Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tick...tick...tick..tick...















Except for the majory Fed buy in March, anyone notice a trend? The market also shrugged off the fed's buy in two weeks. Look for it to get worse as Obama's spending kicks into high gear.

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Donna Ladd tries to lecture Marshall Ramsey

Over on the Clarion-Ledger website Madame DeLadd tries to lecture Marshall Ramsey for merely asking people to grade Obama's first 100 days. Apparently she didn't like the answers people were giving as they thought differently than she:

Christian6 wrote: By the way, I'm not blaming you for posting the question, necessarily... moreso, I would argue that you implicitly encourage answers like those given by not presenting the other side of the equation. This blog could be placed on FoxNews.com, honestly, and I don't think anyone would know the difference. If you're ok with that, then...carry on. 4/30/2009 8:49 AM CDT

Christian6 wrote: Your "opinion" is shared by almost everyone else on the blog... that's not a coincidence. Especially considering that the vast majority of public opinion polls that asked that very same question yesterday came up with a significantly higher result. Look, if you're posting on a newspaper blog, then you're obviously not an idiot. I never said that. What I am saying is that I can't understand why intelligent persons see no problem with the fact that nearly all the answers are the same. Everyone doesn't go to the same church...doesn't support the same politicians...doesn't feel the same way about news anchors... so doesn't it bother you at all how united you are on certain other issues? 4/30/2009 10:20 AM CDT (Of course, she has no problem with an echo chamber on her website)

Christian6 wrote: JustjoGA, I've moved around a bit. Where I live now isn't really relevant, just know that in each place, as a native Mississippian, I've been on the defensive. And frankly, 1) it's getting old 2) they're not always wrong. 4/30/2009 1:54 PM CDT

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Nasa and racism

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Sorry guys.

Been passed out all day. Ate some bad food yesterday and been passed out on phenergan all day. About to throw some stuff up here. . Whoever invented pedialyte pops is a genius.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Surprise: JFP endorses Harvey Johnson

Anyone shocked? Open thread so fire away.

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Melton, Crisler, Bluntson, Mclemore, Hill, Tillman: Dumber than a bung of dagos. Literally

Well, apparently even the dagos have figured out these interest rate swaps for bonds are a bad deal. Look at what the Italian government did to the hucksters from Wall Street:

"With municipal bond investigations spreading to Europe from the United States, Italian authorities have seized about $300 million in assets of four global banksJPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Depfa — whose officials have been accused of fraud.
The Guardia di Finanza in Milan, the financial police of Italy, took over real estate properties, bank accounts and stock holdings on Monday to assure it could collect from the banks if their officials were found guilty and the banks were held responsible.
The seizures stem from the banks’ handling of a $2.2 billion municipal bond issue and related financial contracts known as swaps that Milan undertook to retire other debt in June 2005. The lead prosecutor accused the bankers of misleading the city and falsely claiming that the deal would generate savings. If all the costs had been properly included, the prosecutor said, the entire deal would have been illegal under a national law that allows restructuring of debt only if it produces a savings......
Three of the banks are also being investigated over their municipal bond practices in the United States. Officials or former officials of JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and UBS, along with the institutions themselves, are the subjects of investigations, company filings and documents filed in civil cases show..........
On both sides of the Atlantic, the banks and their executives have been accused of misleading local governments and selling officials exotic financial products known as derivatives that they did not fully understand.
These derivatives, when combined with bond offerings, were presented as ways to raise cash and reduce the long-term cost of debt, but officials claim now that many of the contracts, in the form of swaps, were packed with millions of dollars in fees that were not disclosed.
In his filings to a judge in Italy seeking the asset seizure, Mr. Robledo asserted that the bankers falsely claimed that the deal would save 57.3 million euros (
nearly $76 million)
While charging only nominal fees to show the refinancing would be beneficial, he said, the bank then hid their profits in the spread between what the city paid to the banks and what the banks gave in return on swaps contracts that accompanied the bond issue
— a difference of 52.7 million euros
(nearly $70 million) ....... " NY Times story

Meanwhile, Rick Hill tells us what a great deal these same swaps are for Jackson. Does anyone believe him?


Municipal carnage caused by Wall Street
Houston: jacked by 15% rates
Jackson:paying $4 million in fees
Will Jackson become Birmingham?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hamas terror

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Regions in trouble?

Uh-oh.

"BANGALORE, April 24 (Reuters) - Regions Financial Corp (RF.N) may be the only major bank that fails to pass the U.S. government's "stress test" and is also at risk of having to raise more equity, analysts at Oppenheimer said, and shares of the bank fell as much as 12 percent...
Earlier this week, Regions posted a 92 percent drop in first-quarter profit, but said its capital ratios remain strong with a Tier 1 ratio of 10.37 percent..." Help?

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Don't try this at home.



Houston PD set up an SUV as bait for car thieves, complete with hidden camera.

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Jones Drops Out of Race for Ward 1 Council Seat

Jonathan Jones has decided to pack it in:
Several months ago, I made the decision to run for the Ward 1 City Council seat. As should always be the case when running for public office, my single goal was to do my part to improve the city I live in and which I love.
However, due to the difficult constraints placed on municipal primary elections in Jackson, I now feel that the best thing for the city of Jackson will be for me to withdraw my name from consideration.

Jeff Weill was going to win re-election even if only 100 people showed up to vote in the Republican Primary. Jones' dropping out smells like a stunt. Let's see how the Crisler camp spins the story. I'm sure the JFP has already received the narrative.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Crisler's shooting: What is the REST of the story?










Clarion-Ledger Stories from 1993

Jackson Mayoral candidate (and alleged front-runner) Marshand Crisler makes the point to remind us in his current advertising he was shot in the line of duty. On his website he states:
"In 1992, he was honorably discharged from the US Marines and joined the Hinds County Sheriff's Department as a narcotics investigator where he had several assignments as a contract agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the FBI and DEA. In 1993, he received the distinguished meritorious award for valor for acts of courage and being shot in the line of duty." Campaign website His current mailout highlights his shooting in the bullet points.

While I disagree with using this as a campaign ploy, if Mr. Crisler is going to use his shooting (notice no wound is mentioned) in his advertising, it's time to more closely examine what exactly happened in the Hinds County Sheriff's Narcotics unit back in the early 1990s.

The only record located which reports an officer being shot in 1993 was during the service of a warrant by the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit. But that is only part of the story.

In 1993, the federal government prosecuted the head of the HCSO Narc unit, Captain Danny Woods, who was Crisler's boss. Law enforcement sources (and corroborated a good deal by the attached articles above) have told JJ they went to serve a warrant. A deputy was shot as they apparently dressed up in their ninja suits, wore bulletproof vests, and served the no-knock warrant on the wrong home (see p.8 of attachment) according to sources. In the stories linked above, McMillin refused to name the deputy shot. In this case and another one, several members of the narc unit were accused of some shenanigans, as they were prosecuted by the federal government for allegedly planting drugs on suspects.

The Clarion-Ledger reported:
"Scott Turner, who pleaded guilty Jan.6 to a charge of conspiring to violate the civil rights of an arrested man, said former narcotics unit Capt. Danny Woods put crack cocaine in a matchbox found during an April 23 arrest and tampered with drug evidence in a second case.
Turner, 28, of XXX, said federal prosecutors have agreed not to charge him in the second evidence-tampering incident "and in a case where my partner was shot and I lied about where the evidence was found." (Kingfish note: The case resulting in the conviction of Woods and Turner was not the one where a deputy was shot. They are two different cases but Turner admits to evidence tampering in both.)
"I stated the evidence was found in the defendant's right front pocket," Turner said, describing the shooting. "The defendant in that case did not possess crack cocaine. All he did was shoot my partner in the chest."
The shooting occurred April 2 at Metro Manor Apartments... The deputy, whose name was not made public, was wearing a bullet-resistant vest. The vest deflected the bullet."
Turner said he pleaded guilty because he knowingly put false information on the evidence tag, an affidavit, and an arrest warrant."

Woods was indicted by a federal grand jury with two counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of possession of crack cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to violate a person's civil rights. Woods was convicted of the possession charge and acquitted of the the rest of the charges despite testimony from two cops that he planted drugs in Lowe's possession.

However, what does this has to do with Crisler? Crisler was on the same narc unit at the time. McMillin refused to identify the officer who was shot and it was the officer's partner who was involved in framing several suspects. Several questions must be asked:

1. Was Crisler the deputy shot in the raid?
2. Was the person who shot Crisler ever charged for the shooting?
3. Were any other officers besides Woods, Turner, and Saxton present when the events concerning the evidence took place?
4. Why were charges against Lowe dropped?

It is understandable why Mac refused to identify the deputy. As this scandal brewed, the officers named were from different agencies. If there was more than one of Mac's deputies involved, then this looks not like a case of a bad apple in the Sheriff's office but a problem involving the entire narc unit. However, if Crisler is going to advertise his shooting then we have a right to know about the circumstances surrounding his shooting and if it was the same incident reported by Beverly Pettigrew-Kraft 16 years ago in the Clarion-Ledger. To paraphrase a Watergate era quote: “What did Marshand Crisler know about this event, and when did he know it?”

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Toughest reporter in Jackson

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Its Saturday night at the fights.



The Ali-Liston rematch. hehe. You'll see.



Foreman destroys Norton, same Norton who broke Ali's jaw. Norton was later heavyweight champ.



This one is Max Baer of Cinderalla Man, a few years later versus Joe Louis. First round really good, Baer (who broke his hand 3 weeks earlier) throws everything he has at Louis. Baer has a style very similar to Foreman: push and club, push and club. Watch Louis at the end of round 1. Would've beaten Ali or Tyson.



This is an entertaining interview of Baer and Louis after the fight. Costello, yes THAT Costello, interviews them both. Notice the camraderie between the two fighters during the interview.

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Victory at Sea: Guadalcanal



Part 2
Part 3

Victory at Sea episode on the Battle of Guadalcanal. The Japs move to cut off New Zealand and Australia from the rest of the world with their best troops and navy. We send our own navy and a bunch of green Marines who take everything the Japs throw at them in a hell these videos can't being to describe.

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Too funny.

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/WEnotrich1.wav

Listen to last 15 seconds. Typical Obama voter? Simply too funny. From Walton & Johnson's radio show. Too bad Jackson doesn't have it as its better than anything on the air in the morning.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Flashback

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Too funny

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Geaux Y'all Geaux




Fed up with the secret deal between Attorney General Jim Hood and State Farm over Katrina-related issues, Alan Lange of Y'all Politics sued Mr. Hood yesterday. In his suit, Mr. Lange asks the court to unseal the settlement agreement. Mr. Lange made the following statement in an email yesterday:

" Jackson New Media, Inc., publisher of the political interest website YallPolitics.com, has filed to intervene in the 2007 federal court case of State Farm Insurance vs. Attorney General Jim Hood (2:07CV188BP, Southern District of Mississippi).
The media outlet has requested that US District Court Judge David Bramlette make public a settlement agreement entered into between State Farm Insurance and the Mississippi Attorney General's office that was executed hours after General Hood was questioned under oath. Jackson New Media points to its free press and free access rights under the First Amendment, as well as the Mississippi Constitution and state law as the basis for the opening of the settlement document between State Farm and Hood..."

Y'all Politics' suit has been joined by WLBT, WLOX, and WDAM. One hopes it succeeds as the Attorney General has no business entering into these sealed agreements.

Motion
memo of support for motion
Motion for relief

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Irony














The Clarion-Ledger recently reported on a robbery that took place at a party held in an Eastover home:
"On March 8, Jackson Police Detective James Cornelius took on the case of the missing diamonds. A woman had reported more than $50,000 in jewelry missing from her north Jackson home.
Seventeen high-dollar items were stolen, including a Cartier drop necklace, sapphire and diamond bracelet, Rolex watch and Tiffany double pearl earings with diamonds.
In talking with the jewelry owner, Cornelius discovered she'd let a friend host a birthday party at the residence the day before, and about 98 people attended. That was the first clue....
Cornelius said the jewelry owner did not want to pursue charges once she got her jewelry back and the guest seeks treatment. Since the guest has not been charged, police are not releasing her name
." Article

Seek treatment? Irony.

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Remembering Doolittle's raid on Tokyo





This week is the 67th anniversary of Doolittle's raid on Japan in what was called by some a suicide mission. Since America won the war in spectacular fashion, people forget how dark it seemed in 1942 after the Japs attacked us and more lands fell to their war machine. This was the first time war in the modern era was brought to their homeland and punctured all the propaganda they fed to their people. Here's to you Colonel Doolittle and your raiders.

Michael Yon has on his website the audio recording of interviews with Colonel Doolittle in 1983. Audio recording

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Fireworks at Citi's annual shareholders meeting

This guy was able to live-blog it. Not everyone bought the party line.

http://dealbreaker.com/2009/04/live-blogging-citis-annual-inv.php

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WLBT added to feeds

At the top of the feeds in the center column is WLBT's feed. Now stay updated on the stories on this site for local news. Here are the feeds offered on JJ:

Local news & blogs: WLBT, Clarion-Ledger, Y'all Politics, Nmisscommentor
New Orleans: Times-Picayune
Finance/Business: Market Ticker, Mish, Zero Hedge, Marketwatch, Baton Rouge Business
Report
Real Estate: Housingwire, Commercial Property News
Military: Michael Yon, Soldier of Fortune
National Politics: Redstate, American Thinker

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The Kingfish will be on KIM Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaade's show

Tune in tomorrow to Kim Wade's show on 1180 AM, WJNT at 5:05 PM as City Councilman Jeff Weill and I will discuss with Kim Jackson's foray into the bond refinance mess I have discussed on this blog for the last week.

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CHICKEN!!!
















Mayor Frank Melton will not attend any debates leading up to the May 5 Democratic primary, his campaign said Tuesday." Mayor chickens out

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Trick shot defense?

From the Clarion-Ledger forums yesterday:
"Manzoni wrote:
i have it on strong authority that the toxicology reports came back negative on Mrs. Irby. I was told that is the reason JPD is leaving the option to file charges with the grand jury. Don't know it for a fact but i did hear from the same authority that there were concerns in the wreck investigation that the steering column of the mercedes may have locked up do to overbreaking by Mrs. Irby. Something about a possible malfunction of the onboard computer system in the mercedes. But i was told it couldn't be proven for sure one way or the other due to the massive damage of the car. I suspect that, along with the negative test results will stop the grand jury from bringing charges against Mrs. Irby4/21/2009 5:36:13 PM
"

One wonders if this will be the defense line as the grand jury hears the Irby case. From what I've been told, the case will be heard in the grand jury in the next couple of weeks. The Clarion-Ledger reported the police gave its report to the D.A. Article By the way, a quick google search revealed no recalls for steering column problems for 2009 or 2008.

As for conspiracy theories involving JPD, I went back through online stories about similar cases in Jackson and JPD has not released the toxicology results before an arrest or indictment occurred. In all of the cases mentioned in most forums and media outlets, those were cases that were NOT in JPD's jurisdiction.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No Comment


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Pizza Shack: BEST pizza in Jackson.

Congrats to Pizza Shack, who won JJ's poll last week for "Best Pizza in Jackson". It wasn't even close as Pizza Shack got over 40% of the vote.

Pizza Shack 62(43%), Basils 6(4%), Little Caesars 0 (0%), Bravo! 5 (3%), Sal and Mookies 16 (11%), Soulshine 15 (10%), Pizza Hut 4 (2%), Papa John's 7 (4%), Domino's 1 (0%),
Amerigo's 4 (2%), Brick Oven (Yeah I know) 2 (1%), Old Venice 5 (3%), Cherokee 5 (3%), Mazzio's 1 (0%) Cici's Pizza 0 (0%), Mellow Mushroom 8 (5%)

By the way, over at Basil's if you don't want to eat a pizza right away, they will half bake it for you. Take it home, cook rest of way and viola. Put layer of crisco on the cookie sheet, preheat sheet for 10 minutes, then cook at 375 degrees til done. Works well if frozen also.

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JFP still pimping for deadbeats

The Jackson Free Press, along with the rest of the local media, just can't resist taking a shot at Toyota and Barbour as they report the lawsuit filed against them by local minority firm Fish & Fisher. Suit filed, racism claimed by Cochran lawyer

Factchecking.Its.not.that.hard. Here is some GOOD advice for ALL reporters: If a business is the subject of a lawsuit, go to the Secretary of State's website and look them up under UCC Information Search under business services. Its also a good idea to check PACER (and all the tv stations have PACER accounts) and to check the Hinds County online judgement roll.

IF the JFP and media here had done that, they would've seen that Andrews and Fisher are pretty much con artists as they have been sued by suppliers, vendors, their subcontractors, contractors they've subbed for, and other parties. There are 25 liens/judgements I listed last week on my original post for close to a million dollars. There are also another 20 or so liens/judgements against them that I did not get the amounts for or were in other company names but held by the same owners. Their lawsuits follow a pattern: most of them are default judgements and they rarely even respond in court. At some point one must wonder when a prosecutor is going to take a good hard look at their history and consider opening an investigation.
Earlier post

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Municipal Carnage caused by Wall Street

Earlier posts:
Jackson paying $4 million in fees for bond deal
Will Jackson become Jefferson County, Alabama?

Now that I've blogged a bit about Jackson's foolish decision to refinance its bonds with interest rate swaps based on adjustable rates (just think of refinancing your house with an adjustable rate. Same concept to some degree), its time to see how much carnage there is among municipal balance sheets across the country thanks to these financial weapons of mass destruction. Buckle yourself in and have a drink, you're going to need it.

New Castle School District, PA
"On Sept. 25, the week after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, the New Castle Area School District's interest rate on $9.7 million of financing arranged by JPMorgan hit 10.6 percent, more than doubling since the month began, as investors demanded skyrocketing returns for municipal debt" interest rate doubled

Philadelphia International Airport, PA
"In April 2002, Philadelphia International Airport entered into a high-stakes derivative trade with JPMorgan. The airport got $6.5 million; JPMorgan acquired the right to put the bank into an interest-rate swap on $189 million of bonds.
JPMorgan took in $4 million-$4.5 million on the deal in fees, according to LeCroy's SEC testimony. That was 10 times what the bank earned for underwriting a floating-rate-bond issue for the airport after the bank exercised the option.
The deal has turned out terribly for Philadelphia. In June 2008, the interest rate on the floating-rate bonds the airport issued surged to 7.2 percent from 1.8 percent the week before, after MBIA Inc., the company that guaranteed the bonds, lost its AAA credit rating.
The rate on the debt reached a high of 10 percent on Sept. 23.....
Philadelphia officials say they don't really have the choice of canceling the swap. Based on prices at the end of September, termination would cost Philadelphia about $24.4 million, according to the city. That's almost $20 million more than what it received in 2002..."

Louisiana
"the state has issued $1.9 billion in bonds since 2002 and plans another $985 million in bonds this year and next.
The state gambled and lost on a TIMED bonds "interest-rate" swap with Wall Street amid the credit crunch last year, and faces a possible termination penalty of more than $130 million if it can't sell those bonds by May 1
...." Tick...tick..tick

Augusta, GA
"Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver says he doesn't plan to sign documents authorizing a financial transaction designed to squeeze some extra profit from the city's $160 million utility bond issue.. Augusta will be charged about $3 million in fees on its swap....." Same verse, different city

Reading, PA
"The Reading, Pennsylvania, school district, which has 18,323 students, this week must pay $230,000 to Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's largest bank, because it's on the losing side of a wager that long-term interest rates will rise faster than short- term interest rates... its adviser said the transaction may earn the district $16 million by 2034.
While Reading's taxpayers are liable for the loss, bankers and advisers already have pocketed $1 million in fees for arranging the swap
.." 550 Mercedez sedans

Lewisburg, TN
"Everything was fine until January, Phillips said, when the town was saddled with annual interest payments that had quadrupled to $1 million, and the amount of time the city had to pay off the bonds was reduced from 20 years to seven years....." AP Story

Claiborne County, TN
"Michael Tuten, accounting and finance manager for Claiborne County, said Morgan Keegan in 2007 advised entering into a derivatives deal on an existing $18 million bond to pay for a new school.....
But interest rates began to inch up, and he said the company told county officials earlier this year that they had only a few weeks to refinance the entire bond or make a quadrupled payment of $700,000
..."

Indianapolis, IN
Nearly 1 million Indianapolis Water customers likely will see their rates go up this summer because the city-owned utility faces a penalty of up to $100 million after entering into some of the risky variable-rate financing deals at the heart of the country's economic meltdown
The Indianapolis Bond Bank, which set up the deals in 2005, now will have to pay a penalty of $80 million to $100 million to extract the utility from interest-rate swaps attached to the bonds...
Refinancing seems to be the only choice: The city otherwise would face annual payments of $44 million, which it can't afford....
Interest rates on that debt rose from 3.5 percent to 9.5 percent in the past two years, forcing the utility to make $20 million more in interest payments in 2008 than in 2007...." Indy Star story

New Orleans, LA
"New Orleans is suing Ambac Financial Group Inc. for breach of contract, alleging the bond insurer's ``greed'' and ``mismanagement'' caused it to lose its AAA credit rating, costing the city at least $2 million in extra debt service.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Louisiana on July 17, said the city wouldn't have issued $171 million of taxable floating-rate pension bonds in December 2000 and bought an interest-rate swap, without Ambac's assurance that its policy would allow the city to successfully sell the debt.....

New Orleans's overall interest cost on the pension bonds is 10.5 percent, adding about $400,000 a month in debt service, the complaint said.
The city would have to pay between $26 million and $31 million to terminate the swap, and faces accelerated amortization and redemption costs on the pension bonds, which are now held by JPMorgan Chase & Co., after UBS stopped the remarketing, the complaint said..."
Bloomberg

Houston, TX
"Houston wound up paying 15 percent interest on the new securities, not the money-market rates city officials had anticipated...." Bloomberg

Jefferson County, AL
"Jefferson County would have to pay $735 million to end backfiring swap agreements that were designed to save the county money on its sewer debt - a sum so large it could complicate talks with creditors on a debt settlement.."
Al.com

Erie, PA
"What New York-based JPMorgan Chase didn't tell them, the transcript shows, was that the bank would get more in fees than the school district would get in cash: $1 million. The complex deal, which placed taxpayer money at risk, was linked to four variables involving interest rates. Three years later, as interest rate benchmarks went the wrong way for the school district, the Erie board paid $2.9 million to JPMorgan to get out of the deal, which officials now say they didn't understand...." Bloomberg


Any questions?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Houston: jacked by 15% rates.

Earlier posts on the refinancing of Jackson's bonds:
Jackson paying $4 million in fees. No competitive bids. Thanks Melton & Crisler
Will Jackson end up broke like Jefferson County, Alabama?

Kingfish, why are you getting so wrapped up in these bonds? Why does it matter how Jackson refinances its bonds? Here is a good reason why. Houston made a similar deal to Jackson's only to find out the hard way what happens when the markets bounce the wrong way after the city signs off on a deal using adjustable rates. Bloomberg reported last week (I mentioned this article in Friday's post but it deserves its own headline):
April 16 (Bloomberg) -- Houston’s deputy controller, James Moncur, figured last May the fourth-largest U.S. city escaped the unraveling credit markets by refinancing some of its $1.8 billion of auction-rate bonds.
Instead, Houston wound up paying 15 percent interest on the new securities, not the money-market rates city officials had anticipated. The so-called variable-rate demand notes backfired when investors fled the market in October, forcing the bank that had guaranteed the bonds, Brussels-based Dexia SA, to buy them.
The $479 billion market for the securities, whose rates are typically reset by banks every day or week, is turning into a quagmire for local officials who embraced a financing strategy they didn’t fully understand....
Some borrowers that want to refinance VRDNs are stuck since the bonds are “often paired with interest-rate swaps that would be quite costly to unwind because many of the swaps are now underwater,” Bernanke said.
Municipalities use swaps -- private agreements in which a borrower and another party agree to exchange interest rates -- to create fixed-rate obligations by joining them with variable- rate debt. If the arrangements go awry, issuers have to pay fees to terminate the contracts.
The New York State Dormitory Authority wound up paying bankers $26.8 million to get out of $390 million of VRDNs last month, after Dexia increased the fees for its letter of credit to 0.5 percent from 0.27 percent and interest rates on the bonds rose as high as 8.48 percent, according to public disclosures...
Besides the cancellation fee, the dormitory authority paid $2.76 million to underwriters led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to sell about $500 million of new bonds
(Jackson paid roughly the same amount for $95 million. Makes Jackson's deal even more questionable.). ...."
Rest of Bloomberg story. Has a great deal of good information.

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Foreclosures create opportunity for artists

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about how artists in various cities are actually doing something about the blight caused by the abundance of foreclosed properties:
"Artists have long been leaders of an urban vanguard that colonizes blighted areas. Now, the current housing crisis has created a new class of urban pioneer. Nationwide, home foreclosure proceedings increased 81% in 2008 from the previous year, rising to 2.3 million, according to California-based foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac. Homes in hard-hit cities such as Detroit and Cleveland are selling for as little as $1.
Drawn by available spaces and cheap rents, artists are filling in some of the neighborhoods being emptied by foreclosures. City officials and community groups seeking ways to stop the rash of vacancies are offering them incentives to move in, from low rents and mortgages to creative control over renovation projects.....

Artists and architects are buying foreclosed homes in Detroit for as little as $100. In St. Louis, artists are moving into vacant retail spaces in a shopping mall, turning stores that stood empty for more than a year into studios and event spaces for rents of $100 a month. Artspace Projects Inc., a national nonprofit development corporation, plans to create 35 live/work spaces for artists on vacant property in Hamilton, Ohio, after converting an empty car factory and an adjacent lot in Buffalo, N.Y., into 60 artists' lofts last year....."
Rest of article

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John Coltrane: Saxophone icon

NPR presents a good program on John Coltrane:
"More than 40 years after his death, John Coltrane remains the most influential tenor saxophonist in jazz history. Whether it's his patented "sheets of sound," his rapid-fire improvisations or his bold, cathartic wails, all aspiring jazz saxophonists know the music of Coltrane. His career was characterized by a constant, exponential advancement in improvisational technique and ideas....."
Download the show

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Championship Form



The Pole Dancing Champeenship.

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Its Saturday night at the Fights



This is why people were scared Foreman might kill Ali. Tyson should be thankful he never faced this guy.



This is a good one. Tate and Weaver fought for the WBA Heavyweight Title. Tate had kicked Weaver's ass for 14 rounds. Tate was a boxer while Weaver was known as a one-punch fighter. Unfortunately for Tate, he decided to mix it up in the 15th when he should've just stayed away and won the fight. Keep watching when Tate is knocked out. He is knocked out COLD.



Then there is you know who. Lamumba boys. funny. "You'll get cooked!"

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Jackson: Paying $4 million in fees for bond refinances. Thank you Melton and Crisler.

Highlights
*The proposed refinance of Jackson's 2002 and 2004 bonds will cost $4,071,000 in fees, even though the principal amounts are $33 million less (See page 14 of Swap discussion doc) and the fees for the original transactions were only $1.5 million
*These services were NOT competitively bid but were instead "privately negotiated".
*Sarah O'Reilly Evans, City Attorney, is paid $60,000 in fees for the refinances
*The bond advisor, Sterne Agee, was paid based on a percentage rate. Sterne Agee's advice was based on the size of the refinances and contingent upon their closing, while they were supposedly providing "objective" analysis.
*The refinances are based on adjustable rates. Houston was badly burned when the interest rates on its bonds under a similar arrangement rose to 15% recently.
*This deal was proposed by Melton's finance director, and Marshand Crisler sponsored the motion to adopt the resolution.
*Derivatives are financial contracts whose value is based on other securities or indexes; interest-rate swaps are tied to future changes in lending rates.

The Jackson City Council (in a motion proposed by Marshand Crisler) voted last week to refinance the 2002 and 2004 public works bond issues as Finance Director Rick Hill claimed this will save money and pay $10 million to the city. (Think of a cash-out refinance on a home. Same thing.) Mr. Hill and representatives of Sterne Agee, the bond advisor to the city, made several presentations and included the following materials:Swap discussion (Fees included), Master Swap Agreement, Schedule to Master Agreement, Second supplement to indenture of trust, Bond resolution. The refinancings are based on the use of a derivative called an "interest rate swap". In layman's terms, the refinancings are based on adjustable rates (they call them variable rates as finance guys tend to be more sophisticated in their descriptions) which can move up or down depending on market conditions.
Interest rate swap derivatives have pummeled cities such as Houston and Erie while bankrupting Jefferson County, Alabama. See earlier post on refinancing Jackson's bonds with derivatives. Unfortunately, these documents fail to answer many questions but still yield some much-needed information on fees, how compensation is calculated, and what parties are involved in these transactions.

Show me the money
When these bonds were first issued, the fees associated with their issue were a combined $1.5 million. The total amount refinanced will be $95.2 million and the fees will be $4.071 million.

The fees are:
Deutsche Bank (the main counterparty): $2,380,000
Rice Financial Products (the minority counterparty): $975,000
Sterne Agee (the council's bond "advisor"): $476,000
Sarah O'Reilly-Evans (City attorney): $60,000
Baker Donelson (Outside counsel): $120,000
Anthony Simon, LLC ( private attorney employed by city): $60,000


Jackson will spend $4 million dollars to get $10 million. The fees are discussed not so much in dollars but rather in terms of basis points (a basis point is .01%). Describing compensation in basis points gives the illusion the fees are much smaller than they really are. Only when converted to actual dollar amounts does the compensation's true size appear. (The fee is determined by calculating the amount of the transaction by the number of basis points. Ten basis points would be a factor of .10%).

The original transactions in 2002 and 2004 generated much lower fees for the involved parties even though the amount of bonds issued was $128 million:

2002 Bond series ($50 million issue):
TOTAL: $415,733
Page 60, Number 9 on Dept. of Finance & Admin's website

2004 Series Fees ($78 million issue):
TOTAL: $929,064
Expenses on page 35

No bidding but it's on the up and up. Trust us.
These services were not opened up to competitive bidding but were privately negotiated. One of the dirty little secrets of the municipal bond business is too often, bonds are not bid out but instead awarded to the fat cats who are in bed with the politicians. A party who can provide better and cheaper service usually has no chance of competing for such contracts unless he plays the game. Bloomberg reported such a lack of bidding usually costs governments substantially more money:
"competitive bidding is vanishing from public finance, raising costs to taxpayers, as underwriters such as Zurich-based UBS AG and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. of New York increasingly gain exclusive rights to handle bond sales, data compiled by Bloom-berg shows....
No-bid sales, known as negotiated underwriting, have grown to 81 percent of public finance in 2004, up from 27 percent of public finance in 1974, according to Bloomberg and Thomson Financial data. No-bid sales are more expensive for taxpayers, six academic studies have shown. A 2002 study of 148 New Jersey sales by University of Connecticut professor Mark Robbins found that governments using competition saved $1.26 million...."

Mississippi law does not require competitive bidding for bond sales. Such an omission should surprise no one as bond sales are probably one of the most lucrative forms of government business and the least scrutinized. There is no law preventing "pay to play" when it comes to Mississippi bonds. However some cities such as Los Angeles and Charlotte use competitive bidding and Jefferson County, Alabama found out it overpaid JP Morgan Chase $100 million dollars in fees for a bond deal that bankrupted the county as the fees were "privately negotiated".

Conflict of Interest?
Sterne Agee's website touts its expertise in public finance:
"The Public Finance Group oversees all negotiated and competitive municipal bond issues, both taxable and tax-exempt, as well as financial advisory services for municipalities. Our public finance offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta and Macon, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; and New York, New York, underwrite issues throughout the country. The firm’s public finance professionals have the knowledge and capability to handle all types and sizes of municipal transactions. Since 2004, Sterne Agee has served as an underwriter on nearly 400 tax-exempt and taxable issues totaling $48.1 billion in par amount."

Sterne Agee is acting as Jackson's bond adviser on these transactions. Unfortunately, Jackson is not paying a flat fee based on its objective opinion (and Sterne will have much more expertise in these matters than will Rick Hill or any other Jackson employee) but instead is paying a fee based on the size of the transaction and contingent upon it closing. It is also difficult to determine from these documents what exactly Sterne Agee is providing in exchange for these fees. No one is accusing Sterne Agee of unethical conduct but such arrangements DO created an appearance of a conflict of interest. Such compensation plans are similar to the ones that caused overinflated appraisals in the housing collapse: appraisers were told what value to provide and not paid unless the deal closed (instead of collecting a fee up-front while providing an objective opinion). If Jackson is going to use such firms for objective opinion, it should pay them a flat fee and ensure they have no interest in the outcome of the deal.

Adjustable-rate Armageddon
Blinded by visions of ten million dollars, Rick Hill and the City Council are hitching Jackson's bonds to derivatives using adjustable rates. Such rates have destroyed local government finances across the city. Bloomberg reported yesterday Houston is in trouble as its interest rates on these derivatives skyrocketed to 15%. See if any of this doesn't sound familiar:
"Houston’s deputy controller, James Moncur, figured last May the fourth-largest U.S. city escaped the unraveling credit markets by refinancing some of its $1.8 billion of auction-rate bonds.
Instead, Houston wound up paying 15 percent interest on the new securities, not the money-market rates city officials had anticipated. The so-called variable-rate demand notes backfired when investors fled the market in October, forcing the bank that had guaranteed the bonds, Brussels-based Dexia SA, to buy them
. ..
The $479 billion market for the securities, whose rates are typically reset by banks every day or week, is turning into a quagmire for local officials who embraced a financing strategy they didn’t fully understand....

Erie suffered the same fate as its school board paid JP Morgan Chase $2.9 million to get out of an interest rate swap deal when interest rates worsened after JPM had already received $1 million in fees for the transaction itself. There are numerous examples of such public finance horror around the country. Even now, Jefferson County is fighting to stay out of bankruptcy. A year ago it owed JP Morgan $600 million. JPM's response? Raise taxes. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the SEC does not regulate these municipal derivatives and finance directors such as Mr. Hill usually do not have the expertise to understand the complexities and pitfalls of these interest rate swaps.

Questions that should be asked of Melton, Hill, Crisler, Bluntson, and Tillman:
1. Why weren't the services which were awarded to Sterne Agee, Baker Donelson, and Anthony Simon opened up to competitive bidding?
2. Why doesn't Jackson have a board or commission similar to the zoning board where true experts are appointed who can examine these proposals better than city employees and politicians who too often are pigeons for these schemes?
3. What services were provided by the parties who were paid on this deal?
4. What is Jackson's liability when (notice I didn't say "if") interest rates move the wrong way?
5. As of today under the terms of the refinancings, what would be the interest rates be?
6. What would it cost Jackson to break or refinance this contract after it's finalized?
7. Can you guarantee Jackson will not wind up like Houston or Jefferson County if market conditions worsen?
8. What are Deutsche Bank and Rice's profits from these transactions?

Jackson is about to make a huge mistake as it will surely get burned when the interest rates for these swaps change, and they always change. We have not been told why these parties were chosen. We don't know if Jackson could have received more money than the ten million dollars because we didn't solicit bids from other parties. One of the leading experts on these municipal derivatives told me last week that if Jackson was getting ten million dollars, that meant Duestche Bank was probably going to repackage and sell these or some kind of hedge on the markets shortly aftewards and make a great deal more money. He also made it clear Hill was probably approached by Duetsche Bank and Rice. Most of these finance directors are not investment gurus. The banks track these bonds, crunch the numbers, and then approach the cities with their sales pitches. The government officials don't understand how these things work or how the banks can screw them on these deals so they bite at the offers only to find out later the fruit was poisonous.

What probably happened is the following scenario: Hill is responsible for submitting a budget to the city council. Tax revenue is down. He probably had this proposal (and possibly others) on his desk and saw a way to get some money to bail him out of this mess. The rates are low, he probably won't be working for Jackson next year, so if he can fix the problem now, it's someone else's problem after this summer. However, Jackson will be left holding the bag when everything hits the fan one day and Deutsche Bank and Rice come calling for their juice. While we worry about paying the vig to these loan sharks, O'Reilly, Sterne, Baker, and Simon are laughing all the way to the bank.

Jackson should say no to these swaps. Just as millions of homeowners gambled with adjustable rate mortgages and lost their homes, so will Jackson fare if it uses these "variable" rate swaps. There should be a committee of true experts who can structure the best deal for Jackson, as these poobahs have no clue what they are doing when it comes to finance. If these companies can not provide true disclosures, including profit estimates, then Jackson should not make any agreements with them. It's about time we started holding these companies and politicians responsible for what they are doing with our money.

PS.) The only silver lining will be watching a Mayor Crisler explain how as Councilman Crisler, he led the charge to bankrupt the city.

Note: Here is a GREAT article on how these derivatives have severely impacted other cities and it's written for average people to understand: Municipal Derivative Abuse
Great read on Jefferson County's implosion: Kaboom!

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Flex Appeal



And for DWF and Stiletto:

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Update on Irby case

Local attorney Joe Hollomon is representing Karen Irby in the ongoing investigation and possible prosecution in the February 11 wreck that killed two doctors. Mr. Hollomon is a former federal prosecutor. He represented some of the defendants in the WorldCom case and currently represents local car dealer James Threatt in an unrelated fraud case.

On a somewhat related note, JPD announced it was not going to charge Dundrecous Nelson in the Riverside Drive wreck that killed local high school basketball star LeChristopher Ulmer. There was testimony by witnesses that Nelson was driving around 70 mph. However, JPD is calling it an accident although the District Attorney's office differed somewhat:
"Although it was a horrible accident and you hate to see someone killed, it was just an accident," (JPD Spokesman Lieutenant) Scott said. "It was the result of inexperience coupled with the conditions of the road. It doesn't appear that his intentions were criminal."

"Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith said he would like to review the case once JPD completes its investigation.
"Sometimes (police) make their own decisions whether a case needs to be turned over to our office and we certainly respect that," Smith said. "There isn't a case we won't take before a grand jury if there is a question of criminal liability
." Clarion-Ledger story (Too bad the reporter didn't ask either Smith or Scott what the speed was.)

One can hope in the Irby case, if the black box states Ms. Irby was speeding, the police and prosecutors will charge her with manslaughter or vehicular homicide even if the toxicology results are negative. What about those toxicology reports? Fox40 News has an interesting story this week about how Scott released the toxicology information on Nelson yet refuses to release it on Irby. Fox40 News Story

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ProJack JJ Special: Busting Ladd's Turnout Myth

Over the years Jackson has been treated to Donna Ladd's many election myths in the Jackson Free Press. Yesterday it was her oft-repeated myth that turnout was low when Harvey Johnson and Frank Melton squared off in the 2005 Democratic Primary. Here is what she wrote:

Ladd on 04/14/09 at 01:02 PM: Oh, and another thing about turnout and such: The last mayoral election saw low turnout in both primary and general—neither Melton or Johnson excited a remarkable number of people, truth be known.

Of course Ladd doesn't bother to provide any substantiation to buttress her turnout myth. Four years ago we got this hackneyed story from the JFP that tried to explain away the Melton victory as the result of a disinterested electorate.

That story included numerous inaccuracies. Here is one whopper:
Lynch, June 15, 2005: There were 30,128 votes cast in the June 7 general election. With there being 131,713 voters registered in Jackson, the election only stirred up about 22.8 percent of voters.

There is a big, big problem with that second sentence. You see, in 2005, there were not 131, 713 registered voters in Jackson. There.simply.were.not.

So where did that number come from? That number came from the US Census Bureau. The 2000 Census pegged Jackson's voting aged population (VAP), the number of Jacksonians aged 18 years and over, at exactly 131,713. But there is a huge difference between citizens who are old enough to vote and citizens who are actually registered to vote.
(Note: As of today, April 15, 2009, there are 106,825 Jacksonians registered to vote.)


When Ladd spouts this low turnout myth about Melton's 2005 victory, she conveniently omits exactly which elections in the past -- which historical elections -- she is using for her comparison.
Consider this table that compares 2005 to four other recent elections of specific importance within Jackson:


Click image to enlarge.


Without some past election against which to compare Melton's victory over Harvey Johnson there is scant evidence -- none really -- these past four years of mayoral-ineptitude-on-parade were the result of a low voter turnout.

YES, many registered voters stayed home and YES, the electoral process would benefit if more of those who are registered exercised their civic duty by voting. But NO, Frank Melton's 2005 primary win was NOT the result of an abnormally low voter turnout at the polls.

In closing I leave you with more of Ladd's words from yesterday:
Ladd on 04/14/09 at 01:02 PM: I predict a much better turnout this time, at least in the primary.

Oh yeah? Compared to what?

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Feds now looking at pay to play in muni bonds

Well, well, looks like the federal government is looking at how cities award lucrative municipal bonds contracts (read this article in full, I'm going somewhere with this):
"Three federal agencies and a loose consortium of state attorneys general have for several years been gathering evidence of what appears to be collusion among the banks and other companies that have helped state and local governments take approximately $400 billion worth of municipal notes and bonds to market each year......
People with knowledge of the evidence say investigators are not just looking at a few bad apples, but also at the way an entire market has operated for years.
It’s rare to sell a Senate seat, but it’s not rare to sell a bond deal,” said Charles Anderson, who retired as manager of tax-exempt bond field operations for the Internal Revenue Service in 2007. “Pay-to-play in the municipal bond market is epidemic.”.....
The business is lightly regulated, with rules governing the conduct of companies set by the municipal securities board. Municipal bond underwriters are prohibited from making campaign contributions to “buy” the business of bringing bonds to market. But no such rules govern the conduct of a type of professional who appeared in the industry about a decade ago — specialists who work with financial derivatives, like swaps and options....
The use of derivatives in connection with municipal bonds has grown rapidly in the last five years. The packages are presented as money-savers to the municipalities, which may want to protect themselves against interest rate changes. But over the last year, as turmoil spread through the credit markets, some of the derivatives have blown up, leaving local governments stuck with unexpected costs.
That happened in Alabama, where Jefferson County linked an extraordinary number of derivatives, called interest-rate swaps, to its bonds, in some cases with the help of CDR Financial. Despite publicized concerns about whether improper payments to certain officials were behind the swaps, the county insisted the swaps were saving money. Last year, the derivatives failed, leaving the county with vast bills. Jefferson County is now at risk of declaring what would be the biggest governmental bankruptcy in United States history.
Even in places where the bonds and derivatives are performing as expected, irate government officials are finding they may have overpaid for various services........"

NY Times Story

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Vote for Kayla





























Please vote for Kayla Fivecoat to be the 2009 Material Girls Spokesmodel for Material Girls . Kayla is a senior at Pearl High School and comes with the Kingfish's stamp of approval. Vote for her on Material Girls' website.

If you guys don't vote for her, no more Fitness Beach videos will be posted nor will there be a Hottest Reporter in Jackson poll next year either.

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No comment.

From Madame DeLadd over at the Jackson Free Press:
"Your gonna be desperately seeking a candidate forever, cause there's no such thing as a honest politician.
posted by BubbaT on 04/14/09 at 01:32 PM

Bubba, that's a stereotype as offensive as any other. Maybe worse because it shows such cynicism.The truth is, voters get distracted by garbage (like the pissing contest over these little polls), or blatant demagoguery like Melton's rhetoric, or personal vendettas, and don't vote for honest politicians. As a result, honest people aren't attracted to politics.
I just can't wait to see the barrage of negative TV ads they're going to buy to battle the final showdown—the sound and fury based on nothing—enriching out-of-town broadcast conglomerates and treating voters with contemptuous assumptions that they're stupid and only care about trash talk and finger-pointing. Then, maybe they'll get 20, 25 percent of the electorate to turn out, and then David Hampton can write a column afterward slamming voters for their apathy.
Sigh. I guess I'm the cynic. Jackson elections and the way people act a fool during them do this to me. Maybe I should just give up and put out a paper filled with party pictures and go home at 5 o'clock. It takes a lot of work to do what we do here, not to have a community all that interested in the truth. posted by ladd on 04/14/09 at 01:40 PM"
Repent

She tries sooooo hard to preach the truth to you people and you just.dont.get.it. Mount Sinai speaks yet the unwashed heathen only want to worship their false idols while living in sin. A prophet is never welcome in her own land.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Just enjoy this one.

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More on Fish & Fisher v. Toyota

UPDATE II: There is another judgement against FF. SOUTH CENTRAL LABORERS’ HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND v. Fish & Fisher, Inc., (Civil Action No. 3:08-0337,
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE DIVISION). The Plaintiff sued FF as well as Renna Fisher and Jacqueline Williams for failure to pay contributions as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

The defendants did not file an answer, did not appear in court, and lost a default judgement. For their repeated truancy from all legal proceedings, a contempt of court hearing was scheduled but the case was settled just before the hearing. Fish & Fisher was ordered to pay $4,800.06 with an interest charge of .5% for every month of non-payment. FF was given until August 1, 2009 to pay South Central. The judge also ruled that Williams and Fisher were jointly and severably liable for the entire amount.

UPDATE: Here is ANOTHER recent judgement against Fish & Fisher found on PACER (all the local media outlets use PACER): The Big Red Can and Dottie Mother obtained a default judgement against F&F in federal court on March 25, 2009. Court said actions of F&F were "willful and malicious and rise to the level that would require this Court to assess punitive damages". Damages awarded were: $40,674 in actual damages, $5,000 in punitive damages, and $15,000 in attorney's fees for a grand total of $60,674. On top of the total amount listed below. Copy of judgement


Original Post
Fish & Fisher, a local firm, recently sued Toyota for racial discrimination. According to the lawsuit, Toyota did not invite Fish & Fisher to bid on a contract for site development work. WLBT reported last week:
"According to Fish & Fisher, Inc., vice president Jacqueline Williams, the company took every step to prepare to bid on the prime construction job for the Toyota plant, which is going up at Blue Springs. The company hired experienced project managers and supervisors, attended pre-bid meetings, and became certified under the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
But they claim they were never informed when the bidding process took place.
"No African-American companies were allowed to bid on this job because it was a closed bid, a private bid, to the job. You had to be invited," she says....

The lawsuit says, if the bidding had been open and fair, Fish & Fisher would likely have gotten the prime job for several reasons: it was the only company certified by the National Minority Council, and the company that was awarded the contract was not even bonded.
Once on the job, company President Renee (
should be Renna) Fisher says his employees were subject to racial slurs and vandalism by workers from other companies.
"Trac hoes, different debris stuffed in the mufflers, rags. Water in the fuel," he says.
WLBT News asked for pictures of the vandalism, but we were told we couldn't see the pictures because they're evidence.
This ten-year-old general contracting company is seeking lost profits, punitive and compensatory damages. No dollar amount was given
.." http://www.wlbt.com/Global/story.asp?s=10153349

Some serious charges but they don't tell the entire story, as a quick check of the Secretary of State's website and a call to the Hinds County Circuit Clerk's office would have shown a series of judgements and tax liens against Fish & Fisher. (Brace yourself, this is going to get ugly):

Company/Enrollment Date/Amount
Bonds Company/12-20-08/$77,168.03
Bancorp South/12-20-08/ $80,182.34
Puckett Machinery/7-26-08/ $54,682.97 - Attorney's fees: $18,227.65
Krystal Fravel Company/7-5-03/ $16,174
Transplatinum Service Corp/10-6-01/ $2,293.32
State Tax Commission/9-29-07/ $2.504.15
State Tax Commission/ 7-19-08/ $1,550.00
Ryder Truck Rental/ 1-5-02/ $21,366.21
State Tax Commission/ 7-19-03/$78.74
State Tax Commission/ 5-7-05/ $485.40
G.E. Capital Financial Services/ 3-24-01/ $3,471.24 Attorney's fees: $842.48
H&E Equipment Services, Inc./ 12-20-08/ $287,407
Mississippi Employment Security Commission/ 8-30-08/ $613.60
State Tax Commission/11-3-07/ $1,503
IRS/ 9-29-09/ $139,619
IRS/3-12-08/ $95,701
IRS/ 4-15-08/ $18,229
IRS/ 5-25-07/$242
IRS/" " " /$10,292
IRS/ 9-28-07/ $7,105

If all of these liens and judgements belong to Fish & Fisher, the total is $839,737.82. There were other judgements on the SOS website such as one filed by Merchant's & Farmer's Bank, but were not in the Hinds County databases. The liens were either on the SOS website and/or verified at the offices of the Hinds County Chancery Clerk or Circuit Clerk. If these liens do in fact belong to Fish & Fisher, it could be argued this is not a financially sound company (the SOS website listed its status as "intent to dissolve") and one could see why Toyota did not invite this company to bid on its work.

It should also be noted there was once a Fish & Fisher Transportation Company dissolved in 2003. Ms. Jacqueline Williams, one of the principals of Fish & Fisher, was an officer of the company along with Renna Fisher. The Hinds County Circuit Clerk's office also has several judgements enrolled against a Fish & Fisher Trucking Company. It will not be surprising to learn Williams and Fisher are principals in this company as well. Given the nature of these companies and their financial instability, this lawsuit is probably an attempt by the plaintiffs to get a quick settlement out of Toyota. For some strange reason, this lawsuit doesn't pass the smell test.

By the way, all of this was public record and not one reporter bothered to look this up. Note to media: When a company is filing suit, check the judgement rolls at the Hinds County website and the UCC info search on the SOS website. That will usually tell you if there is something wrong.

https://business.sos.state.ms.us/ucc/soskb/SearchStandardRA9.asp

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First it was red light cameras.........

Now its speeding cameras........
"On Monday, the city of New Orleans will add a new type of traffic-control camera to the red-light cameras that have been in operation for the past year, with the new tool aimed strictly at speeders.
While the existing cameras monitor both speeding and red-light infractions at major intersections with traffic signals, the five new cameras are designed solely to detect speeding on three major streets...." We want you Big Brother

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More suits filed against bloggers

More lawsuits have been filed against bloggers, as companies such as Goldman Sachs don't like being subjected to greater scrutiny after enjoying a free pass from most of the media for years. Goldman sued one blogger in Florida:
"The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.
Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled "Facts about Goldman Sachs" – the web address for which is
goldmansachs666.com – just a few weeks ago..." (Credit goes to Mish for pointing out this story) The Giant is mad

The Mortgage Implode-O-Meter, a popular website created when the meltdown of the mortgage industry began in 2007, is embroiled in several court battles. One lawsuit was filed after the website published an investigative article on FHA seller-assisted down payment assitance programs (100% financing for FHA loans) that are now banned by the government. Another lawsuit asks the court to order the website to divulge the identity of its sources and anonymous posters.

Expect more such lawsuits to be filed against bloggers as too many received a free pass from the media for too long. It's one thing for a money honey at CNBC to report on a company's third quarter earnings and repeat their press release, it's another when a trader who blogs can read through them and write some penetrating and rather candid analysis. Unfortunately, bloggers don't have the protection of legal departments as do most media outlets. Companies and politicians who don't like such scrutiny will file more actions against bloggers as they expect the mere cost of defending such lawsuits will force a blogger to shut down his website.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dear POTUS, here is how a REAL leader dealt with pirates

POTUS should take lessons from Julius Caesar on how to deal with pirates:
"After a short stay there with Nicomedes, the king, in his passage back he was taken near the island Pharmacusa by some of the pirates, who, at that time, with large fleets of ships and innumerable smaller vessels infested the seas everywhere.
When these men at first demanded of him twenty talents for his ransom, he laughed at them for not understanding the value of their prisoner, and voluntarily engaged to give them fifty. He presently dispatched those about him to several places to raise the money, till at last he was left among a set of the most bloodthirsty people in the world, the Cilicians, only with one friend and two attendants. Yet he made so little of them, that when he had a mind to sleep, he would send to them, and order them to make no noise. For thirty-eight days, with all the freedom in the world, he amused himself with joining in their exercises and games, as if they had not been his keepers, but his guards. He wrote verses and speeches, and made them his auditors, and those who did not admire them, he called to their faces illiterate and barbarous, and would often, in raillery, threaten to hang them. They were greatly taken with this, and attributed his free talking to a kind of simplicity and boyish playfulness. As soon as his ransom was come from Miletus, he paid it, and was discharged, and proceeded at once to man some ships at the port of Miletus, and went in pursuit of the pirates, whom he surprised with their ships still stationed at the island, and took most of them. Their money he made his prize, and the men he secured in prison at Pergamus, and made application to Junius, who was then governor of Asia, to whose office it belonged, as praetor, to determine their punishment. Junius, having his eye upon the money, for the sum was considerable, said he would think at his leisure what to do with the prisoners, upon which Caesar took his leave of him, and went off to Pergamus, where he ordered the pirates to be brought forth and crucified; the punishment he had often threatened them with whilst he was in their hands, and they little dreamed he was in earnest. " (From Plutarch's Lives)

Perhaps the pussy-in-chief should take some lessons from Caesar instead of finding this "annoying" as Reuters reported. Several crosses with pirates hanging from them on the Somali coast will get their attention more quickly than will a nuanced discussion about habeas corpus or other fancy Latin lingo.

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He is risen.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The rest of the story.

The Clarion-Ledger reports:
"A Jackson contracting firm has filed a racial discrimination suit in federal court against Toyota, the governor and other state officials challenging how the bid process for the $1.3 billion project was handled.
Fish & Fisher of Jackson allege Toyota and the state officials "conspired to deny minority and/or disadvantaged businesses ... the same opportunity to bid on the Toyota Prius plant contracts by inviting only white-owned companies the privilege to bid on the general or tier one projects with Toyota and to make a profit," according to the complaint.
Fish & Fisher, which is owned by Jacqueline Williams and Renna Fisher, says it met the requirements to be general contractors for the site preparation work but were not asked to bid
..."

Mr. Fisher is an expert on being stiffed as a quick check of the Hinds County judgement rolls reveals:
Judgment:
Defendent:FISHER RENNA ET AL
Plaintiffs : BANCORPSOUTH BANK
Rendition Date:12/09/2004
Satisfied Date: 02/19/2008

Enrolled Date: 12/25/2004
Book & Page: 496-0338
Amount: 24,689.00
It's Da Man's Fault

Meanwhile, there are a string of judgements for a Jacqueline Williams and a Jacqueline Andrews (The Secretary of State's website has her listed as Jacqueline Williams Andrews): Jacqueline Williams' judgements, Jacqueline Andrews' judgements. Since these judgements could belong to someone of the same name, the rest of this post will be addressed to Mr. Fisher:

If you want business Mr. Fisher, take care of your own business first. Companies like Toyota generally don't award contracts to deadbeats.

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Midway is East



Part 2
Part 3

Found the old Victory at Sea videos on Youtube. These are a real treat if you've never seen them. This one is about Midway. Enjoy.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

How Birmingham bankrupted. Will Jackson do the same?

Still scratching your head over my post yesterday about Jackson's quest to follow Birmingham into bankruptcy by using derivatives for its bonds? Here is an excellent story out of Mobile that is easy to understand and goes into great detail on how Birmingham self-destructed: http://mobilebaytimes.com/alabama.pdf. It also has some good diagrams.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is Zata3 at it again tonight?

Projack says they are:
"ATTENTION JACKSON *** Zata3 Polling Tonight ***
ProJack has received two confirmed reports in the last 20 minutes that Zata3 is running their automated phone survey this evening in Jackson on the Mayor's Race.

The survey asks the same five questions.
1. Candidate. The survey is still ONLY offering Crisler, Harvey Johnson, Horhn, Melton, Fair and "Others" as choices.
2. Certainty question same as before.
3. Gender
4. Age. SAME age groups as before.
5. Race. Same as before.
CAUTION: RESPONDENTS OF THIS SURVEY ARE NOT VOTERS.
Residency and voting status questions are not asked in survey. There is no way to confirm who is answering the poll. Media references to voters does so in error. "
http://projackms.blogspot.com/2009/04/attention-jackson-zata3-polling-tonight.html

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Will Jackson end up like Birmingham: beaten, broke, and bankrupt?

Highlights
*Birmingham and other cities face bankruptcy or financial ruin due to interest rate swaps
*Interest rate swaps were sold to local governments by Wall Street as a way to save money
*In reality these swaps were the equivalent of financing a house note with an adjustable rate
*This week Jackson voted to use such swaps to finance $130 million for the 2002 and 2004 bond issues

Will Jackson meet Birmingham's current fate: a city slowly dragged into bankruptcy after it bet its municipal bonds on complex derivatives? The Jackson City Council approved (4-2 vote) a motion to enter into an interest rate swap for its 2002 and 2004 bonds with Duestche Bank and Rice Bank. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the gang of four who voted for this deal along with City Administrator Rick Hill (who promoted it) probably had no real idea of what they were doing, as many officials in other cities have discovered to their dismay.

Birmingham Blues
Birmingham suffered from a double dilemma: a mandate to upgrade its obsolete sewer system and an inability to pay for such an upgrade without exorbitant fee increases. It entered into an interest rate swap agreement for the bonds it issued to finance the upgrades with JP Morgan and Bear Stearns.

In its simplest terms, an interest rate swap gives a bond issuer (such as a city or county) the ability to take advantage of lower interest rates. While fixed-rate bonds are available to such entities, many choose to issue bonds whose rates (which are paid by the government to the bondholder) adjust on terms ranging from every 30 to 180 days. Issuing such bonds saves the issuer millions of dollars as they tend to have interest rates up to 100 basis points (a basis point is .01%) lower than more conservative fixed-rate bonds. However, the interest rate swap in theory gives the government entity issuing the bonds the security of a fixed-rate payment while allowing them to enjoy the benefits of a lower variable rate.

In an interest rate swap, the municipality enters into an agreement with a counterparty such as Citi or JP Morgan. The city will pay the counterparty an interest rate that is fixed (the length of which is defined in the contract) while the counterparty pays the city a separate payment based on a variable interest rate (This is a swap, which is a two-way cash flow). Remember how adjustable rate mortgages have wrecked the housing industry? Well, a little more complex wheeling and dealing based on adjustable interest rates have managed to blow up city budgets across the country as those variable interest rates devastated cities such as Birmingham when they adjusted in the wrong direction.

Bloomberg reported how Jefferson County, Alabama thought it could use these swaps to its advantage as it fell for some sweet talk from Wall Street:
"The county relied on advice from a bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., to arrange its funding, rather than use competitive bidding.
Like homeowners who took out mortgages they couldn't afford and didn't understand, Jefferson County officials rejected fixed- rate debt and borrowed instead at rates that varied with the market.
The county paid banks $120 million in fees -- six times the prevailing rate -- for $5.8 billion in interest-rate swaps. That was supposed to protect the county from rising rates for their bonds. Lending rates went the wrong way, putting the county $277 million deeper into debt..."
Bloomberg I


"Officials there (in Birmingham) relied on the advice of JP Morgan in 2002 and 2003 while refinancing almost all the $3.2 billion of fixed-rate debt that built sewers into variable-rate bonds coupled with interest-rate swaps.
Costs Spiral: When the insurers guaranteeing the bonds lost their top credit ratings and the auction-rate market seized up in February, the yield on the bonds jumped as high as 10 per cent, from about 3 per cent in January. At the same time, the swaps tied to the debt, instead of protecting against higher rates, backfired. That pushed the sewer system's annual debt costs to $460 million, more than twice the $190 million it collects in revenue
..." The trap closes on Jefferson County

When Birmingham tried to escape the death spiral it faced, the bankers from New York turned into Bruno and Vito from Jersey:
"Jefferson County failed to post $184 million in collateral in early March and has been in technical default since then. JP Morgan and other investment banks are on the other side of the swaps.The investment banks want Jefferson county to raise taxes to cover its obligations. Jefferson County wants the Wall Street brokers to renegotiate the swaps and insists it will not raise taxes.
"We are dealing with a virtual immovable force on Wall Street" the Birmingham News quoted Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins as saying" Bruno and Vito

It should be noted that several commissioners are currently pushing for the city to declare bankruptcy. The Mayor faces criminal prosecution for allegedly receiving bribes and favors in exchange for the no-bid contracts with the Wall Street Banks. If Birmingham files bankruptcy, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

The Interest Rate Swap blight upon the land
Birmingham is not the only city suffering from the interest rate swap time bomb. The New York Times reported yesterday a plague of variable rates on these swaps afflicts many small towns in Tennessee:
"Lewisburg is one of hundreds of small cities and counties across America reeling from their reliance in recent years on risky municipal bond derivatives that went bad. Municipalities that bought the derivatives were like homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages who refinanced by taking out lower-interest, variable-rate mortgages. But some local officials say they were not told, or did not understand, that interest rates could go much higher if economic conditions worsened — which, of course, they did...."
Lewisburg, a town of only 11,000, saw its " annual interest payments on the bond had quadrupled to $1 million" this year."

Some municipalities tried to withdraw from these bond market traps:
"In Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, officials said they were recently told by Morgan Keegan bankers that extracting themselves from a municipal bond derivative would cost $3 million, a sum the poor county cannot afford...."
In Mount Juliet, a suburb east of Nashville, city leaders were surprised to discover that the payments on its bonds had increased by 500 percent to $478,000..." New York Times Story

While there are a variety of reasons why the debts skyrocketed, the cities suffering from these increases all had one thing in common: the use of interest-rates swaps that left them exposed to variable interest rates.

Jackson picks up the interest-rate swap gauntlet
Jackson's leaders ignored these dangers, as well as the fate of Birmingham, and plunged headfirst into the interest rate swap pool. This week the city council voted 4-2 (Crisler proposed the motion, McLemore seconded it, Bluntson and Tillman voted for it, Weill and Barrett-Simon voted against it) to approve Mr. Hill's recommendations to approve such a swap for nearly $130 million in 2002 and 2004 public works bonds.

Mr. Hill glossed over the exposure to adjustable rates in a story published last week in the Northside Sun:
"The city hopes to swap the fixed interest rate of 4.99 percent for a lower rate on two water and sewer bonds issued in 2002 and 2004.
Officials are now negotiating the terms of the agreement with Duetsche Bank and Rice Financial Products, the two banks that will actually conduct the rate swap. The city has brought on Sterne Agee and Leach Inc., a national investment firm with an office in Jackson, to serve as its financial advisor, as well as two local law firms - Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell and Berkowitz, and Anthony Simon - to serve as legal counsel for the transaction. In the transaction, the city would hire an underwriter to issue new bonds with variable-rate interest to pay off its current debt. Duetsche and Rice would take those bonds and exchange them with an investor for bonds with a lower fixed interest rate. If a lower interest rate isn’t found, the bank would wait a year and try again. The transaction would save the city between $10 million and $13 million in interest payments over the life of the bond, money that will be paid to the city up front if the city agrees to the deal. Hill said the transactions wouldn’t occur until 2012 and 2014.
HILL said the city can do this because investors search for different types of debt to boost their portfolios. Despite the benefits of the transaction, there are a number of risks the city has to consider. “Right now, the markets are in such a shape that investors might not want to buy variable-rate debt,” he said. In that case, the city would have to re-pay the up front money...."
Sun story

One must ask what kind of dope Mr. Hill thinks we are smoking if he expects us to buy this malarky. Investors will be more than happy to buy variable rate debt as long as they think they can squeeze us for every cent of it. The reporter failed to ask Mr. Hill what would happen if the rates adjust? How exposed is Jackson to these toxic variable interest rates? No serious person expects the interest rates to remain near zero as they are now. As interest rates increase (not to mention the effect Obama's deficit spending will have on the bond markets) over the next few years, any deal using these variable rates will cost Jackson much more money. Something ignored by Mr. Hill while he pimped this deal for the loan sharks.

It is also troubling that the city did not advertise for bids on the refinancing. Since the fees for these refinances will cost us up to nearly $3 million, Mr. Hill should have sought competitive bids. What was his criteria for choosing these banks? What are the fees going to be and why are we awarding contracts worth millions in fees without any bidding whatsoever? In fact, the story says the terms are being negotiated. The city council approved these swaps without even knowing the final terms of the agreement. As Mac would say, you CAN'T be serious.

While the article was short on details, the resolution passed by the city council contained some details:
1. There was an original swap agreement in 2002 with two other banks, one of which was replaced by another as its credit rating declined. Someone should ask Harvey why he decided to enter into these loans (One can hear the Melton administration jumping up and down squealing with glee "Its Harvey's fault! It's Harvey's fault!)
2. The swap obligations (payments on the swap) are junior in lien only to the bond liens themselves. Text of resolution

It is interesting to note the resolution says nothing about the city receiving ten million dollars from the banks although it is probably spelled out in the master agreement. Councilman Jeff Weill of Ward 1 voted against the bill and sent this statement to Jackson Jambalaya explaining his vote:
"I had no comfort level with the swap initially proposed last November. Since that time the mayor of Birmingham's been indicted and Attorneys General across the US have convened grand juries looking into these schemes. They are purely fee driven. Even the 'independent' financial advisers who advised the council had an interest in the transaction, not to mention the players and the bond lawyers.
Most of those proposing this deal worked hard to obscure the costs of issuance. As a lawyer and former prosecutor that was a giant red flag to me
."

The media and citizens of Jackson should hold Melton, Hill, Crisler, Bluntson, McLemore, and Tillman accountable for trying to push this crap on us. There was no competitive bidding. Jackson is exposed to an adjustable rate agreement similar to those that have devastated other local governments. The fees were not even mentioned or made available to the public yet we are expected to fork over millions of dollars of our money to shysters, bankers, and money pimps, oops, I meant "advisers". While every other municipality is running away from these instruments of financial self-destruction as fast as they can, our leaders instead choose to chain us to a ticking time bomb with these variable rates. If these variable rates go south, Jackson will pay dearly for that ten million dollars of juice it got from the Krauts. We should hold the council's feet to the fire and demand a thorough hearing on this matter as well as opening this entire process to competitive bids. Thanks to these guys, Jackson is going to be just like Birmingham in more ways than one.

Note: Efforts to reach Rick Hill and Harvey Johnson were unsuccessful.

Additional articles:
JP Morgan, facing criminal probe, exits municipal swaps
Same firm advising Birmingham in trouble in New Mexico did similar work after making donations to Richardson
http://www.subprimelosses.com/blog/index.php/2009/03/24/interest-rate-swaps-create-financial-nightmare-for-hospitals-tax-exempt-groups/
Interest rate swaps nightmare for non-profits, hospitals
Jefferson County can't make $636 million debt payment

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
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