Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cochran votes against earmark ban

Read it for yourself. Yes, I know, its a small part of the budget. However, earmarks are the fulcrum for much larger federal spending. "Hello Senator, don't want to vote to spend $800 billion to bail out this huge bank, no problem, we will just kill that earmark for your little project you promised to your constituents tomorrow. They'll understand." So the Senator votes for the bailout so his earmarks don't disappear. Earmarks need to go, both in the legislative and the executive branch.

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Cory Wilson leaving

Cory Wilson, Chief of Staff for Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman, announced he is leaving the agency in mid-January.

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FEMA backstabs town over levees

FEMA is sticking it to a town over its levees according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

"GRANITE CITY, Ill.—The massive clay levee that has protected this steel town from Mississippi floodwaters for nearly six decades is 52 feet high and so wide that a two-lane service road snakes for miles along its crest.

"It's a monster," said Mayor Ed Hagnauer.

Now, new flood maps being drawn up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are set to humble the great beast. By the end of next year, Granite City and the rest of the American Bottom region across the river from St. Louis will be labeled a special flood hazard area—essentially erasing 75 miles of levees because the government says they can't be trusted anymore....

Since the Corps wouldn't be able to fix the entire system for many years, officials in the three-county area sought and won state and local approval for a 1/4-cent sales tax to fix the levees themselves. An engineering firm hired by the region is conducting tests to determine how much work will be needed. In some areas, it will likely build new berms to shore up the levees. In others, it will install pipes to create relief wells that allow water pushing beneath the levees to escape without bringing along sand and other materials that could collapse the levee.

The region is racing against the clock. The repairs are expected to take about three years. FEMA's remapping is expected to take effect next year, triggering the flood-insurance requirement...." Article

FEMA's actions will cost the area $50 million in increased flood insurance costs, something residents say will wipe out the region. The city and other entities filed suit against FEMA (complaint and maps are posted below) seeking to reverse the decision.

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Time to get drunk.

It's that time of year and you know what it means: It's time for my award-winning egg nog recipe:

Ingredients: 1 cup bourbon 1 cup brandy 1 cup Tia Maria
12 eggs, quart cream, quart half & half, 1/2 lb powdered sugar
Directions: Separate eggs and combine booze and yokes and
whisk in 1/2 lb of powdered sugar.
Store in fridge for 24 hrs. Keep the whites chilled also.
24 hrs later, whip cream in large bowl until thick,
then add half & half and the yoke/booze mix.
Add the egg whites and whip till frothy.
Chill for a while before serving.

Get blowed up.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

SLRP fund has over $11 million

The actuarial report on the SLRP fund is out. What, pray tell, is SLRP? The special retirement pay legislators get from the taxpayers in addition to their regular retirement pay. While the pay is less than a thousand dollars per month upon retirement, the report states the taxpayers pay nearly a half-million dollars in "employer" contributions every year and there is over $11 million in the fund. The report is posted below. Hmmm......that $11 million sure would take care of some Down Syndrome kids kicked off of the Medicaid rolls.

By the way, the report assumes an annual rate of return of......drum roll...... 8%.

Earlier posts on SLRP:
Clarion-Ledger editorializes on double-dipping
SLRP: Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan or Pigs slrping at a trough?

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A PSA from TSA

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A minor observation.

Many people complain about the Clarion-Ledger. The reporting is atrocious, it focuses on race, the coverage is dumbed-down, and it doesn't practice real journalism. Well, a little glimpse at my Google stats this week gives a hint as to why the newspaper has "dumbed" things down. I wrote two posts within a day of each other. One was on how the CL omits race from descriptions of criminal suspects. I just made a couple of brief points and left it at that. The next day I posted a story about how the Hinds County Board of Supervisors diverts millions of dollars in E911 funds every year. Since Hinds County does not have E911 service even though you have already paid for it, this is a pretty big deal.

The post about the newspaper and race generated twice as many "hits" as did the one about E911. The first post took all of ten minutes to write. The post about Quentin Whitwell's fundraiser got nearly twice as many hits as well. The post about his candidacy and the one about the CL policy I just mentioned received twice as many as the one about Eric Hamer's legal fees paid by Madison County. The one about E911 required several hours of research and a few more hours to actually write the post. If this is what newspapers experience, than you have only yourselves to blame to some degree for some of the flaws in the media you find so disagreeable. Don't think the editors and news directors don't notice these trends as well. I'm not complaining, far from it as I've made a commitment here to write posts such as the E911 post and am flattered WLBT thought enough of it to build upon it and take the story even further last week. I'm merely showing you what I and others see behind the scenes. I'm sure it affects their decision making much more than it does mine.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Government to McGregor: Nice try.

Copy of indictment

The government filed two responses to defendant Milton McGregor's motion to dismiss in U.S. District Court last Monday (The motions to dismiss are not available online). The first response deals with McGregor's attempt to use Skilling in his favor. Skilling was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year and narrowed the scope of the "honest services" laws. The Government says nice try, but Skilling didn't affect prosecutions for briberies and kickbacks. Its hard to see how McGregor can use Skilling to throw out his indictment since the government is alleging more than mere conflicts of interest.

The government points out some rather interesting arguments made by McGregor in his motion to dismiss: "legislators are not agents of the state when enacting legislation" and "the business and transactions of state government, including the legislative branch, include only 'commercial' activity, and not the routine business of the legislature, such as the drafting and voting to pass bills." The government then argues paying or offering bribes to an agent of the state or government agency that receives more than $10,000 in federal funding throws this argument out the window.

The law in question, 18 USC 666 (A)(2) states:
"(a) Whoever, if the circumstance described in subsection (b) of this section exists—
(2) corruptly gives, offers, or agrees to give anything of value to any person, with intent to influence or reward an agent of an organization or of a State, local or Indian tribal government, or any agency thereof, in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions of such organization, government, or agency involving anything of value of $5,000 or more.

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Boise State

Now THAT was funny. Need to win all of your games first THEN worry about the BCS.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Olga's will be open Friday night.

Closed for lunch but open for dinner. Call 601-366-1366 for reservations (optional).

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WSJ looks at Governor Barbour's tenure

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on Governor Barbour's efforts to cut state government and how it plays into his presidential race plans:

"Anyone who says there isn't a part of state government that can't save money doesn't know what he's talking about," Mr. Barbour told his fellow governors at the Republican Governors Association meeting in San Diego on Thursday. "There is no department—the highway patrol, the crime lab, the highway department—that can't save money."

Mr. Barbour has taken an ax to his state's budget more than five times since September 2009. No agency has been spared, with education, mental health and other areas cut by almost 10% from what was originally budgeted for the 2010 fiscal year that ended June 30. He proposed another 8% to 10% cut for some agencies in 2011, and belt-tightening in 2012 is expected to continue.

At the same time Mr. Barbour has been cutting spending, he has been buoyed by access to more than $2.6 billion in funds from the controversial federal stimulus, which forestalled deeper cuts, and by two tax increases he signed into law. Those will be scrutinized closely by tax-averse GOP primary voters should he run for the party's presidential nomination.
.." Article

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A Woman's Prayer

This is unlike the usual JJ posts....but, the holidays...they are approaching...and I just want to remind everyone that the holidays are not so happy and merry for everyone. Don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but...Domestic Violence is the highest during the month of December...
1 out of 4 women are being abused right now...right now,someone is being abused. Right now, someone is crying out for help...right now someone is dying...
So while we are all out shopping and decorating, let's stop and BE THANKFUL for what we have...because there are alot ALOT of people who wish they had more...
As many know, I am a HUGE advocate for women's rights in the fight against domestic violence. This silent crime is something that is happening everyday...every minute...every second...and we need to raise awareness....I wrote this poem the other night and it has since been published with the National Coalitation Against Domestic Violence...they want to use it in all of their emotional appeals and publications. I am greatfully humbled and honored by the request. Take a minute to read it...process it....and let is sink in. If you are or you know of ANYONE who may be in a situation where they are being abused, please seek help. There is life out there beyond the abuse....

A Woman’s Prayer
By Rebekah Hixon

I dedicate this poem to the late Heather Spencer who was gruesomely killed by her boyfriend, George Bell, and every other victim of Domestic Violence....

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray for my life I yearn to keep
He just beat me black and blue; He holds me down and bites me too.

It happens too much; when will it end
He’s much too strong; I can’t defend.

If I deserve this, what did I do?
He has my heart; I’m always true.

I never argue; the fights I dread
His fists rip thru me; He wants me dead.

I sit in silence; dripping blood down my face
With tears in my eyes; I await his embrace.

He’s always sorry; won’t happen again
His touch now softer; this is the end.

His snores means it’s over; atleast for the night
Tomorrow is a new day; yet another fight.

With fear in my soul and pain in my heart
Is this what they mean by “til death do us part”?

I don’t want to die; I can’t live this way
I want it to end…to just go away.

I ache all over, from my head to my feet
If I move I will wake him, I don’t want to be beat.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I must be strong- I will not weep.
My strength must help me live through the night
I pray for courage with all my might.

Lord please help me walk away; Please let me live another day
He’ll eventually kill me, this I know
But I love him Lord, please help me let go.

My prayers go unanswered; I begin to weep
My heart beats get softer; I slowly die in my sleep.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AJ's open Thanksgiving Day

AJ's on the Lake will be open Thanksgiving Day from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Don't feel like cooking? Running behind and want that perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner? Give yourself and break and bring the family to AJ's. The cost is $35 per person (Dine-in menu on page two below.). The children's menu will be $12.95 per child. It offers the same choices as the adult menu but smaller portions. Special food can be prepared for toddlers. Reservations are not required but recommended. Call 601-856-2844.

Want to see the Saints beat the Cowboys? Watch the game on one of our six tv's in the bar Thursday. The bar will remain open until the conclusion of the game.

This post is a paid advertisement.

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New poll

Worst politician in Jackson metro area. Have at it.

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Iphone favorite of JJ readers

Ran a different poll from what is usually on here last week: What is your favorite cellphone. Over half of you chose the Iphone. I was a little surprised the Blackberries didn't do better as they sell just as well. Guess its all about the apps.

159 (51%)
BB Bold (either one)
17 (5%)
HTC Hero
13 (4%)
Palm Pre
2 (0%)
BB Curve
39 (12%)
BB Torch
13 (4%)
HTC Aria
1 (0%)
BB Pearl
3 (0%)
Droid Incredible (HTC or Mot.)
3 (0%)
Samsung Galaxy
16 (5%)
HTC Desire
23 (7%)
Motorola Droid
15 (4%)
HTC Tilt
1 (0%)
1 (0%)

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Monday, November 22, 2010

WLBT covers diversion of E-911 funds

I did not know the State Auditor pushed to close this loophole that allows the Supervisors to "borrow" the money and am pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Pickering call out the legislature on this issue. Funny how Robert Graham defends it, saying its always repaid with interest. Sad answer, sad in that Mr. Graham does not get it. What matters is NOT the annual diversion of E-911 funds but the fact that Hinds County does not offer the service. Mr. Graham can not claim ignorance as he owns a company that offers training on 911 systems. Compare this video to his answers on the same issue a few weeks ago. One more example of how Mississippi is dead last in taking care of its citizens because its leaders again don't know how to manage budgets or do whats right. As I wrote last week: pitiful.

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The REST of the story: Hinds fails to offer E-911 service as it diverts millions in E-911 funds every year

WLBT reported two weeks ago Hinds County does not provide E-911 (Enhanced 911) service even though Hinds County residents pay a dedicated tax of one dollar on their phone bill each month for the service. E-911 service allows first-responders to determine where a caller is if he can not speak. Have an intruder in the house but don't want to give away your position? Badly hurt in a wreck and can dial the phone but can't talk? E-911 is a life-saver. Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Robert Graham and Hinds County employees blamed each other while offering no reasons why Hinds does not offer this service even though the Board voted on July 7, 2009 to allow AT&T to upgrade the county's 911 system (More details are on page four of the minutes.). Madison and Rankin Counties both provide the service.

JJ investigated the county's failure to provide E-911 one step further and discovered Hinds County diverts millions of dollars of E-911 funds every year to other accounts. The Board calls these diversions "interfund loans". The "loans" have been made near the end of each year since 2000 even though the law and literally a stack of Attorney General opinions state the county must spend E-911 funds only on E-911-related expenses. The Board repays the money the next year after the tax collector forwards tax payments in collected when property taxes are paid in January. The interest rate on the "loans" is 1.79%.

Minutes of the Board of Supervisor meetings show the Board "lent" various accounts such as the general, garbage & solid waste, library system, road, and payroll funds money from the E-911 account on the following dates (The loans and repayments are only posted on this site from 2004. It is important to note the loan amounts are the amount the county is authorized to borrow as it may not borrow the entire amount. The Deputy Chancery Clerk informed JJ the repayment amounts are the actual amount borrowed. ):

November 15, 2010: $2,000,000 loan
November 2, 2010: $400,00 loan
October 18, 2010: $650,000 loan
March 1, 2010: $2,300,000 repayment
February 1, 2010: $15,000 repayment

November 16, 2009: $235,000 loan
October 19, 2009: $2,700,000 loan
September 30, 2009: $1,550,000 repayment
August 31, 2009: $750,000 loan
July 20, 2009: $1,500,000 loan
March 2, 2009: $2,900,000 repayment
January 5, 2009: $500,000 loan

December 15, 2008: $600,000 loan
November 17, 2008: $2,500,000 loan
February 19, 2008: $2,220,000 repayment

December 17, 2007: $2,220,000 loan
October 15, 2007: $1,095 loan
February 20, 2007: $3,655,000 repayment
February 5, 2007: $155,000 loan
January 2, 2007: $730,000 loan

December 18, 2006: $2,300,000 loan
December 4, 2006: $700,000 loan
February 21, 2006: $2,560,000 repayment
February 6, 2006: $550,000 repayment
January 3, 2006: $550,000 loan

December 19, 2005: $2,540,000 loan
December 5, 2005: $100,000 loan
February 22, 2005: $2,100,000 repayment
January 4, 2005: $100,000 loan

December 20, 2004: $2,400,000 loan
March 1, 2004: $1,660,000 repayment
February 10, 204: $760,000 repayment
January 4, 2004: $760,000 loan

It is standard practice for counties to "borrow" money out of one account to pay bills in another account and then repay the money when it receives tax revenue. However, the Mississippi Code has a few things to say about the use of E-911 funds. Section 9-5-313 states:

"(1) The board of supervisors may levy an emergency telephone service charge in an amount not to exceed One Dollar ($1.00) per residential telephone subscriber line per month, One Dollar ($1.00) per Voice over Internet Protocol subscriber account per month, and Two Dollars ($2.00) per commercial telephone subscriber line per month for exchange telephone service.....

(2) If the proceeds generated by the emergency telephone service charge exceed the amount of monies necessary to fund the service, the board of supervisors may authorize such excess funds to be expended by the county and the municipalities in the counties to perform the duties and pay the costs relating to identifying roads, highways and streets...." Section 19-5-313

The law is pretty strict as there are literally more than fifty Attorney General opinions on the use of E-911 funds. The Attorney General has been consistent in its interpretation of the law regardless of who was in office: A county can not spend ANY E-911 funds on expenses not related to E-911 services. A county can not even use E-911 funds to buy weather radios (Baker 2010) or sirens. The Owens opinion (2009) prohibited Pike County from using the money to join the Emergency Communications Network. The Balduf (2000) opinion stated radios purchased had to be related to E-911 services. The Munn opinion (2001) barred Copiah County from purchasing defibrillators. The Attorney General stated:

"This office has issued several opinions on the use of excess E-911funds. Though beneficial, like weather radios, the purchase of defibrillators for use during emergencies in not a permissible expenditure under the statute. MS AG Op., Munn (Oct. 12, 2001). Also, excess E-911 funds may not be used to “purchase outdoor warning sirens.” MS AG Op., Souderes (Apr. 9, 2004). Numerous past opinions of this office have stated that any excess E-911 funds must only be used for the instances illustrated in Section 19-5-313(2)."

The current balance of the E-911 account is approximately $2,900,000. However, the Board just authorized a "loan" of $2,000,000 to other accounts so the fund balance will soon shrink to less than a million dollars. Instead of providing funds for much-needed enhancements to the 911 system, the E-911 account has morphed into a revolving credit card for Hinds County even though Hinds County residents pay for the enhanced service every month on their phone bills.

Hinds County Board President Robert Graham (and the operator of a company that trains first responders in providing 911 services) says "that is correct" when Marsha Thompson tells him "$3 million has been sitting in a fund that has not been used". Mr. Graham goes even further and states "There is no reason why we should not have it in place at this time." One can only wonder why Mr. Graham makes such a statement when he knows very good and well he and his board have been using most of the E-911 funds to pay other bills, the law be damned. It is time to ask if the use of the E-911 credit card is the reason Hinds County residents don't have the same life-saving services their neighbors enjoy.

Note: WLBT will cover this story this week.

Note II:
Here are the definitions under Section 19-5-301:

"(f) "E911" shall mean Enhanced Universal Emergency Number Service or Enhanced 911 Service, which is a telephone exchange communications service whereby a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) designated by the county or local communications district may receive telephone calls dialed to the abbreviated telephone number 911. E911 Service includes lines and equipment necessary for the answering, transferring and dispatching of public emergency telephone calls originated by persons within the serving area who dial 911. Enhanced 911 Service includes the displaying of the name, address and other pertinent caller information as may be supplied by the service supplier.

(g) "Basic 911" shall mean a telephone service terminated in designated Public Safety Answering Points accessible by the public through telephone calls dialed to the abbreviated telephone number 911. Basic 911 is a voice service and does not display address or telephone number information."

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

One example of why the Clarion-Ledger is going broke.

The Clarion-Ledger reports a woman was kidnapped at Freelons and raped. Contrast its coverage with other media:

"He is described as around 5 feet, 5 inches tall with dreadlocks, wearing an orange, hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Jackson police said they are unsure whether the woman knew her attacker.
Green said the man faces at least charges of rape, carjacking and kidnapping, with other possible charges pending."

: "Jackson Police are looking for the victim's car, a 2002 tan 4-door Buick Century, tag number HSH 459. The carjacker is described as a thin black male, about 5 feet 5 inches tall with dreadlocks.
He was wearing an orange hoodie and blue jeans at the time. Call Crimestoppers at 601-355-TIPS if you have any information."

WAPT: "He's described as a black man about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wearing an orange hoodie and blue jeans. He was last seen driving the victim's car, which is a 2002 tan Buick Century sedan with Mississippi tag number HSH 459.
Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 601-355-TIPS."

Pathetic. The local newspaper is not declining because of a so-called liberal editorial page. A paper can be liberal or conservative and still practice good journalism. However, garbage policies like this only disgust the public and give them one more reason to get their news from other sources. I'll put it this way Gannett: If the JFP and I agree on something, you are definitely on the wrong track.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Farewell to Price Leblanc

Price Leblanc passed away this week. He will be missed.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Zachie gets to go on spring break next year

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This is some good reading.

Read the federal indictment of all those smoove operators in Alabama that were allegedly trying to bribe the legislature to pass favorable gambling legislation. I posted it under the Auburn post yesterday and finally read it last night and this morning. Damn. Its worthy of its own post and is very entertaining to read. All I can say is its resembles Mississippi politics and wiretaps, wiretaps, wiretaps. Enjoy.

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Hunter Gibson tonight at Olga's

Encore performance tonight!!! Local favorite Hunter Gibson plays at Olga's tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Listen to Hunter while eating some good food or enjoying a drink in Olga's new bar.

Olga's is accepting bookings for Christmas parties.

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The Fall of the Tribe of Hotty-Toddy

And there arose to the north of Eden a tribe called the Hotty-Toddys, who were also called metros. And the Hotty-Toddys were very displeasing; they didst place centerpieces on their banquet tables, and didst exalt themselves much. And they didst glorify the southern kingdom of the past.

And for a brief time they didst enjoy success on the battlefield. But in the second year of the reign of John son of Joseph, a man named James, of the house of Meredith, of the nation of Cush, didst attempt to enter the seminary at Oxford. But the Hotty-Toddys despised and oppressed the Cush-ites, and refused him entry. But the Judges decreed that James must be allowed to enter. And the Hotty-Toddys rose up with great vengeance and furious anger, and didst burn their own city, and even slew two aliens in their midst. And the LORD saw that it was no good, and was much angered, and uttered a curse upon the Hotty-Toddys:


And after the following harvest, they didst enjoy their last great victory, then their warriors became lost in the wilderness. And a man named Elisha, who was also called Archie, didst attempt to lead them back to glory, but was wounded in the land of Eden and tasted not the fruits of victory. Then a great famine fell upon Oxford, until Eli son of Archie arrived upon a white horse. Eli led the Hotty-Toddys to many small victories, and girded his loins against an invasion by the warriors from Eden.

But Eli fell backwards*. And a great roar arose, and Johnny of the house of Vaught, the great king of the Hotty-Toddy past, didst ask "What be the meaning of this tumult?" For Johnny was a very old man, 93, and nearly blind. And the Hotty-Toddys cried in despair, "The invaders from Eden hath carried off the West championship! Our curse is still upon us, and the Heisman shall never come to the house of Manning."

And the LORD then caused a great delusion to fall upon the tribe of Hotty-Toddy, and they drove their general David from their midst, even though David had led them to victories for the first time in forty years. And they chose a recruiter of warriors from a western land, Bay Bay of the house of Yawyawyawyaw, because their delusion kept them from seeing he was a fool. And Bay Bay disdt tear his garments, and shout words none could understand. And the LORD loosed against the Hotty-Toddys bands of Cowboys, and Bulldogs, and even Commodores, who laid waste to Oxford. And the Hotty-Toddys continued to exalt Bay Bay, even as half his warriors disappeared from Oxford, and rued the days of Cutcliffe. And finally Les of Eden came to Oxford and destroyed it once and for all
1 Samuel 4:3

Yeah, I know. LSU has only one loss and Ole Miss sucks this year. However, this IS a Les Miles-coached team. That means they will play to the level of the competition. Period. Doesn't matter how good or bad Ole Miss is, LSU will play to their level. The series is also a tough one from the LSU side. Don't believe me?

2001: Ole Miss win.
2002: LSU by 1.
2003: LSU by 3
2004: LSU by 3 despite a record-setting rushing performance by Broussard.
2005: LSU blowout because Ole Miss quits on Orgeron.
2006: LSU in OT
2007: LSU comes back in fourth quarter
2008: Ole Miss ass-kicking
2009: Les Miles can't tell time.

Therefor, I expect a very close game tomorrow with Ole Miss having a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

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Latest crime stats

Jackson crime stats for week ending November 14, 2010

Jackson major crimes overview for week ending November 14, 2010.

City of Madison crime reports through November 16, 2010.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

As the Plains Burns......

Blue Tuna over at Tigerdroppings.com has put together a storyline on the Cam Newton scandal that I've posted below. Very interesting. Apparently the FBI came across this little fiasco while investigating the McGregor casino and the collapse of Colonial. The federal government indicted McGregor and a bunch of legislators and lobbyists in October. Damn good read even if none of it is true. Pour a drink and enjoy.

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Another day....another mindless rant...

What is so funny about this stupid post is that people tried to comment even further....Donna obviously didn't want to hear anymore so she disabled the comment form. She wanted to get the last word and didn't want to hear anymore negative comments.
She preaches about free speech and speaking your mind....but as soon as they put a fire under her she backs away into her cowardly corner.
I used to stand up for her and actually respected her....until her radical views of racial absurdity...The only one turning everything into a racial war is HER!

Ladd's editorial on VIP

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fireworks at the Medicaid hearing

This is a long post as the hearing was three hours and the only media coverage came from the Clarion-Ledger, and the goal is to provide you, the gentle reader, with the facts of what took place at the hearing.

-Testimony by Medicaid and HSM
-Testimony by Mary Troupe of Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities
-Testimony by Dr. Susan Buttross of UMC
-Testimony by parents of Down Syndrome children about Medicaid & HSM
-Materials distributed to the committee

Medicaid Testimony
A very contentious hearing took place at the legislature on November 4. Representative Steve Holland and a joint committee of Medicaid and Public Health conducted a hearing on Medicaid's treatment of children suffering from Down's syndrome. Representative Holland said he called the hearing because the state "was kicking Down's Syndrome kids off of Medicaid."*

The hearing opened with Medicaid Counsel Richard Roberson testifying on behalf of the state. Mr. Roberson was backed by a battery of officials and watchpups from Medicaid and Healthsystems of Mississippi (HSM). Executive Director Bob Robinson did not attend the hearing. Mr. Roberson said Medicaid was not denying coverage per se to Downs Syndrome children or children who receive care at home but was following federal law for the Katie Becket Program (See document posted below). The law states the following criteria must be met in order to qualify for the program:

"(a) The agency may provide Medicaid to children 18 years of age or younger who qualify under section 1614(a) of the Act, who would be eligible for Medicaid if they were in a medical institution, and who are receiving, while living at home, medical care that would be provided in a medical institution.
(b) If the agency elects the option provided by paragraph (a) of this section, it must determine, in each case, that the following conditions are met:
(1) The child requires the level of care provided in a hospital, SNF, or ICF.
(2) It is appropriate to provide that level of care outside such an institution.
(3) The estimated Medicaid cost of care outside an institution is no higher than the estimated Medicaid cost of appropriate institutional care.
(c) The agency must specify in its State plan the method by which it determines the cost-effectiveness of caring for disabled children at home." 42 CFR 435.225

Mr. Roberson testified the number of disabled children" covered by Medicaid while living at home instead of an institution increased from 732 in 2003 to 1,196 in 2010. The attorney stated the "frustration most folks have had is caused by institutional determination" and the Division is working with HSM to "streamline the forms".

HSM's role in this controversy is one of approving medical services. Medicaid approves a child's eligibility for coverage. HSM is a private, non-profit Louisiana company that has a contract with the Division to approve or specify what medical services a child may receive.

Mr. Holland asked why federal law was being observed "more tightly than its ever been" in the program and stated more than a few times that the program had worked fine for "over ten years without a problem" and suddenly kids were being pushed off the Medicaid rolls. Mr. Roberson said the Division was merely following the law although the Division was "screwing the lid a little more tightly" in determining eligibility for the Katie Becket program. Mr. Roberson also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency, had made inquiries and "asked questions" into how the Division was operating the program.

Representative John Mayo took over the questioning at this point and asked Mr. Roberson "who wants to cut off 1200 kids?" Mr. Mayo also stated "Mississippi Medicaid is threatening to audit any provider who spoke out until they went out of business." Mr. Roberson said it was not true and he would "love to know who it was that said that." Mr. Mayor replied it was more than once source (This correspondent can state it has happened. One provider here in Jackson tried to take the lead in protesting some Medicaid decisions and was promptly rewarded with an audit. The provider got the message and has been very quiet ever since. This correspondent can also state there was a lobbying effort made a couple of years ago to have people call Medicaid to protest some policies. A frantic call was made in the early afternoon that day telling everyone to stop lobbying after the Division threatened to audit everyone involved and made it clear it was dead serious. One can imagine Mr. Roberson would indeed love to know who informed the Representative about these tactics. OK, that was an editorial comment- KF).

Mr. Roberson said the child did have some options available to him if HSM or Medicaid denied coverage. He claimed the child could appeal the decision and if he lost the appeal, he stated the child could get a lawyer. When pressed as to how the family could pay for a lawyer when the family was probably in dire financial straits, he said they could hire a lawyer "on contingency". The lawyers on the panel promptly educated him how there was literally no money in a Medicaid case as the demand was for services, not damages.

The panel then grilled Mr. Roberson over the process a family faced in trying to obtain coverage for disabled children under Katie Becket. Mr. Roberson testified the process was composed of the following steps: 1) A hearing held by the staff of Medicaid. 2) First level review by a nurse 3) HSM physician review 4) Second physician review by a UMC doctor. Representative Hillman pointed out the doctors used were paid by Medicaid and not independent. Mr. Roberson replied there was "absolutely no bias" and the patient "could get his own doctor".

After Mr. Roberson explained the refined appeals process utilized by the Division, Representative Cecil Brown asked Phyllis Williams if at any point in the appeals process, anyone actually examined the child or "just records only". The Doctor replied the only time the child was actually seen by anyone was by the primary physician and conceded only files were examined. Mr. Roberson chirped "everyone is given an opportunity to tell us about the child's needs." Mr. Mayo argued "he didn't understand how two doctors who never saw the child could overrule the child's doctor."
The panel then questioned Dr. Judy Phillips, the Medical Director for HSM. However, Dr. Phillips repeatedly said throughout the hearing she has been associated with HSM for only six weeks. One can only wonder why HSM sent up a "Medical Director" who had no real knowledge of HSM's procedures or history to field questions from those responsible for its funding.

Representative Holland curtly told those testifying before him he would look at the appeals process "come January 4" and that it was "paper shufflers doing a process that should be a medical review." Mr. Holland asked the Medicaid attorney how the Division defined a "level of institutionalized care". Mr. Roberson replied "there were different definitions."

Testimony of Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities
The hearing then moved to the testimony of several witnesses after Medicaid and HSM were excused from the hot seat. First up was Mary Troupe of the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities. She excuded a forceful but happy presence as she testified
  • These children are not on SSI and do not receive SSI checks. The disabled children enroll in SSI simply to receive the disabled designation to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Many parents need the program because although they may have private insurance, private insurance often does not cover therapy services for disabled children or has severe limits
  • CMS told her the federal government did not change its policies
  • The repeated complaint among parents disqualified by HSM/Medicaid was they were not given enough information as to why coverage was denied.
  • No hearing officer ever held a hearing in person but instead, all hearings are conducted over the phone. Numerous parents testified later about the short and abrasive nature of the hearings.
  • The Division does not try to obtain to obtain available extra matching funds.
Mr. Bryan interjected and said the Governor didn't see the kicking of disabled children off of the Medicaid rolls as a "problem but sees it as spending less money". He then termed the Barbour administration as the "successor administration" since he claimed Barbour repeatedly refers to the Musgrove Administration as the "previous administration". Here is a summary of the testimony provided to the committee:

Testimony of Dr. Susan Buttross
Dr. Susan Buttross, UMC Physician and an expert on Autism, provided written testimony (embedded below on page 2 and very educational) and said:
  • "we understand cost containment"
  • "I believe as do the other 300 pediatricians in our state that children with Down Syndrome are not the group of children who should be struggling to qualifiy for the Katie Beckett/Disabled child living at home Medicaid waiver."
  • Dr. Buttrross discussed "Matt", a Down Syndrome child, who was enrolled in an early intervention program. The mother has private insurance but it only pays some of the medical costs. In order for the child to reach his maximum potential and cost the state less money down the road, it is imperative Matt receives treatment while a young child as the life span has grown from 25 years in 2983 to 49 in 1997. The rate of development progress slows with age. Thirty years ago children with Down Syndrome were not kept at home but in full-time facilities.
  • There are no facilities in Mississippi for children under the age of five years old suffering from Down Syndrome.
  • Down Syndrome is diagnosed by a test and is not an opinion. Either the child has it or he doesn't have it.
  • Matt was denied coverage by Medicaid. The Division did not say he was denied or what information was missing from his file. Mayo asked if there was a checklist provided to health care providers or patients. Dr. Buttross replied "no".
  • Dr. Phillips of HSM had no comment.

Testimony of Parents
While the witnesses testified, witnesses who were parents of Down Syndrome children, Representative Flaggs spoke on a cellphone while sitting directly five feet in front of them in an utter show of disrespect. It should be pointed out all but one of the witnesses were white. They came from different backgrounds. Some were married, some were single parents, all showed great anguish as they testified the ordeals they went through in dealing with Medicaid and HSM. There were no stereotypes as they were all just parents who were trying to do what was best for their children suffering from Down Syndrome and other conditions.

The common theme presented by all of the witnesses is Medicaid has no checklists, offers no standards used to qualify children for coverage, horrible treatment by HSM and Medicaid employees, hearings only held over the telephone. Rarely, if ever, did Medicaid actually allow a hearing to take place at its offices. The children are never actually seen by Medicaid or HSM yet their bureaucrats determine their child's future. Through it all, Medicaid and HSM representatives rarely said anything. Dr. Williams' standard response was she had only been at HSM for six weeks. Here are the highlights of the parents testimony.

Christina, the parent of a child with spina bifida, testified:
  • "I was told my child was disabled even though he couldn't walk"
  • The appeals process is the problem.
  • Her child had to go to the Shriner's in Louisiana because Medicaid would not pay.
Jennifer Houston, the parent of a disabled child, appeared and said
  • she was the parent of a nine-year old child with a nine-month old brain. She looked at the Medicaid watchpups and said "Is that disabled enough for you"?
  • "I work, I'm not someone who sits around." She then testified how her child's condition and care for her child has reduced her to poverty. Ms. Houston is a Certified Nursing Assistant.
  • she had "never heard her child say mama" and her child was denied for speech therapy.
  • she had sat on hold for three hours trying to get asthma medications approved.
  • she once again looked at the Medicaid and HSM personnel and said "you should look at these kids face to face." She further testified her child is currently not covered by Medicaid.
Jennifer Webb of Tupelo testified:
  • Her child suffered from a brain injury caused by a wreck.
  • The child's condition worsened because Medicaid "dragged so long". Treatment and therapy of such a condition must begin as soon as possible to improve her chances and to prevent the detioration that did occur.
  • she wants someone from Medicaid to actually "look at her daughter".
Shaun Edmondon of Jackson stated:
  • He has a 14-month old daughter with Down Syndrome.
  • Medicaid called one day, said it was "a hearing" and then informed them they were denied. (These are just words I am writing. There is no way I can convey the anguish Mr. Edmondson felt as he became choked up several times while testifying.)
  • His wife went to all fifteen doctors and got paperwork from every one of them to submit to Medicaid. Medicaid said no information submitted after a certain date would be considered.
  • Hearing officer said she would approve the child for services, same hearing officer instead sent them a denial letter.
  • "Medicaid doesn't tell us information they are looking for, they just tell us to send whatever we can and they will deny us anyway."
  • Representative Mayo asked Mr. Edmondson if Medicaid told him "specifically why his child did not qualify". He told the legislator he was only told "she did not meet the standard of care". Rep. Mayo then asked Mr. Roberson "what criteria was used". Mr. Roberson meekly said "the case is under litigation" and he could make no comment. Rep. Mayo asked several times how two doctors who never saw the child could overrule the child's fifteen doctors.
  • Representative Holland then said "I'm totally disgusted and Medicaid has no pediatric standards. He then said Dr. Robinson and Governor Barbour "don't care".
Peyton Collins testified
  • she has a six-year old child with Down Syndrome. She spend the last year trying to get her child recertified with Medicaid only to be denied. Many parents complained about the so-called re-certification process where Medicaid requires the parents each year to re-certify the child's condition and need for services provided by Medicaid.
  • her caseworker told her "her supervisor told her to take people like jack off of the walls."
  • Rep. Holland interjected that the state only has to pay 15.5 cents for a dollar worth of services.
Another parent (did not get her name) testified
  • her child is four years old and suffers from Down Syndrom
  • Medicaid said she was not "disabled enough" and that she has had therapy since six years old. She can't eat, dress, or toilet train but because she can walk, she is not considered disabled by Medicaid standards.
  • she had a Master's in rehab counseling but "Medicaid was trying to confuse her" with all the gobbledygook (my word) during a hearing that was held over the phone.
Shelby Waide of Madison said
  • Colby is eight years old and suffers from Down Syndrome.
  • "I'm a conservative but I'm not happy with Haley". One Democrat on the committee said "The minority party would love to receive you."
  • Medicaid wants a recertification of Down Syndrome every year.
  • "applying to Medicaid is a complete and utter nightmare. We've been lied to, papers have been lost. One caseworker said uh-huh, what do you need?"

*Legislators in attendance: Holland, Mayo, Flaggs, Robert Johnson, Dedeaux, Bryan, Cecil Brown, Hobson, Bob Evans, Currie, Ellis, Broomfield, Duvall, Hillman. Medicaid and HSM employees: Richard Roberson, Dr. Phyllis Williams, Betty Williams, Becky Rau, Judy Phillips (HSM Medical Director)

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www.marshallramsey.com. Support it

Marshall Ramsey started is own website: www.marshallramsey.com. Help a great guy and stick it to Gannett by supporting his site. Added to the feeds on this site in the center column.

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Fitch fires up the fundraising

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pitiful. Simply pitiful.

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Vote for the ARF in Pepsi Poll NOW!!!

Update: The ARF is now in the mid-20's. Come on guys, get off your butts and vote for this project. The ARF really needs the money and its a very good cause. Vote vote vote!!! Deadline is November 30.

Vote in Pepsi's $50,000 giveaway to the best idea contest for the Animal Rescue Fund. The ARF is Rankin County's only no-kill animal shelter. See the video below for more information on the Animal Rescue Fund. You can vote up to ten times in one day. Right now the ARF is in the 50's. Today is the last day. Pretend you are an Ike Brown voter: Vote early and OFTEN!!! THAT MEANS YOU!!!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Arena rollout tomorrow night

Downtown Jackson Partners press release:

"Downtown Jackson Partners and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce will hold an informational event regarding the possibility of a major arena in downtown Jackson, tomorrow night, Tuesday, November 16th, from 5 p.m. until 7 p/m. at the Jackson Convention Complex. The announcement is below, and attached is a “preview” of the agenda.

North Little Rock’s Mayor Patrick Hays (the home of the North Little Rock/downtown Little Rock 18,000 seat “Verizon Arena”), its Executive Director (and Mississippi native) Michael Marion, and the selected facilitator of the “Arena Feasibility Study”, Russ Simons with “Populous Sports” will be the featured speakers, and will explain these possibilities, our challenges and the economic impact their arena has had not only in Metropolitan Little Rock, but for the entire state of Arkansas.

This event is free of charge to the public.

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This is getting interesting

Update: The answer is no. Mr Hamer sent me an email stating his domain name is hamerandassociates.com and that the domain listed is from his former firm. Obviously it seems the learned counsel have have a legitimate gripe with his former law firm's internet service provider or domain name host. Not fair to Mr. Hamer at all although I did not say he did a thing, the inference could be made.

Well, well, well, the threats keep coming. Someone has been coming on this site in the last hour making threats against me. Telling me he or she is coming after me, I better get ready, I'm gay, and similar stuff. I went into my traffic counter and surprise, someone is using a proxy server over and over. See where it says aol and proxy? Well, that one has been appearing over and over for the last hour, especially whenever one of those comments is made. See that listing of mcdh law? That is the listing of the law firm of Miller & Hamer. So the question must be asked, is Mr. Hamer or one of his associates making threats against me on this website? Keep in mind these threats have all been made on Madison-related posts. Is it a coincidence his listing appears at the same time the aol proxy server appears on my website as well within a few minutes? Look at the pic and judge for yourself.

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Well,well, well....

Apparently there were some fireworks at the Madison County Board of Supervisors this morning. It seems someone filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Karl Banks over the land he and his family own near Calhoun Station Parkway. The Ethics Commission cleared him as it said his land did not "front" the proposed parkway.

Well, congratulations to Mr. Banks for his clearance. I just want to make two things clear:

1. I did not file the complaint and have no idea at all who did. None whatsoever. If I was going to file one against Mr. Banks that is not the one I would have filed because I don't think there is anything in the law against his votes nor do I think the Commission would rule they are unethical. I think they are unethical but what I think and the Commission thinks are two different things. Mr. Banks should know who did file the complaint because if I remember correctly, the Commission does notify the defendant (lack of a better word) about the complaint and who filed it. In fact, the Commission's website states: "The Commission is not able to protect the identity of the person who filed the complaint." Which leads to

2. I never wrote his property "fronted" the project in question. What I wrote was his property 2000 feet away. Now maybe the lawyers at the Commission are so wrapped up in their lawbooks they forgot what land looks like but 2000 feet away. Yes, I used the words "adjacent" and "next to" in the context of being 2000 feet away and supplied you, the readers, with the maps so you could make your own determinations. Took the map to a title attorney and abstracter who examined the map for me and made the appropriate determinations. However, as one who knows a few things about real estate, I will disagree and say that improvements to Calhoun Station and if they had taken place, the improvements to the water park site, would have increased the value of Mr. Banks land even if it did not "front" the two projects but instead lay nearby. If I had filed a complaint against Mr. Banks, I would have first taken my complaint to a couple of experts I know who would review it and make sure I had a slam dunk. This is not the hill on which I would have made my stand at the Ethics Commission.

Apparently they accused Supervisor D.I. Smith of leaking information on the MDOT lawsuit. No surprise at all as the Gang of Five's modus operandi when they know bad information is coming out is to launch an immediate counterattack. Independent engineer questions some fees, no problem, file a complaint with the state, never mind its baseless and he is eventually cleared. County Administrator getting the hell out of town? Simple. Pass a resolution in the same meeting calling for the AG to investigate the Mayor of Madison complete with copies ready to pass out to the media right before the meeting starts. Never mind if nothing comes of it, all that matters is the waters are muddied. Now some not too flattering information comes out about the board attorney's fees and whammo, here comes some accusations against a dissident member of the board. All that matters is distracting attention. As one person said about Madison County politics, it is the NFL.

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JJ readers: Keep Nutt.

Only 14% of you think Ole Miss should get rid of Houston Nutt. Nearly half of you want to keep him and 39% just don't care. I predict more of the same from his teams. Inconsistent play, misuse of talent, losing to teams that should not even be on the schedule, and overall frustration.

50 (11%)
80 (18%)
Don't care
168 (39%)
Yes, team gets worse
16 (3%)
No, fans are unrealistic
66 (15%)
No, can't get anyone better.
50 (11%)

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Remembering Operation Pretense

The federal government busted fifty-five supervisors in Operation Pretense back in the late 1980's. I came across this 2004 study on Operation Pretense and its aftermath written by some individuals at Ole Miss and Nicholls State University. The abstract states:

"This paper explores the determinants of governmental corruption exploiting a unique dataset generated by an FBI investigation of county purchasing activities that ultimately led to the conviction of 55 of Mississippi‟s 410 county supervisors, one county road foreman, two state highway commissioners and 13 vendors on bribery, extortion and other felony charges. Evidence is reported that corruption occurs more frequently in rural counties where voter-taxpayers have fewer years of schooling. Corruption is also more likely in counties where supervisors are paid more, ceteris paribus, casting doubt on the proposition that efficiency wages purchase honest public officials."

No one will be surprised at the conclusion that more rural counties tend to have more corruption although recent revelations about a certain nearby county put this conclusion to the test. Its also interesting the study finds corruption occurs more where the supervisors are more highly paid. Its a concise study that provides some good history lessons for most of us who weren't keeping up with politics back then. The study is posted below for your enjoyment.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

2009 Auditor's report on Hinds County.

If you are bored or can't sleep tonight, here is something for you to read: The 2009 State Auditor's report on Hinds County. I looked in several media websites and don't think anyone mentioned this so here ya go. It should be noted the report was prepared by a private firm. I haven't read it yet but decided to go ahead and post it.

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Reason TV: New Orleans Voucher Program

Since I've had some teacher's union defenders come on here in the comments, let me round out this picture a bit. Here is the audit of the NOPS back in 2004-2005. The system was so bad the audit could not even be completed. Over 20 people have been in trouble over the last 6 years for fraud and embezzlement. 2004-2005 attempted audit
Then there is a Tulane study on NOPSpublished this year as well as this report on the performance of NOPS over the last five years.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christie at it again

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Recent GOP fundraiser

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Friday, November 12, 2010

WLBT covering Hamer invoice story tonight

Marsha is on it.

Update: Here it is from the 6:00 PM broadcast. "Baseless allegations"? Funny.

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Meredith Whitney: "QE2 makes everything more expensive for Middle America"

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Eric Hamer invoices. I report. You decide.

JJ obtained copies of invoices submitted by Madison County Board Attorney Eric Hamer for the last twelve months. JJ examined Mr. Hamer's contracts in an earlier post and determined Madison County paid him over $655,000 since July 2008 and the average monthly invoice is over $24,000.

Mr. Hamer billed the county in great detail for his services. The September invoice is typical of the fees claimed by Mr. Hamer. The invoice is for $30,364. No matter was too great or too small to escape Mr. Hamer's time sheets. Talking to supervisors, emailing the chancery clerk, going on three-day trips to nice resorts, researching executive sessions laws, all of it was fodder for his billing machine. Some of the services claimed are:

7/28/10 Emails to A. Johnston, Sample Mclellan, McNaughton, Mayo, & Ryan: $136 (All county employees)
7/28/10 Preperation for and meeting with J. Granberry regarding State Aid issues and B. Sellers et al (Canton). 2.1 hrs $409 (Granberry and Sellers are county employees.)
Meeting with A. Johnston (Chancery Clerk) on various issues 1 hr. $195
7/30/10 Emails to/from L. Mayo .1 hr $19.50 (Mayo is a county employee)
8/1/10 Meeting with T. Johnson regarding various issues. 1.2 hrs $234
8/2/10 Emails to/from K. Banks and J. McNaughton .2 hrs $39
8/2/10 Attending Ridgeland Board Meeting with T. Johnson et al 1.1 hrs $214
8/3/10 Study & review of memo regarding gates on public roads, and study * review of AG opinion request letter. . 4hrs. $78
8/4/10 Meeting w/ T. Johnson regarding Old Courthouse air conditioning contract .5 hrs $97.50
8/6/10 Telephone conf. with K. Pace, T. Johnson. B. Blackmon, and K. Banks .4 hrs. $78
8/6/10 Meeting with T. Johnson and R. Warnock .5 hrs. $97
8/6/10 Prep. for and meeting with D. Toler regarding state aid issues. 1.8 hrs. $351
8/9/10 Telephone conference with W. Sample, A. Johnston, T. Trowbridge, T. Pickett,C. Parker, M. Houston, R. Warnock, and T. Johnson .9 hrs. $175
8/10/10 Telephone conference with a whole bunch of county officials, supervisors, and attorney for Rankin County 1.4 hrs. $273
8/10/10 Meeting with A. Johnston, B. Sellers, & T. Trowbridge 3/5 hrs. $682
8/15/10 Meeting with Tim Johnson 1.2 hrs. $234
8/15/10 Legal research regarding executive session laws and volunteer regarding settlement of claims 1.4 hrs. $273
8/16/10 Brief meetings w/ Q. Green, T. Johnson, H. Crunk, P. Griffin .6 hrs. $117
8/17/10 Telephone conference with J. Granberry, C Plumb, J.B. Crosby & R. Warnock .7 hrs. $136
8/19/10 Meeting with T. Johnson .3 hrs $58.50
8/24/10 Legal research regarding special election issues .5 hrs. $97.50
8/24/10 Meeting with T. Johnson & Rudy Warnock 1 hr. $195
8/25/10 Telephone conference with T. Johnson, R. Warnock, B. Sellers, D. McClellan, M. Guest, B. Blackmon, B. Parker, M. Guest, and D. Landrum 1 hr $195
8/31/10 Meeting with P. Griffin, Mayor Truly, B. Blackmon, Q. Green, R. Warnock, and T. Johnson 2.8 hrs. $546
COPY EXPENSE: 46.05 It should be pointed out this county employee charges the county for copying expenses every month.

The rest of the invoices run in similar fashion and are available below for your review. Some expenses deserving of attention are:

7/26/10 Meeting with T. Johnson and J.B. Crosby regarding meeting Auditor's office. Brief meetings with L. Mayo, P. Griffin, H. Crunk, et al 2.2 hrs. $429
7/17/10 Traveling to NACO Conference and Attending NACO conference 8.8 hrs. 1,716.00
7/18/10 Attending NACO Conference 5 hrs. $975
7/19/10 Attending NACO Conference Work Sessions 2.5 hrs. $487
7/20/10 Travel from NACO Conference 7.5 hrs. $1,462
4/29/10 Prep. for meetings in Canton w/ Dr. Sethi & Kay Pace, W. Sample, Jim Turner, R. Warnock, et al; T. Johnson, additional meeting w/ W. Sample 6.3 hrs. $1,228.50
5/10/10 Preparation for and meeting with Mike Kent at Madison Central and meetings with K. Banks and T.Johnson 1.5 hrs. $292.50
5/12/10 Prepearation for and meeting with A. Johnston, B. Sellers, John Granberry. Meeting with Kay Pace. 1 hr. $195
4/14/10 Prepare for and meeting with G. Barber, et al re: TIF task force 2.5 hrs. $487
4/20/10 Travel to and attending PDD conference in Biloxi $975
4/21/10 Attending PDD conference and returning from same, multiple telphone conferences with M. Houston, A. Johnston, T. Johnston, R. Warnock, T. Trowbridge, T. Picket. K. Banks 10 hours $1,950
3/4/10: Meeting with D.I. Smith 1 hr $195
3/9/10 Telephone conferences with Granberry, Houston, T. Johnson, Magehee (MCSD), Seale (lobbyist) .9 hrs. $175
1/11/10 Legal research and review AG opinions and recent ethics changes 2 hours #390
1/13/10 Study and review PRV proposal legislation and prepare for and attending meeting with Sen. Yancey et al 3 hrs. $585
1/22/10 Meeting with Lobbyist S. Seale .5 hrs. $97.50
1/28/10 Prepare for and meetings in Canton with K. Pace, G. Barber, K. Banks, A. Johnston, C. Parker, M. Houston, et al 4.8 hrs. $936
2/15/10 Meetings with K. Banks, Mayor Magee, G. Steen, T. Johnson et al 2 hrs. $3

Here are the invoices:
August invoice, July invoice, June invoice, May invoice, March invoice, February invoice, March invoice, December 2009, November 2009, January 2010, October 2009

It should be noted no authorization to pay Mr. Hamer for his billable time while attending actual sessions on said trips is mentioned in the minutes although his travel and registration expenses were authorized. Mr. Hamer fully supported his average monthly $24,000 fee in his invoices and the Board of Supervisors paid them without question. The Attorney General stated in the 2002 Wolfeopinion:

In the event that the Board of Supervisors finds that there are special cases or circumstances which are not within the scope of the duties of the regular board attorney; that additional legal services are reasonable and necessary for conducting the county's business; and spreads such findings on its minutes, the board has the discretion to hire either the board attorney or another attorney on an hourly fee contract to attend to those additional legal needs."

The question is then whether the Board properly authorized the work claimed as the basis for these fees. JJ reviewed the minutes and stated its findings below. In contrast to the substantial fees billed to Madison County by Eric Hamer, the Hinds County Board Attorney works part-time for a supervisor's salary and has no invoices or billable time sheets to produce.

Note: The law does allow the board to authorize "special" work for the board attorney under either another contract or at the direction of the board as specified in the minutes. The Board minutes over the last twelve months authorized the following actions:

8/24/09 Mr. Hamer is authorized to draft resolutions and handle other work on Calhoun Station Parkway. Correspond with Neel-Schaffer, Authorize Mr. Hamer to review and negotiate with Gulf South Construction to move gas line
9/30/09 Authorize DC Trip for delegation, including Mr. Hamer
10/9/09 Authorize Mr. Hamer to deal with State Farm, handle the removal of a horse from private property, deal with Denson Farm Developers, Secure movement of waterline for Reunion, Discuss moving gas pipeline on Sowell Road
11/2/09 Authorize Mr. Hamer to handle easement documents for Hart Road
12/7/09 Handle easements for Cane Creek Road Bridge Project
1/19/09 Prepare easement documents for Dry Creed Road Bridge, wok on closing sale of property on Hwy 463, draft memorandum of understanding on Gluckstadt Middle School Turn Lane Project, draft agreement with West Madison Utilitly District, Attend meetings on dissolving PRVWSD
1/25/10 Research permit hauling policy
2/1/10 Draft easement documents for Calhoun Station, determine amount of compensation due to Gulf South pipeline, authorize Hamer to "re-secure" funds paid to MMEIA ($660,000)
3/1/10 Authorize all Supes, major officials, and Mr. Hamer to attend PDD conference in Biloxis and approve travel & registration expenses. NO mention of paying Mr. Hamer for his billeable time; Prepare easement docs for Gus Green Road, prepare lease docs, prepare Agreement on Germantown Middle School Turn Lane project
4/5/10 Approve New Orleans trip for May. Travel & Registration expenses approved. No mention of Hamer's billable time.
4/19/10 prepare easement docs for Moss Road Bridge
5/3/10 Authorize June trip to Tunica in June for Mississippi Association of Supervisors Convention. Travel and Registration expenses approved. No authorization mentioned for paying for Mr. Hamer's billable time at the convention.
5/17/10 Hamer authorized to talk to developers
6/7/10 Hamer authorized to defend coroner in litigation, Authorize Supers, major officials, and Mr. Hamer to attend NACO in Reno, Nevada in July, Approved registration and travel expenses. No mention made of paying for Mr. Hamer's billable time.
7/21/10 Hamer authorized to handle Virlilia Road matter.
9/7/10 Hamer to draft contract for employee, Authorize all Supers, major county officials, and Mr. Hamer to attend Supervisor workshop in Meridian in October.
All travel and registration expenses approved. No authorization given for Mr. Hamer's billable hours while attending actual sessions.
9/20/10 Authorize everyone and Mr. Hamer to attend Mid-Winter conference of Mississippi Emergency Management Association in November at the casin-er in Neshoba. All travel and registration approved. No mention made of paying for Mr. Hamer's billable time while attending sessions. Mr. Hamer authorized to prepare easements.
9/30/10: Supes attempt to update Mr. Hamer's contract

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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