Stories for February 2009


Friday, February 27

Whitlow to Announce Candidacy

Rick Whitlow, former sports director and anchor at WJTV, will formerly announce his intention to run for mayor of Jackson tonight.

Krugman: Obama's Budget Is 'Very, Very Good'

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times column that President Obama is taking the country in the right direction in his new budget:

15 Life-changing Albums

After Facebook's viral "25 things" explosion, I thought I'd take a crack at the"15 albums that changed my life." Let me know what you think.

My Uncle, The Artist

When people ask if I'm related to painter Andrew Bucci, I answer proudly, "Yes, he's my uncle!" It's difficult to hide my exuberance. He's a phenomenal human being and artist, and I'm one of his biggest fans.

Baggy pants are out! Men's butts are back!

At least so sez The New York Times. Can't say I mind this trend.

Mississippi's Gain is Michigan's Loss

Gov. Haley Barbour announced yesterday that United Chair, owned by Haworth, Inc. of Holland, Mich., is adding 125 jobs at its Bruce, Miss., location. The addition of jobs in north Mississippi is part of Haworth's consolidation of its North American operations, which also includes closing a Michigan plant where it currently employs 350 people.

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Friday's Starting Five

Sandra Bullock to star in Michael Oher biopic. … JPS rules. ... Ole Miss is oversigning machine. … It will be a busy weekend of college and high school basketball.

Thursday, February 26

Federal Stimulus: ‘We Need to be Ready'

The stimulus is coming, and it's bringing big money. The Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review told the Mississippi House Ways and Means Committee that the economic impact of the federal stimulus package on the state could equal $5.12 billion, (equivalent to almost 6 percent of Mississippi's Gross State Product) after tax breaks.

BREAKING: Mayor Frank Melton Running for Re-election

In an interview in City Hall today, Mayor Frank Melton broke the news to the Jackson Free Press that he is going to run for re-election as mayor of Jackson. "Yes," he replied when asked if he is running for a second term.

Bluntson Collapsed at Groundbreaking

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton told the Jackson Free Press that city Councilman Frank Bluntson, Ward 4, collapsed during a groundbreaking this morning.

Is the Federal Budget a Moral Issue?

In my Jackson Free Press column of Feb. 18, "It Starts at Home," I wrote about how the nation's reprioritizing for prosperity needs to begin in our own back yard. I pointed out that "every major religion says that as part of the human family, our purpose as human beings must include caring for that family."

Meet Jackson's Democratic Mayoral Candidates

[verbatim] On Saturday, February 28, 2009, Young Democrats of Mississippi (YDMS) will host a candidate forum for all Democratic mayoral candidates in Jackson. The forum will be at 1:00 p.m. at the IBEW Union Hall.

FEMA Extends Housing Deadline

March 1 was to be the deadline when victims of Hurricane Katrina had to leave the temporary housing provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After nearly five years, some 2,500 people on the Mississippi coast still call FEMA trailers "home."

Mississippi Gambling Recession-Proof?

Casino gambling revenue in Mississippi exceeded $221 million in January, reports, an increase of 8 percent over December, though statewide revenues were down $3 million over January 2008.

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Thursday's Starting Five

The highlights: Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame celebrates Black History Month. ... State and Ole Miss lose on the road. ... JPS day at the MHSAA State Tournament.

Wednesday, February 25

Barbour's Ambitious Posturing

Gov. Haley Barbour has been a vociferous opponent of the Obama administration's stimulus package, especially when it comes to accepting the $2.3 billion allocated to Mississippi.

Ledger Admits Guilt on Melton

Last weekend, David Hampton, editorial director of The Clarion-Ledger, wrote what could have been an important first step for the newspaper that did a fair bit to help get Frank Melton elected.

DOJ Investigation Hits Close to Cochran

A U.S. Department of Justice investigation is creeping closer to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. The DOJ indicted Ann Copland, Cochran's 29-year legislative aide, for accepting more than $25,000 worth of meals and event tickets from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in exchange for aiding Abramoff's clients.

New Homes 'Tested and Passed'

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton stepped away from his federal trial Friday to announce that city inspectors no longer have concerns about infrastructure problems at the Timber Falls and Forest Hills Place neighborhood developments.

Money, Medicaid and ... Money

The House and Senate addressed funding for state agencies last week, passing a number of revenue bills tapping into the state's projected $19 billion bank account. One of them was House Bill 1677, which funds the state's K-12 education program with $2.5 billion.

Law on Call

Last summer, Jackson attorneys Tim Porter and Rocky Wilkins came up with the idea for "Law Call," a live call-in show that premiered on WLBT Feb. 7.

Cyrus Webb Back in Business

Brandon resident Cyrus Webb has a knack for botching public events. In 2006, Webb—president of Conversations Book Club and the Rankin County Arts Alliance—promised many Jackson metro residents an elegant event presenting Mississippi's Best Awards. Webb told attendees—who paid $50 per ticket—that the event would include dinner, appearances from notable celebrities such as Morgan Freeman and a fashion event. What he delivered was an evening of disappointment with no celebrities, no food and paltry awards, which Webb printed himself on his personal computer.

Dinosaur Jr. Oxford Tix on Sale now

Get them while they last! Dinosaur Jr. (with Dead Confederate) will perform at Proud Larry's in Oxford on Saturday, April 18!

[Stiggers] Stimulate My Wallet

Smokey Robinson McBride: "In the midst of a financial meltdown, wealthy folk seem very worried about their shrinking funds because broke folk have decided to horde their hard-earned money.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

High school basketball: MHSAA Boys and Girls State Tournament (Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson): It's JPS day at the Big House in the boys (Callaway vs. Wayne County, 2:30 p.m., and Jim Hill vs. Greenville Weston, 8 p.m.) and girls brackets (Forest Hill vs. New Albany, 1 p.m., and Murrah vs. Natchez, 6:30 p.m.)

[Hutchinson] Apologize, Mr. Murdoch

Mr. Rupert Murdoch, it's certainly no surprise to you that New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan would hotly defend the racist Post cartoon comparing President Obama to a chimp.

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Pratik Shah

"I have always liked bacteria," Pratik Shah says, laughing. "That makes me look nerdy." But at 28 years old, Shah is no average nerd.

'Live & Learn': Melton Faces the Effects of His Actions

On the first day I showed up to cover the federal trial of Mayor Frank Melton and his ex-bodyguard Michael Recio in downtown Jackson, the mayor sidled up to me with that teasing look he often gets when he sees me face-to-face.

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The Curious Case Of Frank Melton

The first federal civil-rights trial of Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and his former police bodyguard Michael Recio ended Tuesday in a mistrial.

Southern Punk Soul in a Singlewide

The Dexateens are rambling into their next act. The Tuscaloosa-based band has been bringing its mix of loose, Stones-like swagger, punk energy and southern rock to music clubs throughout the southeast for more than 10 years.

[Rob In Stereo] Can the Best Original Song Oscar be Saved?

When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced Oscar nominations in January, I had hoped it would nominate "WALL-E," an animated movie, for Best Picture. Of course, this would require them to wobble just a tad outside their heavily trodden nomination path. And, sadly, it did not fail to disappoint.

Nightmare Symptoms

Say the acronym "PMS," and you're bound to react. Some use it as an excuse: "Oh, I'm just PMS-ing." Others use it as an insult: "What is it, that time of the month again?"

Transcript of Frank Melton Remarks in Short Press Conference Wednesday

JACKSON CITY HALL—Mayor Frank Melton called a press conference for 10 a.m. today to address plans for Maple Street Apartments, "new and ongoing economic development iniatives" and "continued/long-term focus on serving the City of Jackson." His remarks lasted about three minutes, and he left without answering any questions from the media. A full transcript of his remarks follows.

[HOOD] Stimulus Package Offers Solutions to Faltering Economy, Rising Crime

Guest column

Crime and the economy. No matter how it's sliced, these two issues are inextricably linked. When we face one problem head on, we also tackle the other. And that is why the President's economic stimulus package is so important. It offers answers to both.

Fresh Start 2009 Career & College Fair

[verbatim] Are you looking for a new job for the New Year or are you ready to take the next step to getting that degree? Then the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center is where you will want to be.

Alternative Schools Fail on Education

[verbatim]ACLU Report Reveals Breakdown In Mississippi Alternative Schools

JACKSON, MS – Alternative schools in Mississippi are not adequately helping struggling students to succeed academically, leaving too many of the state's children to drift toward dropout and failure, according to a new American Civil Liberties Union report released today.

College Football: USM Star Pleads Not Guilty To Gun Charge

Southern Miss football player Damion Fletcher pleads not guilty to firing a gun inside the city limits of Hattiesburg.

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Wednesday's Starting Five

Tuesday's highlights: Remembering Ole Miss' forgotten team. ... USM in freefall. ... Ben Ingram seeks tricked-out rides.

Tuesday, February 24

Did Bobby Jindal Really Just Diss Monitoring for Volcanoes!?

In his response to President Obama's speech, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just criticized the president's stimulus package for providing funding for monitoring volcanoes. On the surface, that's sounds like an important job. Is his Jindal's fruit-fly moment (i.e. Palin and McCain's vicious attacks on fruit-fly research, which can help cure autism). And other than that, what did you think of Obama's speech?

HB 561: Frozen Embryos are Children

Last week, Mississippi Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, sent an e-mail to his constituents concerning House Bill 561, the "Human Embryo Adoption Act." In his e-mail, Mayo disparaged the fact that the bill prevents same-sex couples from adopting frozen human embryos.

It's Official: Mistrial in Melton and Recio Trial

- Kenya Hudson's Melton-Recio trial photos here.

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Tuesday's Starting Five

Monday's highlights: Tougaloo is back on top. ... Aspriona Gilbert stars on Day 1 at the Big House. ... Coming soon to an ESPN show near you: Brett Favre.

Monday, February 23

FBI Recovers 48 Kids in 29-City Prostitution Sting, Including Jackson

Feb. 23, 2009—The FBI announced today that it has recovered 48 children in Operation Cross Country III, which targeted child-prostitution networks in 29 cities, including Jackson. Per an FBI statement today:

Judge Questions Jurors as Deliberations Continue

- Kenya Hudson's Melton-Recio trial photos here.

Barbour Still ‘No' on Federal Funds

Gov. Haley Barbour reportedly renewed his criticism of the Obama administration's economic bailout package during the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

Sunday, February 22

Monday's Starting Five

Weekend highlights: Mississippi State starts 3-1 under John Cohen. ... Jackson State white-outs Grambling State. ... The MHSAA Boys and Girls Basketball Tournament begins.

I Call Him 'Mr. Melton'

Well, it's kinda good to finally see a mea culpa column of sorts from David Hampton on his paper's endorsement of Frank Melton, or "Frank" as he and others over there call him. And that endorsement went on for many years, not just in the paper the weekend before the 2005 primary, remember. Per Hampton today:

Saturday, February 21

Jury Complaint: ‘Curious and Serious' Development

- Listen to MC law professor Matt Steffey on today's events

Friday, February 20

Minor Gets Three Hours with Dying Wife

Bill Minor, the father of convicted attorney and Democratic fundraiser Paul Minor, told the Jackson Free Press that his son only has three hours to visit his dying wife in Baton Rouge today.

Jury Deliberations Resume 9 a.m. Saturday

Kenya Hudson's Melton-Recio trial photos here.

Repubs 'Slapping Themselves on the Back'

Every Friday morning, Daily Kos compiles stats showing how the folks in Washington are doing according to the people. Despite Republicans tripping over themselves to take credit for the economic stimulus act, it seems the American people aren't buying it:

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Blown away was I when I tasted my first Hurricane on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. The drink, not the Katrina.

Schools to Receive Federal Aid

Millions from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go toward Mississippi's struggling public education system, according to WXVT 15 in the Delta.

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Friday's Starting Five

This weekend's highlights: Mississippi State baseball begins a new era. ... Ole Miss marks 100 years of basketball. ... It's the best time of year in high school basketball.

Thursday, February 19

Be a Beekeeper

Have you been looking for a green hobby? Check into beekeeping.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce has announced the dates of upcoming workshops that will recruit, educate, and increase participation for new beekeepers in Mississippi.

FBI Seeks Cold Case Info

[verbatim]In February 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) enacted an initiative to identify and closely examine all unsolved hate crimes resulting in death that occurred prior to 1970. A review of cold case civil rights matters that met the above criteria was conducted and, with the help of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, as well as community leaders and civic organizations, numerous cases of unsolved violent crimes from the Civil Rights era are now being thoroughly examined and reinvestigated.

Jury Back 12:30 Friday in Melton-Recio Trial; Verdict Today?

Read the JFP original breaking story on Ridgeway destruction here

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Thursday's Starting Five

Wednesday's highlights: Mississippi State and Ole Miss win. ... Oil Can Boyd wants to make a comeback at age 49.

Wednesday, February 18

Ode To Ms. Wilson

I had my first encounter with jazz—real jazz, the kind that washes over your body like a cool, gentle caress—when I was a high-school sophomore at Murrah High School. One Saturday morning, my mother dragged me out of bed to accompany her to the "homegoing celebration" of her friend's late ex-husband, John Reese, at the Smith Robertson Museum. I was reluctant—sleeping in late sounded far better than milling around a funeral talking to strangers—but she wanted company, and I wasn't doing anything, so we went.

Feds: Peters ‘Corruptly Influenced' DeLaughter

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter, famous for prosecuting infamous civil-rights murderer Byron de la Beckwith, was arraigned last week in federal court for his role in a bribery scandal involving attorney Dickie Scruggs and DeLaughter's former boss, ex-Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters.

Week 6: Voter ID, Sex Ed, Government Secrecy

As last week came to a close, many 2009 bills met their death in the Mississippi Legislature due to the deadline for passing bills originating in their respective chambers.

Proposed Coal Plant Finds Opposition

Opposition is mounting against a proposed 582-megawatt coal gasification plant in Kemper County that could increase Mississippi ratepayers' utility bills by 15 percent.

Stop Secrecy in Mississippi Government

One of the ways to keep people ignorant is to control their access to information. Open any newspaper in the country, and you'll see stories about how Muslim fundamentalist clerics and repressive dictators control their people by only allowing them access to the information deemed "appropriate" by extremely narrow standards.

[Stiggers] Recreational Recession

Brotha Hustle: "Aunt Tee-Tee and I are back again roaming the city streets, country roads and other interesting places with our mini DV camcorder, $5.99 Radio Crib microphone and work lights from the suburban Y'all Mart. Last week, our homeless wino friend, Tipsy Lee Jacobson, conducted a thought-provoking libation ceremony on the seat of a public-transit train.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Movie, "Varsity Blues" (9 p.m., TBS): A Texas high-school football program is the backdrop of teenage angst and antics. How much of the whipped-cream bikini scene can TBS show?

[Mott] It Starts At Home

Sometimes the universe just comes along and slaps you up side the head. I was the recipient of one of those slaps a few years ago, when the company I worked for (and moved to Mississippi for) laid me off after nine years. In the time it takes for you to read this sentence, my entire world was inside out and upside down.

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Mark Scurlock

Immediately after I entered Scurlock's Donuts, my vow to refuse any pastries placed before me became obsolete. Once the glazed donut hit my taste buds, it was love at first bite.

Legislators Honor Lasalle

The Mississippi Legislature honored soul singer and Belzoni native Denise Lasalle today with a "resolution saying she had made a 'lasting impact' on rhythm and blues music," according to the Associated Press.

Don't Spill the Refried Beans

When I was growing up, taco night was not complete without a giant bowl of soft avocado mashed together with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro and surrounded by crunchy white corn chips. Though it was meant to be an appetizer, it was often my only dish on taco night.

Hardline Monks: Hitting Every Spectrum

On a recent brisk Sunday afternoon, I met the Hardline Monks at their garage-turned-studio for a rehearsal before their Feb. 20 show at Mugshots.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 7, No. 23

The Mississippi Academy of Ancient Music brings back the 17th-century dueling harpsichords with John Paul and Shawn Leopard Thursday, Feb. 19, in the St. James Episcopal sanctuary at 3921 Oak Ridge in Fondren. These are two of the most accomplished piano/harpsichord/keyboard players in the state, so it's always a treat to hear them perform on rarely heard harpsichords.

Cataloguing the Blues

Ted Gioia's "Delta Blues" (W.W. Norton, 2008, $27.95) rambles from Mississippi to Memphis, from Chicago to New York and across Europe, just like the musicians it documents. The book traces the development of acoustic country blues from the 1920s onward, showing how the music adapted itself to new fashions, recording techniques and audiences.

Quilt of Life

In every class Ravin Hill took during her extensive undergraduate and graduate studies, she found quilting. To Hill, "Quilting is the ultimate metaphor for life. The fabrics that you select should mean something to you, and the stitches are the heartbeat of the quilt, its essence," she says.

Barbour Mum about Federal Stimulus Funds

As of Wednesday morning, Gov. Haley Barbour has yet to announce whether he will accept funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which could provide Mississippi with $2.3 billion for education, infrastructure and medical programs, most of which are struggling.

Melton-Recio Jury to Reconvene 9 a.m. on Thursday

U.S. Marshals escorted defense witness Christoper Walker, Frank Melton's former mentee, into the courtroom this morning before jurors arrived.

House Approves Draft Budget

The Mississippi House passed the first draft of the $5 billion state budget for the coming year on Tuesday, according to an AP report appearing on News Channel 3, WREG Web site.

Melton Defense Continues; Chris Walker Today?

JFP Coverage of Defense Witness Christopher Walker

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Wednesday's Starting Five

Tuesday's highlights: The Saints cut loose Deuce. ... The Majors mash MC. ... USM ends five-game losing streak.

Tuesday, February 17

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Obama Pushes Stimulus Transparency

In signing the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today, President Barack Obama has embarked on what could be the defining action of his young presidency.

Small Business Loan Clinic

[verbatim] SBA Loan Clinic Available To Entrepreneurs Seeking Financing JACKSON, MS – The U. S. Small Business Administration's Jackson District Office will conduct a Loan Clinic on Tuesday, March 3rd to discuss SBA's guaranty loan programs.

JPS Names Teacher of the Year

Jackson Public Schools has named Murrah High School English teacher Stacey Donaldson as Jackson's Teacher of the Year for 2008-2009.

Saints Release Deuce

It seems not even professional football is immune to the economy.

Earlier today, the Associated Press announced that the New Orleans Saints have released running back Deuce McAllister "in a move that reduced the team's payroll as free agency approaches."

Most Local TV Stations Delay Digital

Congress extended the deadline for TV stations to broadcast in a digital format from midnight tonight until June 12, 2009. Some local stations are taking advantage of this extension to allow viewers extra time to obtain a converter box or switch to satellite or cable TV providers. Local stations WAPT, WLBT, and WJTV, are each postponing their conversion until the extended deadline.

Bomb Threat Aimed at Courthouse

The Hinds County courthouse is back in business after an alleged bomb threat this morning. The Hinds County Sheriff's Department emptied the courthouse about 8:30 this morning at the news of the threat.

McDonald's Customer Survey Scam

[Verbatim from the Attorney General's office] Attorney General Jim Hood warns Mississippi citizens of a fraudulent email circulating in a form that claims to be a McDonalds Customer Satisfaction Survey. The completion of the customer satisfaction survey is not the real purpose of the email. The emails real purpose is to obtain consumers personal information.

Witness Bought Crack at Duplex; Told Melton; Wasn't Arrested

JFP Coverage of Defense Witness Christopher Walker

House Approves Medicaid Hospital Measure

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journail is reporting that the Mississippi House has approved a $45 million assessment on hospitals in a compromise to cover part of the $90 million shortfall in the state Medicaid program.

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Tuesday's Starting Five

Monday's highlights: Damion Fletcher makes history the wrong way. … Jackson State wins seventh straight.

Monday, February 16

Southern Miss Players Arrested

Police arrested two University of Southern Mississippi football players Sunday night in Hattiesburg, according to an AP report appearing on the Sports Illustrated Web site.

House Outlaws Traffic Cameras

The Mississippi House sent a bill to the Senate today that will effectively outlaw red-light cameras. HB 1568 will restrict local law enforcement's use of cameras to assist in traffic control—such as the one installed at the intersection of Old Canton Road and Lakeland Drive.

Mississippi Mourns Two Journalists

In recent days, two outstanding Mississippi women journalists have died.

Mildred Dearborn was the long-time editor of The Carthaginian until two years ago, when she suffered a stroke. Dearborn died on Feb. 11.

Senate Kills Public Records Access Bill

The Mississippi Senate shelved a bill designed to make public records more accessible to the public, according to The Greenwood Commonwealth,

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Monday Sports Report

Sunday's highlights: Southern Miss women lead C-USA. … Murrah's Mo Williams thrilled to be an All-Star.

Sunday, February 15


"Soul Food Forums" at Wednesday Lunch at Peaches continues this week with Ward 2 City Council Candidate, Chokwe Lumumba. This will be an excellent opportunity to come vet your council candidates(which in a way are just as important as your mayoral candidates). Even if you DON'T live in Ward 2, all of the councilmen will implement policy for the entire city so you need to know where ALL of them stand.

LoungeList Photos: HeARTS Against AIDS ‘09

Enjoy the photos:

Kip Caven got out for LoungeList and took tons of photos of the festivities at HeARTS Against AIDS, an annual art auction and charity benefit that raises money for AIDS awareness and to help individuals living with AIDS.

Friday, February 13

Attorneys Meet over Melton Trial Rules

JFP Coverage of Defense Witness Christopher Walker

Handy Hardware Coming to Mississippi

[verbatim from the Governor's office]

Jackson, Mississippi - Governor Haley Barbour announced today that Handy Hardware, a member-owned hardware buying group, will open a distribution center in Meridian. The company plans to employ more than 150 people.

"Give Kids a Smile" Today

[verbatim from the Jackson Medical Mall] Some Jackson students are going to see the dentist for the very first time, thanks to the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Dentistry. Students from Galloway and Johnson Elementary Schools are gearing up for "Give Kids A Smile Day" on Friday, February 13, 2009 starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center.

Corps Unveils Mississippi Gulf Coast Plan

In the works since the devastating 2005 hurricane season, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile Division, has drafted an exhaustive plan to protect the Mississippi Gulf Coast—specifically, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties—from future hurricane damage.

Salmonella Confirmed in Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Health reports seven confirmed cases of Salmonella typhimurium infections in the state, including one each in Hinds and Rankin counties.

Mountain Dew Mouth

ABC's 20/20 is showing a special episode tonight at 9 PM CT called "A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains" which highlights poverty-stricken children of Appalachia. One of the many issues facing these children is rampant tooth decay and tooth loss. A Kentucky dentist, Dr. Edwin Smith, helps children in his area by offering free dental care in his mobile clinic. Dr. Smith blames a lot of the cavities he sees on excessive Mountain Dew consumption.

Thursday, February 12

Melton: ‘We Tore That Shit Up'; Prosecution Rests

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE—The prosecution in U.S. v. Melton started Day 4 of testimony in downtown Jackson today by calling Joe Lewis, who is with the city's Community Improvement Division and is over code enforcement for the city of Jackson. Lewis testified that the city had 69 homes demolished in Jackson in 2006, the year that Mayor Frank Melton and his bodyguards allegedly destroyed a duplex at 1305 Ridgeway St. without a warrant. Lewis said that he has no files or case number for the duplex.

Jackson Businessman and Wife Hospitalized, Doctors Killed In Head-On Collision

Stuart Irby was in critical condition this morning; Karen Irby was in serious condition.

University Medical Center officials confirmed today that they admitted Jackson business man Stuart Irby and his wife Karen after a head-on collision on Old Canton road around 10:30 p.m. last night.

BREAKING: Judge DeLaughter Arraigned in Bribery Scandal

JFP coverage of DeLaughter and Peters

Voter ID Bill Passes the House

House Bill 1533, "The Election Reform Act," is the first bill containing a requirement for state-issued photo ID to pass the House this session—though the bill did not leave the House without a fight and a pile of baggage.

Nativist Lobby Makes Demands for Stimulus Bill

The Mississippi Business Journal reported yesterday that nativist lobby group FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is pushing Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to include language in the economic stimulus bill to "ensure that the jobs created go to legal U.S. workers only."

Wednesday, February 11

Essential Healing

I sat on my bed, worn out from arguing with my son. Tears streamed down my face as I replayed the scene in my mind, which seemed like the part in "The Exorcist" where Linda Blair's head spins round and round.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

College basketball, William Carey at Belhaven (women, 5:30 p.m., and men, 7:30 p.m., Jackson): The Baptists battle the Presbyterians, GCAC-style. … Women's college basketball, Mississippi State at Ole Miss (8 p.m., Oxford, FSN South): The Lady Bulldogs go for a season sweep of the Lady Rebels.

Tearing Down the Wrong Walls

Out of all the disturbing things emerging in Mayor Frank Melton's trial this week, the worst to me has been Michael Taylor's testimony that he lived with the mayor for a year and a half or so when he was a minor and never attended high school.

Week 5: ID, Justice, Budgets

Republican Win On Voter ID Senate Republicans succeeded in extending and tightening voter ID requirements for all Mississippians in a bill passed Feb. 4. Senate Bill 2548 originally passed Jan. 15 with an amendment from David Blount, D-Jackson, that would have exempted those born before 1946 from presenting some form of voter identification. In that amended form, the bill allowed photo identification, government documents bearing a name and address and social security cards as acceptable forms of ID.

Barbour Ignoring Black Judge Applicants?

The Mississippi Magnolia Bar claims Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has proved leery of appointing blacks to judicial positions since he won the governor's office in 2003.

Promote Sexual Health

Mississippians have been riding the "abstinence-only" train right into some of the worst sexual health statistics in the nation.

[Stiggers] Unemployed Wino

Bro Hustle: "Aunt Tee Tee and I got this great idea to capture the free-flowing, alcohol-induced thoughts of Tipsy Lee Jacobson, a homeless wino riding the southbound train to the city.

[Kamikaze] Show Up, Jackson

"Those that succeed are the ones that show up" is a mantra that I live by and practice. It is the simple premise that one's mere presence can be a positive influence or driving force to action.

[Chandler] Protect Workers' Rights

On Jan. 21, House Labor Committee Chairman Rep. Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, read House Concurrent Resolution 25 to the Mississippi House of Representatives. HCR 25—which Rep. Jim Evans, D-Jackson, authored—would "commemorate Workers' Memorial Day on April 28, 2009."

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Grady Griffin

Grady Griffin is the director of education and training for the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, but don't let that fancy title fool you.

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Sentimental Mood: Valentine's Gift Guide

Big, small, fancy, funky, sweet and sexy. Your lover probably meets all these descriptions at one point or another so you should treat them with an appropriate gift.

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Rollercoaster Love

The rollercoaster of love is, at best, the ride of your life, and at worst, a terrifying trip that leaves you vomiting.

Valentine's Origns

It is almost impossible to write a definitive history of Valentine's Day because most of it is lost. What we do know is a strange mix of religious facts and historical legends.

14 Ways to Use Chocolate

1. Melt a pot of chocolate and dip your favorite snacks into it: graham crackers, marshmallows, pound cake, strawberries or whole frozen bananas. Dried fruit and nuts, like peanuts and almonds, work well, too.

Lessons from the Animal Kingdom

Romeo never visited the zoo. The lovelorn lad had all he needed to woo Juliet, thanks to Shakespeare's silver pen. But imagine if he flipped on the Discovery Channel and searched for guidance in the mating habits of animals. Let's consider what he might have learned:

Lover's (or Hater's) Rock

Whether you're looking for music to suit your melancholy mood or add fuel to your romantic fire, keep reading. This isn't your average Valentine's Day playlist.

Adios, Mr. Lover Man

"These old places are so rundown," my date said as he walked into my apartment. "I hope you don't pay much rent here."

Unconventional Romantic Films for an Offbeat Valentine's Day

"I was surprised to learn that lesbians accessorized. I didn't know that." —Jessica

Cabbages, Fleas and ... Love?

Margaret Walker might have affectionately written, "My monkey wrench man is my sweet patootie," about her husband in the late 70s, but English speakers aren't the only ones who love turns into blubbering fools. Foreign languages of the world contain just as many sweet and silly terms of endearment.

What NOT to do on Valentine's Day

• Wear all black and mope.

Single Person's Guide to Valentine's Day

Whether you hate it, dread it, look forward to it or try to ignore it … it's coming.

The Reverend's Chocolate Spirit for Two

Ingredients:3 oz Godiva Original Chocolate Liqueur3 oz Stolichnaya vodka1 1/2 oz crème de cocoa1/2 oz Bailey's Irish Crème

Meet the Valentines

Chrissy Vessell received the best Valentine ever Feb. 14, 2008, when Billy Valentine became her husband.

[Rob In Stereo] Forgetting the Little Things

Jason Isbell made a name for himself as third guitarist for the preeminent southern rock band of this decade, the Drive-By Truckers. While he was with the band, Isbell established himself as arguably their folksiest songwriter. Despite his junior-songwriter status, Isbell's contributions always shone through on the Truckers' albums.

"Nudes and Figurative Works"

"Nudes and Figurative Works"• Currently hanging• Fischer Gallery• Free

"The Vagina Monologues"

"The Vagina Monologues"• Rainbow Plaza• Early Bird Tickets $15

[Musician's Corner] Latinismo!


Genre: Latin

"Journey of Hope"

"Journey of Hope"• Thalia Mara Hall• Tickets $15-$35


"Traction"• Feb. 11 at Sneaky Beans; Feb. 18 at One to One Studio; Feb. 25 at the Commons• 7-9 p.m.• Free

Video: Mississippi Truth Commission

Here is some raw footage from the Jan 31 meeting of the Mississippi Truth Commission, the first state-wide body of its kind to assess the tyranny of the Jim Crow Era. I can't do it justice to just explain it here, so if you want to find out what it is, and why you should support,here's a link to their website:

Bodyguard: Melton Under Influence ‘Every Other Day'

Feb. 11, 2009 - Day 3 of the Melton Trial

Defense attorneys began cross-examining former mayoral bodyguard Marcus Wright this morning. Yesterday, Wright testified that Jackson Mayor Frank Melton had been drinking the night of the Ridgeway Street duplex destruction, and that as the mayor broke windows along the outside of the home, he boasted, "I want them f*cking people to know I'm not playing with them."

Jackson Jazz Artist Wins Grammy

Jackson native Cassandra Wilson took home the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album Sunday night for her newest release, "Loverly." The album, which fuses Wilson's distinct voice and modern rhythm with classic standards, is the artist's second Grammy-winning album. Wilson's wildly popular "Blue Moon Daughter" also won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 1997.

Tuesday, February 10

Bodyguard Gives Damaging Evidence Against Melton, Recio

On Feb. 10, jurors in the federal civil rights trial of Mayor Frank Melton heard from the government's star witness, former mayoral bodyguard Marcus Wright. Wright, who pled guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against the mayor and his other bodyguard, Michael Recio, offered damaging evidence of the mayor's past disregard for the law. Asked by prosecutor Mark Blumberg if he was nervous, Wright admitted that he was, but he betrayed little of that nervousness as he offered the trial's clearest account thus far of the Aug. 26, 2006, destruction of a Ridgeway Street duplex.

Entergy Claims Good Practices in State; Hood Begs to Differ


Entergy and Attorney General Jim Hood put out dueling press releases today about the company's claim that an audit has found that Entergy's practices are in the state's "best interests." The Entergy release is below verbatim, followed by Hood's response.

Barbour Not Pleased with Senate Over Eminent Domain Limits

After the Mississippi Senate passed Senate Bill 2230 today to restrict the use of eminent domain to direct public use, Gov. Haley Barbour released this statement tonight: "If the bill that passed the Senate today were to become law, it would be a major impediment to Mississippi's job creation efforts. Toyota would not be coming to Mississippi if this had been the law in 2007, and the Senators recognized that fact by an amendment they included in the bill."

Scruggs Enters Second Guilty Plea

The Associated Press is reporting that Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who is currently serving a five-year sentence for bribery, has pled to a second charge of mail fraud in connection with a second bribery.

Thinking Abundantly

To get love, you have to give it.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Start with a hole and sure enough, something comes along to fill it, whether that's water from a storm, leaves from the trees or an enterprising rodent looking for a safe hiding place from a cat.

Wright: Recio Falsified Documents, Melton ‘Clearly Under the Influence'

'On the Road Again' with Melton and his Bodyguards

Tease photo

Taylor Testimony Creates Firestorm, Brings In Melton Drunkenness

Previous JFP coverage of Michael Taylor

Melton Trial: Jordan Rules to Allow Alcohol Testimony; Taylor Takes the Stand

In a major move, Judge Dan Jordan ruled this morning to allow testimony of Mayor Frank Melton's alleged alcohol consumption the night of the Ridgeway duplex destruction, as well as testimony from defense witness Daniel Smith stating that he bought crack at the duplex the day of the raid and told Melton about it that same day. Jordan ruled yesterday just before opening arguments that he would not allow alcohol testimony, but said he would consider admitting it later.

Monday, February 9

Crematorium Owner Arrested Following Indictment

[Verbatim statement] Jackson, MS-A Jackson crematorium owner has been arrested following a five count indictment by a Hinds County Grand Jury, announced Attorney General Jim Hood. Mark Seepe, owner of Mark Seepe Funeral Directors & Crematorium in Jackson, was taken into custody this evening by investigators with the Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General's Office following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office, Public Integrity Division and indictment by a Grand Jury on charges that he either converted or embezzled funds that by law were to be placed in trust for benefit of customers who pre-paid for services (§75-63-59 and 75-63-69).

City to Receive $14 Million in HUD Funds

Mayor Frank Melton told reporters today to look forward to about $11 million in federal funds coming to the city for the purchase and repair of foreclosed homes to put back on the market.

Melton Trial: Prosecution Calls Michael Taylor

Federal prosecutors have just called Michael Taylor, a former Melton mentee, to the stand to testify. The government has apparently granted Taylor immunity in exchange for his testimony. More to come soon.

Melton Trial: Prosecutors Call Duplex Owner Jennifer Sutton as Witness

The U.S. government called Ridgeway Street duplex owner Jennifer Sutton as their second witness in the federal civil-rights trial of Jackson Mayor Frank Melton today. Crying as she looked a photos of the August 2006 damage, Sutton told the courtroom that she had not been contacted by the city prior to the demolition of her property. Melton said there had been 37 counts against the duplex.

Defense Attorneys Try to Block AG's Letter From Melton Trial

Shortly after Mississippi Attorney General Jim hood took the stand this morning during Mayor Frank Melton's federal civil-rights trial, defense attorneys for Melton and Recio moved to block a May 26, 2006, letter Hood sent to Melton warning him about potential gun violations. In the letter, Hood told Melton that, while Melton had a license to carry a concealed weapon, "that license does not allow you to carry such a gun everywhere" under state law.

Calling All Kids!

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has announced a call for entries for its annual Pier 1 greeting card contest.

Melton Trial Opening Statements Start Today

The federal civil-rights trial of Mayor Frank Melton and former mayoral bodyguard Michael Recio began this morning with opening statements followed by witness testimony. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood was the first witness. Melton and Recio are charged with intentionally violating Fourth Amendment rights in conjunction with a 2006 raid on a Ridgeway Street duplex. Prosecutors allege that Melton and Recio supervised the house's destruction with sledgehammers.

Friday, February 6

UPDATED: Judge Finalizes Jury For Melton Trial

After five grueling days of questioning potential jurors, Judge Dan Jordan seated 12 jurors and 3 alternates for the federal civil-rights trial of Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and his former bodyguard Michael Recio Friday afternoon.

Low-Cost Heart Health Screening

If you or your loved ones are concerned about heart health, take advantage of the Baptist Health System's low cost heart health screening, offered Monday through Friday at the Baptist Medical Center in Jackson and at the Baptist Cardiology Clinic in Madison.

Thursday, February 5

Remember Fletcher?

When I was a young chap dancing around the downtown area, I witnessed great bands. I saw The Symptoms. I saw City Lights. I saw this Hercules character. I also saw a band called Fletcher.

Shred It Friday

[verbatim from the Attorney General's office]

Jackson, MS-Attorney General Jim Hood, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Better Business Bureau President Bill Moak are together again with a host of private partners to help Mississippians fight against identity theft.

McCoy Urges Barbour Against Cold Feet on Stimulus

Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy offered a public plea Thursday to Gov. Haley Barbour to accept federal money offered through a proposed congressional stimulus package worth more than $800 billion. The House is considering the package to jump-start the faltering national economy. "We're in a recession the likes of which we haven't seen for many, many years. We've been very encouraged with the stimulus package thus far, and we're appreciative of the president. But we've been very disturbed at the recent news of our governor considering not taking part of the stimulus package," McCoy said, referring to the House proposal that had not yet passed the Senate Thursday.

Wednesday, February 4

Smoking On the Way Out

See: Jackson Smoking Ordinance, Defined on Jackpedia

Shoe Bar at Pieces

Cute bag, slinky dress, funky shoes. Girls know we need them, and we know one of the best places to find them is at the Shoe Bar at Pieces. This boutique exemplifies what makes Fondren so unique: a specific style that is a mix of classic and alternative.

Grover Norquist: ‘Obama Breaks Campaign Promise'

Certain folks around town -- let's call them "interested parties" -- seem occasionally to sign me up for various e-mail newsletter blasts without my consent. The casual observer would be interested to find the John Birch Society newsletter in my e-mail inbox along side "Action Items" pushed out by, all of which I receive courtesy of the generous fingertips of a few folks with, perhaps, a little too much time on their hands.

When the Going Gets Tough

No doubt about it, these are scary economic times. Many people are losing jobs, some businesses are closing, consumers are holding tight to their dollars.

Cigarette Tax Debate Rages On

Pragmatism and principle will collide when the Mississippi House considers the Senate version of a proposed cigarette tax increase. The Senate approved increasing the cigarette tax from 18 cents per pack to 49 cents per pack Jan. 29. The Senate bill was a more modest revision of the $1 tax, which the House approved two weeks earlier.

Week 5: Selling Planes, Buying Ads, Raising Taxes

Jet-Setters No More? On Friday, the House passed a bill that could put a state jet up for sale on eBay. Citing the "true conservative" example of Sarah Palin, Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, said that selling the jet would make fiscal sense and send the right message about government's priorities during a recession. He estimated that the jet costs the state $1,900 per hour to use.

It's OK to Win ... Or Not

Olivia Hardges, 9, a third-grade student at Marshall Elementary arrived at the JSU e-Center before 8 a.m. on Jan. 23. As other kids gathered in the California room, also wearing their uniform polo shirts and khakis, Olivia passed the time before the chess tournament playing Mancala—a strategy game involving small stones—rather than practicing the game she came to win.

Indecent Proposal?

The Associated Press reported last week that the scandal of jailed former lobbyist Jack Abramoff reaches fairly far into Mississippi. Abramoff's former deputy Todd Boulanger told U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts that he provided thousands of dollars worth of goodies to Capitol Hill aides who could help him land legislation favorable to his clients.

DA Needs to Get Organized

A growing source of frustration around the Hinds County Courthouse is that the office of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith is handling case pleadings and motions in a sloppy manner -- —much sloppier than his predecessor Faye Peterson. And some of the people complaining now say they supported Smith in his campaign against Peterson.

[Stiggers] On The Edge

Nurse Tootie McBride: "As the jobless meter climbs to higher heights, depression, apathy and shame infect the wounds of the people. Life for poor folk in this country is like chewing gum that has lost its flavor. And anxious individuals wait hopefully for a fresh, new stick of gum."

Tease photo

Paul Forster

Paul Forster is the teacher you wanted to have in high school. Among his many interests, one of his most intriguing is his desire to be an organic farmer.

Vol. 7, No 21

<b><u>Raise the Cigarette Tax</u></b>

Raise the Cigarette Tax Smoking kills almost 4,700 Mississippi residents each year and costs local taxpayers more than $719 million in health-care costs. Given the current economic crisis this state is facing, increasing Mississippi's cigarette excise tax is a win-win solution for both our state government and our citizens.

[Wilson] Draining A Bloated Government

In Mississippi, a new year means more than just changing calendars. It means the Legislature is back in session, and all 174 of our elected representatives have descended upon the capital city.

'How We Got Over'

Sadie Pettway's eyes grew wide as she inched closer toward the ominous water fountain at stage left. Her sister Nella stood anxiously behind her watching intently as Sadie pulled the lever and took a sip from the "whites only" fountain. "What's it taste like?" Nella asked.

Tease photo

Day of Reckoning

The thrice-delayed federal civil-rights trial of Mayor Frank Melton and bodyguard Michael Recio began this week, ending a long process of pre-trial maneuvering.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Thursday, Feb. 5College basketball, Spring Hill at Belhaven (women, 5 p.m., and men,7 p.m., Jackson): Belhaven plays host to a GCAC hoops doubleheader.

The Sour Smell of Corruption

Of all the interesting odors hovering in the wake of the exiting Bush administration, the most pervasive smell could prove to be the sickly scent of corruption. The reek sank as far south as Mississippi, and will likely take Congress years to clean, if it manages to get its hands on a big enough mop.

Untrivializing God

Finding common ground for the world's religious fundamentalists may be the most important step the human race can take in the 21st century. Without it, it may be impossible to move toward a combined global effort to end terrorism and address global ecology.

Blues ‘Brothers'

Growing up in Cleveland, Miss., Jason and Brock Bailey learned the blues early. The two brothers spent much of their early childhood listening to the music of their father, Joe, and their older half brother, Chris, before they were even capable of playing.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 7, No. 21

If you attended the JFP's 2009 Best Of Jackson Party, you may be jonesing for the next opportunity to explore the shops in Duling School. This Thursday, Feb. 5, the shops stay open late for Fondren After 5 and are ready to greet you with music and refreshments.

[Pass The Mic] Receding Hair Rock

On a recent lazy afternoon, I was becoming one with the couch, mindlessly staring at the tube, when hair-metal has-been Bret Michaels appeared. Bret told me that finally I, too, could own the quintessential collection of hard-rock and hair-metal hits, never before available in such a comprehensive package.

Acupunture Bill Needs Your Support

[Verbatim from the Mississippi Oriental Medicine Association:

Charles Evers to Interview Mayoral Hopeful Robert Johnson

See and update: Robert Johnson on Jackpedia

Union Leader Brenda Scott Announces Mayoral Run

Brenda Scott, President of the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees, threw her hat in the ring for mayor of Jackson on Monday. Speaking to Jackson Free Press yesterday, she promised to be a "common-sense mayor of the common people."

Tuesday, February 3

En Garde!

My first word/phrase was actually, "Dual Custody".

Dating back to the 23rd Century, my family has owned countless Heavernells. First transported to this country by the Smithervites and later by the Torkish of Borgues, these malnourished squabbles have littered the countryside behind my home in New England ever since I could remember. They taste like fruit baskets.

City Candidate Pages on Jackpedia - Help Us Beef Them Up!

I've posted links to city candidate pages for this year's election on Jackpedia. All of you, whether you work with candidates or not, are welcome to register for Jackpedia and help load up those pages, including a photo, bio info, and links to their Web site and other legitimate sources of articles and information about them.

Defense Cannot Use Prostitute Allegation Against Bodyguard

See JFP Melton Blog/Archive here.

Federal District Judge Dan Jordan ruled this morning that defense attorneys for Mayor Frank Melton and former bodyguard Michael Recio cannot use allegations of sexual misconduct by former bodyguard Marcus Wright to impugn his testimony or character during the civil rights trial in downtown Jackson. The judge ruled that defense attorneys could only ask "generic" questions about whether prosecutors convinced Wright to testify by threatening to make public the 2005 allegations that he had sex with two transsexual prostitutes.

Monday, February 2

Jury Selection Begins in Melton-Recio Trial

Melton archive/blog.

The thrice-delayed federal civil rights trial of Mayor Frank Melton and bodyguard Michael Recio kicked off Monday in the federal courthouse in downtown Jackson for the destruction of a private home in August 2006, a story first reported by the Jackson Free Press. The court summoned 100 potential jurors from the southern district in Mississippi. Questioning of the jurors started today and will continue for about three days. Opening statements are expected to happen late this week with the trial taking up to three weeks.

Harvey's Running For Mayor, Again

Former Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson announced his candidacy for mayor on Saturday. Speaking in front of the Jackson Convention Complex, Johnson pointed to achievements from his two mayoral terms.