Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pension guides or pension thieves?

Forbes reported on the use of placement agents in the world of public pensions:

"The battle over public pensions has recently led to walkouts, sleep-ins, tax hikes and layoffs of public employees as communities grapple with grim financial realities--including at least a $1.26 trillion shortfall in funds to pay for promised benefits (see "Mind the Gap"). One guy who doesn't seem to be suffering is Glen Rodger Sergeon Jr.

Sergeon is a placement agent. His job is to convince officials at state and local pension funds to hand over slices of their $2.3 trillion in assets to his clients, who seek to manage them for a fee. In 2008 and 2009 Sergeon lined up such work with the $14.6 billion (assets) Kentucky Retirement System on behalf of seven money managers. One that paid Sergeon's firm over $2 million was the Arrowhawk Durable Alpha Fund--an outfit that couldn't have won over public officials with its track record because it was brand-new. Another startup, Crestview Partners II, paid Sergeon's company $1.1 million...

Placement agents are used at one time or another by more than 90% of public funds, according to Edward Siedle, a former Securities & Exchange Commission attorney who runs Benchmark Financial Services (and contributes to Forbes.com) in Ocean Ridge, Fla.

Agents say they provide valuable screening for public funds that lack the resources to do the job. Critics charge they're glorified bagmen in a pay-to-play world in which public officials hand assets to money managers willing to contribute to their political campaigns or otherwise enrich them." Article

The article contains some good information and perhaps its time to ask if Mississippi uses placement agents and if so, under what terms. Stay tuned.

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Dennis for Governor.

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Sun-Herald: Reeves way out in front

Geoff Pender and Michael Newsom write in the Sun-Herald Tate Reeves is waaaay out in front of Billy Hewes:

"A Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates poll of likely GOP primary voters shows State Treasurer Tate Reeves with a substantial lead over state Sen. Billy Hewes III, R-Gulfport, but with many undecided voters.

Reeves carried 51 percent, Hewes 18 percent and 31 percent were undecided. A media market breakdown shows Reeves with large leads in Jackson (70-9), Hattiesburg (64-9), Tupelo (55-10), but Hewes leading in Biloxi-Gulfport (46-18). The numbers are likely heavily based on name recognition, with 78 percent having no opinion or having never heard of Hewes.

The Hewes camp says these numbers are very preliminary, based solely on name recognition, and likely to change as campaign advertising begins in earnest. But Reeves is the most well-financed candidate in the state right now

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day.

In honor of Memorial Day and our fallen soldiers, here is Victory at Sea, Episode 9. The Allies invade North Africa (believe it or not, we had to fight the French). I also included President Reagan's tribute.

Part 2
Part 3

Reagan's Tribute to the heroes of D-Day:

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Too damn funny.

I love it. NASCAR tried to rig the race and it still blew up in their faces, not to mention all the heartbroken Junior groupies.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

WLBT reports on Martin's contract

Cheryl Lasseter covered the matter of the contract between Hinds County and attorney Precious Martin in the Motorola lawsuit. Here is the video:

One item must be pointed out. The case settle after the trial began so its my contention the 40% clause applies to the settlement agreement and is what Mr. Martin probably received.

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Madison candidates file emergency request for TRO

Madison County residents Billy Redd, David Buchanan, Steve Leslie, and others filed an emergency petition for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court Friday afternoon against Madison County Circuit Clerk Lee Westbrook and the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

The group filed suit after Board Attorney Eric Hamer announced the county would use the redistricting plan adopted by the Board after the qualifying deadline. The Board's action had the effect of placing several opponents of the incumbents in other districts. The court recently dismissed a lawsuit by Madison County seeking permission to extend the qualifying deadline to June 1 after it determined the county had no standing to sue.

The suit alleges due process and equal protection violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. Russ Latino represents the plaintiffs. The combined complaint argues "it is fundamentally unfair for any board of supervisors to wait until after qualifying to redistrict. Such conduct presents fertile ground for corruption in a multitude of ways, including the potential to draw opponents of incumbents out of districts and rig elections."

Indeed such was the result of the new plan. Billy Redd was a candidate in District 2 but was moved into District 3 against an incumbent and a sitting Ridgeland alderman from a district that had no incumbent. David Buchanan went from challenging Karl Banks (4) to challenging Paul Griffin (5). Steve Leslie states if he had known he would be moved out of District 3, he would have run for supervisor as he did not want to challenge Mr. Smith.

Earlier post with maps.
Collection of all Madison County posts.

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Why We Fight

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Romney supports ethanol subsidies.

The candidate who was the intellectual godfather to Obamacare announced last week he supports ethanol subsidies:

“I support the subsidy of ethanol,” he told an Iowa voter. “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.” Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, a main source of ethanol." Article

Yup. Mr. Romney supports higher food prices, tariffs making gas more expensive, and gas that is less efficient and ruins engines. Then there is that little matter of his refusal to back away from that little health care reform he instituted in Massachusetts. Makes you wonder if local young Republicans Austin Barbour and Matt Allen are Republicans or conservatives since they support him.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Well, what do you know? Precious had a well, "precious" contract.

Another layer is peeled away from the Motorola/Hinds lawsuit. The Hinds County Board of Supervisors entered into a retention agreement with attorney Precious Martin on April 22, 2010. The agreement was signed by then-Board President Robert Graham. The agreement specified Mr. Martin would be paid on a contingency fee basis.

The agreement states Mr. Martin will be paid 40% of "any and all damages which this body may recover at trial of the matter." The case settled after a few days at trial for an undisclosed amount. JJ filed a public records request with Hinds County for a copy of the settlement agreement. Hinds County notified Motorola of the request. Motorola then filed a petition in Hinds County Chancery Court for a protective order to keep the agreement confidential. JJ filed a motion to intervene a few weeks ago in order to contest the petition for a protective order. It is unknown how much money Hinds County received from the settlement or how much money was paid to Precious Martin. Mr. Martin is the husband of Board Attorney Crystal Martin. However, Mr. Martin did demand millions of dollars in damages from Motorola a few weeks after he filed suit.

Mr. Martin demanded $5 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages, complimentary P-25 status upgrade for the benefit of the county, and 1500 radios "to make compatible with the P-25 upgrade" in a letter to Motorola on January 30, 2009. The complaint filed against Motorola on February 5, 2009 does not specify damages but leaves the determination of said damages to the court's discretion.

Contingency fee contracts between Boards of Supervisors and attorneys are legal. The Attorney General stated in the Nunn opinion (1990):

"You also ask if the board may enter into a contingency fee arrangement with an attorney. Please find attached a copy of an opinion of this office to C.R. McRae, dated June 19, 1990 that said a school district could enter into such an arrangement. We find the reasoning of that opinion applicable to board of supervisors. Section 19-3-69 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 authorizes the board to enter into a contract with an attorney. It does not specify the manner of compensation to the attorney. Section 19-3-40 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 (Home Rule) grants to the board of supervisors great discretion in how to handle the county finances and property. Understanding the considerations set forth in the McRae opinion, we are of the opinion that a county board of supervisors may enter into contingency fee arrangements with an attorney licensed to practice law in Mississippi."

and in the Williamson opinion (2001):
"Therefore, this office is of the opinion Section 19-3-47 and Section 19-3-69, read in pari materia, provide the county board of supervisor authority to employ attorneys licensed to practice law in Mississippi on a contingency fee basis for specific cases."

WLBT joins intervention against Hinds & Motorola
JJ files motion to intervene against Motorola and Hinds County
Stowers and Hargrove stole from company, Martin wanted suit to "take care of" retirement.

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Happy Memorial Day from Lynn Fitch

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Friday, May 27, 2011

WLBT joins intervention against Hinds & Motorola (Video included)

WLBT announced during the evening news broadcast tonight it was joining this website in a motion to intervene filed against Motorola and Hinds County in Hinds County Chancery Court this week. Here is the video of the broadcast. Cheryl Lasseter did a great job covering the story and Curt Crowley even looked like a real attorney.

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And now a word from our sponsor

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Interesting little fund-raising letter sent out by Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney:

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Hearing set in Canton annexation

Madison County Chancellor Cynthia Brewer set a hearing date for the petition by Canton to annex the land surrounding the Nissan plant. The MEC system states:

"NOTICE of Hearing: Hearing set for 2/27/2012 09:00 AM in Courtroom 2 before Judge Cynthia Brewer. Hearing set for 2/28/2012 09:00 AM in Courtroom 2 before Judge Cynthia Brewer. Hearing set for 2/29/2012 09:00 AM in Courtroom 2 before Judge Cynthia Brewer."

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Remembering Mark Haines

Now that I've had time to catch my breath, here are some more clips remembering Mark Haines of CNBC.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

BREAKING: State issues $45,736 demand against Robert Graham

The Office of the State Auditor just issued the following press release:

"(Jackson, Miss.) Special agents with the State Auditor’s Office served a demand today against Robert Graham, a member of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and former City of Jackson employee, for $45,736.05 for wages he received from the City of Jackson while conducting dispatcher certification classes. The courses were taught during regular work hours when Graham indicated on his City of Jackson timesheets that he had been at work. Attendees for the classes paid fees to a private company, Professional Dispatch Management, owned by Robert Graham, to earn certifications and re-certifications through the National Emergency Communications Institute. The actions took place from 2004 – 2007 when Graham was certified to teach for the National Emergency Communications Institute. NECI has since revoked his certification and no longer allows Graham to administer its programs.

“Our investigation began on this case in 2008 when our office received the first complaint,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “The investigation indicated Graham’s time and expenses to recreate training material were paid by the City of Jackson when Graham was clearly not doing City business. This case has been turned over to the District Attorney for review.”

During the investigation, the State Auditor’s Office also received allegations that Supervisor Robert Graham used his position to influence Jimmy Lewis, director of emergency operations for Hinds County, to hire his brother Charles Graham for the assistant director with the emergency operations center for Hinds County. This issue was investigated, and it was determined that the Auditor’s Office did not have jurisdiction over this matter; however, the State Auditor provided a copy of the telephone recording of thi
s conversation to the proper authority for review and possible action."

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JJ files motion to intervene against Motorola and Hinds County

Attorney Curt Crowley filed a motion to intervene against Hinds County and Motorola for Jackon Jambalaya on May 24, 2011. This correspondent filed a public records request with Hinds County seeking a copy of the settlement in the lawsuit. Hinds County did not fulfill or deny my request but instead notified Motorola. Motorola filed a petition for a protective order in Hinds County Chancery Court requesting the court permanently seal the settlement.

It is the position of this correspondent that since Hinds County IS a public body, the settlement is a public record and the public is entitled view it. The case is civil, not criminal in nature and is not part of an investigation. Such accountability is the foundation of representative government. The court will be the proper forum for me to discuss the merits of this motion. However, as I will continue to post about Hinds County matters on this site, this post is made in the interest of disclosure to you, the reader.

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Brown: Stowers & Hargrove stole from company, Hinds attorney wanted suit to take care of "retirement"

Hinds County sued Motorola in February 2009 seeking recovery of alleged damages caused by Motorola giving Madison and Ridgeland access to the county radio system. Local attorney Precious Martin filed suit for Hinds. The parties settled the case under undisclosed terms in April. Hinds allegedly became aware of the "problem" after then- Brown Communications employees Nathan Hargrove and Stacy Stowes audited the Hinds County radio system in May 2008 authorized under a motion made by Supervisor Robert Graham.

Several filings made in the case this year allege some rather interesting activities by Hargrove, Stowers, and Martin. Motorola filed a motion to disqualify Mr. Martin on February 15, 2011. The motion claims Mr. Stowers obtained a four million dollar contract for Airwave LLC with Hinds County in December 2008 (JJ reported this earlier and discovered Airwave did not actually exist until January 28, 2009.). The motion states Mr. Stowers had no personnel capable of actually doing the work so he "relied on Brown's Communications and its Shop Manager, Nathan Hargrove" to perform all of the actual work (This is starting to sound like Rudy.). Problem is, the owner of Brown's had told Mr. Hargrove not to even communicate with Mr. Stowers as he was no longer a Brown's employee.

Tim Brown, the owner of Brown's, claimed in a deposition Mr. Hargrove lied to him about his contacts with Mr. Stowers and that he allowed the former employee to "misappropriate" his company's "employees and equipment for the purpose of servicing Hinds County's system." Mr. Brown alleged the pair cost him $20,000 in income while they performed work for Hinds County without his consent.

A confrontation ensued at the office when Mr. Brown refused to let the former employees retrieve their personal property and the police were called. Attorney Precious Martin (husband of Hinds County Board of Supervisors attorney Crystal Martin) "arrived at the scene in his vehicle" and "thereafter met with Tim Brown at a nearby Waffle House Restaurant."

Here is where it gets real interesting:

"Mr Martin told Brown that Martin knew that Stowers/Hargrove had been stealing from Brown's business by using Brown's employees and equipment to work on the County's system. However, Martin told Brown that if Brown would let go of this dispute with Stowers/Hargrove, martin would make sure that Brown got paid."

Brown stated in his deposition: "Me, Precious Martin, Frank Dixon (Brown employee), Constable Brown set as the Waffle House and he promised me that he knew that these boys took me for all my money and he was going to help me get my money back."

Q: Who promised you that?
A: Precious Martin......

And he told me the relationship between Constable Brown and Precious Martin. And he says, listen, I'm going to tell these boys, loo, go ahead and give this boy his money. Because he says, Tim, listen, I can make some money off of this deal with the suit case with Motorola. And these boys can help me out alot but I'm going to promise you i'll get your money.

Mr. Brown then gives further details on the relationship between Stowers and Hargrove:

"he knew about the system being bamboozled by the county automatically giving Airwave the contract even before he have a business license and he had no technicians. And everyone knew in Hinds County what happened, because they knew me and Stacey were real close and working together.

And all of a sudden now, Stacey took my office manager and they went in business. And he knew about all the guys going out, doing all the work-- Nathan had the guys do all the work that when Stacey had the contract, and they were just stealing from me by having my guys go out and do the work for Stacey Stowers and Stacey getting paid for it. And I never knew about it

Then Mr. Brown focuses more on Mr. Martin's knowledge of the whole ordeal:
"He explained that Nathan Hargrove was really working for Stacey and using all my guys to go out and perform all of Stacey Stowers' work on Hinds County.

Q: He acknowledged that to you--
A: Yes, he did. He knew everything that was going on.
Q: And he indicated to you he thought that was wrong?
A: Yeah.

Mr. Brown then says on page 221 of the deposition (see below)

"Look, black people don't need to be fighting. Okay? You guys need to work together. Listen, this is bigger, bigger than y'all. You know, this is, basically I can go ahead and make my retirement off this Motorola lawsuit. You guys need to work together."

Q: He said that?
A: Yes, he did.
Q: He could make his retirement off--
A: He could make his retirement. Yes, he did. Yes, he did. He said listen, y'all, you know, black folks has a routine of all fighting together. You guys need to cut this out and work together....."

A: And he told me again. He says listen, black folks need to stop. You guys need to stop this. This is messing up this big lawsuit. This is bigger than you guys, Okay?
Q: That this is messing up this big lawsuit?
A: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Because I think basically they were trying to use me and Nathan and Stacey altogether as one as Brown's Communications for this lawsuit.

Hinds County's response to the motion to disqualify denies such a meeting took place. Hinds County filed several motions in limine (posted below) to preclude any evidence or testimony about Brown firing Stowers, a Waffle House meeting, allegations the two former employees stole from Brown, evidence of the relationship between Brown and the two employees after the audit, and any evidence about the radio controversy with Byram.

Good reading. Pour a drink first:

Jackson Jambalaya mentioned in suit:

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QE II has been a failure

Senior Marketwatch columnist Brett Arends writes in the Dow Jones publication the Fed's Quantitative Easing II program has been a complete failure for the economy:

"QE2 is being wound down in the next few weeks. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said it has left the economy “moving in the right direction.”

But an analysis of the real numbers tells a very different story. Turns out the program has created maybe 700,000 full-time jobs — at a cost of around $850,000 each. House prices are lower than before QE2 was launched. Economic growth is slower. Inflation is higher

But wait a second. What about the stock market? Mr. Arends does acknowledge stock market gains.

"Yes, it’s sparked a massive boom on the stock market. Ordinary investors have started piling back into shares again...

But even the stock market boom hasn’t been what it appears. An analysis shows that most of the rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Indexunder QE2 has simply been a result of the decline in the dollar in which shares are measured.

The truth? QE2 has created a massive new bubble in dollar-based financial assets, from stocks to gold. Meanwhile, it has had zero visible effect on the real economy

But, but, but, unemployment has decreased. Has it?

"According to the U.S. Labor Department, since last August the number of full-time workers has gone up by just 700,000, from 111.8 million to 112.5 million.

At a cost of $600 billion, that’s $850,000 a job.

The picture’s even more meager. Over the same period, the number of part-time workers has gone down by 600,000. In other words, we’ve basically shifted 600,000 or 700,000 workers from part-time jobs to full-time jobs.

The percentage of the population in work is actually lower today — 58.4%, compared to 58.5% last August. The percentage of the workforce in actual work, the so-called “participation rate,” has fallen by half a percentage point

Well, lets not talk about that. What about housing? Well, what about housing?

"Housing is double-dipping. Big time. According to the National Association of Realtors, the average price of an “existing” (i.e. used) home was $177,300 in August, just before QE2.

Today? It’s $163,700 — or 8% less

Who told you this would happen two years ago? Doesn't matter, the economy has been showing some good numbers.

"Economic growth has slowed. It was 2.6% last summer. It’s a miserable 1.8% now.

Meanwhile inflation has risen, from 1.2% before QE2 to 3.1% now
." Article

Yup, green shoots.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Netanyahu addresses Congress.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu gave a very impressive speech to Congress this week. Worth watching.

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Jazztini tomorrow night at Olga's.

Olga's is proud to present "Jazztini Night" on Thursday night. Want to hear some good jazz while enjoying a nice drink or meal? Jazztini is what you need. Olga's will offer jazz every Thursday night with $5 martinis all night long. "Tiger" Thomas Rogers wowed the crowd two weeks ago and is back tonight for an encore performance from 7-10. Tiger got so carried away he played for two hours straight without a break. Reservations are optional but not required. Call 601-366-1366.

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Harper aide leaves to become Hewes spokesman

Just got this press release from my good friend Keith Plunkett:

Gulfport, MS. May 25, 2011—Senator Billy Hewes announced today the addition of former congressional staffer Keith Plunkett as the newest member of his campaign staff for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi. Plunkett begins June 1 as Communications Director for the Hewes Campaign and as the campaign’s representative for Madison County.

Plunkett has worked as a member of Mississippi Republican Congressman Gregg Harper’s staff since 2008, handling the responsibilities of District Communications and Constituent Services. A member of the Madison County GOP Executive Committee since 2006, he played a key role in organizing the base of support and grass roots effort in Madison and surrounding counties during Harper’s historic run for Congress in 2007. Harper was given little or no chance in a field of seven candidates during the campaign, but surprised many to force a runoff against a better funded and more well-known candidate. Harper went on to win the seat based primarily on his grass-roots campaigning and networking of volunteers, an effort in which Plunkett played a major role.

“I am very excited to have Keith join us as we campaign to maintain solid conservative leadership and experience in the Lieutenant Governor’s office,” said Senator Billy Hewes. “He brings with him a wealth of experience in traditional communication and new media, and is well respected in Madison County. I have worked with Keith on federal issues involving Mississippi over the past couple of years with Congressman Harper’s office. I know firsthand that he will bring to this job tenacity and a work ethic that is second to none.”

Prior to his work on the Harper campaign, Plunkett worked as the Editor and Publisher of the Flora Harvester. He took over the publication in 2006 and quickly grew the print format from a monthly community announcement advertiser into a biweekly news medium and launched a presence on the internet. Under his leadership the publication competed with much larger publications to announce breaking news, tackled political and civic issues and doubled the number of subscribers.

Plunkett says covering politics drew him into a more active role as a campaign adviser.

“There have been only a few people that I have met so far that have the type of genuine leadership skills that inspire me to become more intimately involved in a campaign,” said Plunkett. “One is now a United States Congressman, another is Senator Billy Hewes. If Mississippians truly listen to the important conversation during this campaign over the next couple of months, then he will be our next Lieutenant Governor.”

Plunkett joins two former Congressional staffers already with the Hewes campaign and helps to solidify an already geographically diverse staff. Morgan Shands is Campaign Director and a former Southern Region Representative for Senator Roger Wicker, and Colby Parker previously worked for Alan Nunelee in his successful bid for Congress in 2010 in North Mississippi.

“I think it says a lot to have this type of experience and professionalism associated with our campaign,” said Hewes. “I’m excited to have the support of such a talented team.”


A small business owner and conservative leader, Billy Hewes was unanimously elected by his colleagues as President Pro Tempore and is serving his fifth term in the Mississippi Senate. Appointed to 13 standing committees, he is responsible for providing leadership in the development and implementation of policy measures, as well as the operational functioning of the Senate. Hewes has an extensive list of community service activities. By profession he is an insurance agent and real estate broker with his family agency in Gulfport, and is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi. Billy and his wife, Paula, make their home in Gulfport with their four children, Katie, Sarah Margaret, Gardner, and Sam.

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Damn. Farewell to Mark Haines.

Little did we know how ironic this clip from a few weeks ago would be:

5:00 mark. Mark was a class act and will be missed.

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Uh-oh, Bumblin' Burwell is back with a hand out.

The Rez News blog reports on our old friend and Harborwalk promoter John Burwell is back for more help from the PRVD:

"Mr. John Burwell spoke to the group (Shoreline committee on May 16) and provided some history on the project, then told them he was in the same position as last year, no financing for the project....

Last year Mr. Burwell ask the board if they could work out an arrangement where he could avoid taking down the parcel that was due in July 2010. A deal was reached where Harbor Walk could delay, by one year, the take down of the scheduled parcel. For that consideration he would pay the PRVWSD an agreed to sum of money and take down two parcels in 2011.

On Monday the board was put on notice that the Harbor Walk developers will be looking for a similar arrangement this year.

Mr. Burwell told board members that he wants to stay the course and complete the project. His words were "We want to build something spectacular". Rest of post

Uh-huh. Lets face it folks, Harborwalk is a flop. It has not happened, it is not happening, and it is not going to happen. Period. Its time to quit giving special treatment to Mr. Burwell and if he goes under, he goes under. The Reservoir should be the crown jewel of the area but that is not going to happen while Mr. Burwell holds those leases. The District needs to put this dead dog out of its misery and pull the plug. No extensions, no nothing.

Harborwalk: Hoax or folly?
Harborwalk Update September 2010
Is there a Harborwalk?
Harborwalk: Here we go again.
Today is the day

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Bar suspends Leonard

The Mississippi Bar's website now states:

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DOJ pre-clears Madison County

The Department of Justice issued a letter of pre-clearance to the Madison County Board of Supervisors for its redistricting plan. The letter is posted below.

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Fundraiser for Terry Hawkins

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WANTED: Harris Claiborne Frazier

Update: There is an active arrest warrant for Harris Claiborne Frazier issued in Okaloosa County, Florida the warrants division of the Okaloosa Sheriff's office confirmed in a phone call to JJ today. Mr. Frazier failed to appear in court recently on a charge of writing worthless checks.

Original post on May 18, 2011:
Harris Claiborne Frazier failed to appear in court in Okaloosa County, Florida for "Judge Pre-trial" on a bad check charge. Here is the report from the county website:

The Sheriff's office warrants division said there was no warrant for his arrest.

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Old interview with Angela (Chaney) Lewis and Donna Ladd

With all of the talk about the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, I thought it was appropriate to mention this old article from Glamour magazine about the childhoods of two women from very different backgrounds. Both poor but one black, one white and in 1960's Mississippi, that was enough. One was Angela Lewis, the daughter of murdered civil rights worker James Chaney and the other was Donna Ladd, yes, the editor of the Jackson Free Press.

While this blog has engaged in very colorful criticism of her and her publication, I still recommend reading this article. I'm not going to post any excerpts as I don't want to skew the interpretation and doing so would not do the story any justice. Some of you will be tempted to take potshots at her because of her background discussed in the story. All I can say is I don't begrudge anyone trying to better herself and improve the lot of those around her. Many have left Mississippi to find their way or seek better opportunities and she is no different than the rest of them in that respect.

Then there is the story of Ms. Lewis's childhood? One can't imagine what it was like to grow up in fear as she did, knowing the killers lived only a few miles away and were protected by the state. A childhood lacking a father, unable to even admit who her father was as violence did come to his family after his death. I won't insult her story with any descriptions of it as anything I write will be an insult to her. Its a story that needs to be told and one that should be remembered.

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New poll

Which police department/law enforcement agency is the worst. Fire away and don't forget to vote early and often.

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More auto plants coming to the South

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting story today on the opening of the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee:

"Volkswagen AG on Tuesday will celebrate the opening of a new Tennessee auto plant that gives the German auto maker much lower U.S. labor costs than not only its Detroit rivals but its Japanese competitors on American soil.

The new plant will present a stiff challenge for Detroit auto makers, which restructured with the goal of achieving cost parity with Japanese companies building cars in the U.S.

Located near Chattanooga, Tenn., the plant will pay starting workers about $27 an hour in wages and benefits, according to estimates by industry analysts. That's roughly half the $52 an hour cost of labor at the Detroit Three auto makers and some non-union U.S. plants owned by Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. It comes as Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., whose Alabama and Georgia plant labor costs are similar to VW's, are gaining share against Detroit and Tokyo rivals.

During the auto bailout restructuring led by the U.S. government, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC were told they had to rework union contracts to be in line with Toyota. While unions agreed to sharply lower the pay for new hires, there haven't been that many workers coming in at the lower levels. As a result, their labor costs remain far higher than those of new plants in the South.

"Any current wage or benefit gap between the Detroit Three and transplants could grow as transplants add capacity in the lower-wage U.S. South," said Brian Johnson, the lead auto analyst for Barclays Capital.

VW plans to build its Passat, a sedan that will be priced at $20,000, about the same as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu, making it competitive with the other volume sedans in the segment. The current model starts at nearly $28,000 but the price is coming down.

Over the next three years, VW is expected to boost the average worker's wage from $14.50 to $19.50, pushing up the total cost for a worker to roughly $38 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Ford Motor Co., GM and Chrysler have battled for years to lower the gap between themselves and Japanese auto makers that assemble vehicles in the U.S. Years ago, Detroit had labor costs of around $70 an hour, but in the last few years the three companies have won concessions from the United Auto Workers union. Ford's labor cost is now about $58 an hour, according to the company.

One key UAW concession allows GM, Ford and Chrysler to hire new workers at a wage of $14 an hour, about half the pay of veteran workers. New workers also get less costly benefits, such as 401k retirement accounts instead of a life-long pension program. The number of workers who get this "second-tier" pay package is limited, however.

The Detroit Three and the UAW are scheduled to begin negotiating a new labor contract this year. Barclay's Mr. Johnson expects GM, Ford and Chrysler to seek to increase the percentage of workers making the lower, entry-level wage up from the 20% cap today.

The string of non-union auto plants that have gone up in the South is a reflection of the U.S.'s increased competitiveness in auto manufacturing. Both BMW AG and Daimler AG produce vehicles in the U.S. and export them to markets around the world..." Rest of the article

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Dave Dennis fund-raiser Thursday

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Richard Schwartz: But, but, but, it's not my fault.

Attorney Richard Schwartz filed an answer in the Shirley Douglas bankruptcy estate on April 29. Ms. Douglas suffered injuries in an automobile collision. Mr. Schwartz negotiated a $500,000 settlement with the insurance company on her behalf. However, Ms. Douglas filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy before the settlement took place. Mr. Schwartz hired attorney Vann Leonard to apply to the bankruptcy court for his contract fee of $172,414 and deposit the remainder of the settlement with the bankruptcy court.

The court awarded Mr. Schwartz his fee. Ms. Douglas and the bankruptcy trustee filed suit against Mr. Schwartz after attorney Vann Leonard embezzled the remaining $327,000 from the estate. Mr. Leonard pleaded guilty in federal court on February 24 to one count of embezzlement. He currently awaits sentencing and is incarcerated in the Rankin County jail on contempt of court charges in an unrelated case.

The court ordered Mr. Schwartz to return his fee to the bankruptcy estate in January. Mr. Schwartz takes issue with this and a few other things in his answer. Mr. Schwartz blames everyone else for the loss of Ms. Douglas' money: "If Plaintiff has suffered injuries or damages, those mJunes and/or damages were proximately caused or contributed to solely by the negligent and/or intentional acts, wrongs, or omissions of other persons, entities, forces or things over which these defendants had no control and/or for which they are not responsible."

Mr. Schwartz then argues that imposition of punitive damages would violate his constitutional rights. Mr. Schwartz then points out the court took back his fee and claims he "is entitled to the full sum" even though he "admits that $33,477 of the proceeds... were not used to pay Ms. Douglas' medical bills because Vann Leonard misappropriated the proceeds." Mr. Schwartz even admits he hired Mr. Leonard in the past to obtain approval for his fees in bankruptcy cases." Attorneys formerly employed by Mr. Schwartz have informed this correspondent Mr. Schwartz hired Mr. Leonard on a regular basis whenever approval was needed from a bankruptcy judge to obtain his fees from a settlement. What is troubling for Mr. Schwartz is he admits there was no provision in the contract with Ms. Douglas "that authorized Schwartz and Associates to tender the $500,000 in settlement proceeds to Vann F. Leonard."

So to recap: Mr. Schwartz gives back his $172,000 to the court after the judge tells him to do so but still says its his money, says it's everyone's fault but his, but then admits Vann was his boy but it's still not his fault.

The plot thickens.

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Whitwell proposes ordinance allowing public access gates.

Jackson Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell proposed an ordinance permitting public access gates in Jackson. The proposed ordinance (posted below) will allow Jackson residents to apply to the city for approval to install a public access gate. The appropriate departments must approve or deny the request within thirty days. If the request is denied, the reasons for the denial must be stated in writing. Approvals will be forwarded to the city council for final ratification. Denials may be appealed to the city council as well.

The ordinance also specifies who shall pay for the gate: "The parties requesting the public access gate shall agree to to assume all costs and responsibility for planning, installation, and maintenance of the public access gate, including repair or replacement if the public access gate malfunctions, becomes inoperable, or is damaged.

Mr. Whitwell said in an email to JJ "I am introducing this resolution because public safety is the most important issue in Jackson. We do not want to allow for potential criminal activity to fester. We want to be pro-active and we want to send a message that although streets are public, roads are not to be used to scope out potential criminal activity. Jackson is a great place to live and we are going to protect the property values of those people who choose to live here. Other counties and cities in the surrounding area have them. So should we. Authorizing public access gates is a great compromise that addresses the concerns of both sides of the issue. I hope to see my colleagues work with me to adopt this ordinance"

Hopefully the City Council will approve this measure regardless of Mayor Harvey Johnson's wishes. Northeast Jackson residents were frustrated in numerous attempts to obtain public access gates for their neighborhoods as the city denied all requests. Mr. Whitwell told this correspondent the city's position was they were not allowed since there was no law permitting their installation and use.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Got to love the hate.

Warning: This letter sent to Mr. Wade contained an offensive word used several times in Huckleberry Fin.  It has been replaced with "x"'s.  

This is an email local talk show host and black conservative Kim Wade received via email from a Damien Ishamel Fairconetue. Enjoy.

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New muddy sand boils by River Road in BR.

These videos were shot over by Beau Pre Subdivision and Farr Park off of River Road in Baton Rouge. Its apparently at the toe of the levee. Here are the videos:

First boil.

Second and third boils

There is a discussion about it on Tigerdroppings.com.

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JJ readers say Shapley's has the best steak.

Nearly one thousand votes cast. JJ readers voted Shapley's for having the best steak in town. Tico's was second, Ruth's Chris was third. Results are below.

212 (22%)
Ruth's Chris
147 (15%)
12 (1%)
31 (3%)
24 (2%)
27 (2%)
33 (3%)
14 (1%)
Local 463
9 (0%)
Lone Star
10 (1%)
16 (1%)
43 (4%)
Ro' Chez
2 (0%)
294 (30%)
49 (5%)
8 (0%)
10 (1%)
10 (1%)

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New Dave Dennis ad

This post is a paid advertisement.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gene Simmons tells it like it is on Israel

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Well well, well....... (Video included)

Courtney Ann Jackson of Fox40 covers the Canton/Nissan dispute. Check out the shots of Ed's cuffs. Oh, and guess who voted for the Nissan deal in the House and Senate in 2000. Hint: Look at pages 10 and 15 of the documents posted below.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

A spice of India

Not safe for work or kids.

A little something to give you a break from the week or reading all of this redistricting stuff on JJ this week. ;-)

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Madison County Republican Party asks court for "clarification"

The Madison County Republican Party Executive Committee filed a motion seeking clarification of the court order issued Monday by Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. The judge dismissed a lawsuit filed in February by the Madison County Board of Supervisors seeking to extend qualifying deadlines for county elections to June 1, 2011. The county announced this week it would still use the new voting districts even though they were drafted after the March 1 qualifying deadlines. The plan approved by the Madison County Board of Supervisors still has not received clearance from the Justice Department.

Attorneys Jim Herring and Cory Wilson represented the plaintiffs. They argued
"Despite the Court’s dismissal of this action and clear statement on page 17 of its Order that the 2011 elections in Madison County “must be conducted as they are presently configured.” Madison County Supervisors have publicly announced that they plan to continue to seek Justice Department approval of their redistricting plan and instruct the Madison County Circuit Clerk, Lee Westbrook, to conduct the 2011 county elections under the new district lines, notwithstanding the Court’s ruling. See attached hereto as Exhibit “A” a copy of a news article from the Madison County Herald, dated May 19, 2011, in which the Supervisors and their attorney leave no doubt as to their intentions."

The Madison GOP also argued conducting elections under the new plan with old qualifying deadlines would create "mass confusion" and place an impossible burden to comply with the law on county officials. Affidavit of Chairwoman Mary McLaurin

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$362,342 judgment awarded against Vann Leonard.

Let the judgments being. A judgment for $262,342 was awarded against local attorney and convict Vann Leonard by a Madison County Circuit Court on May 11, 2011. Anita Naik and Hitesh Desai filed suit against Mr. Leonard in Madison County Circuit Court on May 3, 2011. The plaintiffs state they placed $125,000 in Mr. Leonard's trust account in June 2008 and loaned him $148,150 in 2009. Mr. Desai also deposited another $89,192 in 2010 in his trust account. The monies were placed into his account for the purchase of properties and buildings as part of plaintiff's real estate transactions. A copy of the judgment is posted below.

Rankin County Chancery Judge Grant incarcerated Mr. Leonard on May 5, 2011 after finding him in contempt of court. Rankin County authorities confirmed in a phone call this morning Mr. Leonard is still in jail. The Chancellor imprisoned him after Mr. Leonard failed to return $111,925 to the estate of Bobbie Downing and provide an accounting of the estate. Earlier post. Judge Grant decreed Mr. Leonard will not be released from jail until he returns the money, submits an accounting of the estate, and pay $1,500 in attorney's fees to the heir who filed the contempt of court action. A review of the lawsuits filed against Mr. Leonard shows Mr. Leonard is accused of embezzling nearly $900,000.

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Ruling? What ruling?

Ruling? What ruling? Such is the mindset of the Gang of Five that runs Madison County after a federal court threw out its lawsuit to extend qualifying deadlines this week. The Madison County Board of Supervisors approved a redistricting plan after the qualifying deadline of March 1. Naturally they approved plans that moved opponents into other districts and completely turned some districts literally on their head. See earlier post on redistricting that has video and maps, Copy of decision.

The Madison County Journal reported this week:

"Madison County officials say they will ignore a federal judge's order to use existing district lines in the 2011 elections and will attempt to get Justice Department approval of their controversial reapportionment plan.

Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., on Monday ruled that Madison County could not extend qualifying deadlines for county elections to June 1 because, among other things, there wasn't enough time to reapportion district lines and the county lacked legal standing to bring a case.

However, Madison County Board of Supervisors Attorney Eric Hamer said the ruling doesn't impact the county's original course of action and predicts the new lines will stand.

Hmmmm...... changing district lines after the qualifying deadline. That is constitutional?

Meanwhile, what exactly did Monday's ruling mean? I meant to analyze the court's ruling in a separate post but since these new developments took place, I'll include it here.

The opinion handed down by the District Court makes two clear statements: 1) The plaintiffs had no standing to bring these lawsuits.
2) Since the counties could not complete the redistricting process by the March 1 qualifying deadline, they must run under the old district lines.

The Court dismissed all plaintiffs on grounds that every one of them lacked standing in the first part of the opinion. Keep in mind when a court dismisses a suit based on jurisdictional or standing issues, it does not delve into the merits of the suit.

However, the Court goes on to provide pages of alternative reasoning for their conclusion. There was no need for them to keep writing, so why did the Court do it? They wanted to give us a clear set of rules for conducting the election this year's county elections. The court's logic is judicial relief is only appropriate when a legislative body – i.e., a board of supervisors – fails to reapportion in a timely fashion “after having had an adequate opportunity to do so.” Supervisors this year did not have enough time to accomplish redistricting between receiving data and the qualifying date, so all their efforts this year fail.

So what is a permissible redistricting plan? Permissible redistricting depends on – you guessed it – the time-tested standard of reasonableness. Before you can call an existing plan unconstitutional, the board of supervisors “must have adequate time to formulate a redistricting plan and obtain preclearance from the Department of Justice,” and must be guided by “reasonableness.” When a board re-draws district lines, some time can pass between the receipt of census data and the redistricting. However, it is unreasonable to do what the plaintiff counties did this year or in Madison's case, imposed new lines after a qualifying deadline.

"None of the counties has been able to complete the redistricting process prior to the expiration of the qualifying deadline, despite some having made advance preparations to do so. There is simply an insufficient amount of time for the County Boards of Supervisors to receive and evaluate the 2010 decennial census data, to redistrict each County in order to remedy any malapportionment, and to comply with State election statutes. Under the circumstances . . . the 2011 elections in the affected Counties must be conducted as they are presently configured."

What about the phrase “and absent Justice Department preclearance of the submitted plans?” It doesn't matter as we will run under the old lines, and Justice Department approval is irrelevant this year and had nothing to do with the standing issue. The Court makes this clear by recounting the facts of the Watkins decision. In Watkins, the legislature had enough time to draft a reapportionment plan and submit it to the Justice Department for approval. That is the only set of facts reasonable and acceptable for reapportionment, and “[t]hose circumstances do not exist” in the 2011 cases. The three counties ( – including Madison County – ) submitting redistricting plans to the Department of Justice this year “did so after the March 1 qualifying deadline the Plaintiffs wish to modify or enjoin.” The only possible implication from the Court’s opinion is that these three counties acted unreasonably in the reapportion process this year. A board of supervisors “must have adequate time to formulate a redistricting plan and obtain preclearance from the Department of Justice,” and the counties this year did not have that time to reapportion. The county cases this year simply did not have enough time reasonably to enact a reapportionment plan and to submit it to DOJ for approval. Therefore, the Court went above and beyond the standing analysis to conclude that this year, we will run under the old lines.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Supervisors oppose Canton suit against Nissan, Canton files petition to annex (Video included).

The Madison County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution today asking the city of Canton to immediately withdraw its lawsuit against Nissan. District 3 Supervisor D.I. Smith submitted a resolution at the Board meeting on Monday that was referred to the Chancery Clerk and Board Attorney to examine and draft for the board. The final resolution states:

"1. The Board of Supervisors of Madison County does hereby express its opposition to the efforts of the City of Canton to annex lands encompassed by the Nissan North America, Inc. automobile manufacturing facility and its suppliers.

2. The Board of Supervisors of Madison County does hereby urge the City of Canton to reverse its decision and immediately voluntarily dismiss that certain lawsuit styled City of Canton v. Nissan North America, Inc., bearing cause no. 2011-158 on the docket of the Circuit Court of Madison County, Mississippi.

3. The Board of Supervisors of Madison County does hereby re-affirm its support for Nissan North America, Inc., and its manufacturing facilities located in Madison County."

The city of Canton ignored this resolution and filed a petition to annex the land surrounding Nissan in Madison County Chancery Court on May 9, 2011. The suit is posted below and includes a map of the proposed annexation on the last page.

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Latest crime stats

Jackson crime reports for week ending May 8, 2011.

Jackson major crimes overview for week ending May 8, 2011.

City of Madison crime reports through May 17, 2011.

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Here are the Campaign Finance Reports for Madison County races

Here are the campaign finance reports for the Madison County races for Sheriff, Supervisors, and Justice Court Judges. I haven't had time to read them but will update this post with anything interesting found in these reports. Here ya go:

Campaign finance report for D.I. Smith.

Click Here to Read More..

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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