Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When has the Clarion-Ledger praised former mayor Harvey Johnson? Well, since you asked....

Well, over at The Jackson Free Press, a rhetorical question was posed by its editor:

"Also, I wonder if we could ever find a Ledger editorial saying that Johnson was "on the right track" even after some of his largest victories? It strikes me that the part I quoted is nicer toward Melton—an abject failure as mayor, to put it kindly—than anything that paper ever said about Johnson, even as crime was falling, and he was piling one economic-development victory on top of another?"

She has made similar comments on her website as well. In her mind, the CL was always against Harvey and rarely said anything nice about him. However, here is what the CL had to say about Mayor Johnson in its editorial endorsing him for Mayor in 2001:

"Jackson mayor
Johnson qualified, if he would act.
Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. is probably one of the most qualified people to ever hold the office of mayor in the capital city. He is an urban planner with a military background and strong record of professional achievement and civic work.

He knows government and public policy planning.Yet, with all of his know-how, Johnson's past four years have been less than extraordinary. In fact, they have been a disappointment.

It is not so much the "projects" that have or have not been achieved; projects come and go. After all, much of a city official's work is caught up in the mundane projects of streets, sewerage and water.
But the opportunities to set a tone of leadership and optimism that guide a city to greatness are things that make a city alive and vibrant. That leadership makes not only the projects but also the dreams come alive.

Johnson has been missing those opportunities.As stated, Johnson is eminently qualified to be mayor.

His opponent in this race, C. Daryl Neely, a 29-year-old city councilman,does not have the background or experience to take on such a position at this time in his career. Having said that, Neely possesses political and personal skills showing great potential for leadership. His campaign has been conducted in a sophisticated and dignified manner that has attempted to reach across political and racial boundaries. He deserves praise for his bridge-building efforts. However, the problems of Jackson are deep and are deepening. Neely is not prepared for those tasks at this time.

Johnson is - if he will act on his abilities and his best instincts.We must acknowledge that Johnson, as the city's first African-American mayor, has faced difficult challenges that the transition of political power to a black voting majority brings. He entered office with overly high expectations by black voters and overly critical judgments by many white voters who didn't support him.

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. should be reelected, but must make more progress in the next four years.Johnson's accomplishments:
Johnson has done well in many areas of city administration. Johnson has:
Emphasized recruiting professionals to his departments.
Crafted responsible and effective city budgets.
Promoted tourism by reorganizing the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Removed some of the politics from such city services as street paving,making services flow to the needs and not the politics.
Been successful in getting a much-needed bond issue approved for key city projects.
Promoted development projects, such as refurbishing downtown, Farish Street redevelopment, the telecommunications conference center and a convention center.

Johnson's failures:
He has not been successful in two critical areas:
Crime. Johnson's program on crime with the Maple-Linder study has been a measured and valid approach, but as with former mayors, he has failed in securing effective leadership for the police department. The department's problems must be resolved. He must hire a police chief with the skills and fortitude to bring professionalism, discipline and order to the department that is sorely lacking.
Race relations. Johnson's background has shown his progressiveness and intentions in the area of building bridges in race relations. He ran on his ability to do that. His record as mayor, however, has not continued that work effectively. The new census figures show white flight has increased.The city has the danger of being surrounded by white suburban cities with a black urban core. This would be detrimental to the entire metro area and the state. While Johnson certainly is not responsible for such changes, it is essential that Johnson bring people to the same table to work on those issues. It is essential that the black political leadership and the white business leadership work for the same goals of growth and prosperity. And it is essential that Jackson work effectively with other cities and the state to enhance its potential. That is not happening now.

Harvey Johnson's first four years might be considered a success during normal times, but these are not normal times for Jackson. There must be extraordinary leadership. Harvey Johnson possesses the abilities to provide that leadership, but he must act more decisively.

Johnson should be reelected mayor and must use that position to consistently pursue his "Best of the New South" vision for the city. Jackson can't wait another four years to see some of that vision become reality.

The Clarion-Ledger's editorials represent the newspaper's opinions and not necessarily opinion
s of individual employees. The editorial policy is set by the newspaper's Editorial Board. Members include: William W. Hunsberger,president and publisher; Shawn McIntosh, executive editor; David Hampton,editorial director; Jim Ewing, editorial writer; Marshall Ramsey, editorial cartoonist; Eric Stringfellow, public editor; and Evola Bates of Jackson,Gloria Johnson of Madison and John Arledge of Brandon, community members. If you have a question or comment, please contact David Hampton at (601)961-7240 or by fax at (601) 961-7211."

The Clarion-Ledger also endorsed Mr. Johnson in the 1997 race against Republican Charlotte Reeves although it did endorse Mayor Ditto in the Democratic Primary. This is a pretty balanced assessment of Mayor Johnson. It gives Mr. Johnson credit for his strengths: fixing the infrastructure, planning, obtaining grants for Jackson, and other areas. It criticizes him in an area where he deserved criticism: crime. He fired Chief Johnson in a manner that was insulting and demeaning (the employees at JPD were not even allowed to have a going away party for him on his last day as reported in the newspaper.). He hired Bracey Coleman and when he had to go, let the position sit open for nearly a year. During his first term, his actions and comments belied an attitude towards crime that could be described as lackadaisical. However, in his second term, crime did improve with the implementation of Comstat (kudos to JFP for its reporting on this tool), community policing, and other tactics which did see a reduction in the crime rate.

However, the theme at the JFP has been that the CL has a bias against Mayor Johnson and while mayor, rarely if ever praised him. I think this editorial shows that it gave Mayor Johnson credit for his accomplishments. Its also hard to see why the CL has a bias against Mayor Johnson when it is repeatedly endorsing him for Mayor (although it did endorse Melton in the 2005 election).


Tom Head said...

I have a theory that the mayor has little to no effect on the crime rate.

Crime was highest during the Danks and Ditto administrations reflecting a national pattern, dropped during the Johnson years reflecting a national pattern, and went up following Hurricane Katrina, consistent with other cities (Houston, et. al.) that experienced an influx of low-income victims. We may as well be blaming Melton for the bad weather, as far as I'm concerned; his management of JPD has been terrible, but it's not as if JPD management was ever the primary factor in all of this.



Kingfish said...

I will disagree. It is up to the administration to make sure that the JPD is staffed in sufficient numbers. It is also its reponsibility to use tools such as comstat that allow it to have the best information in order to control crime. The administration chooses the tactics. Guiliani's tactics worked well in NY so much so that Bloomberg has continued them. Its a tripod, police, judges, DA. The police is the first and basic step in ithe process. If its screwed up, everythiing suffers.

A chief CAN make a difference, i.e. Greenburg in Charleston.

Tom Head said...

I'm not saying it's not the mayor's responsibility to run JPD well, or that on rare occasions the stars don't line up so that policies have an especially dramatic effect. I'm just saying that the overall crime rate is largely beyond the mayor and police department's control in most cases.

This is the only way to explain the correlation between the local crime rate and national patterns, or clearly identifiable external factors (such as Katrina).



Kingfish said...

I've yet to see any stories showing the increase in Jackson crime caused by evacuees. I've also noticed few if any stories in CL involving them. The crime stories reported have involved local residents for the most part.

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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.

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