Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Editorial: The airport belongs to Jackson. Period.

 Collection of all posts on Jackson airport

The brawl over the Jackson municipal airport began several years ago as the airport quietly hummed along in Rankin County, out of sight and out of mind. Jackson Municipal Airport Authority CEO Dirk Vanderleest ran the airport for 35 years. Mayors and Commissioners came and went but Dirk was always there with his steady hands at the helm. Taken for granted he was as the airport continued to be forgotten by those in power.

So ignored was the airport that Mayor Harvey Johnson forgot to replace four commissioners when their terms expired. Such negligence was common to Harvey’s last administration as he repeatedly failed to nominate appointments to boards. Chokwe Lumumba assumed the purple and made it quite clear he was no Mayor who was just happy to get fat and happy.   He took advantage of Harvey’s dereliction of duty and appointed three commissioners to the JMAA board in one day in November 2013. Mayor Lumumba later appointed two more commissioners to the board. 

Mayor Lumumba’s appointments stirred no small amount of interest. Most cities traditionally appoint chamber of commerce-types and pilots to the boards of their respective airport authorities. There was nothing traditional about Mayor Lumumba’s nominations. He appointed a rabble-rousing preacher, a retired MDEQ bureaucrat, a nurse who was also a “radio personality”, and another preacher who also was a lawyer and a CPA.

Change came immediately to JMAA. The new board fired law firm Baker Donelson at its first meeting. Baker Donelson represented JMAA for over twenty years and had a sterling reputation. Such esteem didn’t matter as the new commissioners replaced the white=shoe law firm with attorney John Walker and his firm, the Walker Group. Mr. Walker is the consiglieri and close friend of Congressman Bennie Thompson. The Congressman completed his takeover of JMAA in one board meeting. However, the board hired four months later local political player and attorneys Regina Quinn and her husband, John May. It was whispered that they were hired to do the real work as the other law firm was not really qualified to handle the business of the airport.  The employment of the Walker Group was considered to be a case of the Congressman exacting his tribute.

Such shenanigans would have gone unnoticed but for a disaster that befell the airport in December 2013- the loss of Southwest Airlines. Jackson landed Southwest with the help of Senator Trent Lott and the Wright amendment. The amendment prevented Southwest from establishing long routes from Dallas and forced it to stop at airports within a five state area that included Mississippi. Jackson benefited from these arrangements as it enjoyed nine Southwest flights per day.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer passengers flew out of Jackson on Southwest planes.  The carrier reduced its flights until there were only four flights per day. Unfortunately for Jackson, the load factor continued to fall until it was only 66%. Airlines consider 85% to be a minimum load factor for flights.  However, the final nail in the Southwest coffin we the 2014 expiration of the Wright Amendment. Jackson’s airport was on borrowed time as far as Southwest was concerned. Declining traffic and the expiration of regulations that forced Southwest to use Jackson meant the airline weighed Jackson’s future and Jackson was found to be wanting.

The timing of the decision could not have been worse as it happened to coincide with the appointment of the new board of commissioners. Rightly or wrongly, too many people blamed the  JMAA board for “losing Southwest”. The Southwest loss was felt across central Mississippi. Passengers were forced to pay higher fares as the lower cost carrier left Jackson and the remaining airlines serving Jackson kept prices high as they enjoyed less competition. The business community suffered as travel costs increased. The loss of Southwest affected the economic development of cities as well as they found recruiting industries became more difficult without the availability of lower cost fares. They all have representatives and senators who serve in the Mississippi legislature.  Senator Harkins found a receptive audience among many of his colleagues when he began to discuss his bill.

New board, loss of Southwest, major changes made at the airport. What else could take place, people asked. The unthinkable then happened. The steady hand who had guided the airport for so long announced six months later that he was retiring as CEO of the JMAA. This was the final straw as more than a few people asked what the hell is going on at the airport? More whispers said Mr. Vanderleest was leaving because he had enough of the new board. An airport that was forgotten for decades was suddenly the main topic of conversations in the business community. Politicians suddenly took notice as well. Enter Senator Josh Harkins, a product of Rankin County and a well-respected scion of a political family. He is also a commercial realtor by trade.

Senator Harkins argued that the airport was going down the wrong path and that a correction was needed. He said the Rankin County had no say in how the airport was managed even though the airport is in Rankin County. Passengers were paying more to fly out of Jackson when they could save a great deal of money by flying out of New Orleans or Memphis. The business community was forced to pay higher prices. He argued Jackson ignored others who were dependent on the airport for economic success. The good Senator filed a bill that would increase the board from five to nine members. Jackson, Rankin County, Madison County, the Governor, MDA, the Adjutant General, and Lieutenant Governor would appoint the members although the Governor would approve the nominations submitted by the Jackson city council, Rankin County, and Madison County. The new board would govern Hawkins Field as well although the city of Madison would keep Bruce Campbell field.

Needless to say the fight over the Senator’s proposal exploded in a fury at the legislature as the fight grew racial in nature. The Republicans flexed their muscle as the bill sailed through the Senate and then committee in the House with little changes. The bill made it to the floor of the House where all hell broke loose. The Democrats and Jackson delegation used every trick they knew but they had neither the numbers nor the tools to stop the bill.

That was the history lesson, now for the opinion. JJ opposes the airport “takeover bill”. This correspondent made a point to learn as much as possible about the airport. Despite the amount of coverage on this subject by the media, this correspondent is the only one who has attended the board meetings or read the financial statements.* Hours were spent reading, copying, and posting on this website  the documents from the nineteen boxes that comprise the Baxter Wilson collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in order to give you, the readers, a true idea of how and why the airport was built.

The airport belongs to Jackson. Jackson faced an aviation crisis in the late 1950’s. The oncoming jet age meant Jackson was going to lose its Air National Guard flight squadrons to Meridian and Gulfport airports as Hawkins Field did not have the runways to handle jet airplanes. Commercial airline service for Jackson was also threatened as airlines began to replace their propeller driven planes with jets. City fathers and the business community teamed up to create a new airport. The construction of the airport was a project where politicians and businessmen actually got it right. Jackson actually built an airport without raising taxes or busting the budget.

It simply makes no sense to transfer the airport from Jackson to a regional authority. The airport should stay in Jackson’s hands. JJ makes several observations and recommendations about this fiasco.

1. The airport is Jackson’s property. Jackson spent over $150,000 to purchase land in Rankin County. The federal government provided matching funds.** The CAA (forerunner to FAA) provided $2 million in funds while the military provided funds as well. Jackson sold $3 million of revenue bonds to finance the rest of the project. The initial cost of construction was $8 million.

Keep in mind Jackson purchased the land. Jackson sold the bonds and paid them off as scheduled. Jackson leadership created the project. The Rankin County Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution thanking Jackson for building the airport in Rankin County. It is ironic that Jackson is now penalized for shrewd leadership by politicians who claim Jackson now has lousy leadership. Jackson can’t win for losing. The same Republicans who scream bloody murder over Kelo and passed a constitutional amendment a few years ago can’t wait to snatch away Jackson’s property. They were against it before they were for it.

2. The Jackson airport is making a profit. JMAA earned a profit over $3 million last year. JMAA hasn’t operated in the red even though enplanements are down 20% from several years ago due to the departure of Southwest Airlines. JMAA currently enjoys a cushion of $17 million in unrestricted cash. Mr. Newman has been able to keep costs under budget and improve revenue as it exceeded projections.

Mr. Newman recently unveiled a strategic improvement plan as well as an analysis of the airport’s market and passengers. Mr. Newman shows all the earmarks of a lean and hungry first-time CEO who wants to make a difference. He even appointed a manager for long-neglected Hawkins Field and has said more than $4 million in improvements are coming to the general aviation airport. In other words, the new management team has embarked on a path of growth for Jackson’s airports.

3. A new board will not bring back Southwest Airlines. Senator Harkins claims the loss of Southwest severely impacted the business community as well as the flying public of Mississippi. No argument there. However, Southwest did not leave because of a new board or because gate fees were too high. Southwest left due to basic economics. There was simply not enough demand to make serving the Jackson market profitable for Southwest. A load factor of 66% is still a load factor of 66% and four flights a day is still four flights a day. Southwest can’t conjure profits out of thin air if there are not enough passengers to meet the load factor standard of 85% as well as the costs of maintaining the service. Jackson lost Southwest because the passengers didn’t want Southwest. People can complain about losing Southwest but the reality is Southwest went where it was wanted. A new board simply is not going to bring back Southwest Airlines.

Mr. Newman is trying to bring a lower cost carrier to Jackson but it will be a tough slog to do so. There is currently a pilot shortage among regional carriers. Regional carriers are shedding flights as they are unable to hire enough pilots to service their routes. Republic Airlines filed bankruptcy after it was sued by Delta for this reason. The legislature can mandate what it wants but it will find out that it can’t mandate economics as the Soviets learned.

4. Takeover opponents screamed racism while they hurt themselves with their own racism. They made several critical mistakes even though the facts are on their side. The Jackson First crowd adopted an attitude of “me, me, me”. Not once did they acknowledge that the airport serves other communities. Businesses around the state depend on the airport. Cities and counties use it as a tool for economic development. It never occurred to them that the business community might have its own concerns. Instead of discussing dollars and cents they mainly discussed race. It never crossed their minds that there were concerns by people other than themselves that needed addressing. The Jackson First crowd likes to operate in a cocoon even as that cocoon becomes small and bankrupt.

There are white Republicans in Jackson such as Ashby Foote and Wyatt Emmerich who opposed the takeover but it never occurred to the Jackson First crowd to seek their help as they immediately began playing the race card. They shrieked about racism and Confederate springs as their judgement was clouded by their own racism. They ignored Jackson Republicans and business leaders who might have joined forces with them to fight the takeover. It is more important for this crowd to lose a fight if it works alone than winning a fight by working with whites. They lived by the race card and are apparently willing to die by the race card, just as the whites from the 1960’s did. What was it Nietzsche said about looking into the abyss?

5. The airport fight harmed race relations. Mr. Foote told this correspondent the takeover bill would poison race relations in Jackson. Events have proved him to be right as race relations in Jackson are more polarized than they have been for many years. It gave the race-baiters an emotional issue to use against whites and pushed black politicians who are more moderate and business-friendly into their camp. 

6. The players should have to play. If MDA, the Governor, Rankin County, Madison County, the Power Puff Girls, or even Pufnstuf want to sit on the board, they should have to pay to do so. The bill shifts control and ownership of Jackson’s property to the new board of commissioners. Jackson should be compensated for the loss of its assets. The takeover is nothing short of a loss of property for Jackson.  An appraisal should be made of the value of the airport.  Divide the value by the number of commissioners on the new board.  The final amount should be the value of a seat on the board.  Jackson should receive the funds for each seat that is not appointed by the city. 

It is no secret that Jackson needs a great deal of money. Its needs are many and its resources are few. It can’t raise taxes. The tax base is shrinking. Crumbling infrastructure.  It can’t borrow much money to meet its infrastructure needs. A city’s core services are public health, roads, infrastructure, fire protection, and police services. The operation of the airport is not a core service. The majority of the passengers probably do not even live in Jackson.

It is common in corporate America to cut losses and shed divisions that are not central to a business’s core missions. Jackson has a crown jewel that does not add or subtract one dollar to its bottom line. Jackson should cash out the airport if possible. The airport is a source of pride for Jackson but Jackson needs money right now instead of puffed-up false pride. False pride is the root of many problems and Jackson is no exception. The airport is Jackson’s to sell or leverage but it is still Jackson’s airport.

7. If the legislature does anything, it should change the minimum qualifications to serve on a governing board for an airport. Nashville has the right idea as it requires a mixture of people from areas of construction, tourism, finance, engineering, aviation, and business. Two members must also serve as community representatives. However, takeover opponents refuse to even consider this compromise as they prefer to govern by lowest common denominator in everything they do instead of seeking excellence.  An earlier post showed the differences between JMAA's board and those of other airports.

Make no mistake. The legislature can do to any other city what it is doing to Jackson if it is not stopped. There is nothing stopping good ole boys from swinging their hammers down at the capitol so they can pick and choose which assets to steal from cities and counties across from Mississippi, all in the name of better management. What other local crown jewels will be at risk? Lakes? Airports? Prime pieces of real estate that just happen to be owned by a local government? The airport belongs to Jackson and should stay with Jackson.  If the state wants to take control of the airport, then it should pay to play and that my friends, is the bottom line.  

*One veteran reporter asked me what a claims docket was when we were discussing the airport. He didn’t even know when the commissioners met or that he could attend the meetings. He has written stories on the airport for several years.

**$150,000 in 1960 dollars would be worth approximately $1.5 million today.


Anonymous said...

of course they are making money there idea to increase revenue to stay in the black is to raise the rates. a quick comparison of parking where it is $14 a day in Jackson is as follows:

Monroe $8
Baton Rouge $7
Mobile $9
Little Rock $10
Chattanooga $9

They also raised the prices on private planes, landing fees for airlines, etc. It is not that they are cutting costs or running the airport better they are raising fees and at the same time driving people out of the market.

And the answer of the new manager is to build a new garage for rental cars and attract a hotel? Give me a break..

I dont know one person that is happy with the Jackson airport and enjoys flying out of there.

Sometimes takeover has to happen whether it is right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes takeover has to happen whether it is right or wrong."

So the people taking over will run it the exact same way?

Anonymous said...

Jackson should sell the airport and use the money to fix the city. That will never happen. Selling the airport is a possibility but using the money to fix Jackson is not going to happen. Too many politicians and their friends will have to pocket their share. Their share will be 100% of the price of the airport.
Jackson is between a rock and a hard place. If they don't sell they will lose control of the airport. If they do sell the money will disappear into the pockets of the politicians.

Anonymous said...

I love flying out of JAN. It's easy. Yeah, it's expensive for personal travel, but when I am flying on company dime, it's painless.

Anonymous said...

@2:38. I enjoy flying out the Jackson Airport. I find it far more enjoyable than a number of other airports.

Anonymous said...

Best post I've read by a local news outlet in memory. Excellent. Really exceptional.

I admit I passed on reading those old posts about the airport when you put them up. But, a little over a week ago, I committed to reading them. I realized that as much as I may want to bemoan the board, the airport was Jackson's investment. Your last point about changing qualifications is the only thing I could come to when trying to reconcile what to do. But I realized the Harkins' bill was not the right solution.

Anonymous said...

If you check into O'hare (Chicago) airport, you would pay untold sums of $ to board in Jackson instead. There is a lot that can be said for being a smaller airport.

Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding Jackson's barriers, it wouldn't be too difficult to assemble percentage ratios of Jackson's airport compared to others. The real estate is useless, if it is not being used productively. An example would be a convenience store in a bad location the owner wants to sell for real estate value when the income won't support the price. It may be a good location for a dress shop, but alas the dress shop income won't support the value the seller has placed on it. The airport income won't support astronomical values either. I'm sure Senator Harkins has already put a pencil and slide rule to this element. Jackson politicians/administration couldn't manage a one car funeral. Hopefully Harkin's bill/ideas will become fruition, and result in a turnaround, for the state and metropolitan area.

Anonymous said...

1) Can the new board change the name of the airport. To me that looks like "welcome to Mississippi, where we keep racism alive and well because we wont let the past be the past".

2) I propose we have 2-3 board members from each adjacent servicing county, Rankin, Madison, Hinds. We are all in this together.

Anonymous said...

Lot's of heavy lifting went into this post. Thanks for doing the research and writing it!

John Parker said...

This article is an amazingly well written piece of work backed up with well documented research, impeccable logic, and hard facts. It is hard to argue with the conclusions and findings that you came up with based on the quality and amount of research, document reviews and historical documentation that you source, which are phenomenal. You have shown the airport takeover argument from a logical and fact based perspective and removed most if not all of the outrage, venom, and feral passion that has tainted the arguments for and against. Simply put, you nailed it and your conclusions make sense and I agree with you. This is, always has been and should remain Jackson's airport. While you and your blog are often derided, I believe that you are truly one of the most gifted journalists, bloggers, researchers, writers in the metro today and much of your research, writing and articles are head and shoulders above most of the media reports published, heard, aired, or seen in the market. Well done and continued success. I look forward to reading more of Jackson Jambalaya. John Parker, 16 WAPT News Assignment Editor

Anonymous said...

Please elaborate on the non-racial factors in #4.

John Pittman Hey said...

Kingfish, thanks so much for articulating a moral and ethical position in this sorry matter. You are exactly right, it's Jackson's property, and the legislature is basically stealing it from the city.

Republicans are supposed to be all about respecting property rights, etc., but partisanship requires neither side to ever admit when the other side is right. It's really sad to see it come to this.

Anonymous said...

...that Jackson is now penalized for shrewd leadership by politicians who claim Jackson now has lousy leadership.

Are you saying today's claim that Jackson has lousy leadership is without substantiation?

Jackson has lousy political leadership. Absolutely terrible, corrupt, incompetent leadership and it isn't getting better, it is getting worse.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Very well researched.

Anonymous said...

So when the City of Jackson totally f*%ks up the operation of O.B. Curtis -- and they are headed right now in that very direction -- which provides potable water for so much of the metro area you'll produce a heap of historical research to "prove" ownership, step back and editorialize that O.B. Curtis is Jackson's to operate as poorly as Jackson is capable even if that means an impaired water supply for hundreds of thousands of people?

Anonymous said...

Now I know why WAPT newscasts are so windy.

Anonymous said...

Great job on the airport JJ. I agree with everything you wrote.

Kingfish said...

I would submit to you that Curtis has been operating under direct city management for decades. Draw your own conclusion between the two facilities.

Anonymous said...

Will you oppose a state takeover of O.B. Curtis Kingfish should the City of Jackson prove incapable of operating the facility?

Anonymous said...


1. Unfortunately, race was going to become a factor in the takeover when the current board consists of 5 Blacks appointed by the Mayor (black) and the City Council (majority black). Also, the law firms representing JMAA are 2 black law firms. Even Harkins himself stated that his initial drafted legislation gave Jackson no appointments to the regional board (correct me if I am mistaken). Ultimately, Harkins' Senate Bill only proposed 1 appointment by the Mayor and 1 appointment by the City Council. If Harkins wanted to minimize the racial aspects of this process, he should have met with the Mayor of Jackson and the City Council to discuss the proposal. I have not seen any reporting that indicated that Harkins reached out to the Mayor or City Council before the legislation was proposed in the Senate.

2. I don't think this JMAA legislation was Harkins' idea. This proposed legislation came from either the Governor or Lt. Governor's office, Harkins was just the straw man to propose it in the Senate. You can have a regional board without the Governor and Lt. Governor having appointments to the Commission. There is no justification for the proposed regional board having appointments by the Governor and Lt. Governor.

3. Why do the qualifications for an airport board in the JMAA legislation have to be limited to the Jackson airport? If those qualifications are good enough for the Jackson airport commission, then those qualifications should be applied across the board to all airports in MS.

Anonymous said...


To your post @ 4:21, there in lies the problem. There is one commonality between both issues and it is the city-lack of- leadership in both areas. How long do you think you should let a problem lie before doing something about it? You either bitch about a problem and nobody is doing anything about it or somebody has the balls to take a little shit and do something about it and you still complain. What is it that people say about leadership- it is addressing a problem and coming up with a solution. Sen. Harkins' bill does not take away any of the spoils of ownership. NOT ONE CENT. And if Jackson does not own it, then whom will receive the tax revenue? I defy you to show me where Jackson does not. They will have a majority of the board members and 100% of the revenue that it currently enjoys. Oh, the appointees wont be black? who is being racist now? the only requirement is that you have some expertise and experience to be on the board. It does not say only whitey!

I am for the bill and I hope that this will be the start of something good for Jackson. BTW it will still be Jackson Evers Airport!

Anonymous said...

Good analysis KF. Only factor that I would add that came into play causing the Harkins bill is the development of the parkway on the east side of the airport. Prior to JMAA/Rankin County building this road, there was a lot of land that had no access except to the runways, and therefore limited, specific commercial value.

With the completion of the Parkway, there was all of a sudden a lot of new property in the Dogwood area available for commercial development. Amazing coincidence that this happened at the same time folks from Rankin County wanted to jump into the pool? I don't think so.

Not that this was the reason - it just goes along with all the other points you include. What I don't understand is how so-called conservative Republicans (which I consider myself to be) can stand by and think that this is good legislation - the taking of private property 'just because we think we can' - knowing that the result will be years of attorney fees on both sides with no benefit to anyone except the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Where in the bill is the taking of private property spelled out 4:58?

Anonymous said...

Is it working good now? Will more govt intrusion make it better? Probably not. Never has. Leave it alone.

4:58 here said...

Let's see. If I own something - but you control what I do with it, when, and how - in my opinion you have taken that private property from me. Yes, it might still be in my name, but if I want to graze my cattle on it but you want to put in catfish ponds, then my ability to use my private property is no longer mine. And once you build those ponds, the catfish industry goes to hell, then all I have is a bunch of four-foot deep ponds that are dried up in gumbo. Can't even put my cattle back on them after you f**k it up.

That's where I say that the bill 'takes private property' - Jackson's property.

Anonymous said...

Where's that guy who posts the long yawn?

Rainbows and unicorns said...

OK 2:54. You think Jackson should "sell the airport". Last time I read this bill there was nothing mentioned about anyone buying. They are just taking.

Not that it was a good solution, but there was an amendment in the legislature to 'sell' the airport to the state and it was voted down on the same vote that was to take it away.

Wishing and dreaming create pots of gold at the end of many rainbows. But it is rare that those pots of gold ever solve any problems. Thanks for playing, though.

Anonymous said...

Very good analysis except for one major point that was left out. ONLY the FAA can take control of the airport away from Jackson. This is why the last I heard of the Harknins legislation it states the board takeover will happen after the FAA approves it. Unless Jackson agrees to the state takeover, and Jackson will not, this legislation will be in the court for years and stands no chance of being approved by the FAA. I am told that Senator Cochran's office met with FAA representatives and was told there would be no transfer of control approved by the FAA. Whoever posted that this is a bill to make some lawyers rich and accomplish nothing in the end. I agree with Asby Foote that this bill has done nothing except deliver a devastating blow to race relations in the state. It has caused a racial discord that is going to be almost impossible to repair.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is how so-called conservative Republicans (which I consider myself to be) can stand by and think that this is good legislation - the taking of private property 'just because we think we can' - knowing that the result will be years of attorney fees on both sides with no benefit to anyone except the lawyers.

Bingo. I'm a conservative republican too, and I'm sick to death of crooked politicians, and I'm sick of their cronies. They get their bread buttered and couldn't care less about anyone else's, including yours and mine.
Now that this a done deal, I'm sure we'll soon find out who is going to get rich at our expense.. next.
Go home, Phil. Go home, Tate. I thought Haley was bad but you two are even worse. SMDH.

Anonymous said...

https://www.uspark.net/coupons ,just across the street from New Orleans Int'l and Southwest Airlines, covered parking, free shuttle to terminal and $4/day x 5 for first time user.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, it's not private property. But, on the other hand this is nothing more than a power grab by politicians that live in Rankin County: Feel, Tater, and Frog Harkins.

Anonymous said...

No, show us 5:51 where it says it in the bill language.

Anonymous said...

KINGFISH: Don't duck. Will you oppose a state takeover of O.B. Curtis should the City of Jackson prove incapable of operating the facility?

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative republican too...

Are you a registered Republican?

Anonymous said...

Sorry 7:14, this is not 'a done deal' yet. And once it is, assuming it will be, it will take several years to find out who is going to get rich at our expense, other than the lawyers. After several years in court, its likely that the airport management will be right where it is today, except for much worse race relations within our Capitol City and Metro Area.

For all those leaders that fell into line on this deal, thinking that all the "republicans east of Clinton" will like this - stand back and watch. There are several republicans that think this deal stinks to high heaven and is being done for all the wrong reasons and no good ones.

Besides all the points made by KF above, the amazing thing is that Harkins - in all his Rankin County wisdom - has never been able to articulate a reason for this move that holds even an ounce of water.

Anonymous said...

Jackson should get a seat on the board of the rez, strawberry park and the Madison airport. And should probably ask about Livingston. I'm sure there are Jackson folks going to the Livingston concerts. Don't Jacksonians hang out at the Ridgeland parks? Time to give them board seats.

Lots of Jacksonians support the M-Braves and Trustmark Park. Jackson is about to have plenty of residents on metro-area boards.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen so much faith in a bunch of inept folks running the city of Jackson. OB Curtis, list any other entity the city is in charge of and the fact that the city is going down the tubes, what better way than getting some surrounding areas involved in helping a struggling airport.

Face the facts Fish, it can't be ANY worse. Competencey trumps the corrupt system in place now.

Also, 5 of 9 are going to be City of Jackson residents. Does it matter how or who appoints them? Seriously.

One other question for all the "Taking" theorist, who will own the airport now? Please do tell, will it be Madison, Rankin, Trump or maybe Robert Gray? I am curious.

Anonymous said...

Jackson is about to have plenty of residents on metro-area boards.

Jackson is POWERLESS in the Legislature.

Do you piss into the wind?

Anonymous said...

No 8:30. Nobody in Mississippi is a Registered Republican. If you think you are, you are just dumb. Everybody in Mississippi is legally an Independent. You are free to declare yourself whatever you like, but as to 'registered' you and I are both Independents.

Anonymous said...

9:02 - I don't give a damn if it will be any worse or any better than it is now. Just because you don't like how it is done doesn't mean you have the right to take it over and show whether you can do better or not.

If it was "to get the surrounding areas in to help" it would be appropriate if they were 'asked' to do so. Just taking it because its there doesn't make you any better than the thugs you like to talk about that - according to you and your friends here on JJ - are roaming Jackson. But they are appropriately labeled as criminals because they are taking other people's property without permission.

Sounds a little hypocritical when you think it is ok for you or others (the gubment) to take it just because you think you can do a better job of managing it. Those thugs that are stealing the flatscreens think that they can watch better shows on them but they are still crooks.

Anonymous said...

8:20 - yep. It exists. A private company built it on land they either leased or owned. If you want to open up a similar facility next to JAN, you are free to do so if you think the traffic in and out of JAN would justify it.

That is private enterprise at its best. It has no connection with NOLA airport.

Anonymous said...

8:29 - DONT DUCK. Will you support a City of Jackson takeover of the Ross Barnett Reservoir since it is the source of water feeding the O B Curtis plant?

Anonymous said...

Show us 9:28 where anything is taken in the bill language. Loser.

Anonymous said...

Well-written piece. Well-managed airport. Poorly-managed legislation. Isn't it amazing how it always, always swirls toward Benny Thompson? But that's like asking "isn't it amazing that so many can be so bamboozled for so long?" Thompson+Mississippi= one bamboozled state at the bottom of the list every, single year. But we do make good biscuits!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an exemplary article. Should the bill pass, I suggest there will be a deafening silence. No lawsuits, no nothing. The FAA will only transfer an operating certificate when requested by the certificate holder. The certificate holder is either JMAA and/or City of Jackson. They will not ever transfer the certificate unless paid or extorted to do so. The bill amendment which abolishes the JMAA only after transfer of the certificate was Harkins way of saving face. His bill was so poorly crafted it would have forced years of litigation except for the amendment...and heaven forbid he acknowledge the mistake after everyone engaged on the topic. No, the JMAA will continue operating the airport until state "leaders" find a way to make Jackson/JMAA want to transfer it. But more likely we'll all just go back to sleep....

Anonymous said...

Me thinks KF knows how the worm is going to turn and thus the "Editorial".

Let us know KF, but not holding our breath, when you'll offer an "Editorial" opinon whether you'll oppose a state takeover of O.B. Curtis should the City of Jackson prove incapable of operating the facility?

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the anonymous individual is that is so fascinated with the O B Curtis water plant, but thus far, I have not seen any legislation filed by anyone to take it over. So I'm not sure why KF needs to state his opinion on the hypothetical proposition that 9:59 has asked some several times now.

Go get Harkins or someone else to file your bill, let it go through the legislative process, and then I will join with you in encouraging KF to state his opinion. In the meantime, shut the fuck up. Go back to sucking your thumb, or whatever digit it is that suits your fancy.

Anonymous said...

9:53 -the bill language abolishes the existing JMAA board. Without the board, then the current board members have had their position taken away. If their position is taken away, then their authority is taken away. It abolishes the board that is appointed by the Mayor, according to current law. Because the Mayor no longer has the authority to name all members of the Board, and replaces it with one member, then the bill language by definition takes away four members (and of course with it, although not in "THE BILL LANGUAGE" the ability to manage its own property.

Because the JMAA has the control over 2000 acres of property that is owned by the City of Jackson that is not within the airport, and the city does not decide who manages their property, the bill "takes away" the control over the land owned by the City.

If you don't think that the language of the bill 'takes away' something through this process - lets see you scream if the bank that has the mortgage on your trailer decides it wants to change the language and decide who gets to live in your trailer. Bet you would decide that not controlling your trailer would be defined as taking it away.

Kingfish said...

The bill transfers the assets from the old board to the new board but I suspect you already knew that and are just trolling.

Anonymous said...

KF - I'm sure Josh has a friend or two on here trolling for him and trying to carry his water. Anybody that can't read the bill and understand that the language takes something away isn't too smart anyway, or is just hardheaded. Maybe its the same person that keeps asking whether you are for taking away the Curtis water plant. Same mentality.

1 Jaxkson said...

JJ, I hope you read this..

This was actually a well written blog. I'm shocked that you would go on a limb and tell the truth against many of the same cronies who give you money to fund this site. I'll give the article a 93% in accuracy. There's a couple things I would ad clear the record....

1) you are absolutely right. it's a power grab. everyone knows it weather they wanna admit it or not. a new board doesn't change the administration or the opperation structure. they can't bring back SW and let's be serious --Allegiant needs to keep those broke-ass planes where they are. JAN would do better with Spirit but the current administration can't pick up the phone and get another airline here because they are all black and don't have that kind of pull. Blacks won't admit that.

2) part of the reason SW was at 66% was because most of their fleet are 737s. You're not gonna fill those planes up at JAN. That's their fault. not all Jackson's. they don't have smaller planes to accommodate our small numbers like the big 3 do. Consequently you had 10-20 people riding on planes that can ride 200+

3) you are spot on again when it comes to the race issue. many republicans are against this. most are silent because of fear but jackson completely ignored the ones who are vocal. had they been more willing to work with them, we wouldn't have this nasty division. that being said, you are also actually playing down the race issue from the other side. the rankin county cartel knows full well this bill is illegal and they know full well it wont hold up in court. they are doing it because the entire airport admin is all black. jackson is going to have to spend wads of cash fighting this nonsense which will drive them further in a hole they can financially foot... and that's that plan!

Lumumba's board nominations were crazy. But he was teaching jackson how to stick together and form economic power as a city. that's why the board and the entire administration became all black( lawyers included). Good ol white boys don't like anything like that going on that they can't control (or at least have a seat at the table---6 is a lot better). That's also why the 1percent sales tax Lumumba enacted had to have a commission board full of people who don't even live in Jackson. That's the naked truth. So this takeover is a build up of frustration and emotions over time.

4) The take over is also about contracts. Rankin county wants to build up around the airport and create a billion dollar business complex and eventually drown jackson out all together. Truthfully, jackson should have had the foresight all this time to develop themselves and try to partner with other counties so everyone can make money.. but you're right it goes back to"me, me me".

I agree, the state needs to fork over the benjis. Jackson is better taking the money and reinvesting it into the city. This takeover is not about the airport at all. That's the bottom line.

Kingfish said...

You lost me when you suggested Spirit. Worst airline in the business.

Spirit might put JMAA out of business if it came here.

jaxkson said...

this i true. i mean air tran

Anonymous said...

Spirit is a terrible airline. And it is all that Meridian (Key Field) and the Laurel/Hattiesburg airport have. Wonder why the powers that be in the legislature don't think those two regional airports need their boards replaced by someone that they think is better suited to manage their properties (i.e. white Republican.)

Merle's Silver Wings said...

Does any of this really matter. one. damned. bit? If I want to catch a plane at this facility I'll catch one, regardless of whether the board member is a black South Jacksonian who eats fried chicken on Bailey Avenue or a white Rankinonion who eats hot dogs at the gas station in Flowood.

Kingfish said...

It is not that they are cutting costs or running the airport better they are raising fees and at the same time driving people out of the market.

Then explain to me how come the expenses are coming in substantially under budget?

Anonymous said...

But he [Lumumba] was teaching jackson how to stick together and form economic power as a city.

Complete bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Come on now Kingfish. Take a stand. Will you oppose the state taking over O.B. Curtis, the metro's largest single drinkable water supplier, should Jackson prove incapable of operating the plant? You know damn well the implications.

J.O. said...

The last time I checked Mississippi ranked lasted in the Union in several areas. Who told these guys they can run anything?

Anonymous said...

1:10, when did Spirit start flying out of Meridian or Laurel?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the main points of your editorial Kingfish. I will push back on the notion that the city leaders were "racists" in their assertions that this issue is racial. It is, and just like all issues of racism, its about the very resources and power grabs you describe.

I have not heard one city leader say to the white developers or constituents who are also adversely affected by this takeover "Don't speak out, strategize, or advocate against this takeover". You are right, white republicans in Jackson are harmed just as much, if not more, by a takeover of the airport. If they chose not to speak out and fight it, that is on them. But racism does adversely affect more people than it benefits (though it does benefit a few, powerful people, hence why is continues to characterize our lives).

The legislators that see the need to draft this bill and takeover are doing so because of an age old argument for the disfranchisement of blacks. They feel that Black people simply do not have the intellect, discipline, or "social graces" to manage resources; especially large scale municipal resources like in local, state, and federal governments. The reason why these men feel that they need to establish a regional commission is so that they can remove all of the black presence (and power)off of the JMAA, so as to have access to the developmental dollars available (through direct development and contracts). So yes, while this is a power grab for resources, such is the way of racism in general. And yes, racism adversely affects white people as well as racial minorities.

Anonymous said...


You can budget any damn number you want. If my mortgage is $1000 I can budget 18,000 and look, at the end of the year I am under budget.

Also for you dumb asses, The city of Jackson has 2 members on the board of the Ross Barnett PRV board. Guess what, they do not pay one damn penny for the upkeep and maintenance of the PRV that takes care of their water source. Imagine that. Bunch of damn free loaders.

Remember Pride goeth before the fall City of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

After reading all of this bull crap, and that is exactly what it is, the only thing that is really happening is blacks and whites cannot get along. Blacks want all black member on any board, not because they have the knowledge or experience, only because of skin color. The whites only want white board members on any board, not because they have the knowledge or experience, only because of skin color.

How about we try something that has never been tried. We put those with the knowledge and experience on the boards no matter what color they are?

Anonymous said...

The water plant question is a valid hypothetical comparison and when it comes to public health safety a more essential takeover for Mississippi than a struggling airport. A nice-to-have versus an absolute must-have-can't-screw-up when it comes to water. Though Madison and Rankin do have the option of building their own plants, access to the Res and more than sufficient political heft to clear any/all obstacles along the way. Much as Rankin will soon construct their own sewage treatment facility on the east side of the Pearl. It goes beyond saying that it wouldn't make economic sense to build a competing airport but the economic argument to build alternative water and/or sewage treatment is easily defended and very compelling.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard one city leader say to the white developers or constituents who are also adversely affected by this takeover "Don't speak out, strategize, or advocate against this takeover".

Tell us specifically how any average Jackson citizen or taxpayer is adversely affected.

Anonymous said...

They feel that Black people simply do not have the intellect, discipline, or "social graces" to manage resources; especially large scale municipal resources like in local, state, and federal governments.

So why is Jackson failing?

Anonymous said...

For the State of Mississippi to call for the take over or major overhaul shows what bad shape the City of Jackson is in. State government is a joke but it can legally control the City.

Anonymous said...

9:05, it won't always be like that. Give it time

Anonymous said...

I have posted here before that there is no basis for the state to take over the airport. I have also jerked the chain of the jerk that keeps asking JJ for his stance on taking over OB Curtis, pointing out that the legislation to do that has not been introduced, much less voted on.

But to the point of 11:07, who may be the same jerk that finally decided to make a real point rather than just rant, I would agree that there could be a state interest in the water treatment plant - or wastewater treatment plant, for that matter - that could justify this type move. The water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment affects many, many citizens as to their health and safety. The wastewater even more so because it can affect those downstream of the plant all the way to the MS Sound. And you can show the inability of the City to properly manage the wastewater plant at this point. Further, these two facilities are regulated by a state agency, DEQ.

None of those factors are true for the airport. Citizen X can choose to use the Jackson airport, or drive. Citizen X doesn't have that choice with water or sewer in Jackson if they are in the city. And those downstream have no control over what Jackson does with the wastewater. AND, they actually DO serve a regional process; one that is supported and proposed by environmental regulations. Again, unlike an airport where some just want to state that, in their opinion, they are a regional facility.

So while I do strongly oppose the takeover of the Jackson airport for all the reasons outlined in KF"s editorial plus the others added to it, I would favor a takeover of the wastewater plant, and would not oppose the same for the water facility. But just like all those others that express their opinion on here, my opinion and choice evidently doesn't matter.

Harkins wants the facility where they can make money off the land development. It has nothing to do with a "regional concept". Follow the dollars.

Bubbly said...

Too bad the state can't move water oversight to Rankin County.

Anonymous said...

Frog gonna make a little jing offa this deal?

Fonner Gay said...

But just like all those others that express their opinion on here, my opinion and choice evidently doesn't matter.

Evidently? Do I have this right? You posted 309 words before you shared what nearly every JJ reader here already knows? You need to re-evaluate Sparky exactly whose chain got summarily jerked and when.


Anonymous said...

Its simple, "taxation without representation is tyranny". Every City of Jackson taxpayer is adversely affected when a city owned and maintained asset is controlled by entities not accountable to said taxpayers.

@11:13, There are a myriad of challenges that the City of Jackson faces that have very little to do with the current or even recent past leadership. Jackson's primary challenge stems from the history of segregation and Jim Crow that characterized (among other things) a massive white flight movement after the forced integration of public schools in the 1970's. Couple that with the ever apparent disparity in economic power along racial lines and we see the realities of Jackson becoming paramount (concentrated poverty that characterizes a weak tax based that can't support infrastructure for Mississippi's Largest municipality). Also, most of Jackson's most valuable property is not taxed (state and federal buildings) and the people, for the most part, are ill prepared to participate in the market based economy on several fronts (lack of creative and entrepreneurial skills and academic preparation, lack of opportunity to open businesses, lack of commercial networks for investing start up capital, etc.)

What we see now is a need for political leadership to address these challenges without the resources to adequately address them. There is not too much mayors and council people can do to address them alone. Significant private sector, state and federal investment is needed. But the political will around this state is lacking to invest in Jackson, because of the perception that it is ill managed, rather than understand the historical, economic, social, and political contexts that have characterized its present state.

Kingfish said...

Two public golf courses. The leadership doesn't have the political will to close even one public golf course even though the city operates two and the state operates another in Jackson.

Just a microcasm of the inability of the city council and mayor's office to make tough decisions. Little things add up to big things.

Anonymous said...

" But the political will around this state is lacking to invest in Jackson, because of the perception that it is ill managed, rather than understand the historical, economic, social, and political contexts that have characterized its present state."

Understanding has nothing to do with it. People see any investment in Jackson go to no good because of the elected officials. People are not that dumb. They can not see the worth of helping Jackson when the people of Jackson will not even try to help themselves. Jackson always has it's hand out wanting people to give to them but do not show any appreciation for anything given to them.
Until the people of Jackson want a change investing is not worth while. It is a complete waste.

Anonymous said...

Legislators are reminded everyday riding up High Street why Jackson does not deserve the benefit of any doubt when it come to the absolute ineptness and inability to manage govern or maintain. I have heard from many Jackson "leaders" that they do not protest the airport move. They understand the importance of what the airport can deliver and as one of them put it to me "We are quietly supporting this move".

Anonymous said...

Fonner Gay - glad to know it only took you 60 words to say only one thing - that nobody gives a damn about your opinion either. Probably applies to everybody's opinion here as well. Other than the one who writes it, nobody else gives a damn about these anonymous musings.

(49 words)

Anonymous said...

@9:01 AM comments as if Jackson lacks a measurable track record. Jackson only wants "significant private sector, state and federal investment" on its own myopic terms without any accountability for failing to perform and execute. Short of that it is much easier to live in VictimizationLand.

Kingfish said...

Well, if you listen to black community leaders on the radio and during campaign season, they want white money but want them to shut the hell up and stay the hell away from the voting booth.

Anonymous said...

Do the JMAA board members get paid? if so, how much?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, if there is anyone who does not believe that it will not be long before some elected official from Jackson comes on tv telling them how racist they are if they do not give blindly to Jackson and then shut up and go away. People can just stand so much of the hands out gimme attitude.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that members of the airport board do not get paid. If the State of Mississippi could run anything efficiently, we wouldn't be at the top of every bad poll and on the bottom of every good poll. The rest of the country thinks Mississippi is a big joke. The Supreme Court will never support the taking over of the airport. Certain people have invested in the land surrounding the airport, and they are just looking for big pay-outs. If you want to know who the crooks are, just follow the money.

Anonymous said...

When it gets to the MS Supreme Court the elimination of JMAA will be complete.

The bedlam, the pressers, the race card, the protests, the gnashing of teeth, the phony Business Ministerial Alliance of Mississippi, the guarantees that Southwest will never return, the cries of 'Remember Charlotte' and 'hostile takeover', the admonitions to 'Beware the FAA', the fear mongering that they're coming after 'yours' next, the threats of endless lawsuits,,,,,,

ALL is in recognition that once it gets out of the Legislature the battle will be, for all intents and purposes, lost because the State trumps.

Anonymous said...

The airport belongs to the State of Mississippi, as does Jackson, itself. Cities are entities subject to the State Legislature and have only the powers that are conferred by statute or by charter from the State.

The State Legislature could also create a Metro area, governed by a similar board.

Anonymous said...

How about the state of Ms. sell Jackson and keep the airport. There has to be some third world country that would buy Jackson. They would feel right at home.

Anonymous said...

The airport doesn't belong to the State of Mississippi as you (11:58) say. It belongs to the citizens of Jackson that paid for it.

It is true that Jackson and (therefore) all parts of it are creations of the State, but that is not the same thing as the State owns it. By your theory the feds could take over the Walter Sillers Building or the state Capitol (which of course it did but it was as settlement following a little rebellion several decades ago.

Anonymous said...


Your attempted analogy isn't even close. The "feds" do not supersede the states on their land. States are sovereign, cities are not.

It is not the "United Cities of Mississippi."

It can be argued whether the "feds" have a legal right to force or do many things within the states that they do, but there is no argument about whether a city in Mississippi is at the will of the state.

Let's play your analogy game. If the airport belongs to the citizens that paid for it and Jackson only paid for half of the airport, who paid (and subsequently owns) the other half?

Anonymous said...

The part not paid for by citizens of Jackson (that was funded by a federal grant) would be Jackson's because the grant was made to the City of Jackson. Once the feds gave the money to Jackson, it became their's to use in accordance with the grant. And - for the record - it wasn't half, but who's counting pennies.

Your argument about the fed/state relationship is not nearly as absolute as you claim. And the fact that cities are 'creations' of the state does not make the property paid for by their citizens the property of the state. But even assuming your argument for a minute, the only way the state has the power to take the cities' properties would be to take the city - not to be like the American Pickers and go through the city limits and decide what items they wanted and what items they will pass on for now.

The cities' have been granted certain powers and authorities by the state. Can the state change those? Absolutely. But can they change them retroactively? Bet your answer to that question will be ultimately decided against you.

After several million dollars worth of attorney fees, we'll see the answer.

Kingfish said...

Now here is why some Jackson Republicans didn't publicly oppose the bill. They were told that the Capitol Complex bill would ensure Jackson got a revenue stream that it desperately needs. The original bill had that but it got stripped out in conference.

Also, Baria's assertion that Gunn made a deal was true. Quite a bit of backstabbing took place.

Anonymous said...

Isn't property owned by a city public anyway? So, the whole takings argument seems false to me. Not sure there was a better remedy than the one passed by the legislature.

Anonymous said...

Jackson MS airport ranks low in my View for a number of reasons.

Very expensive to travel through JAN. From PHL airport you can travel to LAX or SAN Airports for at least 30% less than to JAN. Keep in mind LAX and SAN are nearly twice the distance of PHL/JAN.

Overzealous TSA security. Gate screening security is overstaffed. That costs all of us money. TSA turns up sensitivity on their scanning machines to make most people fail the scan. This leads to additional personal an carry on searches.

Lack of decent restaurants to grab a meal at. Be sure to bring a sandwich with you. But don't bring fruit. TSA will confisate the fruit as being a being a conciled weapon.

Many airline Customer service representatives are unhelpful.

Local police hang on the airport access road. Speed limit signs blend with the background. Be sure you do the speed limit or you will end up with a ticket.

I recommend you consider flying into MSY rather than JAN. I believe you will end with a better experience.

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