from outside you can say, "Well, what kind of community do I want to live in?" You could say, "Well, do I want to live in a small town with a big public school; let's move to Florence. Do I want to live in big country town that has a big public school; let's move to Richland. Do I want to move to a yuppie public school; let's move to Northwest Rankin or Madison Central. Do I want to move to a quiet public school; let's move to Clinton." There are choices. But in my ward, one of things that are hurting us demographically is not the race issue, it's the education issue.

In all fairness, Chastain is in my ward. It is on the edge, it is not in the heart of it. Where Christ United is building a church, I have met with many people from Jackson Public Schools many times; I was trying to get that property back there on the river for a public school. Until the education situation is resolved, people that can't afford to send their kids to private schools, they don't want to bus them across town or there is the perception that the school is not right for their children, safe whatever. That young lady in there (points to next room) sells the yearbook to Lanier High School; she went there, yesterday, by herself. I don't fear; so many people fear public schools. The fact of the matter is that you are dealing with perceptions sometimes; it's what people think. And of course they do have some issues.

At a public meeting last year, you said that many young people are wild animals that can't be tamed. What did you mean by that?
I don't believe that is exactly what I said. But many times people, in my opinion, deal with the world the way they want it to be, not the way that it is. If every child born in America, today, was born to a perfect family and a perfect life, we would still have three generations of moral and chemical dependency decay to deal with.

You remember crack cocaine. That is what hit the Heatherwood neighborhood so bad, in the early '80s to the early '90's crack cocaine was in a heyday. Then it was the new deal, and it was with a vengeance. What I was saying then and I believe it today that we have got some people in this country and in this world that cannot be rehabilitated. They can't. Most people you can work with. You have to realize that when you have a John Gacy in the world, you've got a John Gacy. It's just like if I own a pet tiger at my home, that pet tiger is vicious 1 percent of the time. That means once a year that tiger eats somebody. I am not going to tame that pet tiger, I am going to deal with it. I see time after time after time that the law keeps being applied with a swift, equal hand—those that are going to prison for 10 years for a second offense marijuana conviction, but yet someone convicted who is continually convicted of major crimes, walks.

What do you propose we do with these people? Put them in prison?
The best thing to me about the law is it should be applied equally across the board. The worst thing about the law is it should be applied equally across the board. God gave everybody a brain, but unfortunately systems get involved and the brains don't work. For instance, I am not in support of an 85 percent mandatory sentence time. That is the worse thing you do, I am in support of reasonable sentences that are put by reasonable people for parole board but what happens in the 85 percent rule, for instance, is you got a 19-year-old kid, he comes from a white or a black background where he wasn't raised right. I was not a good boy when I was 19; I did things I am not proud of, OK. I think we all did if we're honest. But, you take a situation where someone is that age and they mess up the second or third time where he knows he is going to be prison and they get a 20-year sentence and there is an 85 percent rule, well that's 17 years. He knows he is going to be 36 years old before he sees the light of day in a hellhole. What is his or her incentive?

Going back to dealing with the world in the way I wish it would be. I think it is incredible in this country to do what we do and won't allow someone to serve their sentence with dignity. The very idea that someone is homosexually raped in prison is outrageous. Think about it: Prison is supposed to incarcerate, it is not supposed to ruin.

What can be done to help young people before become criminals?
I can take you today to Chastain Middle School or to Boyd Elementary School, and you would see some of the nicest, most well-behaved kids you have ever seen. I don't know what happens between 13, 14 and 15 years old, I've heard my black colleagues blame—we have talked about this at length, Bettye Cook particularly, because she is a teacher—the breakdown of the family, black and white, where the father disappears, the mother is not there. It seems easy to solve. Very clearly, if every family would be responsible and take care of their own ... it's beyond me, I never have understood, when I read about the way a parent treats or does not treat their kids. It's unfortunate that so many children are abused.

Do we do enough as a community to take care of our children?
The typical conservative answer is I'm taking care of my kids, my kids are doing fine, they hang around great kids, my kid's schools are good, and that's what everybody needs to do. But that's not what happens. There are many, many wonderful things happening in the city. You are asking what should be done: more organizations such as the partnership between First Baptist Church and Voice of Calvary in the inner city, what Cliff Wright at Christ United Methodist is doing, putting on a big, big, big push to get more involved with people. It's fine to go to Sunday school and church circle dinners, but let's put this into action. More people do need to get involved in an organized way. I know there are a lot of ladies and men that want to get involved, but they don't know what to do. Sometimes the best catalyst is the church. I do not think the answer is government. I think the government has a part in it. I think that if we as a society look to the government to do it, it will be just like looking to Daddies and Mamas looking at their little families and saying, "Well, they are going to take care of you." The government has a unit never be a total solution; it can be a conduit, it can be a help.

Programs have started such as inner-city baseball programs, those are good. Last night, a young black man was given an award for what he has done at training center for the young kids, police training. I haven't seen that many people come down to support what he is doing because he is doing it for his community. It's going to take more involvement of people that want to do something. We do have organizations, Melvin Anderson for instance, at the Department of Human Services. If someone wants to get involved, we can get them involved—mentoring, visiting, adopting schools—there are ways to help. It won't be a quick fix. If everyone waits around for everyone else to do it, thinking the government is going to do it, people throw money at it. Like I'm a Republican, the folks in my ward, they hired me to take care of it, and that's fine. There are a lot of people that get involved in government, and there are a lot of people who don't.

Do you think that there is anybody who really believes that it should only be the government helping?
I think that there are many people that only had the government helping them all their lives who believe that the government should be your rope out. That all they have ever known is welfare, food stamps, the emergency room. This isn't to place blame on anybody. It just has to do with where you are, when you're there, culture, all types of there economic strata, education. You can be born in Siberia, and Siberia is home. Home is home. Many times, the environment in which you live is where you are. And I do think that there are some people that that (depending on the government) is all they have known.

From what you just said, it sounds like it wouldn't be their fault if the government is the only institution there to help them?
No, but I think many times, if the government is the only safety net they have known or seen; that's all they know. Let me tell you, I have a business in Starkville, Miss.; the young lady we hired as manager is a black girl we hired to be the manager. She went to a four-week training course to be our manager. There were 58 people with her at the training school, 30 were from India, and seven couldn't even speak English. She asked them how they got the money it took to buy a franchise and to a person, they said they came to this country, worked two or three jobs. Seven of the 30 flunked the final test, which means they couldn't open one up until they went back through the course. They have been raised in a culture that teaches these things. Most people at this training school were not even citizens. Now, 23 of the 30 are out running a restaurant with a 98 percent success ratio. If more people thought and really believed that there was a part of this country that they could grab hold to, tie a knot to and go with it .... Listen, I'm not a blueblood, my Mom and Daddy didn't go to college, my first TV was 13 inches, we ate off of a card table, had a cardboard box with a blanket over it for a coffee table. I've been lucky; I've never needed anything but I never had anything growing up. All I knew was a Momma and Daddy who raised their family, had four of us. I was raised in Vicksburg; nobody in town was rich. I guess they were, but nobody knew it. That is the world we grew up in. I found out later in life a couple of people were big oil men, but I didn't know that.

The culture here is different. A lot of these kids were born into a culture where they never see, as Dr. McLemore says, a mentor. A mentor that comes in and says, "Look, this is what you can do, this is what I'm doing. My name is Leroy Walker: the next time someone talks to you about flipping burgers you tell them that is how I started."

Were you born into a culture where the people around you taught that you could have a piece of the American dream?
It was just expected, it was just assumed. I look back at my high school class; everybody there has done something with their lives, and one or two have fallen by the wayside. We had 163 people. It was just assumed; it was that environment. If you grow up in an environment where you don't have that assumed ... (trails off). It never occurred to me (that I couldn't). Yes, I was going to college; yes, I was going to do this, that and the other, it was just assumed. It's not that they're discouraged, they're not even there.

Do you feel mentors are necessary?
I absolutely do.

What do you think about Kenneth Stokes?
I think that Kenneth is the duly elected, undefeatable councilman from Ward 3. His people elect him overwhelmingly because they think he's doing a good job. Professionally, we as a council, most of us have really tried to operate as a unit. We certainly don't agree on everything. As far as his ward goes, he is elected time after time. So they are pleased with him so I can pass no judgment; that is what I love about this country.

I wish he'd be a little more involved with the council as a group. Take today: We are going to an ad hoc transportation committee that he used to chair, and we as a council now have to vote on it. True to form, he won't be there. [Editor's note: Allen did not attend, either, because he said the meeting had a quorum.] It hurts us as a council. What he does in his ward is his business, and obviously he is doing a good job because they love him. What do I think of him? I don't think anything of him personally. Professionally, I wish he'd get a little more involved and be a part of the unit. Mr. Stokes, for whatever reason, thinks it's a badge of honor to not to talk to the other council members. Every other member has gone out of there way to attend social events. They have all eaten at my house. We have all gone with Dr. McLemore. Mrs. Cooke has sponsored get-togethers, and Mrs. Barrett has sponsored some things. He won't even come. It's not that we are all trying to get together to form clique politics [as Stokes alleged in an earlier JFP]; that is ridiculous. Look at the voting record for crying out loud.

Does Councilman Bo Brown come to the social get-togethers?
Yes, Bo has been to some, he hasn't made it to all of them. He comes. When we had it at my house, Kenny sent two of his interns.

Does that fall under open meetings laws?
That absolutely falls under open meetings. The press is definitely invited. We in fact insist that Laura [Hipp, of The Clarion-Ledger] comes.

[Allen then returned to the subject of Stokes without prompting.]
The honest truth is with (Council President) Marshand Crisler gone, when Mr. Stokes steadfastly refuses to come to zoning meetings, the most important thing we do as a council is zoning. And most of the zoning fights are in the inner city or in Belhaven. Anybody can believe what they want to, but committee meetings are the part of the City Council that is fun because that is where we do stuff. That is where the negotiations happen. During redistricting, we worked for months, two to three nights a week for months. Mr. Stokes never came to one redistricting meeting, but when redistricting comes to a Council vote, he starts raising hell about it. It happens all the time. Do I have a problem with him as a Councilman? No. I personally wish he would get more involved in the council as a unit. I think it would be less selfish, and it would help us a lot more.

Does the voting bloc Kenneth Stokes contends is present in the council truly exist?
It's not a voting bloc, per se; it was a rumor that Leslie McLemore and me met every Monday morning at the University Club and manipulate the voting bloc. It was ridiculous; I don't even belong to the University Club. Let me tell you something, every time we turn around, we get sued. When you get sued, you get deposed, and when you get deposed you are under oath. There is none of this that goes on that anybody thinks about me. Well I was having drinks with Margaret Barrett, and that is what we decided we would do as a bloc. Take the smoking issue: It was in my committee, I didn't kill it. I don't believe in killing things in committee, but I didn't vote for it. The budget: they voted for it, I didn't. Like last night, the library in my ward. They voted for it, I voted against it. So there is not some bloc.

Nine out of 10 votes are unanimous. If there is a conflict, the person voting against it is either Kenny Stokes or Ben Allen.

Some people might say that you are trying to represent a more white, conservative constituency than anyone else, and that is why you vote the way you do. What would you say to that?
I'd say that is not true. I understand that perception and thought but, read my lips, you put the Farish Street Historic District to a vote in my ward, and it ain't going to pass. I have been leading the charge in support of it. And I'm not trying to get liberal on you, but I know what is happening down there. You take the convention center; let's just see how the vote washes out, and you are looking at the first white Republican that has said, "I'm going to do this tax." It's a good thing; it's done all over the country. Memphis is not smarter than we are; it's just that they've got the taxing, funding mechanism to do this. A fair assumption is that, yes, I vote like most of my constituents, but I will fight to the death—no I won't—if they think anybody is going to tell me how to vote on an issue. I remember one time, this lady called my wife, and she had been trying to call me for five weeks and I'd called her back but I hadn't gotten her and that they were having a meeting at 10 a.m. that morning and I'd better be there or she was gonna ... , and my wife said "... or you're gonna what"? You know my wife is as sweet as an Oreo cookies, she said, "I tell you what you need to do. I want you to go to Sunday school this Sunday, I want you to go to Wal-Mart, I want you to go to the garden club, go anywhere you want and I want you to tell everybody you know not to vote for my husband.: That's why I'm Republican; they elect me to vote the way I think and feel, and I study it.

Kenneth Stokes indicated that you are on David Dukes' (KKK leader) mailing list. Where did he get that idea?
In my entire life, I never remember getting anything from David Duke. But let me say this: There are some people in politics and in the bowels of city government, and in the bowels of their mind that like to say things about people that cannot be refuted openly. The old "are you still beating your wife" question. Someone can say that Ben Allen is on David Dukes' mailing list; that is not a libelous offense, but it still plants the seed for those who want to believe that; that must mean he is a bigot racist that ascribes to that. The Council of Conservative Citizens sent me something; I didn't solicit it. These are racially polarizing things.

Are you on any white supremacists' mailing lists?
No, maam.

Have you ever spoken to the Council of Conservative Citizens?
Yes. It was my first year in office, 1997, 98.
[Editor's note: The June 2000 issue of the Citizens' Informer, the newspaper of the CofCC, indicated that Allen spoke to a "capacity" meeting of Greater Jackson chapter of the group in April 2000 "about the removal of
the Miss. State flag from the Jackson City Council Chambers by the majority black members on the Council ...."]

Did you know what the Council of Conservative Citizens was when you spoke to them?
I knew it was a conservative group. I knew damn near nothing about politics when I got involved. If they ask me back to speak again (hands in air), you know I can tell you this: I don't want to denigrate any organization; they can do what they want to do. I would not now or ever be a member of it; I wouldn't support it. I don't know that much about it. I do know this: Many times there are groups that can be wonderful, and there are groups that can be terrible.

I saw you once introduce yourself in a City Council meeting as "Ben Allen, the only Republican on the council." Do you see yourself defined by your ideology?
Not in city politics. There is no real party. You are what you are.

Are you a conservative or a moderate Republican?
Moderate: A moderate Republican is not that old big tent stuff; it's when you honestly believe that there is no absolute in every issue. Some conservatives believe that capital punishment should be applied in every instance. I believe in capital punishment, but not in every issue. For some strange reason, I have faith in this country, and I have faith that people can come from nowhere and be financially successful. I've been there, and I have also been blessed with an environment that encouraged that. I don't like it when people, there is some within both parties I don't like, where everything has to be my way or the highway, you're either with us or against us. I subscribe to the Ronald Reagan theory that 80 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing; if you can give a little here and take a little there, it is a whole lot better than coming back with nothing. I believe in compromise. He (Reagan) is my absolute political icon. I went to the Reagan Library and met him when I was 20-something years old. He is my hero other than my father. Malcolm McMillin, Rosemary Alton, Muhammad Ali: those are my other heroes.

The reason I am a Republican is I believe that if you were simply to look at the platform of Republican or Democratic Party and you were on a ship and you had your family with you, and on this island, that island would be ruled by the thoughts and the moral code of the Democratic Party and on this island it's going to be the thoughts and moral compass of the Republican Party. You are fixing to get in a life boat and go to one of those two islands, and that is where you and your family are going to live forever. The part that I would love to keep and take with me would much more overwhelmingly be on the Republican island than on the Democratic island. I believe in what the Republican Party stands for. I am sickened, and I am sorry that it seems like you look at the people who are wild fringe groups to this side are all Democratic and the people who are wild fringe groups to the other side are always Republican. You know 5 percent of the people cause 95 percent of the news. I hate that David Duke ran as a Republican. You know he wasn't a Republican, but he stuck his name on there and that is what he said he was. He's not my Republican.

Your radio show often comes across as ultra-conservative; are you saying that it does not accurately portray who you are?
It tells me that people aren't listening to my radio show. We have two hosts and my partner, Larry Nesbit, is the most articulate, staunchly conservative bright guy, I've ever known. Sometimes our voices sound the same; I thought about not doing it. Sometimes people send me mail saying, "Man, you were great, you were on the show, and you did this." And I write back saying I wasn't even on the show that day. One day a man called in the show later on our same station saying that he couldn't believe this racists statement I made that morning. So I walked right over to the station and got on the phone with that man while he was on the show and said I wasn't even on the show this morning. I'm not apologizing for Larry, I love Larry, and I think he's a hoot. I think we need people who are real conservative, real liberal: You put it all together and shake it up and that's what you have got in the United States. So don't misunderstand me, I am not apologizing, but I am not an ultra-conservative, and if I come across that way, so be it.

Do you find yourself siding on an issue because it fits your persona as the conservative on the council?
I don't think so.

Name an example of an issue that you voted for that was against conservative ideology?
Where do I start? Farish Street, the Convention Center, every single week. If I were one of these super-duper deluxe right-wingers, we vote on four or five controversial grants every week. Every single week we will have 3, 4, 5, 6 hundred dollars we give for inner-city kids of crackhead moms, kids in northeast Jackson who need something, all kinds of issues. Some of them I don't vote for, some I do. I absolutely don't think of party lines while voting.

Would you say that your persona is more conservative than you are?
What you've got to understand is there's so much symbolism in government. It baffles me. For instance, Bettye Cook heard all kinds of things about Ben Allen when she was running. Ben Allen had heard all kinds of things Bettye Cooke when she was running; the same could be said for McLemore, Margaret Barrett. Look, I'm white, Republican, my kids went to private school, I drive a Cadillac, I've been successful professionally. I stand for a symbol that a lot of people don't like. They expect me to be a certain way. And some people are going to think that way forever. Most people that get together know there is a different story to that.

What do you think about the performance of Mayor Johnson?
The first term that Mayor Johnson ran he was a different mayor than he is this term, as far as personal relationships with the Council. He was very protective, untouchable and unapproachable. You had to make an appointment with him; he was insulated. He has been a totally different mayor this time; he has been much easier to work with. Nobody really knows what brought this change. I supported his opponent (Daryl Neely), which could be political suicide. But after it was over with, I went to see him and said, "Look, I've got one or two things to say, my hat's in my hand because you're the mayor, I'm a no-power city councilman. I want you to know that you're my mayor, I'm going to support you, and I'm not going to try to be a stick in the mud or hurt you in any way, and I want to work together." He was man enough to say, "That's good, let's work together," and we put it behind us. He has been on the balance and, well, over the balance, a good mayor to work with. He has quite simply the most difficult job I know of in the country save being an SEC football coach. This is a hard, tough job he's got. He has a great staff. People say they don't want a politician, and in a lot of ways they don't have one in him. He gets his mind made up that he is going to do some things, and he is going to do them. He decided he wanted to build the Convention Center, he came out shooting, and he took on some of most powerful business people in Jackson. It was a very unpopular thing to do, but he has waded through that. I think he's been a good mayor, particularly in light of what's going on every day in trying to manage this city. Many things he does I wouldn't do, consequently that's why I vote against some of the stuff, but if you notice many times I don't make a lot of comment about it; I just vote against it.

Would you support him for re-election?
The truth is, I made a huge mistake last time, when I came out and unfairly and overtly supported the mayor's opponent. I'm not going to get involved in this election because he's going to have a record to stand on, he's going to be up against a formidable opponent, and because both of the candidates are bright, smart, thin-skinned, and have big egos you are probably going to see the most vicious campaign you will ever see in your life for any office. I frankly want people to make their own minds up. Whoever becomes mayor is going to be my mayor. It won't bother me a bit if he wins, I can tell you that.

What do you think of Frank Melton?
I'm glad the world has people like Frank Melton. I don't know him well; I like him. I think he'd make a good mayor. I think it'd be a totally different city. Mayor Johnson, this time around he's actually delegated things. Last term, someone would ask about the 18th entry on page 6 of the claims docket, and he would know what it was. I think Melton is a good man, an honorable man, I don't know him well. Every time I have been around him, he has always been very professional and nice to me. Most people, particularly Republicans, want government to be run like a business, but you just can't; it's just not a business. Those that come in and want to run the city like a business, it's just not going to happen. You'd better buckle your chin strap; this election is going to be one brouhaha.

Interview continued. Click here.

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