Friday, April 27, 2018

The Zoo debate continues

Jackson Ward 3 City Councilman Kenneth Stokes failed in his attempt to terminate the lease of the Jackson Zoological Society Tuesday night's meeting of the Jackson City Council.   The City Council voted to refer the matter to a committee.  The Jackson Zoological Society operates the Jackson Zoo under a lease agreement that was made in 2006 with the city of Jackson . The lease expires on September 30.

Kingfish note: The discussion grew rather colorful at times.  The videos and a report on what was actually said Tuesday night will be posted during the weekend.  However, JJ thought it would make readers aware of some of what is going on behind the scenes.  Here are some of the emails that are being circulated by opponents of moving the Jackson Zoo to Lefleur's Bluff.  The Kingfish has gone rogue in posting these emails as the public has a right to see what is going on out there in cyberworld. 

The first email is from Representative Alice Clark:

Dear Residents: 

The Zoo is an important asset that can be an economic engine in West Jackson to help stabilize and improve conditions in our community. We enlist your input and support. As you know or may not know we are poised for major projects to occur in our community such as: 

1. The Capitol Street area leading to the Zoo and 220 is the first project authorized for the City Blight Funds 
2. The County Board of Supervisors have an allocation of money to help with paving Capitol Street
3. If memory serves me right, there was some 1% sales tax money put in place to address the ADA needs to move the paving of west Capitol forward 
4. We are asking residents, churches, businesses, educational entities, civic and Greek organizations to use the attached form to obtain a Zoo membership and or sponsorship. 
5. Leaders who want the zoo to remain in West Jackson are asked to attend the City Council Meeting Tuesday at 6 pm, arrival between 5:15 pm and 5:30 pm will ensure that you get a seat.

Your assistance with this much needed project is appreciated. Pray for our leadership, our families, and most especially our children. 

With all due respect to the highly esteemed State Representative, but these are the same arguments that were made five years ago and yet nothing has happened.  There has been talk of consultants, projects, plans, blah blah blah. Between 1997 and 2004 the Society raised $7M-ish to expand the zoo with the Mississippi Wilderness. We were told that expanding the zoo with new exhibits and animals would not only increase attendance (and thus, “save the zoo”), the capital investment would spur economic development and revitalization in the surrounding area. The Capital Street Corridor, Hawkins Field, and growth along Woodrow Wilson were all touted to be “just around the corner.”  It's been the same talk for over 15 years, actually, and nothing has changed nor has anything been done.  Meanwhile the attendance continues to fall and the money woes continue.  The city brags that it increased the funding last year but that it only did so by $100,000.    Meanwhile, here is another  that was sent out by the  good Reverend Philip Reed of Voice of Cavalry Ministries:

Of course I understand that. I do think a meeting should be convened ASAP. In all that has been said, the voices of west Jackson have been totally absent and/or ignored. All comments about our neighborhood have been condescending and negative (check out the article in the Clarion-Ledger this morning.) It is probably no surprise that I am opposed to the zoo moving. I really do believe that all of us in west Jackson have bent over backwards trying to work with the zoo leadership and have always operated with transparency and good faith. Here is an excerpt from a statement I sent to the Clarion-Ledger (ignored unfortunately):

Finally, sometimes love causes us to be direct and even confrontational. In a letter from 1957 entitled “Nonviolence and Racial Justice”, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “First, this [love] is not a method for cowards; it does resist … This method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually; it is nonaggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually … they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation.”

Dr. King was addressing racial divisions when he wrote sixty years ago. There was even then a strong element of separation of class between the haves and have nots that make up the issue of justice. It is manifest in the calls to move the Zoo to a more family friendly, developing part of the City. Of course, this will remove one of the major potential economic engines from west Jackson to a more desirable area. As Dr. King says, we need to first of all reach out in love and seek to persuade and invite you to join us in helping to develop our community.

There comes a time, however, when one needs to bring “moral shame”. Just two and a half years ago, the Jackson Zoological Society did a strategic planning process that produced an excellent plan for developing the Zoo where it is. You can read an executive summary at At unveiling of the plan, the Clarion-Ledger ran an article about how it was a new day for the Zoo and for Jackson. However, a year later, a report by Schultz and Williams concludes that people will not invest in the Zoo at its current location. Indeed, I have heard presentations by Zoo management that says that some donors may be willing to give millions of dollars if the Zoo moves, but none where it is at. I know that it is a free country, and that money goes where it is comfortable as a friend often says. Nonetheless, to the potential investors who say we will give generously if it moves, but none where it is, I say shame on you.

I know that west Jackson will continue to develop whether or not the Zoo relocates, because I believe in God’s power, I believe in the people that live here, and I am encouraged about the resources that are already being invested. However, I also know it will be a tremendous setback if the Zoo moves. A City where we continue to develop one area of town at the expense of another is not going to make it a better place for all.

What Mr. Reed does not mention is that the "excellent plan" would cost $95 million.  He never provides a way to raise the $95 million or pay for it but when one is throwing brickbats from the outside, details such as that don't matter.   By the way, Reverend Reed, since you are sooooooo motivated to cast shame on donors, why don't you direct some shame towards the City Council President.  You know, the one who has those crap houses across the street and is contributing to the blight.  Just stand at the Zoo gate and look across the street.  That house could use a good picket line.  Next up is an email from the Cooperative of New West Jackson:

Thanks for that, Phil.

Sadly, we again are no match for organized white capital. 

I do think we need to have a counter plan for what we need in place before the zoo moves that will bring renewed economic and social vibrancy to West Jackson for the direct benefit of West Jackson residents, like a state of the art fun park (Six Flags Over Jackson) or some irresistible experience that is unique to West Jackson that will bring everybody to our side of town as opposed to a hospital or cancer treatment center that we will end up with if we don't come together on what comes after the zoo. 

We also need to take command of the narrative that is perpetuated on our place. Folks that don't live here do not have the right to character assassinate our home or position a narrative based on their own fears and misconceptions.  

Let's spend our time, effort and other resources uniting around what comes next for our awesome side of town!

West is Best; they will wish they never left!

Nia Umoja
Wait a second.  I constantly hear how poor areas are underserved by the medical community but someone is going to gripe about more health care in a poor area? What does this person think causes economic "vibrancy"?  A zoo with a few moderately-paid employees or a hospital with doctors, nurses, administrators, and support staff? A hospital that can sponsor community activities and spur more development.  As for folks "that don't live here", allow me, the Kingfish, to remind him and the rest of his fellow West Jackson community activists that the name of the zoo is the Jackson Zoo, not the West Jackson Zoo.  Since he wants to talk economics and "white capital", let's get down to brass tacks.  Determine what the property tax revenue is by zip code in Jackson and it is probably a safe bet that those whom he despises probably pay more than those in his part of town.  However, it is "his" zoo.  Oh wait, it's someone from Jackson Rising.  'Nuff said.

Indeed, the Kingfish came up with an idea to improve the zoo at its current location three years ago but one so-called activist said he didn't want "to make white people comfortable" and the idea fell on deaf ears in West Jackson.  I don't blame activists at all for defending their neighborhoods and trying to promote them but the statement speaks for itself as do the rest of these statements.  

As for the City Council,  it is probably going to issue some sort of RFP and advertise for a new management/lease contract for the Jackson Zoo. 


Anonymous said...

if there community in west Jackson is so important, then why have they done nothing for all these years. I our city has proven anything, it is that you can not wait on the City of Jackson to do ANYTHING. You want to cure West Jackson, then roll your sleeves up and go to work an make it happen. One zoo will not save, rehab, or cure what the blight of west Jackson......but a community that decides enough is enough, and also realizes that the city of Jackson / a city council / a Charles Tillman / or a Hinds County BOS / or any mayor is not the cure, will then very quickly find the cure for their community.

Making Copies on the Xerox said...

How long before the citizens of Jackson realize that their new "Radical Marxist Mayor" is all rhetoric and no results? That's kind of the way it is supposed to work by design, is it not? The Zoo certainly doesn't need some "Master Plan"--- for that matter the 1% Sales Tax Commission couldn't for some reason ever develop and publish a "Master Plan". Former Mayor Tony Yarber had a hard time even addressing the term "Master Plan". Did it ever occur to anyone else that maybe semantics were getting in the way? Call it "The family bucket with 2 large sides and 8 biscuits" and maybe things will happen! As for Kennuf trying to kill the lease deal, he and Mayor Chokwe should have supported renaming the Zoo as a reason to kill the lease. Let's rename it the "Chokwe Antar Lumumba Malcolm X Memorial Xoo". YES! How more radical can you get than to be the first in the Nation to have a "Xoo"!

Anonymous said...

Buzz words, hollow phrases, rhyming metaphors and the predictable cacophony of chants blaming and belittling white folks....what else has changed in the past twenty five years? Nothing has changed except those who toss them around. Or, in the case of folks like f mickns, even the chanter hasn't changed - He's still doing what he did in 1992.

The new PHRASE OF THE WEEK award goes to "Economic and Social Vibrancy" as a condition that is looming, teetering on the edge as it were, tilting toward reality and ready to descend on west Jackson and the Zoo area. It's just a matter of weeks. All we need is a little asphalt, a few churches to step forward and some civic clubs to write letters.

Messick said...

"Folks that don't live here do not have the right to character assassinate our home or position a narrative based on their own fears and misconceptions."

In other words, the person writing this for the Cooperative... doesn't think a person (more specifically, a White person) has the right to an opinion. So, no free speech, unless it's speech they agree with.

Typical leftists.

Anonymous said...

I don’t think we can pin this on Choc Junior. The zoo tried to bluff him and he told them he could not support pouring more money into the place while the streets are crumbling. Good for him. The zoo messed up announcing a move that has not been funded. If they haven’t noticed, the state is not flush with funds.

There is no money for a new zoo. And now, nobody wants to donate to the old zoo. They screwed themselves by stirring this up.

Anonymous said...

I hate to tell these poor people that they have been sold a bill of goods by their "leaders" who spent years convincing them that their vote and so-called political power would change the character of their community. What they did was change the economic position of their 'leaders" while their communities continue to decay. The zoo is an excellent example. They will spend twenty years making plans, doing studies, having meetings, and debates before finally closing the zoo because they don't have the money to keep it open. Rather than dealing with the entities that do have the economic clout to run a successful zoo, they can kick around a political football until their terms in office have expired and they have made their money. They insist on control without money. Fantasy land.

Hey, That's an idea. Fantasy land. Jackson Fantasy Land. Run by socialists and community activists who have no money but plenty of ideas and "self-determination" in a city of potholes and blight. WOW. Disney will be jealous.

Anonymous said...

They screwed themselves by stirring this up.

No they didn't.

Anonymous said...

Well, call it what you want (prejudice, racism, white privilege, etc., etc., etc.), but unless the zoo moves to the proposed new location, more and more of its white patrons are just not going to continue to go to an area of the city that is rundown and unsafe. If the zoo stays put in its current location, the continued declining attendance will ultimately determine its fate, regardless of what entity operates it. That's not black & white talk, but rather green ($$$). You can only put so much lipstick on a pig.

Anonymous said...

I drove the entire length of Capital street recently. How sad.

Anonymous said...

They were screwed no matter what

Anonymous said...

Did I read that correctly? Open a Six Flags amusement park in West Jackson? ROFLMAO ROFLMAO ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

6 Flags Over West Jackson bwahahahaha

Anonymous said...

West is Best; they will wish they never left!

Take a poll of every person who has left West Jackson over the past 50 years. Poll homeowners and business owners, white people and black people, those who left in the 70s and those who left last year. Ask them one question: "Do you wish you had never left?"

Get back to me on those results. If the O/U is anywhere south of 98%, I'm betting the over.

Kingfish said...

Go check the racial compositions of the elementary schools immediately adjacent to Jackson in Ridgeland, Byram, and Clinton. It isn't just white folks moving away or refusing to visit the zoo.

Anonymous said...

You could buy every house in West Jackson for $95 million.

We're $20 million in the hole because we can't afford to hire people who are capable of running the water billing system.

We don't need a F$%^ing zoo!

Kingfish said...

They've been trying to get some of the Board members to appear at their forums individually to "discuss" the Zoo's proposed move. In other words, they want to put a Board member up on a stage and then have the crowd (verbally) beat them up for a couple of hours. Of course, no similar demands are ever made of the Zoning Board, JRA Board, Library Board, or other boards and commissions.

Anonymous said...

They don't even hold the JPS Board accountable.

Anonymous said...

7 Flags over West Jackson. You forgot the Kingdom of Kush flag.

Kingfish said...

Exactly. All of the problems in JPS schools. When is the last time you saw them demanding school board members come appear at their forums and be held accountable?

Anonymous said...

"Folks that don't live here do not have the right to character assassinate our home or position a narrative based on their own fears and misconceptions."

OK, Miss Umoja, I'll direct you to the Clarion Ledger's interactive homicide map for 2017's murders. You'll notice that all but two occurred west of the N/S railroad tracks, within the city limits.

Facts are funny things, they are a record of the truth and they give reasonable people data to make informed decisions, like what is going on in West Jackson.

Anonymous said...

6 flags over jackson. rides like “middle class- the escape coaster”, i220 speed track, broken sewage water park, and on and on. it could be great

Anonymous said...

One more time. Please get those poor animals out of that dump and quit using them for political grandstanding. This is just not right !

Anonymous said...

“I do think we need to have a counter plan for what we need in place before the zoo moves that will bring renewed economic and social vibrancy to West Jackson for the direct benefit of West Jackson residents, like a state of the art fun park (Six Flags Over Jackson)“

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! You can’t make this up. It’s so funny and sad at the same time!

Anonymous said...

Just so I am clear. The folks writing these letters and the leadership in Jackson want my/our help (money) but don’t want me to have an opinion or say in what happens to the zoo? They shame and degrade white people but want us to foot the bill to fix the zoo and their problem. I say their problem because they put the people in power with their votes that obviously aren’t prepared or intelligent enough to run the city to keep it viable. I wouldn’t take my family to west Jackson for anything including a six flags. Correction I wouldn’t take my dog down there. The last time I unfortunately had to go to that side of town there were only gangbangers and street walkers around.

And can someone please tell me why all the young people are at home all day when they should be working!! I mean how many people can possible work the night shift that they are home on the porch or walking around outside during school/working hours? I’m also curious why they are all showing their underpants. Is it just me or does it make them look incredibly stupid? Why would anyone hire a dipsh*t that does something that stupid.

Sorry that it seems I’m aggrevated but I am so tired of folks blaming others. It can’t always be everyone else. Sometimes you make your own bed and then have to lie in it. It also doesn’t help that you bring a child into a horrible situation. My God care more about yourself your family and your community. Try waking up and making a difference instead of Just blaming someone else.

I am speaking directly to all these folks writing these letters and speaking about how bad the white people are. I know pleeennnty of black people that feel the same as us white folk. You know what the folks blaming and gangbanging treat them worse than they do white people.

I’ll keep going to other state’s zoos before a spend a dime in Jackson if I am so insignificant. Good luck and your terrible board and leadership can keep running it into the ground.

You know, all these residents need to think about who has or controls the money in their community. Maybe they are the ones keeping them down and maybe it’s not the white devils. Wake up and realize who the real culprits are. My parents taught me that there is no person that owes me anything. If I want to get somewhere in life they told me to wake up every morning and work and eventually I would get there. Guess what they were right. I did.

By the way, I too grew up in Jackson.

Perkn said...

First of all, great read and posts from all. I've really enjoyed it. Second, where does the bible instruct the church to save a zoo. Keep in your lane reverend. Your time and energy can much better used to what the Word instructs. 3rd, a new zoo more accessible and safe makes more sense than pouring dollars into a failing community. Hell, they can't even keep their yards mowed, much less contribute to keeping a zoo running. And tell ole' Kenneth, there will be plenty of animals left in west jackson after the "xoo" moves. Last, i would like to know how much money is collected by the city, personal and corporate by ward?

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the zoo moved to Lefleur’s Bluff. My children like nothing more than to spend the day at the Children’s Museum, Science Museum, Sports Hall of Fame and the Ag Museum. The zoo would be a great bonus!
Stokes could use the old zoo as a star in the crown of his political legacy. All his supporters can fill the exhibits with examples of all the wonderful things he has done for Jackson.
Attendance will be an economic boon for West Jackson.

PittPanther said...

What's even more funny is that in the late 90s, there was a "plan" to get a Six Flags, at the intersection of 55 and 20. That plan, like all the others, went up in smoke.

Anonymous said...

If you start buying property on WW now in 20 years you will be rich, and considered a genius.

Unknown said...

I agree that more tangible evidence of Mayoral commitment is sorely needed. However, the Mayor has been in office for less than a year. Give the man-child the benefit of the doubt, however

For the nervous ones out there, as I have 30 years seniority on the Mayor, I reserve the privilege of affectionately calling him a "man-child.

My suggestions?

Put a BOND ISSUE on a ballot to pay for the already identified planned Zoo improvements. Why move the Zoo to a flood plain in NE Jackson (Easter Flood remember). I don't know if the city can afford a bond issue, but it's worth looking at.

Of course all of the other wards will feel slighted if they don't get something as well. Mayor Harvey Johnson took a year developing the last COJ comprehensive bond issue in 1998 that was designed to benefit all of the wards..

However, in making a case for of West Jackson/Northwest Jackson/South Jackson being the major beneficiaries of COJ bond funding, consider the following:

a). Belhaven has benefited most from the recent Fortification Street Improvements. The Fortification Street Improvements west of State Street appear as an afterthought.
b) Fondren is the major beneficiary of the current State Street Improvements. Since my coming to Jackson in 1977, this is the third iteration of State improvements for the Fondren area-round three. This iteration might stick since there appears to be the realization that you must fix the pipes first. NYC solved their bad dirt problems in Queens by putting underground pipes in concrete vaults, complete with pumps and sensors to keep water from the sensitive soil...

c) Downtown has benefited from "numero" numerous COJ funded projects such as Two Way Capital Street Conversions, the King Edward Hotel tax abatement, Union Station Historic Rehabilitation Improvements, Mill Street Viaduct Improvements, Thalia Mara Hall Improvements, etc.

d) Northeast Jackson has mostly benefited from the Whole Foods Tax Abatement, River Hills Country Club Tax Abatements (for you sticklers out there actually a TIF), and The District at Eastover tax abatement and TIF.

So from my cursory analysis above of the haves, "have- nots, , neediest and neglected, a bond issue to mostly benefit West (Zoo), Northwest (new Tisdale Library at Northside Dr. and I-55) library at and South (?????) Jackson seems radical, defensible and salable..

Pete Perry said...

To 12:03, not addressing all your other comments, but specifically your statement about the 1% Commission.

Yes, we did adopta 'Master Plan' in March 2017. Mayor Tony Yarber didn't like it - it didn't include his picture and all of his buzzwords -triple bottom line, Jobs for Jacksonians, etc - but did establish priorities for the spending.

So, condemn all you want - but don't fall for some folks storyline that don't fit their political objectives.

Anonymous said...

If the amount of land at Lefleur's Bluff for a zoo is only 25 acres (as reported), that's a mighty small zoo. No room for growth, so, it will basically be a zoo-lite. 25 acres, $100 million dollars. $4 mil per acre, for a tiny zoo. Hmph.
100 acres on West Capital. Hate to say it, but, makes more sense to renovate the old one.

Anonymous said...

I am curious about the percentage of paying customers go to the zoo who are residents of West Jackson. Are they actually supporting the zoo or just complaining about the possibility of it moving.

Kingfish said...

Ok, Mr. Frank. Show me some proposed developments for West or South Jackson that need tax abatements or TIF's. Over $100 million was dropped on developing the District. Are you saying that should not have happened. In case you haven't noticed, Ridgeland has stolen quite a few businesses and used TIF's to do so. Are you saying that we shouldn't do such things and just continue to grip that no one will build in Jackson?

Last time I checked, Chapman got what he needed when he built that development in South Jackson.

Anonymous said...

“Hate to say it, but, makes more sense to renovate the old one.”


Anonymous said...

Shut the zoo down. Sell the animals to fix a street or two.

Anonymous said...

"Do you wish you had never left?"

Left in 2004. Recently came back for a visit. Shocked at how much worse it is. All of it. Not just potholes. Houses burned down, shells standing in Fondren. So many north Jackson houses look ready to fall in. Weed-filled yards everywhere. It seriously reminded me of what the poorer areas of the Delta looks like.

Do I wish I had never left?? Not even close. I admit that it now is much worse than I expected, though . . . makes me wonder why anyone chooses to stay there. You can come back and visit family/friends, if you want. . .

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