Monday, July 25, 2022

$53 Million. No Jobs. No Plan.

How did Mississippi lawmakers spend BP money? 

This story was originally published by Propublica.  ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive their biggest stories as soon as they’re published. The Sun-Herald's Anita Lee, yes, THE Anita Lee, authored this story. This story is loooong but well worth reading.  Get a Fuentes Maduro.     

Business leaders hoped the state would use money from the 2010 oil spill to transform Mississippi’s coastal economy. Instead, lawmakers are using much of it to fill gaps in local government budgets and fund projects with few metrics for success.

Nothing about the proposal to create a “town center” in the coastal bedroom community of Gautier, Mississippi, made sense to Becky Montgomery Jenner.

The mall that once functioned as the town’s community hub is literally a shell of its former self, with a rusting metal structure covering a concrete slab where shoppers once browsed. In its place the city wants to create a downtown where people can live, shop and dine.

No developers, banks or investors have signed on to the project. An advisory board that Jenner sits on voted 6-1 against recommending the project for economic development funding paid by the oil company BP following its massive oil spill in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

State lawmakers put up $3.5 million anyway. Jenner couldn’t believe it.

“We’ve got this shopping center, defunct shopping center, in the middle of no-friggin’-where,” she said. Lawmakers “should look at which projects had the most viability, which projects had the greater return on the investment, which projects benefited the most people.”

The money that legislators sent to Gautier is part of a $750 million settlement paid by BP to compensate the state for the economic damage caused by the 2010 oil spill. Coastal Mississippi business leaders hoped the money would be used to transform the Gulf Coast economy, attracting new industries, creating jobs and lifting wages in communities dominated by low-paying service jobs.

But Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Restoration Fund is failing to meet any conventional measure of success for an economic development program, a joint investigation by the Sun Herald and ProPublica found.

Legislators put the power to spend the money in their own hands, and they’re doling it out without an overall plan. They’re using the cash to fill gaps in local government budgets and funding projects with few metrics for success. They’ve disregarded input of an advisory board made up of local business leaders, a committee lawmakers created when outlining how the money should be spent. In grant agreements, recipients have committed to creating few jobs, even fewer of them high-wage jobs.

Just 33 full-time equivalent jobs have been promised by the 24 projects for which Gulf Coast Restoration Fund grants have been finalized, according to grant agreements. Those projects have received $53.3 million — an average of $1.6 million per job. Economic development experts say that’s high.

“These are very legitimate questions of whether or not this money is really going to end up doing anything,” said advisory board chair Ashley Edwards, who is president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Business Council.

The city of Gautier put the grant toward the $5 million purchase of the mall property, where a songwriters’ museum is also planned. The grant agreement requires the city to complete some improvements to an adjacent park that the city considers part of the town center. The city says an amphitheater being built at the park will provide a stream of customers and revenue.

Several promising projects have gotten money from the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund, said Jamie Miller, chief operations officer at the Mississippi Development Authority, which handles economic development for the state.

But overall, the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund is being spent exactly as state Rep. Charles Busby worried it would be when lawmakers drafted the rules in 2018.

Back then, Busby said, he hoped the Legislature would rely on the Mississippi Development Authority to decide “how we could best utilize the money to do something that was truly transformational for the coast.

“With the system that we’re currently using, I just don’t see how that’s possible,” he said.

The Fight Over BP Damages, Spending

For three months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in April 2010, millions of barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling the coastline from Texas to Florida.

Workers in protective boots took the place of sunbathers on Mississippi beaches, scooping dark patches of oil from the white sand. Offshore, vessels trolled for oil instead of fish.

Gulf Coast states settled lawsuits against the company in 2015. For two years, Mississippi leaders battled over who would control the settlement money and where it would go.

The Gulf Coast Business Council, which represents business interests along the coast, proposed legislation that would have placed the money in a trust overseen by an independent, appointed board that would have authority to seek expert advice. That’s similar to how Florida decided to handle the money.

There, most of the BP money recovered by the state goes to Triumph Gulf Coast, a nonprofit corporation. A seven-member board, appointed by state elected officials, approves projects for funding.

The nonprofit’s staff has vetted projects and positioned them for approval by the time they reach the board, said Triumph Gulf Coast economic advisor Rick Harper. “Our statute requires us to have performance metrics,” he said.

The BP money is meant to make up for “revenue the state of Florida didn’t receive when people couldn’t plan their beachfront wedding back in 2010 or ’11,” he said. “And so, it’s our responsibility to make sure there’s a good return on those investments.”

Lawmakers in Louisiana and Alabama, which received $1 billion each from BP for economic damages, are using their settlements to fill budget holes, fund Medicaid and build roads and bridges. Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he insisted his state spend its share of BP money “in a way that would result in greater economic prosperity for the region.”

Lawmakers in Jackson decided they would choose how to spend $477 million over 15 years, but they created an advisory board to offer input from business leaders.

“We’re held accountable,” state Rep. John Read said in an interview, explaining why legislators decided to choose projects themselves. “It came down to this: How many votes did you get the last election?”

Each year, $30 million in BP money is earmarked for the six counties closest to the coast. That’s separate from BP money directed to environmental restoration and other purposes.

From the beginning, business leaders wanted to see the restoration fund used for “transformative” economic development in a region that has seen little in the way of new industries since casinos arrived in the 1990s.

Instead, the law outlines 15 priorities. Some are the sorts of things you’d expect to see in such a program, including job creation, measurable return on investment and projects that are "transformational for the future of the region.”

Other priorities in the law give legislators broad latitude to approve all sorts of proposals. For example, projects can enhance quality of life, which includes recreation, and can be supported by multiple public or private entities.

“This is a laundry list of economic development platitudes from 10,000 feet up that could be used to justify almost any use,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, a nonprofit that advocates for accountability in economic development.

The Mississippi Development Authority accepts applications for funding. It scores them based on the priorities laid out in the law and passes them to the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board for input.

A proposal to build a public safety complex in Bay St. Louis received a score of
7 out of 45 from the Mississippi Development Authority and was not recommended by the advisory board. The project was granted $1 million by the Legislature.

By the end of each year, the development authority is required to pass its recommendations, along with the advisory board’s input, on to the Legislature. State lawmakers representing the six South Mississippi counties meet privately to decide which projects to fund, not all of which have gone before the board.

The projects are voted on in the final frenetic days of the legislative session, when lawmakers meet late into the evening to divvy up money from various sources.

Coastal legislators said they consider the advisory board’s advice, but don’t feel compelled to follow it. In the restoration fund’s first year, 11 of the 26 projects funded by lawmakers didn’t go before the advisory board.

Former state Rep. Jim Simpson, who serves on the board, said the law gives legislators final say.

“They asked us for advice, but they didn’t give us a checkbook,” Simpson said. “And I’m not sure everybody on our committee understood the distance between our advice and the checkbook.”

$50 Million to Create Few Jobs on the Mississippi Coast

Before spending any money, economic development experts say, officials should decide how they’ll measure return on investment. Common metrics include jobs, tax revenue and private spending.

By any of these measures, the renovation of the historic Quarles House in Long Beach, Mississippi, built in the 1890s for the city’s first teacher, would not pass muster. The two-story clapboard house with a center gable sits in a modest neighborhood about a half-mile from the beach.

The building has been vacant since Hurricane Camille in 1969, said Carol Paola, a Long Beach teacher championing the project. Camille ripped off verandas that once graced the first and second floors. The house’s doors and windows are boarded up, but the interior is in remarkably good shape, she said.

The city hopes to turn the house into a venue for weddings and community events. State lawmakers approved $2 million for renovations.

The next step, as with all projects awarded BP economic development money, is a signed grant agreement between the development authority and the grant recipient. The agency requires certain paperwork first: a cost estimate, a budget, a timeline and, for government-sponsored projects, a resolution of support.

Grant applicants are supposed to submit supporting documents up front when applying for funds. But the Quarles House was one of the projects that bypassed the advisory board, and some documentation was missing. Almost two years after lawmakers awarded the money, the state is waiting on required paperwork from the city of Long Beach, no grant agreement has been signed, and the money is sitting unused in a state account.

The payoff for the state’s investment, whenever it cuts the check? The city hopes to create one part-time job, according to its records. Meanwhile, Mayor George Bass said he hopes events at the historic home will bring in enough money to cover maintenance and insurance costs — the sort of collateral expense that development experts say local governments should avoid when using one-time funds for economic development projects.

Many of the projects that have gotten restoration fund money are like the Quarles House, with no way to judge return on investment. The majority of projects with grant agreements have no private funding, according to state records. And most of the grant agreements include no commitment to create jobs.

“Even the most lax economic development programs at least make a showing of ‘We care about the number of jobs,’” said Rachel Weber, a professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “So for every dollar coming out of this fund, how many jobs are the recipients claiming to make?”

The $1.6 million average cost per job is driven up largely by the number of government projects that are not expected to create any jobs, according to an analysis by the Sun Herald and ProPublica. Not counting those projects, just seven grant agreements have been signed with private and nonprofit entities. Those projects, which have received about $10.9 million, promise 26 jobs — about $421,000 per job.

That’s “far too high for Mississippi taxpayers to ever come close to breaking even,” said LeRoy, of Good Jobs First.

He said his organization has long advocated for a cap of $35,000 per job. A 2016 Good Jobs First study found that at least 19 states imposed some dollars-per-job caps, and that “the caps are quite low, seldom exceeding four figures.”

In Florida, the average cost per job for public infrastructure projects between 2018 and 2021 was $36,391, Harper said. Those are jobs promised in grant agreements and funded through the state’s BP-funded economic development program.

Some project applications in Mississippi promise lots of jobs, but those figures don’t make it into grant agreements, which is the mechanism the development authority uses to hold grant recipients accountable. An initial application by the city of Diamondhead for improvements to a commercial district, for example, said the project would create 596 jobs, but under its grant agreement the city isn’t required to create any.

Much of the BP economic development money is going to local governments, and Miller, the development authority’s chief operations officer, said the agency can’t hold government bodies responsible for ensuring that private businesses eventually create those jobs.

That’s not an issue in Florida, where public infrastructure projects get BP money only if they commit to creating new jobs. Triumph Gulf Coast works with economic development officials in eight counties along the Florida panhandle to identify public projects that will attract private companies offering jobs.

For an industrial park in Florida’s Santa Rosa County, county commissioners guaranteed 454 new jobs that would pay at least 15% above the prevailing county wage, said Harper, the adviser with Triumph. The jobs must be created no later than February 2027, five years after Triumph agreed to fund the project, or the county must return some of the $15.4 million grant to the state.

In Mississippi, job creation goals are far more modest — when they exist. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, for example, promised to create two jobs in exchange for a grant of about $750,000, for one of two projects at the museum recommended by the advisory board. Julian Rankin, the museum’s executive director, said the museum has met that commitment.

State Rep. Manly Barton, a member of the House appropriations committee, said those projects often improve the quality of life.

“I’m not trying to defend it one way or the other,” Barton said. “Sometimes, it is community development, as opposed to economic development. But I think one kind of goes hand in hand with the other.”

That’s how state Rep. Richard Bennett defended the funding for the Quarles House: an investment in “quality of life” for weddings, receptions and student banquets. “In Long Beach right now,” he said, “there’s nowhere in the city we can do those things.”

Even if the renovation goes forward, the building will be able to handle only small events, because it doesn’t have a catering kitchen or much room for parking. Another venue with a professional kitchen, located on prime beachfront property about 6 miles away in Gulfport, hasn’t lived up to its promise as a wedding venue.

While several legislators believe downtown projects will draw new residents and increase tax revenue, the jobs described in those proposals include retail and restaurant work, which traditionally pay low wages. For May 2021, food service and sales were among the top three occupationsacross three coastal counties.

Mississippi has long been starved for high-paying jobs, historically ranking last among states for median household income. The average hourly wage for the three coastal counties was 20% below the national average in May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Job growth has not been terrible,” said William Fruth, president of Policom, a research company that ranks the economic strength of communities, “but the wages in the area are terrible.”

Several projects funded with BP money directly advance the kinds of innovation and technology that outside experts say lead to higher-wage jobs. But only one stipulates an average wage: $50,000 a year for four jobs at Mississippi State University’s Cyber Center, which plans to train military and other personnel in cybersecurity.

John Hairston, CEO of Hancock Whitney, which operates banks along the Gulf Coast, said he’s looked to see if the state has publicized outcomes for the investments made with the BP money. He hasn’t found any sign that it has.

“In my adult lifetime, I don’t recall ever seeing that sort of opportunity,” Hairston said. “Every nickel spent on anything that doesn’t create direct, trackable jobs or tax revenue is a missed opportunity.”

No Plan for Spending BP Money

Many of the projects that have received restoration fund grants are the sorts of things you’d see in a local government budget or a state bond or transportation bill: $2.1 million for a levee to protect 200 homes in a Gulfport subdivision. Nearly $500,000 to upgrade a crumbling roadway in George County. Another $1.9 million for Friendship Park in Picayune.

The Mississippi Development Authority scored those projects no higher than 6 out of 45. None were recommended by the advisory board. Legislators funded them anyway.

Although they offered explanations for many of the projects, several legislators acknowledged there isn’t an overall plan guiding their decisions. They said they spread money across their districts and turn to the fund when they can’t find money elsewhere.

Barton said the levee was funded because it would receive matching dollars from the federal government. “They weren’t going to get the money from anywhere else,” he said. 

Timothy Bartik, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Michigan, reviewed a list of approved projects and the jobs promised, if any.

“I would say it’s a more speculative economic development impact,” he said, “in the sense that who knows exactly how much these infrastructure projects improve amenities and improve quality of life in a way that will attract people and jobs.”

An economic development strategy “is meaningless if what you say is ‘We’re gonna do everything,’” Bartik said. “Because you can’t do everything. You have a limited amount of money. And so you need to prioritize.”

The development authority has suggested a change to the system: The second year of the grant program, it asked lawmakers to send the money straight to the agency so it could select proposals. An agency official said in a letter to lawmakers this would enable the agency to fund projects that deliver “an appropriate return” on the state’s investment.

The Legislature rejected the suggestion.

Without a plan to guide their actions, lawmakers have responded to requests like the one that came from the head of George County’s health system. Greg Havard, CEO of the George Regional Health System, went directly to legislators to secure a $1 million grant to expand its cafeteria. In exchange, the hospital promised to create four jobs.

Havard said the expansion is a boost to the economy of the rural county on the Alabama state line. More importantly, he said, the expanded cafeteria gives families a place to talk, and it’s easier to feed residents and staff.

Edwards, the advisory board chair, questioned the investment. “I’m sure that was a real need for them,” he said. But what is the return on investment, he asked, for a hospital cafeteria renovation in George County?

Havard said the cafeteria has four full-time employees and two part-time ones, including a few involved in food preparation and a clerk, and it has exceeded revenue expectations. The return on investment might be small, he said, but the project will pay for itself “in just a few short years.”

Edwards chose his words carefully when talking about how legislators are running the program. “They want to do everything they can to bring the bacon back home to their constituents,” he said. “We’re not in opposition to that.

“I just think that we would prefer to have a more comprehensive, more thoughtful strategy and shared vision around how to get the most bang for our buck.”

How Long Will It Take to Transform South Mississippi’s Economy?

This spring, a state income tax cut consumed much of the Legislature’s attention, making for some long nights at the close of the session. Many days, 80-year-old House Appropriations Chair John Read left the ornate Capitol building after midnight as talks wound down and the Senate and House settled on appropriations, including projects the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund would cover.

Jenner, one of the advisory board members, has complained to legislators about their approval of projects that haven’t been vetted by the board. This year, the Legislature selected only one project without an application: the third phase of the Cyber Center, spearheaded by Mississippi State University.

While it’s the Legislature’s prerogative to approve projects that bypass the board, Sen. Brice Wiggins said, “I think we recognize that that’s not the best approach.”

Nonetheless, this year the Legislature again funded several government proposals with few, if any, job projections. A public safety complex for the city of Bay St. Louis received $1 million; its application says no jobs will be created. The restoration of the Long Beach harbor will cost $1 million and would create one job, according to its application.

Read believes a number of projects the Legislature approved, including the Cyber Center, show potential for transforming the economy. He said he thinks it’s a good sign that none of the projects approved so far have “tanked.”

“To me, ‘transformative’ is how many people are going to be working down the road, and I think that’s going to have to come with time,” he said.

And that’s once the checks have gone out. About $99.2 million out of $112.5 million granted over the first three years of the program hadn’t been spent as of June 15, according to the development authority. Almost half of the 44 projects funded in 2020 and 2021 still await grant agreements as of June 15.

Several advisory board members said they want to take a more targeted approach in upcoming years.

Edwards would like to see local governments band together to propose projects with regional scope, with more backed by private investment and outcomes measured in terms of jobs with good pay.

Advisory committee member Moses Feagin, who also serves as the chief financial officer at Mississippi Power, said he would prefer that the state hold on to its money and let the fund accumulate for a large private manufacturing or business prospect that would lift wages across the region.

Feagin said he usually rejects local government projects that could secure funding elsewhere. If lawmakers award $2 million here and $3 million there, he said, “Realistically, you ask yourself, what difference is that going to make?”


Anonymous said...

The Singing River Mall in Gautier was a great little mall. Toward the end, there wasn’t much open left except a Chinese Buffet, a New York Pizza, and an old fashioned mall Chik-fil-a. I loved going to there for lunch and getting some exercise afterwards. I also got a few good deals before the Sears closed completely. Nearby the Singing River Mall, was one of those Greek greasy spoons so common in Mississippi. It was called “Country Gentleman” and they mostly served fried seafood. However, there was a Greek page at the back of the menu.

County Cletus said...

In other words … it was stolen . Gubment style.

Anonymous said...

should have put it into highways, bridges, recreation projects. Nobody "buys" the mda/legislature jobs-crap anymore.

Anonymous said...

This is what one-party government looks like at the state level.

Anonymous said...

Can Shad fuck people up in retro?

Anonymous said...

If they actually spent money on projects for the community, whether bridges, piers, sewers, or highways, instead of on fake job "opportunities," we'd have a heck of a lot less problems.

Every "job opportunity" that a rich bank guy comes up with involves him and his buddy getting carried interest tax breaks and subsidies and hiring illegal aliens. An "innovative financing" scheme is just a scheme, as always.

Instead of sending it to Rich Guy, send 250 dollars to every person who paid 10% or more income tax, effective rate (not refunded, net), earning below 200K. That's the person who needs to spend the 250 bucks from oil companies to get 3 tanks of gas at 5 bucks a gallon to get to their 10 or 20 dollar an hour jobs.

Totally agree the MDA "waste money" model should have been ended a long time ago. We don't need to spend our kids inheritance on any more industrial parks, fusion centers, job training centers, or amphitheaters. No more beef plants.

No more subsidies to the Rich. No more "Gulf Zone" football condos for the already rich.

"Edwards would like to see local governments band together to propose projects with regional scope, with more backed by private investment and outcomes measured in terms of jobs with good pay."

Again, a scheme. Private equity buying up houses. Hedge funds buying all at cut rate prices, with GubMint help. "Good pay"!?!?!?! LMAO. We are the bottom ranked state. Bubba Big Bux III is NEVER going to do that-he'll just hire illegals as always.

Of course, "local" GubMints want to get a cut, for their cousin. Pay it to actual taxpayers and drivers and don't send it to crooked bureaucrats or builders looking for the usual boondoggle. ROI??? To WHOM? Not the taxpayer. To the bankers and builders.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, our beaches are not a draw for anybody. Beachgoers (self included) go elsewhere. Hopefully some of these projects although not job producing, will help improve quality of life for those there now and maybe draw interest to the area for others...hopefully anyway!

Anonymous said...

2:50- The Singing River Mall operated in the negative from the day they opened until they closed. Several owners and many years later this location was mostly demolished and an announced proposed Walmart decided against building on this site. Only prospect remaining was the government. Happens all the time. You can visit all of the overgrown properties the DMR bought from desperate owners during the scandalous Bill Walker reign as a past example. History repeats itself very often when the government and windfall money are involved.

Anonymous said...

The right wing gubmint of Mississippi spent the money and has nothing to show for it?

Mission accoplished!

Wow said...

Mississippi makes me so angry some times. A bunch of idiots that get all this money and don't know what to do with it. Same thing that happened with the tobacco money. Literally billions of dollars pissed away on stupid projects that dont make any sense.

Anonymous said...

You could substitute BP Settlement with COVID Stimulus and hold it a year and publish no problem. Save you some future keystrokes

Anonymous said...

And we actually have people surprised by this action? Organized Crime is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

When gambling came in it changed the coast completely. There was no need for most other businesses. If it wasn't a casino, hotel, or parking lot it was bought up and made into one of them.

Anonymous said...

just what we need, the money to go to more low paying retail jobs in town centers.

Anonymous said...

It was "for the children."

Anonymous said...

A million here, a million there, and pretty soon we are talking real money.

Anonymous said...

My Hinds County supervisor at the time told me the county received $2 million from the BP settlement to be applied towards buildig the Hinds Parkway - a four-lane road with generous median, bike lanes & sidewalks from Clinton to Byrum. The parkway's goal is to bring new business into southwest Hinds County. Jackson city leaders say the parkway is racist because it doesn't benefit very many blacks, even though there has been no economic development for anybody anywhere so far. Great use of BP settlement money, huh?

Anonymous said...

$ spent for what its to be used for? now thats funny

Anonymous said...

You people are so unappreciative! Would you rather have Katrina money going to a woman named Barbour or have it go to another state? Would you rather Welfare money go to build a volleyball stadium at the alma mater of a fellow named Bryant or blow it all on food stamps?

Y'all either need to get in the game or don't show up!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else smell that smell?

Didn't Gubner Phil blame the lawnmowers instead of BP?

It's not like the voters noticed.

Anonymous said...

It was discriminatory that Phil, Brett, and Nancy and their friends did not get any of the money.

Anonymous said...

The only sure thing is, there's no sure thing.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice that Deppity Phils DMR mop boy is now the Mississippi Development Authority explainer for this latest Mississippi how we do the people's business like we always do?

Anonymous said...

4:43, name the supervisor who said that. Quit making stuff up.

Anonymous said...

In the world of government economics this is money looking for a pocket. That's how the legislature sees it and how they ultimately handle it, not money looking for a good investment but money looking for a pocket. The only question is who's pocket. If politicos know one thing, Democrat or Republican,'s pockets. Truth.

Anonymous said...

"My Hinds County supervisor at the time told me ..."
(Sounds like you believed said supervisor).

"The Singing River Mall in Gautier was a great little mall".
(It was indeed ... when it first opened back in the early 1990's).

I think Gautier's first official Mardi Gras parade was on that mall's access road back in 91' or 92'.

Anonymous said...

4:43, that parkway ended up beautiful. At least the little part they built. Had they built it 20 years ago when they had the funds in hand and people were still moving there, it might have worked. But now it’s just a nice road. With bike paths.

Anonymous said...

7:34- Singing River Mall in Gautier Ms. opened in March of 1980. The mall was 50%(+or-) vacant by the mid 1990s. Indian jewelry stores and churches soon became the norm. The city purchase of the property was basically the last resort for the owners who tried to sell the mall for at least 10 years. Good location for the Jackson County Jr College volleyball team complex.

Anonymous said...

How many Favres and Ladners got some money and laughed all the way to the bank?

County Cletus said...

4:43….The cool part is they didn’t use any of that money for the parkway that’s why it’s unfinished. Your crooked ass supervisor lied to you. That’s what they do.

Anonymous said...

I took a job on the gulf coast in 1984. Singing River Mall was opened in 1980.

Anonymous said...

NEVER, EVER, give a job to the government that you don't want screwed up!!!

This goes for local, state, and the federal government.

Anonymous said...

There was a little talk at one time about building a regionally-owned fiber ring like the one in northeast Mississippi. It would’ve been a big feeder-type network to provide business and consumer connections. People like AT&T and Cspire could connect to it to run their extensions to homes, and large commercial users could buy their own connectivity. Direct jobs would’ve been kind of small, just construction, operation, and maintenance, but indirect would’ve been huge. Didn’t happen, obviously. Now we know why. It’s far better to do things like rebuild a small house that’s been derelict for 50 years so you can have wedding receptions.

Anonymous said...

5:29, no one is saying the State doesn't want or need the money. They're saying it needs to be spent more wisely on programs/projects that make a positive difference, not some boondoggle that does no good and does not benefit the community as a whole.

Cbalducc said...

Is there any evidence that Mississippi was less corrupt when the one party ruling the state was the Democrats?

Anonymous said...

The legislature is still trying to figure out how to get the money into their relatives' hands.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, please re-run this next year when the statewide elections come up.

Anonymous said...

The state leaders did not give a damn about the small businesses hurt by BP. They cared about the loss of tax revenue from the businesses being closed. I don’t see any evidence of any BP money helping those who were hurt.

Anonymous said...

The next time Mississippi, or any other state, receives a large amount of money they should just put a big barrel in every courthouse and fill it with the money. Politicians could stand guard on the barrel and only let in their family and friends. Of course politicians would be allowed to drop by for a handful of cash anything they felt the need.
That is what it all ends up to being anyway. Might as well get it out in the open and make it easier.

Anonymous said...

Jamie Miller was no show Palazzo's Chief of Staff; then Director of Marine Resources and now at MS Development Authority
MDA has quite the history of business investment failures, beef plant, Kemper Co coal plant, various "clean energy/solar projects
and more recently, Express Grain. MS politics will squander this windfall and a select few will benefit but in the end, MS will lose!
Lifetime least until last year 😎

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS