Click Here to Read More..
WAPT reported a recent arrest involving child porn:
" A Hinds County resident was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography Wednesday, according to Sheriff Malcolm McMillin and Attorney General Jim Hood.... Cameron Travelstead, 20, of 170 Montbrook Drive in Jackson, was charged with two counts of possession of child porn. He was being held Wednesday at the Hinds County Jail awaiting a bond hearing, officials said..." WAPT story
Unfortunately for some in the Jackson area, Mr. Travelstead apparently worked around kids and pre-teens at First Baptist Church Jackson as these flyers show. He also taught the fourth grade class in the AWANA program. Needless to say, these flyers no longer appear on First Baptist's website. Props to Mac and Hood for catching this guy.
The underlining/highlighting of names was made by the search engine, not myself as the pages were still available online cached as the pages were taken down. Any other names mentioned in the flyers are not connected in any way with the WAPT story.
Update:I received this email from Kim Parrish at First Baptist:
"Mr/mrs kingfish. You will immediately remove the names of children . You may post the story and relate it any way you see truthful regarding the church - but you will not harm minors who were not related whatsoever to this incident . If you have diffuculty doing that you will respond to me immediately.
Sent from my iPhone"
I took the bulletin in question down because it did include the names of children in classes. Now allow me to respond to this email. First of all, don't blame me because the Church is the one that posted their names online, not me. Want to know how I even discovered these flyers and bulletins? The PARENTS emailed them to me. Yes, there are a few outraged parents, outraged because the church took all of this off the internet, acted like nothing ever happened, and get the impression the Church is trying to sweep it under the rug when in fact, someone who was active in youth and children's programs for years was busted for child porn. Obviously the children need to be protected and this post was aimed at protecting them, NOT exploiting them or sensationalizing this problem.
I wrestled with this one all weekend long, really did. What tipped it for me was the fact that the Church looked like it was scrubbing everything and the parents I asked for advice all said I should post the info because they would want to know if their kids went to that Church. No one is out to get First Baptist Church or embarrass them but the fact remains, Mr. Travelstead was a teacher of young kids and apparently quite active in the youth ministry.
IF the Church is serious about looking after the kids, what it should do IN MY OPINION is issue a short statement admitting Mr. Travelstead worked with the kids, how saddened the church is it happened, ask people to contact them if they need to do so, and ask for people to pray for him, his family, the kids, and for some healing to take place. In fact, I'll ask you to do it because its the right thing to do.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Click Here to Read More..
The Clarion-Ledger reported today:
"Because of the state's financial problems, more than 200 Rankin County teachers could lose their $6,000 annual National Board Certification stipend in the 2011 budget.
About 40 Hinds County teachers are in the same situation as the state continues to grapple with lower-than-expected revenue projections.
Administrators in those districts are considering an addendum to teachers' contracts that says the supplement won't be paid if it's not funded by lawmakers..."
I've got a simple solution. Cut the damn janitors for junior high and high school. What? You CAN'T be serious. How would we clean the schools? Very simple. Emulate the military and schools in other countries and put these brats to work. That's right. Want to have them perform community service in a productive way instead of serving pet liberal causes, hand these kids some brooms, mops, and windex and put them to work. They start cleaning their own school, I bet they start taking better care of it.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Well, the Board of Aldermen for the City of Madison passed a resolution calling for Madison County District 2 Supervisor Tim Johnson to resign and Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler signed it. Haley Westbrook of Fox40 interviewed several parties in this little dispute and posted some interviews online that were more in-depth than seen in the typical broadcast. I wish other stations in town would follow this example and start posting more .pdf's and unedited interviews but that's just me.
"Jake is 3-4 months old , possible golden retriever or Pyrenese mix. His sister is Joy. They have beautiful fluffy long hair and are already crate trained. Very playful pups, they get along well with other dogs, cats, and especially children. They enjoy staying inside and being a part of the family, they just LOVE attention! They were found by animal control and have been blessed with a second chance at life Jake is up-to-date with routine shots." Jake's page
Animal Rescue Fund of MS
This week's Form 990's of local non-profits and charities:
Butler Snow Foundation, Commcare Corp, Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, Jackson Yacht Club, Madison Ark, Make a Wish Foundation fo Mississippi, Veritas School, Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, Ridgeland High School Athletic Booster Club, Mississippi Bail Agents Association, Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, Mississippians for Economic Progress
Friday, February 26, 2010
Yesterday's actions in the Legislature:
SB #2015: Title suff. to pass (House). Bans bullying in schools. Bill status
SB #2520: Title suff. to pass (House). Clarifies accomodations for testing students with disabilities. Bill status
SB #2734: Title suff. to pass as amended (House). Revises licensing laws for bail agents and bans nepotism. Bill status
SB #2801: Title suff. to pass as amended (House). Fines municipalities $100 a day for not turning in election reports after a deadline. Bill status
SB #2834: Title suff. to pass as amended (House). Deletes reponsibility of supervisors to approve sales or rental amounts of 16th section land. Bill status
HB #1688: Motion to reconsider tabled in Senate. $300 million bond issue for roads. Bill status
HB #1716: Transmitted to Senate. Gives income tax credit for donating land for wildlife and conservation purposes. Commission of W&F will approve applications for credit. Bill status
SB #2344: Returned for concurrence. Protects victims of domestic violence from discrimination by insurance companies. Bill status
SB #2523: Signed by Speaker & sent to Governor. Allows Mississippi Industries for the Blind to set up a non-profit corporation. Bill status
HB #1440: Title suff. to pass as amended (Senate). Sets fees for amounts dredged from wetlands and imposes other requirements. Bill status
HB #1399: Title suff. to pass (Senate). Allows MDA to make block grants for the improvements of water systems. Bill status
HB #1456: Title suff to pass as amended (Senate). "If a coroner uses a medical examiner for any purpose, the medical examiner shall possess the qualifications provided for county medical examiners in subsection (1) and he shall be certified in pathology by the American Board of Pathology and he must be on the list of approved medical examiners of the Department of Public Safety." Bill status
HB #1548: Passed the House. Establish a committee to study Flood and Drainage control districts. Bill status
SB #2574: Title sufficient to pass (House). Auctions hunting leases on 16th section land. Bill status
SB #2393: Title sufficient to pass (House). Allows students to self-administer asthma meds. Bill status
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The Madison Board of Alderman unanimously passed a resolution last night calling for the resignation of District 2 Supervisor Tim Johnson. The resolution states:
" WHEREAS, the citizens of the City of Madison are also residents and taxpayers of Madison County, Mississippi, and have a vested interest in the administration of county affairs, especially as it relates to expenditure of public funds and allocation of such funds to infrastructure improvements throughout the county; and
WHEREAS, District 2 of Madison County is primarily located within the City of Madison; and
WHEREAS, the citizens of the City of Madison residing in District 2 have a right to expect active and vigorous representation regarding the use of County funds and the fair allocation of public benefit resulting from such expenditures; and
WHEREAS, the actions and lack of action by District 2 Supervisor Tim Johnson have caused public concern regarding the quality of representation the citizens of District 2 in the City have received; and
WHEREAS, such actions include but are not limited to:
(A)Proposing the largest tax increase in the history of Madison County, without the required legal notice;
(B)Resisting a full performance audit of questionable engineering fees, including subcontracts and allegedly inflated fees for administration of such subcontracts;
(C)Supporting payment of engineering fees for study, design and redesign of projects which are not practically or financially feasible;
(D)Public misrepresentation to citizens and municipal officials regarding the use of proceeds from a fifty million dollar bond issue in an effort to generate support for such issue, then supporting the use of such proceeds in a manner contrary to his earlier assurances;
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED BY THE MAYOR AND BOARD OF THE CITY OF MADISON, MISSISSIPPI that the City of Madison, Mississippi, does hereby call upon Madison County District 2 Supervisor Tim Johnson to resign from his post in order to allow the citizens of District 2, and specifically those citizens residing in the City of Madison, to elect a supervisor who will vigorously support the interests of District 2."
Copy of resolution
The resolution was signed by Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler.
For a collection of all posts on Evans case, see sidebar on right side of page.
Audio recording of hearing last Friday. If audio doesn't work, try this link.
A hearing was held in the Evans case last week to determine the fate of several motions, responses, and other actions filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The room was awash in gray and black waves of suits as bankers and lawyers once again flooded the courtroom. The main focus of the hearing was the intent of the bankruptcy trustee to sell the properties owned by Chris Evans and divide up the proceeds among the lien-holders. Chris Evans has stated in court filings he owned properties worth approximately $82 million in Madison County MS, Desoto County MS, Collin County TX, Harrison County MS, and Denton County TX.
Derek Henderson, the bankruptcy trustee, filed a notice with the court stating his intent to sell the subject properties due to the dispute between various parties as to who had proper claim to each property. The true ownership of the property is extremely difficult to determine thanks to the actions of Chris and Charles Evans. Chris Evans operated a multitude of LLC's. Company A would buy a large tract of commercial real estate in a prime location. Company B, another Evans company, would obtain a loan from a bank a smaller portion of the tract. The bank provided the loan to Company B because Charles Evans, the brother of Chris Evans, was an "approved attorney" for Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company and would issue a title certificate stating Company B owned the land.
The only problem with this little transaction was the title certificate was phony as Company A never actually transferred title of the property to Company B. Thus the bank lent money to a company that did possess title to the subject property. Company C would then obtain a loan on a smaller tract adjacent to Company B's tract with another phony title certificate, then Company D and the rest of the Evans-owned companies. Several smaller tracts overlapped each other or a company would get multiple loans on the same tract of land from different banks. The title descriptions for the smaller tracts were literally drawn up out of thin air with no thought given to the other tracts within the parent tract. Unfortunately for those banks, the combined loans were more than the fair market value of the subject property. Even more unfortunate was Mississippi Valley Title issued title policies to the affected banks due to the actions of their "approved attorney".
The end result was that multiple banks issued loans to Chris Evans for larger tracts of properties and no portions of those large tracts were transferred to the companies that obtained loans on the smaller tracts. Thus many banks (over 30 in Mississippi) issued loans to phony properties and are demanding the Court makes them whole. Some banks actually do have valid title but most are empty-handed having lost their money and collateral. Needless to say, they are demanding either the Evans estate in bankruptcy court or MVT repay them as over $41 million in claims have been filed against the title insurance company. It should be noted the Evans case is alleged to be the largest real estate fraud in Mississippi history.
MVT initially discovered the fraud and filed several emergency actions against the Evans brothers and their companies in Madison County Chancery Court. Judge Harvey-Goree granted their motions and set a hearing date for the Evans brothers to defend their interests. The day before a hearing was held, Chris Evans filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. His companies filed bankruptcy petitions at later dates. The Chancellor granted a preliminary injunction to MVT and froze the assets of Charles Evans and ordered a full accounting of his finances as well. What was key for MVT was Judge Harvey-Goree ruled "all defendants shall execute deeds and/or modification agreements, as directed by Mississippi Valley Title, to correct and/or cure title problems." Copy of preliminary injunction
This order was very important to Mississippi Valley Title as it allowed them to pick and choose winners and losers among the victims. The average loan in Mississippi was $620,000. Some were as small as $200,000, others were as large as $3 million. MVT gained from the ruling the right cure a title in favor of a preferred customer and thus give it the land as collateral and avoid paying that client its claim. Most, if not all, of the policies state coverage is based on what the land is worth, not the actual loan amount. One could easily see how MVT could hand over the Evans properties to a handful of big banks such as Regions and Bancorpsouth while eventually paying claims to the smaller banks that would still lose money if the payment was based on a property that was reduced in value.
Mississippi Valley Title discovered Judge Olack and Mr. Henderson apparently have other ideas on what should be done with the properties. Mr. Henderson acknowledged the ownership of all properties but argued that bankruptcy law allowed him to sell such properties and divide up the proceeds among the creditors at a later date if there was a bona fide dispute as to the ownership of the properties. However, Mr. Henderson admitted he needed to create "a long-range plan" and that he didn't want to "flood the market" with these properties and artificially depress the sales prices. He then stated he would be able to maximize the sales value if he could sell the smaller tracts as part of larger tracts. Judge Olack said in an earlier hearing he had used this method in similar cases and was inclined to apply it to this one as well.
Judge Olack stated there were thirty objections to the trustee's motion to sell and that they fell into five categories (25-minute mark on the audio). The Court specifically called out Mississippi Valley Title's objection to the sale. The judge said they all ignored Rule 363(f)(4) of the code that gave the trustee the power to sell the properties if in dispute without the creditors' consent and that the trustee definitely had the power to make the sale.
Judge Olack stated he only wanted to hear the objections of Mississippi Valley Title. MVT's attorney Richard Carmody argued MVT had obtained orders in the Madison County Chancery Court directing the Evans-owned company to transfer title of each property to a bank of MVT's choosing and that such orders should be respected. Upon Olack's direct question, Carmody admitted the transfers had not occurred. Olack also pointed out the order was part of a preliminary injunction, not a final court order. It should be noted the banks were not parties in the original state court action and thus lack the rights they have as creditors in bankruptcy. MVT wanted to preserve the Chancellor's order's and argued there was not a "bona fide dispute". MVT argued the banks had no rights and were not in the chain of title. The chancery court lawsuit has been removed to federal court and is the subject of another action to move into the bankruptcy court.
Judge Olack ruled all parties had until April to file answers and ninety days would be given for discovery at that time. He then set a trial date on October 25 and made it quite clear he was not going to extend any deadlines. The judge said a public auction would be "problematic." Olack directed Henderson to obtain the services of a realtor with expertise on a national scale and the trustee could generate "discreet sales" and avoid the problem of flooding the market. Judge Olack then encouraged the trustee to sell the properties as part of a larger group and that once it was "reduced to cash", they could then figure out how to divide up the proceeds among the creditors and that the goal was to "convert some dirt to dollars."
Recap: Judge wants the properties sold, he's going to have a trial in October, and threw out the window Mississippi Valley Title's serious attempt to control the case by picking the ownership of each property which would have canceled out quite a few of the pending claims against MVT.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Yesterday's action in the Mississippi Street Branch of Whitfield Mental Hospital:
SB #2524: Signed by Governor. Name State Health Lab for Dr. Ed Thompson. Bill status
SB #2589: House action- DR - TSDPAA: JA To AP. Allow District Attorney to pay legal assistants and investigators with funds from any source. Bill status
SB #3097: House Action - DR - TSDPAA: PP To AP. Allows SOS to leave old Blind School property. Bill status
HB #863: Read the third time. $1,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Bill status
HB #1688: Motion to reconsider entered, passed as amended. Authorizes Mississippi to sell 300 million in bonds for highway improvements. Bill status
SB #2053: Title sufficient to pass as amended in House munic. committee. Authorizes Mayor to make emergency proclamations. Bill status
SB #2413: Title suff to pass as amended (House committee). Clarifies custodial and visitation rights of military parents who are deployed by military elsewhere. Bill status
SB #2706: Title suff. to pass (House committee). Municipal officials begin term of office on first day in July not on a weekend. Bill status
SB #2999: Title suff. to pass (House committee). Revises procedures for municipalities seeking to clean up properties. Bill status
SB #3009: Title suff. to pass as amended. (House committee). Allows municipalities to trap animals within 100 feet of public roads and highways. Bill status
HB #181: Title suff. to pass. (Senate Committee). Extends telephone solicitation act. Bill status
HB #297: Title suff. to pass as amended. (Senate Committee). Mandates Justice Court Judges shall hold traffic court one day a week. Bill status
HB #872: Title suff. to pass. (Senate Committee). Anti-spoofing act for phone numbers. Me no spoofum. Bill status
HB #1172: Title suff. to pass. (Senate Committee). Mandates all renters and homeowners obtain 911 addresses. Bill status
U. S. District Court Judge Tom Lee ruled against Hinds County Court Judge Houston Patton's motion for summary judgement in the lawsuit filed against him by James Jennings, Jr. The federal judge didn't just rule against Mr. Patton but used some rather strong language in his opinion against the judge. Copy of order, Earlier post (Folo first broke this story two years ago).
Judge Patton threw James Jennings, Jr. in jail for two weeks without charge, hearing, or bond in 1994. Jennings filed a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Performance and prepared to file a lawsuit against Patton. His attorney, Keith Shelton, made a settlement offer to the judge. The judge then contacted the Hinds County District Attorney's office and told them Shelton and Jennings were attempting to extort him. Patton lied to the D.A.'s office, which subsequently prosecuted the pair. Although indicted, the case never went to trial and was later dismissed with prejudice. This is the storyline given by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a finding of fact issued when it reinstated Keith Shelton's law license.
Jennings filed a lawsuit against Patton and Ed Peters in 2008 seeking damages for his false imprisonment and later indictment. Patton and Peters filed motions for summary judgement, claiming they were both immune from the lawsuit as Judge and District Attorney.
Judge Lee agreed with Peters and strongly rejected Patton's attempt to claim immunity for his actions on the bench. The Court cited case law to support its judgement that Patton did not enjoy any immunity for his actions:
"There are only two circumstances under which immunity may be overcome. 'First, a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e. actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity.' 'Second, a judge is not immune from actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.' The issue here is whether Patton's challenged actions were taken in his judicial capacity, as he contends, or whether they were nonjudicial actions, for which there is no absolute judicial immunity."
The Court stated that "under the version of facts offered by Jennings, which the court accepts as true for present purposes, Patton's action may not be fairly characterized as judicial." Judge Lee states "Plaintiff maintains these (settlement offer of $25,000) were the sole terms of what was a simple settlement proposal, and yet Patton falsely reported to law enforcement officials and signed a formal statement to the effect that Jennings and Shelton had attempted to extort and/or bribe him." The Court didn't stop here but went further and stated "In the court's opinion, based on plaintiff's version of the facts, no reasonable argument can be made that Patton's alleged acts of making false statements to law enforcement and withholding material and exculpatory information to bring about the criminal prosecution of two innocent men are judicial or adjudicative acts." Judge Lee then concludes there are "genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgement on this immunity defense."
What is more interesting is the Court found Ed Peters did enjoy immunity from his actions in Jenning's prosecution. Interesting in that in typical Ed Peters fashion, he threw Patton under the bus. Of course his office would have never knowingly prosecuted an innocent man. It was the Judge's fault, he lied to them you see. Well, the Court did say that was exactly the case and that the prosecutors were acting in good faith based on what Judge Patton told them. Thus, Peters escapes, again.
Although Br'er Peters wriggled free yet again, judgement moves closer to Houston Patton, who now must face a trial and explain why he issued a letter de cachet against Jennings and then served him and Keith Shelton up to the District Attorney in an effort to protect his own ass. While he saved his own ass back then, it appears now that it might finally be cooked as there will finally be a trial and Judge Patton will be forced to account for his actions. Does anyone think Jennings will accept a settlement at this point? Stay tuned.
Oh, one other question must be asked: how many other people has Patton thrown in jail without charge or hearing?
Mississippi Bar's finding of fact
Background of Jennings case:
"The nightmare for James Jennings,Jr. began ( According to a finding of fact by the Mississippi Bar) "on September 24, 1993, as a judgement in favor of Jennings in the amount of $35,000 by Judge Houston Patton (p.4)...... Mississippi Bar's Finding of Fact
Jailtime for Jennings
Unfortunately, Jennings was unaware his ex-wife filed telephone harassment charges against him. On February 1, 1994, Justice Court Judge Clyde R. Chapman signed an order and mittimus to place Jennings in the county jail until a bond was posted.... (p.4) On February 11, Justice Court Judge Raymond Bates signed a warant for Jennings' arrest...... It should be pointed out Jenning's ex-wife then hired local attorney James Bell (remember him?). Jennings became the Man in the Iron Mask as Judge Patton sent Jennings back to jail without ever affording Jennings the opportunity to have counsel..... (p.6. He was imprisoned on March 5).
Ten days later, Jennings was still in jail. Bonds were refused, release orders were found, then revoked by judges. Jennings was tried in absentia. His new attorney was not allowed to represent him. Every legal trick in the book to keep Jennings in jail was used as he continued to rot in a Hinds hellhole. Finally his lawyer cornered Judge Patton on March 15. Ms. Pierce spoke with Judge Patton in the foyer of the Hinds County Courthouse and asked Judge Patton what it would do to get Jennings out of jail. Judge Paton replied "get the agreement (giving up his judgement of $35,000) signed." (p.9)
"It became clear to Ms. Pierce that in order for Jennings to be released he would have to give up his $35,000 judgement against Kenney. Mr. Kirstine (Jennings' other lawyer) drafted the agreement for Jennings to sign. Jennings at first emphatically refused to sign the agreement. After much protest, Jennings eventually signed the agreement and was then immediately released.
It is important to note that at no time during Jennings' incarceration was he ever charged or tried for any alleged conduct but instead was simply held in jail until he agree to give up his rightfully obtained judgement against Kenny. Jennings was apparently deprived of due process which would give rise to claims under 42 U.S. Code Section 1983." Jennings sat in jail for nearly two weeks as he became a pinata for Judge Patton and his judicial cronies.
Jennings later filed a complaint against Judge Patton with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance and hired Jackson attorney Keith Shelton to represent him in a Section 1983 action against the Hinds County Jurist. It should be noted the narrative for this ordeal is taken directly from the Mississippi Bar's finding of fact and is not just hearsay or some outrageous claim made by Jennings. (There are many more details, including some that are very juicy, but in the interest of presenting a story easier to follow, they have been omitted from this post. Please read the rest of the findings and accompanying affidavits).
The Empire Strikes Back
While discussing a possible settlement of the lawsuit, Judge Patton informed Jennings' lawyer, Shelton, he would settle if he dropped the complaint with the Commission. It is a pretty well established point of judicial ethics in Mississippi that once a complaint is filed against a judge or lawyer, it cannot be dismissed by the person who signed the complaint. The two sides agreed to a sum of $25,000 for settlement, with Judge Patton paying Jennings $5,000 up-front and the rest in installments. Meanwhile, Judge Patton contacted law enforcement and told them Shelton and Jennings were attempting to extort him, while neglecting to mention he himself was the subject of an ethics complaint filed by Jennings and a possible Section 1983 lawsuit.
Patton wore a wire to the meeting. He paid Jennings the $5,000 and both parties signed the settlement agreement. Shelton and Jennings were later arrested and then indicted. The charges were later dismissed as Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Robert Taylor (served from 1982 to 2006). Taylor stated Judge Patton deviated from the script he was given. Taylor said he didn't understand why they were indicted and said seeking the indictments "was an egregious error". Taylor testified to the bar "it's clear in retrospect we didn't get the complete story."
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Yesterday's action in the State Circus:
HB #1673: Read the third time. Excludes from gross income tax calculation income converted to IRA or Roth IRA. Bill statusBill status
SB #3114: Referred to House Ways and Means. Sale of bonds to finance upgrade of Tax Commission's computer system. Bill status
HB #223: Title sufficient to pass as amended in Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. . Renews Licensure Act regulating Mortgage Companies. Bill status
Pretty much it. Most of the recent action has been either referring to a committee or transmitting from one house to another. It is starting to heat back up again.
PORTICO Jackson will announce later today it reached a deal with Downtown Jackson Partners, Watkins Partners, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, and the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau to publish a special edition promoting Jackson.
I've seen the numbers and this is a good deal for the group. PORTICO Jackson will designate its June issue as the issue . The monthly circulation for PORTICO Jackson is 18,000 copies. PORTICO Jackson will publish an extra 30,000 copies with a different cover titled "Jackson Now!" for a more widespread distribution. JN will be distributed in hotels, the Mississippi picnics in NYC and LA, and other locations used primarily by tourists such as airports.
“We are very excited to work with PORTICO Jackson,” said Ben Allen, executive director of the Downtown Jackson Partners. “They have a nationwide distribution of 18,000 copies, and the additional 30,000 copies we’ll distribute will help promote our message. PORTICO Jackson is a first class publication and this will only produce a more positive attitude and presentation of our capital city.” (Quote is from upcoming press release.).
Congratulations to PORTICO Jackson, DJP, JCC, JCVB, and Watkins Partners on making a deal that benefits everyone on several levels.
I posted an update before about the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Hall against Robbie Bell but here is the order signed by Judge Yerger. Judge Yerger stayed consideration of the motion for summary judgement and gave both parties sixty days for discovery. Copy of order I also found out yesterday Judge Kidd ruled against Robbie Bell and will not seal nor stop her deposition.Click Here to Read More..
Monday, February 22, 2010
Update: Request for opinion has been sent to the Ethics Commission. Stay tuned.
Layoffs, mergers, shutting down much needed programs, setting criminals free. Such is the state of our state right now as our government tries to survive the current budget implosion. Despite these problems and the busted budgets, $50 million beef plants, squandered trust funds, and other bills given to us by the Mississippi Legislature over the years, the Legislature unfortunately still enjoys a little-known benefit called SLRP: the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan.
SLRP is a special retirement program created in 1989 just for legislators giving them extra retirement pay in addition to the regular retirement they receive as members of PERS. Section 25-11-301 of the Mississippi Code states:
"There is hereby established and placed under the management of the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi a supplemental legislative retirement plan for the purpose of providing supplemental retirement allowances and other benefits under the provisions of this article for elected members of the State Legislature and the President of the Senate and their beneficiaries. The retirement plan provided by this article shall go into operation on July 1, 1989, when contributions by members shall begin and benefits shall become payable. This retirement plan is designed to supplement and is in addition to the provisions of Section 25-11-1 et seq. Under the terms of this article, the members of the State Legislature and the President of the Senate shall retain all social security benefits under Article 1 and additional state retirement and disability benefits under Article 3 of the Public Employees' Retirement Law of 1952, as amended. This article is a supplement to those sections, and is designed to provide more benefits for members of the State Legislature and the President of the Senate by reason of their service to the state." Section 25-11-301
Section 305 states SLRP shall include all members of the Legislature unless they choose to opt out of the program. Section 309 states "(1) The retirement allowance from the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan shall consist of fifty percent (50%) of an amount equal to the retirement allowance determined by creditable service"." In other words, SLRP gives legislators time and a half retirement pay in comparison to teachers, police officers, prosecutors, and other state employees. How will Cecil Brown explain this golden parachute away the next time he argues the state should raise taxes? By the way Cecil, how loudly did you protest when your boss signed the bill into law? Interesting question but back to SLRP.
PERS administers SLRP. (There is a SLRP section on its website.) The contribution rate for Legislators is 3% and 6.65% for the state. The retirement pay is based on an average of the four highest-paid years of legislative service. Meanwhile, state employees are required to contribute 7.25% of their pay to their retirement plan while the state contributes 11.85%.
How much money is in the SLRP fund? The 2009 annual report states SLRP fund contains $9,832,000 in net assets held for pension benefits (page 15). The value of said assets declined nearly $3 million in 2009. The report also stated employer contributions were $458,000 and employee contributions were $207,000 in that year.
A public records request was filed with PERS for the amount currently in the SLRP fund, as well as the portion designated employee and employer contributions. PERS denied the request by claiming what was sought was data and not an actual record: "Due to the fact that your request does not identify specific record being sought, your request for information or records pursuant to the State of Mississippi's Public Records Act is denied" - this in a letter dated January 26, 2010 and signed by Greg Gregory, Deputy Administrator. Needless to say, JJ strongly disagrees with this interpretation as it is clear Mr. Gregory is engaging in word games. JJ is appealing to the Ethics Commission.
If Barbour is looking for programs to cut, maybe he should look at this program. There is simply no justification WHATSOEVER for these REMF's to sit back and collect time-and-a-half in pay in their retirement plans. A system that rewards part-timers who wheel and deal at Ticos every night more than guards at Parchman or game wardens who risk their lives on a daily basis is a perfect example of how dysfunctional our Legislature really is.
While the Legislature lives in an alternate universe, thousands of state employees and their families are wondering if they will even have a job in a few months. Mississippians have seen their private retirement accounts pummeled by the financial markets over the last few years. Local businesses worry about making payrolls. Our cities try to protect us and educate our kids as sales tax revenue declines. While many suffer, the pain is not spread equally as the Legislature is immune to the problems afflicting Mississippi. If the Legislature wants to cut everyone else's pay, perhaps it should lead by example and cut its own. The SLRP trough needs to go.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
This email has been circulating in Belhaven since Friday:
"Thursday morning, there was an assault on a female neighbor who was walking her dog, in Laurel Park. Several great neighbors heard the incident taking place and responded. Fortunately, as a result, the woman did not suffer significant physical harm. The assailant, a black male in his 30s, fled in an older (1970’s or 1980’s) yellow Oldsmobile with no readable car tag. Other neighbors had seen the car riding around the area earlier, but no one called Securitas or JPD. The woman who was attacked is very thankful for the folks who came to her aid and wants everyone to know how grateful she is to have such great neighbors."
WLBT is reporting tonight he was apparently caught today. Good job JPD.
Update: Spoke to Mr. Mims this morning, who was as nice as always, and apparently the Mayor was out of town this weekend at a speaking engagement. Got a few emails before I made my post yesterday and thought it was a legitimate question to ask.
Went to the King Edward Gala last night and noticed Harvey never appeared. Is he ok?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Click Here to Read More..
Meet Mark Rubio. Former Speaker of the House in Florida who is giving nightmares to the Charlie Crist camp as well as a few Republican Senators. Enjoy the speech. He might be the future of the party instead of Jindal or Palin.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Much to the dismay of fiscal conservatives, SB 2688, passed the Senate by a vote of 26-22. I was one of the 22. This bill restored $67 million to the $458 million of budget cuts that the Governor has been forced to make because of the economic downturn. Gov. Barbour has vowed to veto the bill and I intend to sustain his veto. He needs one third of the Senate (18 of 52 senators). The veto will be sustained and we will start over. As of now, we are $458 million short for 2010, and anticipate deficits of $795 million for 2011, and $1.3 billion for 2012. Next year, when the stimulus runs out, we will have a much worse budgetary crisis. Education proponents are screaming for restorations from the 8.7% cut from this year but don't seem to realize that every dollar dedicated to FY2010 (which ends June 30) comes directly out of their FY2011 appropriation. If we do not carefully use our reserves (Healthcare Trust Fund and Rainy Day Fund), then there will be an even worse cut next year.
I cannot control or predict what any legislator will do, but I believe the Governor when he says he will veto this bill. I voted to send the bill to conference in the hopes that the House and Senate could continue to work on the bill. That was the only hope for any additional restoration to the 2010 budget, in my estimation. The political argument for education was to side with the House position but the practical argument for education was to send the bill to conference.
Senator Lee Yancey
District 20, Madison and Rankin County
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Yesterday's action in the Mississippi Legislature:
SB #2327: Title sufficient to pass committee. Creates a $1,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit. Bill status
A bunch of appropriations bills were passed. Too numerous to mention so click here if interested. Not much to really report today as the last several days saw the bills passed by one chamber transmitted to the other chamber and then referred to the appropriate committees.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today was the day when Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green held an "omnibus hearing" in the Irby case for all motions filed for the March 29 trial. While it was Mardi Gras today, the mood was anything but festive in this setting. The hearing was a stark contrast to the sparring session that took place last August when the State sought to compel Stuart Irby's testimony. Beasley and Holloman came to the courtroom as pros ready to work with Judge Green in a serious manner while serving their clients to the best of their abilities.
The media filled the back row, ever so ready to jot down each statement made, while a pool camera sat on the side, silently recording the courtroom drama. Apparently goatees are the new courtroom fashion as prosecutor Patrick Beasley, Irby lawyer Joe Holloman, and Irby investigator Charlie Sauns all sported goatee beards not present at the August hearing. One can only wonder if each promised to go without shaving unless he won. Meanwhile, a somber Karen Irby sat alone, slowly absorbing the hearing, as every so often a tear fell. Her husband did not appear in the courtroom.
Judge Green ruled she would not hear any motions to suppress evidence until the opening of the trial itself. She asked Mr. Beaseley if he had any additional discovery. The prosecutor replied he "intended to subpoena additional medical records (of Karen Irby)" and that he was seeking additional witnesses to authenticate the BAC results. Judge Green told the State it needed to turn over all BAC results as well as all additional medical evidence to the defense by March 5.
Mr. Holloman then claimed he had "just learned" (just? I think we covered this on this blog a year ago) that the Mercedes could have had two modules (ECM and STM modules) and was going to have an engineer from Mercedes come to Jackson to inspect the car to see if it indeed had said modules. Beasley replied Mercedes had told his office the car had no such modules and that the car was in the JPD impound lot. Judge Green ruled the inspection by the defense must take place by February 24 and that all information on the modules must be produced to the court as well. Mr. Beasley made it clear the prosecution will be present for any inspection of the Mercedes.
Mr. Beasley then told Judge Green he would call the following as witnesses:
- Experts who could authenticate the BAC
- Hospital professionals at UMC
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Personnel from the Mississippi Crime Lab
- a Mercedes engineer
- Dr. Stephen Hayne
JJ also discovered Hinds County Chancellor Pat Wise dismissed the divorce petition filed against Karen Irby by her husband in September 2008 since Mrs. Irby was never served. Under the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, a defendant must be served within 120 days after the filing of the action or else the defendant or court on its own motion can dismiss the case (see page 21). The deputy chancery clerk sent out a notice of the Chancery Clerk's Motion to Dismiss on September 29, 2009 to Stuart Irby attorney Richard Roberts stating her intent to dismiss the case as "no action of record had been taken since 9/16/08 in this case" and the case would be dismissed within thirty days. Judge Wise entered the order dismissing the case without prejudice on November 10, 2009. Wonder if the Clarion-Ledger will report on this new development since it was so quick to erroneously report the Irbys were getting a divorce?
Be that as it may, it appears the Irby trial will start March 29. Stay tuned. Click Here to Read More..
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Just got in from hearing. Quick update, will write more later.
- Green said she will sequester the jury
- Holloman said he is going to bring in a Mercedes engineer to inspect vehicle to see if it contained two modules (ECM & STM) and if so, get the data recorded on said modules.
- Beasely indicated there were other BAC tests. Green chastized him for not producing them.
- Green ruled she will wait until when the trial starts to hear motions to suppress evidence.
- Green requested a larger courtroom as she anticipates a jury pool of 350.
- Beasely said only additional discovery was additional medical records for Karen Irby.
- The divorce action filed against Karen Irby by Stuart Irby 18 months ago was dismissed in November. Mrs. Irby was never served with the lawsuit. MRCP gives the Court the right to dismiss a civil action if defendant not served within 120 days. Judge Wise dismissed the petition for divorce on November 10, 2009, citing a lack of action on the case.
The readers have spoken and voted Haley Westbrook of Fox40 the Hottest Reporter in Jackson last week. Wendy Suares Evans was runner-up and if for any reason, Ms. Westbrook vacates her crown, Mrs. Evans will assume the title (This actually did happen last year.). Congratulations to Miss Westbrook. She is a hard-worker, very sharp, and a true journalist. Expect to see her on CNBC one day because her true passion is business journalism. The poll is meant in good fun and JJ has nothing but respect for our local reporters. They work hard, don't get paid much, and are always there when we need them.
Monica Hernandez (WLBT)
Kathryn Kight (WAPT)
Elizabeth Crisp (CL)
Heather Burke (WJTV)
Haley Westbrook (Fox40)
Julie Straw (WLBT)
Megan West (WAPT)
Laraye Brown (CL)
Cheryl Lassiter (WLBT)
Lindsay Slater (Fox40)
Wendy Suares (WLBT)
Sherita Erves (WAPT)
Ashley Conroy (WLBT)
Lacey McLaughlin (JFP)
Barbi Bassett (WLBT)
Crystal Hilliard (WAPT)
Kristina Pink (Fox40)
Brittaney Diehl (WAPT)
Katina Rankin (WLBT)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday's actions in the Mississippi Legislature:
HB #1611: Introduced & referred to House Ways & Means. Allows Jackson to issue bonds to finance upgrade of its water/sewer system. Bill status
HB #49: Motion to reconsider tabled. Already passed the House. Bars employers from firing employees who file worker's comp claim in good faith. Bill status
HB #155: Passed. Requires Parole Board to submit a recommendation to Governor on applications for pardons. Bill status
HB #298: Motion to reconsider tabled. Passed House last week. Allows family of officer killed in line of duty to keep his service weapon. Bill status
HB #536: Motion to reconsider entered. Passed House last week. Requires nursing homes to carry liability insurance. Bill status
HB #588: Passed. Allow Mississippi Industries for the Blind to establish a non-profit corporation. Bill status
HB #637: Passed. Allow State to sell the "old" Mississippi School for the Blind Property. Bill status
HB #853: Passed. Creates early voting. Bill status
HB #922: Passed. Revises Certificate of Need law. Good luck making sense of it. Bill status
HB #997: Passed. Requires school districts to adopt policies regarding practices in outdoor high temperatures. Bill status
HB #1222: Passed. Authorize counties and municipalities to trap "fur-bearing" animals within 100 yards of any street. Bill status
HB #1309: Passed as amended. Revises the stalking laws. Bill status
HB #1345: Passed as amended. Allows counties to donate to non-profits with guidelines. Bill status
HB #1359: Passed. Workplace Violence Act. Allows employer to seek civil penalties. Bill status
HB #273: Died on calendar. Would create charge of attempted murder. Bill status
HB #300: Died on calendar. Child custody- created rebuttable presumption of shared custody. Thank goodness. Bill status
HB #973: Died in committee. Ban using cellphone without handsfree device while driving. Bill status
HB #1265: Died. Would allow private wholesalers to sell wine to retailers in the state. Bill status.
SB #3120: Introduced in Senate, referred to Finance Committee. Allows bonds for Farish Stree development to be increased from six million to twelve million dollars.
SB #2026: Passed as amended. Gives medical claims priority over other bills. http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2010/pdf/history/SB/SB2026.xml">Bill status
SB #2065: Passed. Requires verification of lawful presence in US of anyone applying for public benefits. Bill status
SB #2285: Passed. Allows for waiver of out of state tuition in certain circumstances. Bill status
SB #2293: Motion to reconsider tabled. Authorizes charter schools. Bill status
SB #2432: Passed. Require proof of auto liability insurance to get tag. Bill status
SB #2595: Passed. Bans texting while driving, use of cellphone while driving by those under age of eighteen. Bill status
SB #2726: Passed. Allows ER doctors and nurses to use blinking or rotating red lights when responding to an emergency. Bill status
SB #2923: Passed. Revises domestic violence laws. Bill status
SB #2999: Passed. Revises laws allowing cities to clean up properties. Bill status
SB #3059: Passed. The Stop Jim Hood Act. Bill status
SB #3085: Passed. Animal Cruelty Act. Bill status
Died in Senate:
SB #2339. Make psuedoephedrine a Schedule III drug. Bill status
SB #2549. Make 18 the age of majority. Bill status
SB #2663: Require fingerprints and background checks for RN's and LPN's. Bill status
SB #2981: Revise LLC laws Bill status
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Mississippi Prison Industries, Mississippi Bar Foundation, Providence Foundation, Regions Foundation, Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, State Troopers Association, Lucky Day Foundation, Lake Memorial Library Fund, ITD, Institute for Southern Jewish Life, Mississippi Association for Supervision & CurriculumClick Here to Read More..
And it's about damn time. Erick Erickson posted Friday on Redstate:
"We’ve always banned truthers at RedState. Increasingly, we have also banned a number of individuals who think Barack Obama is disqualified from being President because despite the Republican Governor of Hawaii confirming the legitimacy of the Democratic President’s birth origin as a citizen of the United States these birthers (”birfers” because it sounds as crazy as they are) refuse to move on.
Today I want to reaffirm and make it more definitive. If you think 9/11 was an inside job or you really want to debate whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen eligible to be President, RedState is not a place for you.
Birfers and Truthers are not welcome here. Period. End of Story.
But I want to expand on this too...." Redstate ban
Erickson's proclamation generated nearly 400 comments. There were more than a few birthers who didn't like it, to put it mildly, as these emails show: example 1, example 2, example 3, and example 4. One blogger went so far to accuse Erickson of being a closet leftist and said the fact Erickson practiced law in the same courthouse as the Judge who sanctioned Orly Taitz $20,000 there was indeed a conspiracy between Erickson and other Obama supporters.
Just one problem. Erickson practiced in Macon and Judge Land's courtroom is in Columbus. Not to mention Mr. Erickson quit practicing law before Judge Land assumed his seat on the bench. But little details like that rarely stop the Orly clones. He didn't stop there, calling Mr. Erickson a few more names:
"He is also that kind of Republican effete who runs when Democrats shout “Boo!” on any issue, not wanting at all to seem politically incorrect to liberals.
He is also that kind of clever progressive..."
So if you don't agree with these people you are now a progressive? Oh, this is rich. Read the rest of the fun here. Erickson is doing the right thing. Obama and the Democrats are having problems because of their policies. They rammed through a stimulus bill, injected Bush's economic policies with steroids, and then tried to cram down our throats a health care bill no one wanted. Oh, and don't forget Obama and Geithner continued the same ass-kissing to Wall Street that Paulson and Bush perfected. Obama's approval ratings are in trouble and Democrats are running scared. Have conservatives learned NOTHING from the 1990's?
Does anyone remember how Clinton and his media allies used the Oklahoma City bombing to smear and discredit the conservative movement? Kind of took the wind out of their sails for a few years, didn't it? Why give the Democrats a weapon with which they can use to paint conservatives as a bunch of kooks? Besides the politics of it, the chances of success in this fight are practically zero. No court in America is going to say Obama is not President because of a birth certificate. Congress is not going to impeach him over this issue and the military is going to take his orders. If it ever got to the Supreme Court, they would likely call it a political question and hand it off to the legislative branch. The truth is, none of our recent Presidents have provided their birth certificates when they ran for office. That's right. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ronald W. Reagan, Jimmy E. Carter. None of them provided a copy of their birth certificate.
The birther jihad is stupid and makes conservatives look like a bunch of kooks. Right now, the grassroots movement actually has the Democrats on the run and the last thing it needs to do is imitate past Republican leadership and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We laughed at the Daily Kos-types who ranted Bush knew about 9/11, its time to start laughing at these people and treat them with the same contempt. Anyone who can sound like this:
doesn't really deserve access to a serious forum (By the way, here is a copy of her most recent complaint. Read it for yourself.). Its about time the conservative movement followed Buckley's lead when he threw out the Birchers and throw out the Birthers as well. You do remember the Birchers, right? They wrote books claiming Eisenhower was a communist. Kudos to Erickson for taking the lead and hopefully more conservatives will follow suit.
Note:Here is some additional commentary:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Born Identity|
Saturday, February 13, 2010
This week the Mississippi Senate passed SB 2153 (a bill I co-authored) which allows carry permit holders, who have passed extensive state and criminal background checks, to protect themselves in areas of public buildings which are not secure (defined in the bill as having no metal detectors or security personnel present screening visitors) and in privately owned establishments if the controller of the property has not posted the area off-limits. These areas include: courthouses but not courtrooms, public parks, unsecured areas of junior colleges, community colleges, and university buildings (but not in athletic events or establishments serving alcohol), and churches. Individual places of worship can choose whether to ban such activity.
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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.
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.