The Peacemaker? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Peacemaker?

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The effortless July 5 council vote giving Ward 1 Councilman Ben Allen the president's seat was a dramatic contrast to the council president vote of 2005, when Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler took the presidency from Ward 2's Leslie McLemore after a last-minute coup involving Ward 4 Councilman Frank Bluntson, Ward 5 Councilman Charles Tillman and Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

Supporting Allen's position this time around were Bluntson, who nominated Allen, McLemore, Tillman and Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon. Allen already had the four-person vote minimum even before he voted for himself.

In a way, Allen's presidency was the result of a growing rift between pro-Mayor Frank Melton Democrats and anti-Melton Democrats on the council.

On the anti-Melton side sits former council President and Marine leatherneck Marshand Crisler, truculent civil rights defender McLemore and the increasingly vocal Barrett-Simon.

Though neither takes particular pride in opposing Melton, all three have reacted with alarm to a number of Melton's unresearched proposals and his general disregard for the legislative branch of city government.

On the pro-Melton ticket sits his long-time friend and defender, Ward 4 Councilman and former juvenile detention center manager Bluntson; retired school principal Tillman, who largely follows Bluntson's lead; and longtime Councilman Stokes, who either favors Melton's position or abstains from voting on touchy issues where supporting the mayor could trigger a lashing from Ward 3 voters.

Allen said he was not surprised by the council president vote, because he already had an idea of how the vote would go after catching hints from earlier coup attempts by council members like Stokes to oust Crisler, who had emerged as the most vocal critic of Melton even after a pro-Melton trio put him in the presidency.

"Three times during the last year, and one time very publicly there was a vote to replace Marshand, and I could've gotten the votes at any time during that process but I didn't because I didn't think it was proper to do that," Allen said in an interview. "There was no question among council members as to whether or not we had the votes (on July 5), but we were just not going to talk about it in the press. That's why it ran so smoothly. The support was there, and it wasn't going to change. We had a mess last time with Marshand, and we didn't want a repeat of that."

Stokes, in particular, instigated a premature vote on a new president in April following numerous battles between Crisler and Melton regarding executive power and legal issues. Days ahead of Stokes' April coup attempt, Crisler cancelled council meetings after the mayor removed public-access cameras from the chambers. The council president said the public needed to be able to see the meetings on public access because "not everybody can take off and come to these things during their workday," while Melton argued that the cameras tempted the council to "act like a circus."

Allen said members of the council were gearing up to nominate him to be Crisler's replacement, but Allen stood then against the rebellion, costing the anti-Crisler faction its four-vote majority. Stokes quietly pulled his vote item from that week's council agenda.

Many of Allen's constituents supported Melton in the mayoral election, and Allen considers the mayor a friend, even though he has taken a firm stance against Melton's passion to demolish the King Edward Hotel, and has questioned the mayor on budget issues. He now has a shifting cautious, disapproval of the mayor's eagerness to declare the city under a continual state of emergency.

A PULL IN PRIORITIES
Weeks ago, Allen criticized the emergency order. "I respect the mayor putting major crime back into the limelight. It needs to be priority, but I think an emergency order could be better timed," Allen told the Jackson Free Press in June.

He was hesitant to criticize the tactic last week, though, saying he could make no assessment of the emergency order this early, despite a slew of murders since the order took effect.

"I think the order might be extreme, but he has a right to do that. We can't stop him if we want to," Allen said. "We can't base the success of the thing on these murders. We'll learn if it works as time goes on. In any case, murders are not a snapshot of the public social health of the community. Murders are crimes of passion."

Dislike for the emergency order is growing beyond the concerns of council members like McLemore and Crisler, though. Business organizations such as the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce are also grumbling over the state of emergency plastering Jackson's crime over the national news.

Chamber President Duane O'Neill described the state of emergency as "not an attractive headline when selling our area. "

"Let me be clear about the effects of such a statement: This declaration in the City of Jackson has fallout in all the surrounding communities," O'Neill wrote in July 12 newsletter. "A prospective business considering locating or relocating in Mississippi considers us all the same market area—especially Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties. The negative phrase has a connotation that implies chaos and disorder. It brings mental images of the pandemonium we viewed on television of New Orleans after the levees failed. That scene is not particularly enticing for prospective residents or businesses."

Criticism for the mayor's decisions abounds, but the thin-skinned mayor apparently sees Allen's presidency as a friendlier environment. Melton attended both the July 10 council work session and the July 11 meeting, the first presided over by Allen as council president. Melton has attended only a handful of council meetings during his first year, saying he instead monitored council debates and public opinion by watching the meetings on the city's local cable access channel—despite threatening to remove the cable access cameras. Melton has even scheduled press conferences during council meetings, diverting attention from the meetings.

Allen said he plans to take extra steps to get along with the city's hypersensitive mayor, however. "(Melton's) been to both council meetings, and he's been there the entire time. He feels very comfortable with us, and he's expressed his complete willingness to try to cooperate with the new council this year," Allen said.

Last week, the camera-phobic mayor even took into account council concerns regarding his proposed ban on gun sales in the city, agreeing in executive session to back off his pledge, which angers gun owners and, if enacted, is sure to draw lawsuits. This is a contrast to Melton's typical habit of tossing out an unvetted proclamation vulnerable to public correction by City Council or the attorney general.

Melton has told the JFP that he preferred to drop commands to the council instead of making suggestions, because he says the council turns everything into a drawn out debate. "If you take the issue to (the council) in the form of a question, they will talk and talk and talk when we should be having action," Melton said in a past interview.

CHANGE IN TONE?
Allen acknowledges that Melton now seems more willing to debate ideas with the council. Allen said he was impressed when Melton took suggestions during a July 11 executive session regarding his emergency order and proposed gun-sale ban.

"He told the council that he was going to extend the curfew and the state of emergency for five days and that he was also going to ban the sale of guns for the next five days, but he could see by our reactions that we had a few questions. ... Melton just talked to us and everybody expressed polite concern over the cost-benefit ratio of doing something so drastic," Allen said.

Allen's personal concern was that Melton's attempt to end the sale of guns during his emergency order would prompt lawsuits from gun distributors with deep pockets and smart lawyers.

"He's frustrated about the gun shows and pawn shops selling automatic rifles," Allen said, "but we've got Wal-Mart and legitimate gun dealers all over the state who were going to be up in arms, and the NRA would be challenging us. … Still, Melton took suggestions. I think he's willing to talk with us again."

Crisler said he was surprised by Melton's willingness to listen, and expressed mild irritation that Melton seems more tolerant of some council members than others, but mostly, he said he hopes the council will have a better relationship with the mayor.

"I don't know where this (tolerance) was before, but at least something's happening now," Crisler said.

'HE IS WHAT HE IS'
Allen is quietly attempting to shift the council's focus to committees, rather than televised "with me or against me" confrontations in the full council. Hours after taking the president's seat, Allen set about forming three new committees: the Quality of Life/Neighborhood Enhancement/Education Committee, the Inter-governmental Relations Committee and the Contract Review Committee.

"The purpose of the new committees is to work with the mayor, because he is what he is. ... It's easier to work with the mayor in the background," Allen said. "Not to do anything illegal, but (Melton) has had people do some conniving things to him, and he's lost his trust, and our intent is to regain a truthful line of communication. The City Council talked him out of a gun sale ban yesterday. He's called me two or three times every day. I've called him two or three times every day, and we both know what's going on. I don't know if the honeymoon's going to last forever, but my mission in life is to get this thing working again."

Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon will pick the council members to sit on the upcoming Inter-governmental Relations Committee by Friday of this week, but Allen said he intends for more than council members to sit on that committee. Indeed, he said he expects the real stars on that committee to be members of the Hinds County Supervisors, the Sheriff's office, the district attorney's office and the governor's office, among others.

"It has to be council driven because all these people aren't going to be needed at every meeting. We just want to have access to different people so when something comes up we can address it," Allen said.

Allen said similar committees had been discussed in the past but intergovernmental fighting had prevented such a committee's formation. Allen cited a dispute between former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and Hinds County Supervisor Doug Anderson on paving city streets as one example.

A BRIDGE TO THE COUNTY?
During the last administration, Anderson offered the city of Jackson $500,000 to repave streets the county felt needed paving. Johnson responded that the money was welcome, but he wanted input on what streets got priority attention. Johnson argued that the city could better decide what streets needed the most work while Anderson said the county should make those decisions. Both Johnson and Anderson claim that the other broke off communications over the dispute. Johnson's point was that the city should have a say because city residents provide the brunt of county funds, though Allen is not willing to push that argument.

"Harvey was not comfortable with supervisors picking out streets here, there and yon. He had a good point, but on the other hand, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth," Allen said. "If they want to spend a half million dollars, and they want to have input on where it'll be spent, we are going to say thank you."

Allen denies that the county will pick the streets now, assuring that supervisors are making room for city participation.

"They're getting with us to ask us where we want it. There's definitely city input," Allen said. Some city residents, who remain suspicious of supervisors' motives, say they are leery of the city losing some of its voice.

"I'm willing to work with the county, but people living outside the city don't always have the city's best interest in mind," said former Ward 5 Councilwoman Bettye Dagner-Cook during the 2005 campaign.

Allen will get to put his new committee to quick use. Anderson recently extended an offer to pull the county's suit against the city for millions in unpaid funds. The city of Jackson stopped payment to the county on the upkeep of the penal farm and the county jail in 1996, and supervisors say the money is long overdue, especially with Sheriff Malcolm McMillin riding supervisors for jail repairs.

Anderson offered to drop the suit if the city continued its financial support for the juvenile detention center, near downtown Jackson. "We think the city could take this offer because it won't mean a change in their budget. The city has already been paying for the Juvenile Detention Center. We're just asking that they continue paying it," he said.

Supervisor Charles Barbour, who frequently locks antlers with Anderson on county budget decisions, such as the increased gas and fuel allowance for the sheriffs department, stood with Anderson's proposal. "Mr. Anderson and I have talked about that proposition, which would help the city continue funding the juvenile jail, and we would drop our lawsuit over the payment of the adult detainees. It's about the same amount mathematically, but it would allow us to settle the issue. I'm in favor of some sort of settlement of the issue, and if they want to do it this way that's fine with me," Barbour said.

Allen called the offer a blessing and said it was one of the issues prompting him to form the intergovernmental committee.

"For the record, they have not offered us an olive branch. They've offered us an olive tree as far as working together, and when Anderson came to us and made this offer, I'm thinking, 'Well, what committee do I put this in?' If it doesn't go into the budget, nor legislative, nor planning (committees), what does it go into? We have this stuff come up all the time. We'll have somebody come down from the House with an idea, and we've got a legislative committee but it only focuses on the three-month legislative session. We need a year-round working committee that's not just council members that can work and work quickly with people like Doug Anderson," Allen said.

It is likely that Allen hopes a snugglier relationship with the county will prevent disputes like the one over the emergency communications system, which razed relationships between city and county officials during the last legislative session.

The county's 911 board, at the urging of county emergency management director Larry Fisher, decided that the city of Jackson needed to adopt a Motorola-based communication system that would allow direct links with Hinds and other nearby counties. The city was unwilling to take the new system, however, because it had already spent thousands of dollars upgrading its current system, which is not Motorola-based and is, in fact, incompatible with Motorola without additional hardware. Council members also felt the Legislature would settle on its own statewide communication system in coming months and sought to wait to see if the new state system would be compatible with the city's current system.

With only two Jackson representatives on the board, the 911 commission voted to force the system on Jackson, much to Allen's fury. After much wrangling in the press, the county decided to delay the process for now. Then State Rep. John Reeves, R-Jackson, took the fight to the state level by successfully pushing a house bill granting Jackson a majority on the 911 board.

Allen is hoping that future head-butting can be moderated through the new council committee.

TAKING THE 'CON' FROM CONTRACTS
The Contract Review Committee is another new committee Allen holds close to his heart. Allen says the committee will contain not only council members but members of the mayor's office and savvy business leaders willing to oversee million-dollar contracts presented to the council. The committee will allow both the mayor and the council to review contracts between the city and private companies before they go to a vote—with a second attribute: keeping the outspoken mayor out of the camera lens before council decisions are made. Though Allen does not admit it, there is little doubt that the committee owes its birth to the debacle between the council and the mayor regarding the King Edward Hotel.

Melton came into office with a strong desire to "implode" the dilapidated hotel, much to the chagrin of investors like attorney David Watkins who, with New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister, have pledged thousands of dollars to revitalizing the building.

Watkins and company saw their project put at risk more than once during the new mayor's first year. The city twice failed to complete valuable paperwork on its end, jeopardizing federal loans slated for the King Edward project. Melton has also sought to bring in an outside investor—Gene Phillips of Texas—to replace Watkins.

"They're taking too long," Melton told media. "It's been months without a single shovel over there, and we've got investors willing to move on with the project with no taxpayer assistance whatsoever."

Watkins remains hopeful, however, because the mayor requires a council vote before he can even begin to wrench away the project. That is not a vote the mayor is likely to win.

"We've put a lot of time and effort into this project," Watkins said recently. "I don't think our other investors are getting run off, but I do wish we could find more support from the mayor's office. I think the city will be very pleased with us once we've finished."

Better communication might also have staved off a nasty veto and veto override attempt recently involving the city's legal ads and The Mississippi Link Newspaper. The council voted to accept the Link's bid to publish legal ads on the basis that the Link offered the cheapest bid. Melton, who seems to hold a grudge against Link publisher Socrates Garrett for supporting his adversary during the last election, vetoed the council's decision. A veto override failed when Councilmen Bluntson and Tillman, both supporters of the original council decision, changed their minds to apparently appease the mayor. Garrett says the mayor illegally influenced a council decision.

Link attorney Dorsey Carson filed a writ of mandamus to the circuit court to order Melton and certain council members to follow the law on competitive bidding.

Allen denies The Mississippi Link problem had anything to do with inspiring the new committee, however, saying it's intended to handle high-end contracts involving the King Edward Hotel, the convention center, water-sewer projects and so on.

"If you go back and check the record, this was a request of Frank Melton early on his mayorship. He'd asked the city council to form a contract review committee, and I've got to review the mayor on who he wants on that committee. It will be council driven, but I will not be surprised if he doesn't ask for some outside help as well. He just wants to be sure that—well, it's not that things aren't on the up-and-up, but he's real concerned about change orders, i.e. why the contracts need altering and weren't right to begin with."

Allen describes the Quality of Life/Neighborhood Enhancement/Education Committee as a committee dedicated to finding solutions in touchy community matters not easily handled by existing committees. This committee would put concerned residents in touch with qualified city personnel on relatively minor problems, such as residents' complaints about having curbside mailboxes forced on them by the local postmaster (curbside mailboxes are more easily robbed by identity thieves, residents claim), or persistent complaints that garbage collectors noisily empty business dumpsters at 3 a.m.—mere feet away from a lane of private residences.

STEAMROLLING THE COUNCIL
Though Crisler says the committees serve a purpose, he says he worries if they will allow the executive branch more influence over the legislative branch of city government.

"Hey, after this last year, I'm all about helping the council and the mayor get along, but I just don't want the mayor's office to have more fingers in council affairs. We've got two separate branches of government for a reason," Crisler said. "I'm great with better communication, so long as there isn't undue influence."

The headstrong Melton makes no secret, though, that he prefers working over the council rather than with it. "That's one of the reasons I signed this emergency order, because it gives me the wherewithal to make decisions without fighting with people," Melton told the JFP.

Crisler sees Melton as a domineering character and worries that the mayor will use the new influence to steamroll his initiatives through council. "Sure, communicating is critical, but if communicating with the mayor is limited to just giving the mayor what he wants, the communication will be worthless," Crisler said. "I think there could be dialogue, but my fear is that it'll just be one-sided conversation. After all, this is the guy who says he's going to do what he wants to do regardless of the council's beliefs, and he never changes his mind. 'It's a done deal, and you need to come to grips with that,' he says."

Still, Crisler and other council members who jealously guard legislative power say they are in "watch and see mode" this early in the process. Many of their constituents are even more wary.

Allen's political ties have created trust in the black community against him. The Council of Conservative Citizens is an incarnation of the old White Citizen's Council—a racist group birthed during desegregation from the 1950s to the 1970s. CCofC still has active chapters in Mississippi and holds the Blackhawk political rally every four years to help finance busing for private academies, thus helping white kids avoid the integrated public school system.

Many Mississippi politicians have spoken at or attended CCofC meetings, including Sen. Trent Lott, Gov. Haley Barbour, and former Govs. Ronnie Musgrove and Kirk Fordice, as well as a host of Mississippi state senators and representatives. Barbour even refused to ask the CofCC to remove a picture of him with CofCC members posted on its Web site and enjoyed a hearty growth spurt in popularity among white voters, to boot, during his gubernatorial campaign. This is the same site where a C ofCC writer said that immigrants are turning the U.S. into a "shiny brown mass of glop."

The June 2000 issue of the Citizens' Informer, the newspaper of the CofCC, said Allen spoke to a "capacity" meeting of its Greater Jackson chapter in April 2000. At the time, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes was pushing the majority black council to remove the state flag, which sports a confederate emblem, from the council chambers.

Allen told the JFP in 2004 that he spoke to a meeting of the CCofC in 1997 or 1998, saying "it was my first year in office." That likely would have also been before Lott's CofCC flap educated the world about the group in late 1998.

"I knew it was a conservative group. I knew damn near nothing about politics when I got involved. … 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," Allen told the JFP in 2004.

More recently, on the JFP Web site, Allen said he had perused the site and was disturbed by what he saw there. He then apologized for having appeared before the group in the past. Allen did not return calls for a follow-up on this topic by press time.

Some prominent African-American Jacksonians remain suspicious. "I think he's as duplicitous as a fly on a piece of cake," said Jackson Advocate Publisher Charles Tisdale, long a critic of Allen and many of his friends. "I think that it looks very, very bad for six Democrats to elect a Republican in a majority Democratic city."

Tisdale, however, is a strong support of Melton and Bluntson, who in turn are supportive of Allen's presidency.

Allen's morning talk radio show "The Ben and Larry Show" has also irritated some Jackson listeners with its oft-disturbing innuendo.

"I remember Jackson citizens being called porch monkeys, on that show. I can't say if it was Allen or one of his cohorts or one of the callers, but it was not good for Jackson," says Jackson resident Lavaree Jones. "Personally, I'm a lot more concerned that all of the sudden, our city council people can get along much better when a lone, white man is running things. That concerns me that they could not be civil with each other until a lone white Republican becomes the president."

Shortly after being chosen council president, the Jackson Free Press broke the news that Allen was leaving the Ben & Larry Show and forming his own Tuesday morning show on WJNT.

In light of Allen's conservative background, local Democratic leaders, such as Jackson Municipal Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis said he would have preferred a Democratic leader over a Democratic council—which serves an overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning city.

"Americans get the politicians they deserve because we elect them. And the politicians we elected, in their wisdom, have chosen to elect this man as president of the board. Of course I'm a Democrat, and I would have preferred a Democrat, but I am willing to see how this man holds his position. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see if their wisdom pays off," McInnis said.

"If this works out well, they could look like geniuses. If it works out badly they'll look like fools, and they'll have to answer to the voters," McInnis added.

A CLASH OF POLITICS?
Some Democrats fear the priorities of the council could change under Allen's conservative leadership. If Allen carries the line of Republicans running the federal offices in Washington, the city could move toward a "starve the beast" mentality. Or as Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist put it (before Katrina), city government should be, or could be, "drowned in a bathtub."

Allen shrugs off this concern. "I've said this before, and I'll say it again: If I voted like a Republican on every issue, I'd be outvoted six to one on every vote. There's just no place for that in city politics. We're too much after the same thing," Allen said.

Still, Allen rarely approves tax or fee increases. The revised city budget in May showed that revenues fell $3 million short of projections, coupled with an increase of more than $2 million in fuel and retiree health insurance premium costs. Even then, Allen was wary of hiking garbage fees to cover the shortfall, opting for a sunshine clause requiring council to review the fee hike every budget vote. Council voted in May for a budget that dips into the city's reserve fund by $1.4 million rather than collecting revenue with the fee increase.

"To me, the garbage fee was a joke, because it's not like our garbage service in increasing. It's still the same; we're just charging more. And one of the things running people out of town now are the higher city fees and taxes," Allen said.

It is impossible to judge why people are leaving Jackson, but deterioration in city services, including crimefighting, which is reflected in higher crime rates, are surely also important considerations.

"I, for one, would be willing to pay a little extra if it meant more safety and a better standard of living," said community activist Diana Barnes-Pate. "There are little things, like police response time, that I bet could be improved if we had more police and more city staff. I also think housing would be better if we had more property inspectors. We don't have nearly enough to handle all the code violations like lawn parking and so on. I'd pay more if you could show me the improvement, because I value my proximity to my job enough to make that sacrifice. Let the others commute for an hour."

Some also fear that Allen's conservative politics could manifest in the council putting a lower priority on getting grant money and providing affordable housing.

Though the city's grants division now consists of only one grant writer, Allen says the city should not have grant writers on the city budget in the first place, arguing that grant writers on commission have an intrinsic motive to get more grants of better quality.

"That, and we've always had a problem with grant writers settling for these grants that require the city to match the funds, and we just can't afford that anymore," Allen said.

The city, Allen says, has managed to retain its line-item grants with only one writer, though little new money has been coming into the city. The jury is still out on the city's new Washington lobbyist. Melton's personal friend Marcus Ward replaced the 150-year-old lobbying firm Winston & Strawn last year, to the fury of council members, including Allen. The city will know soon if the $70,000-a-year lobbyist, identified as the city's "chief of staff" in this year's revised budget, will cut the mustard. Meantime, Allen is looking for new commission-based writers for the city, and has even submitted one resume, with high hopes, to the city for consideration, he said.

To assuage partisanship fears, Allen points out that he and the council have voted largely in line on many housing issues. Even the philosophically liberal Crisler and McLemore have seen eye-to-eye with Allen regarding issues such as 15-year lease developments in south Jackson. Developers use federal tax credits, filtered through organizations like the Mississippi Home Corp., to build high-end property with a low price tag, and still make a profit. Tax-credit housing in the form of a 15-year lease, however, gives a new home–owner an easy out if they choose to move on, and little incentive to maintain the property or build ties with neighbors. Most council members called the property "apartments in disguise" and challenged developers to build such dwellings on their own streets.

"Heck, I asked one of those developers building that crazy property, 'Why don't you build something like that in your hometown up in Oxford or Madison.' But they won't do it, because they know what it is and what it'll do to their neighborhood," Allen said. Allen stands against 15-year lease plans like the majority of the council, and says he intends to follow the council's lead in encouraging those same developers to use federal tax credits to instead rebuild property in the city instead of chewing up the shrinking grassy fields of south Jackson. He adds that any concerns regarding his opposition of affordable five or seven-year lease plans are unfounded.

"Look, I want people to be able to own homes. I think home ownership is the way to go, and I have no problem with shorter lease housing. Heck, I'm all for it," Allen said. When challenged, he said he was not opposed to seven- or five-year lease plans in his own ward.

"The truth is, I want people to own a home and know their neighbors. I want them to be a part of a community. Jackson needs a bigger sense of community and if you've got something to protect, like a home you own, you've got a reason to maintain it," he said.

Allen said his conservative nature will serve the city well in careful oversight of city hand-outs.

"There's going to be a slew of people holding their hands out, but we need to be more careful where we spend the money. We won't be able to give it out to just anybody anymore. Not to blast our earlier method, but we need more careful oversight," Allen said.

HARD TIMES AHEAD
Political differences between Allen and his Democratic colleagues will more than likely be run under the wagon wheels of upcoming hard times—and they are coming, according to Allen and other members of council.

"Here's what's going to happen," Allen said. "We've got a lot of development coming into the city after the next two or three years, and then we've got an $8 million bond maturing in 2007, but before that happens, there's going to be a long walk through the desert, I tell you. We're going to have to tighten some belts big time. Nobody's going to like it, but if we hold together we can do it," Allen said.

Crisler said he did not envy Allen's new position, though he admitted that just being a council member was going to mean taking some serious fire over the next few months from angry citizens.

"Is it going to hurt? Oh, yes, it's going to hurt. You bet times are about to be hard, but I stand behind Allen's presidency. I'll support him and hopefully we can all pull through this," Crisler said.

Talk directly to Ben Allen on his JFP blog.

Previous Comments

ID
80193
Comment

Adam? Allen’s political ties have created trust in the black community against him. Aside from this seven year old issue still hanging around, that sentance doesn't make any sense.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-19T17:51:11-06:00
ID
80194
Comment

The city has fallen into a tailspin for the past year. Mayby Allen's new perspective can help turn things around. Like the council president said, right now it seems that Melton is more willing to listen. The city is probably getting ready to face one of it's toughest years yet. Melton has given money back to entities that traditionally gave to Jackson in the past, he replaced our all powerful lobbying firm in Washington, we have had a large number of BIG businesses leave this year, crime is up, the police department and the fire department are severely understaffed, etc. I see a lot going bad, but just as thing go bad they can turn around and get better. We are not in a good position right now, but there's still a chance for things to start looking up.

Author
lance
Date
2006-07-20T07:55:31-06:00
ID
80195
Comment

Not to mention roads are continuing to deteriorate and a tax increase seems inevitable. One positive note is that Melton seems to be pulling back from being an active participant in roadblocks, though he still likes to roll around the MCU in the evenings.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-07-20T10:23:15-06:00
ID
80196
Comment

I have to hang my head in shame at the mis-type, Ironghost. The word was intended to be "mistrust."

Author
Adam Lynch
Date
2006-07-20T10:48:26-06:00
ID
80197
Comment

One positive note is that Melton seems to be pulling back from being an active participant in roadblocks, though he still likes to roll around the MCU in the evenings. - ejeff1970 Mayby the cost of gas has him being a little more conservative. Or mayby he is just trying to keep a low profile until the AG's office has completed their latest investigation of him. Either way I agree it's so pleasant not to see him riding around like the Macy Street parade on New Year's Day.

Author
lance
Date
2006-07-20T14:07:21-06:00
ID
80198
Comment

Benjy the Rich north Jackson schmuck said: “We’ve got a lot of development coming into the city after the next two or three years" Really, Benjy? Any of that devolopment earmarked for South Jackson? Something other than another jail or improvements that make the water sewage plant smell worse than it already does? How about some more uncaring, indifferent gestapo looking police officers that can't/won't keep thieves out of my house, car or shed? The Police: We raise more revenue before 10 AM than most people do in a lifetime. Damn sure can't prevent crime. Oh, and one other thing Benjy, pawn shops cannot legally sell "automatic weapons". Those weapons cannot be sold without a Federal tax stamp that regulates that sale. So, you're either ignorant or you deliberately lied when you said that the pawnshops were selling automatic weapons. Which is it? I'll agree with either. Ned

Author
NedWreck
Date
2006-07-20T14:34:24-06:00
ID
80199
Comment

Ned: I think Frank said all that.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-20T15:15:07-06:00
ID
80200
Comment

>Scrolls up< Nope, I was quoting rich north Jackson scumbag Allen Direct quote: “Here’s what’s going to happen,” Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of development coming into the city after the next two or three years, and then we’ve got an $8 million bond maturing in 2007, but before that happens, there’s going to be a long walk through the desert, I tell you. We’re going to have to tighten some belts big time. Nobody’s going to like it, but if we hold together we can do it,” Allen said. Sounds like a good time for South Jackson to sue for separation from the city. We've been neglected for too long. Too much of our property taxes are being used to help make north Jackson look nice while South Jackson gets squat. I don't think we can do any worse without the rest of Jackson. Besides, the way Benjy hates us dirty lower class scumbags, he might even help us leave. Ned

Author
NedWreck
Date
2006-07-20T15:51:47-06:00
ID
80201
Comment

Alright, stop the name-calling. I'm certain you can express your opinion without personal attacks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-20T15:55:13-06:00
ID
80202
Comment

From the article..... “He’s frustrated about the gun shows and pawn shops selling automatic rifles,” Allen said, “but we’ve got Wal-Mart and legitimate gun dealers all over the state who were going to be up in arms, and the NRA would be challenging us. … Still, Melton took suggestions. I think he’s willing to talk with us again.” I'd like to know if Ben Allen said this, or if it's a misqoute? This is real simple. Pawnshops don't sell "automatic rifles" unless they're a "Class 3 Dealer". When I speak of Class 3, I'm talking about dealers of fully automatic firearms. Class 3 Dealers don't set up in pawnshops, and you'll rarely-- if ever see one at a gunshow. If they are at a show, they're usually just there for display. You couldn't buy a fully automatic firearms at a show if you wanted to. There's no cash and carry full-autos there. The backround check is very intrusive, the waiting period is very long, and the license is very expensive. Now, what I think Ben meant too say is semi-automatic rifles. For those that don't know the difference, it's like this: Semi-automatic = 1 trigger pull fires 1 shot. Fully automatic = Hold the trigger down and the gun fires until you let go of said trigger. (Class 3) I wish politicians would educate themselves on the subject of firearms before they make these statements. Afterall, the only ones that suffer the accompanying grief is them. And would the NRA be on top of this Melton tried to ban gunshows and gun sales in Jackson? Yup.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2006-07-20T16:33:49-06:00
ID
80203
Comment

Yeah, I can stop calling Ben Allen a scumbag. Can you make Mr. Allen stop hating those less fortunate than he? That's the difference, y'see. I can't call Ben Allen a scumbag but I don't see you telling Ben Allen to stop his personal vendetta against us. What was it he called those immigrants? El Chico what? Porch monkey who? You're right. I shouldn't be name calling. Benjy does that enough for both of us. Ned

Author
NedWreck
Date
2006-07-20T16:44:20-06:00
ID
80204
Comment

According to the tape, he said "automatic." I'm sure it was a slip-up, but your point is well-taken.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-20T16:44:25-06:00
ID
80205
Comment

Ned, I have challenged Mr. Allen a number of ways and times on this site for his own name-calling, not to mention his habits of pandering to questionable groups in the past. So let's drop the na-na-na-boo-boo routine, and try this again with a different tone. That applies no matter who you are.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-20T16:54:10-06:00
ID
80206
Comment

Yeah, you can challenge him all you want about his "name calling" but has he ever -once- admitted he was wrong for having done it? Or has he claimed that he was mis-understood or that it was simply a grammatical error? As per his use of "automatic" I'll accept "ignorant". Just one thing before I go; what the hell does "na-na-na-boo-boo" mean? I've heard of "nanny nanny boo boo". The person who says that usually progresses to tell someone to stick their head in something unpleasant. Is that something you learned in college? Isn't there an actual word you meant to use there? I may have lived in South Jackson all my life but it's ok, you can use real words with me any time you want. The county schools taught me real good. Ned

Author
NedWreck
Date
2006-07-20T20:16:38-06:00
ID
80207
Comment

"Just one thing before I go; what the hell does "na-na-na-boo-boo" mean?" Man "lighten up"....by your tone you sound like your more familiar with the Clarion Forums....your posts sound like the language and retorts you read on that Blog. This Blog is much more civilized. You obviously have something in depth to say here...but you have to be able to reason it out without the verbal assaults.

Author
ATLExile
Date
2006-07-21T12:23:33-06:00
ID
80208
Comment

Sorry, Ned, back in my Neshoba County trailer park, we said "na na ..." -- not "nanny" when we were engaging in childish tit-for-tats. Now, the point is exactly what ATL just said. Lose the attitude. You can agree, disagree and discuss here respectfully without all the goofiness toward Mr. Allen or anyone else. And, yes, I believe that the councilman has said that he was wrong to use some of his phrases. Now, whether you think that is enough is up to you. Personally, I'd like to see him take stronger positions on these issues as well—but I also saw his quitting the Ben & Larry Show as a big step in the right direction. What he has done may not be enough for you, but certainly he has gone farther to repudiate the CofCC, for instance, than most politicians who have pandered to those bigots, including Democrats. Frankly, this progress is too slow for my taste, too, but I do believe some progress is better than none.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-21T13:31:12-06:00

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