Saturday, June 30, 2012

Legislative Black Caucus supports Obamacare decision

The Legislative Black Caucus sent this statement of support for the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare:

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Jim Rogers: Europe screwed up.

Jim Rogers had a few things to say about the latest European "solution" to their debt crisis on CNBC this week:

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Live from West Jackson

Another video from the Black Messiah. This video is some nasty-_____ _____ and not safe for work or kids. Very crude language.

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Mike Brown in the Rankin County jail.

Rankin County attorney Mike Brown* is back in jail again after Rankin County Chancellor Dan Fairly found him in contempt of court. He ordered Mr. Brown held without bond until he repaid $37,190 to the estate of Nick Ray, Sr. Mr. Brown is currently free on bond from a similar charge in Hinds County. Mr. Brown is currently suspended by the Mississippi Bar after Hinds County Chancellor Dewayne Thomas ruled he embezzled in the McClinton guardianship.

Charla Ray, the daughter of Mr. Ray, filed a petition with the Rankin County Chancery Court in 2001 seeking appointment as a conservator of her father after he started suffering from dementia. The court appointed her to be the conservator. Mike Brown represented Ms. Ray before the court. The file shows the annual accounting of the estate required by law was repeatedly filed more than a year late with the court and only then after the court sent notice of the past due status. Mr. Ray lives at the Veteran's Home in Kosciusko.

Chancery Clerk Larry Swales filed a notice of past due accounting on January 9, 2012. The notice stated the acccounting was two years past due. Chancellor Fairly removed Mike Brown as the attorney of record on February 2, 2012 and ordered Ms. Ray to hire a new attorney. The Chancellor also appointed John Dongieux as Guardian Ad Litem and ordered him to investigate the estate and report his findings to the court. Judge Fairly ordered Mr. Brown to deliver all documents concerning the estate to attorneys Joshua McRory or Adrian Mills.

Mr. Dongieux submitted a report on May 23 that was rather damning in nature to Mr. Brown and Ms. Ray. No notice wass given to family members when the conservatorship was established as required by law. There was no inventory of the estate. No accounting was filed in 2001 or 2002. The guardian said the pair spent money without approval of the court. Numerous checks ($10,470) were written to cash (Sounds familiar). Ms. Ray wrote checks totaling $51,523 to herself. Ms. Ray sold a parcel of her father's land in 2010 and wrote a check to herself for $21,000. She claimed it was repayment of a loan she made to her father right before she was appointed conservator. The loan was never disclosed to the court. The guardian said since it was made right before the conservatorship was established, Mr. Ray may not have been mentally competent to make the loan.

The guardian said Ms. Ray wrote more checks and claimed more loans. Loans that were not disclosed to the court and took place in 2001 and 2002- when there was no accounting. The "loans" were $25,000 and $8,,500. Mr. Dongieux called them "disturbing" and said she had a "conflict of interest". The guardian also said she opened and closed a savings account for the conservatorship and disbursed $20,000. However, the guardian said it could not be determined why the account was opened or where the money was spent.

Then there is our old friend, Mr. Brown. Ms. Ray wrote several checks to Mike Brown. One check for $16,500 was written at the closing of the sale of the parcel mentioned earlier. Mr. Brown said it was for money owed to him. The guardian said he never filed his claim with the court and it is invaid. He also pointed out the rules of professional conduct prohibit certain business "transactions" between lawyer and client. Mr. Ray issued Mike Brown a deed of trust on his land right before the conservatorship was established.

Judge Fairly had enough and scheduled a hearing for May 26 for the conservatorship. Mike Brown's attorney, Clayton Lockhart, filed a request for a continuance with the court. He claimed he was due in Hind County Chancery Court at the same time. However, this correspondent attending the hearing in Hinds County. The hearing was a contempt of court hearing for Thomas McClinton. However, the hearing was continued. The only parties who appeared were Mr. McClinton and his lawyer. This correspondent heard Judge Dewayne Thomas say Precious Martin told him the previous Friday he had a conflict and could not be in court. Judge Thomas postponed the hearing until July.

Judge Fairly held the hearing anyway and ordered both Mike Brown and Charla Ray incarcerated in the Rankin County jail until thy purge themselves of the contempt of court charge. Ms. Ray must repay $60,804 and Mr. Brown must repay $37,190 and transfer "the entire file" for the conservatorhip to the guardian. Mr. Brown is still in custody.

*Michael J. Brown. Do not confuse him with other attorneys in town named Mike Brown.

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No comment.

Check out the new scenery at Nicks, courtesy of the um, indigenous population.
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New rules for public pension plans

Apparently a version of "mark to market" is coming to public employee pension plans. The Wall Street Journal published a story last weekend on the new accounting rules for public pension plans:

"New accounting rules are likely to show that public pension plans could face hundreds of billions of dollars in additional liabilities, putting new pressure on state and local governments to act.

The revamped rules expected to be approved Monday by an accounting-standards group will force governments to record pension costs sooner than they did before and disclose shortfalls more prominently. The changes also will force some public pension funds to calculate retirement benefits using more conservative assumptions....

The exact impact of the new rules by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board isn't clear. According to researchers at Boston College, pension liabilities at 126 state and municipal pension plans would jump by roughly $600 billion, or about 18%. The estimate is based on 2010 financial data and doesn't reflect the stock market's recent rebound or moves by many U.S. states to rein in pension costs.

Even with those improvements, the accounting changes are expected to increase total public-pension liabilities substantially when they take effect starting in 2013.

Many state pension managers downplay the impact of the new rules, arguing that the changes will merely affect how pension numbers are reported, and not the substance of the plans' conditions.

Some economists and lawmakers have pushed for tougher rules for years. "We think we've struck the appropriate balance that will result in some improvements in accounting and financial reporting," says GASB Chairman Robert Attmore.

The new rules won't in themselves force cities and states to refill their pension coffers or slash benefits, but they will underline the widening funding gap many of the nation's largest public plans face.

More than 40 states have already moved to trim pension costs since the financial crisis by raising contributions from employees or cutting back benefits for new workers, often after wrenching political debates.

Some officials expect renewed political pressure to end the guaranteed pension benefits that are now received by about eight million retired public workers across the U.S. "Those attacks have occurred prior to the [GASB changes] and I can only anticipate that they will be amplified,'' says Thom Williams, executive director of the Wyoming Retirement System.

Some pension officials said they don't plan to make drastic changes based on GASB's decision. For example, many pension officials plan on using two sets of numbers when calculating pension obligations: one for official reporting purposes and another to determine taxpayers' pension bills. GASB's new rules would allow that.

"It's an accounting change; that is all it is,'' says Andrew Pratt, a spokesman for New Jersey Treasurer's office. "New Jersey still has complete control over how the assumptions in its pension plans are set."

"We will have to go spend time and explain it and not have people overreact to the numbers," said North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell.

The changes follow more than four years of research and deliberation by GASB, a private-sector body recognized by governments, markets and the accounting industry as the official source for public-sector accounting rules.

The new rules won't alter the pension benefits that governments pay, and they won't directly affect how much governments contribute to their pension plans. GASB says its move is aimed at separating the accounting for pension plans from decisions on how to fund them.

But the discrepancy between the two sets of numbers could put renewed pressure on governments to close the funding gap.

"Are there going to be renewed discussions about contribution levels? That's very likely," said David Kausch, chief actuary at Gabriel Roeder Smith & Co., a benefits-consulting firm.

Last December, Mr. Kausch warned trustees overseeing the Illinois University system pension plan that the GASB changes could create "sticker shock."

Under the revised rules, pension officials will have to measure assets based on market values, which could cause numbers to swing from year to year.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimated that the changes would cause the group of 126 pension plans it analyzed to fall to 57% funded—that is, their assets would cover 57% of their obligations—from 76% in 2010.

In Illinois, the funding level of pensions for university employees would slip to 40% from 46%, according to the Boston College analysis.

A spokeswoman for the university fund declined to comment on that estimate.

"I hope it reinforces the need to do something,'' says Tom Cross, Illinois House Republican leader. "I still think there are people who are not accepting the reality of the situation."

Critics say the GASB changes don't go far enough, particularly in the way states will have to calculate pension liabilities that stretch over several decades.

To make that calculation, pension plans use a "discount rate"—an interest-rate assumption to determine how much future benefit payments are worth in today's dollars.

Public pension plans use the rate of return they expect on their investments, typically around 8%.

The lower the discount rate, the higher the obligations' current value—and higher obligations mean a bigger funding gap.

GASB's new rules would force underfunded plans to use a lower rate for some of their obligations.

But the overall government rate wouldn't be as low as the 4% to 5% rate that corporate pension plans use.

In recent years, many state pension systems with the largest funding gaps have skipped or made only a portion of their annual contributions.

Mr. Attmore, the GASB chairman, said "decisions regarding funding of pensions are appropriately the domain of elected officials who determine how to allocate limited resources among various competing interests in the government budget process."

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court overturns Kroger case

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a Hinds County judgment against Kroger. Attorney Ashley Ogden represented the plaintiff, Linda Knox, and claimed there was an "atmosphere of violence" at the Kroger store on I-55N and the store did little to protect customers. Ms. Knox was the victim of a brutal assault in the parking lot. The court disagreed and stated "We find as a matter of law that – in the context of Kroger’s more than three million customer visits over the course of three years – four incidences of criminal activity are wholly insufficient to establish an atmosphere of violence on Kroger’s parking lot."Copy of ruling

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Obamacare thread.

Consider this an open thread on the Supreme Court ruling today

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AG: Concealed means concealed

Attorney General Jim Hood issued an opinion on the concealed carry law on June 14. Mr. Hood ruled a concealed carry license does not allow one to openly carry a gun. The gun must be fully concealed. Here is the opinion.

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WJNT yesterday

Hinds County Supervisor Phil Fisher came on the show yesterday to discuss the Hinds County Detention Center.  Enjoy.

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Just one question

Does the Mississippi Democratic Party have three employees that look as good as these three who work for the Mississippi GOP? Just curious.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Did Ridgeland employees work on property of Mayor's son?

Looks like Wint McGee got some "landscaping" done to his front yard on Maple Street courtesy of the city of Ridgeland.  Several readers contacted JJ yesterday about Ridgeland employees using city equipment to build a berm and then placing new sod on the property.  This correspondent drove out to the site yesterday morning at 10:30 and confirmed Ridgeland employees and equipment were indeed working on the property of Wint McGee.  The employees were engaged in doing some kind of construction work at the front of the property.  When I returned in the afternoon, a new berm was in place and new sod was placed where the crew worked.

Several photos of the property and work as it was performed were taken and placed in this photo album.  Ridgeland residents also sent several photos of the site to JJ as well.  Several sources said Mr. McGee had complained about water running off of the road onto his property.  Thus the crews built up the front of his property by the road to stem the runoff.  One reader wrote "Our street -- Maple Ave -- is not curbed and guttered. Today, there are 5 City of Ridgeland vehicles and 12 City employees literally doing dirt work in his front yard and building concrete curbs in front of his property." They started shortly after 7:00 AM yesterday and finished by 11:00 AM.  The crew returned briefly this morning to rip up an old driveway slab on the property and replace it with dirt and sod.  One neighbor said at least one city truck filled with dirt was used for the work yesterday. 

Ridgeland Public Works Director Mike McCollum told this correspondent over the phone this afternoon Mr. McGee's neighbor built a curb on his property without a permit (The curb does indeed exist and is the length of the neighbor's lot. It is the only curb on that section of North Maple).  Apparently the law of unintended consequences took place as the curb forced the water to run off onto Mr. McGee's property.  The neighbor did not get a permit for building a curb on the right of way.  Mr. McCollum said instead of making the homeowner remove the unauthorized work, the city decided to create a "win-win" and do "work on the right-of-way" to direct the runoff into a neighboring ditch. He said no work was done on private property.

 Mayor Gene McGee was at the annual meeting of the Municipal League on the Gulf Coast.

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Mike speaks

Video blogger Mike Carroll is back with another video, touching upon a subject The Kingfish would never think of touching: "Michelle Obama & why 70% of black women are single". All I can say is better him than me as I like my head firmly attached to my shoulders. Here is the video.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brown back in jail

From a reader: Michael Brown is in the Rankin County Jail with a requirement that he pay $37,190.00 to the conservatorship and turn over all documents in the case to be released from the Jail.

Charla Ray is in the Rankin County Jail with a requirement that she pay $60,804.93 the conservatorship to be released from the Jail. Judge Fairly ordered no bond for both parties.

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NYT: projects hold nasty surprise for taxpayers

Residents of Madison County can relate to this story. The New York Times reported many taxpayers are finding themselves hit with bond payments for bonds they didn't know existed:

"Surprised local taxpayers from Stockton, Calif., to Scranton, Pa., are finding themselves obligated for parking garages, hockey arenas and other enterprises that can no longer pay their debts.

Officials have signed them up unknowingly to backstop the bonds of independent authorities, the special bodies of government that run projects like toll roads and power plants.

The practice, meant to save governments money, has been gaining popularity without attracting much notice, and is creating problems for a small but growing number of cities.

Data from Thomson Reuters suggests that local taxpayers are backing so-called enterprise debt at five times the rate they did 10 years ago. The resulting municipal bonds are sometimes called “double barreled,” because they are backed by both the future revenue of a project and some sort of taxpayer backstop. The exact wording and mechanics can vary.

With many cities now preoccupied with other crushing costs — pension obligations, retiree health care, accumulated unpaid bills — a sudden call to honor a long-forgotten bond guarantee can be a bolt from the blue, precipitating a crisis. The obligations mostly lurk in the dark. State laws requiring voter pre-approval of bonds don’t generally apply to guarantees. Local governments typically don’t include them in their own financial statements or set aside reserves to honor them.

“These are debts that do not show up clearly, no matter how closely you look at the balance sheets,” said Carmen M. Reinhart, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who has written extensively about government debt. They “come out of the woodwork in bad times......
Rest of the article

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McClinton hearing continued but.....

Mike Brown is before Judge Fairly right now trying to stay out of jail. The scheduled hearing in the McClinton case was continued to July 26 this morning. DeMon McClinton attorney Precious Martin notified Judge Thomas last Friday he could not be there today.
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Sheriff calls out county maintenance department on jail repairs

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis gave the media* a tour of the Hind County Detention Center in Raymond after an inmate escaped Friday morning. The Sheriff and his employees pointed out numerous problems such as broken locks, doors that would not close, a lack of cameras, and design problems at the facility. The Sheriff said "we have a capable command staff in place, we just need a jail to run." The Sheriff said the county maintenance department was "inconsistent" in fixing problems and needed to "step up to the plate."

Flanked by Chief Deputy Chris Picou and Captain Joe Daughtry, Sheriff Lewis opened with a press conference. The Sheriff said the issues were "accountability" and "responsibility" as he discussed the escape. He said, "I am responsible for the personnel, these facilities, as well as making sure we can secure the inmates we house in these facilities." He then said the maintenance and repair of the jail was the "responsibility of the Board of Supervisors, the county administrator (Carmen Davis), and the county maintenance department." The Sheriff said there had been a pattern of "neglect" and "lack of repair" (2:16) since 1994. "Until the maintenance department of Hinds County steps up to the plate.. we are going to have issues with inmates escaping and our employees and personnel resigning and being afraid to come to work."

Sheriff Lewis said when he assumed office they found 30 non-functioning doors. He placed blame on the county maintenance department as he said "some days they come to work, some days they don't. There has been nothing consistent about the maintenance department to make sure these problems are taken care of."  He said they would continue to "have issues with inmates escaping and our personnel depleting the way it is fixed or we come up with a proper solution we are going to continue to have these issues. (4:26)"

The escapee managed to pop a grate out of the wall in his holding cell. He had been in custody less than twelve hours. (The grate is shown in the video of the tour.)  There was a section of plywood between the wall and the grate several inches thick which held the grate in place. The grate was removed in less than a minute. The inmate then entered a mechanical room. The door to the outside was secured with a flimsy lock. The inmate forced open the door and escaped the facility. He was captured forty minutes later at the Shell station on Highway 18. The inmate was Frederick Deschete. He was arrested for making a bomb threat in Byram. He has been arrested several times and was once committed to Whitfield.

Sheriff Lewis said it would take "a million plus" to make the needed repairs to the jail. He said he did not know how many escapes took place last year. Sheriff Lewis said "I am frustrated for the taxpayers" and "there is only so much I can do without the help of the maintenance department." He said he wanted to bring in experts to review the detention center and determine whether the best option is to repair the jail or build a new one. He said in the final press conference only Supervisors Robert Graham and Kenneth Stokes had visited the facility.

The tour was an eye-opener for one not in law enforcement. (Video of entire tour is posted below. It's worth watching.) Inmates banged on the doors when they saw us pass. Hutto screamed, "I will kill you Tyrone Lewis" as we went by his cell. There were pools of standing water in the maintenance rooms. Machines um, rigged with coat-hangers to keep them working. Grates held in place with plywood. Ceilings ripped out by inmates seeking weapons or anything that could be used in an escape. Deputies showed how inmates could use wire taken out of the ceiling to pop open cell doors- in less than five seconds. Inmates showed how they could use bed sheets to open doors in less than thirty seconds. Employees said cameras were not in all of the housing units. The Sheriff showed how one inmate was able to escape through a supposedly secure outside recreation area. He was able to tie two bedsheets and a broomstick together, throw them over part of the ceiling (a chain link fence covered the entire area), hoist himself up, and escape to the roof. Repairs were made to the "ceiling" to ensure there would be no repeat performance by other inmates. The Chief Deputy pointed out blind spots in the camera coverage. The Sheriff said the facility was designed to be a "jail, not a prison" as a prison was for long-term incarcerations while a jail is meant to be a temporary holding facility.

The next question is whether the board will actually move towards building a new jail or settling for repairs.

*Media present: WLBT, WAPT, Clarion-Ledger, Fox40, WJTV, Jackson Jambalaya

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Monday, June 25, 2012

And now a word from our sponsor

This post is a paid advertisement

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

TED talk on education

Interesting TED talk by an author who won a TED prize for establishing some rather innovative tutoring centers in this video.

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Latest crime stats

Here are the latest crime stats available online.

Jackson crime stats for week ending June 10, 2012.

Jackson major crimes overview for week ending June 10, 2102.

City of Madison crime reports through June 20, 2012.

Byram crime reports through June 9 2012.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012


Saw this car in front of Primos this morning. Enjoy.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

The new get out of jail card

Several inmates gave demonstrations at the Hinds County Detention Center on how to get out of a cell using........ a bedsheet. Here is it on video.

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Video tour of the Hinds County Detention Center.

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis and his staff gave the media a tour of the Hinds County Detention Center. I'm going to write a post later but here is the video of the main tour. There will be some dead spots in it but I think more than a few of you will find it interesting. At some points in the video I aimed the camera down so I would not get an inmate's face on camera. Enjoy.

The video starts with the mechanical room door the inmate used for his escape this morning. When we get inside, you will see the grate, buffered with plywood, he used to get out of the holding cell (4:00). We then tour the pods and outdoor mini-rec area. Needless to say, the inmates were more than happy to see the crowd and expressed their pleasure in a boisterous manner. They showed us the broken locks, the lack of cameras, and other features of the facility.

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Um, no comment.

Tammy from WAPT asked this question of Sheriff Tyrone Lewis at the press conference today. Enjoy.

No, they don't need any training, just throw someone a gun, badge, and some PERS and voila, you can watch prisoners all day long.

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Another escape

Another inmate escaped from the Hinds County jail this morning. Sheriff Tyrone Lewis told JJ the inmate busted open a "grate" in the wall and was able to break a lock in the mechanical area to escape the facility. He was captured shortly after the escape and is back in custody. The Sheriff said he is going to call the media later today and have them come to the jail for a press conference. He said he will provide a media tour of the jail after the press conference. Sheriff Lewis said repairs are being made "piecemeal" and the supervisors need to fund a complete repair of the jail.

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Art camp for kids next week.

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Beeeeeeert Case wins the poll.

This was a surprise.  Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeert Case was voted the worst tv news anchor in Jackson.  Roslyn Anderson was runner-up and Marsha Thompson was third.  The irony is they all work for the top tv station so someone is watching them. 

Howard Ballou 30 (4%)
Linda Allen 60 (8%)
Scott Simmons 31 (4%)
Maggie Wade 27 (3%)
Stephanie Maxwell 18 (2%)
Byron Brown 24 (3%)
Marsha Thompson 66 (9%)
Darren Dedo 50 (7%)
Beeeert Case 185 (26%)
Melissa Faith Payne 11 (1%)
Brandon Artiles 18 (2%)
Roslyn Anderson 149 (21%)
Joy Redmond 13 (1%)
Stephanie Bell Flynt 27 (3%)

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Live from West Jackson

Tonight: Obama is out, Bush is back in and more political discussion in West Jackson.

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Softballs & grapefruits yesterday on WJNT

Northside Sun publisher Wyatt Emmerich came on WJNT yesterday morning to discuss the state of the newspaper industry. Very informative discussion as he had quite a bit to say. Clarence called in at the end to raise hell about the jail and Kenneth Stokes. Enjoy.

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Judgments awarded against publisher of Mississippi Land & Lodges

Several judgments have been entered in Hinds County against Cindy Gray, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Mississippi Land & Lodges magazine. Ms. Gray published several editions of the high-quality magazine focusing on hunting and "the sportsmen lifestyle in Mississippi". The last issue was published for the November 2011-January 2012 quarter. The magazine reports Curtis Publishing, LLC is the publisher. The Secretary of State's website states Ms. Gray is the only member of the LLC. There are four judgments against Ms. Gray in Hinds County. The judgments are:

1. Clear Channel. Clear Channel Broadcasting filed a complaint against Ms. Gray on February 27, 2012 in Hinds County Court against Ms. Gray and her d/b/a, Gray's Advertising. The complaint alleged Ms. Gray purchased advertising from the company on behalf of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation. The Foundation was not sued. Clear Channel claimed the advertising cost $4,745. Ms. Gray did not appear in court to defend herself against the complaint and Clear Channel obtained a default judgment against her for $4,840 on May 18, 2012. There is no listing of Gray's Advertising on the Secretary of State's website.

2. Roger Davis. Mr. Davis, a co-owner of Woodbridge Capital, filed a complaint against Ms. Gray and Curtis Publishing d/b/a Mississippi Land & Lodges on September 15, 2011 seeking repayment of a $9,500 loan issued in 2008. He stated Ms. Gray had not repaid the loan over three years after the initial payment of $500. The complaint states she wrote him a $10,000 bad check to repay the loan in May 2011. Ms. Gray signed a consent judgment on November 22, 2011. Mr. Davis then sent garnishments to several major banks in Jackson such as Trustmark and Bankplus. All banks returned the garnishments stating there were no funds to collect.

3.Chris Patrick filed a complaint against Ms. Gray on April 15, 2011. Mr. Patrick owned that nice beautiful two-story home on the corner of Ridgewood and Northside Drive (1612 Northside Drive). Ms. Gray leased the home on July 29, 2009 for $2,500 per month (Ouch!). The complaint states Ms. Gray did not pay the rent for February, March, or April of 2011. The complaint also states Ms. Gray changed the locks on the door and refused to let realtors show the home as it was listed when the complaint was filed. The court awarded a judgment of possession to Mr. Patrick on July 21, 2011 for $12,500. The award penalized Ms. Gray for staying in the home through May and June without paying rent and included $2,000 in attorney's fees. The order said the judgment could be enforced by the Sheriff on July 27, 2011.

4.Jackson Academy. This complaint was filed on July 15, 2009. As it involves a child, the details will not be published as the case is just a typical non-payment of tuition. The court awarded a judgment to JA for $3,900 plus 8% interest per year.

Mississippi Land & Lodges does not have a website. The magazine and Ms. Gray do not appear on any Facebook pages. The glossy-paged magazine include ads from companies such as C-Spire, The Rogue, Van's Sporting Goods & Deer Processors, McDade's Wine & Spirits, and Don Evans. The magazine published articles on expensive hunting lodges, wildlife, and hunting-oriented businesses.  Several issues were published in 2011.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Claiborne speaks

Claiborne Barksdale, CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute, penned this letter in the Clarion-Ledger recently:

Monday's guest editorial ("Education: School choice best idea," June 4) from The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle was poorly thought out and poorly written. The premise of the column - school choice is needed because we have "tried everything" to improve our public schools and nothing has worked - is absurd.

While most acknowledge that much money has been wasted in efforts to improve schools, what we have not tried is strategic funding and thinking to attract and retain the best and brightest people into our schools.

Our 12 years at the Barksdale Reading Institute have convinced us that everything other than personnel is a rounding error. Fundamental steps must be taken to maximize personnel - such as increasing scores required to obtain a teacher's license, which the State Board has just approved - and the 2011 Blueprint Mississippi from the Mississippi Economic Council lays out a solid five-part road map to accomplish this.

The suddenly popular mantra of school choice is based on nothing but magic thinking - if we set up other schools, they will be better. No proof is offered in the column, just assertion, despite much evidence of the spotty record of charters.

Claiborne Barksdale


Any questions?

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Fitch fundraiser

Yup. The treasurer had a little fundraiser last night and the stars came out for her.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Live from West Jackson

Let me eat, please.

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Agenda 21 is coming to Mississippi. Please remain calm.

Here is an email sent to our legislators about Agenda 21. They just don't get it you see. They are just uninformed and don't really understand what is going on and how they are being duped as the Illuminati moves in for the kill:


This is a very important pressing issue on two fronts. First, over the past two weeks I have spoken AT LENGTH with three elected officials who represent the residents of Coastal Mississippi about AGENDA 21. I am intentionally not disclosing any of their identities at this point because if I did, their chances at future re-election would be gravely hurt in that Conservatives, assuming they understand the UN and Agenda 21, would opt for the Toaster Oven over the incumbents. I’m surely not trying to “protect” any of them, but I do want to give them the chance to actually research AGENDA 21, and if, after educating themselves on it, they continue to minimize the destructive impacts of A-21, to play dumb about it, or to justify the tenants of A-21, I will actively campaign AGAINST then. Further I will attempt to recruit every one of our TEA Party members to do the same.

Each of my conversations indicated that these elected aren’t purely in support of A-21’s radical thinking, but are, sadly to say, just profoundly UNINFORMED. I will be sending this email to each of them privately and advising them that by the end of June, I want them to contact me and specify all their positions concerning this plan to enslave individual citizens, to expand the power of INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTS AND BODIES, and to essentially SOCIALIZE the entire planet.

There are countless problems that America faces in these strange times and everyone’s attention can be diverted from time to time from the big issues to the small ones, but I ask you this. WHO SHOULD BE MORE AWARE OF THE LARGE ISSUES THAT IMPERIL AMERICAN LIBERTIES AND FREEDOMS, A SMALL BUSINESSMAN SUCH AS MYSELF (AND PROBABLY MANY OF YOU) WHO STILL HAS TO WORK 80 HOURS A WEEK TO SURVIVE, OR OUR ELECTED LEADERS WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT OUR INTERESTS??? While there are countless attempts ongoing to destroy American values, and yes, even the Constitution, perhaps none is as evil, deceitful, and un-American as AGENDA 21. The reason this is so critical is that the imposition of AGENDA 21 will override our own Constitution, create (like it or not) a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT (one that, incidentally, despises the USA, its wealth, its freedoms, and its people), and make us all Citizens of the World.

The legislators I spoke with all agree that I am overstating the importance and danger of A-21, but the scariest thought they conveyed is that “none of this directly impacts the state and local governments in south Mississippi”. They refuse to acknowledge that every time the South Mississippi Planning and Development District holds a hearing or public meeting on the bulls**t contained in A-21, the panel of presenters are always from NGOs that are located outside the borders of Mississippi. THESE PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE THE HELL UP. IN FACT, IT IS OUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY TO JAR THEM FROM THEIR HAPPY, OBLIVIOUS SLUMBER.

In support or OUR OPPOSITION to AGENDA 21 and all the associated tentacles attached to it, the UN Is this week holding a SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT called Rio+20 (in honor of the original introduction of this whole nightmarish program that was held 20 years ago this week), Below are some short video links that show what these Socialist-Marxist, psychopath lame brains are saying at this conference. After watching and reading this, I would love to know if you are prepared to confront every politician, educate them, or tell them that you will NOT support their re-election until and unless they wake up and learn as much about this attack on We the People as you know!!

On this link you will be able to view the Day 1 video, the Day 2 video (much scarier), and the written blog from Day 3.

God Bless America, OMG-2012


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Gasparino: Secret JPM report states true condition of public pensions

Charlie Gasparino at Fox Business managed to snag a secret JP Morgan Chase report on the true condition of state and municipal pensions:

"OK, it’s no secret that nation’s public pension funds are in big trouble, holding large “unfunded” liabilities owed to public workers once they retire. But most politicians (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is an exception) will tell you the problem is fairly containable, that there are simple fixes — such as raising taxes on the rich or pruning benefits.

Not so, warns a “strictly confidential” report JP Morgan issued last year. It describes in straightforward, frightening detail how underfunded pensions are huge ticking timebombs for many of the nation’s big cities and states.

The scandal isn’t simply that most public officials are misleading the public about the enormity of the problem and what steps must be taken to address the matter. As the Morgan report notes, many of the real liabilities are located “off balance sheet,” hidden from the public’s eye, and lax accounting standards let cities and states minimize their enormity.

It’s also that JP Morgan itself kept the report’s findings a secret except for a few big clients, mostly hedge funds and large institutional investors, who got the inside tip on which states and cities are most likely to default on their debt as their pension liabilities fester.

Yes: Default is a very real possibility, because the solutions are far from easy.

Nationwide, the actual size of unfunded public pension liabilities is four times larger than the $900-plus billion that officials are ’fessing up to. That’s right, the bank sees a $3.9 trillion hole; to plug that, states and cities will need large tax hikes, massive budget cuts or both. Plus, public-sector unions will have to accept smaller retirement packages, and later retirement ages, to keep the pension systems going.

Without these steps, states and cities with the biggest holes face possible insolvency and default, though the bank believes the risk of default “is greater for municipalities than for states.”

Many of the places facing the biggest pension liabilities are right here in the Northeast, where big government rules and public unions are such a potent political force that officeholders dish out gold-plated benefits....

I got my hands on the report not from an disgruntled employee looking to even up the score with his old firm, but from someone who believed the reason JP Morgan kept it a secret stinks to high heaven: Bankers there are afraid of upsetting state and city officials who hand them large fees to underwrite municipal bonds.

Keep in mind, JP Morgan is Wall Street’s leading underwriter of municipal debt. A public release of the report might anger big Morgan muni clients such as Massachusetts, which has a large pension liability.

And why draw attention to an issue that might spook investors, cut off funding for municipal governments and for the fees the bank collects on that funding? A muni-market panic could land the bank in far hotter water than its current London Whale travails..."

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Madison supes hire Espy

The Madison County Board of Supervisors fired board attorney Eric Hamer tonight and replaced him with former Congressman and U.S. Agricultural Secretary Mike Espy at its regular meeting. The hiring of a board attorney was not on the agenda but instead was brought up by District 3 Supervisor Ronnie Lott. Supervisors Steen, Griffin, and Lott voted to hire Mr. Espy while Supervisors Banks and Crosby voted in the minority.

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Mike speaks

He' back, worse than before. Mike Carroll is his name and he has a few things to say about the state of Black America. Warning: He does not use language that is exactly culturally or ethnically sensitive.

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School board votes to settle Rankin Civil War (video)

-Recap of meeting Friday
-Documents from court case and proposed settlement
-video of entire meeting. Several good exchanges.

Tempers flared, sparks flew, and words were exchanged as the Rankin County School Board voted 3-2 to settle a lawsuit with the Pearl Separate School District (PSDD) Friday. Pearl filed a motion in federal court seeking to transfer several areas within the Pearl city limits to the PSSD from the Rankin County School District. Rankin Superintendent Lynn Weathersby, School Board President Ann Sturdivant, and its attorneys vigorously opposed settling with Pearl.* Proposed settlement

The Rankin and Pearl school systems are under a federal consent decree in a desegregation lawsuit filed in 1967.** The federal court must approve any changes in school attendance zones. Pearl filed a motion to enlarge the attendance zone for the district in 2010 after it annexed part of Patrick Farms, the Highlands, and an area off of Eldorado Road. The motion was filed after a two-year agreement expired. Pearl and Rankin agreed in 2008 to give families in the affected areas two years to decide which district their children would attend. It did not matter if the homeowners in the subject areas had children, they merely had to state a preference if they did have children. 487 children in these areas attend Rankin schools while 94 attend school in Pearl. Sources told this correspondent the Justice Department and federal court were not happy the two districts made the agreement without federal approval.

Rankin attorney Ben Griffith opened the meeting by addressing the board. He didn't play around or mince any words in his remarks as he strongly urged the board not to settle the lawsuit. He said Rankin will lose $5 million per year if it loses the lawsuit, a lawsuit he said Rankin had an excellent chance of winning. He said Pearl was seeking to change district lines not because it wanted Pearl residents to go to Pearl schools but because it was seeking to add white students to a declining white population in the school district.

The percentage of white students in the Pearl district has declined from 73% in the 2000 census to 58% in the most recent census. Pearl said in an exhibit prepared by Dr. Richard Boyd (former state Superintendent) it was trying to prevent white flight and such flight will occur if a "tipping point" is reached. However, Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers and School Board President Sondra Odom both told JJ they wanted Pearl residents to go to Pearl schools.

Mr. Griffith told the board "your oath as a trustee is to do what is best for Rankin County schools and students". He said the Pearl District was "doing this" because their district is getting "too black" and said "this is quoting from their own papers in court." He said the areas were "not a gold mine" but "Rankin County school property".

CPA Charles Shivers told the school board the district would lose five million dollars a year in MAEP funding and "students equate to money". He said the loss will include $1.5 state funding Rankin receives for being a high growth district. Mr. Shivers said a district has to have three consecutive years of growth to be eligible for the funding. He said the transfer will erase the growth for Rankin for at least one year and thus deny Rankin high growth funds for several years. He stated Pearl was receiving a little over a million dollars a year from the state in high growth funding. He said it would take 2 1/2 years to recover the loss and "operating costs will not be significantly reduced" as the students will come from various schools and classrooms. School board member Cecil McCrory asked him if his calculations were based upon losing all 487 students. Mr. Shivers replied "yes".

Mr. McCrory disputed this somewhat as he said sources in the legislature told him high-growth funding is going to disappear anyway. JJ reviewed RCSD audits since 2004 and found the average growth in students per year is 446 students.

Several Pearl city employees told the board when they built their homes in these areas, they thought their children would go to Pearl Schools. Board member Grumpy Farmer told Mr. Shivers his assertion of $5 million per year assumed all 487 children will transfer to Pearl and said such would not be the case. Pearl School Board President Sondra Odom told JJ Rankin would not lose that many students as most had chosen to stay with Rankin in the past. The proposed agreement states the children currently attending Rankin schools can choose to stay in Rankin schools until they "graduate from high school" and the agreement includes "their siblings".

Several Pearl city employees told the board they built their houses in Pearl only to find their kids will go to Rankin County schools. (See the beginning of the second video. The exchanges are worth watching). One resident said "We built in Pearl, we live in Pearl, we want to go to Pearl." Superintendent Lynn Weathersby replied, "The city of Pearl and the Pearl School District are obviously two different creatures. If I were building a house and wanted it to be in the Pearl School District, I'd build a house in the Pearl School District.. but if you go build a house and you have a three year-old or a five year-old or any age you look at the school district you build in."

Pearl Mayor Rogers didn't like these remarks one bit and stood up to challenge the Superintendent. (Again, watch the video in the second clip at 3:37, its worth watching.. "You tell me where in Pearl, Mississippi someone can build and go to the Pearl school zone... I would expect your expert witnesses to tell you what they pay them to tell you... What I heard was the only growth in Rankin County is in that little area in Pearl, Mississippi. I'm feeling pretty good about that... But I think y'all ought to know that is a bunch of bunk. If you tell me Rankin County is not going to continue to be a high-growth district if you lose this area, that is an absolute lie. You tell me, Mrs. Sturdivant, that the Reservoir is not growing? Flowood and the Reservoir's not growing? Come on, give me a break folks. This is just another effort to harm the city of Pearl. We've fought for everything we've ever got and we're fighting for this today."

Mr. Griffith again addressed the board and said the district will lose several million dollars a year. He said the board was almost at the finish line and had spent nearly three-fourths of the cost for fighting the lawsuit. He said the district had an excellent chance of winning and should not settle the suit. Rankin budgeted one million dollars for the legal battle and has spent approximately $400,000. Mr. Weathersby said it was worth "spending $1 million to save $4 million yer year." Mr. Griffith said even if the agreement was accepted by the board, Pearl would be back again and again seeking to add more areas to its district. He said there was "no finality" and a court decision would provide such finality. He said two or three years from now there would be another effort to get "more students and more money" and the only way to stop it was to "get a federal court to cut this off."

Cecil McCrory moved to accept the settlement agreement. Grumpy Farmer seconded the motion. Dr. Ruth Burgess, Mr. Farmer, and Mr. McCrory voted to settle. Board President Ann Studivant and Debbie Tolleson voted against it. Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers said "I am obviously pleased with the vote and I think it's the right thing." Sondra Odom, President of the Pearl School Board, said "I am relieved and happy. I think it's a win-win for Pearl and Rankin County. Kids going to Rankin County schools can still go to Rankin County as their siblings and unborn siblings will. People that move to Pearl will know they can go to Pearl. We need those areas for housing and growth."

Ann Sturdivant said, "I'm terribly disappointed. The board chose to give away valuable property to another school district. I think this will hurt the taxpayers of Rankin County. If homeowners in these areas are transferred to Pearl, their property taxes will increase eleven mills. That means the owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $220 a year in property taxes."

Dr. Boyd exhibit for Pearl, Federal opposition to Pearl motion, Pearl resolution, Pearl response to Feds, Rankin response, map of El Dorado area, Greenwich map, Patrick Farms map, 1979 order for Pearl, 1997 order for Pearl

*Media in attendance: Fox40, Clarion-Ledger (appeared halfway through the meeting), and The Rez News blog.

**Kenneth W. Adams v. Rankin County Board of Education Case number: Civil action 3:67-cv-04156-TSL-MTP. Rankin is represented by attorneys Ben Griffith and Fred Harrell while Skip Jernigan and James Robertson represent Pearl.


2004: 15,781
2005: 16,227
2006: 16,784
2007: 17,140
2008: 17,606
2009: 18,003
2010: 18,424
2011: 18,906

Increase: 3,125
Years: 7
Avg. Increase: 446

Jackson: 75 mills
Hinds: 61 mills
Pearl: 59.5 mills
Clinton: 54.57 mills
Madison: 54.55 mills
Desoto: 53.6 mills
Rankin: 49.42

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ranking the local school districts on spending

Jackson Jambalaya reviewed the 2009* audits of the school districts in the Jackson metro area. There are few surprises. For example, Rankin and Canton spent nearly the same amount of money on instructional costs per student (Teachers salaries) yet have different results on the report cards. One disturbing trend: the majority-black districts consistently ranked the highest in administrative costs while the majority-white ones usually ranked the lowest. One interesting fact was most of the schools spent within $250 per student on instructional costs. Another interesting fact was Rankin spent the lowest on general administration costs per student, $211, and did not even spend half the amount per student spent by the leader, Hinds. Despite all the criticism leveled at the Rankin County School District for being "top-heavy", the audits reveal it probably does the best job in the area of keeping administrative costs down. Here are the rankings. Read and weep.

Total cost per student:
1. Madison: $10,296 (High performing)
2. JPS: $9,848 (Academic watch)
3. Hinds: $9,628 (Successful)
4. Rankin: $9,661 (High performing)
5. Canton: $9,499 (At risk of failing)
6. Pearl: $8,904 (High performing)
7. Clinton: $8,802 (High performing)

Instructional cost per student:

1. Rankin: $5,631 (High performing)
2. Canton: $5,489 (At risk of failing)
3. JPS: $5,475 (Academic watch)
4. Madison: $5,381 (High performing)
5. Pearl: $5,368 (High performing)
6. Clinton: $5,219 (High performing)
7. Hinds: $4,998 (Successful)

General Administration cost per student:

1. Hinds: $517 (Successful)
2. Canton: $446 (At risk of failing)
3. Pearl: $384 (High performing)
4. JPS: $317 (Academic Watch)
5. Clinton: $278 (High performing)
6. Madison: $230 (High performing)
7. Rankin: $211 (High performing)

School Administration cost per student:

1. Rankin: $542 (High performing)
2. Canton: $518 (At risk of failing)
3. JPS: $502 (Academic Watch)
4. Hinds: $487 (Successful)
5. Clinton: $484 (High performing)
6. Pearl: $439 (High performing)
7. Madison: $428 (High performing)

Other costs per student:
1. Madison: $4,877 (High performing)
2. Hinds: $3,626 (Successful)
3. JPS: $3,555 (Academic watch)
4. Rankin: $3,277 (High performing)
5. Canton: $3,046 (At risk of failing)
6. Clinton: $2,821 (High performing)
7. Pearl: $2,713 (High performing)

*I used the 2009 audits because JPS has not provided any more recent audits to the auditor's office and didn't want to get into apples v. oranges. When more recent JPS audits become available, I will update the rankings. Data was taken from audits published by the State Auditor on his website. The information is found on pages 50's and 60's in the audits, after the federal funding table.

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Oh yeah!!!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

whacked out or whacked ....... in Jackson? (ADULT content)

You.can't.make.this.up. Jackson apparently made the pages of TMZ:

A dude who worked at an Abercrombie & Fitch store claims the company referred him to a modeling agent who got him to strip down and masturbate in order to take "relaxed" photos -- this according to a new lawsuit obtained by TMZ.

Benjamine Bowers alleges in the suit he worked at an A & F store last year, when the company's casting director referred him to a modelling agent named Brian Hilburn. According to the complaint, Hilburn got Benjamine to fly to Jackson, Mississippi for a photo shoot.

The suit claims during the June 17, 2011 shoot, Hilburn convinced Benjamine that he needed to display a relaxed look for his modeling portfolio, and the best way of achieving that look was to masturbate in front of the camera, so the photog could capture his expression immediately after orgasm. And for good measure, Hilburn allegedly told him the drill was to do the whole thing in the buff.

Benjamine says he was a trooper and took matters into his own hands during the shoot. But Ben says after he masturbated, Hilburn exposed himself and commented on the relative size of their penises.

Benjamine feels used and believes the photos were never intended to help his career ... but just to give Hilburn a cheap thrill.
" Article

Ya think? Of course, he was dumb enough to perform said act in front of Mr. Hilburn (allegedly) so we shouldn't be surprised at his um, gullibility.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dr. Smith is still, well, Dr. Smith.

The state medical board renewed Dr. Smith's medical license recently. Charlie Smith reported in the Greenwood Commonwealth:

"Dr. Arnold Smith has renewed his medical license for another year, even as he sits behind bars on murder charges.

It had been set to expire on June 30 but is now extended through June 30, 2013, according to records from the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure.

The board held a hearing regarding the Greenwood oncologist on May 29 in Ridgeland. Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said he received a subpoena from the board requiring the presence of Smith, who is being held without bond at the county jail.

Banks said he arranged for security in Madison County at the hearing. It was held at 4:30 p.m., after office workers there had gone home, Banks said. The sheriff said he didn’t know the results.

Dr. Vann Craig, executive director of the Board of Medical Licensure, said no formal action has been taken by the board and that Smith’s license is active through 2013.

“Until such time as we have something solid, the board has no dog in this hunt,” Craig said.

When asked if Smith could resume practicing medicine freely if he was released from jail, Craig said, “The answer to your question basically is yes.”

All physician licenses are renewed online, he said. Doctors pay a $200 renewal fee with a credit card, he said.

State law says the Board of Medical Licensure can take disciplinary action against a doctor for unprofessional conduct, professional incompetency or if the physician has been disciplined by hospital or a local, regional, state or national medical association. It can also take action based on mental or physical disability.

Doctors under investigation are entitled to a hearing and can appeal the decision in chancery court.

Smith has been investigated before but never punished. For example, a complaint filed last summer questioning Smith’s mental competency was dismissed.

William Bell of Ridgeland, Smith’s lead attorney, could not be reached for comment this morning..."

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German companies forming a new educational system in America?

Can the Germans teach Mississippi something about education? The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday German manufacturers in American are implementing apprenticeship programs as the American educational system is doing a poor job of producing skilled workers:

"Tenn.—Germany's transplant-factories, like the sprawling Volkswagen AG complex here, aren't just cranking out cars, machinery and chemicals. They're also bringing a German training system that could help narrow America's skilled labor gap.

Volkswagen, whose auto factory will graduate its first class of U.S. apprentices next year, is one of dozens of companies introducing training that combine German-style apprenticeships and vocational schooling.

These worker training programs are winning U.S. adherents as manufacturers grapple with a paradox: Though unemployment remains stuck above 8%, companies can't find enough machinists, robotics specialists and other highly skilled workers to maintain their factory floors. An estimated 600,000 skilled, middle-class manufacturing jobs remain unfilled nationwide, even as millions of Americans search for work.

"We've learned it is better to build our own workforce instead of just relying on the market," said Hans-Herbert Jagla, Volkswagen's human resources chief at its one-year-old Chattanooga plant. The German car maker has launched a three-year apprenticeship program to ensure it has skilled workers to maintain and troubleshoot the car maker's high-tech robotics and assembly line systems.

Companies and federal and state policy makers have begun taking a closer look at programs at VW, Siemens AG and BMW. All have joined forces with community colleges to train workers in machining, welding and maintaining high-tech gear.

In Charleston, S.C., where German auto-parts and engineering firm Robert Bosch GmbH has run an apprenticeship program since the 1970s, aluminum products maker JW Aluminum, aerospace and industrial equipment maker Eaton Corp., engineering company ITT Corp. and nearly a dozen other U.S. companies have set up apprenticeship programs in the past few years with Trident Technical College, Bosch's partner.

"There is not a company I've spoken to that isn't interested in the concept," said Mitchell Harp, Trident's director of apprenticeship programs, who adds that the Bosch program has come to be seen as "the gold standard" in the area. "It is really a question of how to get it into the budget."

n March, Northern Virginia officials visited Siemens and other companies in Germany to explore how they could forge similar skills-building programs with local companies and local schools. White House and Education Department officials also have inquired about a high school skills-training program that German engine maker Tognum AG plans to launch this fall in South Carolina, where it operates a manufacturing plant.

"In the U.S. we've evolved to the point where we think the only thing people should strive for is a four-year college education, and factory work is seen as dirty, dangerous and repetitive," said Tom Duesterberg, executive director of the Aspen Institute's Manufacturing and Society in the 21st century program. "In Germany, the work that is done on the factory floor and prepared by its vocational education system is highly valued."

In Germany, nearly two-thirds of the country's workers are trained through partnerships among companies, technical schools and trade guilds. Last year, German companies took on and trained nearly 600,000 paid apprentices. The schools provide theoretical lessons on the side, while trade unions help ensure training is standardized.

In the U.S., such close cooperation doesn't often exist. Another stumbling block has been companies' fear of spending on training, only to see apprentices go elsewhere. Siemens spends approximately $165,000 an apprentice in its new three-year mechatronics training program in Charlotte, N.C. (KF note: Solution: Contract with non-compete clause).

But where apprenticeship programs are reaching a critical mass, U.S. companies have joined. At Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, where some 200 German firms have nearby operations, 18 companies participate in company-tailored apprentice partnerships. Most are European, but a few, such as U.S. bearings maker Timken Co., TKR also take part.

Carolina CAT, a Charlotte, N.C., heavy equipment distributor, last year launched a service technician training program loosely modeled on the German companies' apprenticeships. It sponsors students for 12 months of custom-tailored courses at the college followed by eight weeks of hands-on training at Carolina CAT. When the first class graduates later this year, students are likely to get full-time jobs at the company.

"American companies are beginning to realize they have a part in creating a more reliable supply of skilled workers," said Tony Zeiss, Central Piedmont's president.

The training programs aren't necessarily expensive, said Jörg Klisch, vice president of Tognum's North American operations. The German engine maker is targeting high-school students unlikely to pursue a higher degree. It provided the local school district with a two-year curriculum to train six students this fall as industrial mechanics in its vocational center.

The only cost to Tognum will be the several hours a week it pays students for hands-on work starting at $8 an hour. "We think we've found the missing link in the education system between high school and starting college," Mr. Klisch said.

Companies such as Volkswagen warn that without training its own skilled workers, they may struggle to expand. The car maker should know: As it ramped up production to meet growing demand for its U.S.-produced Passat this year, it needed a nationwide advertising campaign to fill 100 of the more specialized new jobs at the plant, including those for maintenance technicians and manufacturing engineers.

"We can't just limit ourselves to this region," VW's Mr.Jagla said. "It is too hard to find enough people."

Its apprenticeship program is a backup plan to ensure it has enough skilled workers for future plant expansions. About two dozen students join the program each year, then toggle between on-site classroom and on-the job training, while getting paid a starting $10 an hour.

One recruit was 28-year-old Brian Burton, who joined the program last year. When they graduate in 2014, he and his brother Mark will have Volkswagen job offers—likely in skilled maintenance jobs starting at $22 an hour—as well as technical diplomas from Chattanooga State Community College. "It's not an education we can get anywhere else," Mr. Burton said."

I'm just curious. With all of our "community" colleges in Mississippi, do we have any such programs?

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Help this mutt.

Meet Annie. She needs a new home. She is one year old, has had all of her shots, and is a 60 lb American Bulldog.  Very sweet disposition.  Please contact me at if you are interested in adopting her. She is NOT, I repeat NOT, a pit bull.

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The silly season begins

Let the Youtube wars in the Presidential race commence. How things have changed. Once a novelty, now Youtube is a way of life for campaigns. Here are two videos released by the two sides this week:

While Priorities Action USA, some Super PAC 501c 1099 1003 mega godzilla group released this anti-Romney ad:

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Another nail in the Old Capitol Green coffin

The board of directors for the Hinds County Department of Economic Development voted 8-2 on May 30 to recommend the county reject a $17 million loan request from Old Capitol Green developer Full Spectrum. Full Spectrum planned to finance the construction of a parking garage for the project with the loan. However, the company did not submit required financial documents to the county as requested for over six months. The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to extend the loan to Full Spectrum.

Old Capital Green is a mixed-use development that is supposed to be environmentally friendly. The Mississippi Development Authority provided $20 million in funds originating from bonds to Hinds County. Hinds County in turn has the authority to lend the money to Full Spectrum to build the parking garage. Its not just any parking garage either - 800 spaces with robots.

Full Spectrum representative Malcolm Sheppard requested $13 million from the county earlier this year but increased the request to $17 million in May. He said the Jackson Redevelopment Authority suggested Full Spectrum obtain the additional $4 million from Hinds County instead of borrowing it from JRA. Mr. Sheppard said JRA would then purchase the garage after the new market tax credit period expired. Mr. Sheppard said consolidating the two loans into one loan would be cheaper for his company. No work has begun on the project although Full Spectrum said construction will begin in August.

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted in May to send a letter to MDA requesting the money to loan to Full Spectrum. However, the board stated in the resolution it would only do so if the developer provided the requested financial documents. The financial documents were commitment letters from prospective tenants as well as tax returns and audited financial statements for the last three years*. Sources tell JJ Full Spectrum provided letters of interest (which are not commitment letters) and other financial documents to HCDED. However, the agency declined to recommend approval of the request after further review of the financial statements. It is not known whether Full Spectrum did not present all of the documents or if the financial condition of the company withstood review by the board. The board discussed the project for over an hour in executive session before it voted to send a letter to Hinds County attorney Crystal Martin stating its recommendation.

Online records for the tax collector do not show Full Spectrum owns any property in Hinds County. Full Spectrum representative Malcolm Shepperd told the Supervisors Full Spectrum provided the financial documents to the Jackson Redevelopment Authority. However, sources at JRA and public records requests reveal no such documents were ever submitted to JRA.

*Audited financial statements are balance sheets and income statements provided by a CPA.

Old Capital Green Update
Old Capital Green needs mo' money but has no papers
Old Capital Green has not provided financial records
December Old Capital Green discussion at Hinds BOS on video

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The carnage continues at the Times-Picayune

Blood flowed through the presses in New Orleans yesterday as Newhouse fired, oops, I meant laid off, retired, whatever cute corporate buzzword you want to use, over 200 employees yesteday. Some of the cuts just plain make no sense whatsoever. Peter Finney. PETER FINNEY!!! One of the premier sports columnists in the country and the patron saint of well, the Saints. Then there is Brett Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic. Yup, he's gone. Why a newspaper would want a food critic for a city such as New Orleans is beyond me but hey, that just me. Mafiosos and politicians in the crescent city will rejoice as the newsroom was literally cut in half but the ritalin generation need not worry- the features and sports sections were spared the worst damage.

The Gambit Weekly provides the details on the massacre:

"He was just one of more than 200 Times-Picayune employees who were told today that their services would no longer be required as of Sept. 30. Eighty-four of the cuts came from the newsroom staff, which numbered 169 — a 49 percent cut.

Besides the newsroom slashing, the paper's entire marketing department was fired save one person. All special sections employees, the library staff and human resources employees were also presented with severance papers.

Naturally the corporate cowards were nowhere to be found as the perfumed princes left it to the local editors to deliver the news:

"No one from Advance Publications or Newhouse, the parent companies of The Times-Picayune, was on hand to deliver the news — leaving the job to the paper's editors in brief individual meetings with those whom they supervised. The paper's new publisher, Ricky Mathews, was not seen in the building..."

Leslie Hurst would be proud. Then to add insult to injury, those given reprieves, well, there are a few conditions to staying on at the new

"Those who were invited to stay with the newly christened NOLA Media Group, which will oversee and the thrice-weekly Times-Picayune, now have two weeks to decide whether to accept the "conditional offer" (which includes a background check and drug testing) or opt for severance. Several of those who spoke to Gambit tonight said the offer didn't include even the most basic details of the new jobs, down to whom they would be reporting or what their specific duties would be under the NOLA Media Group..."

Yup. Work there ten years, a body of work to examine, and its not good enough. Pee in the cup and let us check your credit, work history be damned. Then there is the way they "retired" Peter Finney:

"Among the most serious botches:'s original story about the firings said, "Among the more notable names leaving the paper are award-winning restaurant critic Brett Anderson and longtime sports columnist Peter Finney." This came as news to Finney's family, as Finney had not yet had his meeting with sports editor Doug Tatum — and was said to be at home composing his latest column when news of his firing appeared.

It was later clarified that Finney would indeed be retiring, but contributing a column on a freelance basis — as would longtime society columnist Nell Nolan, whose alliterative prose and copious Living section real estate had been sacrosanct under former publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. Parents of debutantes and other social notables, it was said, would be encouraged to submit their own fete photos for online publication

Peter, don't give the pricks the satisfaction of publishing your work. I'm sure The Advocate, Gambit, or another publication would be happy to pay you for your services if you are forced to free-lance and would probably show you more appreciation. If this is the future of news, heaven help us. Here is the rest of the article, its well worth reading.

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WJNT this morning

John Reeves appeared on WJNT this morning to discuss the Jackson-Stokes fight last week. Then Clarence Bowles called in at 8:30 AM and wow. Just listen to him. "Want a stroke, vote for Stokes" he said. Then the last ten minutes I discussed the JPS tax increase. Enjoy. Oh, and Reeves said on a direct question from me he would run for the House in the new Madison district.

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Shoreline Committee votes to give extension to Burwell

The Shoreline Committee voted unanimously Monday to grant an extension to Harborwalk developer John Burwell on the requirement he "take down" a parcel at Main Harbour. However,the committee only granted him a thirty-day extension. The committee stated it would grant him the extension requested if he cleaned up the trash that has accumulated at the front of the development. The committee's action still has to be approved by the board of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. No media was present.

Mr. Burwell and none of his representatives appeared at the meeting. Mr. Burwell sent a letter to the committee stating

"As you are aware, the financial markets have not yet opened for projects like Phase I of Harborwalk and we do not have access to funding for Phase I at this time. We continue to explore when and where the market will settle and what prospects exist for financing in the future."

Section e of the invitation for Harborwalk proposals by the district states"

"Commencing with the sixth lease year, at least 20% of the property included in this proposal which remains unleased as of the last day of the fifth lease year must be leased each year in order for the lessee to continue its right to lease the remaining property."

This will be the third consecutive year the district will have granted an extension on the take down requirement to Mr. Burwell. Mr. Burwell will pay an extension fee of $65,000. Several committee members justified their votes by stating Mr. Burwell was paying the district $600,000 a year and there were no other developers seeking to take over the project. The discussion lasted all of eight minutes before the board went into executive session to discuss proposals by Mr. Burwell to lease certain parcels to other parties. The committee returned to vote to grant the extension.

Earlier post with copies of leases

Editorial from a year ago:

The Reservoir should be the crown jewel of the Jackson metro area. John Burwell came along more than eight years ago with grandiose plans to develop Main Harbor. Five-star hotels. Condos. Restaurants. Water taxis. A true Ridgeland or Redneck Riviera, depending on your point of view. Keep in mind this was back in 2003, before any credit crunch. The problem was his plans called for financing of nine figures. Yup, $100 million, $200 million, $500 million depending on which news story you were reading. Mr. Burwell would say he had financing and then it would never materialize. He told the media once they were going to start construction on Harborwalk as he had finally obtained financing only to admit later in the story the loan had not actually closed.

Mr. Burwell is not broke nor is he out of money. However, it is my opinion he does not have the money to get this project off of the ground nor will he be able to obtain the financing needed to bring his plans to reality. I don't think Mr. Burwell is a scam artist. What I do think is Mr. Burwell is a developer who is in over his head and unable to develop Main Harbor. This may be news to Mr. Burwell, but I am allowed to have an opinion and stating an opinion is not spreading "misinformation".

The District is in a pickle. The board members don't want strip malls but they don't like the status quo either. Mr. Burwell has not missed a payment and does have a cash flow generated by slip rentals. Mr. Burwell and several committee members stated there were no other proposals from other developers to "do anything" with Main Harbor. Now that is where the rub is.

Commercial developers just don't show up to bid on a project. A developer would spend at least fifty to one hundred thousand dollars for a study on developing Main Harbor. There is no way a developer is going to spend that kind of money when the District does not make it aware they will consider other proposals. Thus the board is in a catch-22: it needs Burwell's cash flow but also wants the property properly developed. The District should take a long look at making it known it will consider other proposals at least several months before the extension expires so interested developers will have time to offer alternate proposals. Perhaps David Watkins could work out a deal where Jackson annexes the Reservoir and the Legislature gives him some super-duper retroactive to 1800 tax credits that would allow him to develop Main Harbor and lease it back to Jackson. Better yet, the state can eminent domain the property and build Ed Morgan's Taj Mahal right there in Main Harbor. Revenooers on the Reservoir. Has a nice ring to it. Heck, if state money is involved, Joe Waggoner and Carl Ray Furr will study the site to death as they generate invoice after invoice. I just knew the Reservoir was an untapped gold mine.

All kidding aside, it might be time for the District to open things back up to other developers so it can find a way out of this impasse. This project has literally been dead in the water for eight years. While Mr. Burwell has built new docks and wants to develop Main Harbor, it is time to ask what indeed is best for the Reservoir area and what can be done to get the development of Main Harbor back on track. It doesn't matter who develops Main Harbor but instead that it is indeed developed.

Uh-oh, Bumblin' Burwell is back
Harborwalk: Hoax or folly?
Harborwalk Update September 2010
Is there a Harborwalk?
Harborwalk: Here we go again.
Today is the day

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JPS issues press release on finances

And JPS sends out this press release:

Jackson Public School District Begins Discussions On the Upcoming School Year Budget

The leadership of the Jackson Public School District met with the Budget Committee of the Jackson City Council June 11, 2012, to begin dialogue regarding the District's proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year, which starts July 1. The City of Jackson traditionally will not complete its budget process and notify the public of the millage structure and its effect on the tax levy until September of each year.

General Overview and Focus

Each year, as required by law, the District presents to the City of Jackson a budget request, in dollars, and the City is required to set the appropriate millage and levy the taxes that will produce the amount requested by the District. The 2012-2013 school year will require support from taxes for an operating budget of approximately $69,200,000, plus a debt service budget of approximately $17,108,000. Significant steps have been taken this school year to streamline administrative costs and overhead that will have a positive impact on the District's reserve fund this year and in future years. The District anticipates, however, that the 2012-2013 school year budget may require a millage increase to meet the debt service obligations for the $150,000,000 bonds for various school projects that were overwhelmingly approved by citizens of Jackson back in 2006. The millage assessed has not produced the amount of revenue required to make these debt payments. Instead, for several years, the additional funds required to meet debt service obligations were appropriated, in part, from the District's reserve fund.

Background Regarding the $150 Million Referendum and Debt Service

In November 2006, a $150 million bond referendum was approved overwhelmingly (81%) by Jackson voters. In voting for the bond referendum, voters approved any required tax increase through 2028 to support several major projects. Millage for debt service purposes was expected to incrementally increase by up to 9 mills over this period. The projects included the following:

Classroom additions for five elementary schools,
An elementary/middle school complex (Bates/Cardozo) and Kirksey Middle School,
Replacement of two aging middle schools - Peeples and Blackburn,
Athletic fieldhouses at five high schools,
$28 million in capital improvements to schools throughout the city, and
A new elementary school.

Initiatives Taken by the Superintendent and Board of Trustees

As the state and nation endured a major recession soon after the passage of the bond referendum, the District used some of its reserves to pay the bond debt service rather than turning to taxpayers. Combined with significant decreases in state and federal funding to education, the District's reserves have dipped lower than required by state law and District policy, which is 7%. This has placed the District in a position where we may not be able to respond adequately to unforeseen needs in our schools. To restore these reserves and maintain a balanced budget, the District has taken, and will continue to take, appropriate steps including the following:

"Right-sizing" the Administration and Central Office,
Optimizing human and fiscal resources,
Improving oversight of current resources,
Exploring additional revenue streams, and
Identifying internal savings.

District leadership is working collaboratively with Mayor Harvey Johnson, the City Council, and City financial officials to publicly present a plan to ensure that the $150 million bond referendum is retired as originally outlined to the citizens of Jackson. This plan will also allow the District to gradually restore its reserve fund in compliance with State regulations.

As always, the District appreciates the collaboration and strong support of parents, students, taxpayers, the elected leadership, the business community, and all other citizens as we strive to make our public education system a priority and an effective and successful medium to prepare the next generation of Americans.

Board Work Sessions on Budget
Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 4-6 p.m.
School Board Meeting Room
621 South State Street

Public Hearings on Budget
Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 4 p.m.
School Board Meeting Room
621 South State Street

Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 4 p.m.
School Board Meeting Room
621 South State Street

Budget Adoption
Tuesday, June 26, 2012, immediately after the public hearing

I'm just going to make one comment. Dear JPS, considering you have not provided an audit since 2009, some of us just don't believe your claims in this press release.

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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