Friday, July 5, 2024

Jackson Math: When a Debt is not a Debt

 Rest of City Council remains silent.

 As Timothy Bennett weasels out of his Smith-Wills rent, Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote charged up the hill in an attempt to hold the Lumumba Administration and Bennett accountable at Tuesday's meeting of the Jackson City Council. 

The City Council approve leasing Smith-Wills Stadium to Kusche Sports Group, LLC in April 2019.  Tim Bennett owns Kusche.  

The lease contained the following key terms: 

* Kusche must pay a minimum rent of $125,000 per year. 

* Kusche must obtain a $5 million performance bond and submit a copy to the city. 

* The lease was valid for ten years with two renewable ten year terms. 

* Kusche must spend at least $6 million on improvements. 


Kusche never paid its rent.  Public records obtained by JJ stated the company only paid $32,500 to Jackson since the first payment was due in October 2020.  The company subleased the parking lot to the VA for overflow parking.  The VA pays Kusche $370,000 per year under the 15-year contract.   Earlier post and copy of lease.

Tim Bennett's company owes at least $500,000 in unpaid rent to the city of Jackson.  However, the Jackson City Council wrote the debt down to $100,000 in January.  A city official said the city would accept the improvements made to the stadium as "payments in-kind."  The amended lease allowed Bennett to make four payments by 2026.  The first payment was due upon approval of the new lease.  However, Kusche has not paid any money to Jackson in 2024.  Earlier post on amended lease. 


The Council voted 5-1 to approve the amended lease.  Councilman Ashby Foote voted against the  rent forgiveness while Councilman Kenneth Stokes was absent.  

Mr. Foote brought up Kusche's failure to pay rent at Tuesday's meeting of the Jackson City Council. The Ward 1 Councilman asked City Attorney Drew Martin about the performance bond.  Mr. Martin admitted the bond was in the contract but he had not been able to find a copy of the bond - yet.  Mr. Foote pointed out the city could have been paid the rent due (at least $500,000) instead of forgiving debt.  

"That's the reason you have a performance bond so if there is some reason the vendor's not able to pay, the insurance company will pay you the proceeds," said Mr. Foote.   The attorney said Mr. Foote was correct about the performance bond but he was not a part of the "negotiations" that took place near the end of 2023.  "It appears we didn't move on the performance bond and went on the modification instead," concluded Mr. Martin. 

Mr. Foote asked if the city could legally modify the debt owed Jackson by Kusche. Mr. Martin said the debt was not forgiven but said credit was given for improvements to the stadium and Kusche had to make payments as well.  

The discussion moved on to the matter of the VA sublease.  Mr. Foote asked about Mr. Bennett's 15-year $5.5 million contract with the VA for overflow parking at Smith-Wills.  The Councilman asked if anyone in the city knew about the VA sublease.  The city attorney said he did not know as he was not involved in the negotiations to modify the lease.  Mr. Foote said the failure to inform the city of the $370,000 per year sublease was a "material omission" and Mr. Bennett had an "obligation to notify the city he was making $370,000 per year on parking."  

"Certainly, I think it's a reasonable question to ask, I just don't know the answer" said Mr. Martin.  

"If he hasn't made the performance bond, if he hasn't made the payments due for the past four years, if he doesn't have the performance bond which is a requirement under the contract, then the next obvious question should be is should we just void the contract altogether and take back Smith-Wills Park and with it, the VA contract for $370,000 a year," argued Mr. Foote.  Mr. Martin replied "I hear the question" and said he would be happy to discuss it but some of the discussion should occur in executive session. 

Mr. Foote said the $370,000 per year would be a "healthy addition to the parks and rec budget."  

No city officials, including the present Chief of Staff, Safiyah Omari (PhD), said a word during the discussion of the lease.  The City Council was just as mute.  Ms. Lindsey sat on her hands while Mr. Grizzell just looked straight ahead as he usually does when something uncomfortable is discussed.  Mr. Hartley just sat there like a bump on a log.  Mr. Stokes had vacated the premises and Ms. Lee had already zoomed out.  However, the $52,000 man, Councilman Aaron Banks, defended Mr. Bennett for a moment. 

The Ward 6 Councilman lauded Mr. Bennett for making substantial improvements to the stadium. He said he would not discuss the VA sublease nor any other issue Mr. Foote raised.  

Kingfish note: The question is whether the city can write down the rent Mr. Bennett owes Jackson.  The past due rent is at least $500,000.  The Mississippi Constitution states: 

No obligation or liability of any person, association, or corporation held or owned by this state, or levee board, or any county, city, or town thereof, shall ever be remitted, released or postponed, or in any way diminished by the legislature, nor shall such liability or obligation be extinguished except by payment thereof into the proper treasury; nor shall such liability or obligation be exchanged or transferred except upon payment of its face value; but this shall not be construed to prevent the legislature from providing by general law for the compromise of doubtful claims.

The city claims it is merely giving Mr. Bennett credit for improvements he made to the stadium.  However, the original lease states Kusche is supposed to make at least $6 million of improvements to Smith-Wills.  Read section 6 of the 2019 lease: 

So the question must be asked: Can the city of Jackson reclassify Kusche's obligations under the lease as rent payments in an effort to reduce his debt? Inquiring minds want to know. 

One last question.  Why is the rest of the City Council silent? Incompetence or corruption?



Anonymous said...

Might we expect an FBI raid on city hall?

Anonymous said...

“As Jackson Turns”

Anonymous said...

Note to self: Invest in Jackson palm grease futures.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if any of the distinguished city officials have received political contributions from affected individuals and/or entities?

Anonymous said...

Only the city of Jackson would rent its main facility to a company named “kush” no matter which extra letters they throw in. Shocking kush don’t pay it only toked and bogarted

Steve said...

I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you!

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. Wlbt, Wapt, CJ, MT ??? Crickets! They’ve got a scandalous story unfolding in the city just waiting to be covered. How long can they avoid this?

Anonymous said...

It's how the corrupt liberals do business. It's easier this way, money is changing hands AGAIN under the table, etc. I wish the State would come in and conduct a full audit on the City. WE ARE BEING ROBBED BLIND!!!and the majority of the un educated Jackson population will still believe the City's poor and that, my friends is how a 32 year old got elected mayor (the City's Un educated population). It won't change until we pass, through legislation (?) the position of City Manager.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I know you aren't going to post this because it's the unpopular truth. They'd be all over Whitey to pay that debt and there would have been no modification. They'd have stuck it to someone of a different color. But that's Jackson, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

Not only is the council corrupt, they are dumb as a box of rocks. One hell of a combination!

Anonymous said...

Ashby a graduate of West Point Academy and a financial advisor seems to be the only one that understands this.

Burke said...

I'm with 12:33. Good Lord, how would a group of Jackson adults, who are supposed to be responsible for running a large city, sit around on their hands as the city cuts a contract of any kind with a name that is a homonym for "Kush"? The mayor's father, Chokwe Senior, came here in the first place from Detroit as an activist for realizing a dream of AAs to create a state or nation or what have you, that would be controlled by African-Americans. They chose Mississippi mostly on demographics--we were already closing in on a 50% Black population. The "movement" failed, but its influence lives on as a dream of some weird sort. Whatever "race" I may be, I'm hoping that I would be intelligent enough to run away from Mr. Bennett as soon as I heard the name of his enterprise pronounced out loud.

Unless I smelled $$$$?

Kingfish said...

Priester would have.

Anonymous said...

To 1:44 pm " They'd be all over Whitey " You mean like they are all over Bryant,Reeves and Farve for stealing millions----Who do you think Jackson tries to emulate----Nothing will happen to these three because guess what, it is being covered up by guess who "whitey"

Anonymous said...

They are afraid. Certain sweetheart deals have been made to put "discretionary" funds in the hands of black businessmen. Only it's really not always "discretionary". They would rather ignore the hustle and hope they can pass the buck like the last council. The last thing they want to do is go on the record acknowledging the hustle. Never be accountable for missing money. After all, they are good democrats aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Just another situation to add to a multitude of situations that show this administration is incompetent or corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Priester 'would have' WHAT?'re still responding to God knows what or who.

Anonymous said...

I think Jackson math is done with colors instead of numbers.

Macy Hanson said...

I miss Melvin Priester, Jr. What a quality member of the city council he was.

This might be the most unbelievable thing I've ever read on this blog.

Drew Martin is not a fool and he knows better. I wouldn't want to fall on this grenade like Drew is doing.

Anonymous said...

Northside Sun physical paper has an article today on this. Nothing on WLBT site that I've seen.

Burke said...

Right on, Kingfish. He was a shining star that has now dimmed.

Anonymous said...

What improvements to Smith Wills ?
I eat lunch at least once a week at Ag Museum
Restaurant ( decent food at reasonable price)
And can’t see anything done to the old SW stadium

Steve said...


I’ll take corrupt with a helping of incompetent for $1,000 Alex.

Anonymous said...

And yet White thinks we need a special legislative study group to assess what can be done to help the corruption infested Capital city. ROFLMAO

Get a clue Mr. Speaker.

Anonymous said...

Let us all pretend that years of bashing Jackson had no effect. Let us all pretend that there's been no effort to make other Mississippians afraid to come to Jackson and that instead of actively working together to make sure Jackson had the resources needed for any city, people like Priester were stymied at every turn instead of being allowed to LEAD.

Anonymous said...

8:22 - no one is pretending. Jackson is unsafe. That is a fact. Your whiny ass “well yall aren’t helping” bashing Jackson, warning people of the dangers in Jackson is like saying is like blaming a rape victim for wearing too short of a skirt. And Priester would have been a disaster too. Nice guy, but not capable of handling the dumpster fire that Jackson has become.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who’s known Tim Bennett as I have will tell you he’s all cowboy hat with no cattle.

Something Fishy said...

Let's forget about the city of Jackson, because it's a lost cause at this point, and move the discussion in another direction. Why would the VA sign a lease for 15 years for overflow parking at Smith-Wills? Are there really that many VA employees who park at Smith-Wills that anyone could justify paying $370K a year? That's a total of $5.55M for those of you who can't do the math. How Tim Bennett manages to make these deals continues to astound me.

Macy said...

I agree with every word of 12:22. None of this makes any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

If anything happens to Smith Wills and the Hank Aaron Sports Academy, please don't complain when your cars get stolen and homes get invaded!
Tim Bennett is providing and outlet for all 7 JPS high school baseball programs and youth in the area! Of BLACK and WHITE backgrounds, because as we know, we have poor kids in both demographics.
Mess around and find out folks!

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest folks!
The Braves are leaving Pearl, so that is Jackson's fault??
So we'll have an empty Trustmark and it seems like everyone on here is saying tear down Smith Wills??
Seems like we're just a bunch backwards country bumpkins who don't support anything, and want to tear down anything with potential!

A little bird said...

Bennie Thompson may have some insight on that sweet VA parking area deal. Uncle Bennie may know.

Anonymous said...

I am not great with mathematics… but Kusche rents property for $125,000/ year from City of Jackson… then subleases part of that property to the VA for $370,000/year. Seems like plum fools running things to me. Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

@ 8:22 - Let us pretend that your suggestion does not equate to pouring billions of dollars more into the rathole of incompetence that's been dug over the past nine administrations.

Anonymous said...

According to Law 101 for a contract to be a contract all terms must be agreed , fulfilled and signed by ALL parties )1 no performance bond has been secured , 2) late rental payments and 3) cut a side deal without notification sounds like Bennett DID NOT fulfill his end of the agreement. Sounds like there was NO CONTRACT. Get the $$$ from the VA . Bennett entered a. Illegal contract with the VA? In fact Mr. City Attorney that can’t seem to do your job can you place a phone call to legal division and get a copy of the performance bond I bet they have a copy. My question how much was JPS paying? Is there a contract with JPS? Jokes aside this man could have made his obligations to the City HE chose NOT TO ,

Anonymous said...

Selective with th post on here I see?

Anonymous said...

Essential investigative journalism for Jackson!

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