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Archive for February, 2012

Mississippi’s impact on the Academy Awards as well as the arts world

February 29th, 2012 3 comments

Morgan Freeman at the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

At one point during the Academy Awards presentation last week, I was taken aback by the indelible mark Mississippi and Mississippians were making on the film industry at that very moment.

Sure everyone knew about “The Help”, and wondered if the Kathryn Stockett book, then turned into a movie could pull the upset and win for Best Picture. And yes, we all were keenly aware of Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her role in that movie.

But, there was more — much, much more.

Our own Morgan Freeman — a winner of an Oscar for acting and a cast member of three Best Picture winners, not to mention his best movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” which is recognized as one of Top 100 movies of all time — was the leadoff hitter for the show as a presenter.

“The Muppet Movie” (remember Jim Henson) won an award, and then the academy recognized Mississippi natives James Earl Jones (that’s Darth Vader to my kids and Terrance Mann to me) and Oprah Winfrey (no description needed) with Oscars.

Their awards were part of the Governors Awards, which were launched three years ago.

With Mississippi in the midst of boosting its image among film big shots as part of a Creative Economy campaign, the state couldn’t have had a bigger and more positive night in the spotlight.

I don’t have any particular numbers to back this up, but I would suspect that Mississippi — per capita — had a bigger impact on the Academy Awards in 2012 than any other state in America.

Add that to our world-wide impact on literature as well as the music industry and there is a case to be made that Mississippi should be considered to have had the most positive historical influence on arts in America — ever.

Canton officials should come out of their caves

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

In some parts of Mississippi, humans never evolved from cavemen.

That is the case in Canton, where city leaders’ lawsuit against Nissan North American for the right to annex the nearby vehicle production plant is scheduled for trial in August.

Canton officials say legislation approved in 2000 that prohibits the city from annexing the plant for 30 years without the automaker’s written consent violates the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and state constitutions.

A federal jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 6-17.

Nissan agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes to the Canton school district and to Madison County. Madison County uses the Nissan funds to make payments on bonds used for public infrastructure improvements for the plant.

Nissan has operated the $1.4 billion Canton plant since May 2003.

It should be remembered that before the plant was built near the city, the city had wanted to annex the land, but Nissan threatened to back out of the deal.

What makes these same city leaders think Nissan doesn’t feel the same way today. It seems Canton’s needs are served much better with Nissan being where it is.

Would Canton be better off annexing the land with an empty Nissan plant on it?

Save our kids — Government overstepping its bounds?

February 20th, 2012 Comments off

Government is too involved in our everyday lives. That’s the popular mantra for this political season.

Yet, every time we turn around, there is another bill that finds a way to get involved in our everyday lives.

This week, it’s a bill that would educate youth sports leaders and participants about concussions and would make it illegal for coaches to send players back on the field after suffering one.

It is a great idea. Everyone is against kids having concussions.

It’s still a bill that finds a way to get involved in our everyday lives. So, is it OK for government to have more regulation or isn’t it?

Who is going to oversee whether a high school football coach, who makes less than $50,000 a year, as to whether he makes the correct evaluation?

Is Mississippi going to fund the extra medical staff at every high school sporting event — from football to futbol — to make sure we give accurate assessments?

Again, everyone is for kids not being forced to play sports with concussions, but I am not sure Mississippi’s legislature needs to step in to make that happen.

Having covered sports for a large part of my career, it is my opinion that the vast majority of coaches go out of their way to make sure kids remain healthy. The only thing this bill would do is to act as a deterrent for good, quality people to get into the coaching profession. Considering the hours involved and the money offered, it’s particularly difficult now.

Maybe the Mississippi legislature could offer a bill requiring a certain amount of people to be high school athletics coaches.

For the love of Pete, somebody take Southaven mayor Greg Davis out behind the woodshed

February 15th, 2012 Comments off

Southaven mayor Greg Davis addresses questions during an interview from his home in Southaven this week. Southaven aldermen say they want an internal audit of city finances to get a more in-depth look than the one provided by the routine annual audit. The Commercial Appeal reports a newly formed committee plans to initiate the review in the wake of ongoing questions over Mayor Greg Davis' spending. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Stan Carroll)

Seriously?

Greg Davis wants to pin blame on his alderman for him being an idiot?

The only thing the Southaven Board of Aldermen should have done differently in the last several months is for one of them to have taken their mayor out behind the woodshed for a lesson in humility and humanity.

Apparently, Southaven mayor Greg Davis believes he has done nothing wrong in regard to deals involving a Florida condominium he co-owns with a developer who has received more than $3.4 million through real estate dealings with the city since 2008, a fire station that could cost taxpayers up to $4 million because of an unusual no-bid contract negotiated by Davis, and other recently reported transactions.

Why?

Because, he says, the city’s aldermen approved all transactions.

>> ORIGINAL POST: Embattled Davis blames alderman for approving transactions …

I suppose if the alderman had known ahead of time that the mayor had been running around using the city credit card on items from a Canadian sex shop (and why wasn’t it an American sex shop?) or was dropping $1,000 tips at a Ridgeland restaurant as he picked up the tab for state legislators, then maybe they would have stopped, dropped and said, “No way we are taking this deal you piece of garbage.”

By the way, has anyone wondered which legislators went to dinner with Davis that night?

As it stands, the aldermen are guilty of believing everything Davis ever said during his political campaigns about truth, family and the American way.

Well, that will never happen again.

Davis has used all of his political capital and probably all of his personal capital as well.

Remember, Davis was absent from city business on a 30-day leave for medical treatment when most of the dealings were uncovered and is under criminal investigation for misuse of city funds after being ordered by the state auditor to repay about $170,000.

And for all of the group therapy and extensive psycho-education he picked up during his 30-day leave, I am not even going to insult your intelligence by reprinting Davis’ quotes, blaming everyone but himself in this fiasco. He even believes he has done what is in the best interest of the citizens.

So, which is it?

The aldermen should have known he was a lying, cheating sack of, uh, beans, or he is a good, upstanding guy that is doing the work of the people.

As for those credit card reimbursements that led to the repayment order from the state auditor, Davis said he could not discuss it because of the ongoing state and federal investigation.

“I just want the public to be patient and wait because all the facts will come out,” Davis said.

After everything else that has come out, you really think he wants more to come out now?

My guess is Davis doesn’t believe in karma.

Please, somebody, one of you aldermen do the right thing and teach the mayor a lesson.

Then again, maybe some time in jail would be good for the mayor. I suspect that would be a much more — how should I say? — educational experience.

To ID tax-and-spenders is to look past the label provided by opponents

February 9th, 2012 Comments off

Labels are a hard thing to get rid of.

In real life, they have that sticky adhesive that is bound to ruin any piece of clothing if gets attached.

In the political and perceptive world, labels are much the same.

During the last election cycle, many Mississippi Democrats were labeled as free spenders for voting on particular tax measures.

With that in mind, emotions were high last week in a debate about — you guessed it — taxes.

Several Democrats said opponents sent mailers claiming they voted for a large number of tax increases, unfairly counting times they voted to raise or renew taxes requested by individual cities and counties.

Last week, the bill was to renew a 2 percent tax on Hancock County hotels for two years to fund tourism promotion. The bill passed the House, 69-44.

So, does that mean those who voted for the bill are big government, nut-job liberals? Probably not.

We have created such stereotypes in politics, that the ethics and morals of actual people are being questioned, based on votes like last week. And that vote — if you want to label it — was pro-business.

It will provide needed funds for communities to promote themselves to bring more tourists in, therefore bringing more money to the businesses and families in Hancock County.

Therefore, should the 44 who voted against the bill be labeled as anti-business?

Just asking.

>> Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018

UPDATE: Rooster corralled — It’s been a bad week for roosters, exotic animals

February 7th, 2012 Comments off

In a Sun Herald story this morning, it was reported that Carl the Downtown Rooster, who roamed Ocean Springs streets since last summer, has been relocated to Vancleave, where he has a pen and the companionship of six hens.

Two women who work at a local grocery store found a home for him with nice pens and six hens to oversee.

Malcolm, the other surviving downtown rooster, also known as The General, is living in an attorney’s storeroom, waiting to be adopted as well.

A flock of about 10 roosters showed up in July and seemed to belong to no one. Only 2 roosters — affectionately known as Carl and The General — are still alive and had become a novelty in the downtown area of Ocean Springs.

Sounds like a good opportunity for some lucky family to adopt a famous rooster!!!

ORIGINAL POST IS BELOW ….

Everything from chickens and roosters to tigers, wolf hybrids, leopards, and cougars are under fire this week in separate stories across the southern portion of Mississippi.

In Ocean Springs, alderman Chic Cody says the city has to address the rooster issue once and for all.

Cody’s comments came Monday after a woman told the Mississippi Press that her 2-year-old daughter was scratched on the arm by one of the roosters last week.

It’s the seventh reported incident of a run-in between the roosters and children since November.

Sarah Fountain, the child’s mother, now wants the roosters confined or relocated and the city of Ocean Springs to cover her medical expenses.

“We need to decide about the roosters once and for all, one way or the other,” Cody said.

ZOO OWNERS ASK JUDGE TO RETURN ANIMALS

Down in Collins, the owners of the Collins Zoo have asked a judge to return 11 animals seized for relocation on state wildlife officers in January.

The owners, Gus and Betty White, are asking the Covington County Circuit Court to review a justice court order that led to the Jan. 25 seizure of tigers, wolf hybrids, leopards, cougars and a Rhesus macaque by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The Whites’ attorney, A. Regnal Blackledge, tells the Hattiesburg American that the state violated a regulation that calls for a “reasonable period of time” to correct deficiencies in facilities housing what are legally defined as “inherently dangerous animals” following an initial inspection.

He says the rule provides that after the period allotted for corrections, a follow-up inspection is in order.

Betty White said when MDWFP officials inspected her facility in October, she didn’t hear from them again until January, when a court order for seizure was already in place.

Why a Newt Gingrich presidency might help Mississippi

February 3rd, 2012 2 comments

Just sitting on your couch and listening, some of Newt Gingrich’s latest ideas might seem to be a little — OK, a lot — off the wall.
Amazingly enough, some of Newt’s ideas might actually be good for Mississippi’s economy in general and the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, specifically.
In fact, many of Newt’s ideas aren’t new at all — specifically the one in which the Republican presidential candidate wants to create a lunar colony that he says could become a U.S. state.
Gingrich has been hammered everywhere, from the far right to the far left and everywhere in between, as having read too many science-fiction novels. But mainstream science experts, including some Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supporters, say Gingrich isn’t off the mark at all — at least where it comes to having a “first permanent base on the moon.”
Returning to the moon and building an outpost there is not new. Until three years ago, it was U.S. policy and billions of dollars were spent on that idea.
Since 1969, staying on the moon has been a part of many president’s plans, including George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.
That’s where Stennis Space Center comes in. George W. Bush, proposed a unar outpost, phased out the space shuttle program and spent more than $9 billion designing a return to the moon program.
Stennis had been a part of testing the rocket boosters for the shuttle program. Losing the shuttle program might have been devastating for Stennis.
Yet, NASA has already chosen Michoud, just across the line in Louisiana, to construct components of a next-generation, heavy-lift rocket being designed to transport astronauts to destinations like asteroids and Mars. Stennis, meanwhile, is test-firing the engines that will power that vehicle beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space.
And the lunar colony?
George Washington University space policy director Scott Pace, who was NASA’s associate administrator in the second Bush administration and is a Romney supporter, said the 2020 lunar base date Gingrich mentioned was feasible when it was proposed in 2005.
The fact is it was President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the program. Pace said it would be hard to figure out when NASA could get back to the moon, but that such a return is doable.
Neal Lane, former head of the National Science Foundation and White House science adviser during the Clinton administration, told the Associated Press that Gingrich’s proposals aren’t crazy, although he may disagree with some of them. Gingrich’s ideas and actions are “very pro-science,” said Lane, who credited Gingrich with protecting federal science research from budget cuts in the 1990s.
“He’s on the edge of mainstream thinking about big science. Except for the idea of establishing a colony on the moon, it’s not over the edge,” added Syracuse University science policy professor Henry Lambright.
NASA, understandably, wants to stay out of presidential politics and chooses not to comment on this particular issue.
However, there is no doubt a renewed interest in the space program — regardless of its genesis — could help the long-term health of NASA and Stennis, specifically.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018