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HEY JIM HOOD … and all you other losers — quit robocalling my house!!!

March 1st, 2012 1 comment

My 7-year-old daughter is sitting in my lap last night while my wife and 6-year-old son were cuddled up on the couch as we watched, the recently released-at-home movie “Hugo”.

Then, I hear our home phone ringing on the other side of the house.

So, I make my daughter scoot over. I get up, wander through the kitchen and through the living room, looking for the ringing phone, hoping it doesn’t wake up the 2-year-old.

I finally find it, but it was too late.

“Damn telemarketers!” I think as I look at the 800 number on the Caller-ID screen. I grab the phone and carry it back with me to the TV room, where my daughter had abandoned me for the comfy confines of the couch with her mom and brother.

About 15 minutes later, it rings again.

“DAD!” everyone yells.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I whisper, walking into the kitchen to answer the phone.

No, it wasn’t a telemarketer. It was a robocall from Attorney General Jim Hood. The recorded voice was saying something about how he was mad at the legislature — like I didn’t already know that.

This was a total waste of my time.

I started to call the A.G.’s office this morning and ask him what was so important that he had to call during my family time — which I don’t get nearly enough of — and then not even have the courtesy of actually being on the other end of the phone.

It’s not just Jim Hood. Anybody running for office likes to interrupt your life without having to interrupt theirs.

I’m not so naive not to realize that robocalls are an effective way for politicians to communicate their one-way, trumped-up message.

Yet, robocalls are rude and intrusive and interrupt my time with my family.

So, Jim, the next time you have something to say, take out an ad in the newspaper. I am much more likely to see it there.

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?

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.

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

Only movie on my iPad — Spirit of the Marathon to have sequel

December 28th, 2011 Comments off

Spirit of the Marathon is the best documentary I have ever seen, and I have seen it so many times I can’t count. Plus, I have listened to all or part of it on every run of more than an hour for more than 18 months. So, to learn in the last couple of days that its sequel is going to be coming out in April was fantastic news.

When Dick Beardsley says, “When you cross that finish line — no matter how slow or how fast — it will change your life forever.” it pumps me up and sends chills through me every single time.

The first movie is one of the most inspirational films ever made. In fact, it’s the only movie I have downloaded on my iPad.

So, I can’t wait to see the sequel.

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For any Mississippians running in the upcoming Jan. 7 Mississippi Blues Marathon, it is a must see.

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Maybe ‘trash dogs’ are the answer for Madison

December 21st, 2011 Comments off

Have you ever noticed that just about every neighborhood has a “trash dog”?

You know, the dog that wanders through every few days and picks out one house to hit, knocking over a trash can and dragging away all the good stuff it can and leaving a giant mess in its wake.

Or maybe it’s just the neighborhoods I have happened to live in. Who knows?

Regardless, unless you neighborhood has the best trash dog on the planet — one that is able to drag away every last sliver or scrap of paper or broken toy or whatever — do you ever wonder where your trash goes once you put it on the street?

The short answer is a landfill.

I never really thought I would be interested in trash, but in the last few weeks — amazingly enough — I have.

I had been invited to tour the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Management Authority landfill in Northeast Mississippi a few times, but I had never made time to view the facility until a couple of weeks ago. After a trip up to speak to the West Point Rotary Club, I made the 10-minute drive to the landfill with few expectations other than I might ruin a good pair of pants.

However, it was fascinating, and I left with my pants clean, other than the chicken I spilled on them from the Rotary meeting.

The science and high-tech brainpower that goes into building, implementation and maintenance of these facilities is amazing.

I am working on a story to publish in the next couple of weeks on the landfill. Having said that, there has been landfill controversy in the news the last several weeks.

Some Madison residents have been up in arms about a proposed landfill in Madison County that a woman at a recent public forum was quoted as calling it an “environmental injustice.”

The anti-landfill folks were reported to say their environmental and health concerns include:

>> Infrastructure problems;

>> Complications from stench …

>> Rodents and …

>> Buzzards.

While I don’t have all of the information at hand about this particular landfill, I am certain concerns these residents have levied aren’t as big a deal as you might think.

First, stench was high on my list of concerns when I went to the Golden Triangle facility. Amazingly, after touring nearly every inch of the place, that was not an issue.

Rodents? Probably, but I have since asked two homeowners about that issue to which they said there was none.

Buzzards? I saw a bunch there, but I literally see as many or more buzzards picking at road kill on St. Augustine Road near Strawberry Park in Madison every week. Those are buzzards I have to deal with every day. Buzzards at the landfill are at the landfill, not the local park where my children play.

I’m not saying the proposed landfill is perfect in every way, and I am not saying Madison County doesn’t need to answer the public’s questions. What I am saying is landfills of today aren’t your grandfather’s local dump, where people would drive to unload an ugly 20-year old couch.

Landfills are a necessity, and there is significant regulation to ensure the safety of the community.

Landfills are also a necessity for economic growth. For a county like Madison where business and residential growth is dizzying, the trash must go somewhere.

And, as far as I can tell, there aren’t enough trash dogs to go around.

Fortune tellers may be the key to economic progress

December 9th, 2011 Comments off

Headlines in every newspaper across the country seem to give conflicting information on the current status and the future of the world economy.

We are left to wonder when, if ever, we will ever come out of this — what seems to be never-ending — economic slowdown.

One day you read that the governments of Europe are in such a bind with the Euro that everyone’s economic system is going straight down the tubes.

The next day, you read that a limit in paying state taxes by big business will help ease the pain.

Then, it’s back to Europe where leaders feel a new plan will make everything better.

At home last week, Southern Motion announced it is expanding operations in Baldwyn. The reclining furniture manufacturer’s announcement was good news for Northeast Mississippi, which has been reliant on the furniture industry the last 20 years.

The next day, though, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that furniture maker KI will lay off 70 employees in north Mississippi as it closes its Pontotoc factory and converts a second in Tupelo to a warehouse.

What gives? Up, down. Opening a business, closing a business.

You need a fortune teller to figure out all of this.

But wait. Hattiesburg’s city council may have the answer for everyone from Egypt, Miss., to, well, Egypt.

In a stroke of genius, Hattiesburg’s city leaders have repealed a ban on fortune telling.

OK, a federal judge ruled their old ordinance unenforceable, but with so much of an unforeseen future, Hattiesburg has made the right call.

Economic leaders from across the world can come to Hattiesburg to talk with Sister Marie. If president of Spain has a long life line, then his country is going to pull out of this thing. If not — well — let’s not talk about that.

But, maybe it’s not that simple.

We have to wait 120 days before the ordinance is repealed.

That’s far too long.

Mississippi, as well as the U.S. and the rest of the world, cannot wait 120 days for information that could put civilization back in normal working condition.

Hattiesburg’s City Attorney Charles Lawrence says it will take the 120 days to get new regulations in place, such as zoning restrictions.

Restrictions my foot.

There should be a fortune teller on every corner if it means we can put people back to work and money back in retirement accounts.

Donald Trump should bring this up at the next Republican presidential debate. Our future depends on it.

But, then again, the fortune tellers already knew that.

What happens when you mix Okra and Gorillas?

December 9th, 2011 Comments off

Here at the Editor’s Notebook, we are Delta State football fans.

So, don’t forget that Delta State’s Fighting Okra or, if you prefer, Statesmen (or, as one of my 5-year-old son’s best friends says — FLYING YOKRA) will be playing in the national semifinals.

DSU will be on the road this week against a team with my second favorite nickname (you probably already know my favorite) — the Pitsburg (Kan.) State Gorillas.

How great is that? Makes me wonder why there are more gorillas out there. I hear the school makes a ton of money every year from jersey and apparel sales. Now that’s the 500-pound gorilla in the room (sorry, terrible pun).

Anyway, you can catch the Okra and the Gorillas at 6 p.m. Saturday on the ESPN family of channels. At my house, it will be ESPN GamePlan.

Enjoy the game and …. GO FLYING YOKRA!!!

Going to West Point for Rotary Club visit

December 7th, 2011 Comments off

As we are trying to put the finishing touches on the MBJ’s printed edition for Dec. 12 (Monday), I am also preparing to travel to West Point tomorrow (Thursday) for a visit with its local Rotary Club.

I am looking forward to going and talking with the group. I have a lot of family and friends in the area. So, I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

I get to chat with civic organizations from time to time. Having been the program director, once upon a time, for the Greenville Rotary Club, I know it is hard to come up with quality programs on a week-in and week-out basis.

What a quality program is to one person may not be to another, but if other civic groups or any organization are looking for a program, I, or someone from the Mississippi Business Journal, will be happy to add it to our calendar.

I am always looking to preach the gospel of the MBJ. So, give me a call at 601-364-1018 or e-mail me at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

I’ll let y’all know how everything goes in West Point.