Sunday, September 30, 2012
The legislature held its annual budget hearings two weeks ago. After the Medicaid hearing, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn answered questions from the media. Bobby Harrison of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal decided to ask a few questions at 6:30 in the video below. Objective reporting or advocacy journalism? You decide.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Medicare imposes a cap on therapy services Monday. The American Physical Therapists Association reports on it website:
"The annual per beneficiary therapy cap amount for 2012 is $1880 for physical therapy and speech language pathology services combined (PT/SLP). There is a separate $1880 amount allotted for occupational therapy services." Website
However, Medicare does not impose the cap until October 1, 2012. Just one slight problem: Its retroactive to the beginning of the year and there is no way for health care providers to check in real-time how much money a patient has spent on therapy under Medicare. There have been caps in the past but what is different this year is it applies to hospitals:
"Effective January 1, 2012, the $1880 therapy cap with an exceptions process, applies to services furnished in the following outpatient therapy settings: physical therapists in private practice, physician offices, skilled nursing facilities (SNF) (Part B), rehabilitation agencies (or ORFs), and comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities (CORFs). In addition, the therapy cap with an exceptions process will apply to hospital outpatient departments no later than October 1, 2012, until the end of 2012."
The change was part of HR 3630, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. What will change is prior to 2012, there was no cap on therapy for a patient if he sought therapy at a hospital. Thus if a stroke patient recovered at St. Dominic's, he could keep going to their outpatient clinics for therapy without worrying about a cap. If he had gone to Genesis or a similar clinic that was not part of a hospital, then the cap applied. The hospitals are now placed under the cap until the end of the year. It is not known if Congress will extend the cap on hospitals past this year. The Web PT blog stated:
"For example, a Medicare beneficiary receives therapy in a hospital outpatient department from March 5 through April 11, 2012, and July 20 through August 15, 2012, and uses $2,128 toward the Medicare therapy cap. That same Medicare beneficiary now comes to your private practice for outpatient physical therapy beginning on October 17, 2012. During the intake process, you ask the Medicare patient if they have had therapy at all this year. They answer “yes” and tell you XYZ hospital provided therapy during the aforementioned dates. Because the hospital provided therapy services prior to October 1, 2012, you believe the Medicare patient has not used any of their $1,880 therapy cap. On the contrary, those services ($2,128) will be retroactively applied toward the cap on October 1, 2012. Post
Another problem is that while Congress and Medicare imposed caps in the past, they didn't make them retroactive in nature. One can only imagine the confusion that will begin next week with Medicare patients and health care providers.
Friday, September 28, 2012
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports a grand jury indicted Dr. Arnold Smith along with two other men for plotting to kill Greenwood Attorney Lee Abraham:
" Dr. Arnold Smith and two others have been indicted by a Leflore County grand jury for allegedly plotting to assassinate Greenwood attorney Lee Abraham.
Smith and Derrick Lacy, one of two alleged hitmen, also could face the death penalty if convicted on a separate charge of capital murder in connection with the death of the other alleged assassin, who was felled in the April 28 shootout at Abraham’s downtown office.
A fourth alleged conspirator, Morgan City brick mason Paul Muller, was not indicted.
The grand jury acted on the indictments in August, but they were not made public until they were served this week.
Smith, 70, and Lacy, 25, are being held without bond at the Leflore County Jail.
The third suspect, Cordarious Robinson, 22, is out on bond. He has been indicted for conspiracy to commit murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Although Smith has been writing the Commonwealth regularly during his five-month incarceration, his attorney, William Bell of Ridgeland, has continued to decline to discuss his client’s case.
“The only thing I can say is what we’ve said from the beginning,” Bell said Wednesday. “Everything that we have to say about it will be in court.”
There are signs, though, that the notably eccentric oncologist plans to put up a spirited defense. Two out-of-state private investigators have been in Greenwood this week compiling evidence for Smith’s defense team.
According to the police investigation, the conspiracy began with Smith offering to pay $20,000 to Keaira Byrd to kill Abraham, toward whom the physician has had a long-running animosity.
Byrd and Lacy allegedly contacted Abraham and told him of the plot, offering to sell the attorney an automatic weapon they said had been provided by Smith to carry out the slaying.
Abraham made arrangements to meet the pair at his Market Street office, across from the Leflore County Courthouse. He contacted the Attorney General’s Office requesting investigators to be present, according to authorities. Three were dispatched.
When Byrd and Lacy arrived, Byrd was allegedly wearing a ski mask and holding an assault weapon. An exchange of gunfire took place. Byrd, 23, was killed, and Lacy, 25, was severely injured. One of the attorney general’s agents received a minor wound. Abraham was not injured.
Even though Byrd was killed by the state lawmen, Smith and Lacy have been charged with causing his death by conspiring with him in the assassination plot. The slaying was upgraded to a capital offense because, according to the indictment, it occurred in connection with another felony being committed. The indictment says that Lacy and Byrd committed the crime of burglary in gaining access to Abraham’s office “by the use or subterfuge or trick.”
Robinson’s charges result from a separate alleged conspiracy with Smith to kill Abraham.
According to the indictment, sometime between Nov. 1, 2011, and the April 28 shootout, Smith agreed to pay Robinson an undisclosed sum of money to obtain a firearm or firearms that could be used by an unnamed hitman to kill Abraham.
On or about April 25, according to the weapons charge, Robinson was unlawfully in possession of two firearms — a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a .357 Magnum revolver pistol. Neither is the weapon with which Byrd was allegedly armed.
Arraignments, in which the accused appear in court to hear the charges against them, are scheduled for Oct. 22....” Rest of article
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I wish I were making this up. I really do. But there is another animal on the loose in Madison. Yup. A tortoise is missing. A big ole tortoise named "Chewy". There is a police report and all that jazz on this dude. Chewy was living at a home on Belle Chase when he disappeared. If you do know where he is, call the Madison PD. Seriously.
You just can't make this up.
Mississippi College is working to get back into Division II. Should never have moved down to Division III, and it's another reason Bernie Ebbers can rot in jail. MC stated on its website:
"CLINTON, Miss. --- Mississippi College leaders agreed Thursday (9/27) to ask the NCAA to return the university to Division II and rejoin the Gulf South Conference after being away for 16 seasons.
The NCAA Division II Membership Committee, as part of its process, would reach a decision on MC’s application in July 2013. Mississippi College is presently a member of the Texas-based American Southwest Conference in Division III.
After extensive study by university officials, MC’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation from President Lee Royce and its executive committee to move forward with an application to pursue Division II membership. The potential move comes amid strong support among key university constituents- from alumni to students, faculty and staff on the Clinton campus..." Rest of statement
Click Here to Read More..
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend states are cutting back on public employee pensions but to no avail:
"Almost every state in the U.S. has made cuts to its public-employee pensions, seeking to dig out from the economic downturn, but so far the measures have fallen well short of bridging a nearly $1 trillion funding gap.
Since 2009, 45 states have rolled back pension benefits for teachers, police, firefighters and other public workers, including cuts by Michigan and California this month. Next week, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign legislation requiring, for example, that certain teachers work longer and pay more toward their pensions.....
But the new laws have trimmed just $100 billion out of the $900 billion gap between what the states and their workers put into their retirement plans and what the states owe in retirement benefits, according to estimates prepared for The Wall Street Journal by researchers at Boston College.
Unfunded liabilities in many states grew to troubling levels after investment losses in the 2008 financial crisis depleted pension assets. While most states have approved some form of pension cuts, many have opted to apply those changes only to workers who have yet to be hired.
That means most of the savings won't be realized for decades, when the most expensive retirement benefits come off the books. Changes made to the retirement plans of newly hired workers are expected to reduce pension costs by 25% over the next 35 years, according to Boston College estimates.
For years, part of the attraction of public service jobs has been guaranteed pensions and other benefits. That remains largely intact for current workers. Only a handful of states have replaced some guaranteed pension benefits with 401(k)-style retirement accounts that are commonplace in U.S. corporations.
Experts say the differences between public and private retirement benefits will eventually narrow as cuts to new workers' plans take hold."
Some have suggested Mississippi roll back the 1999 increases to PERS. However, some states tried that only to run into legal problems:
Many states have avoided reducing benefits for current workers or retirees, saying the plans have legal protections. Courts in Minnesota and Colorado have ruled that cost-of-living raises can be reduced.
"There is a lot of gray area,'' said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. More states could try to cut future benefits for current workers because the laws aren't clear, she said.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed pension reductions he called the "biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the history of California pensions." The changes, mostly for newly hired workers, are expected to save the state retirement system as much as $55 billion over the next few decades. But the measures won't immediately reduce unfunded liability, said spokesman for Calpers, the state pension fund. .....
The $100 billion reduction in unfunded liabilities comes from such states as Rhode Island and New Jersey, which suspended annual cost-of-living raises for retirees, according to the Boston College estimates.
States also have shifted more pension costs to employees. As of 2010, state workers were paying 10% more toward their retirement plans compared with three years earlier, according to Boston College. These increased contributions will gradually reduce unfunded liabilities.
Some states say they need more immediate relief.
On Friday, the Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois said its pension bill to the state would increase by about $300 million in the fiscal year that starts next July. The higher costs derive from a pension board decision to lower its assumed rate of investment return, citing the "volatility of the world economy."
The lower the expected return, the more the pension's unfunded liabilities grow—unless the state fills the gap with higher contributions from employees or taxpayers, or tries to cut benefits.
Illinois lawmakers had a chance to address the deepening hole last month but they couldn't agree on a bill to limit cost-of-living adjustments. "Changes of some sort are necessary and everyone expects them to happen,'' said Richard Ingram, executive director of the Illinois teachers' pension fund.
In Ohio, lawmakers this month passed a series of changes that touch current and retired workers, along with new hires.
Many of the state's public-employee unions supported the pension cuts less than a year after they fought a bruising battle with Republican lawmakers to retain their current rights to collective bargaining. But on the pension issue, many state labor leaders agreed that their members' retirement benefits needed to be trimmed.
"It is a tough pill to swallow,'' said Kevin Griffin, who is president of the local teachers union and an English teacher in Dublin, Ohio.
An educator since 1994, Mr. Griffin will now have to retire later and pay more of his salary to receive a smaller pension.
"We had to make the math work," he said. "It came down to the question of whether there will be a pension there for me when I retire or not."
Not all unions are cooperating.
Rhode Island, for instance, shifted some workers into a retirement plan that combines traditional pension benefits with 401(k)-style accounts that leave investment choices to employees.
A group of labor unions and retired public workers have filed lawsuits in state court challenging the pension changes passed a year ago."Article
Jackson Jambalaya attempted to learn how much the Parkway East Public Improvement District paid in professional services fees when it sold $27,770,000 in bonds in 2005. Parkway East attorney Bob Montgomery replied the district did not have any records showing how much was paid.
State law allows professional service fees up to 2% of the total amount of the bond sale. Such fees are lucrative and usually awarded to friends of the government issuing the bonds. There are no bid requirements for these services. JJ filed a public records request asking for the fees. JJ requested:
"The invoices or records of fees paid for professional services include these fees and professional services:
Issuer ,Issuer counsel, bond counsel, trustee, trustee counsel fee, rating agency fee, financial adviser fee, paying agent, other attorney's fees, underwriters fees, and underwriter's counsel fees."
Keep in mind the public improvement district is a public body and is created by acts of the legislature and county. Mr. Montgomery replied on September 20:
"I do not have the fee information which you requested on September 11, 2012 letter in regard to Parkway East. However, I asked the original bond counsel, engineer, and trustee of the bond issue to search their records.
When and if I hear from them, I will make their information available to you."
The fees are also not listed on the website of the Department of Finance and Administration. DFA issues an annual report that states the public sales of bonds in Mississippi and lists the professional service fees for each sale. Nice way for taxpayers to see what their governments are paying and to whom they are paying the nice fees associated with bond transactions. The 2005 report does not list Parkway East thus precluding anyone from learning how much the PID paid in transaction fees. However, the following 2005 issues provide a range of what the fees should be:
$21 million for Belk project: $207,649
$25,128,008 for Juniper Capital project: $337,070
$29,530,000 for Desoto County Convention Center: $439,209
2% of $27,770,000 is $555,400 is probably the maximum amount allowed by law. Nice change if you happen to be Butler Snow, Hancock Bank, and whoever else Parkway East chose to work on the sale if the fees were close to the limit.
Editorial Comment: That was the news, this is the opinion. Such a rejection is nothing short of a poke in the eye of the taxpayers. The taxpayers are forced to pay millions of dollars in bond payments for Parkway East and Parkway South yet Parkway East claims it has no records of paying what were likely hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees when they sold the bonds. The same bonds the taxpayers are forced to cover thanks to the Madison County Board of Supervisors. It strains credibility to expect Parkway East would not have on file these records or that is not able to obtain them. The Board should not make any more payments on behalf of these PIDs unless the taxpayers are given all details of these transactions. However, do not expect such leadership from this board as its quite clear where their interests lie.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The Mississippi Supreme Court just removed Court of Appeals District 2 candidate Latrice Westbrook from the ballot as she does not live in the district she seeks to represent. The Court stated:
"We find that a candidate for the office of Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi must reside within the district for the office she seeks. We further find that Westbrooks has not met the residency requirement. Therefore, the circuit court erred in finding that Westbrooks was a qualified candidate for the position. The circuit court’s Order Granting Permanent Injunction and Order Granting Declaratory Judgment is hereby vacated. The injunction is hereby dissolved." Opinion
A Rankin County jury indicted suspended attorney Mike Brown on August 12 on four counts of embezzlement in the guardianship of D'Mond McClinton. D'Mond McClinton is the grandson of Mississippi civil rights hero Aaron Henry and inherited $3.5 million when his mother died in 2000. Mr. Brown and Thomas McClinton, the father of D'Mon, established a guardianship as young McClinton was only sixteen years old when his mother passed away.
The indictments allege $1 million "came into the defendant's possession" on February 20, 2001. It states instead of depositing the money into a guardianship account as ordered by the court, he allegedly deposited the money into his escrow account. Mr. Brown then "allegedly" wrote two checks to Linus Shackelford for $250,000 and $300,000 in 2001 (Copies of the checks are included in the documents posted below.). Mr. Brown is a resident of Rankin County and practices law in Flowood. The indictment also "alleges" Mr. Brown embezzled $1,299 in 2001 when he paid for license plate tags in that amount at the Rankin County Tax Collectors office. The McClintons did not live in Rankin County at the time.
The Special Master's report in the guardianship case in Hinds County states checks drawn on Mr. Brown's escrow account were made payable to several car dealerships. The report states the following purchases were made:
The list shows vehicles were purchased:
2-21-01: Blackwell Imports, $54,070
2-21-01: Blackwell Imports, $42,186
2-21-01: Blackwell Imports, $50,582
2-22-01: Gray-Daniels: $26,500
2-22-01: North Park Acura: $26,500
3-7-01: Paul Moak, $35,750
3-8-01: Blackwell Auto Complex (American), $38,815
Total spent on cars within two week period: $274,403
Several checks were made payable to the Rankin County Tax Collector after the cars were purchased. The petition filed on June 16, 2000 states Thomas McClinton was a resident of Hinds County: "Thomas A. McClinton, Jr. is an adult resident of Hinds County, Mississippi and resides at 811 Forest Avenue, Apartment 100, Jackson Mississippi 39206." The petition for approval of engagement letter filed on February 8, 2001 states Thomas McClinton is "an adult resident of Hinds County". However, Mike Brown has lived on Whipporwill Road in Rankin County since 1995 according to Rankin County tax records. No checks were made payable to the Hinds County Tax Collector. Mr. Brown wrote the following checks to the Rankin County Tax Collector:
The February 21, 2001 check was written the same day several purchases were made at Blackwell Imports in Jackson. More purchases of cars were made later that month but only Blackwell Imports purchases were made prior to the writing of that check.
The Rankin-Madison District Attorney's office closely monitored this case. This correspondent observed Tommy Mayfield and other prosecutors attending each hearing on the guardianship in Hinds County. There are no indictments at this time for other parties in the case such as Linus Shackelford, Thomas McClinton, and Lottie Campbell.
Mr. Brown is currently a resident of the Rankin County jail after a Rankin County Chancellor found him in contempt of court for embezzlement on the Ray estate in May. Chancellor Dan Fairly incarcerated Mr. Brown until he purged himself of the contempt by repaying $37,000 to the estate.
Note: The indictment follows what Judge Thomas stated in his order finding Mr. Brown in contempt of court and reported earlier on JJ:
"The court established the guardianship in 2000 when Demon was sixteen years old. Young McClinton inherited the money from his mother, Rebecca Henry. Mr. Brown was supposed to deposit $3 million in a bank on behalf of Demon McClinton, and report to the court on an accounting of all funds. The lawyer failed to do so after the court asked him twice in April 2011 and January 2012.
Judge Thomas ruled no guardianship account at a bank was ever established. The court also said Mr. Brown loaned $550,000 to Linus Shackleford from the McClinton funds. Mr. Brown personally "borrowed" $507,745 in January 2001 and he then forged two checks in 2002 for $205,020 and $32,725....
The court had also approved a $398,000 payment in 2001 to Mr. Brown for "his efforts in procuring this minor's funds from his mother's estate." Judge Thomas ruled the fee was obtained through fraud and ordered it paid back to Demon McClinton.
Judge Thomas was very harsh in his description of Mr. Thomas' actions: "the acts of Brown in representing the minor have been intentional acts to steal and defraud the minor of the funds inherited from his mother."
Earlier posts: Attorney Mike Brown jailed for embezzlement, Judge sets bail for Mike Brown ,Brown free, Judge freezes assets of Mike Brown & Linus Shackelford, Brown suspended by bar, grilled by Judge Grant, Where is the money?, More Shackelford shenanigans, Special Master casts blame on Brown, Judge Thomas jails Brown again, Judge orders Shackelford to produce the money or else, Brown pays tax collector for cars... in Rankin Court to Shack: Do not pass go..., Mike Brown update, pour a drink, Jail, Time for a Mike Brown update, Brown back in jail
Monday, September 24, 2012
The Mississippi Democratic Party endorsed Earle Banks in this press release:
MISSISSIPPI DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES EARLE S. BANKS, SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE
JACKSON-At its quarterly meeting in Jackson this weekend, the Mississippi Democratic Party unanimously endorsed Supreme Court candidate Earle Banks. Banks is running in the central district race which encompasses twenty two counties running through the middle of the state and through much of the Delta. Banks is a law partner at the firm of Dockins, Turnage & Banks, the President of People’s Funeral Home and a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives for over twenty years. He currently serves as a Democrat and was formerly a member and Parliamentarian of the State Democratic Party Executive Committee. Banks’ opponent, Justice Bill Waller, Jr., was endorsed by the Mississippi Republican Party last month.
Democratic Party Chairman, Rickey Cole, states, “Earle Banks will bring an impressive and unique background as a successful small businessman, accomplished lawyer and experienced legislator to the position of Supreme Court justice. A man in work clothes who can operate a backhoe in the morning, then put on a black suit to console a grieving widow that afternoon simply has a skill set one seldom sees in any office.” Cole notes that Banks’ legislative record supporting working Mississippians, public education and health care bodes well for his title as a “people’s judge.”
[Supreme Court District 1 Counties: Bolivar, Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren, Washington, Yazoo.]
I recently asked on JJ if the bond payments made by Madison County on behalf of two public improvement districts in 2011 were legal. Madison County made two bond payments in 2011 of $258,328 on May 11 for the Parkway South and $374,021 on October 24 for the Parkway East Public Improvement Districts. This is an important issue as the Madison County Journal and others have charged the supervisors are raising taxes to cover the bond payments. Earlier post
The gentleman from Clarksdale (and he was indeed a gentleman on the phone) said the payments (my term) were legal. He said they were not payments as the county loaned the money to the reserve funds of the PIDs. The PIDs then made payments out of the reserve funds. Mr. Espy said the law did indeed ban the county from directly paying the bonds but it did not prohibit loans as the law said the PID could receive money from all sources. Section 19-31-23 of the Mississippi Code states:
"(2) ...... all obligations issued by the district shall be negotiable instruments and payable solely from the levy of any special assessment by the district or from any other sources whatsoever that may be available to the district but shall not be secured by the full faith and credit of the state or the county or municipality that created the district..."
Mr. Espy also said if the PIDs do not repay the loans, then the county can take action to foreclose on assets held by the PIDs. The board minutes do state the county will obtain first position on tax patents in the district. He stressed the full faith and credit of the county were not supporting the bonds.
However, I must respectfully disagree with this explanation. The contribution agreements between the county and the PIDs do not say anything about loans. What they do say is
"The contribution agreement provides that in the event the District fails, for any reason, to levy and/or collect (or have collected) a sufficient amount of Special Assessments from the owners of land within the district in order to satisfy any debt service payment, the county shall advance to the trustee the outstanding amount required to satisfy the deficient debt service payment." (P.21 of the Issuing statement.) Parkway East Contribution agreement
Trustee and paying agent both mean Hancock Bank. That means if the county follows the agreement, it must make the payment directly to the bank which sold the bonds. There is also one further problem with the loan defense. The statute and Attorney General opinions agree on one fundamental point: the county can not make bond payments for a public improvement district. However, there is the question about a "loan". While the law does say the district can receive money from any source, the law does specify what the county can't do with its money. Section 19-31-29 states:
"Bonds issued under the provisions of this chapter shall be limited obligations of the district payable solely from the sources pledged for the payment thereof. All such bonds shall contain a statement on their face substantially to the effect that neither the full faith and credit of the state nor the full faith and credit of any governmental unit of the state are pledged to the payment of the principal of or the interest on such bonds. The issuance of bonds under the provisions of this chapter shall not directly, indirectly or contingently obligate the state or any governmental unit of the state to levy any taxes or to make any appropriation for their payment arising out of contracts authorized under this chapter."
Appropriation. That means money directed to a specific purpose. Grants. Expenditures. Spending. Rebates. Refunds. Awards. and yes, loans. Doesn't matter. its money directed by the county for a specific purpose. That is an appropriation. Period. Parkway East sent a notice of default to the county. The board of supervisors authorized payment made to the PID to cover the bonds. The PID sure didn't call it a loan in its default notice. Does this language below sound like a loan to you?
"In summary, several landowners in the District failed to pay Special Assessments resulting in a substantial shortfall in the Pledged Revenues which secure the Bonds. The Trustee notified the Board of Supervisors of Madison County (the “County”) of the shortfall in the Pledged Revenues sufficient to pay Interest and Principal on the Series 2005 Bonds on the May 1st Payment Date and requested payment under the Contribution Agreement which provides for the County’s contribution to fulfill any underfunded debt service payment due on the Series 2005 Bonds. The County has provided funds to cover the shortfall on the Series 2005 Bonds. Therefore, the principal default has occurred only on the 2008A Bonds. There is no default on the Series 2005 Bonds..."
Just to make sure you get the point, here are the minutes from the April 25, 2012 meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors:
"Board Attorney Eric Hamer appeared before the Board and reported that the Parkway East Public Improvement District has advised the county through correspondence addressed to the Chancery Clerk that it has failed to collect special assessments sufficient to make its debt service payment due November 1, 2011 and that, consequently, the county has been called upon to make up the shortfall under and pursuant to that certain Contribution Agreement between the PID and the county....
(5) to further find, determine and declare that the payment contemplated and authorized herein is being made pursuant to the aforesaid Contribution Agreement in full reliance on the advice of special counsel, Butler Snow...."
Let me see, the contribution agreement states the county will pay the deficiency to Hancock Bank. The default notice states the county paid the amount of the deficiency. Hancock Bank demanded payment of the bonds from Madison County. The board minutes state the purpose is to make up the bond payments for the PID under the same contribution agreement. They can call it what they want but these payments were appropriations to help Parkway East and South make their bond payments. The law banned these appropriations for one clear purpose: to prevent these "improvement" districts from selling bonds and sticking the taxpayers with them if the PIDs fail.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Mississippi ranked 46th in the "Top States for Business" report published last week by CNBC. ReportClick Here to Read More..
So what is Romney to do? Politico published a story Monday reporting on alleged confusion and poor organization in the Romney campaign. Typical was this quote:
"A growing number of conservatives are blaming Stevens for advocating a campaign of caution, one that puts all the emphasis not on how good Romney could be but how bad Obama is. “Credit for this fog goes to that inner circle of Romney advisers who never liked the Ryan pick and have reasserted their will over a candidate who is naturally cautious,” conservative columnist Kimberley Strassel wrote in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. “In the la-la land where adviser Stuart Stevens presides, Mr. Romney wins by never saying a single thing, ever, that might rock a single boat, ever.”’
Stevens was a big, early advocate of a bland vice presidential candidate, privately talking up former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and pushing the idea of an outsider, anti-Beltway ticket. But Stevens is hardly to blame for what many conservatives consider a campaign that is specifics-free and lame. That blame goes straight to the man running his own campaign: Romney himself, according to a number of people in and out of the campaign.
Some Romney loyalists think Stevens never fully appreciated what a good and unique candidate they had in Romney, and pleaded early on to showcase what they saw as a generous, wise and gifted leader. Still, for reasons not fully understood by those around Romney, the candidate not only went with Stevens but gave him tremendous authority.." Article
Then Peggy Noonan chimed in over at The Wall Street Journal Friday:
"It is true that a good debate, especially a good first one, can invigorate a candidate and lead to increased confidence, which can prompt good decisions and sensible statements. There is more than a month between the first debate and the voting: That's enough time for a healthy spiral to begin.
But: The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant "rolling calamity."
A lot of people weighed in, in I suppose expected ways: "Glad you said this," "Mad you said this." But, some surprises. No one that I know of defended the campaign or argued "you're missing some of its quiet excellence." Instead there was broad agreement with the gist of the critique—from some in the midlevel of the campaign itself, from outside backers and from various party activists and officials. There was a perhaps pessimistic assumption that no one in Boston would be open to advice. A veteran of a previous Romney campaign who supports the governor and admires him—"This is a good man"—said the candidate's problem isn't overconfidence, it's a tin ear...." Rest of essay
The WSJ then published this editorial with excerpts from a speech Mr. Romney never gave:
"One tragedy of the Obama Presidency is how many more Americans have become dependent on the government. I know it's not their fault. Most want to be self-sufficient, to provide for their families, but they can't because there aren't enough jobs....
"This is a national scandal. Not because those fellow Americans are free-loaders, but because they aren't able to get a good job that pays enough to be self-sufficient and lets them fulfill their human potential.
"I want Americans to be less dependent on government not because it costs too much. We will always help Americans who need our help. I want Americans to be independent so they can realize the pride of accomplishment and the dignity of work and contribute their God-given talents to build a better country.
"I think the success of a Presidency should be measured by how many fewer people need food stamps, how many fewer need disability, not how many more people are added to the rolls. I don't want to take food stamps away from Americans in need. I want fewer Americans to need food stamps.(I love that last line.)
"Sometimes I wonder if President Obama shares that view. He and his economists keep saying that food stamps and unemployment benefits are a form of 'stimulus.' Well, we've sure had a lot of that kind of stimulus, and all we have to show for it are more people on food stamps and more people on welfare and more people looking for work. I think a real stimulus is a job, and I intend to help Americans create more of them. .." Editorial
Where has this been all year?
Despite all that, Obama is having a bad week with the Libya and Egypt fiascoes. They are fairly even in the polls. Question today, and I'd like some comments. Should the Romney campaign make any changes? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? I want some real comments. "Romney Sucks" or "Obama is the anti-Christ" comments won't get approved so don't waste your time writing those.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Yup. Puppy the Boa was found this morning.... in Northbay. It seems some girls come out of their house and saw him curled up by the hedges. Evidence of poor parenting appeared when instead of immediately getting a shotgun or knife to kill the monster that terrorized a whole city for nearly a week and distracted us from important issues such as Medicaid and MPACT, they called the police. Mr. Eaves arrived at the scene, the snake was identified as being his pet and not the county engineer, and took the snake back into um, custody to go home. Case closed.
Here is a message from John Arthur Eaves, Jr:
Message from John Eaves:
Around 9:30 Friday night Ashley Kabelac, and her friend, Leah Hartley and sister Allison Kabelac saw a large snake crossing Northbay drive into the yard of Betty Cox. Madison police department was called and pulled the unknown 7 ft snake from the bushes. Officers Matthew Horiani, Drew Hall, Ronald Bell, Christian Murray, and Assistant Chief Robert Sanders assisted in the reconisance/ rescue of the snake. John Arthur Eaves was notified and came to the police department and confirmed the snake was his son's "puppy".
"Thank you to my neighbors for the amazing amount of grace shown to me and my family through this ordeal and to these young women who found Puppy and the courage of the Madison Police Department which so quickly responded." Eaves said "So many people volunteered their time to help us look for "puppy" and so many forgave us and prayed us through this scare. We really saw what a wonderful community we live in."
My Son John Arthur III is so very excited to have "puppy" back. "I'm happy that Puppy has been found. Now I can concentrate on other ways to raise money for my upcoming mission trips to Africa and India."
How did it wind up at Northbay? Simple but you clowns haven't figured it out yet. Boas will get up in cars, especially engines and from time to time, dashboards. There is an internet circular that shows one hiding in a dashboard discovered by a police officer who used to have one. Probably hitched a ride and wound up in Northbay.
Friday, September 21, 2012
Collection of all posts on PERS
PERS Executive Director Pat Robertson told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Tuesday the PERS Board of Directors will recommend raising the employer contribution rate to 15.75%. for the retirement system.
She said the board was reaching a consensus of adopting an employer contribution rate of 15.75% to yield a funding ration in excess of 80% in thirty years (9:00). Representative Flaggs asked her how much money the additional employer contribution would require. She said it is estimated it will require an additional $44 million from the general fund (15:30). The current employer contribution is 14.26% (See p.30 of document posted below). She said creating a long-term rate of 15.75% was more stable than increase the rate to over 16 or 17 percent and then lowering the contribution rate as the funding level stabilized.
Ms. Robertson said there will be an increase to the employer contribution to PERS. She said there were 900 employers contributing to PERS. They included "mainly public schools." 40% of active members of PERS are public school employees while 30% of the employers are state agencies and 28% are municipalities. She said the average payment is over $19,000 per year.
Ms. Robertson said PERS' funding level of "62% was not ideal" but that PERS "is financially stable." She said "changes have been made to ensure the sustainability of the plan" such as eligibility, contributions, and other measures. She repeatedly said the legislature increased benefits in 1999 without putting a funding mechanism in place to pay for the increase. She said the increase was made retroactive and "cost 10% of payroll." She said "those benefits were not paid for and its catching up with us now." She said only the legislature can change benefits.
Ms. Robertson said PERS earned a rate of return of only .6% last year. PERS earned 25% and 14% the two prior years. There were no Democrats jumping up and down bragging about the rate of return as Steve Holland did last year. The ten year rate of return is 5.4%. Speaker Pro-Tem Greg Snowden asked if the 8% assumed rate of return was a reasonable estimate. Ms. Robertson said the board is examining the assumption and determining whether it should be changed. She said a report will be made to the board by a auditing firm in February.
Representative Flaggs asked Ms. Robertson if the board would change the COLA adjustment known as the 13th check. Ms. Robertson said only the legislature could change the COLA as its considered to be a benefit.
Ms. Robertson distributed a booklet containing facts about PERS. Here are some of the highlights from the booklet:
161,895 active members
86,821 retirees and beneficiaries
40% of active members are public school employees
30% of employers are state agencies. 28% are municipalities.
Actuarial funding level is 62%
Asset allocation: 65% stocks, 25% bonds, 7% real estate,
Revenue sources: 51% investment earnings, 29% employer contributions, 20% employee contributions
Benefits paid for FY 2012: $1.86 billion
Investment income: $60 million
Net assets: $19.8 billion
Rate of return for FY 2012: .6%
10 year average: 5.4% rate of return
30 year rate of return: 9.6%
Assumed rate of return: 8%
Not one time was SLRP mentioned.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Got the latest update on the Boa Babe crisis in Reunion. The homeowners' association sent out this update today:
I wanted to give everyone an update, unfortunately, the snake has not been found. A team of snake experts and volunteers combed a large area around where the snake was presumed lost and were unable to find anything. We encourage you to read the article in the Clarion Ledger yesterday regarding boa constrictors and their habits.
We will let everyone know if and when there are any developments.
Jim McAllister, Reunion POA President
The Jackson Public School system avoids using the new ratings system on its website. A new law states the Department of Education will rate schools as either A,B,C,D, or F. The old system issued the ratings Star, High Performing, Successful, Academic Watch, Low Performing, At Risk of Failing, and Failing. The press release announcing the new report cards for the JPS District does not mention any letter grades but instead uses the old terms. Superintendent Cedric Gray mentions the new system only once (3:00)for twenty seconds in the eight-minute video. Earlier post with ratings for all schools.
The press release states:
"Twenty-nine JPS schools achieved successful or higher ratings in the state accountability results released September 14, 2012, by the Mississippi Department of Education. The ratings are based on the results of tests administered in spring 2012.... (schools are listed)....
JPS has 18 Academic Watch and 11 Low Performing and no schools labeled At Risk of Failing or Failing. Although JPS has no schools labeled as “Failing” or “At Risk of Failing,” the District overall label is “Academic Watch.” What this means is that although JPS experienced improvement in academic achievement, it did not meet the challenge of academic growth. As a consequence, JPS is currently integrating classroom instruction with rigor through the Common Core State Standards ( CCSS). CCSS provides a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to know and be able to do. ..." Press release
Dr. Gray states in the video:The Mississippi Department of Education "uses seven classifications to rate Mississippi schools". Dr. Gray says (4:14) "there are no schools at risk of failing or failing. This is a drastic and dramatic improvement."
However, 82% of JPS middle and high schools were rated for "D" or "F" and 45% of all schools rated "D" or "F". Only 3 middle and high schools are "C" and none are "A" or "B". Dr. Gray does not mention anywhere in the video the letter grades for the schools themselves nor the district. Dr. Gray instead states the district is rated "Academic Watch". He says "We are proud of our accomplishments but not proud of our results." The video then scrolls through all of the schools with their ratings under the old system.
The report cards for all schools are:
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Jim McDowell passed away this morning. He battled cancer the last few months and spent quite a bit of time at St. Dominic's. I spoke to him through his fight and enjoyed our conversations. The Rez News blog was his baby and he loved publishing anything historical about the Reservoir. Here's to you Jim, you will be missed.Click Here to Read More..
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Monday to keep the contract with Airwave intact for another year. The county awarded a six-year $4.2 million no-bid contract for maintenance of the county radio system in 2008. The debate at times grew raucous as the a representative for Airwave made racist remarks that drew a strong reaction from the audience.
Supervisor Phil Fisher moved to terminate the contract with the company. Airwave is owned by Stacy Stowers. However, Nathan Hargrove of Northstar Wireless represented Airwave while Mr. Stowers sat in the audience. Supervisors Fisher and Peggy Hobson-Calhoun repeatedly told Mr. Hargrove they had requested documents such as logs that would show what work Airwave had done under the contract. Mr. Hargrove said he had given that information to Ms. Hobson-Calhoun. She pointedly told him he had not done so but instead had given her a notebook filled with serial numbers. She then told Mr. Hargrove the city of Jackson told her Airwave did not repair their radios but that Motorola repaired the radios at no cost to Jackson. Mr. Hargrove said that was not true and that JPD police Chief Coleman even called him at "Three in the morning" on radio issues (21:00).
Supervisor Fisher said the contract can "be terminated once a year before the October meeting." He said contract was paid out of the E911 fund and the fund would go broke in 18 months. He also said the company had no other client and showed no certifications to work on manufacturer's equipment. He urged the board to follow any recommendations made by EOC to find a replacement. Supervisor Calhoun said she had received two inquiries from other companies interested in bidding for the contract.
Mr. Hargrove told the Board it could not terminate the contract and "it does not come up for a renewal on an annual basis and it was a fixed term contract." (14:00) Supervisor Fisher immediately asked board attorney Crystal Martin for a copy of the contract and began reading the contract. Meanwhile, Mr. Hargrove said "it was frustrating for us, all the hard work to support the system goes unappreciated (15:44) Mr. Fisher told him he hadn't answered any of his questions and had done a good job of "dancing around" while talking about other "things such as the future."
Mr. Fisher then began reading the renewal clause from the contract:
"This agreement will renew for an additional one year term on every anniversary of the start date unless either the cover page specifically states a termination date or one party notifies the other in writing of its intention to discontinue the agreement not less than thirty days of that anniversary date" (See contract below, second to last page above the signatures in capital letters.)
Mr. Fisher then told Mr. Hargrove "what you're telling us isn't true." Mr. Hargrove said "its a five year term on that contract" to which Mr. Fisher replied "No its not". Supervisor Graham then interrupted to say he wanted to "keep things moving along." Supervisors Graham and Doug Anderson said very little during the entire discussion.
The low point of the meeting came when Mr. Fisher asked why Mr. Stowers was not addressing the board and who worked for who. Mr. Hargrove told Mr. Fisher "I realize we all look alike to you" to much negative reaction from the audience. Supervisor Graham admonished the audience but not Mr. Hargrove for his racist remarks (25:00). The board then voted to keep the contract.
Payments to Airwave:
Year one: $374,860 ($93,715 per quarter)
Year two: $521,885 ($130,463 per quarter)
Year three: $736,918 ($184,229 per quarter)
Year four: $770,035 ($192,508 per quarter)
Year five: $804,908 ($201,227 per quarter)
Year six: $845,153 ($211,288 per quarter)
Media at meeting: Jackson Free Press, Clarion-Ledger, WLBT, WAPT, WJTV, Fox 40
Hinds County did not advertise for bids on Airwave contract, WLBT shines light on Airwave, Hinds awarded $4 million contract to non-existent company, Airwave payments will bankrupty E911 fund in 2014
The Board* of the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program (MPACT) voted unanimously on August 23 to suspend new enrollments in the program until the completion of an actuarial audit. Treasurer Lynn Fitch said this was the first time an such an audit had been made of MPACT.
Ms. Fitch cited several reasons for the suspension in a presentation to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee today. Copy of presentation Ms. Fitch said the program never met its target rate of return of 7.8% as the investments yielded of 4.8% since its inception. MPACT investments yielded a rate of return of only .6% last year. The funding level fell from 83% last year to 76% this year. She said the program had not achieved a funding level of 100% since 2000 (see the chart she distributed to the media and legislators below and (;30 in the video.).
Time and time again the Treasurer pointed out to a committee that included her predecessor the rate of return was sharply outpaced by tuition increases that were over 7%. She said the board had to do something about "the gap". Ms. Fitch said there are 22,293 participants enrolled in MPACT and the plan has $265.1 million in assets. She only spent a few minutes on the program as part of her presentation. However, several legislators brought the spotlight back to MPACT when given the chance.
Senator Pro-Tem Terry Brown (17:00) forcefully told the treasurer he was "deluged with phone calls" by people who enrolled their children in the program. Senator Brown accused Ms. Fitch of keeping the legislature in the dark about the decision by the MPACT board to suspend enrollments. Ms. Fitch said they were "just taking a pause" in the MPACT program and just "doing an actuarial audit" to see where the program stands. She said the legislative liasons "were apprised" of board decisions. She called the measure "proactive and one of due diligence" and that current enrollees are protected by the "full faith and credit of the state". Ms. Fitch said many states had made adjustments to their programs. Some closed them, some contributed more money, and others sold bonds.
Senator Brown asked the treasurer how long the suspension would last only to be told by Ms. Fitch she didn't know how long it would be. Ms. Fitch told Representative John Moore MPACT had been underfunded since 2000. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves asked the treasurer at the end of the hearing if she recommended suspending new enrollments in PERS since PERS was only funded at a level of 62%, far below the 76% funding level of MPACT. Ms. Fitch replied she couldn't answer for PERS. This correspondent also asked Ms. Fitch what level she considered to be well-funded for the MPACT program. The Treasurer would not provide a percentage she considered to be a "well-funded" level.
Tomorrow: JJ reviews the MPACT 2012 audit and market summary.
Earlier MPACT posts: Cecil & Tate trade licks, 2010 report says MPACT only 75% funded *Board members present: Ms. Lynn Fitch, Dr. Hank Bounds, Dr. Eric Clark, Ms. Jessica Dupont, Ms. Rita Wray (Representing Kevin Upchurch, DFA Executive Director), Mr. Len Blanton, Mr. Kenneth Goza, Mr. Kevin Upchurch Legislative Advisors: Representative Greg Holloway, Senator Steve Hale
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Update: Here is the alert from the Reunion Homeowner's Association:
A Reunion resident in the Lakepoint area has reported that a pet boa constrictor has escaped its aquarium. The snake has never hurt anyone or been known to be aggressive.
The Madison Police Department has been made aware of this situation and will respond to any reported sighting. Please call the MPD at 601-856-6111 if you see the snake.
The Snake is brown and approximately 7 feet in length. MPD Animal Control is also responding to the situation.
Original post last night:
An 8 foot Boa Constrictor, that is a snake, not one of the Boa Babes although some ex-husbands may beg to differ, is on the loose in Reunion right now thanks to the alleged negligence of a certain former Democratic gubernatorial candidate (no, not the toe-sucker but the one who has Angel Eyes) who owns the snake in question as well as the tank in which he was confined.
Now a word from our sponsor: Did this crisis cause you to suffer pain and suffering? Mental anguish? Were your children traumatized by the unexpected horror of being killed by a Boa Constrictor? Did you find yourself experiencing mental anguish because you suddenly needed your xanex pills but were out? Don't worry. The law firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe will make sure you get what you deserve and to quote the patron saint of Reunion, David Nutt, make sure he gets what he deserves.
The British Independent reported Libyan officials warned the American government about security problems in their country:
"American diplomats were warned of possible violent unrest in Benghazi three days before the killings of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three members of his team, Libyan security officials say.
The claim came as the country's interim President, Mohammed el-Megarif, said his government had information that the attack on the US consulate had been planned by an Islamist group with links to al-Qa'ida and with foreigners taking part..."
Naturally U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice blamed the video for starting the riots:
"However, the American ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, insisted that the killings had resulted from a demonstration against a film about the Prophet Mohamed, replicating protests in Cairo, which had been "hijacked" and got out of control."
Um, yeah. They all showed up with RPG's, heavy weapons, and rocket launchers just out of nowhere. Uh-huh.
The Independent has reported diplomatic sources who said that the threat of an attack against US interests in the region was known to the US administration 48 hours before it took place. The alert was issued by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but not made public. A State Department spokesman maintained: "We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the US Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent."
Ah yes. What is "actionable"? What is "is"?
But President Megarif told the American station National Public Radio: "We firmly believe that this was a pre-calculated, pre-planned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the US Consulate. A few of those who joined in were foreigners who had entered Libya from different directions, some of them definitely from Mali and Algeria."
But, but, but, it was the video.
A senior official of the biggest militia in Benghazi, the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he had warned US diplomats of a rapidly deteriorating security situation in Benghazi three days before the attack. "The situation is frightening, it scares us," he said he had stressed during the meeting. Mr Stevens had been back in Libya for only a short time before US security officials decided it would be safe to make the journey to Benghazi during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The British consulate in the city was shut after an ambush of a convoy carrying Dominic Asquith, the UK ambassador, in which his bodyguard were injured. The UN and International Committee of the Red Cross offices had been bombed and there had been a spate of political assassinations.
Yeah, I know its a "militia". Can't listen to him, of course. Rest of the article
Monday, September 17, 2012
The Madison County Board of Supervisors is going to have another public hearing on the proposed tax increase on September 26 after it was determined they did not exactly follow state law in holding the first public hearing. Stay tuned.Click Here to Read More..
This is a taste of what took place at the meeting of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors this morning. Supervisor Phil Fisher placed the Airwave contract on the agenda for discussion. The county can terminate the contract each October if it provides thirty days notice.
Stacy Stowers, President of Airwave (President of a one or two man company), sat in the audience while flunkie Nathan Hargrove, owner of Northstar Wireless, spoke to the board about Airwave. Supervisor Fisher had enough and finally asked who worked for who. Mr. Hargrove decided to inject some racism into thee discussion and said "I realize we all look alike to you." See for yourself.
This week is legislative budget hearing week at the capital. That means every state agency comes to the legislature with their hands out begging fo' mo'. Here is the schedule for this week.
If you see nothing and are on an Apple device, get a flash reader app. The document is in flash.
Collection of JPS & Education posts
The report cards for Mississippi Public Schools are out for the 2011-2012 school year, which means it's time to take a good hard look at the marks for Jackson Public Schools. This is the first year report cards were issued under the new rating system: A,B,C,D,F. The grades for Jackson Public Schools are worse than dismal, they are downright disgusting.
NO Jackson middle or high schools earned the grade of A or B. Only two high schools and one middle school earned a C. The other 14 schools graded D or F. The elementary schools were slightly better: 3 A's, 5 B's, 13 C's and the rest were D's or F's. Let that sink in. 82% of all Jackson public middle and high schools rate either D or F. Earlier post
Thank you Jackson Public School Board. Thank you Harvey Johnson. Funny how you seem to be AWOL whenever the subject of Jackson Public Schools arises. Where is Dr. George Schimmel writing letters to the Clarion-Ledger defending these report cards? One can only imagine why he doesn't write about this problem with the same vigor he uses when attacking charter schools. Speaking of, where exactly is Nancy Loome? I don't see any tweets or Facebook posts by her as she does whenever charter schools are mentioned.
Well don't you fossils worry about it. Even though Jackson is over 80% black, the blacks are voting... with their feet. Clinton Public Schools are now 50% black. Pearl Public Schools are now 40% black. 150 years ago blacks fled the white plantations whenever possible. Blacks now flee the black educational plantation whenever they can as well as they seek to escape the chains of the educational slavery imposed upon them by Harvey Johnson and the Jackson Public School Board.
Here are are the schools and their grades. Brace yourself.
New Classification = Old Classification
A = Star
B = High Performing
C = Successful
D = Academic Watch
F = Low Performing, At Risk of Failing, Failing
High Schools (8)
Data: Current Grade (last year's grade)
Murrah: C (D)
Forest Hill: C (Same)
Callaway: F, Low performing (D)
Jim Hill: D, Academic Watch (Same)
Wingfield: F, Low Performing (F, At Risk of Failing)
Bailey: F (D)
Lanier: F (D)
Provine: D (F, At Risk of Failing)
Two schools improved one grade. Three fell one grade. Three stayed the same.
Middle Schools (9)
Blackburn: D (Same)
Brinkley: F, Low Performing (D)
Chastain: D (Same)
Hardy: F, Low Performing (D)
Northwest: D (Same)
Peeples: D (Same)
Powell: D (F, At Risk of Failing)
Rowan: C (Same)
Whitten: F, Low Performing (F, At risk of failing)
6 middle schools remained unchanged, 2 middle schools fell one grade, one middle school improved one grade.
17 middle and high schools. 3 C's, 7 D's, and 7 F's. 82% of Jackson public middle and high schools were graded D or F.
Elementary Schools (34)
Baker: B (Same)
Barr: B (C)+
Boyd: C (B)-
Bradley: D (B) --
Brinkley: F, Low Performing (D) -
Brown: D (C) -
Casey: A (B) +
Clausell: D (C) -
French: C (B) -
George: A (Same)
Green: F, Low Performing (B) ---
Hopkins: C (F, At Risk of Failing) ++
Isable: C (F At Risk of Failing) ++
Johnson: F, Low Performing (F At Risk of Failing)
Key: F, Low Performing (C) -
Lake: C (D) +
Lee: C (F, At Risk of Failing) ++
Lester: D (Same)
Marshall: C (F, At Risk of Failing) ++
McLeod: B (Same)
McWillie: A (Same)
North Jackson: C (F, At Risk of Failing) ++
Oak Forest: F, Low Performing (D) -
Peeples: D (Same)
Pointdexter: C (D) +
Raines: C (Same)
Smith: C (Same)
Spann: C (F, At Risk of Failing) ++
Timberlawn: D (C) -
Walton: C (D) +
Sykes: C (Same)
Wilkins: D (F, At Risk of Failing) +
Woodville Heights: D (F, At Risk of Failing) +
Number of schools improving two grades: 6
Number of schools improving one grade: 7
Number of schools falling one grade: 7
Number of schools falling two grades: 2
The elementary schools were the only ones with a true bell curve, as the number of A's and B's were equal to D's and F's. Unfortunately for JPS, that still means only 15% of all schools graded A or B while 45% graded D or F.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Nakoula B. Nakoula. Fairly or unfairly, he will always be connected to the Arab riots last week as the Democrat spinmeisters and Arab apologists, oops, I meant the Arab street, blame him and others for producing a film that insulted their precious prophet. The truth is the riots were more likely part of an Al-Qaida operation in several countries as the terrorist organization initiated them as cover to attack our embassies. However, the government is now drawing heat for scrutinizing Mr. Nakoula because he is a felon on probation.
Mr. Nakoula violated one fundamental law all those on probation must obey if they want to stay out of jail: keep your nose clean and stay out of the spotlight. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. Mr. Nakoula was convicted of bank fraud in 2010. The indictment is posted below. The sentencing, posted below as well, forbids him from using a computer without his probation officer's approval:
Defendant shall not possess or use a device with access to any online service at any location without the prior approval of the Probation Officer. This includes access through any Internet Service Provider ("ISP"), bulletin board system, or any public or private computer network system. Further, defendant shall not have another individual access the Internet on defendant's behalf to obtain files or information that defendant is restricted from accessing personally, or accept restricted files or information from another person;
Defendant shall use only those computers, computer related devices, screen/user names, passwords, e-mail accounts, and ISPs approved by the Probation Officer. Computer and computer-related devices include, but are not limited to, personal computers, personal data assistants (PDAs), Internet appliances, electronic games, and cellular telephones, as well as peripheral equipment, that can access, or can be modified to access, the Internet, electronic bulletin boards, other computers, or similar media. Defendant shall use any approved computers only within the scope of his employment. Defendant shall not access a computer for any other purpose..."
Make no mistake, never in this guy's wildest dreams did he think this video would get the attention it has. Forget viral, this thing went pandemic. Mr. Nakoula really shouldn't be allowed near a video camera or computer if this is the kind of crap he produces. This movie is worse than The Wall on acid. In fact, I don't think there is any drug that can improve watching this movie.
I write this post as a free speech fanatic and an opponent of Obama. The federal government was wrong for outing this guy. The federal government was wrong for endangering him as the fanatics would love to know who he is. However, the federal government was not wrong in asking him a few questions, interviewing him, or whatever they called it when he came down "to the station" with his face covered up. I hate to say this but this guy got stupid. When you are on probation, you stay out of trouble and you damn sure stay out of the media. If you are in the news for anything, it is a safe bet you will hear from your probation officer. If you are in the news because you produced a Youtube video after you were ordered not to use a computer, you have no one else but yourself to blame when your ego is more important than your sentence and you find yourself in the hot seat.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Here is the video from the immigration hearing held at the House several weeks ago. Representative Andy Gipson chaired the meeting. Needless to say, the room was packed to the walls, was hot as hell, and was one of the most poorly run hearings I've ever witnessed. There were over 40 scheduled speakers. Another 100 people were in the hallway. The large committee room was not used due to renovations. I managed to get the first seven or so speakers before I had to leave due to my bronchitis or whatever this respiratory stuff acting up that day was. Enjoy. It's colorful.
Friday, September 14, 2012
The Lieutenant Governor's office just issued the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Sept. 14, 2012
CONTACT: Laura Hipp, Communications Director (601) 359-3848; firstname.lastname@example.org
SENATE REDISTRICTING PLAN APPROVED BY U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
JACKSON – Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves today announced the U.S. Department of Justice approved the redistricting plan for the Mississippi Senate.
The Senate plan added a district in DeSoto County to reflect the growing population of the area and increased the number of districts with majority-minority voting-age residents to 15 from 12. There remain 52 Senate districts.
“I am pleased the U.S. Department of Justice approved the new district lines for the Mississippi Senate,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “The plan drawn by our redistricting committee received overwhelming bipartisan support from the Senate because it was fair and representative of the entire state.”
Madison County made two bond payments in 2011 of $258,328 on May 11 for the Parkway South and $374,021 on October 24 for the Parkway East Public Improvement Districts. However, the Mississippi Code in 2011 and a 2007 Attorney General's opinion may have prohibited such payments.
The Independent (UK) reported the U.S. Government was warned about the raid in Libya 48 hours before it took place and did nothing. The article contains more disturbing information:
"American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.
The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe".
Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted...
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa'ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks....
According to security sources the consulate had been given a "health check" in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: "The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs."
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya's Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. "There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet."....
An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. "I don't know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries," said Captain Obeidi. "It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa."..." Article
This was not about any film. The U.S. government denies this story is true and it had no warnings about any impending violence or attack. One other thing. There was a story that spread like wildfire across the internet and made it to some media outlets yesterday about the Marines in Egypt were not allowed to carry ammo. ALL of those stories trace back to one story on a website called "The Nightwatch". The post cites "Marine Corps blogs" but never post any links, quotes, screenshots, anything. Nothing is actually cited. Until something else pops up, and given the media interest if its true it will, I'm not buying it until I see some more evidence. It might be true but vague unnamed reports on the internet aren't going to do it for me.
Meanwhile the Jerusalem Post reports on Egyptian warnings:
"Egypt's General Intelligence Service warned that a jihadi group is planning to launch terrorist attacks against the US and Israeli embassies in Cairo, according to a report Tuesday by Egypt Independent, citing a secret letter obtained by Al-Masry Al-Youm.
According to the report, the attack is being planned by Global Jihad, the group suspected of killing 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai on August 5.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reportedly obtained a copy of the September 4 letter, sent to all Egyptian security sectors, warning that Sinai- and Gaza-based Global Jihad cells were planning attacks on the two embassies.
Egypt's military is engaged in an ongoing campaign to root out Sinai-based terrorists..." Article
Time will tell how true this stories are.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 last week on a new budget that cut $2.5 million from the HCSO budget. Sheriff Lewis published several messages on Facebook urging the public to ask the supervisors to restore the cuts. Ministers friendly to the Sheriff conducted a rally Sunday asking the board to restore them as well. The room was packed and an overflow crowd of Hinds County Deputies filled the hallway as they awaited the outcome of the board meeting.
Supervisors Phil Fisher, Kenneth Stokes, and Doug Anderson voted on September 4 for a budget that included the $2.5 million in cuts for the budget. Supervisor Doug Anderson reversed his vote and voted for the restoration. The budget passed last week would provide an across the board $100 monthly raise to all county employees, place more money in the depleted reserve fund, and the paving of 500 miles of county roads. Supervisor Anderson was unable to speak but a few words and instead handed a typed message to Supervisor Graham, which Supervisor Graham read to the audience (He tried to speak at 32:00 mark). Five individuals spoke to the board during the public comment period of the meeting. Four of them were ministers speaking in support of the Sheriff. Then there was community activist David Archie.
Mr. Archie didn't pull any punches or mince any words (19:00). He said exactly what he thought: "It appears that politics is at its best and now it appears that the Bible is at its best." He continued "When the Sheriff was elected he said he would do more with less not more with less....Its not our fault that the Sheriff doesn't known what he's doing."
Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun opposed the cuts, stating it would cost a great deal of money to pay severance and comp time to those terminated if he has to lay off 135 employees and "it will have a direct impact on the general fund." She said employees told her the $100 monthly raise was "not worth having" after taxes and other deductions were removed.
Then there was Supervisor Stokes (34:00). He said the county "treats the employees like Hebrew slaves" and they deserved a raise. He called the raise a "start". Supervisor Fisher (36:00) followed Mr. Stokes in opposing the Sheriff. He said the budget has been "a mess for years" and misspent its surpluses and other funds. He criticized the use of deputies to patrol in Jackson. He said Jackson should be responsible for patrolling in Jackson since it had a larger staff and budget. Stokes followed up (50:30) and accused the Sheriff of using scare tactics to get his way. He said there would not be 135 layoffs and said Ms. Hobson-Calhoun was lying.
The board voted after Supervisor Graham read Mr. Anderson's "statement". Sheriff Lewis then addressed the media and a crowd of supporters across the street from the chancery building. He said "We can't afford one pay cut or to lose one person to get this county moving in the right direction." "This is the largest county in Mississippi. This is the largest law enforcement agency in Mississippi. We need to be looked up as leaders." He said they were going to bring economic development to "Hinds County by making people feel safe".
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Raymond Ethan Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a government record in Travis County, Texas on August 31. The court sentenced him to 120 days with credit for time served of a little over two months. Mr. Thomas was arrested last year by federal marshals in the Reunion subdivision where he lives. The arrest was widely reported by local news media. Mr. Thomas previously served 13 months while in college for perjury, after he was caught planting drugs on a college student. Mr. Thomas was a police officer at the time. Earlier post
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Yes, it's been five years. We remember here. Never forgotten. Here is something her mother wrote on this website five years ago about her daughter:
Today marks the day two months ago that my world, as I knew it, changed forever and I lost my beautiful girl. It doesn't get any easier. My grief follows me and everywhere I go, festive decorations remind me of the upcoming holidays, Heather's favorite time of the year. But instead of shopping for her gifts, I'm shopping for something special to put on her grave. This shouldn't be. She should be here. Up until she was 25 years old when I still lived in Jackson, I would put out "Santa Claus" for her and her brother and fill their stockings. Not a lot, just some things they could wake up to...to keep the fun going and keep our tradition alive. I have videos of every year, getting up in the early morning hours and video-taping them as they walked into the living room, tree lit and Christmas music playing...seeing the sleepy smiles on their faces as they surveyed their gifts. But best of all were the hugs and kisses that we shared. My arms ache for a hug from her.
One of Heather's favorite holiday foods was deviled eggs. I have a photo of her from last year, at her grandmother's, stuffing eggs with a big smile on her face. Several of the eggs would disappear before they ever made it to the table! And gifts...she was such a great gift-giver, so thoughtful, a giver from the heart. After my move way up north, she always seemed to know exactly what I needed. A down stuffed jacket, a big fluffy robe that she said was 'the warmest robe you'll ever wear', and it is. And so many more things she knew were special to me.
I miss her. I miss everything about her. We all do. Not just at holiday time, but every minute of every day. I am thankful for the 28 years I had with her. She helped mold me as well as I did her, growing up together, mother and daughter, learning from each other. I am also thankful for my son, who inspires me and continues to make me proud. Never take what you have with your children for granted. Hug them, kiss them and tell them you love them, every day. Other than our hope of eternal life in Heaven, our children are the true gifts we are given on this earth.
Collection of all Heather Spencer posts
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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.