Friday, June 2, 2017

The clock is ticking

Whoever the new Mayor of Jackson is will have to make several quick decisions thanks to a new state law*. The interim Directors of Public Works and Finance can't get paid after July 1 and the JMAA Board of Commissioners will lack a quorum after August.  Anna Wolfe reported in the Clarion-Ledger yesterday:

A new law will put the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority board at risk of losing a quorum if three positions are not filled by September, all while the fight over the airport takeover by the state continues....

The retroactive law takes effect July 1 and would take away the voting power of any board member sitting in an expired position for more than six months, including two of JMAA five board members. A third commissioner's term will have been expired for six months in August. There are five members on the board....

 Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, told The Clarion-Ledger last year that he is aware of situations in which a mayor will place his desired candidate in an interim position and fail to bring the appointment before the council for fear it will not approve his decision. In some cases, the interim appointees could sit in those positions for years. "That's not how that was supposed to work, and people were taking advantage of it," Harkins said.

This might have been demonstrated best in Hattiesburg over the last few years. Local officials have criticized Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree for failing to permanently fill appointed positions, instead keeping interim appointees around for long periods of time.....

Criticized? Some basic Googling would have revealed to Ms. Wolfe that the Hattiesburg City Council had to sue Mayor Johnny Dupree in 2014:

 Twelve positions — including seven connected to Municipal Court, as well as police chief, city attorney, parks and recreation director and urban development director — have not been brought before council for confirmation. Hattiesburg American Article.

 This new law is simply forcing Mayors and their respective legislative branches to actually do their jobs.  Few Mayors enjoy seeking confirmation votes as they would prefer to hire and fire as they please.  However, we live under the principles of representative government.  The City Council exists so there is some oversight over the Mayor.  It will require some give and take - i.e. known as negotiating - between the two branches but that is a basic function of representative government.  However, back to Ms. Wolfe's story:

Harkins did say the airport board discussion was a "side note" considered in drafting the bill. In his last term, former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. failed to reappoint several of the positions. In February 2012, the last of five seats expired, with some members still serving terms that had run out as early as 2009. When Chokwe Lumumba became mayor in 2013, he filled three of the board positions with his appointees.

"So that should have been fresh on everybody's mind, that, 'Hey, three or four years ago, this happened," Harkins said, noting it was Lumumba's right to fill the positions but that, "the positions are staggered for a reason."

Making an appointment in the city has proved slow. Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber first brought a potential airport board appointee, James Stanley, to the Jackson City Council in February 2016, but the council never scheduled a confirmation hearing after Yarber indicated the following month he wanted to "hold off."

Lawmakers initially passed the law in 2016, during the same session in which the airport takeover was passed, but a state attorney general's opinion advised that the law was not specific enough and could not be applied retroactively. Considering the law has existed for a year, officials "should have had plenty of time to address it," Harkins said.

Also on July 1, any city with an interim serving in a position for more than six months will be prohibited from paying that employee.
True dat.  JJ reported two weeks ago that the terms of three JMAA Commissioners expired.  Simply put, the clock is ticking.  Commissioner James Henley's term expires in the middle of August.  Only two Commissioners will be able to vote, thus lacking a quorum.  However,  Junior whined to the reporter about this new law:

"I just ask that Jackson is not the only municipality that this new law is enforced against," said Jackson Councilman Melvin Priester Jr.  (Yes, Melvin, this is all about picking on Jackson.) 

The law applies to employees serving in interim positions, like Interim Jackson Public Works Director Jarriot Smash and Interim Director of Administration Michelle Battee-Day.

Smash was selected to replace former director Kishia Powell, who left the city to go to Atlanta last June. If the law signed in 2016 would have been applied the way Harkins intended, the city would have been prohibited from paying Smash in his interim capacity after January.

But some officials argue it's not feasible to hire these high-profile positions during an election cycle. Yarber is going to be replaced July 1, and it's the prerogative of the new mayor — likely Democratic nominee Chokwe Antar Lumumba based on prior voting trends — to hire his own team.

"I think what's going to happen is whoever the new mayor is, is going to have to come in on day one and either pass the currently sitting people to be put in on a permanent basis or bring in his new person right away," Priester said. "We don't have the luxury of feeling people out for a long time. We've got to put in a permanent director of finance and a permanent public works director or agree that we're sticking with the current folks, but we can't delay. Delay is not the friend of the city right now." Rest of article.
Well, Junior, if you guys had been doing your jobs, you might not be in this predicament.  You can blame the Mayor for not submitting nominations to the City Council.  However, the City Council does have oversight responsibilities.  There was nothing stopping you from placing these concerns on the agenda and holding the administration accountable.  It's called leadership, a quality the City Council has lacked for quite some time.  The Mayor could have also taken advantage of such a discussion to point out the City Council was blocking his nominations if it was indeed doing so. 

This new law changes the way Mayors will govern in Mississippi.  There is not going to be any more placing good ole boys in plum positions while calling them "interim" appointments so they can avoid the nasty business of getting them confirmed by the City Council.  Board members will no longer sit around for years after their term expires and cast votes on multi-million dollar budgets.  Mayors and Councilmen are simply going to have to take their jobs more seriously. 

*21-15-41. (1) No person shall serve in an interim or hold-over capacity for longer than one hundred eighty (180) days * * * in a position that is required by law to be filled by appointment of the governing body of a municipality, or by mayoral appointment with the advice and consent of the council or aldermen * * *. * * * If such position is not filled within one hundred eighty (180) days after the expiration of the position's term, or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the date of appointment if an interim appointment, the hold-over service or interim appointment shall terminate and no municipal funds may thereafter be expended to compensate * * * the person serving in the position. Further, any action or vote taken by such person after the one-hundred-eighty-day period shall be invalid and without effect. If a council or board of aldermen rejects, or otherwise fails to confirm, an individual submitted by the mayor for appointment, the mayor may not resubmit or reappoint the same individual for that position during the remainder of the mayor's current term in office.


KIXIE DJ and Airport Expert said...

What's the big deal? Anyone can serve, as is evidenced by the current board members. You don't need any experience in aviation or air travel or transportation at all. The only requirement is that you be black.

I'm sure that we can find a hip-hop DJ, a retired school bus driver, a snow-cone stand proprietor, a church bishop who drives an Uber, a convenience store manager, a long-haul trucker, or a guy who sells sweet potatoes and boiled P-nuts on the side of the road. Any of those would be as qualified as the current members. Why doesn't Melvin drive down West Capitol and pick the first three people he passes?

Maybe the aviation expert who criticized Marshall Ramsey's drawings of WWII planes? Just as long as he isn't white.

Anonymous said...

KIXIE, what you got against UBER drivers? I have found them to be very nice and able to navigate pretty damn good with their IPhone instrument panels.

Anonymous said...

I imagine Broderick and his brother will be available pretty soon.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry the new mayor has a plan, and if by some stroke of lighting the white girl wins no one will enforce the law. So don't worry CAL has this covered. Besides that,the law will never pass legal muster.

Anonymous said...

It is about time we have some good gubment bills come up to discuss. I like seeing gubment having to work like it was intended to, by the damn rules! It has been far to long that mayors have been able to get away with running a city like their own little fiefdom. Kudos for this bill. Now we get to sit back and watch the mayors that have been sitting on their asses squirm a little bit. This is really going to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Kang, you should award a yearly JJ Good Gubment Award for a single bill that becomes law, each year, and give said legislator/author an ad spot for a period of time for their efforts. God knows they catch enough hell on here from all of your "intelligent" readership. I think you analyze enough bills that you could be a pretty good arbiter of what is worthy of what is JJ highest award for legislative excellence. Maybe you could also award a legislator for being the Dumb shit of the year award. Get creative Kang, this could be an excellent awards show complete with red carpet.

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Trollfest '09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

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

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

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

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS