Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fiddlin' Away While the Zoo Burns?

Hinds County tried to give $55,000 to the Jackson Zoo yet the money sits in the city of Jackson's coffers instead of going to the zoo.

The issue arose last week at the regular meeting of the Jackson City Council when Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay questioned City Attorney Sharon Gipson about the grant.  Ms. Lindsay said the city had not signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement between the city and the county even though the Jackson Zoo desperately needed the money.

Ms. Gipson said that the city was reviewing all MOU's with Hinds County.   Hinds County Supervisors Robert Graham and Peggy Hobson-Calhoun have attempted to spend $10 million of their district road budgets on Jackson road projects.



Executive Director Beth Poff sent this email to all members of the City Council recently.  Her frustration is quite obvious to even the most casual reader:

Hinds County – through Supervisor Calhoun – makes a yearly donation to the Jackson Zoo.  The funds use to come directly to us but it is my understanding that now it must be part of an inter-local agreement, with a signed agreement approved by City Council and signed by the Mayor, an invoice from the City to the County thru City Parks and Recreation, and then Parks and Rec gives us the funds.  We are STILL awaiting the $25,000 donation from 2016/2017 and now an additional $30,000 from 2017/2018; for a total now of $55,000.
The back and forth of emails and phone calls with various administration staff  since May 2016 has been frustrating.  

The last answer from the County is they have nothing signed by the Mayor.

The last answer from the City is they need to review and approve a process that gets all impacted depts involved.

We are not a road project or any type of building project.  We are a zoo that needs cash to cover expenses!

Surely someone in the above email contacts can get this done!!

 The Jackson Zoo is operated by the Jackson Zoological Society.  The Society has a lease for the zoo that expires in September.  The City Council chose to issue a request for proposals.   Director of Administration Dr. Robert Blaine told the City Council at the same meeting that the city had not yet issued the RFP.  However, he said several strong management groups had contacted his office about submitting proposals.

Kingfish note: This is not the first time the city has withheld money from the Jackson Zoo.  The insurance company paid a quarter million dollars for damages caused by the 2013 hailstorm.  The city did not actually repair the buildings until last year - four years after the hailstorm.  

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Laugh if you must, Robert Graham would have been a better Mayor.

Anonymous said...


I'm surprised the $ 55,000.00 hasn't disappeared.

Newgene Ledbetter said...

Looks like the folks what got the money ain't gone give it up. Robbing one zoo to pay another.

Anonymous said...

The city legal department is where every initiative goes to die.

Anonymous said...

Amen 11:08

Anonymous said...

@10:30am - that ain't saying much. The legend hasn't been good at anything except posturing.

Anonymous said...

I'm really wondering why the Ward 7 Council Person is bringing up an issue that might be better attended by the Council Person actually responsible for the Ward in which the zoo resides. Also really stoked to find out that not just my city taxes, but my county taxes get shoveled into the great money suck that is the zoo.

Fiddling whilst burning occurs? Lindsay could take a golden fiddle off the devil in that circumstance. Maybe her time would be better spent responding to her constituents that aren't hospitals, churches, or real estate investors with impressive Ward 7 holdings than going to bat for the zoo. Yes, please, start with the 'it's an amenity for the whole city" crap. As a resident of your Ward, I'd much rather my street not be a third world goat trail, my water not smell and be discolored, and JPD have the Officers and equipment they need than making sure that Poff's paycheck cashes. Because, as a zoo customer and supporter, I can tell you the money isn't going to maintenance of the facility.

I'm beginning to think driving the zoo into the ground is deliberate to force a move. Virgi is tipping her hand by being the one bringing this up and with that mention of attendance dropping "since the two museums opened." Surely she doesn't mean the two in her Ward where the Zoo wants to relocate? And isn't it a coincidence that One Lake is being pushed so hard right now? Honestly, the worst part about the oligarchy that is Jackson, is that the staggering nepotism has given us some really sub-par villains.

Anonymous said...

If Baby Chock doesn't do something about his legal department, his administration will go down in massive flames. This MOU is just one example that is repeated in every department, on every action. Lawyers for the city think their job is to run the departments and let them do what the lawyers want, and when the lawyers want it.

Department heads are going to start bailing out unless Chock addresses this mess. Start by eliminating or replacing many of them. Then reorganize and put the lawyers under the department heads - not equal to them. These damn bureaucrats think that their job is to establish policy, not to just give advice.

Kingfish said...

It is the Jackson Zoo, not the Ward 5 Zoo. Every council member gets an equal vote on the budget. Period.

Besides, Tillman, slumlord that he is, won't return Ms. Poff's phone calls.

Anonymous said...

Lawyerin' is all Lumumba knows, or knew, and even then he wasn't that astute. Jackson got what it elected. A glib ideologue without a clue.

Anonymous said...

I articulated that poorly. It was somewhat rhetorical knowing that Tillman was most likely not accessible to the Zoo and isn't blameless in the situation surrounding it. Agreed on equal vote, but was poorly trying to point out the farce that is the Zoo's own Council Person not going to bat for them in addition to my dissatisfaction with my own Council Person.

Jackson politics is a special sort of dumpster fire.

Anonymous said...

"Jackson politics is a special sort of dumpster fire."

That is such a painfully astute observation that it simply can't be improved upon.

Anonymous said...

“This is not the first time the city has withheld money from the Jackson Zoo. The insurance company paid a quarter million dollars for damages caused by the 2013 hailstorm. The city did not actually repair the buildings until last year - four years after the hailstorm”


I’m sure the city kept the interest accumulated over that time

Anonymous said...

How many people has the zoo had to lay off the last few months -- three?

I guess now we know why the zoo couldn't afford to keep those positions. It's complete and utter BS that the slick dick in the mayor's office is killing jobs in our city.

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