Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Priester: It's about the land, not Southwest

Jackson City Council President Melvin Priester, Jr. charged last week in a Facebook post that the airport fight is really a battle over who controls the land near the East Metro Parkway.  Mr. Priester wrote:

I want to answer a question that has been popping up in the comments to my posts about the airport takeover. The question is, "as a practical matter, what difference does it make" who is on the airport board (or who appoints the members of the board).

I've also seen that question phrased as: "Is there reason to believe that a group of leaders selected from surrounding areas / the governors appointments / and 2 from Jackson couldn't do as good or better job of managing the airport for the long run?".

I think people who ask this question genuinely believe that this matter is about running the airport, picking the CPAs/outside counsel, doing the day-to-day management, etc.

They couldn't be more wrong.

This hostile takeover isn't at all about managing the day-to-day operations of the airport (if it was, the bill's backers could point to actual problems with airport operations, which they haven't done).

This is a fight over money.

More specifically, this is a money fight over the development of land. For years, the City of Jackson and the Airport Authority have owned a ton of land that wasn't worth much of anything because there were no roads to access that land.

So what's changed?

What's changed is that there is a new road that cuts straight through the City and Airport's property on the East side of the Airport. Because of this new road, all the City land that was useless is now ripe for significant development.

The road I am talking about is the "East Metro Parkway." The East Metro Parkway has been in the works for decades but only really got interesting in 2011. Phase One opened in March 2013 and connected Flowood and Lakeland Drive to El Dorado Road in Pearl. Phase Two started with the Eldorado Road portion and made improvements to Crossgates Boulevard. As everyone involved recognizes, the East Metro Parkway will fundamentally shift traffic patterns in the area. For example, for people coming to Highway 80 to go shopping at Dogwood, they can take this parkway up instead of battling Lakeland traffic.

Tom Traxler, head of Rankin First (Rankin County's economic development group) described the importance of the East Metro Parkway to the Clarion Ledger in August 2011, stating, "The economic impact of East Metro Parkway could be huge, with roughly 1,000 acres along its length potentially open for some type of development. It touches all three cities (Flowood, Pearl and Brandon)." Traxler continued, "it will be an extremely valuable (asset). It opens up a vast amount of property." (source: http://harborwalkms.com/news/flowood-makes-a-connection.pdf )

So, in sum, Jackson's airport board has a say in how this newly valuable land will be used. Because the appointees to the board are Jacksonians and are accountable to the people of Jackson, I know that they care about the things that matter to future of the City of Jackson. For example, I know that the board as it is currently composed will do things like make sure that when people try to develop the property that the City owns along the parkway, some of the jobs and contracts go to Jacksonians. Because the appointees to the board are Jacksonians and care about Jackson, I know that if a project on this City land may hurt other City interests, they won't do the project or will push to do the project in a different way.

Change the composition of the Board in a way that no longer gives Jackson a majority of control, there will be a free-for-all for this newly valuable property. Change the composition of the Board in a way that no longer gives Jackson a majority of control and I know that the construction jobs, and contract opportunities associated with this newly valuable land will not go to Jacksonians.
So, at the end of the day, this matter has nothing to do with who runs the day-to-day operations at the airport and has everything to do with who controls the development opportunities, jobs, and contracts associated with hundreds of acres of land in one of the most valuable areas of the State of Mississippi.

Wanna know why Rankin County Republicans are making this gangster move right now? This is not about who awards the contract for airport attorney or who will be the concessions vendor at the Delta gates. Legal Fees at the airport are small potatoes and Southwest ain't coming back because someone from Rankin County is now a board member. This is all about the East Metro Parkway.

Final Note: Ironically, the very existence of the East Metro Parkway proves the ability of the City, the State, and Rankin County to work together collaboratively without schoolyard bully tactics. That is so because the JMAA has chipped in millions to help build the East Metro Parkway (side by side with Rankin County). It's like the JMAA and the City are being mugged by a hungry person after helping buy the hungry person lunch.


Anonymous said...

He lost me at "gangster".

Anonymous said...

The area needs leadership with finesse. Jackson's "leadership" doesn't possess finesse. Time and time again, Jackson,has shown their lack of tact and expertise. With idiots like Stokes and Stamps, along with department heads and administrative personnel that kill prospects for advancement, I'm a native Jacksonian and senior citizen that has given up on Jackson. The dimocraps have fought for what they thought they wanted, now don't know what to do with the opportunity they once had. Let the state take the airport property under their plan, and try to save the assets for future generations.

Get a Clue Priester said...

This is what happens when you don't address core issues and allow your city over decades to piss away nearly 1/5th of its population and corresponding tax base. You lose political power regionally and at a statewide level.

The balance of power has shifted and Jackson's leadership is still focused on addressing the symptoms and not the illness.

Anonymous said...

Preister makes some good points. Is Senator Harkins and his family involved in commercial real estate development?

Anonymous said...

Look at what has happened to Jackson. Does anyone think the leaders are doing a good job? Why would anyone think the same people would do any better job with the airport?
Until Jackson can take care of their city they should not be allowed to ruin anything else.
Show the people you can do the job by taking care of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Jackson all my life.....having watched the airport being built many years ago....having seen that part of Rankin County develop into a bustling residential and commercial area from a swamp....while watching my beloved Jackson turn into a virtual ghetto;
forgive me for believing that Jackson's leadership is so poor (ie:Stokes etc.) that most certainly a Board of leaders from successful areas of Central Mississippi would be of great benefit to the area and ultimately to my beloved Jackson and my beloved Mississippi!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I don't think you are running your household very well, I'll take that TV. While you're at it, throw in your car. Show me you can do the job.

I also sell used cars and televisions.

A Rankin County Republican Gangster said...


Anonymous said...

So what city will get the sales tax revenue? Seems that is the bigger question.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth Stokes is only the "leader" of Ward 3 in Jackson; one of the poorest areas. HE IS NOT JACKSON's LEADERSHIP. Would hate to see an accurate tally of the people he has driven out of Jackson thereby helping to diminish the tax base. Highland Colony Parkway was taken away from the City of Jackson by a court. Now take away the City's chance to develop East Metro Parkway by the State. The Byrum Clinton Parkway almost completely by-passes Jackson. Do you see a pattern? I do. Shout about crime and poor leadership and beat the drums and steal this land from Jackson. That is what its all about. Councilman Priester is correct.. I see it as money and veiled racism, but the racism is just a tool to hijack another souce of income for the City.

Anonymous said...

What idiotic ramblings from the "wiffin" and "diffin" crowd. I think the good people from Rankin County really need to keep the gangsters from Jackson out now and forever more!

Anonymous said...

De'Keither Stamps for Mayor!!!

Anonymous said...

Jackson's present "leadership" hasn't built anything. Hell, they are for the most part under forty (40) years old, or about 20 years of working life. Screw the part about them contributing anything to Jackson.

Anonymous said...

So, according to Priester, Jackson wants to exercise veto power over a development in Rankin County to get Jacksonian political cronies a taste of the action. And Rankin County says no, we should have primary say in how this Rankin County project is done. You may keep your cronies.

Does this strike anyone else as ... entirely reasonable?

Anonymous said...

Rant all you want to about Jackson's leadership, or the lack of it. Priester makes a point here that is being ignored with such ranting (reminds me of a Trump rally, but I digress).

Jackson owns this land along East Metro. Rankin County, Flowood, Harkins, etc do not own this land. Its development may very well be of interest to Rankin County because (in answer to the question above) they will receive the sales tax revenue from any development on it.

Unlike the airport itself, which is part of the city of Jackson and therefore the tax revenue goes to Jackson, this land is only owned by the city. But therein lies what appears to be a good question to the supposed conservative Republican leadership of the state. Ownership that is trying to be overtaken by a government coup and while Jackson would still own the land, they would no longer control it.

Remember the eminent domain fight of a few years ago? This is the same kind of land grab that many of these same legislators voted against then - except that it is government taking from another government for private gain.

I don't care if Jackson can manage itself and its property in the best manner or not. If Rankin County, Flowood, Harkins, or whoever wants this land, let them buy it from the city. That would be a proper method but it would cost those rich Rankin Countians a ton of money. They would rather steal it instead.

Anonymous said...

Notice the state only wants to take over the good stuff. They want no part of helping to fix the roads, were system or water system. If you take away the best parts of any government entities assets, the rest will decay. For example, if New York, Florida, Texas and Virginia seceded from the United States, the US would become a poorer nation. States like Mississippi depend on these states to support us.

Anonymous said...

Not suprised, really, that the JFP has suddenly decided to cover the airport due to the Senate legislation since even a whiff of racism reliably draws Donner like flies to ....

Before that? SILENCE.

Kent Dear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@1:29 PM I see that ol' iTodd has been reading many of the comments left here on JJ. Hi Todd!

Anonymous said...

12:51, the state didn't get Jackson in the mess they are in now. Why should the people who live in other areas pay to take care of Jackson? The majority of the Jackson citizens already depend on other people to support them. How about the people of Jackson stop being a drain on society?

Anonymous said...

I lost all respect for Priester when I read the "real reason" he is upset about the "take over" of the Airport board.

The very idea that he is upset because he wanted to load up the process with "minority contractors" and now he may not be able to stack the deck for his all black cronies...well.....that is about as shitty as it gets.

I live in this lead water, pothole inundated, anti white town for now....but I am just about on the verge of moving to damn woods....in another county.

Anonymous said...

Hey Priester,

NEW SHOCK, the city has been run by "minorities for 20 years. How long do you want to go down this road of a social experiment to show everyone hey we can do it too? You can't do it alone. You have ZERO credibility and there is absolutely ZERO trust from the people. If your "community" would stop robbing the kitty just because you are in control now, you may have credibility.

Secondly, this notion of having a quota of Jacksonian jobs and contracts? What the hell are we living in? This is extortion. Let the people that are QUALIFIED get the job regardless of where they live. So by your standard a black man or woman living in Rankin, Simpson or Scott county is less deserving than a black man or woman from Jackson?

This is why Jackson is a joke and nobody can take them seriously.

New board, you are clear for takeoff.

Anonymous said...

Again, does anyone know whose get the sales tax revenue and if it will change due to the bill?

Anonymous said...

Why'd you remove your comment Kent?

Anonymous said...

Take advantage of the low interest rates now @3:09 because once the Kenyan exits his cronies at the Fed are going to tank the market.

Anonymous said...

Jackson receives diversion% of sales taxes generated within corp limits. Diversion% of sales taxes generated on Jackson and/or JMAA owned land outside of corp limits goes to either Flowood or Pearl. Senate bill doesn't change that.

Anonymous said...

3:52pm - Dumbest thing I've read all day.

Anonymous said...

Generally the FAA wants to see airport property developed for aviation uses. This property along the east side of JAN is among the best airport property in the southeast for aviation businesses that need a runway. Isn't the development opportunity here really for aviation businesses and not retail? Will the FAA even allow non-aviation retail development? Changing the board of the airport in order to control retail development of this property might be for naught...

Anonymous said...

"Is Senator Harkins and his family involved in commercial real estate development? "

You betcha! https://ballotpedia.org/Josh_Harkins

Anonymous said...

12:18 - actually, yes it does. Jackson owns the land. They ought to be able to do with it what they choose, as long as it fits the zoning.

Would you think that Rankin County could decide what to do with property you owned, just because the County thinks it would be better for them, or for some of their developers?

Might not like it - but if Rankin County wants to control the development of the property, they should buy it. Not just grab it. Next time, it could be yours - not the city's -land.

Anonymous said...

it's funny, why would you spend $ 28,000.00 of your own money for a position that pays $ 10,000.00 per year w/ a $ 129.00/day per diem? from Josh Harkins bio:

"His professional experience includes working as a commercial builder and developer, licensed real estate broker, and Vice President of Harkins Realty, Inc. He also owns and operates JMH Construction Company and co-founded JR Constructors, specializing in storm and disaster-related construction services"

I especially like that "JR Constructors, specializing in storm and disaster-related construction services...." [have a inside line to state and federal contracts do you?

My biggest question in all of this has been on how many occasions did the state reach out to Jackson and say "how can we work with you on this?" or J. Harkins for that matter.

So many of the comments above lay blame and fault with the city of Jackson, and having to wait on them to let road and water infrastructure contracts is a very telling act, or lack there of, in this citizens eyes, but then I think of the state and how it's handled development and such and i recall a beef processing plant, a coal plant, the fairgrounds, prison contracts, etc.....and I can't help but draw the conclusion, that as citizens of this state, we are all getting played and "shook down!"

Just think on this for one moment, the State wants to provide MHP a new 90 million dollar facility, but one can plainly see that they don't take care of what they currently have.......NINETY MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!! How will this expense make us safer??? (does KLLM own the land?)

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding - from talking with several legislators - that the revenues currently going to Jackson will NOT change with a change in control. Therefore, Jackson, what you bitchin' 'bout?

Anonymous said...

what's that saying about if a politicians lips are moving.......

Anonymous said...

The remaining votes in the House are formalities. The deal is done. Bryant signs and the State ultimately wins in court.

Anonymous said...

Mississippians in other towns should be worried.
If the government can steal land legally owned by others, they can steal any land legally owned by others.

Anonymous said...

12:51 PM said "Notice the state only wants to take over the good stuff. They want no part of helping to fix the roads, were system or water system."

And Jackson only wants the state to be involved in the bad stuff, like the responsibility of fixing the roads and water system. When Jacksonians make a case for getting state money to fund infrastructure repairs, their primary point is the state govt buildings being IN Jackson. Guess what...the airport is IN Rankin County.

Anonymous said...

Mississippians in other towns should be worried.

They aren't. The entire state knows the score regarding Jackson's long trip to ruin. Jackson's interests are not bigger than the State of Mississippi's. Never where.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstand, 5:39.

Municipalities are creations of the state, so all "city-owned" land belongs to the state, ab initio. Municipalities exist and hold title to property solely at the sufferance of state voters. Some laws confer what look like private property rights on city governments, but they're purely legislative creations and can thus be undone by a simple legislative majority.

Because I am not a municipality, my ability to hold property is not created by the state legislature. It's a natural right, but even if you don't believe in those, it's enshrined in -among other places- the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

So basically, the state absolutely would have to buy my property for public use, thanks to the Takings Clause. But it doesn't have to "buy" its own resources back from Jackson, any more than it would have to "buy" them back from the Highway Patrol.

And further, if the state decides, "This particular subsidiary would screw up X project, so we're transferring the resources to another subsidiary," it absolutely can do that.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone say why the city of Jackson has an island of land surrounded by Rankin County? Also, if its Jackson that owns it, where is the help from the city of Jackson to help the roads and infrastructure on the roads leading out of the airport?

Anonymous said...

I hate the idea of the government or anyone taking something that isn't theirs, but this is a little different. Cities are subdivisions of the state that exist only because the states say they exist. That's not a license to arbitrarily just do what the state wants, but it is a factor in this or any decision the state makes regarding cities. I'm still a little confused over the "change in control, but not ownership" question that has been raised by several people and is apparently a talking point at the Capitol. Control means you could give away the land to someone with no compensation, I guess, so it seems practically the same as ownership.

As for Priester's angle that Jackson cronies will be left out of contracts... Geez. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Only difference between the RINOs and Democrats is the RINOs swear to high heaven that they aren't being pigs at the trough while the Democrats admit they are and unabashedly insist on gorging themselves.

Anonymous said...

If it is about land, let us review the record of how well Jackson has handled their land use, businesses leaving, tax base shrinking, infrastructure falling apart, crime skyrocketing... Yes, let's let Jackson City Council manage development in Ranking County, too. They seem to do it so well.... (Did my sarcasm font work?) lol

Anonymous said...

What is stopping the city of Jackson from standing a non-airport Jackson authority organization, transferring the land on everything that could be developed. In case the State was able to hostile to take the JMAA they could not come into control of the land in question.

Anonymous said...

The City of Jackson could take the land back from JMAA and put it under the control of the City. Not only would this resolve the airport fiasco, it would be to the benefit of the City. Right now, if the land is developed the money obtained from the development would go to the airport for use only by the airport. If the city took this 'extra' land and then had it developed (or sold) then the money would go to the city. Win/win for everybody.

The reason this has so suddenly come to the forefront was the construction of the new road on the west side of the airport - one that I understand was paid for by Rankin County/Flowood AND the JMAA.

The rest of the roads that 'lead' to the airport are roads maintained by the state, not the city of Flowood or by Rankin County. (Lakeland Drive/Hwy 25; Hwy 80; and the newly constructed road at the roundabout.

While the City is a creation of the state, the argument that therefore all its property is also the property of the state is a good one, but not resolute. The lawsuits that will develop if this bill is passed will be massive and continue for years. Lawyers on both sides will make lots of money - maybe that is the secondary purpose after getting control of the developable land.

8:57's theory that if the city 'screws it up' then the state could take control is also theoretical, and certainly not resolved. But in this case there is no evidence that the city has 'screwed up' the operation of the airport. - The wastewater treatment plant? Maybe another question. But Harkins sees no land worth developing around Savannah Street, so that has no benefit.

Anonymous said...

The reason this has so suddenly come to the forefront was the construction of the new road on the west side of the airport ...

No shit? Please catch up. ASAP.

Anonymous said...

OK 1:38 - now that we've caught up, please explain how if this is so obvious, Harkins is able to continue his narrative that it is about Southwest, airline prices, etc. And the rest of the sentence you quote was left off - a road that JMAA paid part of the construction cost (in reply to early question about 'who' pays for the roads around the airport).

Stay in tune to all parts of the conversation. ASAP

Anonymous said...

9:44 am If cities exist only because the State acknowledges their existence, then an even better case can be made that States exist only because the Federal government acknowledges them to be a State ( think Puerto Rico and D.C.).
Do you really want to go there?

Anonymous said...


You need to go back to civics class.

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