Bill Cosby talks about "slow class". Just click on the button below or this link if the button does not work.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
"Please contact me as soon as possible." So ended an April 19 letter from Hinds County attorney Crystal Martin to Derrick Johnson regarding redistricting. Jackson Jambalaya obtained through a public records request correspondence between Mr. Johnson and Hinds County. Needless to say, the correspondence was rather one-sided as Mr. Johnson did not respond in writing. Mr. Johnson is the President of the Mississippi NAACP.
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors hired Derrick Johnson to submit a redistricting plan to the federal government. The deadline was March 1, 2011. The Justice Department notified Hinds County in a May 31, 2011 letter:
"our analysis indicates that the information sent is insufficient to enable us to determine that the proposed redistricting plan has neither the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote.... The following information is necessary so that we may complete our review of your submission:" (see documents below for the rest of the letter).
The list is rather extensive in nature as Mr. Johnson failed to provide a great deal of information in his submission. The Justice Department sent another letter to Hinds County on October 21, 2011. The Justice Department stated in a sentence that was so understated one almost thought a Brit wrote it: "The information provided is not, in all instances, complete and fully responsive to our specific requests." The Justice Department again asks for a long list of information Mr. Johnson failed to provide:
1. Election returns for all county elections since 1999 and registered voter information for each precinct. Mr. Johnson turned in information that was lacking in population, registered voter, and racial information for each precinct. He did not even included the race of the candidates.
2. This is the sad part. Mr. Johnson provided "a listing of the constituent (There he is using big words again) precincts for each plan is contained on the discs which are enclosed." Um, the Justice Department said no such information was provided by Mr. Johnson:
"We did not receive a disc that contains these precinct listings with the submission received on September 15, 2011. Instead, we received one disc containing election returns and six discs containing recordings of meetings of the Board of Supervisors." (Trying hard not to make an editorial comment here.).
Mr. Johnson did not provide any additional information to the Justice Department until after Ms. Martin sent him several emails in April 2012. She sent him a short email on April 12 stating she was "getting repeated phone calls with respect to Hinds County redistricting. PLEASE let me know when we get this last submission in."
Mr. Johnson did not respond. She sent him another email on April 19:
"I hope all is well with you. I am writing to advise that I have received numerous calls and inquiries regarding the status of the Hinds County redistricting plan with the U.S. Department of Justice. There have also been persistent calls and emails from the media regarding the status of the plan. As you can imagine, members of the Board of Supervisors are very concerned that this issue has not been resolved. Some of them were under the belief, after speaking with you, that the final plan had been submitted months ago..... Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss this matter."
Mr. Johnson submitted the information shortly after this email. It is not known if the information is what was required by the Justice Department. Controversy has arose in Jackson after Mr. Johnson did not sign his contract until the city council threatened to revoke it. Mr. Johnson did not work on the redistricting for months and the city council debated replacing him with another vendor. Earlier post. Wilkinson County withdrew a plan he created after it discovered the plan was very incomplete and drafted in a "slipshod" manner.
Here is the background of this case from an earlier post:
Sooooo............. Hinds County illegally approves a contract for Derrick Johnson to draw new voting lines for Hinds County. Illegal because the contract was not opened up for bidding and the law requires Mr. Johnson is licensed as an attorney in Mississippi if he obtains a no-bid professional service contract. Mr. Johnson has not passed the bar exam in Mississippi or in any other state. Mr. Johnson then charged Hinds County $40,000 for his work. The fee was double what Central Mississippi Planning and Development District charged Rankin and Madison counties - $20,000 apiece.
The Board of Supervisors then held a hearing with no notice posted on the county website, at the courthouse, or in the Clarion-Ledger. The only notice was posted twice in the little read weekly the Jackson Advocate. Mr. Johnson came to the hearing with no maps, little census data, and a ton of rudeness to anyone asking questions. The supervisors then did not make plans available to the public until the day of the final hearing a week later and even then did not provide the map eventually approved by the board until the meeting itself started. Earlier post with maps and video.
Here is the editorial comment from the post about Mr. Johnson and the Jackson City Council a few weeks ago. It still applies:
That was the news, now for the opinion. This meeting only reinforces my view that Derrick Johnson is a con artist. He travels around the state promoting himself as a redistricting specialists. Now it turns out that the Jackson redistricting he brags he did ten years ago was actually a joint project with CMPDD. Anyone want to bet CMPDD did the work while he claimed a check as a "minority vendor"? This was the same Derrick Johnson who according to several Supervisors, told the board he was an attorney when in fact he is not licensed in any state. Video of Hinds County redistricting public hearing. Worth watching again.
The problems with Wilkinson, Hinds, and Jackson show the same thing: refusal to return phone calls, sloppy work when it is actually done, and redistricting plans not even submitted to the Justice Department. Mr. Johnson's action or I should say lack of action, appear to be someone who is in over his head, does not know what to do, and hides. Mr. Johnson appeared at a public hearing last year for Hinds County redistricting with no maps and no data. At the time I thought he was just plain arrogant and trying to pull something shady, now I wonder if the man had no maps because he frankly didn't know what he was doing. He then claimed he had to correct the maps he made because he used the wrong census data, blaming someone else of course.
The contracts for Hinds and Jackson alone are $60,000. It is unknown what the contract is for Wilkinson County. Mr. Johnson saw green and got mean but when it came time to do the work, he is nowhere to be seen. the city should terminate the contract with DL Consultants and move forward with CMPDD since it has already done the work and can have it done in a matter of weeks.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Time for an Old Capitol Green update. In case you forgot, the developer for the project came before the Hinds County Board of Supervisors asking for $17 million to build the parking garage. Keep in mind the site is over by Commerce and Silas Brown streets. The Supervisors at first balked because the county has been asking for some financial documents before it gives Full Spectrum one penny. The sort of documents any lender would ask for before lending $17 million: tax returns and audited financial statements for the last three years as well as commitment letters from tenants. The county has asked for this information for over six months yet Full Spectrum has done everything but let the county have a peek at its financial records. In other words, give us the money but don't worry about if we have any money or not, you can trust us.
The money is available through the Mississippi Development Authority. The legislature authorized MDA to provide up to $20 million to the county for the project. All Full Spectrum can see is $20 million as not one shovel of dirt has been turned but don't worry, they promise to start digging in August. The supes said enough, if you turn in the requested financial documents by last Friday at 5:00 PM, we will send a non-binding letter to MDA asking for the money. So Full Spectrum posted this message on its Facebook page yesterday:
"Old Capitol Green is moving forward! The developers submitted the required financial documentation to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors on Friday, May 25, 2012 before the 5pm deadline, as planned, and now it's full speed ahead! Thank you all for your continued support! We will continue to keep you posted on progress as it develops!"
Not so fast. Full Spectrum sent to the count a confidentiality agreement late Friday afternoon. It would not submit any financial records until the county signed the agreement. A bit redundant as the public records law already allows the county to keep such documents secret. Then right at 5:00 PM Friday, Full Spectrum turned in a bunch of documents. Thus no one had a chance to review them until yesterday. Over the last week, Full Spectrum has not exactly told the whole story. Let me count the ways. WLBT story
When pressed by the Supervisors last week for financial records, Malcolm Shepperd told the board he had already provided them to JRA and the city of Jackson. JRA informed this correspondent no such documents were ever submitted. Mr. Shepperd then offered this excuse to the Clarion-Ledger Sunday:
"Malcolm Shepherd, Full Spectrum's development director, had said the information would be submitted Friday. He said there was a delay in providing financial information because the project has been downsized. The parking garage initially was to have 800 parking spaces but is expected to be reduced to 450." Article
Oh really? What the heck does the size of a parking garage have to do with providing tax returns or income statements from two years ago? Does the parking garage affect his bank statements? Is there some reason a CPA can't audit his books if the project changes? Projects change all the time, basic lending requirements don't. The county is the lender and is doing what every lender should do: ask to see the books to see what kind of shape the developer is in before lending one dime of taxpayer money. More smoke and mirrors from Full Spectrum. Then there is this explanation last week to the Jackson Free Press:
"Malcolm Shepherd, development director of Full Spectrum South, said he has already received more letters of interest in renting retail space than the development will hold. Full Spectrum will not make any official deals with retailers until they break ground on construction, though, Shepherd said..."
Um, these are not commitment letters. But keep reading.
"Shepherd is working on the final step before the purchase of the property: a tax increment finance application. After the developers downsized the original plans for 1822 Square from the original $350-million proposal, Shepherd had to rework the value and size of the development for the application. He hopes the TIF will fund infrastructure improvements for the development.
"It is not an easy (application) to fill out. It's kind of complicated because they ask you questions that you have to calculate for them," Shepherd said earlier this month.
Shepherd said Monday that he finished the application and submitted it to Michael Davis, deputy director of the Jackson office of Economic Development, Friday, May 18. " Article
What TIF's? No TIF's have been mentioned at the meetings of the supervisors and I have every discussion recorded on video. I've talked to JRA and there are no TIF's. Notice how the story and Mr. Sheppard say nothing about asking for a $17 million loan from the county.
Anyone seeing a pattern?
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
New revelations took place in the De Mon McClinton case in Hinds County Chancery Court this morning. Chancellor Dewayne Thomas held a hearing on whether Thomas McClinton, the father of De Mon, should be found guilty of contempt of court. The Chancellor imprisoned attorney Mike Brown and cemetery owner Linus Shackelford for the same charges after finding they embezzled from the guardianship of De Mon McClinton. Brown and Shackelford are free on bond and have filed a notice of appeal with the Mississippi Supreme Court.
De Mon is the grandson of Mississippi civil rights legend Aaron henry. His mother, Rebecca Henry, left him $3.5 million when she died in 2000. Then-Chancellor Stuart Robinson appointed Thomas as the guardian and ordered the money to be deposited into an FDIC-insured bank account. Judge Robinson also ruled the money could not be withdrawn without court approval. Unfortunately for De Mon, a great deal of money was spent without notifying the court.
Judge Thomas ruled at a February hearing Mr. Brown never deposited the money in an account nor was one ever established. Judge Thomas threw Mr. Brown in jail after he could not account for the money. A special master reported at a March hearing the money was deposited in several bank accounts, but the banks were never informed the accounts were restricted by the court. Special Master Paul Rogers reported Mike Brown, Thomas McClinton, and Linus Shackelford removed large sums of money which belonged to De Mon. Mr. Shackelford borrowed $550,000 from the estate in 2001 but never repaid any of the money. Judge Thomas ordered him to repay the money with interest but Mr. Shackelford failed to do so.
Enough of the background, now for the main event today. Judge Thomas scheduled the hearing after Special Master Paul Rogers reported Thomas McClinton spent a great deal of De Mon's money and directed funds to girlfriend Lottie Campbell. After sending the BS twins packing, McClinton and Campbell got to face Judge Thomas today. Irony filled the room as McClintons, father and son, sat on opposite benches facing each other. Young De Mon sat through it all, wearing a nice suit, trying to get his money back. The other side said it all. A father clad in a faded green t-shirt and faded khakis while Ms. Campbell dressed in a nice black business suit, looking like an elderly paralegal than a defendant. Judge Thomas banned all cameras, cellphones, and ipads from the courtroom as the bailiff threatened to jail anyone caught violating the order.
Mr. McClinton's lawyer opened the hearing by filing a motion to dismiss. He said the statute of limitations had long expired since De Mon had turned 18 in 2003 and the guardianship was closed in 2006. De Mon's attorney Precious Martin, brought the discovery rule to the gunfight as he invoked the rule.. The discovery rule (in layman's terms) says the statute of limitations does not expire if a fraud is later discovered as the court ruled took place in this case. Mr. Martin demanded an accounting from Thomas McClinton and said he was "trying to figure out what happened to De Mon's money." He said something about "roaches" and "disinfectant", showing no mercy as he made his argument. He said the accounting provided by the senior McClinton was "insufficient" and asked for additional discovery.
Mr. Martin told the court he wanted to depose Thomas McClinton and Lottie Campbell. He said "cars were bought" for Lottie Campbell's children and the funds used was "sourced and seasoned from De Mon's money." Mr. Martin said Trustmark and Regions banks at first said they didn't keep records past seven years and the bank statements for money was "long gone" but that they "miraculously appeared" after receiving subpoenas.
Mr. Martin said he would soon submit a settlement with Trustmark to the court. Mr. Martin then said he had received "information" that Linus Shackelford would repay the money owed to the court "plus interest" (Don't say it.).
Attorney Loraleigh Phillips then addressed the court, representing a pawn shop. Mr. Martin served her client with a subpoena for records Saturday. Ms. Phillips said the records were for items pawned by Mike Brown and they were protected from disclosure by federal law. She also argued she had no time to review the subpoena. Judge Thomas quashed the subpoena and ordered Mr. Martin to issue another one. Judge Thomas then continued the hearing to June 26 at 9:00 AM. The Chancellor authorized Mr. Martin to move forward with discovery.
Collection of related posts
Note: document below is fixed.
Hatfields & McCoys have nothing, and I do mean nothing, on the Smith-Abraham feud. With all of the hit men, anonymous letters, and court fights, it gets kind of confusing at times to figure out exactly what happened and when it happened. No problem. Here is a timeline that makes it easier for you to keep track of this case:
Monday, May 28, 2012
I've posted this show for a couple of Memorial Days now and still like it, so I'm posting it again. While looking for Memorial Day stuff for this website a few years ago, I came across these videos about what is now a little-known rescue of American soldiers in a Bataan Death Camp in the Philippines. The Mission was to rescue 500 soldiers. There were 1000 Jap soldiers a mile to the east and another 7,000 soldiers 4 miles to the west. 120 Rangers were selected to carry out the mission. The camp was 30 miles behind enemy lines. Quit watching the crap on tv or surfing the net and watch these videos. The story is quite riveting.
The AP's Jeff Amy reported last week the Quitman School District is in danger of losing its accreditation from the Department of Education:
"A dispute between the Quitman school district and a school board member who believes her twin autistic sons aren't getting the services they need could lead to a downgrade in accreditation for the district.
A hearing on the district's accreditation status opened Wednesday in Jackson. A hearing officer will make a recommendation to the state accreditation commission, which could in turn recommend to the state Board of Education that it lower Quitman's status.
The Quitman district has about 2,000 students and covers the southern two-thirds of Clarke County, south of Meridian. It's not to be confused with the Quitman County district in the state's Delta region.
School board member Rebecca Watkins and husband Amos say the district has illegally withheld copies of their sons' educational records and is denying them required input in planning their sons' education. Quitman administrators say they fairly treated the Watkinses, that the family has been uncooperative, and that the district doesn't have to cater to the parents' desires. The district also says that if it withheld records, no harm was done to the boys or parents.
The Mississippi Department of Education has recommended the sanction, saying Quitman has failed to meet state standards on special education.
"The Quitman Consolidated School District has demonstrated a continual pattern of noncompliance for over a year," said Heather Deaton, a lawyer for the state.
The district disagrees, saying there's no evidence of a required pattern of violations, or that the district's actions have done anything to harm the children or the parents.
"The state department is looking at no more than procedural requirements," lawyer Jim Keith told a hearing officer Wednesday. "The only reason we're here today is the complaints of one parent. If the parent had simply worked with the district, we wouldn't be here today...."
The dispute escalated to a formal hearing that stretched over eight days last fall. The hearing officer found that the Watkins family hadn't met their burden of proof and that although there had been a failure to provide educational records, that failure was harmless..."
The parents also filed a lawsuit in federal court against the district. Copy of lawsuit. The parents claim the district has spent over $300,000 in attorneys concerning this dispute.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
There is a campaign to associate the red poppy flower with Memorial Day. The idea is based on this poem:
"In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
So if you observe Memorial Day tomorrow, wear a red poppy. It was a national tradition for some years after the Great War.
Israel's ambassador to the United Stated penned this column in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago:
"This year Israel is celebrating . . . a series of accomplishments that have surely exceeded the expectations of its most visionary founders. It is one of the most powerful small nations in history. . . . [It] has tamed an arid wilderness [and] welcomed 1.25 million immigrants. . . . The Israelis themselves did the fighting, the struggling, the sacrificing in order to perform the greatest feat of all—forging a new society . . . in which pride and confidence have replaced the despair engendered by age-long suffering and persecution."
So Life magazine described Israel on the occasion of its 25th birthday in May 1973. In a 92-page special issue, "The Spirit of Israel," the magazine extolled the Jewish state as enlightened, robustly democratic and hip, a land of "astonishing achievement" that dared "to dream the dream and make that dream come alive."
Life told the story of Israel's birth from the Bible through the Holocaust and the battle for independence. "The Arabs' bloodthirsty threats," the editors wrote, "lend a deadly seriousness to the vow: Never Again." Four pages documented "Arab terrorist attacks" and the three paragraphs on the West Bank commended Israeli administrators for respecting "Arab community leaders" and hiring "tens of thousands of Arabs." The word "Palestinian" scarcely appeared.
There was a panoramic portrayal of Jerusalem, described as "the focus of Jewish prayers for 2,000 years" and the nucleus of new Jewish neighborhoods. Life emphasized that in its pre-1967 borders, Israel was "a tiny, parched, scarcely defensible toe-hold." The edition's opening photo shows a father embracing his Israeli-born daughter on an early "settlement," a testament to Israel's birthright to the land.
Would a mainstream magazine depict the Jewish state like this today, during the week of its 64th birthday?
Unlikely. Rather, readers would learn about Israel's overwhelming military might, brutal conduct in warfare and eroding democratic values—plus the Palestinians' plight and Israeli intransigence. The photographs would show not cool students and cutting-edge artists but soldiers at checkpoints and religious radicals.
Why has Israel's image deteriorated? After all, Israel today is more democratic and—despite all the threats it faces—even more committed to peace.
Some claim that Israel today is a Middle Eastern power that threatens its neighbors, and that conservative immigrants and extremists have pushed Israel rightward. Most damaging, they contend, are Israel's policies toward the territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, toward the peace process and the Palestinians, and toward the construction of settlements.
Israel may seem like Goliath vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but in a regional context it is David. Gaza is host to 10,000 rockets, many of which can hit Tel Aviv, and Hezbollah in Lebanon has 50,000 missiles that place all of Israel within range. Throughout the Middle East, countries with massive arsenals are in upheaval. And Iran, which regularly pledges to wipe Israel off the map, is developing nuclear weapons. Israel remains the world's only state that is threatened with annihilation.
Whether in Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza, Israel has acted in self-defense after suffering thousands of rocket and suicide attacks against our civilians. Few countries have fought with clearer justification, fewer still with greater restraint, and none with a lower civilian-to-militant casualty ratio. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza to advance peace only to receive war in return.
Whereas Israelis in 1973 viewed the creation of a Palestinian state as a mortal threat, it is now the official policy of the Israeli government. Jewish men of European backgrounds once dominated Israel, but today Sephardic Jews, Arabs and women are prominent in every facet of society. This is a country where a Supreme Court panel of two women and an Arab convicted a former president of sexual offenses. It is the sole Middle Eastern country with a growing Christian population. Even in the face of immense security pressures, Israel has never known a second of nondemocratic rule.
In 1967, Israel offered to exchange newly captured territories for peace treaties with Egypt and Syria. The Arab states refused. Israel later evacuated the Sinai, an area 3.5 times its size, for peace with Egypt, and it conceded land and water resources for peace with Jordan.
In 1993, Israel recognized the Palestinian people ignored by Life magazine, along with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the perpetrator of those "Arab terrorist attacks." Israel facilitated the creation of a Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza and armed its security forces. Twice, in 2000 and 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians a state in Gaza, virtually all of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. In both cases, the Palestinians refused. Astonishingly, in spite of the Palestinian Authority's praise for terror, a solid majority of Israelis still support the two-state solution.
Israel has built settlements (some before 1973), and it has removed some to promote peace, including 7,000 settlers to fulfill the treaty with Egypt. Palestinians have rebuffed Israel's peace offers not because of the settlements—most of which would have remained in Israel anyway, and which account for less than 2% of the West Bank—but because they reject the Jewish state. When Israel removed all settlements from Gaza, including their 9,000 residents, the result was a terrorist ministate run by Hamas, an organization dedicated to killing Jews world-wide.
Nevertheless, Israeli governments have transferred large areas to the Palestinian Authority and much security responsibility to Palestinian police. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has removed hundreds of checkpoints, eased the Gaza land blockade and joined President Obama in calling for the resumption of direct peace talks without preconditions. Addressing Congress, Mr. Netanyahu declared that the emergence of a Palestinian state would leave some settlements beyond Israel's borders and that "with creativity and with good will a solution can be found" for Jerusalem.
Given all this, why have anti-Israel libels once consigned to hate groups become media mainstays? How can we explain the assertion that an insidious "Israel Lobby" purchases votes in Congress, or that Israel oppresses Christians? Why is Israel's record on gay rights dismissed as camouflage for discrimination against others?
The answer lies in the systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state. Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism, Israel's enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic that hampers Israel's ability to defend itself, even to justify its existence.
It began with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's 1974 speech to the U.N., when he received a standing ovation for equating Zionism with racism—a view the U.N. General Assembly endorsed the following year. It gained credibility on college campuses through anti-Israel courses and "Israel Apartheid Weeks." It burgeoned through the boycott of Israeli scholars, artists and athletes, and the embargo of Israeli products. It was perpetuated by journalists who published doctored photos and false Palestinian accounts of Israeli massacres.
Israel must confront the acute dangers of delegitimization as it did armies and bombers in the past. Along with celebrating our technology, pioneering science and medicine, we need to stand by the facts of our past. "The Spirit of Israel" has not diminished since 1973—on the contrary, it has flourished. The state that Life once lionized lives even more vibrantly today."
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
A 2012 actuarial report states the city of Jackson has an unfunded liability of $61,685,944 in its municipal retirement account. The unfunded liability increased $1.2 million from the 2011 report. The retirement account covers police and firefighters hired by the city prior to April 1, 1976. The funding level is currently 51.6%.
Retirement systems for policeman and firemen were managed by municipalities for decades. Enrollment in these retirement accounts ended in the late 1970's as new employees were enrolled in PERS. The municipalities were given the option of converting these accounts to the PERS system in the 1980s but nearly 20 chose not to do so. The municipalities, not PERS, are responsible for these accounts although they are managed by PERS. 2011 post on this issue.
The report states there are only two current city employees enrolled in the system and 654 beneficiaries- 453 retired employees and 191 surviving family members. 10 are on disability. The annual benefit to a retiree is $22,328 and $14,662 to a survivor. The total payment in fiscal year 2011 to beneficiaries was $13,050,754. The average age is 72 years old. A member is paid 50% of his average compensation and an additional 1.7% of average compensation for each year of service over twenty years (the maximum level is 66%.).
The total liability for Jackson is $127,472,064 but the plan has $65,786,120 in assets. The plan assumes a rate of return of 8.0% BUT the report does not state the actual rate of return. The plan was funded on September 30, 2011 at a level of 51.6%.
Councilmen Frank Bluntson, Tony Yarber, and Quentin Whiwell all told this correspondent the city did not tell them about this account nor did it notify them of the unfunded liability. Mr. Whitwell said he spoke to PERS and was told the plan as in no danger of failing to meet its obligations. Information regarding the plan starts on page 73 in the Jackson comprehensive financial report.
Jackson faced a similar problem in the mid 1990s. Jackson's plan was below a funding level of 50% from 1991 (38%) to 1996 (46%). The unfunded actuarial liability was $73,861,000 in 1996 and after reaching $80,568,000 in 1994. Jackson issued $50 million in retirement bonds (actually $49.8 million) that were paid off in 2009. The interest cost was $23 million of the bonds. The average interest rate paid on the bonds was 6.3% (not a weighted average) and the average annual principal payment was $4.1 million. The proceeds gained from the sale of the bonds paid the unfunded liability down to $15.8 million in 1997 and improved the funding level to 88%. The plan had a surplus of $6.2 million in 2002 and was funded at 104%. Unfortunately, the funding level has declined since 2004:
Jackson dedicates 5.75 mills (slightly over $1 million per mill) to funding the plan. The funds generated by the property taxes were used to retire the bonds. Thus Jackson only contributed $280,482, 7.9% of the PERS-required contribution of $3,563,516. However, Jackson paid more than the required amount in 2010: $5,735,113 while PERS required $5,005,779 - a payment of 114%. Jackson is scheduled to end contributions in 2020 as it projects the system to be fully funded as it winds down to zero beneficiaries.
Some facts from the reports:
Assets: $120.4 million
Liabilities: $137.5 million
Unfunded liability: $17.1 million
Average monthly benefit: $2,034
Assets: $119.7 million
Liabilities: $144.6 million
Unfunded liability: $24.8 million
Average monthly benefit: $2,543
Assets: $79.1 million
Liabilities: $133.2 million
Unfunded liability: $54.0 million
Assets: $70.8 million
Liabilities: $131.2 million
Unfunded liability: $60.4 million
2011 PERS report on all municipal retirement systems
2010 PERS report on Municipal Retirement Accounts
2010 PERS report on Jackson's Municipal Retirement Account
2009 PERS report on Municipal Retirement Accounts
2004 PERS report on Municipal Retirement Accounts
1997 PERS report on Jackson's Municipal Retirement Accounts
1997 Jackson Special Obligation Bonds
Click Here to Read More..
Seems that things got out of hand recently at a neighborhood pool over in Madison. The HOA sent out this email:
On May 23, 2012, a joint Board meeting was held of the ********** Board (the "big" association), the ******* ****** Board, and the ****** ******* Board. The main issues before the group centered around the "happenings" at the ********* pool last weekend (May 19th and 20th), and how to preclude a recurrence in the future.
First, here's what happened last weekend!
1. There were 2 separate reports of semen in the pool;
2. Used condoms were found in the pool and on the pool deck;
3. Lady's red thongs were abandoned in the Men's Restroom;
4. Lady's used tampons were left on the floor of the Lady's Restroom;
5. Garbage containers were left completely full both days;
6. Pool furniture was thrown in the pool and left;
7. Two chaise lounges were completely destroyed
8. Pool water was contaminated and created a health hazard;
9. Pool pumps shut down due to clogged filters caused by excessive contamination (food, cigarette butts, clothing items, and other trash thrown in the pool);
10. Automatic refill float stuck and lines clogged from detailed contamination;
11. Trash (beer cans, soft drink cans, pizza boxes, KFC remains, personal clothing items, plastic utensils, paper towels, napkins, etc.) in the flower beds, parking lot, and thrown over the pool fence into adjacent common area;
12. Food items, plastic spoons, forks and knives, chicken bones, pizza crusts, etc. thrown in the pool;
13. Many...many cigarette butts thrown in the pool, on the pool deck, and into the flower beds;
14. Clothing, children's play items (toys, rafts, plastic beach ball), towels, etc. discarded in the pool and
on the pool deck;
15. Ceramic tile in Lady's Restroom broken and damaged;
These inconsiderate and irresponsible actions caused the pool to have to be closed for cleaning and sanitizing (shocking) for a minimum of 48 hours, and costs your Association excessively...which costs you, the members personally and individually.
Your assistance is essential! Help your Boards insure that such does not occur in the future! If you see anyone acting in a disrespectful nature to persons or property (loud abusive voice or aggressive actions, trashing the area, breaking anything, throwing anything in the pool, leaving anything on the pool deck, throwing anything over the fence, bringing glass items into the pool area, hosting more than two adult guests and their children, entering the pool in any way other than using their own family pool card, engaging in unacceptable displays of public affection, please take action...ask them to cease and desist. Should they fail to act in a more respectful and acceptable manner, please call the Madison County Sheriff's Department at 601-859-5972 for assistance. It's your pool...treat it as if it were in your backyard...do not allow ANYONE to abuse your pool!
Starting Friday afternoon (5/25) and continuing on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day) your Boards have decided to employ a private security firm to provide a pool security guard to insure compliance with *********'s Pool Rules...ZERO TOLERANCE. Anyone showing disrespect to ********* members and their families by trespassing, or otherwise violating the pool rules will be asked to leave the premises. Failure to do so will result in a call to the Madison County Sheriffs Department, and the issuance of an arrest warrant. Additionally, violators may be subject to cancellation of their pool privileges for up to the balance of the 2012 swim season—cancellation period to be determined by the ********** Board.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!
Board of Directors of ******* Owners Association, Inc.
Board of Directors of ********* ****** Owners Association, Inc.
Board of Directors of ******** ******** Owners Association, Inc.
KF note: Yeesh. Whatever happened to just skinny dipping in the pool?
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Auditor Stacey Pickering and said the $14 million given to now-disbarred attorney Joey Langston was "public funds". The court remanded the case to the trial court for further "disposition" of the case. In other words, decide how much money the Auditor should recover from Langston if I am reading this correctly. Copy of decision.
The court also also issued a similar opinion in the Microsoft case.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the following press release:
"(Jackson, Miss.) The Mississippi Supreme Court released 2 opinions today on cases before them involving State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Attorney General’s Office, MCI and Microsoft. The Supreme Court released an opinion that is shared by former State Auditor, now Governor Phil Bryant and State Auditor Stacey Pickering, fees paid to outside counsel as a part of contingency fee contracts are public funds and must be appropriated either by the Mississippi Legislature or through the Attorney General’s contingency fund.
In both cases, MCI and Microsoft, The Supreme Court’s opinion accepts the Auditor’s arguments and every defense is dismissed with only one Justice dissenting, and then only partially.
Excerpt from today’s opinion in “Stacey Pickering, in His Capacity As Auditor For the State of Mississippi v. Langston Law Firm, P.A.; Joseph C. Langston; State of Mississippi; Lundy & Davis; And Aylstock Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz”:
The plain language of Section 7 – 5 – 7 mandates the outside counsel retained by the Attorney General be paid only from the Attorney General’s contingent fund or from funds appropriated to the Attorney General by the Legislature,” – NO. 2010-CA-00362-SCT, Supreme Court of Mississippi.
“The Supreme Court agreed that the Mississippi Statute uses the mandatory term ‘shall,’ and we view this mandate as declaratory that all fees paid through contingency fee contracts are public funds and must be appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “These rulings today are a victory for open government and transparency as well as for the taxpayers of Mississippi. These opinions set a clear precedent in Mississippi ensuring that the purse strings of the State of Mississippi are to be controlled by the Mississippi Legislature. These funds are public funds, subject not only to control by the Legislature but also subject to audit by the State Auditor’s Office. I appreciate my predecessor Governor Bryant for his leadership on this issue when it began in 2007, and I am overwhelming pleased with today’s action by the Mississippi Supreme Court.”
Elected as Mississippi’s State Auditor in 2007, Stacey Pickering has recovered more than $4.9 million in embezzled, misspent or misappropriated funds. He is a seventh generation Mississippian from Jones County. Auditor Pickering currently serves on the Domestic Working Group for the Office of the Comptroller General of the United States. He also serves on the Financial Management and Intergovernmental Affairs and Performance Audit Committees for the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers and is a member of the National State Auditors Association. Prior to serving as State Auditor, Pickering served as a State Senator from 2004-2007 representing Jones County and is credited for co-authoring legislation allowing Mississippi to end lawsuit abuse. Throughout his political career, Pickering has made tremendous strides in creating more accountability and transparency in government and continues to promote fiscal responsibility and the need for more efficiency and productivity in government. For more information on Stacey Pickering, visit www.osa.state.ms.us/auditors-bio.htm."
I won't even write a lead for this one. Just read and weep. Only comment I will make is it appears the paper was profitable but the chain was not or the chain is cannibalizing the newspaper to keep the company afloat. Newspaper chains were the worst damn things to ever happen to the business as the profitable papers are looted to keep the dying corporate fish afloat. Ugh.Click Here to Read More..
We had Jim McDowell of The Rez News blog on the show yesterday to discuss all things about the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Senator Josh Harkins called in for about 15 minutes. Threw some major softballs that we borrowed from the Senior Leagues. Enjoy.
Here are the latest crime stats available online:
Jackson crime stats for week ending May 13, 2012.
Jackson major crimes overview for week ending May 13, 2012.
Overall violent crime is down 49% and property crime down 32% from the same week last year. However, YTD property crimes are only down 13% and violent crime is up 23%. Armed robbery and homicides are leading the way in violent crime categories. Unfortunately for Precinct 1, business burglaries led the way in all categories with a 71% increase YTD compared to last year. Ouch. Precinct 3 led the way in violent crime as armed robberies increased YTD 131% compared to last year as well.
Precinct 4. Property crime is down 27% and violent crime down 31% from the same week last year while YTD is down 6% for property crimes and 17% for violent crime. Precinct 4 saw a huge reduction in auto burglary, 30%, YTD compared to a year ago. House burglaries YTD are down 26% from last year. Good job in Precinct 4, JPD.
City of Madison crime reports through May 22, 2012.
Reservoir patrol for April, 2012.
Byram crime reports through May 19, 2012.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Read this story about Old Capital Green in today's Jackson Free Press. Then compare it to the story I posted about the project earlier in the week. Are we even covering the same topic? Oh, that's right, their reporters weren't even present when this was discussed. Carry on.Click Here to Read More..
Jackson Jambalaya needs your help if you live in Jackson. This website has taken an active interest in bonds over the years, providing coverage on bond deals the rest of the media didn't see fit to report. The dirty little secret of state, county, and local governments is bonds are one of the largest sources of sweetheart deals. Competitive bidding? Hardly ever happens as local governments usually hand out all the associated contracts for lawyers, bankers, and various consultants to their friends with no thought given to saving money for the taxpayers. Butler Snow walks in, does some work, quick $50,000. A connected "financial advisor" such as Malachi gets an easy $100,000. The convention center hotel was the last straw. Malachi was going to get $1.5 million in fees (Source: CL), another guy was going to get $2 million to "monitor" the project, and then there were all the lawyer fees, underwriting fees, and so on. Then there is the question of whether the bond deals themselves are good for taxpayers.
City council members and Supervisors unfortunately do not even know the right questions to ask when these deals are presented. I've filed public records requests for all documents about bond packages with the city of Jackson and received more documents than what were given to the city council. Unfortunately, too many of these deals are created just to generate fees for the good ole boys. Mayor Johnson and the city council refinanced nearly $30 million in bonds two years ago. The refinancing gave the Mayor $5.5 million a year for three years in up-front money, allowing him to escape the budget disasters plaguing other cities. Want to know how he is getting away with not laying off employees or drastically cutting services? This is it. However, there is just one problem. After five years, the city has to start paying money on the refinancing instead of receiving money. The city will pay over $4 million a year in the last few years of the bonds. Jackson will thus pay $8 million more than if it never refinanced the bonds. Earlier post with chart.
More packages will come down the turnpike. A new hotel project. A $10 million loan for Farish Street. More bonds for Old Capital Green. Yup, we are going to have a 38% vacancy rate in office space downtown and the JRA recommended selling bonds to build more office space. Nuts.
Well, Harvey Johnson and Kenneth Stokes pointed out something in the law that was unknown to me. They threatened to force a referendum on any bonds used to finance the Byram-Clinton Corridor Project. I was unaware such could be done so I looked at the code and shazam, the law does allow them do so such a thing if they can get 1,500 signatures of registered voters in Hinds County. Hmmm...... you mean there is a way we can scrutinize these bond deals a little bit more when our elected leaders drop the ball, including my councilman and supervisor? Thank you for the idea, Kenneth and Harvey. I checked the code and sure enough, we can do the same thing for the city of Jackson. Section 21-33-307 of the Mississippi Code states:
"Before issuing any bonds for any of the purposes enumerated in Section 21-33-301, the governing authority of the issuing municipality shall adopt a resolution declaring its intention so to do, stating the amount of bonds proposed to be issued and the purpose for which the bonds are to be issued, and the date upon which the aforesaid authority proposes to direct the issuance of such bonds....... If ten percent (10%) of the qualified electors of the municipality, or fifteen hundred (1500), whichever is the lesser, shall file a written protest against the issuance of such bonds on or before the date specified in such resolution, then an election on the question of the bonds shall be called and held as is provided in Section 21-33-309...."
Once the council passes the bond resolution specifying the date for the sale of the bonds, we have 21 days to get 1,500 signatures to force an election. The resolution will need 60% of the vote to pass. Such an election will not kill the bond package BUT what it will do is make our conscript fathers tell us why they should be allowed to max out our credit card. They want to refinance some more bonds and line some pockets? First you have to get our approval. Want to build a convention center hotel while monitors are paid $2 million? Got to come to us first. For too long Jackson residents have been victimized by bond deals and let down by their leaders. It's time to put a brake on some of this foolishness.
Here is what JJ needs. If you are interested in gathering signatures to place bond deals on the ballot, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once a resolution is passed, we only have 21 days to gather the 1,500 signatures. That means 21 days to hit the pavement, work the Kroger parking lot, bug your neighbors, and be one of those crazy people walking around with a clipboard. Don't let the city or county whine about the cost of holding such an election. They will pay more than the cost of a bond referendum to one adviser and there are several advisers and underwriters on these deals. So if you want to volunteer and be a Minuteman to hold their feet to the fire, send me an email. Such a referendum will not kill the deal as the voters can approve it. However, it will force officials to actually explain a sale of bonds to us and why we should approve it. The bond issue will need 60% approval from the voters.
The legislature gave you, the voters, the power to inject some responsibility into city finances- if you use it!
Are employer pension plans heading towards a cliff? Credit Suisse issued a report stating most multi-employer pension plans* are underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars:
"Since companies are not required to provide information about the health of the
multi-employer plans that they participate in (other than by color, red is bad, green is good) or their share of a plans underfunding we took a shot at it ourselves. For this report we pulled together data from more than 1,350 multi-employer pension plans (stored it in our multi-employer plan database) and estimated the funded status of each plan through March 16, 2012. In the aggregate we estimate that U.S. multi-employer pension plans are now $369 billion underfunded (using a corporate bond based discount rate) or 52% funded (even after the recent run up in the stock market and rise in yields). Using the plan ID numbers from the new disclosure we were able to allocate $43 billion of the underfunding to the 44 calendar year S&P 500 companies that participate in multi -employer pension plans and are among the first companies to provide the new disclosures....
Pulling together the data from each plan we found that as of the most recent filing
in the aggregate the multiemployer pension plans in the U.S. had $360 billion in plan
assets supporting $788 billion in pension obligations, resulting in $428 billion of
underfunding or (46% funded). That’s not a pretty picture, in fact it makes single employer pension plans look downright healthy....." Copy of report
*The report defines these plans: "a multi-employer pension plan (aka Taft-Hartley plan) has more than one company contributing to a collectively bargained defined benefit pension plan. According to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) there are 1,459 multi-employer pension plans in the U.S. with more than 10 million (mostly unionized) participants"
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Click Here to Read More..
There is a hearing tomorrow for the placement of a prisoner-release program into Belhaven Heights:
"The purpose of this e-mail is to update everyone regarding a very important matter within the Belhaven Heights Community.
The City of Faith, a non-profit that operates work release programs for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has filed a request for a variance allowing it to operate a 40-bed program at 789 Harris Street in the Belhaven Heights community. The variance is needed because the location is within 1,000 feet of our park and single family homes. The BHCA Board has met and voted to oppose the location of this request. The City of Faith plans to appear before theCity of Jackson Planning Board at 1:30pm, Wednesday, May 23rd in the Hood Building, first floor conference room in order to ask the Planning Board to approve their request to operate at this location.
We need at least 50 residents to attend this meeting. If you, or any neighbors, can attend, please reply to this e-mail. You will not be asked to speak, but to raise your hand stating you are in opposition. We appreciate your support.
Editorial comment: If you live in Belhaven and can be there tomorrow to oppose this project, be there and if Chokwe is there, run him over.
Not even close. Half of the voters in the recent JJ poll use the Iphone. No surprise there.Here are the results:
Droid: 15 (2%)
Blackberry: 64 (11%)
Samsung Galaxy: 69 (12%)
Motorola Milestone: 3 (0%)
Non-smartphone phone: 41 (7%)
Nokia Lumia: 5 (0%)
Motorola Atrix: 4 (0%)
Iphone: 273 (50%)
LG phone: 13 (2%)
HTC phone: 22 (4%)
Other: 35 (6%)
Old Capital Green developer Full Spectrum asked the Hinds County Board of Supervisors for a $17 million loan to build a parking garage for the project. Full Spectrum President Malcolm Sheppard said construction will begin in August. However, the company still has not provided requested financial statements, tax returns, and commitment letters from tenants to the county. Blake Wallace, the Executive Director of the Hinds County Department of Economic Development, told the Board of Supervisors yesterday he could not recommend lending the money to Full Spectrum until he provided the required documents.
Old Capital Green is a mixed-use development that is supposed to be environmentally friendly. The Mississippi Development Authority provided $20 million in funds originating from bonds to Hinds County. Hinds County in turn has the authority to lend the money to Full Spectrum to build the parking garage. Its not just any parking garage either - 800 spaces with robots. No word on if they will be models using positronic brains.
Mr. Sheppard requested earlier $13 million from the county earlier this year but increased the request to $17 million yesterday. He said the Jackson Redevelopment Authority suggested Full Spectrum obtain the $4 million from Hinds County instead of borrowing it from JRA. Mr. Sheppard said JRA would then purchase the garage after the new market tax credit period expired. Mr. Sheppard said consolidating the two loans into one loan would be cheaper for his company. Supervisor Fisher asked what was the benefit to Hinds County as its loan exposure will increase by $4 million. Mr. Sheppard said the "window" with the state was closing as a letter had to be sent to MDA requesting the funds "this month". Mr. Sheppard asked the board to send the letter to MDA.
Mr. Wallace said Full Spectrum still had not provided any financial statements and other documents.* He said "we have not received any of the submittals we have requested from the developer and we need those to perform the financial analysis of the project." He said there had been "ample time" for the submission. He said he could not recommend the board move forward with the project until it received the financial statements.** Mr. Sheppard said several times the letter carried no liability to the county and he would provide the financial statements on Friday.
Mr. Fisher then pointed out the county requested financial statements from Full Spectrum over six months ago. He said he was worried all that would be built is a "parking garage for nowhere." Mr. Sheppard said he had provided "the information" to JRA and other agencies. Mr. Fisher said it still had not been provided to the county.
Supervisor Stokes finally jumped in and pointed out the garage was the only responsibility of Hinds County. He said bringing up "other things was clouding the issue." He said there was no development downtown while "we are steadily procrastinating". Mr. Fisher said it "looked like" JRA was getting out of the deal for seven years while Hinds County took the responsibility. Supervisor Robert Graham said the county never received any correspondence or "anything" from JRA or the city of Jackson about this project "making me feel good" about getting the loan only to have "the taxpayers 2 or 3 years from now". Mr. Wallace told Mr. Graham right now "I do not feel good about the project". He said the financial information was normally provided to the county at this point. He then said a review of the financial statements might require more financial information from Full Spectrum. He said he "recommended" the county not commit itself until Full Spectrum provided the information.
Stokes had enough and said "We need this to become a reality." He said "we are talking about a parking garage... not a whole development." He said "we need the money, we need a tax base" and "we need to stop killing projects and start bringing projects (yes, we are about to say it)". He continued "I've been here less than six months. Mr. Fisher then said "Byram-Clinton Corridor is a project." Mr. Stokes said that was "not a project but a dead-end". The board eventually decided to send a letter to MDA if Full Spectrum provided the financial statements (see below for list).
*Note: there is a 2 minute break between the videos as I changed batteries. Nothing substantial was said.
** Here is an email Blake Wallace sent to Malcolm Sheppard yesterday. Editorial comment: This is standard documentation requested by a lender.:
Just wanted to remind you that we have not yet received the following documents regarding the Old Capitol Green project:
1.Commitment letters from other financing sources for the remainder of project financing.
2.Commitment letter from JRA/City of Jackson agreeing to guarantee repayment of loan.
3.Commitment letters from all retail and commercial tenants.
4.Waiting list for apartment rentals with contact information for each interested party.
5. Submittal of the following documentation:
a. Financials on all principals including last three years federal income tax returns.
b.Audited financials for Full Spectrum including last three years federal income tax returns.
c.Project pro forma in fully functional excel spreadsheet format.
After we receive and review these documents, we will request any additional documentation if needed.
We must receive the documentation soon if the timeline you have requested is to be met.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Lost in all the publicity surrounding another successful launch of the Dragon Boat Regatta was this little tidbit about Dyke Road from The Rez News blog:
"The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District will consider a change to Dyke Road this week. The Shoreline Committee met Monday and voted to recommend a designation change for the elevated road surrounding Main Harbor. The board of directors will take up the issue at their Thursday meeting (May 17).
The proposal would designate Dyke Road as a "No Through Street"." Rest of post
The Rez News informed me the committee voted to close the road to traffic. See the rest of the post for the details and reasons for the closure.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Nazis actually created a design for a stealth airplane that would have worked if rolled into production. National Geographic broadcast this story on the efforts of a team of engineers and scientists created a prototype perfectly matching the design specifications. The result: The plane was fast and stealthy enough to defeat radar and fighter planes in World War II. Enjoy the video.
This week's batch of 990's for local non-profits and charities is 100 Black Men, Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, Greater Jackson Arts Council, Mississippi State Pharmaceutical Association, Mississippi Association of SupervisorsClick Here to Read More..
The Ethics Commission said a land deal between Southaven and an LLC owned by Doug and Sluggo Davis did not violate any ethics laws even though they are cousins of the Mayor. The Desoto Times reports:
"With the dissenting vote of two aldermen Tuesday, Southaven city officials approved the contract to buy 10 acres of land for $1.9 million off Getwell Road which could be the home of a future senior senior citizens center and other park and recreational amenities.
The land purchase has been controversial from the start, not only for the $1.9 million negotiated price, but due to the fact earlier appraisals on the property put the value far lower at approximately $315,000. A later appraisal commissioned by the city brought in an appraised value of of $2.6 million.
The City of Southaven will pay cash for the property, with Davis and city officials opting not to wait on revenue amassed from the 1-cent tourism tax on restaurant tabs known as the Penny for the Parks measure which was approved last year.
The land transaction was also the subject of a finding by the Mississippi Ethics Commission which ruled that city officials would not violate ethics laws if they approved the transaction which involves a distant cousin of Southaven Mayor Greg Davis.
One of the sellers of the property, Chancery Clerk W.E. Sluggo Davis, is "a fourth or fifth cousin" of the mayor.
"A cousin is not a relative for the purposes of ethics in government laws," Tom Hood, executive director and chief counsel for the Mississippi Ethics Commission opined in an April 13 letter to former Southaven city board attorney Mark Sorrell.
"The Senator (former state Sen. Doug Davis) is no longer associated with this," Davis said. "He hasn't been in the last four or five deeds."
Mayor Davis disclosed the Ethics Commission letter publicly just prior to the land transaction being voted upon....." Article
Friday, May 18, 2012
Congressman Allen West had a few things to say about an amendment to cut funding for troops in Afghanistan:
A Truman Democrat tells the Wall Street Journal why people are leaving California in this interview:
"Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving. According to Mr. Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the ages of 5 and 14 or 34 to 45. In other words, young families.
The scruffy-looking urban studies professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., has been studying and writing on demographic and geographic trends for 30 years. Part of California's dysfunction, he says, stems from state and local government restrictions on development. These policies have artificially limited housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions.
"Basically, if you don't own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven't robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak," says Mr. Kotkin.
While many middle-class families have moved inland, those regions don't have the same allure or amenities as the coast. People might as well move to Nevada or Texas, where housing and everything else is cheaper and there's no income tax.
And things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their "smart growth" plans to cram the proletariat into high-density housing. "What I find reprehensible beyond belief is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s," Mr. Kotkin declares...
Meanwhile, taxes are harming the private economy. According to the Tax Foundation, California has the 48th-worst business tax climate. Its income tax is steeply progressive. Millionaires pay a top rate of 10.3%, the third-highest in the country. But middle-class workers—those who earn more than $48,000—pay a top rate of 9.3%, which is higher than what millionaires pay in 47 states.
And Democrats want to raise taxes even more. Mind you, the November ballot initiative that Mr. Brown is spearheading would primarily hit those whom Democrats call "millionaires" (i.e., people who make more than $250,000 a year). Some Republicans have warned that it will cause a millionaire march out of the state, but Mr. Kotkin says that "people who are at the very high end of the food chain, they're still going to be in Napa. They're still going to be in Silicon Valley. They're still going to be in West L.A."
That said, "It's really going to hit the small business owners and the young family that's trying to accumulate enough to raise a family, maybe send their kids to private school. It'll kick them in the teeth."
A worker in Wichita might not consider those earning $250,000 a year middle class, but "if you're a guy working for a Silicon Valley company and you're married and you're thinking about having your first kid, and your family makes 250-k a year, you can't buy a closet in the Bay Area," Mr. Kotkin says. "But for 250-k a year, you can live pretty damn well in Salt Lake City. And you might be able to send your kids to public schools and own a three-bedroom, four-bath house."
According to Mr. Kotkin, these upwardly mobile families are fleeing in droves. As a result, California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society. On top are the "entrenched incumbents" who inherited their wealth or came to California early and made their money. Then there's a shrunken middle class of public employees and, miles below, a permanent welfare class. As it stands today, about 40% of Californians don't pay any income tax and a quarter are on Medicaid....." Rest of article
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Well, that was interesting. Representative Jeff Smith of Columbus Packet fame spent an hour on Gallo yesterday trashing me and the Lieutenant Governor. It was quite funny actually, as Mr. Smith said about me, "I wouldn't trust him in an outhouse with a muzzle on." I'm sure Billy McCoy could say the same about him, but I digress. Mr. Smith later said there was no $400 million bond bill, it was $250 million, and anyone who says it was $400 million is "lying". He said the $400 million was a list of possible projects presented to the Lieutenant Governor.
Oh, really Mr. Smith? Lets take a look at HB #1631. It was passed by the House. Here is a list of projects in the 77 page bill:
$5 million Ace Fund
$4 million Ms. Job Protection Act Fund
$2 million Ms. Rural impact fund
$5 million Ms Existing industry productivity loan fund
$15 million increase in limit for bonds issued under MS. business investment act
$40 million Economic Development Highway Act
$9 million for junior colleges
$5 million for small muni fund
$2 million for county jail repair
$2 million for bridge repair
$55.1 million for muni infrastructure (p.25)
$1.5 million for loan loss program at banks (p.27)
$2 million for new spillway and dam structure at Lake Mary in Wilkinson County
$150,000 for repairing muni community centers
$100,000 to Holly Springs to provide water & sewer service
$7 million for a a high economic benefit project as defined in Section
$196 million: $96 million for IHL Cap Improvement fund, $49.65 million
for state owned buildings discretionary fund, $8 million IHL building
fund,$20 million for juco cap improvement fund. Here is a partial list I've italicized so it doesn't get mixed in with the other items as there are so many of them:
$6.5 million for ASU for repair
$6.5 million for DSU
$11 million for JSU
$6.5 million for MUW
$16.5 million for MSU
$6.5 million for MVSU
$15 million for Ole Miss
$13.5 million for USM
Total: $96 million for universities
$20 million for junior colleges
$5 million for the small muni fund (p.57)
$2 million for MDOC
$20 million for bridge rehab fund (p.70)
Does that look like $250 million? Hmm... maybe in Desoto County Schools it does, but in a proper charter school $377.75 million does not equal $250 million. That is a whole lot more kabukis than $250 million. Now keep in mind the bill was 77 pages, and its very possible I missed some items, so if I have too many or too little, tell me where I am wrong and I will make corrections. I'll be more than happy to make the correction and apologize for the error.
However, the fact is, a bond bill for nearly $400 million passed the House. Don't take my word for it, here it is. The bill then went to the Senate where changes were made. Since changes were made, that means the differences had to be resolved in conference committee. Here is where the offer and counter-offer began. The House provided this list:
ACE Fund- $5 million
Ms Job Protection Act Fund- $4 million
Ms Rural Impact Fund- $2 million
Ms Existing Industry Productivity Fund- $5 million
Ms Business Investment Act- $15 million
Economic Development Highway Act- $40 million
IHL Cap Improvements- $96 million
Bureau of Building discretionary- $49.650 million
Bureau of Building IHL discretionary- $8 million
Juco's- $20 million
Juco's= $9 million
Small munis/counties- $5 million
County & muni jails- $2 million
Local bridge rehab fund- $20 million
DWFP- $10 million
Tammy Wynette Legacy Park Center- $5 million
Grammy Museum Mississippi- $6 million
Rural Fire Truck Fund- $3.2 million
Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund- $1.54 million
Mid-Mississippi Sports Complex- $20 million
Total: 326 million
Now I am going to take the representative at his word and accept the House only wanted $250 million out of this list. However, saying people are "lying" when they say $400 million is not exactly telling the truth, as that is what was in the House bill. See, this is how politicians play their games. They pass one thing, then come out with these super secret figures that were the real numbers. The Lieutenant Governor's office counter offer was a list of $73 million in bonds and $50 million in appropriations. His proposal would have given IHL $60 million, the Juco's $15 million, and $20 million for the bridge fund.
Now instead of taking shots at me, or the Lieutenant Governor, or Snowball, why don't you discuss the merits of each side, the actual projects, or the items in the bill. Keep in mind there are $1.2 billion in bonds that have been approved by the Legislature but not yet approved by the Bond Commission.
Note: I will also give credit to yes, Mr. Smith. One reliable Republican lobbyist disagrees with the House on the bond list but said Mr. Smith told them not to pass a bill that was nearly $400 million as the Senate would never go along with it but he was ignored. If true, then I give credit to Mr. Smith.
Gallo show w/Representative Jeff Smith at the 7:00 hour.
So many of you got your wish: David Hampton is gone from the Clarion-Ledger. That means the number of people working on the editiorial page has gone from four to zero: Ronnie Agnew, Jim Ewing, David Hampton, and Sid Salter. Instead of local editorials, the Clarion-Ledger has been publishing editorials from Gannett papers around the country. Mr. Hampton may have been liberal but at least he cared about the community and took an interest in what took place in Mississippi. Publisher Leslie Hurst and her bunch now think so little of you they see nothing wrong with making the editorial page the wire service for Detroit and Albuquerque.
Dear local business community: the next time Ms. Hurst shimmies up to you at some function or is trying to build bridges with you, tell her to hit the door unless she shows you and the community more respect. The liberal everyone loved to hate gave you more respect than the carpetbagger. She can scream all day long its a "corporate decision" and she is correct. However, supporting this crap is a "corporate decision" as well. Until the Clarion-Ledger reverses this trend, it does not deserve any support from the community.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Belhaven University bans dogs from the campus in this message from the Prez:
"A message from Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott:
"Belhaven University is committed to welcoming our neighbors to enjoy our walking trails and events. For the safety and respect of our students whose home is this campus, effective May 1, 2012, NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON ANY PORTION OF THE CAMPUS PROPERTY."
This policy is being enforced due to the large number of dog owners failing to clean up after their pets while walking them on the campus. In the future, Belhaven University police will ask you to leave the campus if you bring your dog along.
Click Here to Read More..
The Kingfish had Hinds County Supervisor Phil Fisher on this morning to discuss the Byram- Clinton Corridor Project. I dealt with Paul Gallo and Representative Jeff Smith at the bottom of the hour. It seems Mr. Smith said "I wouldn't trust Kingfish in a outhouse with a muzzle" or Muslim, or something like that.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week wireless phone carriers are seeking to reduce the $400 per phone subsidy paid to Apple for the Iphone"
"Wireless carriers are taking their first steps to change the terms of smartphone deals that have mostly benefited phone makers like Apple Inc., AAPL -0.91% in a push that could leave consumers paying more for devices like the iPhone.
Carriers in the U.S. have been raising monthly rates and charging higher fees when customers upgrade to new phones. In Europe, embattled carriers are taking more aggressive measures: Spain's two leading wireless companies are refusing to subsidize devices for new customers.
In the global wireless market, where device manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. and software makers like Google Inc. GOOG +1.16% continue to hold considerable sway, carriers still typically pay full price for their phones, then sell them at deep discounts to customers who sign two-year contracts.
But the carriers' latest signs of resistance are drawing applause from investors and analysts. They say the carriers could benefit more from the smartphone boom if they succeed in raising prices for service plans and slowing the rate at which customers buy new phones.
"Optimism has increased that we are witnessing the leading edge of a more disciplined, and more profitable, future," Craig Moffett, a telecom analyst at Bernstein Research, wrote in a research note on Tuesday. The question now, he wrote, is how much carriers can increase their profits thanks to "increased discipline and pricing power."
At Sprint Nextel Corp., S -1.20% AT&T Inc. T -0.54% and Verizon Communications Inc., combined revenue from contract customers increased 6.2% from a year earlier in the first quarter of 2012, the fastest growth rate since before the recession, according to Bernstein Research. In the past month, AT&T and Verizon shares have gained more than 5%, while the broader market, as measured by the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, is down 1%. Verizon Communications co-owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group PLC. VOD -0.20%
Apple, meanwhile, is in the opposite situation. Its shares are down 12% from their April 10 record of $644, partly because of investor concerns that carriers may be looking to ratchet back the big subsidies that have allowed so many people to own an iPhone.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has played down concerns that changes in subsidy policies could affect iPhone sales. He told analysts last month that carriers will continue supporting the iPhone because it brings them satisfied customers. Carriers "want to provide what their customers want to buy," he said. He argued that the Spanish market, which is reeling from Europe's economic crisis, "shouldn't be viewed as a proxy for the world."
Wireless carriers shell out $400 for every iPhone sold, analysts estimate.
Now, carriers are adding fees to discourage customers from getting new phones. Verizon imposed a $30 upgrade fee for some customers last month, and both AT&T and Sprint have doubled their upgrade fees to $36 in recent months. Customers pay the fees when they get a new phone.
"It will have a meaningful impact on us in managing those handset costs," AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on a conference call with analysts last month.
Monthly rates for smartphone service plans have been rising, too. In January, AT&T boosted some monthly data plans by $5, or as much as 33%, while giving consumers more data. In April, pay-as-you-go carrier MetroPCS Communications Corp. PCS -4.16% raised its unlimited high-speed data plan to $70 from $60. Sprint raised smartphone data prices early last year by $10 a month.
Amid the smartphone craze, much of the profits are bypassing wireless carriers, going instead to app developers and Internet companies like Google, which charge for services and sell ads, and hardware companies like Apple, which sold 35 million iPhones in the first three months of this year.
That's why U.S. companies are closely watching the wireless industry's experiment in Spain. There, leading wireless carrierTelefónica SA TEF -5.26% stopped subsidizing phones for new customers in March. The No. 2 carrier, Vodafone, quickly followed suit. The No. 3 carrier, France Télécom SA's FTE -2.37% Orange Group, refused to go along.
As a result, new customers at Vodafone and Telefónica can no longer get an iPhone for a discounted rate with a two-year contract. Instead, they have to pay nearly $800 to buy the phone outright or sign up for an installment plan that, at Telefónica, adds 18 monthly payments of about $45 to their bills.
Telefónica and Vodafone, which have made the decision to shift resources from acquiring customers to retaining them, say they will continue to subsidize new phones for existing customers that upgrade. Still, the policy change will reduce Telefonica's spending on device subsidies by 25%, a spokesman said.
"People didn't know the effort we were making," a Telefónica spokesman said.
Orange's Spanish operations declined to comment.
For Telefónica and Vodafone, the risks is that Orange will seize the opening to try to win over customers with cheaper, subsidized phones. And, in fact, Orange has said it hopes to use its competitors' moves to increase its market share in Spain.
The industry is watching to see how well Vodafone and Telefónica hold on to customers, as a test of whether other carriers around the world might be able to wriggle free of the subsidy model.
Verizon Communications Chief Executive Lowell McAdam mentioned Telefónica's installment-plan experiment in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in late March. Verizon Wireless, he said, may cautiously follow the Spanish carrier's lead.
"We'll probably offer some things like that, and then we'll see what the adoption is like," Mr. McAdam said. "You can't push this on customers before customers are ready for it."
Enjoy the $200 price while it lasts although I suspect an installment plan will be offered. Too many teens are addicted to their iphones. What is interesting is RIM, yes, the much maligned RIM that the media loves to hype as the next corporate train wreck, has been able to hold its own against Apple outside of America as the price of the Iphone is much higher. Is this the Achilles heel in Apple's stock price?
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Kim Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal about the Obama team's use of an enemies list:
"Here's what happens when the president of the United States publicly targets a private citizen for the crime of supporting his opponent.
Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca Inc. The 63-year-old has run that wellness-products company for 26 years out of tiny Idaho Falls, Idaho. Last August, Mr. VanderSloot gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney.
Three weeks ago, an Obama campaign website, "Keeping GOP Honest," took the extraordinary step of publicly naming and assailing eight private citizens backing Mr. Romney. Titled "Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney's donors," the post accused the eight of being "wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records." Mr. VanderSloot was one of the eight, smeared particularly as being "litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement....." Column
Oh well. Two can play at that game.
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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.
Note: Security provided by INS.
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.