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Archive for December, 2010

Hyde-Smith’s defection a step toward run for ag commish?

December 28th, 2010 No comments

New Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven cemented her status as one of Magnolia Marketplace’s favorite legislators in the 2009 session.

It was during the Senate’s debate before the vote on whether to override or sustain Gov. Haley Barbour’s veto of a bill that would have restricted the use of eminent domain for projects of direct public use, like roads and bridges, and eliminated it as a tool for private economic development.

As we all know, Barbour’s veto was sustained. Hyde-Smith voted to override it, but not before she gave one of the best floor speeches we’ve ever heard. The highlight of her diatribe was a warning to her fellow lawmakers. Hyde-Smith said her colleagues who voted to sustain Barbour’s veto “had better have asbestos underwear because somebody’s going to light your rear-end on fire when you get back home.” The rest of the day, folks called her “the asbestos lady.”

Hyde-Smith was one of three state officials who switched from the Democratic party to the GOP this afternoon, during a ceremony at Republican headquarters in Jackson. Magnolia Marketplace couldn’t make it because we had an appointment with a source we’d been trying to run down for more than a week.

Hyde-Smith joins Rep. Bobby Shows of Ellisville and Simpson County Superintendent of Education Joe Welch in trading a donkey for an elephant.

But it’s Hyde-Smith’s defection that is the most interesting, and here’s why: She’s a cattle farmer when she’s not at the capitol. She chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. The current commissioner of agriculture, Lester Spell, has already said he won’t seek re-election next year.

Even before November’s midterms, Democrats — with few exceptions like Attorney General Jim Hood — haven’t done well in statewide races.

We’ve heard Hyde-Smith’s name brought up in recent casual political conversations about candidates for down-ballot offices in 2011.

We ran this theory by two political types.

“Makes sense,” said one.

“We’ll see,” said the other.

We just left a voicemail on Hyde-Smith’s cell phone. If and when she gets back to us, we’ll let you know what she says.

Barbour responds to Weekly Standard ruccus

December 21st, 2010 1 comment

Gov. Haley Barbour has endured another round of racially tinged criticism for comments in this week’s Weekly Standard, in which he said the Citizens Council played an important role in keeping civil rights unrest to a minimum in his hometown of Yazoo City. 

It took center stage on most of this morning’s talk shows. Barbour, either directly or through his spokesman, has been asked enough about it that he decided to issue a statement about the matter.

This comes a few months after Barbour received similar fire for his assertion that the raised hackles over Confederate History Month “didn’t amount to diddly.”

Here is his statement, in full:

“When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.”

Categories: Elections, Haley Barbour, News, Politics Tags:

Nicholas: CottonMill deal to close mid-January

December 20th, 2010 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace just wrapped up a phone conversation with Mark Nicholas, whose Ridgeland-based Nicholas Properties is one of the developers of CottonMill Marketplace, the giant mixed-use project in Starkville.

We played phone tag with Nicholas last week when we were trying to run him down for the CottonMill update we had in this week’s MBJ. We caught him this morning as he was driving to Starkville.

Here’s what Nicholas told us:

He expects to close on the financing on or close to Jan. 15. Construction would begin almost immediately afterward.

“It’s going to happen,” said Nicholas, who’s been working on CottonMill for more than three years. “Nothing about this has been easy. The combination of funding we’ll use — bonds, grants, tax credits, TIF — it takes a while to pull all that together. But there’s not much that can stop it now.”

The two phases of the project will total about $120 million. The first phase will include the renovation of the old E.E. Cooley Building into office space and a conference center, a parking deck and the construction of a hotel and a restaurant. The second phase will include student housing and retail space. Nicholas said he expects construction to last about 18 months.

A log cabin on the southeast part of the site that once housed a Burker King will be disassembled. Nicholas said he sold the cabin to Jackson attorney and real estate developer John Arthur Eaves, who has plans to erect the cabin in Oxford, though it’s unclear what it will be once it arrives.

So that’s where we are. We’ll have more updates about this once it gets closer to the second week of January.

‘Tis the season for verifying

December 15th, 2010 No comments

Mississippians, and we’re not breaking any new ground here, are generous folks.

The holiday season brings out the best of that generosity, but it also turbo-charges the counter-culture of charitable scams.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has kicked off his annual campaign to keep those scams to a minimum.

Hosemann’s “Check Your Charity” tool is available on his website here.  Check Your Charity publishes the financial particulars of charities registered with the state, which they’re required by law to do. You can get a break down of  how much money actually went to a charity’s cause, and how much went elsewhere.

The Better Business Bureau says that a valid charity spends at least 65 percent of its money toward its mission. 

So after you’ve verified that your targeted charity is legit, give as much as you can so we can maintain our reputation for being nice and caring people.

Categories: Delbert Hosemann, News Tags:

Judge’s healthcare ruling sets up the inevitable (updated)

December 13th, 2010 No comments

Monday morning’s ruling by a federal judge in Virginia that struck down the mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is another setback for Democrats, sure.

But all the ruling does is affirm what we already knew: The U.S. Supreme Court will have final say. No matter which way the lower courts ruled in the slew of lawsuits that have challenged the healthcare reform legislation, the losing side would appeal until it reached SCOTUS.

If you’re interested, read Monday’s ruling here.

UPDATE: Gov. Haley Barbour has just released a statement about the ruling. Here it is, in full:

“The decision of the federal court in Virginia is encouraging to all of us who consider the Obamacare law unconstitutional; however, we know the case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

SECOND UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has issued his own statement. It says:

“I have believed this act to be unconstitutional from the very beginning, and that is why I filed the very first private lawsuit challenging the health care law. I commend federal Judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia for standing up against a law that strips states and individuals of the freedom to choose health insurance.”
Categories: Haley Barbour, News, Phil Bryant, Politics Tags:

Speculation and a schedule change

December 8th, 2010 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace won’t be able to make this afternoon’s announcement at the state GOP headquarters about the party’s newest member. A schedule change will have us in North Jackson for something we’re working on for next week.

But we keep hearing the name Lynn Posey, who represents the Central District on the Public Service Commission. If that’s true, Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley will be the lone Democrat on the PSC.

It will do nothing to change the voting dynamics of the PSC. Posey votes with Republican Leonard Bentz, who reps the Southern District, more times than not.

Either way, our colleague Amy McCullough will be there for the festivities, and she’ll have something on the MBJ website soon afterward. Stay tuned.

Categories: News, Politics, PSC Tags:

GOP leadership to welcome party-switcher

December 7th, 2010 No comments

The Mississippi Republican Party just announced that it will welcome a new member into the fold Wednesday afternoon at a press conference at the GOP building on Congress Street in Jackson.

The press release doesn’t say who it is, but did say it’s a Democratic state official, which means it’s most likely a member of the Legislature. Gov. Haley Barbour will be there, as will state GOP Chairman Brad White.

Magnolia Marketplace will be there at 1 p.m., and we’ll have the ins and outs shortly thereafter, so be ready.

Categories: Brad White, Haley Barbour, News, Politics Tags:

Waide will not seek office in 2011 (Updated)

December 6th, 2010 No comments

Today’s a  big day for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. There’s an election to see who will succeed David Waide as president, and there’s the speculation about Waide’s political future.

According to a text message Magnolia Marketplace received this morning from somebody who’s at the election in Jackson, Waide told the crowd there that he will not seek any political office in 2011. Instead, he’s going to concentrate his energy on his farm in West Point.

This isn’t a huge shock, but it is a little bit of a surprise. A lot of people, us included, thought Waide would have been a strong candidate for commissioner of agriculture. Waide also considered running for governor.

Waide would have almost certainly made the issue of eminent domain being employed for private economic development the center of his campaign, had he run. Whoever the new Farm Bureau president is will deal with the push to the ballot initiative that will appear on the 2011 ballot.

We’ll fill in some details as the day goes on, so check back with us periodically.

 

UPDATE: Randy Knight, a dairy farmer from Rankin County, was just elected as the Farm Bureau Federation’s ninth president. Knight defeated Ken Middleton of Washington County and Brad Bean of Amite County. Knight beat Middleton in a run-off.

Tornado tales — “I bailed out”

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace will have a package of stories in next week’s MBJ about the latest (and hopefully, the last for a long while) tornado to hit Yazoo City.

Be sure and look for it.

There were some leftovers that didn’t quite fit, so we’d thought we’d pass them along.

Henry Cote, head of the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce, was in his downtown loft apartment Monday night when the storm hit.

“I’d gotten a call from a business owner down on the fourth block who had an employee by herself, so I went to check on her. I came out on the (store’s) balcony to see if I could hear or see anything, and the pressure pulled me and then the wind started going side to side and I saw glass and metal flying. I bailed out and ran down the street away from it.”

Cote stood on Main Street while he relayed his story to Magnolia Marketplace Tuesday morning around 10. He looked tired, for good reason. He said he hadn’t slept since Monday morning.

Susan Cartwright-Guion, who owns Grace Hardware, was at her home across town from Main Street when the twister arrived. Her two children were at school- and church-related activities. All escaped without injury.

Cartwright-Guion’s home was in one of the neighborhoods that got nailed by April’s storm. It fared much better this time around.

“I never thought about the store getting hit until I got a text saying that downtown had been hit,” she said.

After receiving the text, Cartwright-Guion gathered her children and tried to get to Grace, which sits on the northern tip of Main. Firefighters who had blocked the entrance to downtown tried to stop her, but she was having none of it.

“They were just doing their job,” Cartwright-Guion said, “but I had to see what had happened.”

What she saw was her store filling up with water, contents and all, because the roof had blown away.

Bill McGraw, whose Yazoo Insurance Agency sustained minor water damage when the adjacent structure’s roof had holes poked in it, was at a high school basketball game at Humphreys Academy in Humphreys County when the storm struck. So was Yazoo City engineer Wayne Morrison.

“The headmaster got on the PA and said the game had been cancelled and told us to go home,” Morrison said. Morrison’s engineering firm’s office was virtually unscathed.

The same was true for Garry Roark’s Ubon’s Restaurant on Highway 49.

Roark’s home on Broadway, less then a mile northeast of Main Street, was damaged in April’s storm, but not in Monday’s. That’s where he and his family were Monday night, and he wasn’t taking any chances this time.

“I got dressed, put on shoes, grabbed my wallet, keys and got everybody in the basement,” Roark said. “About that time the lights went out. After it hit, I decided I better get out and look and see what happened.”

He was checking on his restaurant when fellow restaurateur Mitchell Saxton, who owns Ribeye’s Steakhouse at Four Points, showed up offering to help. Ribeye’s was nearly destroyed in April, but went untouched Monday.

Roark had stored some of Saxton’s food after the April storm, and Saxton had returned the favor by sending out-of-town clean-up crews to eat at Ubon’s on their lunch breaks.

“That’s the kind of neighbors we have,” Roark said. “That’s what it takes sometimes.”

Categories: News, Yazoo tornadoes Tags: