Jackson Precincts

trending towards self-government


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1828 and 2013 revolutionary politics

Neither candidate for Jackson mayor is orthodox or untarnished.  The brother with the African name was born in Detroit in 1947 and the younger candidate was born several decades later in Jackson. The human condition has touched each with compromising situations. This 2013 municipal election is like the 1828 Jackson presidential victory. It was the first time a President had not been a Virginian or Massachusetts yankee. The 1828 election was a revolution of national politics. A more democratic style of governance was born in the political life by this frontiersman, Andrew Jackson, who might have been born at sea instead of the Waxhaws of Carolina. There is a rumor that he was not born on the land. Lumumba, like Andrew Jackson, was criticized for his tendency toward militancy and confrontation. Jackson for his dueling, scorched-earth military policy toward the Indians, and the execution of deserters. Chokwe Lumumba has a past influenced by the Garveyism, labor organizing, and police brutality of post-war Detroit.

Andrew Jackson prevailed over John Q. Adams who got only 43% of the popular vote. Lumumba will probably upset Jonathan Lee, the young moderate. Lee is better mannered perhaps, but not more intellectual or more articulate than his elder. He is a sometime businessman, Chamber of Commerce leader, and Jackson native. His problem is an earlier more suburban style, Republican support, and his recent location back to this side of the river from Rankin County.

In 1828 in Hinds County poll boxes at Jackson proper and at Hezekiah Billingsley’s box heaped the votes for Andrew Jackson like the present St. James Episcopal and Fondren Presbyterian church poll boxes heaped up the Jonathan Lee vote.  In 1828 Josiah Shipp, Fleetwood, and Crossroad poll precincts in this county were kind to John Quincy Adams, but he was bested in these precincts by Jackson. The Baldwin box was only mildly kind to Adams where this western box gave him one out of five votes. The Jackson proper poll box had only two voters to cast for Adams. This precinct would be the first municipal precinct now the Eudora Welty Library box. The Billingsley poll box polled only three Adamites. Billingsley precinct was near the modern-day Ross Barnett Reservoir.

The other Fondren precinct is the Woodland Hills Baptist box which is a combination of the old precincts 15 and 16. We had sixty seven Lumumba votes. Over a thousand folk are on the register for this box in the center of Fondren. Michael Raff, the Mayor’s Cultural department director, was the poll watcher for Harvey at the Woodland Hills box during the Democratic mayoral primary.

The new Freedom Democrat wing of the party might be hatched in Jackson just like the Barbour-Reagan revolution was hatched in the this place over thirty years ago. Bennie Thompson is anointing Chokwe to do in Jackson what Bennie did in Washington. Solidify a progressive and leftist base…in the heart of Mississippi. As of Saturday evening the Fondren area near the Fondren Park had not been canvased for either candidate. Nor had the Midtown streets of Keener, Wesley, Millsaps, and McTyre. West Street behind Millsaps College had seen a few Lumumba campaigners. I heard some Lumumba radio ads being played from the front porches of Midtown and Fondren. Vote for the brother with the African name.


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2013 municipal elections and social development

I was a civil servant in the City of Jackson during the same period as the ascendancy of Margaret Barrett-Simon, the Council member of Ward Seven. Mrs Barrett-Simon has been my ward representative for over twenty five years. Jackson has seen high rates of violence and property crime since the early 1980s and the basic institutions of the city have declined with several high profile cases of public corruption or drug trafficking.

The national government’s anti-communist activities in the hemisphere during the 1980s increased drug trafficking and use in Mississippi as across the South and national border. Jackson is mentioned in the Kerry Report investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal due to its airport activity. The city leaders as well as the state leaders had little oversight or knowledge of illegal activity related to the national security efforts in Latin America, but the influx of drugs affected the health and social life of residents as crime and corruption increased.

In the 1980s I resided in a downtown residential tower and a neighbor was a federal drug enforcement agent. He invited me to visit his apartment and briefly showed me his sophisticated communications gear in his closet. He took a call and spoke in rapid Spanish though he was a Jackson native. Earlier in that decade a prominent Jackson young man who had been an addict was beaten nearly to death in this downtown tower residence. Several prominent families had children who committed suicide or had been treated for various drug addictions as drugs were very easy to obtain in this city. Black neighborhoods suffered greatly without treatment for the addicted. Treatment and rehabilitation were slow to develop.

I was not known to Mrs. Barrett except for a questioning on the illicit drug markets during a municipal election at the Murray Junior High School auditorium in 2000. She had no idea how the proceeds of the illicit drug markets were money laundered in Jackson and had absolutely no knowledge of that type of criminality in her ward. The institutional study of the Police Department by Maples had focused on many institutional failures and was treated with technocratic adjustments and some long range planning by the city leadership. A large local bank, Deposit Guaranty, had been censured for neglecting regulatory safeguards related to money laundering and for mismanagement of some local government accounts. This bank had employed the spouse of the sitting mayor and its bank stock was primarily owned by the Jackson establishment. The bank held large balances for the local and state governments as well as for various political subdivisions of the state.

Since my ward representative’s former spouse was an investment adviser and possibly once very useful in terms of financial networks, I had imagined that contributors to her campaign might be sending her tainted money since the city had so much violence and corruption. I simply asked the candidate and veteran city leader if she might guess how criminal networks laundered money in Jackson given the high crime rates here. She was appalled that I would suspect that she had any knowledge or thoughts on the matter. I thought she might be wise about the crime occurring both high and low in her city, but she was not. Her approach to governing did not include public safety in that manner.

She and the City eventually got Mayor Frank Melton. Mrs. Barrett-Simon, no doubt, later pondered the connection of drugs and corruption in her fair city. We had already experienced the corruption cases of former council members Williams and Armstrong several years previous. Political responsibility for trouble is a learning journey for city leaders and their polity. Mayor Johnson failed to understand the public perceptions of safety and the general civic decline subsequent to his loss to Frank Melton. Ironically, Mayor Melton had served as the Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, but had been sacked by Governor Barbour not very far into his state law enforcement career. Mayor Melton preached discipline, strict enforcement, and responsibility to the youth of the city while making many adult errors of judgment himself. Mayor Johnson has some completed civic projects. He has many other ‘half done’ projects both material and social. He has cultivated new political alliances to foster civic goals as partnerships and generally improved his management and political skills.

The natural cycle of drug use has declined somewhat in recent years with marginal improvement in the crime statistics. Social development has been largely dormant as the district’s public schools have involuted and learning has not expanded. The principal institutions and the infrastructure of city are worn and beaten. Many professionals and clergy live outside the city gates with diminishing social attachments, but heavy use of the municipal utilities and infrastructures. Our state and local governments are suffering from low revenues, budget pressures, and lofty expectations. The private schools and the public University have demonstrated some progress. The city’s social progress is slowly emerging with the constraints cited.

Mrs. Barrett generally has good political instincts and is capable. However, she is not much help in social development and public safety. Her sponsorship of civic projects is steady, but her grasp of social reality in the city is wanting.


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Another Barbour insider

Henry and Austin Barbour are following in the political and lobbyist profession of their uncle, Haley Reeves Barbour, former Mississippi Governor and Washington, DC insider. The nephews have worked in campaigns and central committees at the state and national level. Henry was covered in a January 12, 2011 New York Times article titled “In R.N.C. Battle, the Other Barbour Steps Out” as a national party leader in his role in unseating Michael Steele of Maryland, the former Republican National Committee chairman. The national central committee replaced Steel at its next meeting.

Austin F. Barbour was photographed with Romney campaign senior advisors yesterday in Burlington, Mass. where the candidate was rehearsing for tonight’s presidential debate. See <a href=”http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22572443&amp;nid=1164″ title=”Austin Barbour photo” target=”_blank”></a>

The younger Barbour’s role is not known in the earlier presidential debate or in the town hall style contest this evening. Earlier this year his Romney Campaign position was styled ‘Finance Chairman’.

The majority of Washington lobbyist firms and their functionaries are betting and giving to the Romney campaign.  See http://firststreetresearch.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/first-street-research-group-gop-report-v2.pdf

The national elevation of the Barbour nephews in presidential politics is happening in the midst of historical increases in presidential campaign cash and donation secrecy.