Marshand Crisler: The Man Watching the Mayor (2006) | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Marshand Crisler: The Man Watching the Mayor (2006)

The office of Jackson Council President Marshand Crisler bears the signs of a harsh duality. Crisler carries himself with a clean, pressed look—in startling contrast to the reporter sitting across from him. He's always clean and ironed, he's hardly ever been spotted with a stain on his shirt, and ring around the collar is something that happens to other people. There's a very good chance Crisler was up this morning before 5 a.m., and it's an even better bet that his clothes were ironed before he went to bed in the first place.

Nevertheless, his office is littered with stacks of paper in a manner that probably bugs him. The general fussiness of organic existence is just one of those little liabilities of working in a government office shared by other people.

Crisler's walls are covered with various awards and certificates commemorating past services and duties, both as a civilian and as a soldier. At only 37, the Marine, Army Reservist, and Air Force enlistee has been all over the planet, visiting dozens of places, sometimes in a cloud of smoke and mortar rounds. He's already one of the few Jacksonians who can boast of crossing the North Pole. His military career still imposes on his civilian life, snatching him away from his Ward 6 council seat in 2004, only to return him almost a year later in January that following year—just in time to become one of the new mayor's loudest critics.

What drew you to the military?

I came up in a structured home. My parents are still married, married over 44 years. They're both educators, and they stressed education and college, and all of my kids graduated from Jackson State University, which I guess doesn't make my Dad, who attended Alcorn, and my Mom, who went to Valley, good recruiters for their respective universities.

But I decided I needed more structure in my life. I played collegiate football with Hinds Community College and majored in criminal justice. I decided I needed a break from that and went into the Marines to get more discipline. I picked a winner for discipline.

Why the Marines?

This was 1987. I went in originally going into brains over brawn, but found out I didn't have as much brains as I thought I did. I took the (military) test and came up five points shy of getting into the Air Force. They were like 'it's just five points. Take it again in six months, and you'll pass it,' but I got bitter and took it out on the Air Force, instead of blaming myself, and went into the Marines. In the Marines you sit in there about 15 minutes, and they make the Air Force look like a bunch of pansies. I bought into that with the recruiter and told him I wasn't interested in going into anything but the infantry.

So it's 1988, and you're sitting in the Marine Corps. How'd you like it?

In 1988, we had Noriega and Panama going on. I was part of the security that went down there and secured Noriega. I did about 4-1/2 years in infantry, then I transferred over into the military police right before I got out. I got out in 1992, and decided I needed to keep a little military in me and joined the Mississippi Army National Guard. A problem I had with the Marines was I had a son, my second child (Dominique, now 16) born with spinal bifida, and I had to go through an act of Congress to get off a ship and come home, but I loved my service. I am a Marine, but they take their differential service way too seriously. When I first got in the Marines, I was married. I had to get a waiver for my wife. You usually get waivers for drug arrests or traffic tickets, but I had to get a waiver for being married. My wife was a liability. If the Marines want you to have a wife, they'll issue you one.

I stayed in the Army Reserve about 13 years, reported for Operation Iraqi Freedom a couple of years ago, and now I've come full circle: I'm in the Air Force.

I was drawn to the military because I always had a passion to lead and be a part of the military in the sense that I believe in fighting for the constitutional rights of this country's citizens. I believe in the Constitution and don't think it needs to be tampered with. Once you start tampering with it, you start messing with all of it. It's a pandora's box.

You have a picture of you and (former Ward 5 Councilwoman) Betty-Dagner Cook posing with DNC Chairman Howard Dean. What makes you a Democrat?

I'm a moderate Democrat. But what makes me a Democrat is some of the more pressing issues that deal with the underprivileged and the disenfranchised, like health care, like government aid, federal aid—to a limit. I don't think healthy people should receive federal aid for the rest of their lives. It's designed for recovery, until you get back on your feet. I am a fiscal conservative.

I think certain things should be done in moderation and nothing should be wide open. Some people say I straddle the fence, but I think, no, it's a matter of looking at the whole picture. We have to look at the fact that there is strength on both sides, and what you have to do is manage it.

The Republican Party believes in big business and elitism, and I don't buy into that. I think everybody ought to get their fair share and have equal playing fields. I know not everybody is going to succeed, but they ought to have the opportunity.

The population thins out at the top of the economic heap anyway. There's no point in cutting the legs out from under anybody. I just think the Republican Party philosophy is more ruthless.

I have a heart and a conscience and this puts me in the Democratic Party.

Yeah? Well, what's your view on abortion, Democrat? That's a big issue right now at the Mississippi Legislature.

I think there are real issues on both sides of the equation. I think a lot of moderate conservatives feel that way. You have to look at the total argument. I think after so many trimesters when the fetus has developed certain limbs and has reached a stage of mental development, it gets difficult for me to support abortion. But then you have an earlier stage where the embryo hasn't even fully formed yet. I'm not a scientist, but I don't think an egg can be classified as a human being. Then there's the morning-after pill, which I don't consider abortion. There are so many variables; I can't just give you a yes or no answer.

Let's talk about your job. How does this time around differ from your last term as a councilman?

I'm more aware of the duties involved in this job as a community representative. In your first term you're learning, and I've gotten some great lessons. I mean having the knowledge base. I think we've made some huge strides in developing community cohesion. Truth be known, I've always been one of those people who thinks civility and decorum are issues that we take to the forefront because I don't think you can handle any business without a calm, clear mind.

How is communication with this mayor, compared to the last?

There's a big difference. With this administration, unlike the last one, the mayor has not made a priority of communication with council members. The council has not been apprised of a lot of things going on, and it's frustrating, and it doesn't seem like its getting much better, though there have been episodes when the mayor has tried to come to the table. He's made some cameo visits to the office, but it has to be more defined, organized and disciplined. It needs to be something that occurs weekly.

We're dealing with episodes of Mayor (Melton) going out and making grand statements without first sitting down with policy-makers to talk about how we can do this in a legal manner or appropriate manner. We've done good not to have more lawsuits than we've had. The legal sharks have been quite kind to this administration, but I fear that's going to wear out soon.

An attorney for employees from the recently shut-down Crime Prevention Unit is still looking for the city to provide information for a civil service hearing regarding that matter.

If there's an official complaint leveled against the city, and the city is not being cooperative, then the council can certainly address the issue, but right now the legal representative is dealing strictly with the mayor's office. If they feel they're going to take stronger actions then they need to address the council as a whole. …If citizens don't feel like things are happening the way it should on one side of the government, then go to the other side. That's the council.

Where do you stand on the ComStat (crime) numbers? Many citizens would like to see them published.

I've had sparse reports sent to my office. It's not coming in as fast as I'd like it to, but I'm getting them. I haven't been particular about getting them published in the newspapers. My concern was that as a representative of my ward, I have these statistics available so I can make sure I can get that information to the leaders in those communities so that they can target crime in those areas.

Right now, though, criminals are getting comfortable because nobody can target those areas they're working in because the general public doesn't have the numbers to tell them. Crime is nomadic, and if you wait for bi-annual reports, nine times out of 10, those reports are no longer worth the paper they're written on. But if you get them in a reasonable amount of time, like two weeks out at the most, you can target that crime more easily.

How do you feel about the city releasing the ComStat figures through the city and not the press?

I think it just needs to be available to the public, whether you put it on the Web site or through Public Access (television). I just want to make sure the public has access to it.

Have you considered running for mayor?

(Laughter.) It's much too early to think about that. Right now I have a lot of work cut out for me just keeping the council and South Jackson going in the right direction.

Many of Melton's friends say you're trying to be mayor already. What's your response?

I stand against the mayor sometimes because of his policy issues. Our No. 1 responsibility as policy-makers is to make sure these decisions support what the citizens of Jackson want. Many of his policies carry legal implications, so I'm cautious when it comes to that. If I feel there's going to be a legal problem, I'm going to raise the question.

But criticizing the mayor goes with the job of being president. I've only gotten those types of comments when I was president. I've been president three of my five years. It's amazing that back when I'm a regular ward representative, I don't hear that.

If you take a stand against the mayor on issues, you're always going to be painted in that light. What I'm attempting to do is be the best council member I can be.

Tell me your plan for promoting business in Jackson.

I'm leading the charge in my Buy Jackson campaign, where we're looking to pull our monetary resources back into Jackson. It'll require a lot of effort. I had a business owner ask me recently 'how long do you think it'll take for this campaign to have an impact?' and I said 'honestly? 45 days,' and they looked at me with a puzzled look as if I had no clue how things work and they were bold enough to say 'I like you, Marshand, but that's not realistic.'

Well, I think it is realistic. I think if I can get 184,000 people to buy into the Buy Jackson campaign, and we stop spending money outside the city. …

Hey, that's a damn boycott!

No, that's not a boycott—it's pro-Jackson. It's saying I'm going to spend my money right here in the city of Jackson to make sure that it grows and we can re-habilitate it, because, guess what, if we did do a real boycott you wouldn't have Pearl, you wouldn't have Madison or Flowood or Brandon or any of these other communities. I don't think you can hang a boycott around out necks. We built those communities. They should say 'thank you.' That's what they should be saying. If anybody wants to make that negative, they can go right ahead, but it's all about being positive.

I don't think the media has done a good enough job of explaining how important it is to have a healthy capital city. We don't talk about the positive. We only talk about the negative. That only accelerates the demise of a city.

Take this Buy Jackson campaign. I can assure you it'll get more negative reports than positive reports. That's the way they discredit it, so nobody buys into it. But we're staying positive, because the bottom line is we want those people outside this community to invest in us too. I mean, if you're working here—you basically reside here, right?

You see the commute lines every morning and evening. What ever happened to the toll-booth idea?

Canned. Flushed. Trashed. It required legislative action, and it got no traction. Every year we bring it up, and it doesn't even get past a committee, but that's not the only option. You could do a user fee. A road tax. An occupational tax—meaning if you work in Jackson, you should pay an amount of money there. It comes straight out of your paycheck.

The first thing business owners will say is you're hurting business with a new tax.

So? Where are they going to go?

Madison? Pearl maybe?

My point is, how many jobs are in Pearl? Better yet, how many industries are in Madison? You can't pick up and move the capitol city. It's not going anywhere. We're not talking about Greenville. States don't change capitols. The industry here is government. As long as that's the case it will contain the type of jobs that can support those $2 million homes in Madison.

Yeah, but that kind of tax also requires legislative approval, right?

Yeah, but if you put enough emphasis on what the real issues are, you'll get results. Our state leaders have not made our city a priority for 25 years, but now there's a sense of desperation. Thirty-eight percent of property in the city of Jackson is non-taxable, with no type of alternative funding from the state to offset that.

Hold legislators accountable for not supporting the capital city. They're killing the state. If you kill the capital, you kill the state. So goes the capital, so goes Mississippi. Mississippi falters because the state capital falters. Look at any successful state, and you've got yourself a beautiful capitol city.

You've made the criticism before that the mayor seems to have low regard for certain laws. Do you believe that?

Yes, you have to say that. As a law enforcement officer—love me hate me, but I am what I am—I believe in enforcing the law, but I believe in enforcing it in the right context. Right now as a City Council member I'm not acting as a law enforcement officer, I'm acting as a policy maker, so I'm not out there enforcing it anymore because that may be unethical. That's why I'm a crime prevention specialist right now with the Hinds County Sheriffs Department. There's no arresting going on. Because I respect the difference between those branches of government, I decided to work with the sheriff to get in a job specialty that does not contradict my office as a city council member.

Right now the mayor is in the executive branch of government. That doesn't have anything to do with enforcement. It has everything to do with implementation. Enforcement and laws fall into the judicial branch of government, so if you're out there kicking in doors, making arrests, you're actually operating in the judicial branch. He could argue that point, saying the police department is under his branch, and he's right, but they operate as a judicial office and they're enforcing the law. You may have the police under your tier, but they're a judicial office.

What do you think of the police department gobbling up the municipal court as Melton suggested last week? He said corruption demanded it.

That decision of his will take the support of the council to do that, and I won't support it because it contradicts the fair and impartial judicial system. I mean, how can it be fair and impartial if it's under the police department? Putting the judges under the chief doesn't make sense.

Is the vote coming up?

I don't know. I don't think Melton would get the majority of the council's support on that, but I don't know. I just don't think that's conducive to what this system was set up for, and it speaks badly. It doesn't sound legal, but that's never stopped Melton before. I got an opinion going out now to the A.G.'s office, so we'll see.

How'd you take it when you heard about it?

Melton can't shock me anymore. He's at that point now with me. When I heard it, I thought that this is just another one of those things he does without research, and that's unfortunate, because research is supposed to be a big part of his job. The system isn't really complicated. There are essentially four parts to the process, and that is creation, that is the development of a plan, then you have the review and approval of the plan, and then you have implementation. The middle portion falls into the council. The other two fall into the mayor's right. What's odd about this whole situation is the two that's missing are development and implementation, so we don't have a plan to even review or approve. We're sitting here stagnant.

We're wondering when we're going to get a plan, and that's where we're most at odds. Melton will tell you 'I got a plan.' Well, produce that thing. It's been a whole year. Bring it on.

What do you think about Melton's approval rating? Some 42 percent of Jacksonians rated his job as "excellent," according to our recent poll with WAPT.

I think the poll is skewed. A lot of people don't participate in polling. I know doggone well, if you talk to the educated up in Ward 2 and Ward 6, it would be a totally different poll. I know Ward 6 approval is falling fast. Seven is probably about the same. A lot of it has to do with perception. Perception killed the last mayor. It's helping this one, and the more the media says negative things about him, the stronger he gets—kind of like (Councilman Kenneth) Stokes.

I told somebody recently that the more I say, the more they love him and the more they hate me. I'm just amazed.

They don't even have any information to go by. The crime rate has not gone down. Talk to Northeast Jackson and ask them if crime's gone down. They're breaking into cars left and right up there. Every time you turn around somebody's getting shot, stabbed or killed, just like in Harvey's administration.

We could take a ride around the city. There is an illegal pharmaceutical company on every corner. It's ridiculous.

You really believe that?

I'm serious. As popular as my face is I guarantee you I could go out and buy dope right now. I remember when I was a narcotics officer, me and my coworkers were in a car that still had the sheriff department's print on it. Still said "sheriff" on the sides where the paint was peeling off, and I said "these folks out here are so wide open I bet you we could buy dope in this car."

A buddy of mine bet a fifth of Crown Royal. My friend said "there ain't no way in the world. Marshand, we even got radios in the car."

We were behind Jackson State. Thank God our efforts got most of that bulldozed and we now have the Metro Parkway, but I said "take a left up this street here," and when we did there's a guy on the porch saying "heeeyy."

I'm sitting there trying to hide the shotgun with my leg. The man ran up to the car, and said, "What'cha need?" I said "I need three sacks." And he was just getting ready to take the money when there was a lady knocking on the window on the other side of the car. I'm paying money to this fool and then knock knock knock, she's already got bags in her hand.

We jump out of the car and grab both of them. We were like "what in the world." My buddy was so mad he didn't know what to do. But that's what it's like right now. The dealers are so wide open. Sure Melton might get pissed, if I say it, but I'm just being honest. My background is in narcotics. If I don't know anything else, I know narcotics, and I'm saying they're wide open out there in the streets.

But people have their own perception. It's gotten to the point in Jackson where if you talk enough people will believe you. Action means nothing anymore. You can say what you want, but if you're not going to do a follow-up or find out if they're telling the truth, they can tell you anything.

What do you think of Marcus Ward's light rail idea?

Light rail captures the tri-county area, perhaps Warren County and Rankin County to go with it. It could work, but everybody has to sign on to it. It'll cost a lot of money, but it could be done if the right person drafts the right proposal.

It would certainly help the city funds, but it would have to be built. A lot of major metropolitan cities do that by forming partnerships with their adjacent counties. It could work, but there needs to be a good solid plan.

What happened with the battle last year regarding the council president position?

There's a difference of opinion on that. You have to come up with four votes, and the majority rules, so what you have to understand is when I left for Iraq, it was under the auspice of "let's do what's best for the council." I could've easily gone to Iraq as council president, and been acting president until I got back. So me and Dr. McLemore sat down and discussed the best way to do it, so I decided to resign and give them solid leadership while I was gone. Bad enough me being gone, but worse not having stable leadership.

Of course you knew the situation between me and Mr. Brown. (Former Ward 6 Councilman Bo Brown was vice president at the time and felt he should have ascended to the presidency upon Crisler's departure.) We had a gentlemen's agreement that when I got back the right thing to do, because I was giving up half my term as president, that when I got back I would be considered council president.

Well, when I got back, there was a change of mind. McLemore disagreed on how we should broach this. I feel bruised because I did my part. Not only did I serve my country, but we had an agreement, and when I came back he'd reneged on that agreement. Obviously it stung a bit. It wasn't as personal as people would like to believe. It really had more to do with the transition of the office. I felt like I could be a better balance.

The rumor is that Councilman Stokes can work with you, but he couldn't work with McLemore.

You're all over it. And so you have to take all that under consideration. I knew Frank Melton would come in with a different leadership style and would probably be more antagonistic to Dr. McLemore, and I didn't think it would be a good thing to be very volatile in the new mayor's first term. Yeah, I know it's been volatile at times under me, but it could have been even more volatile. I love McLemore to death, but he's got a different leadership style.

Is McLemore planning to run for the presidency soon?

McLemore hasn't said he's planning to run again when it's time in three or four months, but he may. I've never had a problem with his leadership. It's just different from mine. I just think we need to be as flexible as we can be. We need to see both sides of the equation.

Melton knew what he was getting into if McLemore was president, right?

Of course he did.

So he probably preferred you over McLemore, right?

I think he did in the interim. That may have changed now. I don't know if he's thinking he would prefer McLemore, but he knows now that he didn't get what he was bargaining for in me either. But I'm not going to let the president of the council's office be controlled by any outside entity. My job is to make sure the council runs efficiently.

Did Melton influence Councilman Frank Bluntson to vote in favor of you? Is that how you got the majority vote?

That's pretty much it, because I didn't really need McLemore's vote. He needed my vote. My vote was the swing vote in that one, and it still is, I think. The system's made with an odd number, so there'll be a swing vote.

This is interesting because it now appears that we have a new working majority, and I think I'll share that with you now.

(Crisler opens a zip folder laying on the table between us and presents a docket sheet showing four names in favor of restructuring the city clerk's department. On the list are the names of Ward 5's Frank Bluntson, Ward 6's Charles Tillman and Ward 3's Kenneth Stokes—all faithful yes-men to Melton's decisions—and Ward 1 Councilman Ben Allen.)

What's this mean? So they came to an agreement on office staffing. What's the significance of this?

We as a city council are charged with making sure that we have a productive, efficient office, and we do that through our city clerks, who are our day-to-day operators of the city council. Having said that, you'd think the working majority would be on the same page as to how we do that. This is just one of many decisions. Of course, there was the issue not too long ago of the petty cash fund. It was the same four people. Notice three others were missing on that vote.

Can you really count Allen as a faithful member of the new majority?

He may gripe sometimes, but when it comes to something significant, he's right over there with them. He's on the fence, but too often he jumps to the other side.

What bugs you about budget figures?

I'm afraid of what we'll find when its time for the budget to be revised.

Why?

Last time we did a budget revision, Harvey (Johnson) pretty much had his balanced. It largely went according to his script. And his numbers were accurate. Of course we had a great financial adviser at the time, the Malachi Group, which was doing a heck of a job. Our bond rating was great, but this one this year is going to take some time.

You think there will be problems?

(Crisler gives a very impatient look.) Now what do you think? It'll all come out when the books are open. There's nothing to say yet, but I promise you, you will be sick of writing about this budget after a while because it's going to make the papers over and over again.

Why are you worried? If it is a mess, this will all be on the mayor, won't it?

I hear that all the time. They always say 'ease up on your opposition to what the mayor's doing. The situation will take care of itself. You'll be the next mayor, soon. Let him dig his hole, let the links of the chain run out,' but that's irresponsible. The people out there that are essentially saying to me, as an elected official, that they want me to be irresponsible. They're really saying 'you're in a position to affect change and to try to help the city in a sense that we don't want to get ourselves in too much legal trouble and get so many lawsuits and the money's not being spent in the most fiscally responsible manner. But don't say nothing about that right now. Just let it all play out, so basically let the city fall to the ground and then put the blame on the mayor's shoulder.'

The reason I fight so hard to do the best job we can do is because I know I have responsibilities and that I can be held accountable. I want to be held accountable. What I don't want to do is sit back and say I'm not doing anything because it makes me appear like I'm stepping outside my role as a legislator and trying to be the mayor. That's flawed thinking. My part is to see that the weight is balanced, and we do that by asking questions, looking into things and doing research.

Why a person would criticize somebody for doing that escapes me but its not going to sway my decision because I know I'm doing what state law requires me to do.

If Frank jumps off a cliff voters are going to say 'you were sitting there watching that happen. Why didn't you do anything to stop it?'

These will be the same people who told me to back-off the guy. If you're going to chastise me, do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. And the wrong thing to do, in my estimation, is to sit back and watch things crumble. That's not leadership. Council members are city leaders. Leadership is being proactive, not reactive. The military taught me that, and I'm glad they did, because it's a fine lesson in life and a lot of people run from that.

The budget cuts we had recently. Does that ever happen outside budget time?

It comes during the budget process. You generally don't come behind it as a revision and do a cut. You're supposed to have everything in the budget when you get it adopted.

Yeah, but have you ever seen a budget cut or tax hike outside budget time?

I have not. Not since I've been on council. Maybe there have been some exceptions, but not during my time on council. You see, part of budget time involves forecasting what's coming down the road, and you have to be responsible in doing that, so you go ahead and put in a tax increase, mill increase or staffing cuts in the beginning, so it can capture all that as you go out. You don't get down the road and say, "Dang, I miscalculated. Let's cut some more." I don't think voters realize that you're not supposed to do that, but I do.

Melton said last year that there wasn't going to be any fee increases. Now he's talking about raising the sanitation fee by $3. That should've been captured in the budget. All this stuff is reactionary, see?

If you're proactive, you should've already seen the need for a fee hike or a budget cut. I'm sure his finance team had seen it. That's why they asked him to push for a mill increase at the beginning of the budget, but Melton came back and said "I don't want that. It's not popular."

I bet (Chief Financial Officer) Peyton Prospere's eyes bugged when that happened.

Yeah, and I bet they've been bugging ever since.

Previous Comments

ID
79311
Comment

Hell yes to Buy Jackson!

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-22T19:26:17-06:00
ID
79312
Comment

I always buy Jackson this is not new to me. Good job Adam. The councilman seems to have his head on his shoulders and I am glad he is not rubber stamping everything FW wants like the other 4 persons named. I knew Ben would go along with FW because his people want him to. To bad he can't use his own knowledge and help slow this train down. How much did he sell his soul for???

Author
jada
Date
2006-03-22T19:49:39-06:00
ID
79313
Comment

Well, Ben Allen isn't exactly Frank Bluntson when it comes to rubberstamping Melton's every wish. But I'll let him speak for himself here, which I hope he does non-defensively. ;-) One thing I will say is that I think Mr. Melton has put both Mr. Allen and Mr. Stokes in bizarre places where they haven't bee in the past.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-22T19:52:47-06:00
ID
79314
Comment

I will be waiting. Wasn't he suppose to give you someting when he came back from DC? I have been waiting to see his report. Is he hiding from you?? We knew that Bluntson and Tillman would rubber stamp FM but Ben and Stokes well..........

Author
jada
Date
2006-03-22T20:22:39-06:00
ID
79315
Comment

You mean Mr. Allen? He's not hiding from me; we've talked. However, he hasn't blogged as much. I think he's been busy doing small things like trying to save the King Edward. Everyone should have understood that Mr. Melton and Mr. Stokes would be in lockstep. It's kind of remarkable that so many people, especially in North Jackson but not only, just didn't seem to get how these allegiances were going to work. I think people just don't understand how tight Mr. Melton and the Advocate folks are, or as I call them, "Mill Street." I also think that Mr. Melton expected more loyalty from Mr. Crisler that he hasn't been getting. If he had, whew, things would be more interesting than they are.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-22T20:26:41-06:00
ID
79316
Comment

Melton had a plan to completely overhaul Jackson when he became mayor. I wonder if he accounted for the opposition that he has encountered since he has been in office? Councilman Crisler, I applaude you for taking a stand when you see another side of what Melton is trying to do. After his eight or nine months in office he (Melton) should begin to see that mayby his plan wasn't such a great idea after all. Melton has not given us any vision of what he is trying to do. His controversial style is tearing this city apart. Look at the mayor's initial appointments. How many of them are still here? Look at the city's budget then and now. Look at his popularity then and now. Look at the business climate then and now. I would write more, but my fingers and my brain needs a nap.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-23T06:55:57-06:00
ID
79317
Comment

My political musings aside, this COVER SHOT ROCKS! Big ups to TC for the great picture.

Author
urbangypsy
Date
2006-03-23T13:49:27-06:00
ID
79318
Comment

Crisler sounds like a man with real substance and ethics. I hope those qualities will be consistently shown within his actions.

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-03-23T15:09:40-06:00
ID
79319
Comment

urbangypsy, i agree. this is one of the best covers i've seen. (and i have every dang issue of this publication. stacked in milkcrates. on the floor in my room.) i'd like to know the pick-up rate on this one. kudos, gang! and props to T.C.!

Author
Jay
Date
2006-03-23T17:07:42-06:00
ID
79320
Comment

Paragraph five of this story features a miss-type that will likely cause some confusion with anybody who knows Crisler has children under 17. Crisler's sentence: "My parents are still married, married over 44 years. They’re both educators, and they stressed education and college, and all of my kids graduated from Jackson State University" is bloody wrong. The sentence really goes "...and all THEIR kids graduated from Jackson State University..." The online version can be corrected, but the print version is unfortunately going to remain an embarassment. Sorry.

Author
Adam Lynch
Date
2006-03-23T17:50:08-06:00
ID
79321
Comment

Good interview -- but don't make the mistake of thinking that just because Marshand is "watching the mayor" he could do any better. Anyone who has a dialogue with Crisler recently and who watches his demeanor in public venues knows he is already running for mayor. (And this includes a lot of "non-Melton" people.) Our City desperately needs leadership--not just people who are posturing themselves for or against the Mayor. At this point, I do not believe Councilman Crisler is anywhere close to being ready for being Mayor and unfortunately he is not making an effort to understand the facts behind the issues even when it comes to understanding the issues that are greatly affecting his district. Saying you are on a campaign to encourage "shopping in Jackson" is so ineffective. On the other hand, understanding the influence crime and decaying neighborhoods have on where retail commercial entities locate and working to improve those quality of life issues is so effective. This has been proven time and time again. Saying you are against the Mayor's budget but voting to affirm new directors who are making $20,000 to $100,000 more than the previous director is so hypocritical. The truth is, everyone on the Council rubber stamps whatever the Mayor brings to the table in terms of spending. Examples: firing the lobbist in Washington and hiring an unproven person. Hiring consultants without even advertising and then confirming someone else to be the legal Director to head up the department. In one such situation, the City is expending at least three times the amount of money being spend for the one previous Director. Do you really think we are all that dumb? Jacksonians are so tired of the same old rhetoric from elected officials. That is why Melton was elected and if he doesn't measure up, that is why he will go. I sincerely hope anyone who wishes to be the next mayor will make a sincere effort to learn how the City runs and how to effectuate real change and not just "talk the talk."

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-23T18:40:42-06:00
ID
79322
Comment

Jacksonians are so tired of the same old rhetoric from elected officials. That is why Melton was elected and if he doesn't measure up, that is why he will go. I sincerely hope anyone who wishes to be the next mayor will make a sincere effort to learn how the City runs and how to effectuate real change and not just "talk the talk." One way to measure a person is to listen to them as well as monitor their actions. So far, "I" don't see any actions from him (Crisler) that would indicate that he wouldn't make a good candidate for mayor. If you are a citizen of Jackson, Ms. and not the "Metro Area", you should be postive about any ideas for econonmic development. You BUY JACKSON. Crime is an issue in every major city within the U.S. For instance, look at: New York, NY., Atlanta, Ga., Los Angeles, Ca., and etc. Don't blame population, Crime is Crime. However, Mr. Crisler will do a better job than "frank" anyway. Maybe Mr. Crisler could appoint frank as the Chief of City Hall Security, that fits his personality. He would probably fail at that too.

Author
Lspd2
Date
2006-03-23T22:55:56-06:00
ID
79323
Comment

"Crime is an issue in every major city within the U.S. For instance, look at: New York, NY., Atlanta, Ga., Los Angeles, Ca., and etc. Don't blame population, Crime is Crime. " We have a much substantially higher crime rate than New York, and a higher rate that Atlanta and LA. Yes Virginia, Crime is not a perception in Jackson and I am not blaming the population, I am blaming the elected leaders and particularly all of the Police Chiefs and Mayors who have not been able to reign this in. Of course you should buy in Jackson if they have stores that are selling the products you need to buy; however, we have lost so many retailers that unless you buy all of your clothes at Sears or Walmart, you can't buy all of your clothes in Jackson. Maybe we should all quite going to movies since we have no movie theaters in Jackson, etc. All I am saying is that slogans will not solve this problem. We must work together to rebuild neighborhoods and that will attract retailers. Retailers always follow the roof tops and they are very aware of the demographics of surrounding neighborhoods. Then we will be better able to support the stores in Jackson. It will take much more than just saying "Shop in Jackson." As for being a better Mayor than Melton, I guess time will tell. After having observed what Crister has done and said since he has been on City Council, I have come to the conclusion that while he says appropriate things, he does not follow up with concrete action and nothing changes from year to year with the situation in South Jackson. For instance, his constitutents fought off the single family tax credit projects last year and then the whole issue dropped. Now they are again being threatened with even more projects. Has Crisler been working with city and state leaders to find out how they can better control these types of projects ? Apparently not. The metro center like so many other older malls in other cities has been on a downward trend for years but instead of looking at the market and coming up with a realistic market driven alternative for the land on which the mall is on--he tells us Metro is the safest mall in town and we should shop there instead of Northpark. Quite frankly, there is nothing in the Metro Mall I would even want to buy. Slogans will not solve this situation. Successful leaders in other cities are working with economic development people and real estate developers to work toward 21st century progressive answers to solve similar situations. There are many things a council person can initiate that will improve their community, even without the participation of the Mayor. When I see Criser doing some of those things, I will be persuaded that he could possibly grow into a leader that will do us proud.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-23T23:36:48-06:00
ID
79324
Comment

"Of course you should buy in Jackson if they have stores that are selling the products you need to buy; however, we have lost so many retailers that unless you buy all of your clothes at Sears or Walmart, you can't buy all of your clothes in Jackson. Maybe we should all quite going to movies since we have no movie theaters in Jackson, etc." -realtime For clothing, there's Highland Village, Metrocenter (Belk, Sears, and many chains and independent clothing stores including Express for Men and Women), Fondren has Orange Peel, Treehouse and the Chane stores. You also have the many urban clothing shops and many suit shops. Old Navy is in Jackson. Target is in Jackson. I could go on. Hell, you could even shop online rather than handing your money over to another city that would gladly help shut Jackson down. Furniture in Jackson? Yes. Shoes in Jackson? Yes. Clothing in Jackson? Yes. Groceries in Jackson? Some of the best in the area. Atheletic supplies in Jackson? Yes. Car repair? Yes. Cars? Of course! Dining? Original, non-corporate dining at its best! realtime, your shopping perspective is a little small if you actually believe you have to leave Jackson to get the huge majority of what you need. "It will take much more than just saying "Shop in Jackson."" - realtime Saying "Shop in Jackson" is a start. If the bulk of my friends spent their money in the city they live, our dollars would speak much louder. It starts with a small step. I still agree wholeheartedly with your comments about rebuilding neighborhoods. But, that will also take tax dollars to some degree and a huge sense of pride from Jackson's residents. Buy Jackson is a great concept to get that started if you ask me.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-24T09:13:24-06:00
ID
79325
Comment

We have a much substantially higher crime rate than New York, and a higher rate that Atlanta and LA. Be more specific, realtime. Which indicators are you using? And how are you comparing? From my understanding, crime is considered much worse in Atlanta -- almost all southern cities rank is as more "dangerous" than Jackson consistently on that Morgan Quitno indicator that the Ledge (used to) love(s) to quote (until it showed Jackson improving). Also, as I'm sure you know, for a useful crime comparison, you have to compare the city with cities with comparable population, income levels, poverty levels, education levels, as well as number of cars to people (being that car theft really helps "drive" up crime stats). These overreaching statements about crime aren't useful at all, except for politics. If you're actually interested in doing something about crime and not just looking for someone to "blame" (your word), you'll take the time to read the fine print and so useful comparisons. Yes Virginia, Crime is not a perception in Jackson and I am not blaming the population, BTW, *no one* (including the former police chief and mayor) ever said that crime is just a perception in Jackson. That was a bullsh*t myth spread by the Ledge and other media because they were too dumb to pay attention. So let's leave that one in the trash heap where it belongs. We're starting to see that all the perception propaganda hasn't exactly changed anything when it comes to crime. The truth is, it has been steadily falling in Jackson, and I hope that continues. Right now, we have no way of knowing because the current administration is being so close-lipped about it. The one answer in Mr. Crisler's interview that really made me cringe was the one about crime stats. I want to see leaders get out in front of the public's right to the crime stats on demands and that means getting "particular" about publishing them in newspapers, as well as any route possible. He would impress me if he gets in front of the public-records issue in a dramatic way. I am blaming the elected leaders and particularly all of the Police Chiefs and Mayors who have not been able to reign this in. Then you are rather short-sighted. Even Mr. Melton says regularly that "prevention" is the key to lowering crime. Now, how that meshes with eliminating the Crime Prevention Unit is beyond me.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T11:05:27-06:00
ID
79326
Comment

Obviously, I'm firmly behind the "Buy Jackson" campaign and am thrilled to see Mr. Crisler push that publicly. It's *so* important. We've been pushing "Think Global, Shop Local" since the JFP launched, and that's become a meme around town as a result (even with other papers using it without crediting us, which is cheap, but OK as long as they're helping us get people into our locally owned businesses). Let's push even harder.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T11:07:05-06:00
ID
79327
Comment

Crisler’s comments regarding crime and the blatancy with which crimes occur in this city are dead on! But I must agree with realtime regarding the “Buy Jackson Campaign”.

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-03-24T18:26:24-06:00
ID
79328
Comment

Ladd, you locate crime stats online from the F. B. I. Ben Allen can help you with this. Factual information is available on all of the topics I discuss. As for shopping, I agree we have a lot of speciality retailers in Jackson; and I shop at the ones that carry lines I can afford and that are appropriate for me. In many ways we have much more variety in types of stores than suburban areas; however we do need more department stores like Dillards. There is really no reason why we couldn't work together to redevelop the old Metro Mall site into a more modern updated shopping center. This would ideally be a public/private venture. The only reason this would not work is that retailers and restaurants are not going to locate in an area that is surrounded by decaying neighborhoods and with a high crime rate; therefore as long as these conditions exist, Metro will continue to decline. The point I am trying to make is that people in leadership positions like Mr. Criser have the opportunity to make a real difference in Jackson. Starting with a slogan is fine and appropropriate, but why not use the stage you are on to do much more. Talk is cheap and political slogans are cheaper. And I am not just targeting Mr. Crisler. Jackson really needs leaders who will just do more than grandstand but will find out what we need to do to attract development back into Jackson. It doesn't just take tax money, it takes imagination, a willingness to be open minded and effective code enforement.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-24T18:26:40-06:00
ID
79329
Comment

Ladd, you locate crime stats online from the F. B. I. Ben Allen can help you with this. I don't need my friend Ben's help with this, realtime. I know this. You're skating past my point. You were talking about general crime rates, not actual numbers. As I explained already, comparing Jackson to NYC or L.A. is not useful at all. An Atlanta comparison is only so useful. Starting with a slogan is fine and appropropriate, but why not use the stage you are on to do much more. Agreed. But who's saying Mr. Crisler isn't doing that? You seem quick to indict -- whether Jackson or the Council president -- but you don't seem to be trying to find and use actual information in a way that is going to help anything. I'm just hearing rhetoric from you here, realtime. There is nothing "cheap" about explaining and reminding people about the importance of shopping call -- ask our retailers, if you disagree. Shopping local needs to be front and center, and made "cool" by slogans, marketing and so on. In cities like Bellingham, Wash., they have entire "Shop Local" advertising campaigns to push "cheap" slogans -- that actually translate into stronger communities. And I've said it many times: It is really dumb and self-defeating (and not based on reality in cities that have seem impressive renaissances) to say that development must wait until crime is gone. Development *helps* get rid of crime.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T20:01:18-06:00
ID
79330
Comment

BTW, I agree with Jay. I *love* this cover -- and think it really shows Mr. Crisler's fun side. I like to see people let go a little. More politicians sure do that.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T20:25:41-06:00
ID
79331
Comment

Mr. Crisler should form a coalition with 3 other council members and demand that FM and the chief release those stats to the neighborhood pres. if no others. Everyone doesn't have access to the internet. We really need to know what is going on in this town and our neighborhood. Is FM lying again about crime rates. The TV news doesn't seem to reflect this at all. Ladd if you can use your power to get Crisler or Allen to help us with this. Where is Vidal Sullivan?? I guess he is gone with the wind.

Author
jada
Date
2006-03-24T20:40:27-06:00
ID
79332
Comment

Mr. Crisler should form a coalition with 3 other council members and demand that FM and the chief release those stats to the neighborhood pres. if no others. Agreed, jada. We'll call for it. And they shouldn't just be to neighborhood associations. If you release public info to one person or group, you MUST release it to them all. That's the law. That's one reason Mr. Melton's idea about filtering the stats through SafeCity Watch is so absurd. And it's really dumb on the "perception" front as well -- he's giving the perception that he has something to hide by not releasing the stats directly. I've *never* understood that. Don't treat people with contempt: They know there's crime. Put it out there, and let's all figure this out together.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T21:34:30-06:00
ID
79333
Comment

'I know this. You're skating past my point. You were talking about general crime rates, not actual numbers.' Obviously you do not know enough about crime statis to understand that rates are the only information that is relevant. Total numbers will be much larger in larger population areas whereas ratios of certain types of crimes per 1,000 people (like the crime rates the F. B. I collects and ranks for the largest 100 cities) are like a common demoninator that can be used to see how cities compare. It is too bad you are unable to allow honest dialogue on your blog but only want to read comments that mirror your opinion. I am always disappointed when I come to realize that.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-24T23:02:51-06:00
ID
79334
Comment

Also, Ladd I did not say development must "wait" until crime is gone. Development does help with crime but certain areas in Jackson where crime is more prelevant like Hwy 80 in South Jackson will never see development begin until more concentrated effort is put into controlling crime. Even the community leaders in that area recognize that and are continually pressing for the Police to clean up the prostitution and vandalism.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-24T23:06:30-06:00
ID
79335
Comment

It is too bad you are unable to allow honest dialogue on your blog but only want to read comments that mirror your opinion. I am always disappointed when I come to realize that. Have you actually READ what you wrote above?!? Please. I know a little about crime stats, dear, and their manipulation. I could actually impress folks with how I know this, but I'm not gonna this particular moment, because this seems like a really stupid "who's larger?" contest. You're the one who has not displayed any kind of nuanced or particularly understanding yet on the topic. Let's recap: We have a much substantially higher crime rate than New York, and a higher rate that Atlanta and LA. Yes Virginia, Crime is not a perception in Jackson and I am not blaming the population, I am blaming the elected leaders and particularly all of the Police Chiefs and Mayors who have not been able to reign this in. Please, realtime. "Honest dialogue"? Can you really not see the logical problems with this statement? And you really don't have to have special training in statistical analysis to see them. We allow honest dialogue here, but we don't automatically agree with every rhetorical and illogical statement made here. And, so far, on this topic, you're batting a thousand.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T23:08:41-06:00
ID
79336
Comment

Ladd I did not say development must "wait" until crime is gone. Development does help with crime but certain areas in Jackson where crime is more prelevant like Hwy 80 in South Jackson will never see development begin until more concentrated effort is put into controlling crime. Even the community leaders in that area recognize that and are continually pressing for the Police to clean up the prostitution and vandalism. I'm glad you're not in the "wait until the crime is gone!" crowd, because they're real yucks. However, your rhetoric was certainly leaning that way with the "higher crime rate than NYC!" proclamations. I agree that "concentrated" efforts have to be put into areas that are rundown -- but they must be holistic. Meaning focus on community policing, strengthening local businesses (including marketing for "Shop Jackson), development, street clean-ups, police presence, economic issues, mentoring for young people (as needed) and so on. But crime-first attitudes don't work in economic development and, often as we see in Jackson, inhibit it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T23:13:03-06:00
ID
79337
Comment

Obviously you do not know enough about crime statis to understand that rates are the only information that is relevant. Also, you read a bit quickly to get my point on this one, too. I'm not arguing for big proclamations about "total numbers," either. You're trying to take me the wrong direction there. What is actually relevant about crime statistics are trends about certain types of crimes, where they're happening, how often, how they're moving about, how that compares to certain types of prevention and policing in the particular areas, and so on. And the larger your reference point, the less relevant the stats are -- except, well, for politicians and sensationalistic media. This is why frequent and specific COMSTAT numbers are, in actuality, so much more useful than annual FBI figures. People and police can actually USE THEM to prevent crime.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-24T23:17:42-06:00
ID
79338
Comment

"I agree that "concentrated" efforts have to be put into areas that are rundown -- but they must be holistic. Meaning focus on community policing, strengthening local businesses (including marketing for "Shop Jackson), development, street clean-ups, police presence, economic issues, mentoring for young people (as needed) and so on." My point exactly. And that perspective is why I said that slogans alone will not help that much. It is really more about restoring communities and creating attractive areas where businesses will thrive. Then comes the marketing plan (Shop Jackson!). Honest dialogue to me means having a conversation or an online blog that permits differences of opinion without getting anyone's ideas being discounted. I have no problem with any of Mr. Crisler's comments--I am just holding him and other elected leaders including the Mayor to a higher standard. Basically, political rhetoric just doesn't impress me anymore--not unless it is followed with positive action.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-24T23:47:59-06:00
ID
79339
Comment

Studying the crime stats in Jackson to know the trends is what I do. And that study has lead me to conclusion that high Crime is one of the most important factors holding Jackson's redevelopment at bay. All of the other positive factors are in place--public money, private interest, land, downtown redevelopment, etc. The crime in Jackson has gone down since the early 90's as has crime across the nation--but our rates are higher than other cities our size across the south except for pre-Katrina New Orleans. And they are most certainly higher than cities like New York that initiated strong anti-crime fighting policies. Of course Com Stat should be released, that is a not the issue with me. Equally important is the fact that entiire areas of the City desperately need housing and neighborhood redevelopment. Both of these items--affordable, safe housing and police protection are the function of local government and can be achieved by using the enormous CDBG money that pours into Jackson every year and tax money that is currently being spent on inflated salaries for Directors. Crime control and lack of neighborhood redevelopment is directly attributable to poor city leadership. We have lost fifteen or more years while many neighborhoods have been basically wiped out. And I am talking about areas where poorer people live who really can't get organized to help themselves (not areas like Fondren and Belhaven). I am not sure if you were living in Jackson in the early 80's but that is when houses in West Jackson began a downward spiral. Even in the late 80's Hwy 80 was a viable business area. These are the problems that the City Council and the new Mayor have inherited. I hope they can get their heads together and come up with solutions that will begin to turn Jackson around. And I really don't think blaming the public for where they shop is the answer.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-25T00:14:28-06:00
ID
79340
Comment

Realtime, you are on target. It's great to say things people want to hear but I agree, Crisler is nowhere near being ready for mayor. You can not straddle the fence and be effective. Being mayor is a tough job and you have to make decisions sometimes that are not poplar. Crisler tries too hard to be perfect. It's not that kind of video, being mayor you have to make the calls (do the right thing for the citizens) and then live with it. You can't have the Rodney King---"Can we all get along attitude". It doesn't work!

Author
maad
Date
2006-03-25T00:24:25-06:00
ID
79341
Comment

realtime writes: I am not sure if you were living in Jackson in the early 80's but that is when houses in West Jackson began a downward spiral. Even in the late 80's Hwy 80 was a viable business area. These are the problems that the City Council and the new Mayor have inherited. I hope they can get their heads together and come up with solutions that will begin to turn Jackson around. And I really don't think blaming the public for where they shop is the answer. It's certainly an answer, and until someone else will show me wings that work, it's one I applaud Crisler for pursuing. At least he's doing something constructive--as opposed to our mayor, who is attacking this community, attacking that community, shutting down this apartment complex, shutting down that apartment complex, wandering around with a baseball cap and bulletproof vests with lethally armed men surrounding him at all times, all the while acting more like he's invading Jackson than leading it. Jackson needs to get better because there are 180,000 people in it who deserve to live in a better city. Period. It does not need to get better at the expense of those 180,000 people in hopes of returning to some imaginary pre-integration era glory, where children could play safely in the sewers because everyone urinated sterile rosewater. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-25T01:44:07-06:00
ID
79342
Comment

Well, that was quite a tear. Only the first sentence was directed at you specifically, so please take what applies and discard the rest. But let's just say that I'm tired of hearing about how Jackson sucks and is going downhill and entropy is setting in and whatnot. None of that is true. We are so much better off than we were in 1991, in terms of crime and economic development and so many other things, that it isn't even funny. About the only negative thing that has happened since then is that a lot of wealthy whites have left the city and eroded the tax base. Otherwise, I think things are looking up and have been looking up for some time. And as bad as he is, I don't really expect Melton to interrupt that process. I don't think he really wants to, and I don't think he'd be able to if he did. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-25T01:48:12-06:00
ID
79343
Comment

Tom, I am very pro-Jackson. I do shop in Jackson, live in Jackson and was born and raised in Jackson. I am simply sick and tired of watching people get elected to office in Jackson who are seemingly incapable of initiating the redevelopment programs Jackson needs to come back strong. My philosophy has always been that you can't solve a problem unless you are willing to admit the problem exists hence my focus on poorer neighborhoods in west Jackson and shrinking commercial districts in south Jackson. I also do not think it is helpful for City Council to constantly battle one another and the Mayor. They are all grown men and women and should begin a serious dialogue about the real issues facing our City.

Author
realtime
Date
2006-03-25T14:08:12-06:00
ID
79344
Comment

realtime, the problem I see is that the mayor is still in campaign mode and appears to want to work independently of the City Council whenever he can, dropping bombshells on them rather than providing advance notice, and so forth. When I look at this situation, I don't see "them" acting like children. I see Melton, Stokes, Bluntson, and Tillman acting like children. When Tisdale--who heads up the publishing arm of the Mill Street Philosophical Society--is going around publishing op-eds saying that Marshand Crisler "[isn't] black" (?!?) because he has the audacity to vote how he decides to vote, rather than submitting to Mill Street, that's an indication that the problem does not rest with Crisler. It rests with slick politicians who have 49% of the political capital in this city and desperately want 51%, and are interested only in raw power--not in building a coalition, or in trying to sell their ideas. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-25T16:53:12-06:00
ID
79345
Comment

That said: I like some of your specific ideas. I do think we need to acknowledge, though, that the root cause of nearly all our problems in this city is poverty. We need better affordable home ownership--I'll be the first to say that. There's a reason why the old philosophers of the Enlightenment talked about "life, liberty, and property" as fundamental rights, in a world where the difference between a franklin and a peasant was and still largely is land ownership. So we need to do something to promote that. What specific proposal would you put before the Council? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-25T17:01:26-06:00
ID
79346
Comment

I also agree that we must look forward and not dwell on the past, but let the knowledge of our past mistakes help shape our future. True enough the present administration inherited some of these problems but what are they doing to turn things around. I agree with Ladd, "It is really dumb and self-defeating (and not based on reality in cities that have seem impressive renaissances) to say that development must wait until crime is gone. Development *helps* get rid of crime." Crisler has made an important first step. He has become vocal about turning this lemon into lemonade. We have the power as citizens to put the politicians on point by putting pressure on them to do the jobs that they were elected to do. Has anyone noticed that it has been a few days since Melton made headlines with another one of his stunts? This dosen't say that he is through playing Walker Texas Ranger, but he IS in town and he has kept a relatively low profile. Mayby he has started to read the JFP.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-25T17:49:57-06:00
ID
79347
Comment

Realtime, I happen to agree with your comments on Jackson's crime problem and redevelopment oppurtunities; political neglect and inaction have stagnated this city's potential. I've lived on several cities such as Mobile, Baton Rouge, and Birmingham that are comparable in size to Jackson, and while I must say that crime in Jackson, while ridiculously high for a city its size, it is much similar to Baton Rouge and Birmingham, as both are struggling to contain high murder, theft and burgulary rates. Mobile was probably the safest city of the ones I've lived in. There are areas of west Jackson that I would be scared to hang out in broad daylight, let alone at night or on the weekend. And having had my car broken into twice at Ghettocenter in one year back in 2002, I tend not to go there as much as a result, which is what has prompted a lot of people who just don't feel safe on the Hwy 80 corridor to shop elsewhere, which leads to loss of business and further deterioration. Being a crime victim puts a different persective on one's perception of crime...I now see criminal potential everywhere, and I'm much more guarded about my surroundings and my perception of an area's safety. The simple fact is, I feel safer shopping in Madison and Pearl than I do in Jackson. And while its true that white flight has been a problem since the 70s, the current trend is purely economic flight, as middle class blacks like myself are leaving or contemplating leaving for the surrounding counties. Until we can fix our judicial system in Hinds County to eliminate the revolving door and take fighting crime (and keeping citizen informed on stats) seriously, it won't get better. I've liked Crisler from the time I first met him 4 years or so ago, before he left for Iraq. I've thought for a while that he would make a good mayor, and I agree that he is grooming himself for a mayoral run in either 2009 or 2013. He is young, pragmatic and experienced in the mechanisms of government, and I believe that he would be a strong leader who would try to move the city forward while still "coloring within the lines", that is, I don't believe that he would make the kind of erratic, purely political moves that Melton is so often guilty of. I happen to share most of his political beliefs, though I strongly disagree with his support of a commuter/user tax; that would be a death blow to business in Jackson. I think that policy undermines his assertion that he is a fiscal conservative, and I really hope he abandons that position soon. His "Buy Jackson" campaign is a good first start to instilling pride in our community and encouraging business investment within the city limits rather than our continuing to support businesses who thumb their noses at Jackson. It's certainly no different from the "Buy America" campaigns that pro-America conservatives often support as retaliation against foreign investment by American companies. But a simple slogan will not fix the problem, and I'm sure Crisler knows that. He is trying an incremental approach to reinstilling pride in Jackson...the mark of someone committed to making Jackson better.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-03-26T14:26:27-06:00
ID
79348
Comment

That said: I like some of your specific ideas. I do think we need to acknowledge, though, that the root cause of nearly all our problems in this city is poverty. I agree with Tom, realtime. You're certainly not completely off base. But we all have to watch sensationalistic proclamations, and we all make them from time to time. And to me, big drama about how our crime rate compares to NYC is utterly useless and plays into the hands of those trying to hold back our development. However ... Studying the crime stats in Jackson to know the trends is what I do. And that study has lead me to conclusion that high Crime is one of the most important factors holding Jackson's redevelopment at bay. I agree with you here, and probably on more than we don't agree on. That is, I believe the exactly purpose of crime stats is to study them for trends where we live, which I've already stated. Sure, we can glean ideas from other places with similar trends, but comparing the "rate" of Jackson and a huge metropolis is utterly useless. That was my point above. And I also agree that crime can hurt redevelopment efforts -- especially if the "perception" public relations is off the charts (and, unfortunately, Jackson can't simply sweep our crime issues under the rug like neighboring suburban towns are doing). BUT, we must continually battle the idea that the development SHOULDN"T happen due to crime, because that in turn will increase crime. That is one of the position I feel I must argue loudly about because there is so much ignorance and lack of education about it in Jackson. Is Crisler the right choice for the next mayor? I have no idea, yet. But I do give him points for being willing to do more than stick his finger in the wind and take the easy, non-confrontational position about issues. He is standing when he needs to stand up, and I'm glad to see that. e is trying an incremental approach to reinstilling pride in Jackson...the mark of someone committed to making Jackson better. Great point, ejeff. And, all, this is a great discussion. Thank you all.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-26T15:21:31-06:00
ID
79349
Comment

Personally, I'd like to see Harvey run again in 2009. I think he deserves another term. But Crisler is one of the sharpest eggs I've seen in politics--his answer to the abortion question is gold, and shows that he's a real intellectual in addition to whatever other policy assets he might have--and I think he'll go far. Very far. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-26T15:31:41-06:00
ID
79350
Comment

Yeah, I was impressed with the abortion answer, too.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-26T15:33:29-06:00
ID
79351
Comment

Lance, it is AMAZING that Melton has not participated and/or implemented any new Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid moves within the last few days! AND he's in town (or so we believe). I can only hope, as you stated, that he or someone close to him, has begun reading what the 'real' citizens of Jackson think about him. The 'poll' that was done, in my opinion, does not accurately detail the approval rating,or lack there of. I mean no harm when quoting the 'real' citizens, but I believe that the poll must have been taken from supporters or possibly from some of the happy former residents of Maple Street Apts. who have now been moved into better areas. If he paid ME to move out of Jackson - I would certainly be able to give him my approval at that time also, especially if he would allow the budget to pay a few months of my house note until I was settled! But anyhow, the real point of the matter is - let's don't become to comfortable in this low-profile Melton we are seeing at this time. I tend to believe he is simply gearing up for another wild idea that will cost the city money and plenty of embarresment! I am very thankful that we do have Crisler 'watching' not only the mayor, but the citizen's best interest as well,

Author
Katie D
Date
2006-03-26T19:55:12-06:00
ID
79352
Comment

it is AMAZING that Melton has not participated and/or implemented any new Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid moves within the last few days! Maybe he's heeding the message in our recent poll! Yes, he is in town. I even spent a bit of time with him.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-27T12:36:42-06:00
ID
79353
Comment

real time ur sick and tired of elected officials not doing anything start with melton and get off of crisler and i think anybody would make a better leader for jackson than melton even saddam.

Author
WILLman
Date
2006-03-27T23:53:38-06:00
ID
79354
Comment

Well, maybe not Saddam, WILLman. You shoulda left off the last two words, Dude, to help your credibility. Why not skip the hyperbole and tell us why?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-28T00:03:25-06:00
ID
79355
Comment

Enough said about Crisler. Yes, he is now running for Mayor and has decided that the way to do it is to get off of the fence he has straddled since being elected councilman. FM has been such an embarrassment/disappointment for the city that anyone talking with the slightest amount of intelligence looks like a genius. So Jacksonians, don't be fooled this time as so many were when this city unelected one of the most capable, hard-working and sincere persons that has ever held the position of Mayor of Jackson. How soon we forget! And by the way, Mr. President of the Council l - Mr. Crisler, where is the $1,800.00 FM promised to repay the City after his vacation with his two bodyguards in the Bahamas. Remember, the funds came out of the City's coffers. It was not a gift. By the way, what is the deal with "Truth Watch"? There are so many things that have gone unwatched. Also, I really enjoyed reading that section. Nightmayor

Author
justjess
Date
2006-03-28T17:31:06-06:00
ID
79356
Comment

I think you're being a little hard on Crisler. Now would be way too early to start campaigning for mayor, even if he wants the gig. I believe him when he says he isn't sure yet. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't be. And I say this as someone who wants to see, as I suspect you do, Johnson take his old job back in 2009. He's a known quantity. After Melton, that's a good thing. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-28T17:36:17-06:00
ID
79357
Comment

By the way, what is the deal with "Truth Watch"? There are so many things that have gone unwatched. Also, I really enjoyed reading that section. I know, justjess. I like it, too. The deal? Sheer business. Mr. Melton keeps us chasing our tails here, especially considering the poor job that the Ledger does. Someone has to cover the city. But you're right: We need to re-ignite it. I wonder if there is a way to make it a forum, so y'all can post original threads to Truthwatch. Hmmmm. Let me ponder and talk to my main man about it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-28T17:54:07-06:00
ID
79358
Comment

It would be nice if Johnson could come back before 2009. He had so much on his agenda that was approved and is just in limbo now because FM doesn't want us to know how good Johnson was. I am afraid that by 2009 we will have lost all that support. I didn't care for Bo Brown but i would welcome him back over Bluntson. At least he tried to be his own man.

Author
jada
Date
2006-03-29T00:15:09-06:00
ID
79359
Comment

i have quit going to the movies because there isnt one in jackson there are places to shop in jackson and there would be a lot more if jacksons population would not go to ridgleland or flowood 179,298 jackson population 21,577 ridgeland population 6,448 flowood population 16,462 madison population 179,298 > 44,487 look at the math you subtract 179,298 from the 223,785 combined populations and there is no way you have a mall that could survive

Author
skipp
Date
2006-03-29T12:14:21-06:00
ID
79360
Comment

O.k. bloggers, if you are wondering about the "low profile" FM is keeping this week, could it be that he is in court with, in the words/cartoons of Marshal Ramsey, the "NEKKID, NEKKID, NEKKID" defendants? Judge Wingate is suppose to make a ruling today. Isn't it interesting that the CL and local TV stations have not given this case much attention? I continue to wait for the return of the $1,800.00 spent on airfare for FM and his body guard's Bahama vacation. I have absolutely no problem with support of the poor but, I have a problem with tax dollars going to Maple St. Apts. residents for "relocation." (Some residents continue to live in those apts) This is off the chain and especially knowing that Jackson has people living on the street, people living in cars and abandoned buildings. Considering the devastation of katrina and Rita, Maple St. Apts. would be an oasis for those left homeless. I don't get it!!!! Nightmayor

Author
justjess
Date
2006-03-30T11:32:27-06:00
ID
79361
Comment

Well, he's busy with a couple different court cases. The Meridian case is coming down the pike quickly, too, and he is set to do more depositions in it. I understand the one he was set to do this morning has been postponed, though. I suspect that one is taking more of his personal energy than the stripper case. As I undersand, by the way, the Supreme Court has rejected his petition in it that Adam writes about this week. He can tell you more, though.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-30T11:41:55-06:00

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