Monday, April 30, 2012

A soldier writes from the front

A Sergeant from Canton sent this email from Afghanistan where she is deployed. I redacted her last name as Al Qaeda knows how to use the internet. Here it is.

I went to a Fallen Hero’s ceremony today. 3 of our Army brothers gave their lives so I didn’t have to. 3 of our Army brothers gave their lives so I can have a sound sleep at night in my dry CHU. 3 sets of parents will not sleep soundly anymore. 3 sets of parents no longer have to worry if their sons' are "okay". 3 sets of parents will never have to wait for that “call” in the middle of the night.... They’ve already received it.

I complain about the unfairness of guard duty, no power/internet, scarce water supply, lousy food and damn it we have a late brief, AGAIN WTF. It was highly unlikely I was going to think about the 3 sets of parents who see it as "unfair" that they lost THEIR babies forever. I will NOW think of them; today. My family and friends miss me; it’s temporary. 3 Army brothers gave their lives; that’s forever.

SGT ******, Jennifer
United States Army, Afghanistan

Jennifer ******
Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Mother, Wife

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Greenwood gun fight

When I heard Greenwood gun fight I thought Robert Harden finally lost his temper but no, it didn't have anything to do with him. Apparently a doctor up there who has been accused of being "delusional" by others is now accused of hiring contract killers to take out attorney Lee Abraham.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported:

"The nighttime stillness of downtown Greenwood exploded into fatal violence as state agents shot an alleged hired killer Saturday inside attorney Lee Abraham’s office.

Two others, an accomplice in the alleged attempt to take Abraham’s life and an agent from the attorney general’s office, were wounded, according to Police Chief Henry Purnell.

Keaira Byrd, 23, Terrace View Apartments, Apt. 3D, was killed, Leflore County Coroner Debra Sanders said. He was shot several times, including a fatal head wound, she said.

Derrick Lacy, who Sanders said had entered the Market Street law office with the deceased between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., was wounded and airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, according to the coroner. He suffered a gunshot wound to the lower back.

An AG’s agent was wounded but not lethally, Sanders said.

Purnell said Abraham and two agents from the attorney general’s office were inside his office meeting about an alleged murder for hire scheme against Abraham. Two black males entered, one of whom was wearing a ski mask, the chief said.

A shooting ensued.

Purnell said it remains under investigation and more details will come later..."

JJ will post some new information about this case later today.

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Bond bill food fight.

Looks like the Governor and House want to load up the bond Christmas tree while the Lieutenant Governor is saying not so fast.  The Clarion-Ledger reported this morning:

"Lawmakers who couldn't compromise on a bill to fund long-term projects with bond debt might get another chance in a special session.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, said the chamber could not agree to the House's plan for bond debt, which came into conference at nearly $400 million. The Senate's plan was about $120 million, including $50 million in direct appropriations and the rest in bonds.

When it seemed imminent that the bill would die with Saturday's midnight deadline, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he and Gov. Phil Bryant spoke about a special session..

The reporter then engages in the usual hysterics about what will happen if the bill doens't pass:

"Without a special session, the bill's death means no bonds will be approved for purchase this year. The state's universities, community colleges, agencies and municipalities use bonds for renovations of existing buildings and construction of new ones.

Included in the Senate's plan were funds for renovations and construction on the state's public university and community college campuses as well as capital for several tourism projects and loan programs that attract federal matching dollars

But then Representative Jeff Smith takes point for the House Leadership, showing why he used to be a Democrat:

"While, as Reeves said, the House's plan going into conference included $376.5 million in bonds, Smith said that was a pie-in-the-sky request. House leadership was prepared to compromise at $250 million, he said.

Smith said the larger request included $31 million for a new medical school building at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, for example.

But Reeves criticized the House for its larger request. "It included such important projects as $20 million for a new sportsplex," Reeves said sarcastically.

He was referring to a facility Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, hoped to build in Rankin County, Smith said. "It wasn't going to make it," Smith said. "We knew that."

Reeves couldn't recall the specifics. "It didn't matter to me," he said. "I didn't need to know where it was to know that it wasn't the kind of the thing that the taxpayers needed to do," he said.

The compromise plan, though, would have been bare bones, Smith said
." Article

That was the news, now for the editorial comment. Mr. Smith admits he was not being serious when negotiating with the Senate. $250 million in new spending is "bare bones". Got it. The Lieutenant Governor also said the state pays $450 million in principal and interest every year on the state bond credit card. Notice anything left out of the story? The reporter did not include any information on how much bond debt the state has nor the bond bill passed just a year ago. I did some digging and here is some information that will give you a better idea of the true picture is of the state credit card. Here are the bond bills passed over the last few years of by the Legislature:

2011 - $615 million
2010 - $857.9 million
2009 - $376.4 million
2008 - $27.8 million

Damn. No wonder the former Democrat considers $250 million to be "bare bones". The story also didn't mention the state has $4.1 BILLION in current debt. There is still ANOTHER $1.2 BILLION that has been authorized but NOT issued. Translation: There is $1.2 BILLION that still has be approved by the Bond Commission. Some of these bond packages are for projects that have not reached the stage where the bonds are required so the commission will have to approve some bonds. I seem to remember last year when the Legislature passed a massive bond bill we were told that would be enough for some time yet here they are again, looking for more money. Yet here is the House, the same House that calls spending $68 thousand a month on an erector set building on Springridge Road "cheap", looking to jack up the state credit card... again. Tim Ford and Steve Holley need some money. Hold the line, Tate, hold the line.

By the way Nancy and Cecil, every dime wasted on interest means a dime that is not available for public education.

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Find this mutt.

Find this mutt. Lost in the Fondren area. If found, contact Lori Gregory Garrott at .

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Haley appears on CNBC

Former Governor Haley Barbour appeared on CNBC Friday night and had a few things to say about the presidential race in this clip:

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is it time for a lottery?

A friend of mine's father wrote this letter to the Baptist Record in 1985. Since the Clarion-Ledger is pushing a lottery once again, I thought this letter was worth reading. Enjoy.

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Nancy is never happy

The Executive Director of the Parents' Campaign moved from charter schools to education funding:

This afternoon, the House and Senate passed the appropriations conference report on HB 1593, the K-12 funding bill.

The conference report funds the MAEP at about $19.4-million above the current level, but it does not cover the mandatory $23-million increase in retirement. This will leave our classrooms with about $3.6-million less than they have this year and the MAEP underfunded next year by almost $260-million.

Additionally, the conference report:

Provides $8-million in funding for teacher supplies (an increase over current year)
Fully funds the National Board Certification Program and Chickasaw Cession payments
Reduces by half the allocation for high-growth districts (resulting in about the same level of funding as current year)
Appropriates $6-million for Teach for America
Includes $500,000 for a study of the MAEP formula (we are concerned that this is an effort to permanently reduce funding for Mississippi's public schools)

You can read the entire conference report here.

During the House debate, an effort was made by Rep. Cecil Brown to recommit the bill to increase funding for MAEP, but the effort failed on a 47-68 vote. The conference report passed 115-6. The Senate had very little debate and passed the bill without any nay votes.

There has been no conference report filed on the charter school bill thus far. The deadline for that conference report to be filed is Monday. Click here to see the progress made on other bills we are tracking.

Please keep our students and teachers in your thoughts and prayers as they begin state testing. Subject area tests will be administered in our high schools and in fifth and eighth grades in the coming week, and the MCT2 will be administered in grades 3-8 the following week. Students and teachers have been working hard all year to ensure that our children are prepared to compete well with their peers in other states and throughout the world, and we wish them all the best! Click here to see what you can do to help your child and your school succeed.

The House and Senate will convene again late tomorrow afternoon to continue work on conference reports. Watch our website for updates, and send us your name and mobile number if you want to receive text messages in the case of urgent news over the weekend. Thanks again for working so hard for our kids!



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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Farewell to Dandy Don.

A great Tiger passed away this morning. "Dandy" Don Long's son posted this message this morning:

"To all of you faithful readers and loyal friends who have kept my dear father, “Dandy” Don Long, in your thoughts and prayers, I would like to thank you and let you know of his passing today at 3:57 a.m. The greatest man I’ve ever known, and perhaps the most dedicated Tiger Fan there has ever been, suffers no more and will be missed more than words could ever describe. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, but I will keep you all posted.

Dad and I were as close as a father and son could possibly be, and one of the greatest blessings in my life was the opportunity to care for him during his battle with cancer. There were many times when the only things that kept us going were our faith in God, the support of our family and friends, and the much-needed escape that publishing this web site offers. With your help and continued readership, I will continue to publish, and in doing so my Dad’s legacy will remain alive and well."

Few people loved LSU as much as did Dandy Don. He will be missed.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Equal time for Bill

I published John Taylor's email concerning his efforts to become Madison County Republican Party Chairman this morning. Bill Billingsley sent out an email this afternoon that I think deserves equal time:

Friends, I am taking advantage of yet another mass e-mail to try and communicate with as many you as possible, so please forgive the impersonal nature of this message. The message itself is the important part - not the method of delivery.

We all have an opportunity Saturday, April 28 to get involved with the process that ultimately determines the laws and regulations by which we live our daily lives. Madison County Republican voters meet at 10:00 in the morning (try to be a little early) at their regular voting precincts to pick delegates to the Madison County Republican Convention, which will be held at 3:00 Saturday afternoon at the county courthouse in Canton. One delegate and alternate will be chosen from each precinct, and at the county convention they will elect the county party's Executive Committee as well as delegates and alternates to the state Republican Party convention in May. Needless to say, these elections are important and I hope all of you will participate in your caucuses and attend the county convention, even if you're not chosen as a delegate. The more people that want to be involved with the future of the party, the better for Madison County and all concerned. I would like to serve on the Executive Committee and would appreciate your vote if you become a delegate, and I encourage anyone else to offer themselves for service as well.

The Executive Committee's chief role is to run the county Republican primary elections. It's a very labor intensive job and requires the coordinated effort of many people, and it's important that the EC members involved are well trained and ready to perform this task. Ample opportunities for training are available through the state party, and plenty of local Republican activists are experienced and willing to help guide new members, so don't worry if you haven't done it before. Outside of running the elections, which occur every four years when county officials are elected, there are many other functions the Committee performs. Important among these is fundraising, and our county has always had generous contributors to Republican causes. We have to raise money to pay for the workers in the primary elections, but there is much more that we can do if the fundraising can support it. Finally, there are other party building activities that need to be done - member recruitment, candidate recruitment, communication, voter registration, campaign work for Republican candidates...the list goes on, and dedicated workers are needed to perform these vital functions.

I also believe that it's important to involve the next generation in building and running party operations. I would like for us to reach out to the twenty- and thirty-something Republicans among our number and invite them to be more involved in the party. Members of the older generation, like myself, are extremely lucky to have such bright young people to pick up the work we've been doing. Senator Will Longwitz is the first Republican state senator from Madison County in many years. Russ Latino, a popular local conservative talk radio host, is a brilliant attorney who has done yeoman work for county Republicans in the redistricting fight last year, and might be the person most responsible for setting the stage for the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. Cory Wilson, another great attorney who was involved in the redistricting fight as well, is well known for his conservative columns in the Madison County Journal. Grant Callen is a tireless worker for conservative causes at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Spence Flatgard has done years of legal work for the county election commission and the board of supervisors, and is well versed in the political process. We are lucky that all these and many others make their homes in Madison County, and I encourage any of you who find yourselves as delegates to the county convention to consider these and other young men and women for a position on the Executive Committee and for further leadership positions as applicable.

Finally, I would like to encourage you to support full inclusion of all areas of Madison County in your choices for the Executive Committee. While there are three statutory seats from each supervisory district on the committee, the at large members have generally been from the southern part of the county. We have great leaders in Ridgeland and Madison, but we also have dedicated and bright Republicans in Canton and Flora and other areas of the county. I would like to see more involvement from Republicans who live in the Democrat supervisory districts so we can begin to convert as many as we can to our way of thinking.

Let's have a good turnout tomorrow and continue to move Madison County and our Republican Party to the prominence we deserve!

Bill Billingsley

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Republicans enter the arena tomorrow

Nothing like county party politics where your friend may be your enemy and your enemy your friend. County Republican parties have their conventions tomorrow. The battles are growing hot today as calls are made, alliances formed, friendships at times rent asunder, and the email barrages blow up the bandwidth. The Madison County Party is choosing a new chairman tomorrow to replace Mary McLaurin. John Taylor, former owner of AJ's on the Lake and currently in chapter 7 bankruptcy, sent out this email today:

"My name is John Taylor, former Chairman of the Madison County Republican Executive Committee. I am sure that you are aware that every four years the Mississippi Republican Party reorganizes itself beginning at the precinct level at 10am on April 28th. Later that day at 3pm in Canton a, county convention is convened to select a new Executive Committee and delegates for the state convention.

If you plan on participating, and I encourage you to do so, I would welcome your support for the office of Chairman again. I have served on Madison County Republican Executive Committee for twelve years. I participated in the Capitol City Republicans before that. I was fortunate to serve four years as Vice-Chairman under Judge Dan Jordan. During that tenure I was responsible for hiring and training over 132 poll workers for each election cycle.

I was elected County Chairman four years later, where with the help of a solid team on the committee, started the Madison County Teenage Republicans. Madison County was selected as the site of the state convention for TARS. We were able to raise close to fifty three thousand dollars through our President Day Galas and other fundraisers. This money was used to support our conservative, Republican state-wide candidates and district wide candidates. We introduced a county web site and e-mail newsletter.

I say all this to emphasize that we do not want to leave our local election process to anyone who has no experience. I welcome your support. Please vote for a pro-John Taylor delegate at your precinct.

Warm Regards,
John Taylor

I talked to Huggie Bear this morning and he said the word on the street is either Bill Billingsley or Russ Latino will challenge Mr. Taylor. One rumor is the good ole boys such as Jim Herring asked him to run. Hmmm.... how many good ole boy networks are there in Madison County? The Jim Herring one? The Gene McGhee machine? Bob Montgomery and his group? Tim-Rudy-Gerald-Karl? The Queen. The Blackmons. I can't keep track of them all.

Whoever is chosen will have some big shoes to fill. Mary McLaurin set an example for others to follow as chairwoman. She is passionate, motivated, and threw herself 100% into the job. She cares about her county and the Republican Party. Mary McLaurin stood up for what was right even what it was not popular. Not many party chairmen stand up to a machine as she did with the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Party chairmen usually stay above the fray or throw in their lot with the machine. Not Mary McClaurin. She marched up to Canton with her “Crazy Madison Republican Women” and challenged Tim and Rudy. When the Republicans needed boots on the ground, she always managed to get her troops together and show up for battle.

I was not going to make any comments about the race. However, it has come to my attention that Bill Billingsley was blamed for one of my posts. Readers of this website are familiar with Bill as he frequently comments under his own name and treats those in disagreement with him with courtesy and respect.

I published a story last week about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing of John Taylor. I’ve posted similar stories about Schimmel’s and other failed local businesses. Bill Billingsley was blamed for leaking this information to me. That is simply not true. Mr. Billingsley is not the only person hurt by closing of AJ’s. I have sources everywhere. There are people I know who worked at AJ’s. People who unexpectedly could not pay their bills. There are the bankruptcy lawyers who give me scuttlebutt from the courthouse. Then there is my own curiosity as I pay attention to local business such as AJ’s that suddenly shut down.One could go crazy trying to figure out my sources but a good man does not deserve to be smeared when he never told me anything. They do have a dispute in bankruptcy. The two men obviously have a disagreement over a business gone bad. However, Bill Billingsley did not bring his dispute to me nor did one of his friends. If the Taylor supporters are spreading this garbage, then they need to stop and John Taylor should tell them to knock it off.

The process tomorrow is Republicans go to their voting precinct at 9:45 AM. It only takes a few minutes but a delegate to the county convention is selected. The county convention is tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 PM. The delegates will select an executive committee. The committee will then elect a chairman.

Forget the experience or old blood v. new blood arguments. If you are attending tomorrow, you know what the challenges facing Madison County are. Pick someone who actually showed up for the battle when it was being fought, not someone who thinks they deserve it or served the party but disappeared whenever there was combat. John Taylor served the party, worked the precincts, and put in his time. Bill Billingsley fought Madison County corruption, pounded the pavement for good government candidates last year, and showed you can disagree without being disagreeable. Russ Latino took the Madison County Board of Supervisors to court when they played their redistricting games. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing to do tomorrow as a Madison County Republican, is show up.

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Chinese steal F-22 & F-35 plans

Chinese hackers stole plans for the F-22 and F-35 fighters. Cybercast News reported:

" – Intruders from China hacked into computers and stole the blueprints for America’s new joint strike fighter planes, the F-35 and F-22, according to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) made the statement during a Tuesday hearing on cyber security.

“I've been dealing with this issue for a long time,” McCaul said. “But I think it's important that the American people, who most of them don't understand this issue, have a better idea of what--what is at risk. You know when I look at the theft of intellectual property to the tune of $1 trillion, that's a serious economic issue for the United States.

"When I look at countries like China, who have stolen our Joint Strike Fighters, F-35 and F-22's, stolen those blueprints so they can manufacture those planes and then guard against those planes,” he said.

China has created citizen hacker groups engaged in cyber espionage, established cyber war military units and laced the U.S. infrastructure with logic bombs, he said
Article. Link includes video of Congressman McCaul making these statements.

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Rep. Cecil Brown addresses charter schools

Representative Cecil Brown (D-Hinds) addressed charter schools in this column submitted to Jackson Jambalaya:

April 26, 2012
It appears that all of the charter school proposals are dead for this legislative session. These bills were defeated by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the House with the support of hundreds of school board members, administrators, teachers, parents, and civic leaders across the state. The public is entitled to know why the legislation failed. There were numerous objections to the proposals. Here are a few:

∙The legislation set up a new board to run the charter program. The board would hire an executive director to run day to day operations. There were no qualification requirements for the director in the legislation, and, unlike every other state agency director in Mississippi, the new director would not be subject to Senate confirmation. The new board would clearly be duplicative and costly. We already have a state board of education. We also have a State Superintendent of Education with statutorily required qualifications and who has to be confirmed by the Senate.

∙ No matter who administers the program, charter schools will cost additional money. The legislation would require the new board to carry out a number of administrative duties which would require additional staff and funding. The same would be true if the current board runs the program. However, because the State Department of Education has experienced staff and systems in place, any charter program can be monitored most efficiently by that agency.

∙Under the proposed law, the new board could give charter schools a blanket exemption from virtually all state education laws. Among those are the laws against bullying, prohibitions against nepotism, rules regarding suspension and expulsion of students, the requirement that principals be bonded, the provisions for dual high school/ college dual enrollment and compulsory school attendance laws to name a few. These exemptions are being pushed by lobbyists who do not want charter schools to comply with any state laws.

∙There would be no limit on the number of charters granted. By 2015 they could be located in almost any district in the state, including those labeled “Successful” by the state Board of Education.

∙Charter schools would have the option to buy or lease surplus public school properties at below fair market value. These charter schools would be non-governmental, private entities. There should be some limits on how much public property they could take at favorable prices.

∙The proposals require no public notice of a charter application, nor would there be an opportunity for public input. Those who live in districts to be affected by charter schools should have an opportunity to comment on the charter applications.

∙There would be virtual immunity for charter school board members from civil lawsuits. Existing school boards do not have such immunity, and there is no good reason to grant it to these new boards.
∙ All administrators would be exempt from professional certification requirements. Surely someone who is running the school should have some background in school administration.

∙One-half of the teachers in a charter school would be exempt from teacher certification requirements. This provision is potentially a violation of No Child Left Behind and could jeopardize federal funds.

The bottom line is that the bills that were before the House were ill-conceived and poorly drafted. In my opinion, Mississippi will eventually have charter schools in a few districts, and they can be helpful in achieving our goal of providing quality educational opportunities for all children. But in order to pass legislation, those who are pushing it will have to listen to those Democrats, Republicans and members of the public who have concerns and learn to compromise.

Cecil Brown
House of Representative, District 66
Jackson, MS
601-362-8383 (h)
601-709-4393 (o)

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

No decision on JPS accreditation today

The Mississippi Department of Education made no decision on the accreditation status of the Jackson Public School District today. MDE made its case today but did not finish until 3:00. The decision was made to adjourn and reconvene on May 21 at 10:00 AM. More to follow later.

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Realtor accuses Judge Wise trying to avoid paying commission.

A local realtor accused Hinds County Chancery Judge Patricia Wise of trying to avoid paying a $240,000 commission on the sale of land in Oxford, MS. Judge Patricia Wise and Mark Wise filed suit against Adams & Associates Realty on March 7, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court. The realtors filed a counterclaim seeking damages and claimed the lawsuit was an attempt by the plaintiffs keep the commission from the realtor. Judge Wise's son-in-law, Precious Martin, represents the plaintiffs. Patricia Wise is a Hinds County Chancellor.

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Irby goes for the TKO

Karen Collins Irby filed an entry of default with the circuit clerk against Pinnacle Trust on April 23 in Hinds County Circuit Court. Ms. Irby also filed a notice stating she filed a complaint, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests with admissions for Pinnacle Trust and served its lawyer, Cal Wells on March 21, 2012. The complaint was filed on February 24, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court. Ms. Irb's lawyer, Terris Harris, claimed the answer was due on April 20, 2012 and that Pinnacle Trust "failed to appear, plead, or defend within the time allowed. The clerk entered default in the case on April 23.*

Although the clerk has entered default against Pinnacle, the court still has to rule on whether Pinnacle is in default. Attorney John Corlew filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Pinnacle Trust on March 24, 2012. However, Mr. Corlew and Mr. Wells are not in the same law firm. The motion to intervene contained a proposed motion to dismiss or motion to stay if the court refused to dismiss the suit. One would expect Pinnacle Trust to file a response opposing a default judgment. Docket. Earlier post with motion to intervene

Note: Here is the rule on default (Rule 55) under the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure:

(a)Entry. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided by these rules and that fact is made to appear by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk shall enter his default.

(b)Judgment. In all cases the party entitled to a judgment by default shall apply to the court therefor. If the party against whom judgment by default is sought has appeared in the action, he (or if appearing by representative, his representative) shall be served with written notice of the application for judgment at least three days prior to the hearing of such application; however, judgment by default may be entered by the court on the day the case is set for trial without such three days' notice. If in order to enable the court to enter judgment or to carry it into effect it is necessary to take an account or to determine the amount of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to make an investigation of any other matter, the court may conduct such hearing with or without a jury, in the court's discretion, or order such references as it deems necessary and proper.

c) Setting Aside Default. For good cause shown, the court may set aside an entry of default and, if a judgment by default has been entered, may likewise set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b).

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

JPS: They just don't get it.

On the verge of losing accreditation. No audits since 2009. High dropout rates. Schools scoring poorly on report cards. A parents' revolt over hiring a new Superintendent. One would think the Jackson School Board would get it. Apparently such is not the case:

Eric Stringfellow, chairman of Tougaloo College's mass communications department, will be paid up to $10,000 to oversee communication of Jackson Public Schools' rezoning plan. The Jackson School Board on Tuesday night approved a consulting agreement with Stringfellow by a 6-1 vote. Board member Ivory Phillips abstained from voting. Stringfellow will receive $450 a day, or up to $10,000, according to the agreement, which goes into effect today and ends June 30. Interim Superintendent Jayne Sargent said the district's public relations staff is tied up with its regular duties. Communicating the rezoning plan is "going to take a lot of time," she said..." Clarion-Ledger article

You can't make this up. You just can't.

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The House maps are out

Here are the House maps for redistricting. Read 'em and weep, celebrate, have a drink, whatever. Main House map Map of each district Data used for redistricting Looks like Cecil and Denny will be thrown together. Bo and Johnny Stringer as well. Cottonmouth is in hysterics right now. Although last year when the Hinds County Board of Supervisors pulled their redistricting crap I don't recall him saying a word about it.

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And so it begins...

Take a look at the editorial page in today's Clarion-Ledger. The Clarion-Ledger editorial apparently disappeared for today. First time I have seen the newspaper run only editorials from other newspapers during the week. No local editorial? Instead we get one from DELAWARE???? Put Donna Ladd in charge of the op-ed page. It would be better than this corporate crap. Guess this is what we can expect after they got rid of, oh, I'm sorry Mr. Executive Editor, offered early retirement packages to, David Hampton and Jim Ewing. It will only get worse.

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WJNT this morning.

The Kingfish was on WJNT this morning. Gave props to the parents standing up to the Jackson school board over the hiring of a superintendent. Said a few things about JPS and then Pete Perry came on and talked about the legislature and redistricting.

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Latest crime stats

Here are the latest local crime stats:

Jackson crime stats for week ending April 15, 2012

Jackson major crimes overview for week ending April 15, 2012.

City of Madison crime reports through April 16, 2012.

Byram crime reports through April 7, 2012. 

Reservoir patrol March crime reports.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kansas City bets long & comes up short

Looks like Kansas City bet long on downtown projects and came up short. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

"The tab is mounting for this Midwestern city on a bet it made during the real-estate boom on an $850 million entertainment district meant to breathe new life into its struggling downtown.

While the eight-block restaurant, nightclub and retail complex named the Power & Light District is mostly complete, traffic and sales are well below initial projections when construction started in 2006....

But the Power & Light District stands out because it was financed through a technique that seemed like it would pay for itself. Kansas City directed future sales and property taxes in the district to pay back the $295 million in bonds that the city issued for the project, which went toward infrastructure and to directly support the development. In the event there weren't enough taxes, the city agreed to pick up the difference.

Today, the project, which sits near the onetime headquarters of Kansas City Power & Light Co., generates less than one-third of what is needed to cover the debt service on the bonds. The city is setting aside $12.8 million in its budget for the fiscal year that starts next month to cover the gap, a notable hole in a $1.3 billion budget that calls for $7.6 million in cuts to the fire department

However, don't think they despair up in Kansas City. This was considered a success:

"But Mr. Wagner and backers of Power & Light—including the district's private developer, Cordish Cos.—say the development was successful as part of a broader effort to re-energize the city's downtown. Under initiatives pushed around the same time, H&R Block Inc. built a new 17-story headquarters, and the city funded the bulk of a new $276 million arena, the Sprint Center.

"We are extremely proud of what we and the city of Kansas City have accomplished," says Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Power & Light District for Baltimore-based Cordish...

Some cities followed similar models, such as Rockford, Ill., which has been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in debt service to cover gaps for a set of planned housing and retail-development projects that stalled with the downturn. The city expects the deficits to narrow or turn positive as the economy recovers.

Other cities, such as New York, subsidized transformative projects that are now fully or partially stalled, producing few taxes while not delivering what was envisioned.

These dashed hopes are contributing to broader fiscal problems. Kansas City's high debt was cited by Fitch Ratings in February when it warned of a potential downgrade. "The city's debt load has increased substantially over the past decade resulting from an aggressive infrastructure and economic development expansion plan," the ratings firm said.

Sound familiar? What website has been warning you about bonds for the last few years?
Keep reading.

"The redevelopment efforts came after decades of decline in Kansas City. Population shifts to the suburbs left the once-bustling downtown littered with parking lots and few restaurants or residents. The grand vision was for an arena surrounded by stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and offices..."

This part, well, I don't need to say it, do I?

"But property-tax collections have been lower than expected, given lower rents and real estate values. Sales-tax revenue is also off. Cordish has blamed this partly on the lack of a professional sports team at the arena. The apartment buildings that also would have boosted traffic have stayed on the drawing board.

The city's new mayor, Sly James, said last week that while debt is a concern, he has embraced Power & Light for what it has done for the downtown. "There was a value judgment made to make that investment," he said. "I think it was valid then, and I think it is valid now
." Article

Yup. If we can just get that sports team, all will be right with the city.

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Parents' Campaign celebrates

Nancy does an end-zone dance:

You did it! The charter school bill is going to conference.

This afternoon, the House voted to invite conference on HB 1152, the bill that had been amended in the Senate to insert broad charter school language. The Senate version of the bill allows charter schools statewide and does not require a track record of success.

A conference committee made up of three members from the House and three from the Senate will negotiate a compromise. Conferees have not yet been named, and we will let you know as soon as they are. In the meantime, please be sure that your legislators know where you stand on this issue. Both the House and Senate will vote on the final conference report, so your legislators need to hear from you.

We are hopeful that the bill will be fixed in conference to address the problem of chronically underperforming schools. A good charter school bill will

Allow charters only where there are chronically underperforming schools
Prohibit virtual charter schools (the current version of the bill has this provision; we need to make sure it stays)
Require a proven track record of success from charter school management organizations
Make the State Board of Education the only authorizer
Ensure that for-profit companies cannot run charter schools

Please ask your legislators to make sure that we get a charter school bill with these components.

Your legislators:

Capitol: Personal:

Capitol: Personal:

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770

If your legislators are not listed above it is because we do not have your street address and zip code in our database. Click here to find your legislator. Click here to send us your street address and zip code.

The vote to invite conference would not have happened without your amazing work on this issue. You have been terrific throughout this process! Your ongoing conversations with your legislators have made all the difference.

We'll keep you posted as the debate continues, and we will notify you immediately when conferees are named so that you can contact them. In the meantime, click here to see the progress made on the other education bills we are tracking, and watch our website for updates. Thanks again for working so hard for our kids!



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It's about time.

Check out the new JPS& Education page.

Some parents are starting to raise a little hell about the hiring of a new Superintendent for Jackson Public Schools, and it's about time. The Clarion-Ledger reported last week:

"After getting a glimpse last week of the two finalists chosen by a national consulting firm, some parents are asking the Jackson School Board to extend its search for a new superintendent.

Parent Darby Ray said that after hearing superintendent finalists Dennis Carpenter and Cedrick Gray, she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Any one of them would be so much better than the guy we just had," she said, referring to previous Jackson Public Schools superintendent Lonnie Edwards.

But Ray said that after thinking more she decided she had set the bar too low.

Jackson children, including her own, "deserve better than just good enough," Ray said Tuesday.

Seven other parents, including former JPS board member Jonathan Larkin, made similar comments. They also asked the board to reconsider Jim Barksdale's offer to supplement the superintendent's salary with no strings attached...

Parents who addressed the board Tuesday night noted neither Gray nor Carpenter is from a district with a makeup similar to JPS. Both men are in smaller school districts.

Neither has experience with turning around troubled districts and crisis management, Larkin said.

Amy Forbes, who has two children in JPS, asked the board "not to settle for anything less than what they (students) deserve, what they need."

Monica Cannon, Jennifer West and others from the Midtown community met Sunday to discuss the candidates and raised questions about both men Tuesday night.

"What we heard and what we wanted, it didn't match," Cannon said of Gray and Carpenter
..." Article

I attended the public forum for the finalists and trust me, these guys left something to be desired. They were nice, professional, and definitely motivated. However, if you watch the video, notice what they don't mention in their fifty-minute sessions. Not a word about the JPS budget despite the fact it operates at a deficit. There was a lack of discussion about the lack of audits. A budget over $200 million and how it should be used? Totally ignored. The subject of how to avoid deficits plaguing JPS was avoided as well. The two finalists did not mention past problems they faced, how they addressed them, and what the result was. I didn't hear "The problem was this, we did that, and the result was test scores rose," or something similar. I did hear the heavy usage of educational buzzwords such as "skill sets" and "platforms". Earlier post about forum. Contains video of entire meeting.

If anything, the parents' revolt is a welcome development, as there is no accountability whatsoever at JPS. The school board members are appointed. The Superintendent is appointed. They are insulated from public pressure or accountability. All the school board members have to do is keep one man happy every four years. Period. The schools are pitiful, the district doesn't not even know where the money is, the state is looking at revoking accreditation, and the best the district can do is offer two candidates who are not qualified for the job. Better yet, the district rejected Jim Barksdale's money to hire a top superintendent. Guess they don't want to take the rich white businessman's money. Can't be seen kissing up to him although I bet they would take it from some well-connected black contractors, as long as they got the contracts. Anyone think they wouldn't accept such an offer from Garrett or Calhoun? This is a school board that spends more time writing letters to the newspaper about charter schools than it does about who the Superintendent will be. As I wrote earlier about these parents: It's about damn time.

By all means let these parents raise hell. It's about time someone got it. They might not know the report cards, audits, and graduation rates as readers of this blog do but damn it, they know something is not right and are tired of being played by the Jackson School Board. If things in Jackson are to truly turn around, the first steps will have to be taken by parents such as these. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

P.S.) Dear Jackson Public School Board: I'm not going anywhere. See the scrutiny the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and PERS got over the last year on this site? Well, you're at the plate now.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Reeves issues statement on charter schools failure

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves issued the following statement after the House rejected a bill the Senate amended to include charter school language:

“I am disappointed the majority of the members of the House did not agree with the Senate’s plan to bring meaningful changes to Mississippi’s educational system. Children trapped in failing school districts deserve an opportunity for success, and any further changes would only weaken the effort to give parents a choice in their children’s education. I look forward to passing real education reform next year.”

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Stokes-Jackson bout set.

Special Circuit Judge Richard McKenzie set June 4 as the hearing date for the lawsuit filed by Joyce Jackson against Jackson City Councilwoman Larita Cooper-Stokes. Ms. Jackson filed a lawsuit in March challenging her loss to Ms. Cooper-Stokes in the election to replace Kenneth Stokes. Ms. Jackson alleged she was referred to as a "half-white n******" at one polling place. Earlier post about lawsuit. The hearing will take place at 9:00 AM. All Hinds County Circuit Judges recused themselves from hearing the case.

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Vote in poll.

How do you get your local news? Newspapers? TV? Radio? Blogs? Vote early and often. And Fox40, don't think I don't notice what you did in the last 24 hours.

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Oil speculators: It's the refineries, stupid.

Wonder why gas prices are so high despite the fact Americans are using less gasoline and there is no oil shortage? Speculators? Weak dollar? Perhaps. Try something more basic: the law of supply and demand. Supply and demand not for oil but for refined gasoline. After this summer 50% of the refining capacity in the Northeast will be cut 50% in the last two years. A February report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states:

"Since September 2011, two refineries in the Philadelphia area (ConocoPhillips Trainer refinery and Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery) and one major Caribbean export refinery supplying the East Coast (HOVENSA’s U.S. Virgin Islands refinery KF note: 500,000 barrels a day.*) have closed. In addition, Sunoco has announced plans to idle its remaining Philadelphia-area refinery (Sunoco Philadelphia) in July 2012 if no buyer is found(KF note: Delta Airlines is purchasing the refinery.). The three Philadelphia-area refineries (Trainer, Marcus Hook, and Philadelphia) taken together represented 50% of total East Coast refining capacity as of August 2011.

Refining capacity is available outside of the East Coast to replace products historically supplied by the capacity that has been or may be idled, including potential production losses from the Sunoco Philadelphia refinery, but transportation constraints may hinder the delivery of products to the Northeast in the short term...

If the Sunoco Philadelphia refinery closes, price impacts are highly uncertain. If areas cannot be adequately supplied in the short term, prices can spike. In the longer run, higher prices and possibly higher price volatility can result from longer supply chains. The potential loss of the Sunoco Philadelphia refinery presents a complex supply challenge, and no single solution has been identified by industry participants that will address all of the logistical hurdles that must be overcome.

What's the problem, just pipe it in, right? That could be done, if the current pipelines weren't already at capacity: "The pipeline that delivers products from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast is at or near capacity."(p.4). The refineries are old and according the Market Ticker's Karl Denninger, simply not worth the cost of retrofitting to fit EPA regulations. The Gulf Coast refineries can't ship products via shipping thanks to the Jones Act. The Jones Act makes the shipping rates 2-3 times that of foreign rates (thank you, unions), and ensures there is a scarce supply of compliant shipping availablet. The report states only 56 tankers meet Jones Act requirements. ** Environmental regulations also state the Northeast has to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which can only be obtained from Northeast and Gulf Coast refineries.

A recent story in Forbes confirms the developing bottleneck and its effect on prices:

"Gasoline consumption in the United States has been dropping for years. In the last decade, vehicle fuel efficiency has improved by 20%, and the combination of that shift and a weak economy of late has pushed gasoline demand to its lowest level in a decade.

At the same time, U.S. oil production is at its highest level in a decade. Deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico and horizontal fracs in the Bakken shale have turned America’s domestic oil production scene around. After 20 years of declining production, U.S. crude output rates started to climb in 2008 and have increased every year since..

So why are the prices high at the pump? It's the refining capacity, stupid:

"The U.S. is divided into five oil districts, which were originally designed to ensure energy security during World War II. Things have certainly evolved since then, but the districts remain less connected than you might think. Crude oil cannot necessarily flow from one side of the country to the other or from one producing region to another refining area. The system’s disconnectedness means that refiners in different regions are forced to pay whatever the price may be for the crude oil they can access – and those prices differ significantly.

East-Coast refiners have traditionally relied on imported oil from Europe and West Africa, which means they pay Brent pricing for most of their crude. As such, Brent’s surging price has dealt a blow to East Coast refiners, hitting several so hard that they are shutting down. No fewer than four refineries serving the East Coast are going or have gone offline since 2010, eliminating almost half of the gasoline previously supplied to the U.S. Northeast. Knowing that, high gasoline prices in the Northeast start to make a bit more sense: Refiners’ costs have been sky high, and refinery shutdowns have eliminated a huge chunk of supply.

Similarly, refiners on the West Coast receive some supply from Alaska but depend on internationally priced crude for the bulk of their input. Their need to pay Brent pricing explains why gas prices in California are regularly among the highest in the nation.

At the other end of the spectrum are refiners in the Midwest. The oil hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, is being increasingly inundated with crude oil as production ramps up in North Dakota’s Bakken formation and in Canada’s oil sands. Crude from both of those rapidly-expanding oil regions flows primarily to Cushing, where refineries process as much as they can. Those refiners are able to buy at WTI pricing, which has held a roughly 20% discount to Brent crude for the last year. That helps keep gasoline prices in the Midwest a little lower.

However, Midwest refineries are generally designed to process light, sweet oil, which means they can handle output from the Bakken but are not up to processing heavy oil from the sands. Oil-sands crude needs to go to the Gulf Coast, where an army of sophisticated refineries are thirsty for heavy oil. All that is lacking is a pipeline to connect supply with demand, but at the moment there is no such pipe; thus, the supply glut at Cushing has discounted heavy oil significantly. Western Canada Select, the benchmark crude oil coming out of Canada’s oil sands, closed at $74.73 per barrel on March 5, a 30% discount to WTI and a 40% discount to Brent

Remember that St. Croix refinery mentioned at the beginning of this post. Forbes explains why its shutdown is a big deal:

"One final element is making matters worse: Refineries are currently starting to shift to producing spring-summer gasoline blends, which are lighter and therefore usually cost about 10¢ more per gallon than fall-winter blends. And this year, the quick refinery shutdowns needed to enact the seasonal shift are creating slight supply gaps because some of the “swing” refineries that usually help bridge the gap are no longer operating. For example, the Hovensa refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands – a joint venture between Hess Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela – used to produce extra volume during the seasonal transition, but it was closed down a few weeks ago after losing $1.3 billion over the last three years."

So there you have it. Declining refining capacity and an inability to ship gasoline to other parts of the country as needed. Smaller supply with unchanged demand means higher prices.

*Note from the report: "HOVENSA (a joint venture between Hess and PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela), is a large refinery, located in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, that historically sent most of its output to the United States. In January 2012, HOVENSA announced plans to shut down the St. Croix refinery in mid-February and convert it to a petroleum storage facility. HOVENSA sent most of its product to the U.S. East Coast, but in recent years, it had increased its sales in other markets. In 2007, HOVENSA shipped two-thirds of its output to the East Coast; that share had declined to 55% in 2011 (through August). At the same time, the refinery’s output dropped in 2011 after HOVENSA announced it was reducing its capacity from 500,000 bbl/d to 350,000 bbl/d."

**The report has a specific note on the Jones Act: "The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261) is a U.S. Federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Section 27 of the statute, also known as the Jones Act, requires that all commercial shipping between U.S. ports, cabotage, must be performed by U.S.-flag ships constructed in the United States, wholly owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. Steep penalties result from noncompliance. At the end of 2010, 56 tankers met the Jones Act requirements, accounting for less than 1% of both the total number and the total deadweight tonnage of tankers in the world (see table below). At any given time, 35 Jones Act tankers are engaged in trade in U.S. waters."

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mississippi Tea Party gives out bad grades

The Mississippi Tea Party issued a report card last week on the 2012 session of the Mississippi Legislature. Needless to say, they gave out some bad marks:

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Hinds County courts about to go online.

You will soon be able to examine civil cases in Hinds County online. Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller informed the Hinds County Board of Supervisors Monday the county is now ready to start using the electronic filing system established by the Mississippi Supreme Court for statewide use.

The system was rolled out two years ago in a pilot phase in Madison County. Other counties have adopted the system. The Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC) project is based upon PACER, the electronic filing system used in federal courts. All documents are filed electronically. Users can examine civil cases online but criminal and divorce cases are not available for viewing online. The Chief Justice said the state bore all the costs of implementing the system for Hinds County. The only expense for the county will be the purchase of a scanner for approximately $10,000. Hinds County Chancery Clerk Eddie Jean Carr said the purchase would be paid out of excess funds returned to the county by the Chancery Clerk. The Chancery Clerk returned $178,000.

Here is the video of the Chief Justice addressing the board. He starts with a Jerry Clower joke.

Note: The federal system costs 10 cents per page to view. View or print, its ten cents per page. However, PACER places a cap of $3.20 per document. This comes in very handy if one has to look at exhibits or pleadings that are 50-100 pages. However, the costs in MEC is 20 cents per page. Understandable as the state does not have financial support for this as does the federal government. However, there is no cap on how much a document can cost.

Suppose you are reviewing a court file. If you are at the courthouse, you examine the file, determine what documents you need, then pay the copying charges to the clerk. In this system, you don't know which documents you need until you actually read them and that is where the pricing gets you. 100-page exhibit sitting there in the file? $20 just to read it only to find out you didn't need that document. In many cases its going to be much cheaper to go to the courthouse than use MEC to read a file. Several chancery clerks told me the clerks saw it as an opportunity to make a "killing" off of the system. The state should either implement a cap or make the documents read-only. If a reader wants to save or print a document, he can pay for it, just like he would at the courthouse. However, charging several hundred dollars just to view a file online (See the Taitz, McClinton, or Motorola cases. Those two cases alone will cost several hundred dollars to view) is unreasonable and smacks of price-gouging when compared to PACER.

The attorneys will see nothing wrong with this as their attitude is usually "stick it to the client". However, the court system is for all citizens of Mississippi, not just lawyers. The MEC system is a good project. Its definitely needed and is one of the few areas where Mississippi can be considered to be truly progressive. The state should be able to recover its investment and earn a profit. The system should be converted to read-only or a subscription should be charged for such a feature. MEC should be a system for all.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Does he get to keep the money?

The Clarion-Ledger reported this morning a couple won in the Louisiana Lottery:

"Clinton resident Alvin Hodge plans to pay off his house and retire, now that he's $700,000 richer.

The Mississippi man claimed a $1 Million Mega Millions prize Monday from the Louisiana Lottery and received $700,029 after federal and state taxes were withheld.

"This is hard to believe; it just hasn't quite hit me yet," Hodge said in a news release.

His co-worker, Brandon resident Jason Haynes, went with him to accept the prize. Both men said they regularly participate in workplace lottery pools. Neither could be reached.

Hodge's ticket matched all five of the white ball numbers but missed the yellow Mega Ball number. The winning numbers for the April 6 drawing were 02-19-20-24-33, and the Mega Ball was 39.

Hodge purchased the winning ticket from Delta Discount in Delta, La.

The Louisiana Lottery reports the store will receive a bonus of $10,000, or 1 percent of the prize, for selling Hodge the winning ticket

Just one thing. I remember over 15 years ago the Clarion-Ledger had a huge story on the front page about this very subject. The newspaper interviewed then-Attorney General Mike Moore. The Scruggsie said such winnings were illegal in Mississippi and the state would confiscate them if someone won an out-of-state lottery. No ifs, ands, or buts.

So has the law changed or did everyone forget? Just wondering.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Mississippi Opera presents The Elixir of Love tomorrow night

The Mississippi Opera presents The Elixir of Love tomorrow night at 7:30 in Thalia Mara Hall. Support the opera and sell out the house tomorrow night. Here is a video of another production of this opera I found on YouTube. Click on the ad on the right side of this page to purchase tickets.

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AJ "owners" file Chapter 7

AJ's on the Lake, LLC closed suddenly earlier this year although the location on Lakeland Drive is still operating. John Taylor, owner of AJ's on the Lake, filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on February 22, 2012. Mr. Taylor is currently a candidate for the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Madison County Republican Party.

The schedule reports assets of $1.9 million and liabilities of $4.5 million. The Secretary of State's website states AJ's on the Lake was dissolved on December 5, 2011 after it failed to file an annual report. The schedules also report the IRS has a claim of $50,000. A disputed debt to a frequent commentor on this site, Bill Billingsley, is also listed but the amount of the debt is not stated. The schedules also list a Bear Creek Investors, a company owned by Mr. Taylor. AJ's on Lakeland is a dba for Daniel Brown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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"Birther Queen" says Sam Begley lacks any "human decency" BUT does not sign anything.

Dr. Orly Taitz, Esquire, filed more responses, motions, and an amended complaint yesterday in her lawsuit seeking to remove President Obama from the ballot in Mississippi. The Secretary of State and Mississippi Democratic Party are defendants. Dr. Taitz, contends the President is using a forged social security number and is not an American citizen. She filed suit against the Democratic Party and Secretary of State on February 14, 2012 in Hinds County Circuit Court. However, the five petitions and responses she filed yesterday were not signed by Dr. Taitz and are probably invalid under Rule 11 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rule 11 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure states:

"(a)Signature Required. Every pleading or motion of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in that attorney’s individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign that party’s pleading or motion and state the party’s address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit."

Dr. Taitz mailed the following documents to the Hinds County Circuit Clerk. They were received and filed on April 19, 2012 (The stack of documents in the picture are all that were filed yesterday by Dr. Taitz.). Since they cover different subjects, each document is listed and discussed separately.

1. Emergency Motion/Petition for a Mississippi Subpoena to Support California Subpoena. Dr. Taitz described herself as a "pro se plaintiff" and a "licensed attorney in California". She said since the defendants filed answers, the suit is now in discovery phase. Dr. Taitz wants to serve two witnesses with California subpoenas. The witnesses allegedly have evidence the President does not have "valid identification "papers". The petition is not signed. (pages 1-9 of documents posted below).

2.Opposition to Motion in Limine. The Mississippi Democratic Party filed a motion in limine on March 22 (Pages 11-14 below). The motion sought to cross-examine Dr. Taitz to determine whether she was "economically" induced (in other words paid) to file the lawsuit. The motion cited the bar against the practice of champerty in Mississippi.

Dr. Taitz responded to this motion in pretty strong language. She said the "motion in itself is a sign of an unprecedented level of corruption, total lack of integrity, human decency, and any values by the defendants and their attorney, Mr. Samuel Begley". Dr. Taitz then stated she "is acting as a decent human being (a concept which is obviously foreign to the defendant and Mr. Begley.). Dr. Taitz then argues even if someone is helping her with donations, "it still does not change the essence of the case." She does not once mention the statute about champerty in her response nor does she cite any case law referring to champerty. She cites no law to refute the motion. This response was not signed by anyone. Earlier post on motion in limine

3. Response to Letter by Samuel Begley demanding to waive for attorney Scott J. Tepper the requirement to disclose publicly his address in his pro hac vice application (Pages 15-19) Mr. Tepper is a California attorney who has fought similar lawsuits filed by Dr. Taitz around the country. Mr. Begley asked the court to allow Mr. Tepper to associate with him in representing the Mississippi Democratic Party. The court approved the request. However, Mr. Begley asked the court to waive the requirement Mr. Tepper include his address in the application. The Jackson attorney stated Mr. Tepper would provide his residential address to the court but in private. Mr. Begley claimed in a letter to Judge Coleman

"Mr. Tepper's residential address was intentionally omitted from the verified application on the reasonable belief that, if made publically availabel, the address would in turn be published on the internet by the "birther community" following this case. As evidenced by the Plaintiff's website,, the Plaintiff frequently publishes the names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information of persons involved in or associated with litigation she has filed. Moreover, the Plaintiff frequently posts requests on her website instructing her supporters to flood the published address or email with a particular message. I have enclosed two examples for your review." Copy of letter and examples

Dr. Taitz stated "Mr. Tepper was no gentleman and viciously attacked and defamed attorney Orly Taitz for bringing to court evidence of Barak Obama using a forged birth certificate and a stolen Social Security number." She calls him an "imaginary blue blood" and says his "comrades commissioned a painter to pain inappropriate pornographic nude paintings of Ory Taitz and posted them all over the internet, in the local papers, and sent them to her three children." She claims her privacy was "invaded" and she was "viciously slandered and attacked." This is all in the first two paragraphs. She refers to President Obama as a criminal who is able to stay in office "with the help of corrupt bureaucrats, attorneys, and some judges." She says that disqualifies Mr. Tepper from representing the Mississippi Democratic Party: "Teppers involvement makes him a potential defendant to be added in the first amended complaint and as such he also has a conflict of interest with the client he intends to represent and cannot be their attorney."

Could any attorney represent a defendant in a Taitz lawsuit if she started alleging the attorney was part of some wide-spread conspiracy to keep Obama in office? It is interesting Dr. Taitz does not state anywhere in her response she will not do to Mr. Tepper what Mr. Begley has accused her of doing to others. This response was not signed by anyone.

4. Opposition to Motion to Dismiss by the Defendant Democratic Party of Mississippi. Opposition to Motion for Sanctions. Motion for Sanctions against the Democratic Party of Mississippi. Motion for leave to file amended complaint. The documents are posted below. The MDP filed a motion to dismiss and stated in the first paragraph the President is a natural-born citizen of Hawaii. Dr. Taitz says just because they "say it is so" doesn't make it so so she asserts it was never proved. The MDP also said Dr. Taitz had no standing to file suit as she is a resident of California. Dr. Taitz cites sections 23-15-952 and 961 of the Mississippi Code in claiming they do not require the plaintiff to be a "qualified elector in Mississippi." Part 1 of this set of motions, Part 2

The Mississippi Democratic Party filed a motion for sanctions against Dr. Taitz. The response calls the motion "completely frivolous." She claims the "recent findings of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona" fully vindicate her. Dr. Taitz then for some reason starts accusing a federal judge in Georgia of trying to intimidate her. Just to make sure you get the idea it didn't work, Dr. Taitz states "Judge Land did not succeed in intimidating Taitz". Dr. Taitz then takes it upon herself to post the judge's social security number.

The motion for sanctions against the Democratic Party is pretty short and um, sweet. It states the MDP received a complaint from Dr. Taitz. The complaint said the President is using a forged birth certificate, a stolen social security number, and a name that is not his own. The Democratic Party "defrauded" the voters by not removing his name from the list of candidates. It filed a "frivolous motion" against Dr. Taitz and is "harassing" her and trying to "intimidate" her by asking for sanctions. Dr. Taitz then asks the court for permission to file an amended complaint. After she already filed one.

Once again, none of these documents were signed by Dr. Taitz or anyone. Looks like all that work might be for nothing.

Other documents filed:
Answer of Secretary of State
Answer of Mississippi Democratic Party

Earlier posts:
The Birthers are coming, the Birthers are coming
The Birther Briar Patch gets more tangled
Birther lawsuit update

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time for a change.

Meet Charley, the new Circuit Clerk of Hinds County:

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Too funny

Even if a liberal, have to admit, this is pretty funny:

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The Clarion-Ledger didn't like the way WLBT reported on the retirement of veteran journalists at the newspaper:

WLBT General Manager Dan Modisett stated


In my editorial last week commenting on losing some fine local journalists at the Clarion Ledger I said, " Unfortunately layoffs have claimed some really good local newspaper journalists, like one of my all time favorites Orley Hood and most recently David Hampton, Rick Cleveland and Bobby Cleveland."

I got a call from the Clarion Ledger's new Executive Editor who corrected me. Orley Hood was laid off, but David Hampton, Rick Cleveland, Bobby Cleveland and five others took advantage of the Gannett early retirement program.

I just wanted to set the record straight. I wish all of them the very best

By all means, Clarion-Ledger, lets get the record straight. You can call it layoff's, buyouts, early retirement, or whatever your fancy corporate buzzword of the week is but it all means the same thing: you threw your best people out the door. Some got paid, some didn't even get a tin cup and cane. Doesn't matter. You kicked them to the curb. Period. Then there is the fact the publisher didn't even have the guts to write the column explaining the changes and stating what great people they were, how much they will be missed, and other phony sentimental crap. You gave that job instead to some editor who has only been there a few weeks and probably didn't even know the people about whom he was writing. Corporate cowards.

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Old Capitol Green has not provided financial statements to county

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors discussed the Old Capitol Green project Monday. Blake Wallace, Director of Economic Development, told the supervisors there had been no movement on the project by Hinds County. Developer Full Spectrum is requesting $13 million in assistance from the county.

Mr. Wallace said he asked for financial statements from Full Spectrum "six months ago" and the company still has not submitted them to his office. He said the company provided pro forma statements but no actual financial statements. Supervisor Phil Fisher expressed concern over the delay in providing the statements. Mr. Wallace said there was still no agreement between Jackson and Full Spectrum for Jackson to guarantee the loan. Mr. Wallace also said Full Spectrum had not provided any lease agreements with tenants.

Full Spectrum representative Malcolm Sheppard addressed the board and said he was working on obtaining a $20 million loan from the Mississippi Development Authority. Mr. Sheppard never said anything about providing financial statements to the county but said the "information" had been provided to the JRA and the City of Jackson so it was "nothing new" and he had provided "the same information to Hinds County". However, sources told this correspondent "the information" was not financial statements. Mr. Sheppard said the project was "downsized". The number of residential units are reduced from 184 to 129. The commercial office building has been reduced from 225,000 square feet to 88,000 square feet. The parking garage is changed from 888 stalls to 480 to 525 stalls. Mr. Sheppard said "downsizing the facility" forced them to change the estimate and "the numbers" and that was "what we are working on now".

Start watching clip at 25:00. Mr. Wallace speaks first.

Discussion runs to 8:00 mark.

Opinion: This project isn't going to happen. Seems he is depending on a bunch of government bodies for all the money but somehow can't seem to provide any financial statements. Hmmmm...... Kountry Time anyone? Then there is the fact the dowtown Jackson vacancy rate is going to be 38% after AT&T moves out of the Landmark building. Ever heard of supply and demand? Downtown rents are going to be lower than what the project will probably need to succeed. What I'm hearing is a shell game with a bunch of government bodies and various forms of government funding. Someone doesn't provide financial statements as requested by the lender, something doesn't add up. This is just my opinion, mind you. Don't want to get sued for libel, you know.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Peggy lectures Harvey...again

The Clarion-Ledger and Mayor Harvey Johnson has been preaching to us for years Hinds County needs to do more for Jackson. Never mind Jackson's budget is over $300 million while the Hinds budget is under $60 million. Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun throws it right back at Jackson in this video recorded at the Monday meeting of the Board of Supervisors:

Harvey, you should have never tried to kill the Byram-Clinton corridor project. They are now pointing out some things you don't want to hear, don't want to hear because they are actually true.

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Remembering the Titanic

This week is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I thought it would be interesting to pull up the local newspapers to see how they reported the disaster so I went to the Department of Archives yesterday and copied some of the coverage from the Jackson Daily News and Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The stories are posted below. I apologize for their configuration. I was copying from microfiche and the newspapers back then were printed using very small columns. Part of the print itself was blurry regardless of the adjustments made on the machine. The stories are posted below. The easiest way to read them is to download them so you can rotate and maximize the view as need be.

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Just wow. Can't believe what I just saw in this video about the Trayvon Martin case. Warning, very offensive language, some racial in nature:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Loome: kill the charter school bill.

Nancy is at it again. Here is Ms. Loome's latest fatwah:

We are coming down to the wire, and it's time for a full court press on charter schools. Representatives need to hear from you AGAIN!

After talking with dozens of legislators, I've come to the conclusion that you'd be hard pressed to find 15 of them who think that HB1152 is a good charter school bill. The problem is that many senators voted for it just to "get something passed" or to "support the leadership." I've even heard that senators who voted for the bill are asking their representatives to vote against it because they know the bill is bad for their districts.

House members also are weary of the issue, and they, too, are getting pressure to concur with this bad legislation - just to get a charter school bill passed.

In its current form, HB 1152 does not solve any of the problems we have in our education system, and it has the potential to create even more failing schools.

Please help us send the message that a bad bill is worse than no bill at all. We need House members to stand up for what they know is right, represent the interests of their constituents, and send this bill to conference to clean it up.

Please ask your representative to vote "No" on the motion to concur and "Yes" on the motion to invite conference on HB 1152.

Your representative:

Rep. Rita Martinson Capitol: 601.359.3131 Personal: 601.856.4977

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770

If your representative is not listed above it is because we do not have your street address and zip code in our database. Click here to find your legislator. Click here to send us your street address and zip code.

There is nothing in this bill that weeds out bad charter schools, and there is nothing in it that focuses charter schools where they are needed. This is not a prudent use of taxpayer dollars, and it certainly is not "education reform." A true reform bill would focus on attracting only the strongest charter school providers into areas where existing schools are failing our children.

They say that just six or eight phone calls can change a legislator's vote. You can make that happen in your district by asking your friends and family to call. Even if you've called already, please call again. The bill will come up sometime between today and April 26, and your legislators need to hear from you - the sooner, the better.

If you have time to call all of the legislators who represent your school district, that would be terrific. Click here to see who they are and to find their contact information.

You can bet that legislators are getting pressure from those who are pushing for "charter schools everywhere." We will have to work hard to ensure that we get a responsible piece of legislation that provides better options for kids in underperforming schools without wasting taxpayer dollars creating more schools where we already have good ones.

Alabama is in the process of passing such a bill. If they can do it, we can, too! Read about it here.

Please call your legislators about the charter school bill as soon as possible, and ask your friends and family to call. The calls really do make a difference.

We'll keep posting updates on our website, and we'll let you know when the bill is brought up in the House so you can watch the debate online. Let me know what you're hearing, and I'll do the same. Let's get this done right for our kids!



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Senior Judge Tomie Green pulls criminal cases from Weill & Kidd

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green is removing all criminal cases but capital murder and death penalty cases from Judges Jeff Weill and Winston Kidd on August 1, 2012. The Senior Circuit Judge issued an order today dividing the criminal and civil dockets between all four circuit judges. Judges Tomie Green and Bill Gowan will hear only criminal cases.

Judge Green said in her order the new assignments would clear up the backlog of cases and make the courts more "efficient". Section 9-7-25 of the Mississippi Code allows the senior circuit judge to divide the cases in such a manner:

"(2) While there shall be no limitation whatsoever upon the powers and duties of the said judges other than as cast upon them by the Constitution and laws of this state, the court in the First Judicial District of Hinds County, in the discretion of the senior circuit judge, may be divided into civil and criminal divisions as a matter of convenience, by the entry of an order upon the minutes of the court."

Judge Green stated the cases continue to be randomly assigned but to the judges in the criminal or civil divisions. Judge Green also changed the assignment of emergency hearings:

"all emergency writs, temporary restraining orders, or petitions for probably cause hearings shall be assigned to the senior judge for random reassignment among the four circuit judges or county judges..."

The order gives Judge Green full control over the assignment of all such emergency requests.

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Ooooooohhhhh I love to dance a little sidestep....

WJTV tried to ask Speaker Philip Gunn if he directed his House Public Properties Committee Chairman Tom Weathersby to kill a bill that would have moved the Department of Revenue from a decaying metal buiding near Clinton to the Landmark Center in downtown Jackson:

Here is Link to story. Link includes video. Watch the video first before you read any further.

Finally Speaker Gunn, exasperated, says "No, I did not" when asked the question several times by Ross Adams. Decaying? See for yourself in this post last week about the erector set building. However, the Clarion-Ledger reported this morning:

"Opposition from House Speaker Philip Gunn means the Mississippi Department of Revenue is likely to spend at least another year in a building near Gunn's district that was meant as a temporary home.

The tax collecting agency has been housed for 16 years in a metal warehouse between Clinton and Raymond and has spent years seeking a new location...

Senate Bill 2795, designed to ratify that recommendation, was introduced by Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson. After passing the Senate, the measure died in a House committee, apparently on Gunn's order. Gunn says it's cheaper for the agency to stay in the rented warehouse and acknowledges the location adjoins his district.

"It's simply dollars and cents," Gunn said. "Is it insufficient where they are?

Yes, Mr. Gunn, it is dollars and cents. Nearly $68,000 a month in rent to someone very well-connected for a piece of crap building that is declining in value and falling apart. Does this sound sufficient:

"Monday, as rain fell, department spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said "strategically placed" buckets were collecting leaks from the roof and water was ponding in the parking lot. However, she said the situation could be worse - sometimes rain drains from the parking lot into the building, a condition that has made some rooms unusable." Article

Reminds me of the old 16th section land deals. Education suffered and buildings fell apart while the good ole boys got rich off of 16th section land leased to them and by them on the cheap. Makes one want to ask if Airwave has a contract for the Revenue building as it seems the Speaker has picked up some lessons from Doug Anderson and Robert Graham. Earlier post with copy of study

Note: Where exactly has Harvey been in all of this? One would think the Mayor might want to move this to downtown Jackson.

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Karen Irby seeks depositions, Stuart Irby's estate seeks to intervene

Karen Irby filed a motion seeking depositions from other parties last Thursday in the lawsuit filed by the Dedousis and Pogue families against the Stuart and Karen Irby. The lawsuit was filed in 2009 and settled in 2010. Ms. Irby was represented by Attorney Thomas Page and later Todd Burwell in the case.

Ms. Irby claims there are "certain documents" in her file "but Thomas Y. Page, Esq. refused to give her depositions stating there was an agreement to keep certain depositions confidential." Ms. Irby states she does not understand how a lawyer "can refuse to give his client a copy of her file because of a protective order/stipulation. (Karen, Leisha Pickering is till wondering the same thing.) How can a lawyer refuse to give his client a copy of a document from her file in which the lawyer is being paid, or has been paid, to render services?"

Ms. Irby then accused Mr. Page of unethical conduct, citing Mississippi Ethics Opinion 144. The opinion states the file belongs to the client. Thus Ms. Irby argues the depositions are her property. The motion states Mr. page responded in correspondence to Ms. Irby that the lawyers in the lawsuit "agreed to confidentiality regarding some of the depositions. I simply do not appreciate your veiled threats and accusations and have no intention of speaking with you about this." Ms. Irby and her lawyers counter that a lawyers duty to his client is a higher duty than what is owed to other lawyers and "opposing counsel."

The legal skirmishing also continued in Ms. Irby's lawsuit against Charles Irby, Stuart Irby, Jr., Jeff Rickels, Cal Wells, Pinnacle Trust, Dr. Sudhaker Mdakasira and other parties. They allegedly gained control of his affairs, divorced the couple, and then changed his will to deprive her of her and her child's inheritance in the case of his death. Mr. Irby killed himself January 17, 2011. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages, and was filed by attorneys Dennis Sweet and Bill Featherston. Ms. Irby also included her daughter with Lee Bounds, Parker, as a co-plaintiff. Earlier post on lawsuit. Copy of lawsuit in post.

Legendary attorney John Corlew filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Pinnacle Trust (included in the documents posted below) on March 24, 2012. Pinnacle Trust is the executor of the estate of Stuart M. Irby, Sr. Pinnacle claimed since it administers the estate, it has an interest in the lawsuit and a right to be heard. Pinnacle asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, and if it refuses to do so, stay the proceedings. Mr. Corlew argues the lawsuit is an "attack" on a will probated in Hinds County Chancery Court. The allegations by Ms. Irby that Stuart was unable to comprehend his actions when he "disinherited" Karen is a matter for the Chancery Court, not the Circuit Court. Chancery Courts are the venue for probate in Mississippi. Pinnacle closes by arguing Ms. Irby should be required to file suit in chancery court. Ms. Irby's lawyers will no doubt argue she is not challenging a will but is claiming torts against several individuals.

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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