JPS Sends Students Home Early; Governor Declares Weather Emergency for Schools

Jackson Public Schools had to send students home early from school today, after the city of Jackson experienced even more water main breaks due to the icy cold weather. JPS students have missed seven days of school so far in the new year, and students had just returned to classes on Thursday, Jan. 18. Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for schools, due to the inclement weather starting on Monday Jan. 15, this week. Continue Reading

City of Jackson Declares Water Emergency, Brings in Contractors

The following is a verbatim press release from the City of Jackson, regarding the low temperatures and challenges with water. The City of Jackson began experiencing near-record low temperatures on Sunday evening following the arrival of an Arctic cold front. As a result, the water treatment system, the water elevated storage tanks, and the water distribution system are experiencing challenges in meeting customer demand. Some areas are also experiencing low water pressure due to several water main breaks throughout the city. The Director of Public Works has declared an emergency in order to bring in contractor crews to supplement the City workforce. Continue Reading

Where Does Your Representative Stand on Tax Reform?

 

“We are about to change some really big things,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said this afternoon on the House floor. The U.S. House of Representatives is close to voting on the Republican tax reform package. The plan will permanently modify corporate income tax rates and modify and reduce most individual income tax rates for Americans for about seven years. Those individual income tax cuts will expire in 2025, however. The corporate income tax rate will drop from 35 percent under current law to 21 percent, the Congressional Budget Office analysis shows. The plan will reduce national revenue by $1,649 billion as well as increase the budget deficit by $1,455 billion in the next decade, the analysis shows. Continue Reading

Sarah Sanders Addresses Planned Protests of Trump Attending Civil Rights Museum Opening

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that President Donald Trump “will participate” in the grand openings of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday, Dec. 9. White House correspondent April Ryan asked Sanders for a response to the boycotts and likely protests planned for Saturday in response to the news of Trump’s possible attendance. The transcript of their exchange (via C-SPAN) is below:

April Ryan: There are comments from the NAACP, (and) from black ministers that are planning on protesting and boycotting the President’s visit to the (Mississippi) Civil Rights Museum. Continue Reading

Jackson Schools ‘Better Together’ Commission Meets This Afternoon

The “Better Together” Commission, a coalition of school, city, nonprofit and business leaders, will meet tonight at 4:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Gardens Community Center located at 4125 Sunset Drive, Jackson, MS.

The Commission is tasked with two roles in helping the Jackson Public School District. First, the group must issue a request-for-proposal soon to hire a company to conduct a gap analysis of the district. Secondly, the commission must collect a large amount of community input through listening sessions, surveys and other engagement strategies. Gov. Phil Bryant opted to form the commission instead of allowing the Mississippi Department of Education to take over the district this fall. Continue Reading

DOJ to Jackson: Review ‘Sanctuary’ Policy

The U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t know the city of Jackson has a new mayor. In a letter addressed to Mayor Tony Yarber but dated Nov. 15, 2017, Alan Hanson, acting assistant attorney general, asked the city of Jackson to review its “sanctuary city” ordinance. Jackson has an ordinance that prohibits police officers in the city from asking about a person’s immigration status unless it is “relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense, or when processing an arrested person.” The ordinance, often referred to as a “sanctuary policy,” has been on the books since in 2010. Continue Reading

Hinds County Attorney Election Heads to Runoff

Malcolm Harrison and Gerald Mumford will head to a runoff for the Hinds County attorney election, after neither candidate managed to win 50 percent of the vote plus one. The election had three candidates, and interim Hinds County Attorney Martin Perkins pulled 7 percent of the vote. Harrison won 47 percent of the vote, while Mumford won 45 percent of total votes cast in the election. Only 9,960 Hinds County voters cast ballots on Tuesday, unofficial election results show. Harrison and Mumford will face off in two weeks for a runoff election. Continue Reading

Mayor Announces New JPS Board Nominees

Jackson City Council members will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the confirmation of five nominees for the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees. In Jackson, the mayor appoints school board members, and the city council must confirm each member. The school board, like council, consists of seven members–one from each ward of the city. Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba has nominated five new board members, the agenda for the special meeting shows. The JPS School Board previously had four members before the State threatened a takeover of the school district. Continue Reading

Pearl Youth Court Shutters After Judge Allegedly Kept Mother from Child Due to Unpaid Fees

On Wednesday, the Pearl Municipal Youth Court closed permanently, and Youth Court Judge John Shirley resigned as youth court judge after Cliff Johnson, with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, told Pearl officials about Shirley’s order blocking a mother from seeing her child until she paid court-ordered fees, a press release from the Center says. Judge Shirley entered an order on Aug. 22, 2016, prohibiting Johnson’s client, referred to as “Mother A” due to strict youth court confidentiality laws, from having any contact with her baby until she paid court fees in full, the press release says. Fourteen months later, Judge Shirley entered an order on Oct. 25 reversing his earlier decision and returning custody to “Mother A.” The mother was not represented by a lawyer in the Youth Court proceedings. Continue Reading

Judge Denies JPS’ Request to Stop Takeover

 

As the State Board of Education met to vote on whether or not Jackson Public Schools was in a state of “extreme emergency,” the district took legal matters into their own hands by asking a Hinds County Circuit judge for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the state from taking over their school district last month. On Monday, Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan denied the district’s request for a restraining order and injunction, saying that both the Commission on School Accreditation and the State Board of Education had followed state law by taking all of the proper steps to declare a district to be in an “extreme emergency.” JPS took issue with the Commission not following internal rules that allow a district 30 days to respond to an audit report, but Judge Gowan writes that since those internal rules are not statutory law, they are “subject to exceptions in certain necessary situations.” Gowan also notes that all state law allows school boards of any school district “aggrieved by any final rule, regulation or order of the State Board of Education…shall have the right to appeal therefrom to the chancery court.” In other words, if JPS wanted to dispute an order of the State Board, they should file a suit in chancery court, not circuit court. Continue Reading