“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men…
For ye see your calling brethren
How that not many wise men after the flesh
Not may mighty, not many noble
I Cor. 1:25-26
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon
And the Pharisees also who were covetous
Heard all these things and they derided him”
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
Matt 6: 19-20
“For I say unto you that except your righteousness
Shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes
And Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter
Into the kingdom of heaven.”
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men
To be seen of them
Otherwise ye have no reward
Of your Father which is in heaven”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit
For theirs is the kingdom of God”
In our capitalistic society the rich own most of the land, income, and wealth -upwards of 80 percent. They only want more. Where do the followers of Jesus come down on the issues of justice and fairness in America? Good question. Paul confirms in his day ‘Not many mighty, wise, or noble are called to the kingdom of God’. The salt of the earth people fill the pews in American congregations. Most followers of Jesus are not masters, but servants. Many are called to the kingdom of God and are near the truth. The powerful are certainly attracted to the mercy of the Gospel yet they cannot get to the point of repentance and trust. Our culture allows glutton and mammon to rule our society. St. Peter and the Jerusalem leaders warn about the wearing of gold and the neglect of the poor as the gospel is carried to the Gentiles. The message of Jesus is a powerful political and social herald to the humble. When Jesus gave his first sermon in Nazareth he chose the 61st chapter of Isaiah,
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek…”
The Feast of St Benedict is a good time to reflect on the care of the body and the union with Christ. Benedict escaped the village, the university, and Rome in order to be devoted to the inner life and union with the Lord. He accepted some food from the mountain villagers and slowly warmed up to the social life and his fellow man. This beloved of God had the benefit of an excellent education, but had much social pressure coming from a patrician Roman family. In the ravine he was the master of his social life. Benedict concentrated on the knowledge of the physical, the natural, and the bodily world as he matured as a Christian in the Italian ravine. He knew the limits of bodily life and the value of nourishment. He was akin to John the Baptist in that he too sought the wilderness and a bare subsistence as he turned his complete attention to the spiritual union with the Lord. Benedict had the Holy Spirit to guide him in his solitary life.
“God …who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit…Always confident knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith not by sight. We are confident…willing rather to be absent form the body and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour that whether present or absent we may be accepted of him.”
2 Corinthians 5:5-9 KJV
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.
Friends of Harvey Johnson Political Committee ‘Report of Receipts and Disbursements
May 26, 2009 Pre-Election Report
This period (April 26-May 23, 2009)
Contributions $157,190 Year-to date $261,164
Disbursements $158,486 Year-to-Date $224,425
Total amount of cash on hand $42,184
George Schimmel 1,000 ytd 2,250
Richard Schwartz 1,000 2,000
Janet J. Scott of Flora 1,000 1,000
Statewide General Ins 1,000 1,000
Cynthia Stewart of Madison 1,500 1,500
Thelma Terry of Terry 5,000 5,000
Thomas Crouch Oil 1,000 1,000
Walker Group 1,000 1,000
Willie Wilson of University Park, IL Omar Inc 10,000 ytd 24,000
Dr. Jerry Young New Hope MBC 1,000 1,000
Areeb Sadaat Garrett Enterprises 2,000 4,000
E.B Robinson 1,000 1,000
Claude Reese of New Orleans 1,000 2,000
Crymes Pittman 1,000 1,000
Kenneth O’Quinn Capitol Drywall 500 1,000
Northstar Wireless of Port Gibson 1,000 1,000
John Maxey 2,500 2,500
Precious T. Martin 5,000 5,000
Alvin Marley of Chicago 2,000 3,000
M3A Architecture PLLC 1,000 1,000
Robert Lundardini 1,500 2,500
Michael Johnson Developer 5,000 5,000
William Isaacson of Wash DC 5,000 5,000
IMS Engineers 1,000 1,000
Imani Environmental of GA 1,000 1,000
Joel Hudnall of Columbus 2,000 2,000
Rod Hill IMS 2,000 2,000
Hess Engineers of LA 1,000 1,000
Health Assurances 1,000 2,000
Jackie Garner 1,000 1,000
Harvey Freelon of Madison 1,000 1,000
Rodric Donaldson 1,000 1,000
Davis Goss & Williams 500 500
Samuel Agnew of Baton Rouge 1,000 1,000
Airwave 1,000 1,000
Baker Donaldson MS PAC 1,000 1,000
Pamela Banks 1,200 1,200
Carroll Bufkin & Coco PLLC 1,000 1,000
Bernard Charbonnet of New Orleans 4,000 4,000
Thomas Crouch Jr 1,000 1,000
Belhaven Springs 1,000 1,500
Jackson did not make the recent list of most dangerous cities like our neighbors. Yahoo Finance listed Memphis, Little Rock, Birmingham, and Atlanta, respectively, as being the fifth through the eighth most dangerous places in America. See http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-25-most-dangerous-cities-in-america.html
The 930 violent crimes (per 100k population) here in Jackson did not impress anyone. The total violent crimes here were 1620 and our population is 174,170. The insurance rating folk have taken notice though.
We had 72 forcible rapes reported (per 100k) with the national average at 26.8. Jackson had 30 murders (per 100k) which is well above the national average of 5 per 100k. The District of Columbia had 17 per 100k. Miami had 494 robberies compared to our 463 robbery ratio. Our car theft ratio was 836.
Our police force according to the FBI statistics is a total of 728 with 439 officers and 289 civilians.
The Hinds County Election Commission or the courts have split my precinct as a small part of the redistricting that routinely follows the census data. Who would care about that besides the lawmakers, the voter, likely candidates, United States Appeals court judges, United States Department of Justice, the major political parties, and the fourth estate? Its all worked out now though the State authorities did not have the specific details about my precinct. My precinct 16 had been combined with another small precinct (15), but the matter was skipped over or not understood properly by the State.
The map shows a slice of the easternmost part of Hinds County being added to the land mass known as Harper country.
Ms. Connie Cochran explained this all to me today over the phone and emailed the precinct maps that showed North State Street or US Highway 51 as the boundary line between the second and third congressional districts.
I thought the Delta had been losing population so they might put more urban Jackson in rather taking out. Bennie had been my man in Washington for so many years, but now its Gregg Harper. Mr. Harper is an up and coming young Republican who has earned his spurs and will now contend for the sixth most powerful spot in the house conference as secretary.
My polling box location at the Woodland Hills Baptist Church will have to add a few more poll workers and crowd a couple of more tables in the room. It should be interesting on Election Day from the precinct to the national tally.