Town Halls

United States Senators and Representatives are back home spending time in their districts during this time of recess from the Capitol. One of the activities taking place in almost all states is town hall meetings attended by their respective members of Congress, except here in Mississippi.
 
Our national elected officials have not scheduled district or state constituent meetings here at home. Instead, if there have been any town halls they have been organized around the state by concerned citizens where Senators and the local Representative has been invited. There has not been acceptance of invitations or attendance by any officials at these meetings.
 
There has been a misconception that these meetings are set ups to embarrass elected officials. It is also been suggested the ordinary folks attending these meetings are paid by some unknown source. The problem with both of these claims is that they lack a basis in fact. Those persons repeating this spin should step forward with some proof.
 
These town hall meetings have been set up by folks because elected officials, save the 2nd Congressional District, have not seen fit to take it upon themselves to meet with constituents. All these organizers want to do is ask questions like; Why did you vote to allow the sale of my internet usage to private companies, make it easier to sell public land, or allow my child to be removed from my health plan?
 
These elected officials are adults that sought votes to represent everyone. Not all meetings with constituents may be as fun as having a steak dinner with a lobbyist back on the Hill, but it is a duty they assumed when they were elected by the people.
 
It is a basic tenant of our representative form of government that electors want to at least be informed on the issues. If an elected official put enough effort and thought into making a particular vote, it is not too much to ask that they expound on the reasoning why a particular vote was made. It is time for these elected officials to grow up, do their duty and at least offer transparency on the process that we elected them to perform on our behalf without berating the citizens trying to find answers by inviting them to a community town hall meeting.

Candidate Accent Part Two

The Republicans spotlight two of their municipal candidates weekly, and, in turn, today gives us opportunity to ‘ACCENT’ those candidates to show some of the ideas each may carry based on their party’s platform, actions, and public positions.

Mr. Jeff Olson, apparently a party switcher from his previous position in city government, has decided to carry the Republican banner in a quest for mayor of NEW ALBANY. One of the weightiest rocks around his neck will be the local Republican legislative delegation's lack of vision that has in turn created no positive record of leadership. Mr Olson will share that with them since he has joined the party. 
 
Just last year, the New Albany legislative delegation took state funds from local fire departments, city police departments, blind and deaf programs, mental health facilities, and a myriad of local programs that we depend on. Mr. Olson has yet to raise any concerns about those actions. Mr. Olson can also let us know why his party's political leaders’ efforts to totally eliminate from the budget the Union County Meals on Wheels program that serves 1,187 elderly, veterans, and the home-bound in their residences or at service centers is a good thing for New Albany.
 
That’s quite a platform of projects Mr. Olson will be asked to perpetuate in the office of Mayor as a good Republican. It’s probably time to ask the other candidate that is running for Mayor how he differs from Mr. Olson’s party stance on these issues. 

On to CLINTON where Mike Cashion is looking to fool the voters again. He is a lobbyist for his organization, so he knows his way around the Capitol.
 
Mr. Cashion says he "understands the budget.” His view on a conservative budget may be a lot different from yours though. While he has been hanging around the Capitol, he watched as his party has led us into a state budget deficit of $133 million (and growing) in this fiscal year alone that will mercifully end in July. Mr. Cashion has watched his Republican legislative leadership raid our state rainy day savings account five times and eliminate over 8,000 state jobs in order to help balance a budget that cannot be balanced. Not one word of outrage from Mr. Cashion as to how this affected the city and its taxpayers. So much for statesmanship but a lot for go-along-to-get-along!
 
Mr. Cashion was no shrinking violet in his opposition to a public school initiative a couple of years ago by making his views known. With one of the best public school systems in Mississippi, Clinton will have if they re-elect Cashion, a vocal opponent of funding our schools by the state. When that happens it pushes taxes to the city level to provide for our children.

Mr. Cashion said on social media, “Politicians are a lot like magicians. They get you to focus your attention away from where the action really is then convey an alternative sense of reality.” That brings to mind the old adage, Mr. Cashion, ‘If the shoe fits…’

Fake News Busters?

Last week, State Representative Andy Gipson (Republican-Braxton) took some media hits, constituent heat, and statewide rebuke when as Chairman he killed committee legislation without a vote that would have added Domestic Abuse as a ground for divorce. He later bowed to the immense pressure and came up with a bill to stem the tide of discourse against him, but not without whining about earlier news accounts (some of which he labeled fake) of his deeds.
 
Now Rep. Gipson has decided to start a new organization. He has gone big-time and is even up on Facebook for all the world to comment. As a matter of fact he is encouraging folks to visit the site so here it is, MS Responsible Journalism Initiative.
 
Mr. Andy will be the Editor-in-Chief and he has a bi-partisan committee helping him decide what is real news and what is not. Mr. Andy says they will review “false reporting on truly important issues” while “addressing fake news” because he/the group is “sick of lies” that Mississippi's media makes up.
 
Oh yeah, one important point, the committee at this time is anonymous. Yes, it is a “secret organization” that will determine truth and “make decisions what is a false or misleading statement,”  Mr. Andy says. We cannot wait to see the membership of this stand-up committee as it seems we have read about these kinds of groups somewhere else in history books.
 
How fortunate that we will have Mr. Andy and his secret group to determine the validity of news for the rest of us. Why that’s easier than thinking. Heck, Mr. Andy and the secret group can do all our thinking for us!  
 
Maybe Mr. Andy and his ‘double secret committee’ will do something about those pesky organizations spreading fake news about how Mississippi doesn’t have a budget crisis or that legislative leadership isn’t pushing taxes down to the local level or there have been no cuts to education funding for our local schools and women don’t need equal pay legislation. But wait... that’s all coming from the Republicans. Oh well, never mind!

Candidate Accent Part One

The Mississippi Republican Party started a program spotlighting municipal candidates. Today they listed two for mayor slots. Welcome to the arena!

We in turn wanted to ACCENT those candidates.

Moss Point

 
Mr. John Mosley, Jr., looks like a nice and well-educated candidate, but it appears from his comments that he shares the same out-of-touch views as the Republican Party under whose banner he is running.
 
Any good candidate would work with his local Republican legislative and state leadership to carry the party line. That line has been to cut state funding to local fire departments in addition to cutting county and city law enforcement, mental health programs, and limiting healthcare for citizens. It has also pushed taxes on the local citizens. Let’s not forget his party is the only one to try to pass legislation to take away retirement benefits. 
 
Mr. Mosley carries his party’s negative record, and that is not good for the citizens of Moss Point.

On to Lucedale to accent Mr. Darwin Nelson


Mr. Nelson states one of his honors was ‘performing’ at a Donald J. Trump rally in Jackson. He goes on to say “our little town has hit a lull in growth and development.”
 
That “lull” he referred to has everything to do with the party he is a candidate for. Mr. Nelson must not have looked, apparently too busy picking and grinning, but there is a budget mess created by the Republican Party that we cannot dig out of. Mississippi is hundreds of millions of dollars in the red just in this fiscal year. The Republicans just can’t stop giving our tax dollars away to large corporations, eliminating over 8,000 state jobs (with more pending), and pushing tax increases down to the city and county level. 
 
Mr. Nelson’s local Republican legislative delegation has a voting record of ‘going along to get along’ with their party leadership while doing nothing to turn around these local problems. Thanks to Republican policies, Mississippi has not replaced 26,700 jobs since the great recession in ’07 and is ranked the 49th worst state in which to do business.

A mayoral candidate highlighted by the state Republican leadership should send a strong signal that more of the same failed state policies will occur in Lucedale if he gets elected.

House Republicans Lose Supermajority

Whether it is fear of the party label, trying to trick the voters, or just sticking a finger up to check the ‘political winds,’ a couple of Republican Mississippi House members went rogue last week and qualified outside the party banner in their quests for city office.
 
Republican House leadership team member Toby Barker of Hattiesburg dumped the Republican Party moniker and qualified for mayor…. wait for it… as an Independent. After voting to steal a legislative seat from his neighbor, former Rep. Bo Eaton (D-Taylorsville) to give the Republicans a supermajority, it looks like enough is enough for Barker. However, he cannot hide from helping steer the financial ‘ship of state’ into the rocks and then just say it was all a bad mistake and qualify as an Independent. No, Barker will have to defend his record of poor leadership on fiscal matters, education, and healthcare while hoping the voters won't believe he will push the city into the same budget abyss he has helped put our state in. 
 
It didn’t take Republican Rep. Shane Barnett long to jump ship either. Barnett, an 'I'll do whatever you say House leadership' vote, ditched the Republican banner to head back home to Waynesboro to qualify for Alderman at Large… you guessed it… as an Independent. Whether it's trying to hold two political offices at once (that’s right, he can receive two paychecks from the taxpayers) or just fear of this Republican leadership’s poor public policy decisions weighted around his neck, Barnett is taking the option of running for the hills.
 
The race for a hometown political office, where folks know you best, is proven by these two that Republican policies don’t sell well when locals are upset over tax increases, lack of state funds sent back home to fill street potholes growing like sinkholes, all while shuttering schools, healthcare, and mental facilities. 

When breadwinners are afraid if they lose their job today, they cannot find one tomorrow and parents cannot see a job in the future for their high school or college graduate near home, it is no wonder these two are trying to flee their failed policies as Republicans in Jackson.
 
Hold them accountable. They are just playing the oldest game of Republican politics, - fool ‘em when you can.

Democrats Cheer Municipal Candidates

Democrats are more than ecstatic tonight after qualifying for municipal elections closed at 5:00 today as we look set to continue our winning streak in city halls in every corner of the state. Many former independent mayors and city council members have now qualified under the Democratic banner.

Oxford will elect its next mayor, Robyn Tannehill, by acclamation along with returning Democrats to five of the seven city council seats. The lone Republican incumbent faces a Democratic challenger.

In DeSoto County, long considered a Republican stronghold, a dozen Democrats qualified in five municipalities. This has been nearly unheard of lately.

Throughout the state, younger generations of our rising leaders have qualified to carry the Democratic message that local city politicians have betrayed our trust by going along with Republican Party policies instead of that which is best for our towns and state.

Democrats know that when we elect local city officers, we depend on them to do more than just fill potholes. We expect them to stand up for us, work with state government to keep our taxes low by recovering our tax dollars for local projects. That has not been happening. There is no game plan our local and state Republican leaders have developed, and it is past time to work toward keeping our taxes low and creating the jobs we need.

Our Democratic candidates know that if the breadwinner loses his or her job today, the likelihood of finding a new job tomorrow is very difficult - if not unlikely. They know their high school or college graduate will have to go somewhere else to find a good job.

Our trust has been broken by local Republican politicians, and Democrats will formulate and execute a plan and work together for real results. That is why there is such a surge of Democrats answering the call for stronger cities and a better state for us all.

Headlines Say It All

The Governor this week cut another $45 million from an already thrice-cut 2017 budget. He dipped again into the state’s savings account to make up for financial shortfalls for the fifth time in 14 months. No political courage in sight to change the failed policies that got us to this point. Here is where we are:
 
Mississippi is still the second-worst state in job creation since the Great Recession. 247 WallStreet says Mississippi has 26,700 fewer jobs now than at the end of 2007. The touting of new jobs by this state’s leadership are just fake claims, and they are hoping you don’t find out the truth. Ask yourself, “If I lost my job today could I find another one tomorrow?” Or if your child is graduating high school or college, “Will they be able to get a good job here in Mississippi?”
 
WallStreet Newsletter ranks Mississippi as the 49th worst state for business. Having the highest poverty rate in the nation coupled with unemployment rates higher than the national average and a lack of a competitive (that’s educated) workforce are the main reasons they gave for the poor ranking. We barely stayed ahead of Louisiana, whose failed policies are mirrored by Mississippi’s leadership, put them in last place.
 
Mississippi is flowing in budget red ink. Balancing the budget by eliminating over 8,000 state jobs, to date, has not been the answer. Plans to eliminate thousands more state jobs will not balance the budget either. The political idea of shrinking government this way does nothing but eliminate state services for taxpayers and push taxes on locals to make up for those services.
 
The governor said the latest budget cuts, including those to education, “has prevented a tax increase for the hardworking taxpayers.” We beg to differ. Our local dollars, which are the state budget, just shove another tax increase to the local level to make up for the mismanagement at the state policy level when the state budget is cut.
 
Why are we short on funds and why has leadership continually cut the budget and dipped into our state savings account? The main reason is giving away our tax dollars to large corporations in the form of tax credits or grants. The leadership, even when faced with taking services away from the “hardworking taxpayers,” will not find the political courage to revoke those tax breaks given corporations.

Taxpayer-Paid Vacation

At the beginning of each legislative day, the legislature conducts a Roll Call to see which members are present, as members are paid a per diem to cover their daily expenses. If a member is absent, they do not get paid. Below is the Roll Call for Thursday, January 19, 2017.

Representative Bubba Carpenter (R-Burnsville) has a history of embarrassing gaffes and double-dipping taxpayer money for expenses on trips to Florida. Here he goes again. Representative Carpenter appears to have had someone answer for him at the Roll Call while he was up in Washington DC for the Presidential inauguration.

Carpenter was not alone, and the free taxpayer money didn't stop there. Freshman Representative Noah Sanford (R-Collins) was also in Washington using taxpayers' dollars to pay for his vacation while Senators Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven), Rita Parks (R-Corinth), and Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) did not have someone answer the Roll Call for them.

Last, but not least, is Representative Chris Brown (R-Nettleton) who took his family up to Washington for all of the festivities while simultaneously being voted present at the House.

Shameful Behavior

Chris McDaniel just couldn’t stop degrading women, and his colleagues in the Mississippi Legislature have now joined him.  

Last week State Senator Chris McDaniel (R- Ellisville) made disparaging remarks about women.  Instead of apologizing, he doubled down on the insults against women and their rights.

On Monday in the Mississippi House Chamber, Representative Bryant Clark (D- Pickens) attempted to champion the issue of Equal Pay for Women. He was shot down with a procedural move by the Republican leadership and Representative Mark Baker (R- Brandon).

Yesterday the Republican leadership of the Mississippi House of Representatives made it official and killed every Equal Pay piece of legislation that had been introduced, even the one they introduced to fade political heat.

It’s time we all joined in the fight to support critical issues so important to women and their families. Help us make elected officials accountable for their lack of understanding or outright ignorance towards women.

Alternative Facts

Denying "objective reality" or creating "alternative facts?"

All of this was promised during the campaign for President, but no one imagined the taxes they would be paying or the security issues presented to the public in an attempt to carry out those promises. Who can turn on the television, radio, computer, or phone and not see what has transpired at the national level over the past ten days?

First, President Trump became the story when questioning the numbers of people at his inauguration as compared to others.

The Trump Administration then tried to silence the voice of the National Park Service by not allowing them to report information to the public which didn't help much because The Women's March took the headlines for the millions that participated in D.C., throughout the U.S., and the world.

Next, the Administration suggested a 20% tariff on Mexican goods in order to pay for the 'Wall' that was suggested be built. The news that possibly at least 20% price increases on goods such as food, GMC, Chevy, Ford, Dodge Ram trucks, and other goods now coming across the border would be part of this package didn’t sit well. The public quickly caught onto the fact they would actually be paying for the 'Wall' through higher costs for consumer goods or the federal budget if Congress passes an appropriation to build it. To top it off, the Mexican President cancelled a meeting with Trump.

Then, the president ordered an investigation into three million alleged illegal voters. The person actually espousing this theory was a former Mississippi department official that left office when actions came to light that he may have committed while in office here. On national news shows, this individual could offer no proof or evidence of his theory, but it did get a presidential order.

Additionally, just days ago the president signed an Executive Order on travel to the U.S. from seven countries that was immediately held in abeyance as unconstitutional by several federal courts. The ban listed countries the Obama Administration had suggested be watched, but President Trump’s order did not include those that had a link with 911 or other security issues. Some have suggested it’s because those other countries are ones in which the president's family may have business ties. The issue has become chaotic. Democrats have early opposed the Order and Republicans in Congress have begun to join their colleagues in a bipartisan voice.
 
To top it off, another Executive Order revamped the National Security Counsel. The president removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Intelligence Director as principal committee members and instead gave his newest employee and current White House strategist, Stephen Bannon, a principal seat on the committee. The removed Joint Chief Chair and Intelligence Director will only be part of the principal committee when there are issues that effect their positions. It will effectively silence their voices on other matters.