Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010: Time for a Change!

Transplanted Midwesterner said...

I don't feel like the amount of property tax is really the issue here. The value and return those dollars fail to generate should be the focus of our ire, not the actual dollar amounts. I did a little research and found that the Mississippi Delta counties containing larger towns (Washington, Bolivar, Coahoma, Sunflower, and Leflore) do tend to have higher tax rates in comparison to other Mississippi counties. Tunica County is the exception, but I think we all know why. Yazoo County is a little lower as well, and I haven't quite figured that one out.
Nevertheless, the "high" tax rates in these Mississippi Delta counties pale in comparison to many across the country. I checked my native county in the Midwest, and its tax rate is just shy of double that of Washington County. However, they have usable roads, storm sewers that function, an effective police force and sheriff's deputies, and a variety of city and county services that bring value into the equation.


Herein lies the problem with property taxes in Greenville and Washington County, the value proposition is just not there. The tax issues are most certainly enhanced by the ineptitude of our local leaders and a huge disparity of wealth found in the county, and I really don't have a hard line solution for these problems. As has been discussed in this forum ad nauseum, the entitlement masses far outweigh the taxpaying minority when it comes to the polls.
I don't have a smooth segue into this next point but here goes. In my mind, the major problem in Greenville can be summarized into a relatively simple statement. Greenville is a micropolitan area with metropolitan problems. Based on Greenville's small size and rural nature, we have a limited ability to generate the funds needed to offset the costs of the more traditionally urban problems and programs that are needed to provide for all of its residents. Granted, the state and federal governments provide the lion's share of the funds required to support the personal needs our impoverished masses, but there is still a sizeable load to bear for the local government.
Think about the cost of infrastructure maintenance alone for those areas of Greenville that do not generate or generate a minimum number of tax dollars.

Obviously, the lack of industry in Greenville is at the root of the issue for generating tax dollars. Individuals and retail businesses can only be taxed to a certain point before they flee or close their doors, respectively. We have read many times on the Delta Scoop about people pining for our local officials to "bring in" industry. In my mind, this is no different than the welfare mentality criticized by those same individuals that want an industry "brought in."

What we need to do is build industry in Greenville. We need to utilize what resources we have, however minimal, to their fullest potential. The biggest example of this, likely, is the port of Greenville. Hopefully, the forthcoming expansions of the port are a step in the right direction for the port and Greenville.

I often hear people in Greenville state that the biggest problem in Greenville is a lack of jobs. I have to disagree. Gone are the days of unskilled and semi-skilled labor in the United States being overcompensated for their toils. Unskilled and semi-skilled labor is largely what Greenville can provide, as can China, Mexico, India, and a host of other Asian and Central American countries. We simply cannot be competitive in the global marketplace due to our higher cost of living and their willingness to use suspect governmental and business tactics.

The problem for Greenville, in my mind, is a lack of businesses and/or industry that can generate tax dollars for Greenville’s coffers. These businesses do not have to employ scores of people to generate the dollars needed to make progress toward the ultimate goal of a better Greenville. As far as I’m concerned, there are few basic tenets that can be applied to building industry in Greenville:

1. Scalability – We need to be building businesses that can employ 3-5 people, then maybe 30-50, and ultimately 300-500.
2. Independence – We need an industry not connected to those already prevalent in the Delta. Specifically, we are talking about businesses not solely dependent on agriculture, aquaculture, or forestry. These types of industry are already present in the Delta and would easily be transplanted into Greenville as other industry begins to take a foothold.

3. Minimal start-up cost – The matter of fact is that it’s a lot easier to get someone or some entity to invest $500,000 in an enterprise than $5,000,000.Of course, the best laid plans can be thrown out the window when personal responsibility is replaced with entitlement, and that is the first major hurdle we must overcome. If we can find a way to eliminate gettin’ by on the government dole for a large number of our residents, without being called racists, then many other things can fall in place. Any suggestions?

"Transplanted" makes some very valid points about Greenville. Compared to other similar sized communities throughout the country, our taxes are relatively low... but as he also points out, these communities get certain services for their tax dollars, such as roads, sewers, police, garbage pick-up, and education. Here is where Greenville differs. All of these services are "substandard" at best in Greevillie and yet our taxes continue to rise.

Why? Well, in the past 20 years, Greenville has shrunk from a population of almost 55,000 to its current 42,000, and with them went the tax base.

Most residents have lost hope and trust in our leaders! In one fell swoop, Heather broke through the age, gender and race "glass ceilings"; however, today, we are none the better for her pioneering efforts. Have we learned anything from this experience?

"Gettin' by" on the government dole is a way of life in the Delta, proudly transferred from one generation to another. The stereo-typical image of a welfare recipient as being poor, starving and destitute, simply doesn't exist here. The system works to their advantage and they know how to work it well!

We are losing the battle of "Entitlement v. Work" by mere numbers. We all agree that there is corruption and waste at every level of government... so why don't WE do something about it?

How about a bill that limits the number of illegitimate children a person can have that the state will support? How about mandatory monthly drug screens for all public welfare and Medicaid recipients? How about mandatory prison sentences for first time drug and weapon convictions?

Why have we not demanded any of these things? Because, as "Transplanted" states above, we would all be called "racists". We continue to "fold" every time the race card is played, so there is no way we will ever win the game. Until we change the laws that support and promote "Gettin' by" we will continue to pay the price as taxpayers.

Greenville doesn't need another city election. It needs a revolution!

Forthright

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hope for Downtown Greenville

Just take a look at paducah, ky, startkville, ms. oxford, ms. thomasville, ga., several small cities in North Carolina and many many more small cities I have traveled through have made a big turn around by shutting down building more and more strip malls.

G'ville must stop the movement to the south if we want to begin to grow the downtown area. The city needs to call or visit these places or ones like the cities mentioned above. It works and they can help us to jumpstart our city by learning from them.

It's not by steadily fleeing south but improving the downtown area. Whatever it takes it must be done to save G'ville. The downtown committee and the chamber of commerce need to work together along with the commercial real estate people. They are the first to know who is looking for a place to open a business. They should recommend the downtown area first and foremost. Then have grants and incentives for them so good it would be impossible for them to turn down.

The writer speaks the truth... for most small communities, but the one thing lacking for Greenville is hope. Most residents have totally given up on the belief that our downtown will ever come back. Much of that belief has to do with our downtown's proximity to major crime, drug dealers and the poverty that surrounds it.

Casinos only made it worse by attracting alcoholics and drug users to their "domain". The few establishments that remain are churches, banks, Jim's Cafe and Mr. Nelkin's Greenville Museum, which is a wonderful treasure... that most Greenvillians have probably never seen.

When the Greenville Mall closes, and it will soon, perhaps we will reconsider that we have failed as a "metropolis", but may have hope to once again become a charming community. If it takes three guards on every block of Main and Washington, it will still be cheaper than Mall rent!

Greenville is on life-support... but to abandon the downtown area as our future is simply pulling the plug on our last hope.

Forthright

Monday, November 30, 2009

Say What?

GREENVILLE — The phones will soon be ringing at one new business, after all, that is its business.

Call Center Outsourcing Solutions, 747 W. Alexander, is scheduled to hold its grand opening 4:30 p.m. Tuesday,

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is scheduled to be on hand for the ribbon cutting; entertainment will be provided Eden Brent and Mississippi Slim.

“I’m extremely excited,” said Regina Luke, CEO, Call Center Outsourcing Solutions. “It has finally come together after three months of lots of hard work.”Call Center Outsourcing Solutions will be a fully operational call center taking inbound and placing outbound customer service calls. Luke said the business currently holds contracts with 28 Fortune 500 companies.

“We recently went to the Global Outsourcing Expo in New York City and we were the only English speaking call center there,” Luke said. “We had people lined up at our booth wanting to speak with us and to see what we could do for their business.”

One of Luke’s clients is happy to have made the move because according to Luke, the company was losing eight percent of its customers monthly due to language barriers.

“More and more of these jobs are coming back to America because of language barriers,” she said. “Customers get fed up with dealing with someone who they can’t understand, and this is good news for us.”

The call center will open their lines for business with 15 new employees and will add an additional 10 new employees each month until they’re up to 50, said Luke.

“We’ve had to temporarily outsource some of our contracts to other centers because of the delay in being able to open,” Luke said. “But we’re ready now and our business will increase over the next few months and we’re still actively seeking new clients.”

According to Luke, a positive for attracting new clients is that the business is a minority-owned American company, Luke said.

“We’re getting lots of positive feedback from the clients we already have and even potential ones,” she said. “The clients love the fact that we’re in an area that so desperately needs jobs. They like us because we’re an American owned company and that our customer service representatives are native English speakers.”

The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Language barriers? I am a native Deltan and I can barely understand our "native" language! "Let me axked you a nudda querstion bout dat"?

Who in the hell is going to use this service? Okay, I get pissed when I call Dell Computer Service center and get someone from India with a heavy accent, but they are generally polite, patient, articulate and educated, so you get the job done.

Physically, this new "business" still looks like a deserted building. "Call Center" is a generic word for everything from credit card scams to porn! They are generally a venue for businesses to disguise their identity from both the customer and the IRS.

Does anyone know what the actual "business" of this call center will be? It's not that I don't trust our city council to have done "due diligence" regarding this enterprise, but as P.T. Barnum once noted... there is one born every second!

Forthright

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Truth Hurts!

Gov. Haley Barbour didn't just present his annual executive budget Monday: He proposed remaking state government with what he termed "very significant, major, dramatic ways to reduce spending."

"What I propose is to change the way we do a lot of things," he said.

That might be an understatement. His proposals would include:
  • Merging Mississippi University for Women into Mississippi State University.

  • Merging Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University into Jackson State University.

  • Reducing the number of school districts from 152 to about 100 districts.

  • Closing mental heath crisis centers and four Department of Mental Health facilities.

  • Cutting state agencies an average 12 percent.

  • Changing community college governance.

These are just a few of the proposals. Politically, any one of the proposals on Barbour's budget list would create a political firestorm. Proposals to close or merge MUW and Valley in the past left legislators bloodied and bowed. Reducing the number of school districts involves community pride, sports not to mention politics.

But while the proposed cuts are dramatic, the budget situation facing the state is dramatic as well.

Revenue for this fiscal year that began July 1 is $371 million below estimates.

That deficiency for the next budget year is expected to be $715.5 million.
The 2012 budget, which will be written in an election year, will be more difficult, Barbour warns.

For 2012, the gap could grow to $1.2 billion.

The options?

There are no good ones for lawmakers.

It means Barbour's cuts, their own cuts or finding new revenue. New revenue can only come from new taxes or fees, raiding special funds, using all of the state's "rainy-day" funds or a combination of all of those. None is politically popular.

Barbour has done lawmakers a favor by proposing politically unpopular cuts. That could make whatever they do more acceptable. The alumni of schools and other affected constituencies now will begin intense lobbying. But all Mississippians will be affected by this budget.

Lawmakers should not dismiss this executive budget. Some of these proposals - such as school district consolidation - make sense despite the budget problems. But, they also must not allow budget problems to reverse decades of progress in areas of education, health and public services.
Any course taken will be painful. It's time for ideas, innovation and political courage.
The governor's budget offers a starting point.

Like him or not, the Governor's budget is probably very conservative. No one likes to talk about cuts and consolidations, particularly when they directly impact your life and income, but it's time for us to pay the fiddler!

School consolidations are long overdue. Why pay Presidents and Superintendents hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do what? Consolidate public school districts and universities and get rid of the top heavy administrative costs... we can no longer afford them.

Health care... get ready to pony up also! Mississippi's Crisis Centers have become holding tanks for the few state hospital beds. There will always be a need for inpatient mental health facilities, but most patients could be treated more efficiently at community out-patient facilities. Crisis centers are a luxury that we can no longer afford!

And for those hospitals who feed at the Medicaid trough... guess what, it's dry! Obama-care or not, cost-containment and accountability are the new buzz-words for 2010.

For the last 20 years, Mississippi politicians have spent like drunken sailors, funding pork barrel projects that keep them in office and their "friends" employed. Well, that era is over. With taxpayers and jobs fleeing Mississippi on a daily basis, dark clouds are gathering over that "rainy day" fund that provides us with such false security.

I am not a fan of Haley Barbour, but his figures are correct! The only option we have is to cut spending drastically in this state, or suffer the consequences. There is waste in every public department of this state and most of us know it. In 2010, we will barely keep our heads above water due to millions in stimulus dollars. In 2011, they will remove our "life preservers" and see if we will sink or swim.

If we do not make significant cuts now, we will all be visiting the Titanic!

Forthright

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Survive a Hospital Stay

It's not just DRMC...

Hospitals are scary places! If you have ever worked in one, you know this; however, most have not and still regard doctors and nurses as "saints". Nothing could be further from the truth... for the most part, they are overworked, under-educated, stressed out, human beings who have to work in totally unsafe environments called hospitals. Sure, many of them are doing the "best that they can", but when your loved one dies as a result of "preventable medical errors", that is little consolation.

You have probably heard about the frightening number of deadly medical errors that occur in hospitals nationwide. The key to preventing medical errors in hospitals is by being proactive and involved.

We aren't trained to be proactive when it comes to health care. Health care is rapidly changing and everyone needs to be involved in their own care. In many cases, doctors and nurses are "temporary" employees who move from place to place to earn a living. Often, they are thrown into jobs in which they receive no orientation or supervision.... and here's where the problems start.

What you may not know is that you do in fact have control over what happens to you in the hospital. Asserting yourself by asking questions and overseeing your own medical care is now essential. The life you save could be your own.

Nearly a quarter of a million deaths in hospitals nationwide were found to be preventable (The Fifth Annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, 2008). The good news here is the word "preventable".

Here are 12 tips on how to survive a hosptial stay:

1. Enlist a family member or good friend to act as your advocate. Ask this person to show up on a regular basis and get involved to oversee and monitor your care. He or she will act as your eyes and ears while you are in the hospital. More than 150 doctors and nurses I interviewed said this: "Hospital care is in crisis. You must have someone with you at all times in the hospital. Loved ones are patient's best advocates."

2. Get a notebook. Record your daily progress, medication names and dosages, procedures, treatments, and medical professionals names and contact info. Take notes on conversations with doctors and nurses. You can't remember everything that is discussed. You are recovering!

3. To prevent medication mistakes. Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year (Institute of Medicine). Write down your medications and dosages. List what the medication looks like, the shape and color of any pills, the names on the labels of bottles or IV bags. Create a detailed description as labels and bottles can look alike. Make sure that you recognize the medication when it is administered. If you don't, ask questions. Be assertive. Also make sure your allergies to medications are in your chart. Repeat this information to your primary nurses and physicians.

4. Meeting with your doctors. You want a face-to-face interaction with your doctors not only establish a relationship (doctors see so many patients and you want them to put faces with names) but to get a list of medications, treatments and procedures directly from this medical professional. This way, you can accurately go through a checklist to prevent medical errors. Ask your loved one to join you during doctors' rounds so he or she can also make a list and help you go through your checklist. It's handy to have someone there to ask questions you may have forgotten. Have your notebook handy. Prepare questions ahead of time about the your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

5. Establish a relationship with your primary nurse. No other nurse will do. Hospital staff dress alike so make sure you know the registered nurse who is responsible for your daily care. Get personal. Show appreciation to your primary nurse. The more good will you express to this professional, the more attention you will receive. And more attention translates to the probability of fewer errors. Your advocate can ask if he or she can help with your care. This also reinforces involvement on the part of family and friends. Doctors and nurses I interviewed all said that if a patient has involved family members, they will get more attention. Have a loved one bring in a few thank you cards for you. Address them to your primary nurses (a different one at night and during the day and you could have a new nurse every day) with a note from you about how much you appreciate their good care of you.

6. Humanize yourself to your primary nurses and physicians. Think about how many patients these medical professionals see in a year. You want the medical professionals to see you as a human being, not as the "shoulder surgery" in room 209. You want a personal connection. Offer details about yourself, your friends and family, but keep it brief. What do you do for a living? How many children do you have? Do you have animals at home? Ask the nurse or doctor about him or herself. Find common ground.

7. To prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infectious diseases Among the most virulent are MRSA and pneumonia, ask every person who comes in contact with you, including the physicians and nurses, to wash their hands or put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves before touching you. Create a sign that is placed above your bed that says, "Please wash your hands before touching me." Place antibacterial gel next to your hospital bed and ask everyone to use it. If you can arrange for a private room, do. It cuts down on the number of people who travel in and out of your hospital room and decreases the spread of disease.

8. To prevent surgery on the wrong body part. Before you enter the operating room, you or your advocate should ask to see the surgeon to go over your name, birth date, type of surgery, and the correct site on your body to be operated on. If the surgeon is not available, ask to see the anesthesiologist and nurses involved in your case and repeat this same checklist with each one.

9. Holidays, weekends and nights. Medical errors increase at these times. Nurse-to-patient ratios increase and doctors can be away. Ask your advocate to be with you as much as possible or ask them to hire a sitter, companion or private duty nurse to fill in.

10. Ask questions. Many people are afraid to question their nurses and doctors. Don't be. If a medication looks new or different, ask what it is and what it is for. If something seems amiss, or you are surprised by some piece of information such as orders for discharge when you thought you were going to be in the hospital for another two days, ask questions. As long as you are polite and respectful, your request should be met with acceptance. If you don't understand something, ask questions. This is your health and well being we are talking about. Be assertive.

11. Form a Family Advocate Team. If your loved one who acts as your advocate works or is too busy to be with you 24/7, ask that another two to three family members or good friends share shifts to be at your bedside. Keep the notebook in your room and ask that everyone share the task of taking notes and acting as watchdogs.

12. To prevent bed sores. If you've had surgery or if you're recovering from an illness, you may be in bed for a period of time. If you are not turned frequently enough you could develop bed sores. Ask your primary nurse§ or nurse's aid to turn your body often enough to prevent bed sores. Some 503,300 patients admitted to U.S. hospitals in 2006 suffered from a bedsore that developed either before or during their stay, reported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The bottom line is trust no one! If you or your loved one needs around the clock care... you better be willing to provide it, because hospitals can not meet that need. We have no problems questioning our car mechanics, plumbers or home repairmen about their skills and qualifications, so why do we "revere" health care workers?

A competent doctor or nurse will not take offense by your questions and will usually be receptive to your interest. Any health care professional who is evasive, rude or simply refuses to help you understand the disease process is a "red flag" who needs to be immediately reported to hospital administration.

The safest place to be when you are ill... is in your home.

Forthright

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mississippi's Next Great Hospital

GREENVILLE — Delta Regional Medical Center is outperforming hospitals on both the state and national levels according to Joint Commission reports, Ray Humphreys, the hospital’s chief executive officer told the Washington County Board of Supervisors last week.

He said the hospital’s Joint Commission report was very good. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 17,000 health care organizations nationwide, and its certification is recognized as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

“We’ve had a very good year, and we’ve got a lot to be excited about,” said Humphreys. “We’ve seen significant growth in our emergency care and within the heart center.”

There’s been so much growth in those areas that Humphreys referred to it as “booming.” The renovation of the two departments has garnered growth in utilization of the facilities, allowing DRMC to enlist the services of a board-certified emergency physician — there are only nine in the state. In addition, Humphreys said, DRMC ahs received a verbal commitment from a heart surgeon to join the staff of the hospital’s heart center.

“Heart procedures have been increasing and our heart center is outperforming state and national averages with ‘door to balloon’ procedures which is the time a heart patient arrives and to the time they’re being treated for a heart emergency. The average is 90 minutes, and our time at Delta Regional is 59 minutes,” said Humphreys.

July 2010 is the anticipated opening for the Delta’s only neonatal intensive care unit which will provide a high level of intensive care to premature infants. There are currently 11 NICU’s in the state, and Delta Regional has hired a neonatologist to fill this dire need.

“It is unacceptable to have the highest death rate among infants in the state,” Humphreys said. “If Delta Regional doesn’t do it, it wont be done.”

Humphreys too reported that DRMC could see a higher profit on it’s bottom than anticipated. He said the hospital could see approximately $800,000 more than their $3 million estimate for the end of the fiscal year. The final numbers according to Humphreys should be available from the auditors by the end of December.

Atta boy, Ray! Baffle them with BS when you need statistics on your side. The truth is that the "Joint Commission" is an elective, purchased certification that costs the hospital upwards of $40,000 a year. It increases the hospital's reimbursement they recieve from Federal programs and is the equivalent of having a "player's card" in a casino.

Now, if you pay me $40,000 a year to "certify" you as a safe hospital, the chances are good that you will pass! It's like hiring your brother as your home inspector... duh?

Sure, DRMC is doing well! It is the only show in town. The numbers of sick and indigent patients are steadily increasing while taxpayers are fleeing the Delta. Medicaid and the state are broke and we are about to experience Obama-care, which will "level" us all.

So, here we go again Ray! More promises of new services and delusions of grandeur. If DRMC opened a tattoo parlor and bought out all of the competition... that would make DRMC the BEST tattoo parlor in Greenville!

Gotta luv it!

Forthright

Saturday, October 31, 2009

If It Walks Like a Duck...

Dominick Cross of the DDT offers this:

I saw a young man walking down the street recently. He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and shoes. His T-shirt was un-tucked, much the way I wear my T-shirts. But that’s where our fashion similarities end.

I had to do a double-take because I couldn't’t believe my eyes. Between the bottom of his T-shirt and the top of his shorts was a pair of spindly legs. It was extreme sogginess to be sure; or perhaps a cure for extreme jock itch.

He was also waddling like a duck, or the way a baby walks after he makes a deposit in his diapers. In his defense, though, I’d say that his feet were splayed (with each step, at that!) to prevent his shorts from sliding to his ankles and tripping himself. It’s more of a functionary motion than, say the “Keep on Truckin’” strut, which back in the day, was all form over function.

But the main reason he walked that way is he did not slyly utilize either of his hands to hold the shorts in place. When one’s pants have not a belt, or the appearance thereof, it is proper saggy etiquette to hold up the article of clothing seemingly succumbing to gravity as inconspicuously as possible.

Not this guy. His arms just swung at his side during his effort-ridden attempt at a casual stroll as daylight peeped between his shirt and shorts. It’s difficult to walk with your shorts around your thighs. Really, I felt sorry for the guy. Trying so hard to look cool, yet failing miserably. Unless, the innate struggle to keep covered while sagging is part of the fashion statement’s statement.

I’m very well aware the saggy look is simply a style of some sort. Still, like mood rings, tube tops and Kriss Kross, I just don’t get it. Ok, I got tube tops.Still, I do not think there should be a law to address the saggy situation because I believe you can’t legislate fashion, or willful ignorance of common sense when it comes to dress. Heck, I’m all for mini-skirts and revealing blouses — preferably at the same time.

Anyway, I really couldn’t care less if sagging is based on the dubious rumor of jailhouse attire. No matter where the style came from, quite frankly, it’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, has anyone, like say these guys’ girlfriends, told their guys just how absolutely goofy they look waddling down the street?

Part of me wants to warn these young men that, like over-sized bell bottoms and platform shoes in the days of yore, that one day they’ll realize, too, just how absolutely dim-witted they look. I know, I sound like my dad.

However, despite myself and in an effort to understand, I tried on this post-pubescent fashion statement in the privacy of my own home. My pants on the down low, I walked to and fro, with and without a sly hand. I found it uncomfortable and totally inconvenient. It reminded me of trying to get to the phone (before cell phones) when otherwise preoccupied.

But I did feel a certain swagger as I reached for my cell phone in one pocket and car keys in the other, both relocated around my knees.

I think that everyone in the Delta has observed this "fashion statement" with equal curiosity and disdain. Purple hair...okay, pierced everything... sure it's a statement about your individuality, but who the hell wants to see your underwear?

I too, have observed the"duck-walk" among these fashion-plates in a usually unsuccessful attempt to keep their pants from eventually falling to their ankles. Recently, a young man entered my place of business to request a job application. As he bent over to sign-in, his pants dropped to his ankles. Undisturbed, he continued to sign-in before readjusting his trousers.

How do these buffoons not realize how stupid they look...walking around in public holding their groins in an attempt to keep their pants up? Okay, perhaps it is intended to make a statement about themselves? Well, it does and the statement is, "I am a moron!

Greenville is full of "ghetto-fabulous" citizens who want to make statements, from their custom painted "whoopee-rides" to their stereos blaring obscenities in public places... from their $150 nail jobs clutching EBT cards, to their cultural house color palettes announcing their arrival in your neighborhood!

I am not a fan of stereotypes, but we have all witnessed this fashion faux pas throughout the Delta and it is hard for me to believe that the participants want to be anything other than members of the "gang"!

Forthright

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's a SNAP!

Clarion Ledger:

Mary Loyd of Hinds County and Sheretta Johnson and Jacqueline Smith, both of Washington County, have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud and must pay combined restitution of more than $33,000, the state Department of Human Services announced today.

Special Hinds County Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn ordered her to pay $26,290 in restitution, according to a news release from DHS. Her guilty plea is being withheld until she completes three years of supervised probation. She is disqualified from receiving benefits for 12 months from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program.

A Hinds County grand jury indicted her on felony fraud in the SNAP, and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department with help from DHS’ Office of Fraud Investigations arrested her.

Johnson and Smith pleaded guilty Oct. 20, in Washington County Justice Court. Judge Laverne Holmes Carter ordered Johnson to pay $3,166 in restitution and fines and Smith to pay $3,909. Both are disqualified from the SNAP program for 12 months.

Ouch! Disqualified for food stamps for 12 months... now that really hurts! These poor women will have to fake disability claims to offset that kind of punishment. And, they have to pay back over $33,000 to DHS? Now I know DHS will be waiting by the mailbox each month for those checks to roll in.

No wonder food stamp fraud is a "SNAP"! These people should be barred from every state and federal welfare program for life! They have admitted to being "criminals", so why do we think 3 years of "supervised probation" is going to change them? DHS (taxpayers) will never see a penny of restitution and in 12 short months, these gals will be back on the gravy train.

We are not a country of bad people... just bad laws. Like looters during Katrina, these are people who make a mockery of our system of democracy and take advantage of every one who pays taxes. They think of no one but themselves and what they can get from our "system".

THEY are the reason Mississippi is broke. Their entitlement mentality makes them believe that these crimes are not "stealing", because "everyone" does it... or at least everyone "they" know.

So, what will these criminals have learned about welfare fraud from their 12 month slap-on-the-wrist? Simple... be more careful the next time!

Forthright

Monday, October 19, 2009

Everyone Bond Together (EBT)

Anonymous says...

The only restrictions for food stamp recipients is they they can only buy human food items and no alcohol. That means that they can buy prime rib or junk food; they can buy anything considered human food... and if you have a pet, just purchase "human food" to feed them. (Pets don't complain or report.)

You can't buy toilet paper or soap with your EBT (electronic bank transfer) card, but you can buy all the soda, junk food and chips your buggy will hold. If you need alcohol, illegal drugs, clothes or anything else, you have to find an EBT broker, which will provide you cash... and it is not difficult to find a broker in the Delta.

The "broker" will give you $80 cash for your EBT pin number and your card... they in turn charge $100 on your EBT card (for legitimate food purchases, which they then sell for a nice profit).BINGO! You get the Government to pay for your alcohol, drugs, or whatever and no one is ever the wiser!

The EBT broker makes 20% profit from you and then turns around and sells the food purchases for yet another profit!!!Gotta luv it! So, how do you find an EBT broker? Check with your local pastor, or friend who works at Wal-Mart. They all know how the system works and can find you a broker within minutes. After all, it's not stealing, it's just reparations for when you were a slave.

Just like our SS disability system, food stamps can become a nice second income if you know how to work it. Personally, I know a woman who "brokers" 26 different EBT card "customers"... she just bought a 2009 Escalade and has three children enrolled at the Valley. She too is on "welfare" and has her own EBT card. She told me she doesn't even need her card, because of all the food she gets from her "business"

.So... you can't get rich on Welfare?

Sure you can because the government thinks that everyone on welfare is stupid! Yea, stupid like a fox!

We are the stupid ones for allowing this to go on. Every cop, the Mayor and city council person knows about this scam... and do nothing.

Hell, it's not rocket science, it's just big business for the "entitled". My "broker" friend makes twice what I do in my job of 13 years.

Maybe I need to reconsider my career options.

As disconcerting as this information is, there is documented evidence in Greenville's very own police station that this kind of "scam" is quite prevalent throughout the Delta. The state switched to the EBT card in an effort to curb some of the "food stamp" fraud that was rampant, but as this author states, welfare recipients are not stupid!

Any "system" can be beat, but Mississippi just makes it easier than other states. One way to combat the above scenario would be to simply require photo ID for any EBT card purchase? If you write a check, they want to see ID; if you use a credit card, they want to see ID... but if you use an EBT card and know the pin... you are home free!

Aaahhhh, but this would be an invasion of their privacy (like asking for ID when you vote), so, it will never happen. At ALL costs, we must protect the privacy and dignity of our welfare recipients! If they choose to buy alcohol and crack with YOUR tax dollars, what the hell... aren't they entitled to the same "freedoms" as taxpayers?

Okay, back to reality...

Like any good thing, we have taken "freedom" to a point which is about to consume our lives as Americans. Because the majority of prisoners at Parchman is black, we pretend to ignore it; because the majority of crime in Greenville is committed by blacks, we overlook it; and because we are totally afraid of "appearing" racist in requiring TRUE equality among our citizens, we permit this kind of welfare fraud to continue, unchecked!

We have become hostages to our "freedoms" and are close to losing sight of the meaning of "equality for all". If you have nothing to hide, why would anyone object to showing proof of their identity... to vote or simply buy food. For cigarettes and beer, we can ask for your ID, but to buy catfish and corn dogs... well, now we have crossed the line!

God protect us from ourselves!

Forthright

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheers!

Anonymous says...

I think that anyone that visits this site cares about Gville or they would not be here. I also think that comments whether positive or negative have value to them. We all have our own ideas on how to make Gville a better place to live and that makes most on here correct in what they say. I guess some just express themselves better than others and some are just just so disgusted they want to argue.

Lee Owen just lost his position on council not because of experience or hard work while in office but because of the people wanting a change at city hall. Agree or disagree for Gville to change you must change leadership. Changing leadership means from the top to the bottom and the voters in Lee Owens precinct have sent out that message. Now the question is will voters in the other precincts go to the polls and send out the same message. Like it or not the majority of voters in Lee Owens precinct are majority white, tax paying, working class voters. Will the voters in the precincts that are majority black government assisted voters do the same? Probably not ! WHY ?

They do not care who is elected as long as it does not affect their check ! "FACT" With Greenville being majority black it will never move forward until we get the correct black and white leadership working together at city hall.

To clean up Greenville our elected officials have to first recognize that we do have problems and correct them no matter whose feet you step on.Imagine this ! A drive around Greenville with all property clean and neat, no trash, parks mowed and trimmed, no loud music, no speeding, car insurance, children under age in car seats, handicapped parking spaces being used by the handicapped, no hanging out in vacant lots and in front of a business, police officers that were friendly, a city hall willing to smile and say good morning, a mayor that was available, garbage pick twice a week etc.

These are things that are a beginning to a better Greenville. Oh and clean up the public schools !

These are things that cost very little but are necessary for Gville to even think about jobs and industry back in Gville.

Amen! This blog allows all people to express their opinions... whether positive or negative. I am sure that we all know someone who has left Greenville for "greener" pastures. Some find it and some don't.

What I take from the comments posted here is that most citizens are tired of the current ineptitude of the local government. They are tired of the excuses they are given as to why Greenville is stuck in the last century. They are weary of paying local taxes for nothing and they are devastated by watching their financial investment in Greenville, crumble!

I welcome all comments to this blog. We have finally gotten beyond the fear of "who said what" and into a lively discussion of local issues... which if nothing else, will make us "think" about alternative views of our community.

The underlying message that I interpret from those who have left Greenville is that they loved Greenville, but could no longer tolerate the poverty, ignorance and racism that continues to grow here in the 21st century.
What I love about Greenville is our propensity to unite about matters of little importance, to rally together for the immediate moment, but when faced with a significant challenge, we separately raise our glasses and toast each other!

Forthright

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Candidates Announce

GREENVILLE — With the 2009 Greenville City Council primary elections for Ward 3, 4 and 5 just over a week away, incumbent candidates and their challengers are working to clarify their views for voters.

The Delta Democrat Times talked with each candidate about their backgrounds, accomplishments and reasons for seeking office.

Ward 3: In the Ward 3 Republican primary, longtime incumbent Councilman Lee Owen is being challenged by Carolyn Weathers. Owen, who first moved to Greenville in 1974 to take over as manager of Charles Connerly Shoes, has served continuously on the city council since 1998. The councilman says he initially decided to seek office as a result of his involvement in successfully fighting to create a buffer between neighborhoods in his ward and the U.S. 82 bypass.

According to Owen, one of his proudest accomplishments on the board was facilitating the negotiations over concerns about building the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Mississippi 1. He said he is also proud of being able to keep scheduled street paving and other infrastructure projects online over the past five or six years, regardless of the tough economic circumstances facing the city.

“It is all about being able to deal with the many infrastructure problems that arise in the most productive and affordable way that can be found,” Owen said. “I am a businessman trying to help my community, not a politician. I try very hard to look at the nuts and bolts of how we go about the business of running the city and am very involved with the budget process and funding mechanisms used to finance the projects we need to make our community a better place to live.”

Weathers, who is making her first bid for public office, is a partner in Weather’s Farms, a mother and grandmother, and a volunteer in various projects.She has lived in Greenville for 37 years and said she decided to run this year because she wanted to be a part of moving the city in a more progressive direction. One specific idea Weathers has is using federal stimulus money to hire local contractors for infrastructure work as opposed to spending the funds on changing the color of the city’s water.“I really want to clean things up in the city and make it more accessible for outside visitors,” she said. “I would like to see us become more-consumer friendly for people coming into town and work harder to clean up all the trash and garbage.”

The winner of the Ward 3 Republican primary will face Democrat Lewis Martin in the general election on Dec. 14. Martin has lived in Greenville since 1951. He is a businessman who built and ran Lewis Martin Air Conditioning, the same company his son currently operates.Martin says his primary motivation to seek office is to open up much of decision-making processes to the public.

“I think City Hall has become a closed society to the people of Greenville,” Martin said, “and if I am elected that is what is going to be changed. I don’t have a bone to pick with anybody on the council necessarily, but I do have something against the way they hide things. If elected, whatever I do is going to be an open book. People can come and ask me what is going on and I don’t care who it hurts, I am going to tell them because they have a right to know.”

Ward 4: In the Ward 4 primary, two Democrats - incumbent Betty Watkins and challenger Carzell Akon - will be squaring off Oct. 5. Watkins, who has served on the council since 2004 when she ran to fill the seat of the former Albert Hemphill, has lived in Greenville and Ward 4 all her life.

Watkins spent a 28 year career working as a coordinating nurse for the Washington County Health Department before moving into politics. When asked about her time on the board, the councilwoman said she is especially proud of the renovation improvements and new technology equipment she has helped bring to the Rounds Recreation Center. S

he says she is a strong proponent of ongoing education, and as an example, points out she is a recent graduate of the Mississippi Municipal League.“I have served in this position for five years and believe I am the best qualified for this job,” Watkins said. “Greenville is my hometown and I love it. I desire for Greenville to be a place where anyone can come and live; a safe and well-rounded place where people can come and have activities to take part in and not become bored.

Akon, who is now retired after a 33 year teaching career in the Hollandale School District, has lived in Greenville since 1969. Akon initially made her first bid for the city council four years ago, and says she decided to run again this year out of a desire to bring long overdue changes to many areas of Ward 4.

“I have serious concerns about my community, especially where I live,” says, Akon. “Of course I would like to see a change in the crime rate but my concerns are also on the level of making sure the city is kept up like it should be and improving our streets.”

There is no Republican candidate who has qualified for the Ward 4 general election.

Ward 5: For the Ward 5 primary, incumbent Independent candidate Ann Hollowell is unopposed. A native of Louisiana who has lived in Greenville for more than 30 years, Hollowell will be entering her second term in office. In addition to serving on the city board she works as an account executive at WXVT television.

“There are a lot of things I think we have accomplished since I have been on the board but just working to balance the budget and maintaining the budget is of course a big achievement,” Hollowell said. “It is always a struggle to come up with the money and time to take on infrastructure projects, and every ward is in need of street and sewer projects.”

Okay, some old and some new faces, but who is going to stand up to the Mayor? From recent "Scoop" comments, it is our Mayor who needs to go (meaning leave her job, as opposed to leave "on a trip".)

Greenville needs a very strong leader who is a risk taker and not part of the current political machinery. That person will not be easy to find among the few remaining leaders in Greenville.

Maybe we can elect someone qualified this time... now that all of the "cards" (age, race, gender) have already been played. Perhaps we can find someone with proven leadership who truly has an interest in being the Mayor of Greenville, MS.

This next mayoral election will probably be Greenville's last chance to get it right. Five of my friends moved out of Greenville over the past three months. All were lifelong residents, but simply couldn't continue to watch Greenville fall into utter disgrace.
Forthright

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Ray!

Michael Arthur Newdow (born June 24, 1953) is an American attorney and emergency medicine physician. He is best known for his efforts to have recitations of the current version of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools in the United States declared unconstitutional because of its inclusion of the phrase "under God". He also filed and lost a law suit to stop the invocation prayer at President Bush's second inauguration and, most recently, he filed a lawsuit to prevent references to God and religion from being part of President Obama's inauguration.

Newdow is an
atheist and an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. In 1997, he started an organization called FACTS (First Amendment Church of True Science), which advocates strong separation of church and state in public institutions.
Personal background:

Newdow grew up in the
Bronx and Teaneck, New Jersey, from where his nominally Jewish family moved in 1960. He graduated from Teaneck High School. He told Brown Alumni Magazine that he can’t remember ever believing in God, saying, "I was born an atheist."
After graduating from high school, Newdow attended Brown University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 1974. He then attended the UCLA medical school, earning his M.D. in 1978. He has worked as an emergency room physician at numerous hospitals, and holds medical licenses in California and five other states.

Newdow later enrolled in the University of Michigan law school, earning a law degree in 1988. He took and passed the bar exam in 2002.
Litigation:

Pledge of Allegiance:

Main article: Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow
Newdow is best known for the lawsuit filed on behalf of his daughter against inclusion of the words "under God" in public schools' recitals of the United States' Pledge of Allegiance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the phrase constitutes an endorsement of religion, and therefore violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, the decision was later overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds, citing that Newdow did not have custody of his daughter and therefore did not have the right to bring suit on her behalf, nor did he meet the Court's prudential standing requirements to bring the suit on behalf of himself.

Newdow filed suit again regarding the same issue, but this time on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Citing the
precedent set by the Supreme Court in the course of Newdow's previous suit, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that Newdow did not have standing to bring his lawsuit, but the other plaintiffs did have standing. Based on the previous ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the judge ruled that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
After the 9th circuit decision, Newdow received numerous death threats and other abusive messages on his phone answering machine. His daughter, then eight years old, was living elsewhere for her own safety.

In God We Trust:

In November 2005, Newdow announced he wants to have "In God We Trust" removed from U.S. coins and banknotes. In a November 14, 2005 interview with Fox News's Neil Cavuto, Newdow compared "In God We Trust" appearing on United States currency with racial segregation (specifically separate drinking fountains), saying, "How can you not compare those? What is the difference there? Both of them [whites and blacks] got equal water. They both had access. It was government saying that it's okay to separate out these two people on the basis of race. Here we're saying it's okay to separate two people on the basis of their religious beliefs."

In June 2006, a federal judge rejected this lawsuit, on the grounds that the minted words amount to a secular national slogan, and they do not dictate anyone's beliefs. Newdow stated that he would appeal the ruling.

Although, it should be noted that Aronow v. United States was decided on the same grounds in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the lower court was required to return the same ruling, likewise the Ninth Circuit does not traditionally overrule previous Ninth Circuit rulings.

On December 4, 2007, Mr. Newdow argued before a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit to remove both "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (Roe v. Rio Linda Union School District), and "In God We Trust" from US currency.

In a 2006 interview on the day that the United States House of Representatives passed the Pledge Protection Act, Newdow told WERS-FM's David Goodman,[citation needed] "A few hours ago, the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States of America voted 260 to 167 to completely gut the U.S. Constitution of its separation of powers and violate numerous other clauses because they thought it was important enough to keep 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think people would've done that for our political heritage or anything else. They did it because they want God in their government because it stands for a religious view that they adhere to, and they want to see that religious view espoused by government, which is exactly what the Establishment Clause forbids."

Newdow also filed a lawsuit in
federal court after Franklin Graham gave the invocation at George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration. The lawsuit claimed that inaugural prayer was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. It also was unsuccessful.

California textbook case:
Newdow also represents California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials (CAPEEM), a group that has filed a lawsuit against the officials of California Department of Education and the California State Board of Education. The lawsuit challenges the teaching of biblical events as historical facts and was brought upon by CAPEEM which was formed by Hindu parents in California.

Obama inauguration:

On December 31, 2008, Newdow and 17 other people, plus 10 groups representing atheists, sued Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and others involved in the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama. The first count of the suit sought to prevent the Chief Justice from saying "so help me God." The Constitution specifically defines only this single oath of office of 35 words, that do not include these four words.

The Associated Press ran several reports including one picked up by the Washington Post, Yahoo News and many other affiliates that inaccurately stated that the suit was an attempt by atheists to prevent the President from saying "so help me God", while the suit specifically states that the president is not a subject of the injunction, rather it is the Chief Justice.

In addition, in other counts was the demand to end all religious prayer at the inauguration based on the establishment clause of the first amendment, which he had sued to prevent in the two previous inaugurations unsuccessfully.
Federal District Judge Reggie Walton refused to grant Newdow's motion for a preliminary injunction on the basis that he, as a United States District Court Judge, did not feel he had the authority to issue such an order against the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
He also reasoned that the inclusion of such words is an exercise of the incoming President's right of free speech, although the president's right to express his private prayer in words of his choosing was specifically not challenged in the law suit.

Newdow later reported that he would not challenge the denial of his preliminary injunction motion, but will appeal the case through the appellate court.

Well, it seems that no one is willing to confirm that we have the real Dr. Newdow, but he certainly fits the profile. Ray would hire a three-legged dog if it would help him keep his dynasty alive... even if it goes against all of his bible-thumping beliefs!

But...let's not be to hasty to dismiss Newdow as a qualified ER doc. After all, we do support the separation of church and state and during my most recent visit to an ER, the last thing I was thinking about was the Pledge of Allegiance.

Whether your ER Doc is lesbian, Hindu or Atheist, if you are in crisis, you need a skilled physician to keep you alive, so personal belifes quickly becomes a "non-issue". We are in the 21st century and we need to be more tolerant of political and religious views.

When my heart stops beating, I will forego the interview of the person trying to revive me... in hopes that he/she won't ask me the same questions! At the end of the day we are all mortal beings, subject to the same rules of life and death... and we need to remember that!

Forthright

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Boil the Mayor" Alert?


Wow! I had minor surgery over the last three weeks, but it pales in light of the "dissection" our mayor has taken on the Scoop! She and Obama seem to be in a race to the bottom for public approval.

On the mend now, I have to catch up with the "calling a spade a spade" political arena... both locally and nationally. Unfortunately, the Med in Memphis does not have wireless Internet, so I have become delinquent in my duties as blog master.

Glad to see the "sparks" becoming "fires" in the Delta... Fall brings both change of season as well as hope.

Forthright

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Council Makes Good Decisions

GREENVILLE — City Council dipped into the general fund and casino gaming revenue and managed to come up with a clearer image Thursday of what next fiscal year’s budget will look like. Thursday’s workshop on the city’s finances was the last before the council hosts a public hearing on the budget 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The vast majority of funds taken from the general fund Thursday went to the Mid-Delta Regional Airport, which at the time the meeting started was $35,000 in the red. That deficit however was a big fiscal improvement for the airport, which was running close to a $267,000 deficit earlier this month, mostly for want of a fire suppression system.
To reduce the deficit, Lane Rodgers, airport director, offered a compromise last week. He suggested putting a “Band-Aid” on the airport’s current fire pumps instead of investing $219,000 in a new system. The patch-up job ran a tab of $30,000, and with other cuts and compromises, the airport’s deficit was significantly reduced.

To eliminate the remaining negative balance, the city took $33,000 from gaming and $2,000 from the general fund. The council also dipped into the general fund for computer technology, granting almost $11,000 to the police department for computer equipment and giving the Information Technology department almost $16,500 for maintenance contracts.

Council took another $18,090 from the general fund to supplement the city’s health insurance plan with Air Evac services. After Councilman Errick Simmons issued a proposal to repair the roof of the Brent Day Care center, council scooped another $5,000 from the general fund for that purpose. The city owns the day care’s building, and Simmons said that when he last visited the center six buckets were dispersed to catch water from a leaking roof throughout the property.

“These are children we are talking about,” Simmons told the council. Although the money won’t be enough to replace the roof, it will suffice to make needed repairs, Public Works Director Brad Jones said. With all the proposed cuts, the general fund cushion will run at about $20,000.

I know how we can save over $300,000 a year... elect a mayor who does not need body guards or an international visa! All of the above expenditures will benefit citizens far more than "Hudson's Horsemen".

I hope we get it right in the next election, because Greenville is spiraling down faster every day!
Forthright

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Educational "Reparations"

GREENVILLE — Have you ever wanted to receive credit for a school course that you failed? At a July 28 meeting of the Greenville Public School District Board of Trustees, a new program, known as the credit recovery policy, was discussed.

The policy would allow students to earn credit for courses they previously failed. Each student is given a preliminary assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses before mastering the weaker course objectives. After mastery, the student receives credit for the course.

According to the School Board, the credit recovery program can be an effective way of helping students get back on track toward graduation and hopefully encourage students to stay in school.

Dr. Leeson Taylor, deputy superintendent, said the program has been in the works for about seven months. He said he hopes the program prevents kids from being discouraged after failing a course.

“We can’t have kids fall through the cracks,” Taylor said. “We want kids to have every opportunity to be successful. ”

The program comes with specific rules and regulations. Admission to the program requires parental consent and a committee review determining a student’s motivation, aptitude, reading level and need. The program cannot be used to improve GPA. Students cannot be in the program for more than one year and cannot have a grade lower than 50.

Students must complete the program with 80 percent mastery. The credit recovery grade is factored with the original failing grade to obtain the new final grade.

The program is computer based, with content help from trained certified teachers and facilitation provided through non-certified staff.

Thus far, the board has only given the policy a first reading. However, board President Henri Tillmon said the program can be approved after the start of the school year.

Great... another "give-away" program for the ignorant. Is this really an effort to "make our kids successful" or is it just another ruse to divert attention from the the deplorable conditions of our public schools?

Today, education has been watered down so much that basic literacy is no longer a criterion for graduation. And it doesn't stop at high schools. We are cranking out college graduates with Bachelor's and Master's degrees who can barely read, let alone speak in coherent sentences.

In our eternal effort to provide "equality for all", certain educational institutions are now giving away degrees to anyone whose check clears the bank. This kind of travesty makes college degrees all but meaningless in our competitive job market... they are just another "entitlement"... signifying nothing!

Instead of holding public school students accountable for their education, we just keep lowering the bar!

Forthright

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

...Priceless!

GREENVILLE — After several phone calls to city officials and two Freedom of Information Act requests, the city refuses to fully disclose how much it spends on security detail for Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson. While the city did respond to the second FOI request, the exact cost of the security detail remains undetermined.
Hudson said she has been receiving death threats since first coming into office in 2004.

Hudson said the Police Department has also provided her with training in gun use and self-defense. “I’ve really had to change my lifestyle, where I go, and what I do in my time, to adjust to these threats,” Hudson said.

Hudson, who is considering a run for lieutenant governor or governor, said overcoming such threats is important for her. As a black political figure, she said she must try to show that she can persevere.

As Hudson’s status as the first black female mayor in Greenville attracted attention, so has the city’s regular use of police officers assigned to protect her. But the issue of how much is spent on the mayor’s security detail comes during an economic crunch.

This year the city has not yet been able to find funds to reopen its only public swimming pool and sales tax revenues are decreasing due to an economic downturn.
The DDT then submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Wicks’ office, which was denied. In a written response, Wicks said that hours and pay scale for officers were not listed according to what particular divisions the officers served.

The DDT asked if it was possible for Wicks and Patterson to add up the salaries of officers on security detail, and provide a lump-sum figure without disclosing any names. That request was also denied. A second Freedom of Information Act, submitted after the DDT sought legal consultation from the Mississippi Press Association, did however yield some results.In response to the second FOI request, Wicks issued a spreadsheet anonymously detailing the salaries of seven officers who work on the mayor’s security detail.

According o those figures, the city’s combined total expenses for salary, overtime pay, pension and federal withholdings that the city pays for these officers has been close to $200,000 between Oct. 1 and July 16.

At that rate, the city will have paid about $252,000 to these officers by the fiscal year’s end.The figures that Wicks disclosed did not say how much it costs the city to pay for security detail training or travel expenses.

Wicks noted that the $200,000 is not limited to payment for security detail duties, as the officers on Hudson’s detail also perform all other duties required of first class police officers.
Because there are no numbers disclosing which hours are dedicated to security detail and which hours are spent working on regular police duties, the cost of the mayor’s security detail is still very much unclear.
Hudson has argued that any controversy over how much the city spends on bodyguards may stem from the fact that in addition to her security detail there are police officers assigned to protect City Hall.

The latter group of officers, she said, are not personally assigned to her. Rather, she said, they serve to defend the property and personnel of City Hall. One other city pays for bodyguards.

Greenville’s population, according to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, is about 37,000. The DDT called cities of comparable size or greater to determine whether they had security details assigned to their mayors.

According to these telephone interviews, Tupelo with a population of 35,000 does not pay for regularly attending mayoral bodyguards. Neither do Meridian, population 38,000; Biloxi, 44,000; Hattiesburg, 50,000; nor Gulfport, 64,000.

Although officials in Hattiesburg said the city does not provide an ongoing security detail for Mayor Johnny Dupree, who is black, they did say that security details are provided in cases where Dupree receives threats.

The only Mississippi city of comparable size or greater than Greenville that regularly assigns security detail to its mayor is the state capital, Jackson, whose population of 176,000 is more than five times that of Greenville’s. Jackson, however, has a violent crime rate of 86 per 10,000 population, which is nearly 2.5 times higher than Greenville’s.

During Hudson’s early years in office, however, the crime rate was much higher here. According to a Uniform Crime Rate report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2004 Greenville’s crime rate was 62 per 10,000 population, while the violent crime rate today is at 36 per population of 10,000.

It is in this earlier, high-crime atmosphere that Hudson said she and City Hall in general first began receiving threats.

It is hard to believe that Mayor Hudson is the most targeted victim of crime in Greenville. If incompetence and apathy were factors in being "targeted", she should be about 15th in line!

Ego, paranoia and "Daddy" are the driving factors behind this incredible waste of money. Murders in Greenville are rarely racially motivated. They are primarily black on black and drug related.

So, why in a majority black city, run by a majority black leadership, should we have to pony up $200,000 a year to "protect" a black mayor?

I would bet that for $200 grand we could have an indoor, Olympic size, heated swimming pool, with security... in case the mayor wished to visit.

I think that race should be a non-issue with regard to whom we elect as mayor in Greenville; however, a price-tag of $200,000 a year for security, might be a factor we need to consider in the next election.
Perhaps, we just can't afford Mayor Hudson...

Forthright