Tuesday, January 5, 2016

No cost, better system = bad idea in Jackson

The Jackson City Council voted to join the MSWIN radio system last week although it did so under protest.  City council members voted under protest as they claimed they were being manipulated by Hinds County and the state into voting for the system.  However, Hinds County is picking up the entire cost of moving to the MSWIN system.  MSWIN is a statewide radio network created after Hurricane Katrina.  It allows first responders and law enforcement across the state to communicate with each other.  The current radio system used by JPD is operated by Hinds County.  The system is obsolete and the county can no longer order parts for it.  There are several "dead spots" in Jackson at as well.  The council had to vote before a December 31 deadline.  MSWIN was built by Motorola.

The Hinds County proposal offered these features to Jackson:

*Hinds County picks up the cost of the $4 million to operate on MSWIN.
*JPD and the Jackson Fire Department personnel will be able to communicate with other first responders and law enforcement agencies.  The current system does not allow them to do so.  Thus police cannot communicate with each other on chases, for example, unless someone has a radio compatible with the other department's radio system.
*Dead radio spots in Jackson are eliminated.
*The state maintains the radio system.
*The cost of maintaining Jackson's equipment will be capped at $140,000.
*Hinds transfers two of its three towers to MSWIN and deactivates the third.
*Hinds and Jackson retain their own private channels on MSWIN but can operate joint channels that allow them to communicate with other agencies. 
*The money will be used to only operate and maintain Jackson's portion of MSWIN.  It is not dumped into a "general fund" to be used on other cities and counties' portion of MSWIN.

The city council voted 3-1 (Stokes, Foote, Hendrix with Stamps opposing) to enter into an interlocal agreement with Hinds County.  Hinds County voted last fall to scrap its system and join the MSWIN system.

However, Mayor Tony Yarber, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Marshand Crisler, and three councilmen all stated very strongly that they were not happy about joining the MSWIN system and that they preferred to have Jackson operate its own radio system.   Melvin Priester, Jr. recused himself from the discussion as he represented Hinds County in a lawsuit against Motorola.

Mayor Yarber said (6:00) "we would love to see the city of Jackson be able to have a system that is stand alone and we  support ourselves in this effort.  The dilemma is we don't have the funding to move in that direction right now." He said the city had to decide whether to stand on principle and allow police officers and firefighters to remain at risk or accept the county's proposal.  He said the goal was for the city to eventually have a "stand-alone" system.

Councilman DeKeither Stamps tried to tie this in to the fight over the airport as he said it "appeared" several entities were trying to pull resources away from Jackson".  However, the current radio system is owned and operated by Hinds County and not Jackson.  Mr. Stamps said the city was being "manipulated" into voting for the system. 

The system is paid for with E911 funds distributed by the county.  Cellphone and landline users pay a tax that goes into a statewide E911 fund.  The Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission forwards the money to each county for their appropriate share (Jackson resident's tax goes to the state and then to Hinds County, not other counties).  The money is appropriated by an E911 committee that is made up of representatives of various fire and police departments in Hinds County.  Agencies request funding for telecommunications equipment from the committee.  The committee makes a recommendation.  The Board of Supervisors then approves or rejects that recommendation.  The committee only meets on an as-needed basis.  There are not regular meetings of the E911 committee.

However, several councilmen argued that the taxes placed into the E911 fund is Jackson's money as 80% of the residents in Hinds County live in Jackson.  However, state law mandates that the state provide the tax directly to the county E911 fund and not the city.  JJ attempted to contact Hinds County EOC Director Ricky Moore to find out when the committee last met.

Kingfish note: That was the news, now for the opinion.  Utterly ridiculous is the only way to describe what took place last week.  The state of affairs right now is that Jackson and Hinds County have a system that is obsolete.  The county has to find parts for it on Ebay.  Band-aids, chicken-wire, bondo, you get the idea.  All that talk about police chases? One problem with the police chases is the radio system used by JPD and Hinds County CAN NOT COMMUNICATE  with radio systems of neighboring cities and counties although some agencies have loaned HCSO and JPD their radios to get around this problem.

The county (through E911 funds) is picking up the cost of the new system for Jackson.  Everyone get that little fact? The new system does not cost Jackson a cent although Jackson will have to pay for  maintenance and software upgrades on its own radios after three years.

However, the leadership made it clear they would rather spend several million dollars on its own radio system if it had the money to do so.  Furloughs at JPD.  Roads falling apart. Water pipes failing.  Flat or declining revenues.  However, getting a new radio system that is compatible with everyone else and paid for by someone else and thus keeping an expense off of the books is considered to be a bad deal.  Want to know why Jackson's finances are in bad shape? Watch last week's discussion. 

There was also one particular feature that was not even mentioned during the 42 minute discussion: the ability to talk to other law enforcement agencies.  If Jackson chases a suspect into Pearl or Ridgeland chases one into Jackson, the police will be able to talk to each other.  Remember that nut that killed the woman at the Shell station on Watkins Drive? He then shot up a JATRAN bus, shot at a house, and then crossed the county line and killed a woman in Ridgeland only to return to Jackson.  Do you think police need to able to talk to each other when someone goes on a killing spree? Criminals don't recognize county lines.  Suppose a tornado hits Hinds County and first responders from around Mississippi come help us recover? Their radios won't work on the current system.  However, none of that entered into the discussion last week.  All that mattered was control. Me, me, me, and some more me.  

Only in Jackson would someone consider getting a better radio system at no cost to the city to be a bad deal.

Oh, Nathan Hargrove and Stacy Stowers were hanging around the council chambers during the discussion.  Just a coincidence.


Anonymous said...

Yea thank the lord that Hinds County is calling the shots otherwise Jackson would have been down the drain ALONG time ago.

Anonymous said...

Stokes--he voted for this?

Anonymous said...

You said it KF. Utterly ridiculous.

When the door of opportunity opens to reinforce for all the metro and State that they are unable to lead and make good decisions, Jackson's Mayor and City Council will run through that door each and every time.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, are you not allowing posts on the Wray story because of how much she paid you during the campaign?

Anonymous said...

The current supposedly obsolete system used by Hinds County is also Motorola which is the brand the County has used for over 30 years. As far as dead spots in Jackson, that has been the case for over 30 years also and each new radio system that has been acquired (about every 5-10 years) has promised to fix that. And now you're going from 3 towers to 2?! That being said, HC and Jxn should have been on the state system LONG ago.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is duplication of government in Hinds County.
It is fiscally irresponsible for a county of such a small population to compete for limited resources and to pay for so damn many politicians and their offices and their staffs and their vehicles and their legal counsels, etc. etc.
And, for those of you who don't like Jackson's city council, if you incorporated ALL of Hinds county, the composition would change!
Arguing for city dominance which is at the heart of the council's position is not an argument without value and is inevitable.
I'm not surprised Stokes was for county control as he'd be gone if the county was incorporated like it should be.

Anonymous said...

Jackson wanting to be on their own system and not have comms with others dates back years when they went to that POS 800 system that Motorola should have won the bid for but didn't. The State law now basically makes them play nice with everyone in order to get the funds.

Anonymous said...

If Jackson had its way Delta would have never acquired jet planes.

Anonymous said...

City dominance inevitable?

You shouldn't smoke so much weed this early in the morning.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:55

MSWIN already has around 150 tower sites around MS, looks like three in Hinds County alone. including coverage in the Jackson area. In essence your going to 5 towers not two. Here's a link to the coverage map: http://www.wcc.ms.gov/WCCDocuments/MSWIN%20Coverage%20Map.pdf

Anonymous said...

1009- hinds county isn't small. 245000 people- most populous county in the state. 70 percent is jackson so even without jackson the county would still be top 10 in population.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Tony,

What "principle" are you attempting to "stand on"? The principle of best services for the citizens you serve or the ever-present Stokes-like principle of ego?

Anonymous said...

About time Jackson decided to step up to something better. So far this is the only thing good I have heard of Jackson doing in a long time.

Anonymous said...

And with so many State Agencies in or near Jackson as well as AirCare at UMMC being on the MISWIN System, you can bet your sweet behind they will have coverage. It's not a far shot from Old Whitfield Rd in Pearl (MEMA) to downtown Jackson.

It only doesn't make sense if you can't get a kickback.

Anonymous said...

Having the system is awesome, but deciding who gets access to which frequencies is the fun part - let the urinary olympics begin!

You Are the Dispatcher Beneath My Wings said...

It only doesn't make sense if you can't get a kickback.

[Ding, Ding. Ding, Ding.]

Ladies and Gentlemen we HAVE a Winner!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Precious involved with the whole Motorola thing a few years back?

Anonymous said...

1:43 has brought clarity to the issue!!

Follow the dollar!!

Kingfish said...

You're ignorant. Just plain stupid. Idiotic even.

Wray didn't buy a single ad on this site. Considering who her campaign manager was, that should not be a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Stokes is smart enough to see this is a good thing. There are people on this council that Stokes is smarter than?

Nuff2Say said...

The City of Jackson DOES have a "seat" on the E-911 Commission. Each city/entity has representatives on the Commission that votes on the decisions that need to be made. The Jackson has 2 seats/votes and each other entity has just 1 seat/vote. Jackson PD and Jackson FD both have representatives on the Commission.

The reason the county's current radio system is crap is because it is outdated. Just like any technology after 5 years its "outdated". Also the county wasted money paying Nathan Hargrove and Stacy Stowers. They raped the county and tax payers of Hinds County. I quite certain Lt Graham has had his under the table from that money too. That money could have been used years ago to do an upgrade..

If the City doesn't want to be on MSWIN then Hinds Co needs to let them sink... they do NOT want to work with anyone. KF said it correctly when he said the City is ME ME ME ME!!!


Anonymous said...

10:44 am. You might try learning something about governments that function efficiently and how cities evolve over time.

Anonymous said...

I would say its a fear of the "white man's hidden agenda"; however, Hinds County is paying for it and Stokes supports it. That takes me to Cronyism 101. Perhaps they didnt like the deal because their pockets arent getting "perked" since the funds flow is outside the control of the City.

Anonymous said...

Keep hitting that bong @7:21 PM. You are making as little sense as you did this morning. Jackson? Efficient functioning? ROFLMAO

Kingfish said...

Stokes voted for it because Vance said they needed to have it. He said he didn't want to vote for it but had no choice. In other words, he was kicking and screaming as he voted for it.

Anonymous said...

The pay offs must have stopped coming in.

Anonymous said...

Gonna need some chap stick for those dry beaks.

Anonymous said...

I love the Harris Radio Systems

Anonymous said...

Give it a few more years. If Jackson officials do with the new system what they have done with everything else they will be sending smoke signals.

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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!!!

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