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Bynum will be remembered for great, thought-provoking work

September 4th, 2011 1 comment

News that former Mississippi Business Journal editor and co-owner Buddy Bynum passed away this weekend is dispiriting for our newsroom. Bynum has long been held as the best and most thoughtful editor the paper has had in in its 30-plus year history.

James L. "Buddy" Bynum was editor of the Mississippi Business Journal from 1993-1997.

As the new editor of the MBJ three years ago, I began to go through old copies of the publication to see what had been done in the past. It didn’t take long to figure out that trying to match the writing and thought-provoking work of Bynum was going to be a work in vain.

He was the straw that stirred the drink, and if there was anyone that helped put the MBJ on the map, it was, without doubt, Buddy Bynum.

Bynum was with the MBJ from 1993-1997 and then served as the editor of his hometown paper — The Meridian Star — from 2000-2005. He also served as an aide to Gov. Haley Barbour and former Sen. Trent Lott.

There will be many great moments in the years to come at the Mississippi Business Journal, but the memory of Bynum will serve as a great reminder of what every journalist that walks through these doors must live up to in the future.

We will all miss Buddy immensely.

‘The Help’ gets a thumbs up from the old, bald editor

August 20th, 2011 Comments off

My wife and I went to see “The Help” Wednesday, and I have mixed feelings about the movie. I loved being able to watch the movie and pick out people that I know as extras (Mr. Lt. Gov. Bill Crump!). It’s fun to see places on the big screen that you have seen every day of your life.

And while I enjoyed the movie (laughing and crying in the appropriate places), it gave me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yet again, Mississippians are being shown for having been racists and treating people as lesser folks. It’s sad, but the fact of the matter is, the movie is accurate.

We are who we are and we have to admit where we have been before we can see where we are going.

There are those at The Boston Globe who believe we, as America, are looking back at racism and patting ourselves on the back. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We, as the people in the theater — in Madison, Mississippi — watched and knew there is still room for all of us to grow.

Kathryn Stockett should be applauded for her book and now movie, and we should all be aware of the changes we still have to make in order for all of us to move forward together. And apparently, the rest of the country likes it as well.

Without giving away anything, I loved Cicely Tyson in her role as one of the maids. She didn’t have a ton of lines, but her role and her portrayal of it were powerful. My pick for funniest is when Sissy Spacek’s character walks past her daughter and the two exchange words. Priceless.

By the way, the popcorn was great!

Here are what some other folks thought …

••• ABC News

••• Baltimore Sun

••• San Jose Mercury News

••• Variety Reviews

••• Entertainment Weekly

••• Moviefone

••• Salon.com

••• UK Progressive

••• Indie Wire

••• Your Houston News

Click here to let us know what you think of the movie …

New TV ad for Bill Luckett is a good one

July 19th, 2011 Comments off

If you like good, positive political advertising, check out the latest ad from Bill Luckett. … Good job.

Stereotypes be damned: Cops (especially traffic cops) love do-nuts

June 28th, 2011 1 comment

As most of you know I like to buy do-nuts for the office every week or so.

Well, this morning, as I was looking for a parking place in downtown Jackson near Spurlock’s, I noticed a police vehicle parked in a no parking zone, but I didn’t think much of it.

I went ahead and parked and walked a block or so to the do-nut shop. Well, guess who was the first person I saw when I walked in the do-nut shop?

No- Parking Zone

Yep.

One of the traffic enforcement officers was sitting enjoying her morning coffee and breakfast at Spurlock’s while her vehicle was parked in a no parking zone outside of the Jackson business.

I will let you take the story from here. I am not judging, I’m just sayin’ …

Y’all have a nice day!!

Norquist will not seek re-election in Legislature; Dallas expected to seek position

May 27th, 2011 Comments off

District 28 state representative David Norquist (D-Cleveland) will not seek re-election in order to spend more time with his family, according to a source close to the situation.

Early word is that Cleveland native David Dallas is going to run for the position. Dallas is the former director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State Univ

DAVID NORQUIST

ersity and is currently executive director of the HealthCare Foundation of the Tri-State Delta in Greenville.

Norquist has been a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Water Resources, Gaming, Judiciary B, JudiciaryEn Banc and Universities and Colleges committees.

Norquist is also a member of the City of Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department, and he is a member of the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, the Defense Research Institute and the American Bar Association.

Dallas, meanwhile, is a graduate of Delta State, who went on to Mississippi State, where he helped care for the aging Sen. John C. Stennis.

Stennis, a 1923 Mississippi A&M College (now MSU) graduate, returned to campus in 1988 following his retirement. Nearly 90 at the time, he lived in a university residence for several years before declining health required his relocation to a full-care facility near Jackson.
Dallas was the MSU graduate student who served for two years as personal Stennis’ aide.
Dallas went on to write an award-winning screeenplay and script for a one-man play about his days with Sen. Stennis, named “A Gentleman from Mississippi.” He portrays three characters: himself as a Stennis caregiver; Stennis as a frail and wheelchair-bound former national leader; and Stennis at the height of his senatorial power.

DAVID DALLAS

Stennis died in 1995 and is buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in DeKalb.

After completing his master’s degree in public administration at MSU in 1990, Dallas went to Washington as a Presidential Management Intern in federal service. He also holds a bachelor’s in political science and English literature at Delta State University, where his father is a retired history professor.

Dallas spent five years at Delta State as Executive Director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center, where he was selected as “Delta Innovator” in 2008.
He nearly 20 years of professional experience, which includes developing, monitoring, and evaluating grant projects along with successful strategic leadership. After graduating from MSU, he was selected by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a Presidential Management Fellowship and later received a Legislative Fellowship with the U.S. Senate through the Office of Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott. He served six years with the United States Information Agency’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs where he administered a $40 million dollar grant program with the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union under the FREEDOM Support Act. He was selected by the Japanese Prime Minister’s office as the lead U.S. Delegate on the Prime Minister’s Ship for World Youth in a three-month tour of the Pacific. He then served as the Director of International Programs at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Idaho writer needs a Mississippi education

April 8th, 2011 Comments off

Don’t believe the notion that Mississippi has a bad public relations image? Then you might want to check out the following March 30 headline from the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“Idaho looking up at (gulp) Mississippi”
A column from opinion editor Steve Crump went on to hammer our fair state, beginning the ranting with:
TGFM. Thank God for Mississippi. Every educator, politician, public health worker and economist in Idaho has uttered that phrase at one time or another.
Crump’s diatribe is a warning to Idahoans after the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that the annual average income in Idaho was $32,257 last year, second worst in the nation, just ahead of — you guessed it — Mississippi.
Our average yearly salary was $31,186.
Many of Crump’s points were valid, but some were mean spirited and way off base.
First a few of the valid points, which Crump used as bulleted items, to show readers where Idaho trails the Magnolia State.
>> Mississippi has a lower rate of binge drinking than Idaho.
>> Idaho spends less per pupil on public schools than Mississippi — a lot less. The difference is $970 per student.
>> Mississippi has lower corporate, individual and unemployment insurance taxes than Idaho.
>> Idaho trails Mississippi in the disparity in salary between men and women.
>> In the past decade, Mississippi’s per capita personal income has grown half-again as fast as Idaho.
>> Idaho has a lower immunization rate than Mississippi.
>> Mississippi has a higher percentage of its citizens who check their cholesterol than Idaho’s residents.
>> Idaho has a higher underemployment rate than Mississippi.
>> Although both states received “Ds,” Mississippi finished higher than Idaho in Education Week magazine’s most recent rankings. In the category standards, assessment and accountability, Mississippi received a “B;” Idaho got a “C.” Mississippi also got higher marks in school finance and teachers.

Low blows
Then there were the cheap shots:
If this continues, no Idahoan is gonna be able to go out of the house without a Confederate flag over his or her head.
I mean, have you been to Mississippi?
The humidity is so bad it’s like walking around in concrete overshoes. You have to change your shirt three times a day.
The roads are terrible, the politicians are crooked, the drivers are drunk (10.35 DUI fatalities per 100,000 people, as opposed to 4.67 in Idaho), fire ants and cockroaches are everywhere, and the food?
Crump went on to clobber our food based on a compilation of recipes for a book put out by the “Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation,” which is a really named the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
But who’s keeping score?
Anyway, the cookbook listed recipes for Squirrel Cacciatore, Rabbit Ravioli, a few others as well as what Crump called his personal favorite of Coon a la Delta.
I am a true Mississippian, with a public school Delta education, and no true expertise as a chef. I mean, I cut classes at Delta State University to clean squirrels and help make squirrel stew for the all the guys in my dorm. So, what do I know?
But I do know Mississippi’s resident food expert John T. Edge from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Edge is the author or editor of more than 10 books, including “Cornbread Nation: the Best of Southern Food Writing.” He also writes for many publications, including the New York Times.
He says his his son, Jess, won’t eat souse or trotters. Neither will his wife, and according to Edge, this situation frustrates him and he sees no resolution forthcoming.
I emailed Edge to ask his thoughts of Crump’s column.
“This doesn’t seem smart enough to dignify with a reply.” Edge emailed back. “What does Idaho know?”
For the record, I gave Crump an opportunity to respond for this column, but he did not reply to email and phone messages.
This isn’t the first time folks in other regions of the country have taken pot shots at our state to make their states look better.
Last year, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, while defending tax increases said, “Now is the time to stand up for those priorities. What we’re fighting for is Michigan not becoming Mississippi.”
New York’s Charles Rangel also made less-than- thoughtful comments of us a couple of years back.
As I have said before, we must do a better job of educating folks about our wonderful slice of the South.
It should be pointed out that whatever music Granholm or Rangel or even Idaho’s Steve Crump of the Times-News listens to likely was born in Mississippi.
Every major form of music in America got its roots in Mississippi — from Elvis Presley and rock n roll in Tupelo to country and western in Meridian to blues and jazz in the Mississippi Delta.
Maybe Crump and others should be reminded of the great literature and writers who have come from Mississippi — from Faulkner to Welty.
We also have a great journalism tradition ranging from Pulitzer winners of the 1940s at the Delta Democrat Times to a 2006 at the Sun Herald of Biloxi.
Surely, if Crump had known all of these things, he might not have been so quick to hit below the belt.
Having said that, there are plenty of well-documented reasons — education, racial tensions, etc. — Mississippi isn’t always at the top of the popularity list.
Crump and others should be admonished for the childish comments made, but we must be honest with ourselves.
There’s a long way to go, and people like Granholm and Rangel and Crump wouldn’t have made the comments they made if there we didn’t have a problem with perception.

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

••• Update — Save yourself Jackson State, get out of the SWAC fast

February 17th, 2011 Comments off

Update … In response to Chris, who would like to see Jackson State move to Conference USA … Yes, I think that is a great idea, particularly from an attendance standpoint. JSU already outdraws many C-USA schools and, no doubt, would get bigger and bigger crowds in a Division I setting.

However, I think moving to C-USA straight from the SWAC likely isn’t to happen … First, C-USA has got to want that to happen. I suspect a move to legitimate I-AA conference needs to happen first. Maybe even going to I-AA as an independent with the intention of eventually moving to I-A.

Either way, I don’t think a Division I conference like C-USA is out of the question down the line …

••• Original Story •••

Raucous crowds in Jackson’s Memorial Stadium are the norm for a Jackson State football game, but even those crowds have dwindled in the last 10 to 15 years.
That would change if JSU would pull out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
As the SWAC’s overall ability to lure top-notch African American athletes has waned 40 years after college athletics were integrated, Jackson State’s loyalty to the HBCU conference has held it back.
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum recently held a round-table discussion on “The Future of the SWAC” at which league officials were nowhere to be found.
“Amidst dwindling budgets, shrinking attendance, crumbling facilities and talk of school closure and consolidation, the future of the Southwestern Athletic Conference has rarely been more uncertain,” pre-discussion press releases screamed.
Unfortunately, the once-mighty SWAC is a failing business.
The Tiger athletic program, meanwhile, has been relegated to a near irrelevant status, considering the SWAC is completely irrelevant in serious conversation.
In Division I-AA, or the Football Championship Series as the NCAA calls it, no member of the SWAC is even talked about when it comes to championship play. The SWAC doesn’t participate in postseason playoffs in football, so that it can participate in an irrelevant SWAC championship game, which is cooked up to make money for the SWAC to keep the conference financially solvent, which it barely is to begin with.
Jackson State, in a market that can sustain a serious contender at the I-AA level, should jump ship and join a viable, competitive league.
The Southland Conference, the Southern Conference and the Ohio Valley Conference all offer opportunities for Jackson State that wouldn’t require much, if any, more travel costs, and would give the Tigers’ athletics programs more visibility on a national level.
As for the SWAC, it has been a dying conference for more than 20 years as programs like JSU and Southern University of Baton Rouge have continued to prop up the smaller-market schools, like Mississippi Valley and Alcorn State.
MVSU and ASU, as well as others — like Prairie View (Texas) and, to a certain extent, Grambling (La.) — haven’t been quality I-AA athletic programs for a long time and should move to Division II or III, even to the NAIA.
Jackson State, meanwhile, should look out for itself, lose the SWAC and look forward to higher attendance than it already enjoys. More attractive, nationally-relevant opponents like powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in the Southern Conference or Stephen F. Austin and Texas State of the Southland Conference would be better.
If Jackson State wants to continue to play its in-state rivals, play them as non-conference games.
In an era where college athletics is big business, Jackson State is part of failing corporation for which there is no bailout coming.
Jackson State should save itself, because the longer it stays in the SWAC, the more irrelevant and unmarketable it will become.
It’s about business.

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

Ron Franklin dumped by ESPN for offensive remarks in workplace

January 3rd, 2011 Comments off

Yeah, we do things a little different down here in the South.

In the workplace, the terms “honey” and “sweetie” are still tossed about from time to time, but you had better be careful about the way you use our special Southern terms, or it could end up costing you your job.

Southern gentleman and longtime sportscaster Ron Franklin learned that the hard way.

Franklin, an Ole Miss alum and Oxford native, was pulled from the radio broadcast of Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl following his sexist comment toward a female sideline reporter. Franklin, 68, reportedly referred to Jeannine Edwards as “sweetcakes” during a production meeting when she attempted to join a discussion he was having with another announcer. When she complained, Franklin allegedly then swore at her. ESPN did not have time to find a replacement for Friday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl but made the move for Saturday.

The move comes just days after an ESPN anchor was suspended for plagiarizing a newspaper story. Will Selva admitted to copying all but a few words of a column on the Lakers written by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register and using it on air.

Not a great week for ESPN folks, but you have to admit, it could be worse. Just ask the members of the Big 10 conference.

House wins Biggest Loser, Delta State takes shot at national title

December 15th, 2010 Comments off

Patrick House, a former offensive lineman at Delta State, was last to step on the scales last night at The Biggest Loser finale. The Brandon native needed to have lost 177 pounds to win the $250,000 prize.

When the numbers finally stopped tumbling, the former 400 pounder had lost 182, down to 218 to win the prize. House, who now lives in Vicksburg, plans to to move to South Carolina where he will teach at a school for morbidly obese teens. He plans to share his message of health and exercise and how he overcame his obesity as part of being a teach and a coach at the school.

But, first, House’s former football team, Delta State plays Minnesota-Duluth Saturday for the NCAA Division II national championship.

If you believe in karma, you gotta believe the Statesmen will win their second-ever national championship.

Congratulations to House and good luck Statesmen, uh Okra.