Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Sid Salter: Decades in the Making, Jackson's Water Woes Won't be Quickly or Easily Solved

Like seemingly every other facet of American society these days, when it comes to both the national media and the state’s press, the assignment of blame for the City of Jackson’s water and sewer system woes falls into two distinct camps.

The first camp blames those woes almost entirely on what they perceive as pervasive, endemic poverty and racism in Mississippi, particularly in Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city. The second camp blames those problems on the supposed ineptitude and fiscal sloth of Jackson’s black majority city government.

Both camps can forcefully argue their contentions and both arguments contain undeniable elements. But taken at face value, both arguments alone are erroneous and simplistic.

Both camps also leave a lot of relevant information unpacked in those simple and often intensely partisan arguments – not the least of which is aging water and wastewater infrastructure in which both the pipes and the treatment plants are seriously past their design limits. 

There’s the impact of Yazoo clay on breaks in the pipes that reduce water pressure, release raw sewage, and allow stormwater to infiltrate what are supposed to be closed systems.

There’s the constant threat of Pearl River flooding. In 1979, more than 6,000 people in 1,935 homes and 775 businesses in the metro Jackson area alone learned to fear the “big one” — the 200-year Pearl River “Easter Flood” that devastated the city and inflicted over $400 million in damage.

Multiple flood control projects – upstream dams (wet or “dry”), two lakes, one lake, single or multiple weirs designs, dredging projects and widening projects have come and gone due to political disagreements, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers objections, the influence of developers and environmentalists, and that of other interests.

Upstream and downstream critics of flood-control projects to alleviate Pearl River basin flooding claim the only group that doesn’t remember the ravages of the 1979 flood are commercial and residential real estate developers who continue to build in the Pearl River basin flood plain.

Then there are the political influences. When majority-white governments controlled the City of Jackson, they by and large did a better job of operational functions of the city’s water and sewer systems than have recent majority black city governments – that is to say that billing functions were more consistent.

But those majority-white city government leaders kicked the fee and taxation can down the road on broader system maintenance and the portion of the city's water and sewer system in black neighborhoods was given far less attention than those in more affluent white neighborhoods. By the time the city transitioned through “white flight” from Jackson to new developments in Rankin and Madison counties to a true black majority city government, those new black city leaders were handed the keys to a water and sewer system that needed significant, pervasive and cost-prohibitive repair and replacement.

Of those Jackson city leaders in the black-majority city government era, the most focused and productive was three-term Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. – the city’s first African American chief executive. Johnson, who led Jackson to expend or obligate almost $150 million in water and sewer projects in the period between 1997 and 2013 in efforts to forestall the current Jackson water crisis is chronicled in the Online Journal of Rural & Urban Research at Jackson State University Spring 2022 special issue entitled “Implications of the 2021 Jackson Water Crisis: Past, Present, and Future.”

Johnson has been quoted in the media citing those expenditures at closer to $200 million.

The journal article, written with Johnson’s participation, identified the following challenges that Jackson faced during his tenure: “The historic disparity in the provision of municipal services to local residents; A decreasing population and dwindling tax base; An increasing rate of poverty among the water system user base; and Adverse intergovernmental policies that placed the burden of financing improvements on local government and ratepayers.”

State officials point to lax efforts by the current Jackson city government to collect water bills and point to the fact that other Mississippi cities supported and maintain their water systems through local fee systems and bonds. They say legislative support for a bailout for Jackson remains tepid and that’s clearly accurate even while there are portable toilets on Capitol grounds.


Jackson’s water problems are complex – and the eventual solution will require complexity as well.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at 


Anonymous said...

Sen. John Horhn And Mayor understand that if you had a home on fire for two years at what point would you believe in creating & implementing a plan to stop the fire. Rebuilding the Curtis Water Plant is not the issue . Adequate staffing, repairing, maintaining all equipment is any everyday process. Much like running to Church in times of trouble but setting Jesus on the shelf the other 360 days of the year. It does not take a rocket scientist to know there are issues. MS State I’d full of Engineering Students who would love a job & normally have one when graduating. Yes they must work 4 years under a Licensed Engineer b4 taking the PE exam. There are retired Engineers who may be willing to work with private companies under contract but will not work for you, Mr. Mayor 70 or 80 hours a week when not being paid & against Federal Labor Laws.Privatize now or let the State take over with a receivership those are the two only options 99% of the people see.

Anonymous said...

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist and tightrope walker.

Anonymous said...

Sid sees racism behind every tree.

Anonymous said...

Tate was going to be dragged no matter what. If he stepped in sooner, he is an asshole racist for thinking Antar can't handle the job.

Now, of course...he's too late...because, mean white guy.

Any solution that does not involve detailed accounting of funds by 3rd party and removal of all minority requirements should be null/void.

Its criminal that the Donner Kays and Fat Melvins of the world are exploiting impoverished residents for their own gain and the low IQ voters don't realize they deserve better than these thieves. They, along with the Mayor, are the real racists here.

Anonymous said...

St. John has competition for the Bloviator Society Award.

Anonymous said...

Somebody, anybody that pretends to be a journalist...PLEASE ask this joke on camera when he plans to use the Siemens money to fix the billing system.

Ask Tard when he plans to send proper bill, collect payments and cut off for non pay.

Until then, tell him to shut up and sit down at the kids table where he belongs.

Anonymous said...

The boy mayor got what he wanted and that is someone else to deal with the water issue.

However, I don't believe the citizens across Mississippi are planning on rewarding the failure of baby chok by sending Jackson a bunch of water welfare money that will get stolen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Perfect article Sid! Perfectly full of excuses, excuses, excuses! Can’t get any better than that!

Question though; just like the incredibly brilliant CNN propaganda article re: Jackson, MS dated 12/28/21, you reference “white flight,” but conveniently omit the reason for said “white flight,” and you conveniently omit that there’s “black flight” as well.

Why all of the flight Sid? The flight didn’t just start with the infrastructure problems; did it?

It’s very sad that many of your students and others will read your piece and be gullible enough to believe that blame is really to be shared, and never know the truth.

Anonymous said...

OBC is not beyond its design limit. Completely false. 100% fabrication on Salter's part.

Only one white leader kicked the fee and taxation can down the road. Kane Ditto.


... the portion of the city's water and sewer system in black neighborhoods was given far less attention than those in more affluent white neighborhoods.

Is unsubstantiated revisionist bullshit.

Name two neighborhoods Sid Salter during the Danks and/or Ditto years, one 'white' one 'black', where the existing water or sewerage infrastructure was dug up, removed and replaced in the 'white' neighborhood at the same time the same infrastructure needed replacement in the 'black' neighborhood and was ignored.

Salter needs to stay in his lane of providing cover to his poultry farmers pals and their employ of illegal alien labor.

Don Drane said...

If Salter would be honest, for once in his life, he'd be fired by MSU for his honesty.

Truth is, regardless of the underlying causes of a problem, if there are no problem solvers in management, the problem will go unsolved. Forever. Period. That applies to a family, a workplace, a municipality or a sailboat adrift.

Sid has never (and won't) spoken honestly about the decay, (supposed as he calls it) sloth, nepotism, graft, corruption and dependency on higher levels of towns, cities and counties that for years are run by black democrat elected officials. This isn't to say that some levels of those issues are never present with white folks at the helm, but, be honest about the inordinate numbers when those demographics are analyzed.

Nor will Sid address the fact that people of all colors, who can afford to, have and will continue to move away from places like Jackson with the problems that exist and go unsolved (due to inattention, immaturity and inability).

The Sids, Jerry Mitchells and Bill Minors love to fall back on their assumption that 'white flight' causes these problems to worsen and the main culprit in not solving problems is racial. When, in fact, it's flight in every family who CAN, eventually doing what's in the best interest of that family...and in this case, that means getting the hell out of Jackson if you can sell a house and afford one somewhere else. Quality of life and childrens' education top that list of reasons, not race.

When a city has mayor after mayor whose primary goals are based on self-interest, problems will never be solved. This one and the five or so who preceded him fit into that category in my opinion.

Community leaders and problem solvers no longer exist. There are no round-tables, no diversity, no inclusion, no hiring of the best people to attack problems. You don't have any of those when you live in a bubble of denial, finger-pointing, race baiting and reliance on some sort of Fairy-Godmother.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sid: What, pray tell, does a river flood have to do with water and sewer maintenance neglect?

Anonymous said...

Sidney outdid himself today with his apologist drivel. Lumumba is a charlatan and grifter. So were his predecessors.
That’s all you need to know. Stop making excuses for their shitty leadership. It’s actually more racist to make excuses for the shuck ‘n jive, then just calling a spade a spade. Because like Kenny says, if you don’t hold them to the same high standard as you would hold a white mayor, you are basically saying that blacks just aren’t as capable as whites.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sid. I am 29 years old. I have been told my entire life to take responsibility for my actions. I was told this all throughout high school, also during my time at university, and now in my career. Jackson’s city leadership has been majority black for as long as I have been alive. How many US presidents have we had since then? How is it that I have been responsible for my decisions for two decades, but Jackson’s problems are still the fault of white people who haven’t been in power since Bill Clinton was the president?

Sid is being intellectually dishonest because he wants to be perceived as a wise moderate commentator. Nope. Stop lying.

Anonymous said...

Sid Salter and the rest of the (((media))) have become way too comfortable with their revisionist tendencies. I personally just call them the lyingpress.

Anonymous said...

Did Salter pen his dribble in an outhouse?
Where is mention of lack of competent planning during five years of the current administration, which paucity even Bennie T laments?

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen, Mr. Drane!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Look around the state of Mississippi at all of the poor, small towns that has little tax base. They responsibly collect the fees and repair/replace failing systems without crying things such as racism, white flight, etc. Some or all of these excuses may be true, but at some point the problem has to be addressed by actually doing work to improve it and not just paying yet another consultant $100,000 to STUDY it.

When "leadership" fails and mismanagement abounds, NOTHING will get done.

Anonymous said...

8:58 AM, can’t believe your comment with Kane Ditto’s name was approved. A comment yesterday pointing out that Jackson’s demise started with a white Democrat, without even mentioning his name, was censored in a way that would make Twitter’s commie staff (Siru Murugesan’s words) proud!

Lot’s of comments blaming the incompetent’s running Jackson, and rightfully so. But Jackson’s demise all started with whitey leftist Democrats, aided and abetted by a leftist propaganda media.

Anonymous said...

Again I say, it's gotten hard to tell if Sid's columns were written by the Ghost of Bill Minor , Jerry Mitchell, or who, exactly. He's been hanging around the marxists at his university too long.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the ineptitude and fiscal sloth camp-
and that camp is really crowded.

Anonymous said...

8.45 is 100% correct. any plan where money is mot managed accounted for by an outside agency is out. Sorry no water bills for 4 years and $4000 water bills for some. Get that fixed and we will talk. But to spend millions fixing something you will not maintain is crazy

Anonymous said...

If Sid worked for a company that did/tried to do business with the city of Jackson for one month (if he was honest) he would be writing an entirely different article. Myself and the hundreds of others who have seen up close what the real problems are could fill him in but I'm sure that wouldn't fit his and his "media outlet's" political agenda.

Anonymous said...

White flight out of Jackson started in the early 1970’s as a result of more extensive integration and a growing black population. Middle and upper class black flight started 30 years later as a result of increased crime and poor public education. The results of both are a depleted tax base and inadequate funds to maintain the infrastructure. No mayor, black or white, has come close to solving that dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blabbity blab blab blah. This column of Salter could have been reduced to solely the last sentence and he'd have made his point. How much, Kingfish, do you have to pay for Salter's fatty tripe? The odious Ted Rall was by far more interesting to read than the tub-of-wordage Salter.

Anonymous said...

Harvey Johnson came close to solving it. He attempted to run off any/all legitimate business that was in or coming to Jackson, eroding the tax base by removing the businesses but also the employees of said businesses.

Unfortunately, those administrations that followed, seemed to think that was a good idea also.

Anonymous said...

Don't think Dale Danks was a leftist. Either as Mayor or by today's standard.

Anonymous said...

@ September 7, 2022 at 12:12 PM

Quite an overly simplistic view of things, Mr. Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Not a resident but have family that do reside in Jackson. Bottom line the past is past and whatever is done cannot be left in the hands of any of the current leadership. If allowed, state takeover of water, police and fire for complete overhaul is the only option. This circus needs to be stopped as this affects the metro area as a whole. It will only get worse if you do not

Just My Thoughts

Anonymous said...

As someone who has two degrees from Mississippi State University, I am embarrassed that the institution has such biased thinkers as Sid Salter on staff. I give a lot of money to charity, but none to MSU.

Then again, I suppose I make a quarterly gift to MSU on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 with my quarterly tax payment.

Don Drane said...

Rarely, if ever, discussed is the fact that Industrial Development as a whole, suffers statewide, due to the mayor's incompetence and the media attention his immaturity commands. Compounded by the ignorance of the local media, we have to deal with the race-baiting of the 'national media'. It's damning and has sunk our ship.

Imagine being the COO, CEO, CFO team of any company in this country seeking to locate an appropriate location to drop anchor and build an operation from the ground up. You have a management team of 16 senior folks, all with families who would have to relocate and all who are well advanced in the salary scale for their occupations.

Your team has received promotional materials from multiple states, including the State of Mississippi, perhaps from independent, private and local industrial development folks, the governor's office and various state agencies. Those folks will fly your team in and give you their best sales pitch.

Would you even look up our state capital on Google based on what you know and read about Jackson, our flagship city?

Anonymous said...

Salter said nothing of any consequence. Everything he said has already been said 1,000 times. Also, where is the evidence that white Mayors did not to fix waterlines in minority areas? Did he go back and review work orders from 40 years ago?

Anonymous said...

"Also, where is the evidence that white Mayors did not to fix waterlines in minority areas? Did he go back and review work orders from 40 years ago?"

No, just like Mitchell and Minor before him, he LIED, thinking nobody would notice....Well, except the usual race-baiters who take notes and report such lies.

Anonymous said...

I knew Sid personally when he was at MSU as a student in the late 70s/early 80s. This column is nothing new, this was what he was saying in MSU's student paper back then and when he was running the paper in Forest. This is the standard for Sid Salter...

Kingfish said...

I asked the columnist about Siemens. He said it was a secondary problem.

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Trollfest '09

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.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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.

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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.

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