Wednesday, October 16, 2019

City Council Approves Zoo Settlement

The Jackson City Council voted to settle a lawsuit with the Jackson Zoological Society last night.  The settlement ends the Society's 36 year tenure of operating the Jackson Zoo.   The city sued the society after negotiations broke down over the donation of the animal collection and the collection of a $6 million water bill. Posted below is a recording of the "negotiations.". It is very short.

The lawsuit was filed after a meeting took place on September 13 at 4:00 PM between the Society's Board of Directors and Jackson's attorneys at the city attorney's office.  The word "attorneys" is used because Jackson sent no less than four attorneys to the meeting.  The only other representative of the Lumumba administration was Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris.




The meeting begins with a discussion of whether the non-profit Jackson Zoological Society would fund-raise for Zooceanarium, LLC, a private for-profit company.  The Society informed the attorneys that it would not do so.  City Attorney Tim Howard asked JZS to donate the animal collection to the city.  The city would then lease the collection to Zooceanarium.  A certain someone brought up Zooceanarium's failure to have a Class C USDA license.  The discussion continued for several minutes.  Mr. Howard recessed the meeting for a few minutes while he made a few phone calls.  The meeting resumed with a spirited discussion of the alleged $6 million water bill.

Fun stuff.

Kingfish note: Oh yes, keep in mind that the city claimed it owned all of the animal collection in its recent complaint filed against the Jackson Zoological Society in Hinds County Chancery Court.

One further note: The Society surrendered its Class C permit to the USDA last week as required.  

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Serious question. What is going to happen to the animals? How long does the Zooceanarium outfit have to get up and running so that it can run the place? Are there accrediting places that can come in and take the animals if they are not adequately care for by either the city or the Zooceanarium folks?

While it is a travesty with what happened to the zoo, the humans could leave by choice. The animals are still in cages. They deserve to be some place where they are properly fed and taken care of by a staff that has all the resources they need. I know the current zoo staff is willing and want to do what is right, but they have been totally undercut and underfunded by the city.

Anonymous said...

Nuke it from oribit, it’s the only way to be sure...

Change the Flag and Fill the Potholes said...

Let me get this straight: The same Public Works Department that is trying to untangle the Siemens water-billing debacle and has no real clue what anybody anywhere in the city really owes for past water use is going to solve the riddle as to the actual cost incurred by the zoo - and by next week? My advice: JZS needs an MOU from the City forgiving all existing debt and waiving all liability in exchange for the animal collection. They won't be able to operate the zoo without a license and eventually will have to transfer the animals due to the ongoing expenses and no revenue - and because no accredited operator is going to touch this mess.

Anonymous said...

Don't know much if anything about Zooceanarium but their web site sure does not give you much confidence. A lot of computer generated design stuff but no real life pictures. The St Louis thing may be nice but they will just manage the aquarium so all the design work for the overall project was done by someone else. Just saying, good luck.

Anonymous said...

Sounded like a classic shakedown from the City to me. Could put the Jackson attorneys in the Zoo under the title Jackals.

Smug Smuggles said...

I derive guilty pleasure from watching the Jackson implosion. It is the only satisfaction I have after losing thousands of dollars in home equity and selling my home at a loss. But I had to get out for my family's safety.

Anonymous said...

11:53 said it very well. Mayor Choke doesn't seem to me to really give a damn about animals. They're just assets. Sad, Sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

The same people who have overseen the destruction of the airport, the public schools, and the infrastructure are going to “take care” of wild animals? I think we all know how this is going to end.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the city of Jackson has put itself in another no-win situation. So the JZS has all but disbanded and all assets are in Jackson's possession, and with news that the zoo workers are now contractors with no benefits working for at most $12.50 an hour (pre-tax $26,000) and almost no reason to stick around they could, in theory, leave and go to greener pastures with clear conscience and hang the albatross of caring for the animals around Lumumba's neck. I see no reason, other than pure love and self sacrifice for said animals, to stick around.

I can imagine as the faculty slowly phases itself out and yet another crisis for the City to pickup the slack, that is if the USDA doesn't shut down the Zoo and take the animals, will reflect very well on Mr. Lumumba come re-election.

Kingfish said...

When you listen to audio, keep track of how many times the city reps show any concern for the animals.

Anonymous said...

They are based in Abu Dhabi, and Singapore. Think.

Anonymous said...

KF, please tell me that someone with the USDA can come in and get these animals, if certain measures aren't taken. I'm no bleeding heart liberal. I hunt and fish. But there is no reason for these animals to suffer. They should be transferred to another zoo where they can be cared for properly. If the city can ever get a plan in place and an operator, they can try and get animals to place in the zoo at that time.

Anonymous said...

Yawn

Anyone seen Rudy?

Jaxon Street Committe said...

Word on the street is underground exotic animal fights are going to have elite people flying into town for unique private spectacle and betting. Expect some gruesome leaked videos.

It will officially be blamed on some of the predators getting loose due to a lack of personnel.

Anonymous said...

"will reflect very well on Mr. Lumumba come re-election."

The voters left in Jackson are too dumb to care about this. The city is doomed and will be taken over by the state.

Where did the whistle blower thread go? said...

Why was the thread deleted about KF being the zoo whistle blower to the auditor?

Get cold feet?

Get a call from a lawyer?

Received a threat from Hillary?

Kingfish said...

Huh? It's there.

Still standing

Anonymous said...

So how much is the outside company paying Jackson to take the animals and send them to other properties? That is about the only real conclusion I see here. Nobody has the money to repair the zoo properly and even then the profitability appears to be in serious doubt.

Anonymous said...

I hate this for the devoted Jackson Zoo employees, but geez . . . they will eventually move on to better things.

God help the poor animals still out there tonight . . . on West Capitol Street.

Anonymous said...

And I used to think the animals at that pathetic zoo on Highway 49 in Collins had it bad . . .

Anonymous said...

Damn how many times does that guy has to say uug

Anonymous said...

Actually this is a way to close the zoo while not bowing down to the man. The zoo will fold and after the dust settles, a state zoo will open on Lakeland, inside of Jackson. But that will be so different than the zoo moving from where it is now to Lakeland. Soooo different.

Anonymous said...

Earlier this month, Hinds County pulled their token support for the zoo after months (years) of acting like they would help keep it afloat. Great game of patience by the supervisors.

Anonymous said...

I think the Mayor's next fundraiser is going to be a wild game feast.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the can't auction the beasts off like the do the impounded cars and worn out city vehicles. They still have some pretty birds.

Anonymous said...

Wow - what a shit show. First, the meeting sounded more like a middle school student council. No formal introductions and I’m guessing no written agenda. Did the city have any supporting documentation? They were wholly unprepared. This came off as an organized crime squeeze play minus the organization. In one breath he demands a verbal agreement and the next says he would not want you to agree to anything without reading it. They use the water bill to extort the animals yet are unable to even provide an Ed accurate water bill. They act as if the city’s infrastructure negligence regarding plumbing and leaks is no big deal. Can the city even accept the animals without the proper accreditation, certifications and permits? Who is covering liability issues? What happens when the properly trained animal handlers leave?
My sense is that they are trying to string together a deal. Watch this closely. Demand transparency. The north side sun got the audit - everyone should have it. Was I hearing that they do not even know the owners of this unaccredited outfit? Would not be surprised at all if Zooquarium has plans elsewhere for at least some of these animals. This is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Why can’t Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith contact the Feds and get these animals transferred? She has an agricultural background.

Jackson city leadership will let these animals starve.

Anyone watching the news can see this train wreck.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the zoo board didn't just declare bankruptcy for the $6M water bill and donate the animals to Mcclain. The City had no leg to stand on. Also, I would love to know the impacts to the bond rating or the ongoing litigation for settling such a big account for a few animals that are more of a financial liability for the city than a financial asset for the city.

All the attorneys feel free to chime in and educate me.

Anonymous said...

Uhhm because the city could hold the board members personally liable for the debt. Then they’d all have to file for bankruptcy protection, the broke ones anyway....

Anonymous said...

7:37 - how about sharing with me some of that stuff you must be smoking? It must be really, really good, if you think the State is going to invest a hundred million bucks into building a zoo - anywhere, much less on Lakeland.

The idea of putting a zoo at LeFluers has been proven to be a bad idea by all that have taken a serious look at it. But besides that, the idea of building a new zoo has never been a good idea when measured from a cost proposal. Hell, Birmingham has spent fifty million over the past three years just "improving" their $300 million facility. Zoos ain't cheap - to build or to maintain. And they aren't the attraction that they used to be.

(Let me know where I can meet you and get at least a toke, if you aren't willing to share anything more.)

Anonymous said...

2:15- you may be correct, but would that include holding former board member and current City Councilperson Lindsey liable? She was on the board when a large part of this water bill was incurred, and also during years when bond dollars were probably spent on regular expenses rather than for what they were appropriated. Also, doesn't the city's parks and rec manager sit on the board? Would he be held liable as well?

Inquiring minds don't really want to know, but its still fun to ask.

Anonymous said...

I'm still worried about the animals out there.

The remaining staff can only do so much.

Other city employees are not qualified to take care of these creatures.

Feeding a giraffe and a rhinoceros is a tad bit different that setting out a bowl of Meow Mix.

Anonymous said...

2:15, I don't think the board members would ever be found personally liable unless somebody proved they knew wrongdoing was afoot. Its pretty well documented they were clueless until Kingfish came across what the director was doing.

Antard Ladumba said...

Absolute shakedown from these POS's.

How can they not have a reopening date?
Simple, there is no PLAN.

Anonymous said...

I know one of the zoo keepers. I talked to him the other night. Very passionate guy. He says that there are about 9 to 12 keepers and they are working their tails off (no pun intended) to make sure the animals are properly cared for. He said moral was good but that he wished city government would step up and do the right thing. Animals are being fed well and they are not going without. I just wish calmer heads would prevail. Move the zoo to Lefleurs Bluff already!!!! Geezzzzzz!!!

Anonymous said...

Remember how long it took the state to transfer the Blind School property north of Eastover Drive to the developers of The District? YEARS for a project being developed with private money. Now some of you want to close a state run golf course on state land and spend $50,000,000 to a $100,000,000 doing so. Fat chance that will ever happen. There's no will, no consensus and no money. Now, when OceanNarium or whatever dumb name they call themselves asks the City of Jackson for a million bucks in operating funds per year (just as the pen is poised over the signature line) we'll really find out if the rubber meets the road.

Anonymous said...

The Zoo Society ran our Zoo into the ground. The blame should fall on them. What a disservice they did to this City. Who was leading this incompetent group? Why are they hiding? Accept the blame.

Kingfish said...

Incompetent Zoo Director on one side and a Mayor who refuses to recognize reality on the other side. Nice dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Adding to the points above, lets not forget the new operator, if we get to that point, is PROFIT-MOTIVATED. So you can just add 20% to any amount they require from the City for profit because the Zoo won't cash flow on attendance, sponsors and "big events".

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In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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