Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jackson Loses a Big Round in Airport Fight

Jackson's fight to keep control of its airport took a big step backwards two weeks ago.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jackson couldn't obtain the communications of several legislators deemed instrumental in the passage of the "airport takeover" bill in 2016.

SB #2162 took the power to appoint Commissioners for the JMAA Board of Trustees away from the city of Jackson.  The bill expands the Board from five to nine members.  However, the city of Jackson can only appoint two members while state officials, Rankin County, and Madison County appoint the other members.

JMAA, the Board, Commissioners, Jackson's Mayor, and the Jackson City Council sued to intervene in Reverend Jeffrey Stallworth's federal lawsuit to stop the takeover.  They attempted to subpoena the communications between several legislators and anyone else about the airport "takeover."  The legislators refused to comply with the subpoenas as they argues such communications were protected under legislative immunity.

A federal magistrate agreed with the plaintiffs.  U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves agreed with them as well.  However, the Fifth Circuit did not agree with the lower court and spelled out the law for Judge Reeves:

The parties agree that the subpoenas seek information relating to the equal protection claim brought as Count VII. As we have explained, that count was brought by only the individual plaintiffs—that is, the JMAA board mem-bers suing in their individual capacities. Thus, to the extent the order required the Legislators to comply with Request 3 in the subpoenas issued by the JMAA plaintiffs, the district court abused its discretion in ordering the Legislators to comply with a production order unrelated to those plaintiffs’ claims.


The Court said the individual Commissioners had no standing to issue the subpoenas:

The individual plaintiffs lack standing to bring their equal protection claim because they have failed to demonstrate injury to a legally protected interest. They assert that S.B. 2162 transgresses the “right” of Jackson voters “to elect governing officials with unencumbered discretion to create a municipal airport authority and appoint commissioners to manage, control and operate [it].” Put differently, they allege that SB 2162’s “selection scheme . . . deprives the Individual Plaintiffs and the citizens of the City of Jackson of effective and meaningful participation in the affairs of [the airport.]”

The plaintiffs cite no precedent supporting their theory that Jackson voters have a right to elect officials with the exclusive authority to select municipal airport commissioners. Though voters may have standing to challenge state action that effectively dilutes their ability to select their representa- tives, that is not the injury the individual plaintiffs press here. Their theory, instead, is that S.B. 2162 withdraws the ability of their elected officials to control, exclusively, the composition of the airport’s governing board.
Since there is no standing, the plaintiffs have no right to subpoena the legislators' correspondence. 

There is also this little nugget. Just think about what it really means.

That Jackson “has been singled out by [S.B.] 2162” does not establish that a legally protected interest of the individual plaintiffs has been violated. Cities are creatures of states, and though their authority to do so is not un-limited, states may, under some circumstances, treat different cities differently. That the State of Mississippi has enacted a different method for the appointment of certain municipal airport commissioners and not others does not mean that plaintiffs, as residents and taxpayers of Jackson, have suffered a concrete and particularized, actual and imminent injury to interests protected by the Equal Protection Clause.
Hmmmm..... does that bit about cities being creatures of the state mean what it appears to mean? Will that little bit of dicta just apply to the equal protect clause or to other Jackson arguments as well?

The Commissioners also couldn't shake their talent for self-absorption:

 During oral argument, the individual plaintiffs pressed an alternative supposed injury:  That they will lose their positions as volunteer JMAA com- missioners if S.B. 2162 is implemented.  They insist that volunteers are treated as  public  employees  under  some  aspects  of  Mississippi  law  and  that  other courts of appeals have generally found standing where a government volunteer’s position is threatened by government action....

The Court said no dice to that claim as well as the lawyers never made such a claim in the complaint although it was made during oral arguments.

The due process claims as well as other parts of the complaint survived.  The Court remanded the case to Judge Reeves and told him to dismiss (for lack of subject matter jurisdiction) the equal protection complaint.




64 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good.

We don't need the airport to look like North State Street, or Terry Road, or McDowell Rd., or Fortification..................

Anonymous said...

as soon as the state can take over the airport, the better.

JMAA had a qualified visionary leader who was advancing the airport as fast as the board would let him (or as fast as he could work-around the current board..)

make no mistake, JAN could be successful again with a board that actually wants to see it do well and not just lining their own pockets with France trips and kickbacks.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the airport, does anybody know what's taking them so long to re-do the runway on the west side?

Raymond Engineer said...

I am not a lawyer but I have wondered all along why, if the legislature is the one who granted Jackson a charter to become a city, why does the city think they have any standing against the State. Could not the State pull Jackson's charter and suddenly there is no one to sue.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the State Capitol's airport needs to be run by competent people regardless of their race. If it is run by the City of Jackson it will only be run by one race without regard for whether they are competent. That's a recipe for disaster. That's why Jackson is failing.

Anonymous said...

Well the timing of that boondoggle to France certainly looks more curious now.

Anonymous said...

Plaintiffs were looking for a smoking gun email. Probably praying for one with a racist tint so they could really get the R card going.

Anonymous said...

JAN is a strategic asset for the state and the less influence the City of Jackson has over it, the better.
Everything the city touches turns to kaka; name one successful project the city has undertaken...just one. What is the state of the Farrish street project, tell me about the mayor's wife's conflict resolution program, how's that real-time crime center coming along???

Now it's time to appoint a real professional to run the facility and oversee its improvement and expansion. When my clients come to visit Jackson, I am embarrassed by the condition of the airport, its staff, and the frequency/availability of flights. In fact, I usually encourage them to use corporate aircraft and use the FBO services at Atlantic Aviation (excellent staff and service).

Now...let's see those expense vouchers for the boondoggle trip to the Paris Air Show!

Anonymous said...

Never knew Phil Bryant's first name was Dewey.

Louis LeFleur said...

I'd forgotten that Jeff Stallworth was the plaintiff on this one. Best I recall, that slimeball has never filed a successful lawsuit, but has been on the receiving (bad) side of at least one pretty big one.

So You Think Tate Needs an Airport said...

As much as I loathe anything run by the City of Jackson, I have to admit that the airport is the only thing that actually works. I'm not sure if the state could run it better.

Anonymous said...



You must not travel much. In your opinion, what is working at the airport? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

The state needs to move airport ownership from Jackson to Rankin county where the land is locate.
This makes common sense. It's like Jackson owning land in Newton county. Makes no sense at all! Let's see if Jackson will throw the race card into this by going to the federal govt.

Cynical Sam said...

@11:10 AM - How was your trip to the Paris Air Show?

Anonymous said...

The problem hasn't been finding competent people to work there, it has been getting them to stay. Seriously, could this lead to getting SouthWest airlines to come back?

Anonymous said...

I have never heard a legitimate reason for putting an airport in the middle of Rankin County and calling it Jackson Municipal Airport. Anybody? I do know there was a boatload of profit made from the land when it was built and that money did not go to the landowners.

Southwest Airlines said...

We're not coming back - Jackson is a dump, nobody wants to got there, and your airport uses porta potties.

Anonymous said...

10:51, as true as that may be, you still can’t just take away something that the city owns without compensation

Anonymous said...

11:10, nailed it.

Go fly somewhere and then come back and try to get a drivers license.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like it I don’t think SW is coming back but I would like to see the change in the board. At the time it was constructed granting the city right of control was reasonable as Rankin county was still rural. Now it’s totally different and JAN needs to be a regional facility with regional management. If the make up of the board wasn’t enough proof the Paris trip should have sealed the deal.

Anonymous said...

Southwest will never return - I hope they do - but they will never return. They only serviced routes there due to a behind the scenes legislative deal when Cochran was in office. Tit for tat, now we have no tit for which we can trade our tat.

Anonymous said...

I think the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport could be so much more than it is. It isn’t growing and why isn’t there more commercial airport development along Airport Rd? We can’t even get full size American Airline jets to fly here, only the American Eagle connections. Maybe the state can do a better job of running it.

Anonymous said...

I was at the airport a month ago to pick my wife up from a flight. Strolling around I stopped at the revolving kiosk that features the pictures of Board members and mayor. Something is missing.

Anonymous said...

It is a regional/state airport. Take your own survey. Next time you park in the structure, look at how many parking spaces are taken by non-Hind's county residents.

Hey, KF, when are you going to FOIA the JMAA Board for (a) the travel policy (which they must have) and (b) the expenses reimbursed?

Anonymous said...

10:51

When Dewey sends the money for the real-time crime center, it will be done. That's on them.

Southwest is never coming back. Between the fees and taxes, the COO that was there at the time (Bonnie) was a pain to work with. That was under Vanderleese who skipped town. The people that know nothing about any of this are the loudest. The state takes over the airport, it will not yield any different results.

Anonymous said...

“As much as I loathe anything run by the City of Jackson, I have to admit that the airport is the only thing that actually works. I'm not sure if the state could run it better.”

I hope this was a joke. Otherwise you clearly don’t fly often and haven’t visited many halfway decent airports

Anonymous said...

The sooner that the unwashed masses realize that SB 2162 has more to do with controlling the 800+ undeveloped acres surrounding the airport that is controlled by JMAA, the better. That statute has virtually nothing to do with the “operation of the airport,” and everything to do with who gets to decide what happens with that prime real estate around the airport. Nobody in their right mind wants the Lamumbas or Kennufs of the world calling the shots with respect to Rankin County property situated immediately adjacent to Flowood.

Anonymous said...

Third world country airport.

Anonymous said...

Let’s take a look at that scoreboard Al,

Looks like it is..
City of Jackson 0
Sen. Harkins 2

Back you to you Steve.

Anonymous said...

The City of Jackson seems to continue going in the wrong direction. Soon to be losing the Rankin County water supply contract, and now, quite possibly the airport. Crime is up, tax base fleeing, infrastructure crumbling, and families avoiding JPS. Where is the upside, Mr. Mayor?

Anonymous said...

It must be in pretty good shape...the state wouldn't want to take it if it wasn't. Really.

Anonymous said...

Lordy, Lordy let me just say that I LOVE my third world airport. I don't like the fact that I have American Airlines puddle jumpers and not much else, but I do like being able to drive up to the front of the airport and drop my bags with no waiting. and I like walking up to the TSA checkpoints and bantering with the agents because they don't haae anything to do and are glad to see me. The photos on the walls are also interesting. Showing Farrish street back in the day and being able to walk up and get a coffee with no waiting;. Just think if we had a real airport we would have to stand in line and the TSA agents could get their jollies patting passengers down. People, People count your blessings we are podunk. We don't need no damn progress!!!

Anonymous said...

12:39 PM

Regarding the airport being in Rankin county....the airport was actually approved to be between Jackson and Vicksburg....right in the middle of the two....then the owners of the land where the airport was to be built complained about the land prices....the owner of the Rankin county land gave the property to the state for the airport....and so it was.....

Pennywise said...

Response to 1:36 PM -
You hit the nail on the head!
Copy & paste the below url to get to the truth of thee matter.


https://www.northsidesun.com/news-breaking-news/city-votes-incorporate-remaining-airport-land#sthash.Hm4Wvpx8.dpbs

Anonymous said...

That big ass shrine to the jackson officials is straight up embarrassing. I can't believe nobody talks about that. It is as if those people have something to be proud of - as if they have accomplished something with the city rather than just rode on its coat tails of past greatness all the way to the bottom of the barrel. In case you haven't seen it let me explain it: It is very large and very tall and has all their pictures with lighting shining on each face looking like something from that old touched by an angel series and rotates all day long.

Who does that? Who builds something like that to themselves without shame? It has been years since I've flown out of that airport and still it is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the place.

Anonymous said...

1:49...and when all the black people relocate to Rankin and all the white people move another county down the interstate, the same thing will happen. May take 50 years, but one day all that infrastructure will be crumbling and the tax base will move on at the very time it is needed. And you blame the current mayor?

Anonymous said...

1:02, so what, the airport is owned by the City of Jackson. Are you telling me that if a bunch of Jackson people use Strawberry park in Madison, that Jackson should have a seat on the Parks and Rec board in Madison because now it is a regional park? And what about that Amphitheater?

It may be 30 years, but the day is coming when Mississippi is not ruled by Rankin county and whites are not the majority. And this is a precedent you will rue when your folks are not in charge.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 1:36 for shining the light of truth on this "takeover". As valid as the argument to regionalize control of the airport might be, at its heart is a naked land grab of prime Jackson/JMAA owned parcels by GOP Rankinites, which is the real reason they pushed SB 2162.

Anonymous said...

Betcha we can get Southwest back in here now! Not to allow them to grow in our city was a farce! I hope the new appointees will be less concerned about ------- and more concerned about the citizens of Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

It can't be too bad, if it were, the state (and Rankin County) wouldn't want it. Really.

Anonymous said...

12:39
Mr Rhodes perhaps??

Anonymous said...

Jackson's airport is what the residents of Hooterville would build for an airport.

Anonymous said...

Why can't Rankin or Madison or whomever just buy the airport from Jackson? I'm sure Jackson would sell for a thousand million or so.

Anonymous said...

1:49,
yet they continue to pay the pimps, I mean legal team, hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight this airport lawsuit. One question for the brilliant folks here and in Jackson, WHAT DO THEY GAIN IF THEY WIN AND WHAT DO THEY LOSE IF THEY LOSE?

Answer: NOTHING

They, meaning the city, does not gain or lose anything financially/economically. The JMAA board members lose their sugar teet to Paris, so I see why they are fighting this.

Smartest people in this scenario; The lawyers for DumbChuck (Mayor)
Dumbest people: The city of Jackson and JMAA that keep signing these pimps checks.

Anonymous said...

Why didn’t the state take over the water and sewer system? It’s more of a regional asset than the airport. Serves Byram, rural Hinds County and Rankin.

We all know why. It’s in very bad shape and losing money.

They want to cherry pick the one actual asset that is worth stealing.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if those people who justify the "takeover' of Jackson's airport by ridiculing it's operation have been to the Baton Rouge, Montgomery, Shreveport, or Little Rock Airports. Jackson ain't Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, or New Orleans. It's a podunk bus stop between regional hubs and has a pretty nice airport compared to other podunk bus stops. A bunch of Rankin County hicks and state politicians won't change that. But that's not why they want to takeover anyway.

Kingfish said...

Some posts are trying to go into the weeds on white flight and integration. Not approving the comments. Have nothing to do with this post.

As for Southwest, SW is not coming back and throwing money at SW would be a waste. The traffic was simply not there for the carrier. SW was down to two flights a day. It simply is not worth the time or money for SW to come back to the Jackson market.

Anonymous said...

Someone really needs to educate these people. If you think the feds give the airport millions of dollars a year with no strings attached you are crazy. A quick Google search and you can see revenue made on the airport has to stay at the airport, and I am sure all that land has to be obligated as part of the money they get through the government.

Anonymous said...

Just to be fair Jackson gets to keep the airport over by the Jackson Zoo.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kingfish. People keep crying about SW and it’s just not going to happen. They are not coming back. If people loved them so much, maybe they should of used them more.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, I think several business people from NE Jackson use the Madison airport.

Regional asset?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the brilliant folks at the city of jackson can talk SW into flying into Hawkins?

Anonymous said...

I live in NE Jackson and my family and I fly out of the Madison airport when we go the the beach. It's a great small service. These people bashing those living in Jackson need to be mindful that plenty of people that own businesses in flowood and Madison live in city of Jackson. I live in Jackson and have PDL micro lending stores in metro area both Madison Rankin and Hinds co. Stop blogging like all citizens of Jackson are hoodlums.

Anonymous said...

Micro lending, that's cute. Payday loan sharking - you are a hoodlum.

Anonymous said...

The crux of the situation is Jackson has some land in Rankin county that surrounds the Airport(which should only be for airport expansion), and the Rankin County people don't want the Jackson people to "Jackson it up". I can see where that concern is warranted. Jackson has an axe to grind with Rankin and they would love to have a foothold in the middle of Rankin County more for the principle than the principal. No way should one municipality have a for profit development in the middle of another municipality. That's BS and should be correct. Only State/and or infrastructure should be the reasons why that is allowed.

Anonymous said...

If you are flying to the west coast, know your way around the Denver airport, aren't checking a bag and are willing to work a little bit you can save alot of money using Frontier to Denver and then Southwest to any number of cities from there. Recently flew to Seattle for a business trip on a Monday morning and arrived back here on Friday night for $256 round-trip. Delta, American and United were all north of $450. The Frontier planes are nice nearly new Airbus A320s. A salesman who calls on our company alerted me to the opportunity. I read where Frontier is going to start flying into Newark. If we could get a flight a couple times a week from Jackson to Newark, like we have now to Denver, that would open up a whole range of possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Haha, can you imagine Mayor Mary's response if the legislature decided to put representatives from Hinds County on the Madison airport board?

How about somebody clarify this concept of "regional asset".

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@ 8:36
You know nothing about the business clearly read an article from the Jackson free press.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the convention center a "regional asset"? And it's in the CCID. Come and get it.

Anonymous said...

I live in Raymond. I like concerts in the amphitheater in Brandon. Put me on the amphitheater board so I can tell them how to run it.

Anonymous said...

American recently updated their flights out of Jackson to nice size jets with actual first class. I was pleasantly surprised to see this a few weeks ago. The airport is fine for what it is, except they closed the only restaurant with a bar in the area before TSA. It was ok but it closed very early every afternoon. It did not need renovation. It needed to be open later.

Kingfish said...

This ruling is probably a good clue as to how the court would rule on Jackson's lawsuit. Make no mistake, this ruling is a warning shot to Reeves.

Anonymous said...

Attn 11:50 Are you sure those aren't those grounded 737's?

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