Sunday, April 18, 2021

Mayor & City Council Refuse to Discuss EPA Order in Public

 Mayor to Council: "I tell you things every single meeting that are over your head."

Sparks flew at the Jackson City Council meeting last Tuesday as Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba stood like a stone wall against attempts to discuss an EPA's Emergency Executive Order. 

The EPA issued the order in March last year after it inspected Jackson's water treatment plants and found monitors, UV disinfectors, dosers, valves, and other necessary equipment were missing, broken, or improperly used at the two water treatment plants.  The  City Council prepared to discuss the EPA order when it came to that part of the agenda but the Mayor insisted on discussing it in executive session behind closed doors.  The order is posted below.

Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote asked why the EPA Emergency Administrative Order should be discussed in executive session.  "Because it is a negotiation with the EPA over an agreement.  It is a legal agreement so we've been advised to go into executive session," replied the Mayor. 

Mr. Foote calmly argued for an open discussion of the order: 

one of the biggest problems with this Emergency Administrative Order was there was no public announcement back when it happened, back on March 27, 2020. I found out about it over a week ago so over a year before we found out we were under an Emergency Administrative Order. I think the media was pretty disappointed about it as well. So for now, for this to come up as a discussion item, and for us to go into executive session for it, which cuts out the media from covering it and finding out more of the details, I think the optics of it for the city of Jackson government  are very poor.

 The Mayor angrily responded as he removed his mask and raised his voice as he said "letters have been going out" clarifying this for "over a year directly to the residents home."  

Hizzoner claimed the order was not an order.  He said "I can share with you that this was a draft.  They have been going over a consent with the city of Jackson." He defended keeping the "draft" secret because "it had not been finalized."

However, the EPA did not send the city a "draft."  The EPA issued on March 27, 2020 an Emergency Administrative Order. The order is posted below. The Mayor acknowledged the order in an April 1, 2020 letter to the EPA.

 The Mayor referred to the order as an order no less than five times in his response to the EPA.  The Mayor told the City Council that Jackson and the EPA are working on an agreement and he will present it in its "final form" . He continued: "In terms of everything that is going on, this is more a discussion over process than it is over quality of water." He said the safety of Jackson's drinking water was not in danger while raising his voice some more. 

"Process"? Does the Mayor mean the process of "negotiating" with the EPA or the process of treating safe drinking water.  It is clear he meant the former and not the latter. The Mayor moves the discussion again to a straw man argument.  He says the city would be derelict in its duty to provide unsafe drinking water.  No kidding, Mayor.

The order focused on the neglected conditions of Jackson's water treatment plants. It only said "conditions exist at the system that present an imminent and substantial endangerment."  The order stated the UV light disinfectors didn't work for weeks or months, key positions vacant for years, failing filters, equipment not monitored or calibrated, pH meters that didn't work, and a multitude of other serious problems.  In other words, the plants were in a state of disrepair and neglect rarely seen in the water utility industry, a far cry from a discussion over "process." 

The West Point alum refused to stand down but instead stood up to the Mayor and said the consent decree (which had not been mentioned before the meeting)  might be a draft but "the Emergency Administrative Order was not a draft but was a set order that had a broad number of tasks that we had to accomplish."  The Mayor angrily tried to respond but City Council President Aaron Banks shut down the discussion.  He told Mr. Foote they agreed before the meeting to discuss the matter in executive session.  Mr. Banks said it was "important that a proper communicated narrative get out to the public."  


Mayor Lumumba said Jackson is "working with the EPA over what it is asking us to do and that is the process that has been going on.   The reality is that we communicate alot that seems to go over your head at every single council meeting and we have to go through the details of that  exhaustively."  The Ward 1 Councilman asked if the Mayor was referring to him but Mr. Banks closed the discussion. 

The City Council returned to the matter an hour later.  Mr. Banks promised to tell the public "any information that would not put the city at risk." (Note: Yes, allowing the public to know the condition, neglect, and malfunctions at the water treatment plants might put the city at risk.).  

Ward 4 Councilman De'keither Stamps asked if someone actually explain the EPA order.   City Attorney Terry Williamson addressed the City Council.  Both Mr. Stamps and Mr. Banks asked the attorney to just explain the EPA order so Councilmen and Councilwomen could discuss it with their constituents.  However, the Mayor was having none of it as he interrupted and said he would rather go into executive session.  

Mr. Williamson said the EPA inspected the water treatment plants in the first week of February 2020.  The EPA issued the order in March 2020.  He said the administration could not inform the City Council about the EPA order due to covid 19 restrictions. No one was available to brief members due to limits on who could attend City Council meetings. (4:00).  The Mayor again interrupted the discussion (6:00), urging the City Council to go behind closed doors. 

The attorney informed the City Council the EPA said the city is in compliance.  The Mayor supported the claim: "There is a general sense of optimism between the EPA and the city of Jackson on how we are dealing with this issue and we communicate all the time." The discussion concluded. 

Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay defended the Mayor.  She gleefully said "It appears the Mayor and Dr. Williams said they have some information they would like to share with us and they are uncomfortable doing that, or there are legal reasons why  they feel we need to go into executive session to fully discuss this."  

Ms. Lindsay moved to go into executive session.  Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee seconded the motion.  The City Council approved the motion on a unanimous vote.  Mr. Stokes was absent although he was present an hour earlier during the first discussion.  The Mayor said he wanted to discuss the EPA order publicly but only changed his mind because of advice from city attorneys.


Kingfish note: The Mayor and his staff rarely refer to the order as an "order" but instead call it a letter, draft, or agreement.  The Mayor is a criminal defense attorney.  He understands the order is a conviction.  Period.  Jackson is now negotiating with the EPA over the sentencing.

Notice the shift in his language.  He shrewdly moves to discussing a consent decree when a possible consent decree was not on the agenda. Mr. Foote and Mr. Stamps wanted to discuss the actual order and the findings at the plants in public.  Heaven forbid the public should want to know if the filters or UV light disinfectors are actually working. 

Lindsay and Lee are the Mayor's lapdogs so their support of Hizzoner is not a surprise.  However, it is interesting watching Banks act as the Mayor's leg-breaker.  He asked Dr. Williams after executive session if the water is safe today. 

 Once again, a case of misdirection.  The order is not about Jackson's water being unsafe.  It said the condition existed for certain bacteria to be present in the water.  The order was about the neglect and widespread malfunctioning equipment at the  Jackson water treatment plants. Such findings are never addressed by the Lumumba administration even though the two military veterans asked for such a discussion.  

The administration also didn't include the discussion (Item #32 on the printed agenda) on the video's agenda.  Thus viewers are forced to hunt and peck through the roughly four hours of video to find the discussion. 

 The Mayor has no intention whatsoever of discussing the EPA's order against the city of Jackson with anyone in public and that my friends, is the bottom line.  

 One final note.  Has anyone noticed the lack of reporting about the EPA order by the local alternative media as well as certain Facebook personalities?  


Anonymous said...

Great reporting and service to us all.

The mayor is not only a liar (about who does and doesn't pay water bills) but also a completely slippery politician who hides EPA orders to the city. The EPA's order directs the city to take immediate steps to assure the public of the safety of the water. The order directly implicates the city's failure (that is, the failure of our elected mayor) to maintain standards to assure safe water.

This exchange demonstrates administrative failure. That is, in its baldest statement, the mayor of Jackson has failed at one of his very basic jobs. He gets an "F." And he has hid it from the Council and the public.

Anonymous said...

WLBT is reporting that the city has denied its public records request for correspondence between the city & EPA about the Order.

Anonymous said...

Time for the state to take over the operations in Jackson. The mayor and city are incompetent.

Free the land.

Anonymous said...

There's PLENTY of attorneys that live in NE Jackson. Not to mention the law firms that operate there? WHY hasn't a suit been filed yet??

The mayor is a liar and he knows he's effed up. It's almost comical watching him spin. I only wish he wasn't doing it at the expense of the citizens and patrons of Jackson. I for one won't eat or drink ANYTHING within the city limits until there is PROOF this is completely resolved.

P.S. I know there must be some City of Jackson residents on here. Did ANY of you receive letters telling you that your water was not clean and safe to drink as the mayor claims?

j'etait Charles Martel said...

Sad that most of the residents of jackson will put up with this kind of BS, this kind of incompetent, lying politicians.

The "mayor" is a disgraceful hukster and plays the electorate for fools, which may be true, but is very unfortunate.

The city council is almost as bad and only looks better in comparison with the "mayor".

Once again, time to redraw the county line from the Mighty Pearl to State street, and create East Jackson.

Ben. Ben Who. Ben Watchin' said...

Clearly the Mighty Most Mayor and Exalted Council have hired high-powered, out of state legal representation and are suing each of the living mayors who preceded the ongoing trend of voting black scholars into the position.

And they've followed the radio-advice of Dale Danks, Esquire...Don't Compromise!

Anonymous said...

Write the EPA and under public records request ask for any and all correspondence from the Mayorsince Arch 2020 to the EPA. Orders ARE NOT a NEGOTIATIOB. Also wait until the lawsuits come from the tenants & insurance company where the entire apartment bulding burned down this week. Fire rating will go through the roof. Apartments require tenants to carry rental insurance to cover losses such as these but wait will claims by insurance providers be denied due to the fact Jackson did not check fire hydrants/water hydrants.Love to hear from an attorney on this.

Anonymous said...

I don’t see what the problem is and I don’t think the state should get involved. Chokwheat has stated his city is in compliance and that the EPA think Jackson’s water is as clear as an artesian well. Yes the mayor has been known to lie his ass off and stretch the truth so far it can’t be seen. But hey, he’s the mayor he wouldn’t put people’s lives in danger just because he’s incompetent would he? I mean people have gone to jail for years for willful negligence. There’s no way the mayor would or could be that stupid. And there’s no way the electorate would allow a complete Imbecile to poison their families would they? Nawwww Nooo Wayyy.

Kingfish said...

For those blaming "Jackson voters" in code, tell me. Have any of Lapdog Lindsay's voters in The Fondren and Belhaven raised h with her about any of this? Asking for some friends

Anonymous said...

If this were happening in Madison, Brandon, Pearl or Clinton the media (traditional local, left wing progressives and social media) would be going nuts. However this is Jackson and suddenly nobody wants to touch in this. Is it apathy? Is it fear of being called racist? Do they like drinking polluted water?

Anonymous said...

This is a very serious issue.

And while I agree Jackson still has some very fine restaurants, just remember ... most restaurants cook with this same water.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile we have gone from killing people one at a time to 2 and 3 at a time

Anonymous said...

I live in Jackson and periodically receive a letter saying the water system exceeded or did not meet one metric or another. I rarely read them and I doubt many people do but I don't recall any letter stating a long list of problems as discovered by the EPA.

Anonymous said...

Murder projection @ rate now = 159 YE 2021

Anonymous said...

These EPA findings and order are the the stuff that multi-million dollar class-action lawsuits are made of. It only takes a handful of complainants (such as Jackson water customers) with standing and a hungry law firm to start the ball rolling. Betcha that would get some action by Baby Chok...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the local representaives of the MSM do not wish to get involved in any meaningful or journalistic way because their offices and studios are located within the City limits? They may be concerned that the City might put something special in the water flowing to said offices (printing press moved to what: Birmingham?) and studios.

Just a theory.

Kingfish said...

The notices wouldn't tell you about the condition of the water plants nor the violations at the plants.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Jackson around five years ago, and recall notices about lead in the water. If I remember correctly, it was blamed on the ph being out of whack, which caused lead to leech from the pipes into the water. I trust someone will correct me if I am misremembering this.

Anonymous said...

Jackson's incompetence killed a young lady that hit an open manhole. God knows how many Chockwe and friends are killing with this heads up their arses situation. And the reason they can legally discuss it in executive session is due to the potential litigation.

Kingfish said...

I disagree. It's not potential litigation to tell the public of often the UV light disinfectors were offline in the last year. It's not potential litigation to tell us if the instrument tech was hired since a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile those of CoJ water get monthly letters from CoJ about the high levels of lead detected in out drinking water. I guess it's easier to send letters than to actually fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

My family and I have decided to avoid any and all food establishments within the Jackson city limits. Plenty of good (i.e., safe) places to eat in Madison and Rankin counties.

If you want to eat in Jackson - knock yourself out!

Anonymous said...

So, instead of talking and complaining about this; who will hold these people accountable? Lumumba is a fool and surely cannot outsmart all of the residents or business owners of Jackson. Someone needs to put this clown in his place. 95% of his voters do not have the means or aren’t savvy enough to do anything. The other 5% are blowing through money they’ve won through some false injury settlements or think they are tight with the Dishonorable Mayor. That’s cool, you see, to his constituents. They think he’s just so smart and able to fool everybody. Sadly, he is only fooling the people who vote for him.

Most of us really just don’t give damn about the City of Jackson. But, for one individual to intentionally put his coolness above so many people (human lives), is just going too damn far. Somebody (preferably someone who is black) please do something to stop him. Your legacy will thank you for trying to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I am in Aaron Bank's ward. I'm angry and frustrated to see him failing to take any kind of stand on this. These videos are pathetic. Will NO ONE speak out on behalf of their constituents??!

The notices I have received are a standard 1 page (front and back) mailer that just says that the city failed to meet one or more water quality metrics. If you wade through a bunch of drivel, you might find something about turbidity, or PH. I don't recall ever seeing anything about e-coli. I know what that is and I'd have remembered it.

"Boo Boo Water" Lumumba obviously has no intention of being either accountable or honest. He truly doesn't give a shit about the citizens of Jackson. His only interest is himself. If he had any integrity at all, he would resign.

I hope any litigation names him personally, and not just the city.

I would also like to see the city outsource the management of the water treatment facilities, since the city obviously lacks the competence. This is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue, not a political one.

I hereby make this here motion.. said...

Kingfish: It's up to you (or me) to decide on 'potential litigation'. All the council has to agree upon is that they want to move to executive session and claiming 'potential litigation' is, as you know, a typical reasoning which is according to established protocol.

If I'm not mistaken, it takes not only a motion, but a majority vote, which was no doubt arranged prior to the meeting.

Merely saying 'we may sue somebody' or 'we may get sued' will suffice every time.

Anonymous said...


You have battled foia requests a lot.

The mayor says all communications re epa order and attempted compliance are attorney client privileged or are protected by the work product doctrine or are part of settlement discussions.

Those objections are valid when a matter is litigated though a court may order a privilege log be produced.

How do those objections fare in a foia environment?

Who is the “client?” How is the council not a part of that process and how can their intentional exclusion by the mayor be used by the mayor to create some type of exclusion / excuse from production in a foia request?

Anonymous said...

I have written a letter to Carl Kemker, the EPA administrator who sent the order LAST YEAR. Who within the state would be a good contact. Would the Attorney General’s Office get involved? Or the State Ethics Board? State legislators from this area? Who? Who? Who can help us! !!!!!! like I remember the DOJ getting involved in Flynt, but I could be wrong.

Kingfish said...

MSDH has state jurisdiction over drinking water.

Legislators are an avenue as well but not as direct.

Anonymous said...

So, the city has no problem sending hundreds of thousands of notices to every user of CoJ water... Wonder how much that costs every year?

And despite that fact, they can't seem to send out water bills to some of these same users? For crying out loud, at least collect a minimum amount (?30$?) a month from everyone that gets water!

The billing agreement with whoever now has the contract should immediately be terminated for breach and the damn bills should be handled locally. This is not rocket science.

Water, roads, police/fire should be the top priorities of any city. Yet Jacktown habitually can't accomplish any of these three essentials! The "progressive" priorities are instead to spread around as much $$ to as many possible under the guise of "equity" and social programs. All while deflecting blame for their incompetence to some b.s. like climate change, administrative processes, or the usual race-baiting blame-whitey narrative.

The amount of $ being siphoned into the coffers of politicians and their families/friends is sickening.

Then they straight-up lie to their constituents, knowing that most of the media is not going to say a damn word to contradict the "narrative"
(see: Mr. Banks said it was "important that a proper communicated narrative get out to the public.")

Anonymous said...

Liberals are the BIGGEST bunch of opinionated loudmouths. So full of hot air! Look at Foghorn Leghorn and you’ll see the reflection of a true liberal- look at me and all my big words I use! My thoughts and opinions are the only things that matter!
Ugh! Shut up and sit down, you big bunch of hot air!

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