A leading contender for the title of “America’s worst mayor,” Frank Melton of Jackson, died last night after losing his chance at a second term in office in the Democratic primary. I’ve said before—and have been proven wrong—that I thought Melton’s career as mayor was over, but his passing would seem to seal the deal once and for all.
While I was on medical haïtus, Marvin King took note of the latest legal problems facing Jackson mayor Frank Melton. Granted, I’ve erroneously predicted the end of Melton’s mayoral career before, but one presumes that with an election coming up next spring there’ll be a viable alternative on the ballot; at this point, even the return of do-nothing mayor Harvey Johnson might be in the cards.
Margaret Soltan is on the case of yet another diploma mill fraud, this time the head of Jackson Academy in one of my former hometowns.
All involved apparently recognize that Pat Taylor’s doctorate is garbage. Yet I am forced to wonder how much we should really be bothered when Taylor could easily have gotten his degree from an accredited and moderately-well-respected institution such as, say, SIU Carbondale, where the standards for doctorates in educational leadership don’t seem to be significantly higher at least in some individuals’ cases. If the credentials in an entire field are deeply suspect to begin with, whether the degree was bought from Uncle Bob’s House of Academia and Animal Husbandry or “earned” at Harvard really doesn’t seem to make that much difference.
The short mayoral career of Jackson (Miss.)
sheriff mayor Frank Melton looks to be close to its end. I can’t say I was a huge fan of his predecessor either, but Melton’s level of wackiness in office has been largely criminal and borderline comical—particularly since I no longer live in the city, so I can laugh derisively from a safe distance.
I’d say that I owe Donna Ladd and the folks over at the Jackson Free Press an apology and some credit for their foresight, but given the lengthy email
tirade exchange we had last year over one word in a conference paper I wrote I’m not all that inclined to give either, despite the fact that a few really good students I taught at Millsaps did and presumably still do good work for the JFP.
þ: Hit and Run and Dad.
Ok, I probably can’t personally take credit for this one, but nonetheless Winn-Dixie is exiting the Jackson market just months after I revealed to the world that they sell crappy frozen pizzas in their stores. It is possible that other grocery chains will acquire at least some of the shuttered locations, including the venerable Fortification Street store that I avoid like the plague.
Update: More here.
I decided to go out for a drive today down the newly opened stretch of the Trace around Jackson, and ended up taking a bunch of photos (although none of the Trace itself). The highlight of the set, by far, is my favorite billboard in Jackson:
Of course, there are lots of others in my Flickr photostream, mostly from downtown Jackson but also a few from Raymond, the other county seat of Hinds County.
I had lunch today with fellow Jackson blogger Shawn Lea at Char… the food was excellent (very good fried catfish and pecan pie) and the company delightful. We shall have to do it again sometime.
Well, the fat lady is now singing: with 90 of 95 precincts reporting, I’m ready to call this thing for Frank Melton.
The polls have gone from bad to worse for incumbent mayor Harvey Johnson in Tuesday’s primary: WJTV’s poll of registered voters shows a stunning 64–30 edge for Frank Melton on the question “Who would make a better mayor?”—which isn’t exactly “Who do you plan to vote for on Tuesday?” but pretty damn close.
More coverage at the Jackson’s Next Mayor blog; I could try to dig through the comments at the JFP to find something but Donna Ladd doesn’t seem to get the whole “new topic needs a new post” concept behind blogging (and I came up dry on anything except a Clarion-Ledger link anyway).
My generally-nonexistent social life had a brief blip Thursday night: Kelly and I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Hal and Mal’s (muy excellente), and followed up by meeting Kamilla and Andy at George Street where a couple of acts were playing and a fair share of the Millsaps political science majors were partying. Fun and merriment were had by all, I do believe.
No doubt frequent commenter Scott will chime in to provide his review of George Street. For my part, I thought it was a pretty nice place, though the $5 Bass on tap seemed a tad steep (maybe I'm too fond of Oxford prices).
I walked around Belhaven with my camera today and took a few photos. This was by far the most amusing photo I took:
I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation why a French flag would be flying outside a house in Belhaven, but I found this juxtaposition incredibly funny nonetheless.
Today’s Clarion-Ledger reports on a poll showing Frank Melton with a double-digit lead in the Democratic primary (scheduled for Tuesday) of the Jackson mayoral race.
Predicting these things is always messy, especially with Mississippi’s open primary laws and low turnout rates in primary elections, but a 13-point lead (well outside the 4.5 point margin of error) is quite impressive. Mind you, there’s a surprisingly big undecided pool out there—hence why Johnson’s camp is trying to hang the DINO label on Melton to solidify support among Democratic identifiers, not to mention the use of the “northeast Jackson” codeword for “whitey.”
Update: More commentary here and here. For what it's worth, the Mason-Dixon poll shows a somewhat wider margin than the exit poll we conducted in November (712 respondents who were actual voters from five precincts), but we didn't give an "undecided" option (or list any other potential candidates).
Apropos the previous two posts, I noticed something odd in the comments on this sidebar post at the Jackson’s Next Mayor blog: two people debating incumbent mayor Harvey Johnson’s position on the abortion issue.
I’m at a loss to figure out what exactly a city mayor’s authority over abortion would be; indeed, the only elected officials I can see whose positions on abortion would be worth knowing (at least, given the current situation where the Supreme Court decides what public policy is acceptable on abortion) would be presidential candidates and U.S. senators, who are responsible for nominating and confirming appointments to the Supreme Court. Even if that weren’t the case, I don’t really know what the mayor could do for or against abortions, or—for that matter—what another candidate would do differently on abortion.
The only thing I can figure is that candidates’ positions on abortion are seen as proxies for general ideology by at least some voters, which I suppose makes sense (given that abortion is a fairly “easy” issue in Carmines and Stimson’s typology), but it’s not all that great of a shortcut.
My local media infamy continues to increase in this week’s issue of Planet Weekly, one of Jackson’s two alt-weekies:
Such questions [about ties between bloggers and political campaigns, and whether independent blogs are campaign contributions] are becoming more and more prevalent as websites and blogs become more of a force in politics at all levels, said Dr. Chris Lawrence, visiting professor of political science at Millsaps College and webmaster of a blog called “Signifying Nothing,” which he’s operated since 2003 [sic: actually, November 2002, but who cares?]. Such sites can serve as an organizational tool for volunteers, a media channel for voters, or a method for campaigns to get their message out, said Lawrence.
The article is about the Jackson’s Next Mayor blog, which is in something of a pissing contest with the Jackson Free Press, the other alt-weekly; the JFP says JNM is carrying water for incumbent mayor Harvey Johnson’s opponents, while JNM says the JFP is carrying water for Johnson—I’d charge both as being “guilty” on all counts, as a mostly-disinterested observer.
Incidentally, it’s amazing how much more pub I’m getting now that I’m leaving town…
Ok, somebody riddle me this: why would you go to the trouble of producing campaign signs that call yourself by two different names? And, yes, Ward 7 city councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon, I’m asking you:
I’m at a loss…
Seen at the top of yesterday’s Clarion-Ledger: Michigan State 89, Ole Dominion 81. Ole habits die hard, I guess.
Had a fun day today at Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade in downtown Jackson with glowing Kamilla, object-of-glow Andy, adjective-defying Kelly, and Friday (Kelly’s dog), including a 3 mile stroll from the humble abode and back that compensated for the HAC being closed today. For your edification, here are a few photos from my camera phone of the beautiful people (i.e. not me) frolicking in West Street Park after the parade.
Today’s Clarion-Ledger helpfully explains why seven intersections in Jackson have been torn up for the past month while a contractor futzes around with installing new traffic signals.
Today’s Clarion-Ledger features the newspaper’s latest attempt to help Jackson-area readers figure out how to drive through roundabouts. Somehow I don’t expect this effort to succeed where others have failed.
This is almost becoming a recurring joke:
On I-55 north 2.5 miles north of Pearl Street, the left lane will be closed to replace posts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The ramp leaving Woodrow Wilson to go north on I-55 will be closed.
This marks the third time in four months that MDOT has replaced these stupid things, which are intended to stop traffic coming from eastbound Woodrow Wilson Drive cutting across three lanes of traffic to exit at eastbound Lakeland Drive (Hwy 25). I applaud the sentiment, but it’s increasingly clear to me (although apparently not our esteemed Department of Transportation) that something more substantial than plastic posts are needed here.