Thursday, May 9, 2024

EPA Dismisses NAACP Complaint Against State

The Brothers Johnson* struck out again after the EPA dismissed the NAACP's environmental civil rights complaint against the Mississippi State Department of Health this week.  The NAACP's complaint blamed Jackson's water failure on the state discriminating against Jackson for years because it was a majority-black city.  

Former Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Frank Figgers, Gwendolyn Burt, Ed Sivak, Deidre Long, Charles Jones, and Dr. Akemi Stout file a Title VI three days after the EPA created the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights.  The NAACP represented the plaintiffs.  

The plaintiffs accused the Health Department of discriminating against the city of Jackson. The federal government provided millions of dollars to the Health Departments Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund.  The Health Department in turn issues low-interest loans to communities for water infrastructure projects.  MSDH can forgive up to $500,000 of the loan. The maximum loan amount is $5 million but the agency can waive the cap as it did for Jackson - twice.  The loans had terms of 20-30 years when issued to Jackson.  

The complaint complained  the agency only provided three loans to Jackson in 25 years.  Similar funds were provided to MDEQ for wastewater systems.  The NAACP accused MDEQ of discrimination as well.  

The complaint left out an inconvenient fact: MDEQ and MSDH approved every loan application submitted by the city of Jackson.  The EPA dismissed the complaint against MDEQ and the Health Department as it determined no discrimination took place.  Earlier post on MDEQ dismissal. 

The letter states: 

OECRC is notifying MSDH of its closure of EPA File No. 06R-22-R4. A letter is also being sent to the Complainants. With respect to Issue 1, OECRC conducted an investigation of the issue and found insufficient evidence to conclude that MSDH violated Title VI and EPA’s nondiscrimination regulations.

The Brothers Johnson groused in the complaint the Health Department issued only three low-interest loans to Jackson in 25 years, a clear example of the state starving Jackson of money it needed to fix its water system, right? There is just one problem. Jackson never got more money because Jackson never asked for more money. Jackson asked for three loans and Jackson got three loans. The claim was a bit rich as Harvey Johnson never applied for said loans during his twelve years as Mayor but such details mean little when one is trying to cover up his role in blowing up Jackson's water system

The EPA said, in the words of Tom Clancy, your assertion does not square with the facts:

Figure 3 (P.10 in letter posted below) shows that some of the communities with higher percentage of African Americans in the population received a high percentage of the funding in particular years. Over the period studied, there was no relationship between percent of the total amount of funding available received by a community and the race of the community. For the years Jackson received loan awards, it received a large proportion of the total funding available for those years.

Did everyone read that little finding?  The federal agency found the Health Department did not discriminate against Jackson because it is black.  Far from providing Jackson a "small percentage of available funds, the Health Department awarded the majority of loans to majority-black governments in some years. Discrimination, indeed. However, the Brothers Johnson and their back-up band of plaintiffs were not through in claiming more racism:

Complainants further alleged that even though MSDH funded applications submitted by Jackson over time, MSDH administered policies or practices relating to the interest rates assigned to loans, loan amount caps, term of repayment, and other characteristics of loan terms that served as barriers to Jackson’s access to needed funding through the SRF. During the investigation, Jackson officials advised OECRC that Jackson determined it would be fiscally irresponsible to apply for additional loans under the terms established by MSDH. Complainants alleged “MSDH adopts loan terms that are not feasible for Jackson. For instance, the MSDH caps loan forgiveness for EPA-funded drinking water loans at only $500,000.00. This amount may be significant to a small water authority that needs one or two million dollars to maintain its system, but such a ""small cap places Jackson at a structural disadvantage, relative to other communities in Mississippi.” Regarding the terms of repayment, Complainants alleged “though Congress expanded the SRF loan repayment period to 40 years for disadvantaged communities in 2018, the MSDH continued to enforce a 30-year repayment period for disadvantaged communities until 2022.

The EPA said there was "insufficient data" to determine whether the loans terms had a "disparate impact on black communities in Mississippi.   Indeed, the letter points out the Health Department bent over backwards several times to help Jackson.   MSDH twice waived the loan cap of $5 million and approved loans for Jackson that were more than double the maximum loan amount. 

The Health Department loaned Jackson a grand total of  $51,518,313 in DWSRF money.  The interest rate for the loans is 1.95%.  Repayments begin when the funded project is completed.  The standard repayment is a 20 year term but disadvantaged communities can obtain a term of 30 years.  

What was the old saying about good deeds going unpunished? 

Although the maximum loan forgiveness is only $500,000, the EPA said it was more favorable to small communities.  However, the agency also found the Health Department treated majority-white and majority-black communities equally. "Data on loan forgiveness eligibility showed no evidence of disparate impact on the basis of race," concluded the EPA.

The ending paragraphs say it all: 

OECRC finds insufficient evidence that MSDH violated Title VI and its implementing regulation with respect to whether MSDH discriminated against the majority Black/African American population of Jackson, Mississippi, on the basis of race in its funding of water infrastructure and treatment programs and activities. OECRC also finds that currently MSDH has procedural safeguards required under 40 C.F.R. Parts 5 and 7. Accordingly, OECRC is closing EPA Complaint 06R-22-R4, against the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) and the Local Governments and Rural Water Systems Improvements Board, as of the date of this letter.

Kingfish note: The complaint is yet another attempt by Harvey Johnson to cover up his role in the collapse of Jackson's water system and a major role it was.  It was Harvey Johnson who got bamboozled on the Siemens deal.  Hizzoner and the City Council stuffed the project with unqualified contractors.  The project blew up the water and sewer systems' billing system and thus their finances.   A water/sewer system that had millions of dollars in reserves while generating a $7 million profit per year turned into a broke system losing $10-20 million per year. No money meant no employees, no parts, no chemicals, and no maintenance. Although cutoff moratoriums implemented by Mayors Yarber and Lumumba cratered the system, Harvey's Siemen's project was the original sin.  

* The quip refers to the 70's funk band.  The two men are not related. 


Anonymous said...

It’s just a setback in a minor skirmish. The reality is that the NAACP is winning the war. You can’t even say “welfare queen” in a blog post about a welfare queen getting arrested for being a welfare queen. Why? KF is afraid of someone. Is it the NAACP?

Anonymous said...

Fortunately the "race card" doesn't always produce a winning hand.

Anonymous said...

NAACP should be made to pay court costs and MDEQ/MSDH’s legal fees for such a frivolous lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

If you were to guess, how long will society keep putting up with lawsuits like this? How long until enough people will see them as "here we go again" efforts? Clearly, we're not there yet.

Anonymous said...

@1:11 I think it was a complaint rather than a lawsuit. But I wholeheartedly agree. It was bullcrap, the NAACP knew it was bullcrap, and it had tons of factual errors in the complaint to attempt to paint the narrative they wanted to paint. If the NAACP had one ounce of credibility or character, they would apologize. And if the Mississippi Free Press or Mississippi Today had one ounce of journalistic integrity, they would write a scathing article about the NAACP's frivolous and racist complaint.

Anonymous said...

The civil rights complaints were just part of PR campaign. The plaintiffs probably had no idea if there was discrimination involved and didn't care. All they cared about was grabbing some headlines so that the rest of the country would go, "Look at that. Mississippi is at it again". It worked.
AP, Reuters, and the rest all ran the article. Now they are counting on the failure of the national news outlets to pick up on the actual outcome, and so far they are right. The Phi Delt making ape noises at the black protester makes the news, but the water crisis plaintiffs getting their bluff called does not. So, while they didn't get the findings they fantasized about, the plaintiffs succeeded in their original PR campaign at the expense of the good folks at MDEQ and MDH who were doing right.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi Free Press or Mississippi Today have journalistic integrity????

HAHAHAHAHAHA. You'd have a better chance of finding a Ford Truck with the keys in it at night in Jackson than assume those liberal agenda pushing rags have any shred of journalistic integrity. I can't wait for Donner Kay to invite the JXN Gang over to tell them to cut out the fairytale antics. Or not so Bright Jonathan to put down his white guilt and tell us people of all colors are capable of screwing up. Hell I am waiting on the New York Times to recant their cold weather made the white flight racist water system fail story. Shucks...I guess they'll come around one day when it's them who's fantasy world collapses.

Anonymous said...

Labumbles and Harvey will hold a presser to publicly apologize for being so horribly racist and beg for the public to forgive them so they dont get cancelled any minutes now...right?

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get properly worked up to write a scathing post about Kingfish dragging the Brothers Johnson band up it this NAACP crap fest. Those guys made some good music.

Anonymous said...

We all pay the price for multiple decades of incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Don't the Barksdalers back Mississippi Today??

Racist NAACP said...

The "race card," that's what you raise when you don't have squat.

Anonymous said...

* The quip refers to the 70's funk band. The two men are not related.

Get band that doesn't deserve the association KF.

Anonymous said...

Tate Reeves wins again

Anonymous said...

@12:27 pm said “KF is afraid of someone. Is it the NAACP?”

Well, maybe a little bit, but not nearly as afraid of the NAACP as he is afraid of the ADL. But you’re never going to know that because this post won’t appear.

Anonymous said...

In other words, EPA says "Get The Funk Out Ma Face"

Anonymous said...

Harvey = POS

Anonymous said...

These plaintiffs must really feel like fools!

Anonymous said...

The AP (Associated Press) has reported on this and specifically noted that every completed application from Jackson was approved, and that for each of those years Jackson received a large proportion of the available funding.

Derrick Johnson said he is "outraged," which I think is his natural state.

Great job KF, you made a difference fighting for truth on this one.

Anonymous said...

@1:52, it WAS a lawsuit, as clearly stated several times. The pleading filed by a plaintiff to initiate a lawsuit is called a “complaint.”

Anonymous said...

10:42, the complaint was filed with the EPA. It was not filed in a lawsuit. Lawsuits are filed in court. The EPA is not a court. It is true that the plaintiff in a lawsuit files a complaint seeking relief or a remedy. But the term complaint is used in other situations, like filing a complaint for review by an executive branch agency like the EPA.

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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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