Ask the mayor or one of the aldermen…

You are sitting in a chair across the desk from the mayor of Vicksburg, or one of the aldermen, and he has just asked “What’s on your mind, today, Mr. Citizen? What have I done right? What have I done wrong? What would you do if you were sitting here in my seat?” Now, it’s your turn. How would you respond? Would you ask about the budget? Taxes? The bond issue? The details of fireman Montgomery’s case? Or something else? Since the mayor and aldermen read Vicksburg Speaks, now is your opportunity. Use a pen name if you like.

Published in: on August 30, 2007 at 8:17 pm  Comments (25)  

Abandoned animals – are we doing our best to save them?

Vicksburg and Warren County have several organizations dedicated to rounding up stray, mistreated or abandoned animals. These include (to the writer’s knowledge) the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society, the Vicksburg Animal Shelter, and Southern Paws Rescue. In addition to the organizations within the borders of our county, there are hundreds of “rescue” groups spread out all across the country, each of which is dedicated to saving the castoffs of some specific breed.

There is no doubt that the members of each of the shelter and rescue groups within our county are dedicated to the well-being of the unfortunate creatures entrusted to their care. But, call it territorial protection, a power struggle, jealousy, stubbornness, or whatever, these groups seldom cooperate with each other, with the result that some animals that may have been adopted to good homes end up being euthanized.

 There has been one post in Vicksburg Speaks regarding the Vicksburg Animal Shelter (City Pound) (Vicksburg’s City Pound – Death Row?) wherein the argument was made that the shelter has no adoption policy, no spay/neuter program, and fails to communicate with local rescue groups. In another unfortunate state of affairs, the Humane Society apparently refuses to cooperate with Southern Paws Rescue in their efforts to locate and transport eligible dogs and cats to good homes and rescue groups across the country. More could be said regarding the failure of communication and cooperation among the local groups, but more accusations would only inflame the situation. The welfare of the animals must be the primary consideration of all of us, and their health and welfare will be best served by mutual respect, communication, and cooperation among all of us who treasure these neglected and abused innocents. 

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 12:11 am  Comments (37)  

The race for District Attorney: your most important vote?

Much has already been written in this blog about the race for DA, but more needs to be said. If you think the safety of you and your family is your number one priority, then you may consider your vote for District Attorney this coming November as the most important vote you will cast. The two candidates, Gil Martin, the incumbent, and Richard “Ricky” Smith, furnished opposing styles and views during the David Day/Larry Gawronski radio show “Live at the Klondyke” broadcast on WVBG 1490 AM Thursday and Friday mornings. If you heard the show, you were treated to a lively discussion about local crimes and punishments. Your voice needs to be heard as well, for only through a thorough discussion of the candidates views, their records, and their plans for approaching the duties of the office can you make an intelligent decision come November.

Is it time to combine our two governments?

It’s been discussed for years: Combine the government of the City of Vicksburg and the Warren County Board of Supervisors into one entity. There is little doubt that there would be a savings to the taxpayers, but many residents of both the county and the city oppose the idea for one reason or another. For two opinions on the merits of a combined government, I refer you to comments in this blog:

Warren Co.: Will residents ever get a tax break?

But what is your opinion? What will be the effect on property taxes, law enforcement, city/county building and zoning codes, governmental structure, etc.? If it’s a good idea, what is the procedure for achieving a combined city/county government?

Published in: on August 24, 2007 at 3:31 pm  Comments (5)  

Warren Co.: Will residents ever get a tax break?

Source: The Vicksburg Post, August 22 & 23, 2007

 

District 4 Supervisor Carl Flanders made it clear during his town-hall style meeting Tuesday night: despite large increases in the amount of property taxes (due to revaluations) paid by homeowners, county tax rates will not be coming down. Why? “Homestead exemptions and breaks approved for industrial improvements” …and breaks approved for area industries… and 4% raises for county employees… have eliminated the possibility. As one attendee at the meeting, Joe Lyons, put it regarding tax breaks for industries, “Me as a common Joe out here, I’m paying for their tax exemption.”

 

Controversy looms in particular for one county budget item, i.e., the amount of money “given” to charities by the Board of Supervisors; requests from charities totals $593,500 for budget year 2008. It is illegal for supervisors to provide money for charitable causes, but the board has in the past obtained approval through legislation to fund charitable causes of their choice. These include United Way, the Main Street Program, the Mississippi National Guard, the Warren County Children’s Shelter, Warren Washington Issaquena Sharkey Community Action Agency, the Firefighter’s Burn Center, American Red Cross, Community Council, Haven House, Keep Vicksburg Beautiful, Boys and Girls Clubs, The Initiative, Central Mississippi Prevention Services, Child Abuse Prevention Center, HIV Services, Inc., We Care  Community Services, Vicksburg Family Development Services, Mississippi Food Services, Triumph Ministries, and Women’s Restoration Services.

 

In order to provide property tax relief for homeowners in Warren County, the Board of Supervisors would have to reduce expenditures. Is that a worthy goal? If so, where should the cuts in expenditures be made?

Published in: on August 24, 2007 at 1:39 am  Comments (6)  

Will Vicksburg get another movie theater?

The closing of the Pemberton Mall theater left our town with… zero theaters. Admittedly, the theater had apparently gotten to the point that some parents were concerned for their kids’ safety, and the theater’s owners were apparently concerned that whatever profit they were making was insufficient to keep it open. Were there other reasons for its closure? Regardless of the cause, we are all faced with a trip to Clinton or Jackson if we want to see a movie. Will a new theater locate in Vicksburg? If so, location will be a prime consideration, with Pemberton Mall probably out of the running. So, where would it be located, and what precautions would be taken to avoid the same problems that closed the other theater? Your comments are requested.

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 3:13 pm  Comments (31)  

Leyens & Beauman and… retaliation – followup

A headline article in the Vicksburg Post (8/21) stated that a final deal is near in fireman James Montgomery’s suit against the city. As you may recall, Montgomery was suspended and demoted by Mayor Laurence Leyens and Alderman Sid Beauman (Alderman Mayfield disagreed) after he wrote a “letter-to-the-editor” (published in the Post) critical of the city administration. The Post article went on to state that “…the public will not be allowed access to any information, including the amount of any monetary damages awarded.”

This suit will cost the city taxpayers some amount of money. Based on the fact that a settlement is being agreed to by the city (implying acknowledgement of guilt), and Montgomery’s lawyer is “very pleased” with the settlement, one would assume that the amount of money to be paid Montgomery is substantial. That said, why can’t the public be allowed to share in the details? Is it that bad? Can the public request the details through the freedom-of-information act? Since the suit was a result of Leyen’s and Beauman’s apparently illegal actions against Montgomery, should they offer to participate in the payment of the settlement? Leyens has said that he wanted the case to just “go away.” But it hasn’t, and the citizens of Vicksburg will likely suffer the consequences of his and Beauman’s actions.

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 2:38 pm  Comments (8)  

Casinos, Vicksburg, and your taxes

Our city leaders are gambling on casino money. The city budget is prepared with the expectancy that the steady flow of dollars from the boats will continue, and they must if we are to continue to maintain the new landscaping, parks, sports arenas, the senior center, etc., etc. Despite the influx of money from casinos and higher property taxes, our mayor has indicated he would support a general tax increase. He has also been quoted as saying that costs of water, gas, and garbage pickup may not be increased this year. However, a Post article stated that replacement of two water tanks at the wastewater treatment facility might result in an increase in the water rate. Another large expenditure, the new $16.9 million bond issue, must also be repaid by taxpayers.

Given the fact that our citizens are already paying higher property taxes and water, gas, and sanitation rates that have soared since this administration took office, one would rather hope that some relief would be considered. Many families are already struggling to pay their utility and grocery bills each month.

Vicksburg would be in deep trouble if we were to lose the casino revenue to which our leaders are addicted. On the state level, there are reports that the casinos are making an effort to influence state congressional leaders, and if they do so, they may be asking for relief themselves. Bobby Moak, chairman of the House gaming committee, has received at least $25,000 from the gamblers. Among the 2007 candidates accepting contributions from the casinos, many will be members of the gaming committee. They are listed here:

 

http://www.afa.net:80/gamblingcontributions.htm

 

As long as the national and local economies do not suffer a significant setback, the citizens of Vicksburg will probably be able to manage the additional costs of living. One would hope, however, that city leaders would establish a “rainy-day” fund that could be used in case things don’t work out as well as expected, and limit themselves to expenditures that are absolutely necessary.

Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 3:17 pm  Comments (13)  

Vicksburg’s new bond issue – where will the $ go?

$16.9 million is the amount of the city’s new bond issue, all to be repaid with interest by the taxpayers of the city. $5 million for replacement of the Washington Street bridge. $7.8 million for streets, including the Oak Street project. $4.1 million for the first phase of the new recreational complex. There are two caveats that bear watching. One, the money spent on the Washington Street bridge will be repaid by the Feds in $1 million annual allocations. Two, if a private group develops the sports complex, the $4.1 million allocated to that project may be spent on the complex – or it could be used to pay down the bond issue, or used for… what? Should the latter circumstance come to fruition, our city government will have at least $5 million, and possibly $9.1 million over the next few years, to either be used to pay down the bond issue or spend at their whim. Which do you think is likely?

Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm  Comments (3)  

Newt Gingrich: third-party candidate for president?

If ever there was an election cycle where a third-party candidate stood a reasonably good chance of being elected, the present one is it. Americans nationwide are extremely dissatisfied with the performance of both congress and the president, with both Democrats and Republicans. Though he has not announced his intentions, Newt Gingrich might enter the presidential race as a Republican… or as an independent? Either way, should he do so, Gingrich, one of the most intelligent and staunchly conservative people in politics, would cause quite a realignment among the ranks of likely voters. He has published a number of short videos on Youtube that reveal his positions on illegal aliens, the war in Iraq, and other issues of consequence to our country. The following is one of them; others may be found on the Youtube site.

 http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=NnaaWzOfICs&sdig=1

Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 8:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Developments in the Tillman case

The operator of the New Orleans Cafe, Timothy Tillman, was arrested last Wednesday morning and served with felony sales of narcotics indictments. It has been reported that following the arrest a search of the trunk of Tillman’s car turned up a number of signs promoting the reelection of District Attorney Gil Martin. You may draw your own conclusions as to their significance.

Published in: on August 11, 2007 at 12:30 am  Comments (15)  

The United States of America: Twilight Time

Our country faces more serious problems now than at any other time in its history – and that includes the world wars, the war on the South, differences over civil rights, and any other challenge to our republic that you can list – with the possible exception of the War for Independence. Here’s a partial list:

 

1.                            Our illegal Federal Reserve and its cohort-in-crime, the central banks, have printed fiat (by government edict) dollars without end, causing chronic inflation – and possibly explosive inflation.

2.                            Our congressmen have acted in their own self-interest and in the interests of their donors or their political parties rather than in the interests of the American people, with the result that we have lost constitutional government. They are addicted to spending money we don’t have; each year our current accounts balance gets worse and worse, and the amount of foreign-held government debt continues to skyrocket – that amount of money is now by far the highest ever in the history of any country.

3.                            A socialist/welfare state has been created that is expanded without end, leading to widespread demand for more handouts, a loss of work ethic, and a “baby-boom” among the least-desirable group of citizens, further perpetuating the “I’m a victim” mentality.

4.                            The war on drugs has caused a tremendous increase in the crime rate.

5.                            The war in Iraq drains us daily of dollars and lives, and aggravates the challenges associated with terrorism.

6.                            Our executive leaders have demonstrated no capability to lead, preferring instead to look out for their own and their friends/donors’ interests.

7.                            The education system is a mess; the fastest growing demographic group in our country is the least educated. And these people vote.

8.                            The efforts of congress and the executive branch to make America a bilingual/bicultural country, to in effect establish a doctrine of “victimology,” and to refuse to enforce immigration laws are sowing the seeds for disaster.

9.                            NAFTA and efforts to implement the North American Union (NAU) could be the next step toward the final dissolution of the United States through the so-called harmonization of our law, our sovereignty with that of Canada and Mexico.

10.                        The Social Security system and interest on our debt are our two biggest budget items. Medicare will soon rank alongside them. We are broke.

11.                        Our infrastructure is crumbling. Bridges, roads, buildings are getting older and less reliable; and we’re spending money foolishly elsewhere.

12.                        Our manufacturing base is gone. We cannot produce the goods we need ourselves. We must rely on foreign manufacturers, particularly China.

13.                        Latest evidence of the chronic loss of individual freedoms is the effort by our government to increase its ability to spy on people and private entities.

 

The list could go on and on. But the USA may now be at a crossroads, a “twilight time” where our republic is irreparably damaged or ceases to exist. What can go wrong?

 

1.                              Should the Chinese and others, who hold trillions of US dollars, decide to start selling, the value of the dollar will plummet. The delusion that the US is “the world’s sole superpower,” whose currency is desirable regardless of its excess supply, reflects stupidity, not reality. China and others will dictate US foreign policy, not Mr. Bush – the threat to sell dollars is a chilling scenario. Americans in this case would be hit either with huge tax increases or with large cuts in income security programs. When we went to shop at Wal-Mart, the new prices would make us think we had mistakenly entered Tiffany’s.

2.                              The liquidity crisis and the losses reflected in the stock market and in derivatives, hedge funds, and other huge leveraged funds can cause failure of one or more of the big banks. In that case, our entire financial system will be tested to the extreme.

3.                              Bush could decide to attack Iran. In that case, all bets are off.

 

There are, of course, many other things that can go wrong. The USA has gotten itself into one hell of a fix. We face years ahead when our standard of living will steadily decline. Prepare, as best you can.

In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor, stated, “Democracy is always temporary in nature: it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.

“From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

Published in: on August 10, 2007 at 3:27 pm  Comments (7)  

Trent Lott and the Fairness Doctrine

Conservative radio talk show helped bury the immigration bill; our own Senator Trent Lott was infuriated. After a pummeling by the radio show hosts, he complained that “talk radio is running America.” And he suggested a remedy – bring back the Fairness Doctrine, which would force broadcasters to provide more political balance on the nation’s airwaves. His comments were quickly branded “absurd” by conservative talk show hosts. They made the point that if liberal talk worked, it would be on the air, and point to failure of Air America and other liberal talk shows.

“Unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on a recent Sunday television talk show.

But talk show hosts have found plenty of friends in Washington. Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, said any attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine “ought to be dead on arrival.” “Some Democrats may not like talk radio, but that does not give them the right to use the heavy hand of government to regulate it,” he said

Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas said the Fairness Doctrine would “effectively and dangerously mandate what can and cannot be said.”

Connie Mack of Florida called it “a left-wing idea that only the likes of self-proclaimed communist Hugo Chavez could love. Just as we’ve seen the systematic elimination of a free and independent media in Chavez’s Venezuela, some Democrats in Congress want to impose their own type of `check’ on our free and independent media in the Untied States.”

Unlike the old days when the Fairness Doctrine was deemed necessary, the public now has access to a broad array of choices to get other political views, including the Internet, cable television, satellite radio and newspapers.

Interesting views regarding the debate include those in Worldnetdaily, a Chris Wallace interview, and Maggie’s Notes.

With his stand on the immigration bill and his support for the Fairness Doctrine, Senator Lott has alienated many Mississippi voters. How do you feel about it?

Published in: on August 8, 2007 at 3:15 pm  Comments (4)  

Will the Ameristar Hotel slip into the deep?

A local professional engineer recently wrote a short report (which was copied to us) wherein he describes the possibility that the new Ameristar Casino Hotel, and possibly our old bridge, may fall victim to an “unstable and unexplored deep slope failure.” He goes on to explain that the river front “has been observed to be sliding into the Mississippi River inch by inch over a period of 25 years.” This process is influenced by any rapid drop in river level, for “when the river falls rapidly the hydrostatic head of water in the slope is no longer balanced by lowered water level in the river. The ability of the friction in the soil to resist movement is overcome and the slope moves toward the river until the water pressure is released.” Other factors that could aggravate the slide effect include pile driving or an earthquake originating along the New Madrid fault line, either of which could create “a phenomenon known as liquefaction. It occurs when the water saturated sand foundation is triggered by a relatively minor seismic wave. It causes sudden, dramatic, and total failure where the soil foundation engulfs the structure.”

The short report was given to the city pro bono, and not at their request, but the city has had no comment.

The repair of long fissures along the roadways and parking lots around the casino are there to be seen by anyone, and may be evidence of this “slippery slope.” As far as the casino hotel, however, surely the support piles were driven deep enough that it would survive a catastrophic shift of the slope beneath it. And, hopefully, the eastern concrete pier that supports the old bridge was designed with such sliding effects in mind. The engineer’s report, however, is certainly food for thought.

Published in: on August 6, 2007 at 6:30 pm  Comments (5)  

Election Tuesday is four days away

Next Tuesday, August 7, is the date for primary elections. Local races will include candidates for County Supervisor, Senate, House of Representatives, District Attorney, etc., while state-wide we will make our choices known for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, etc. Many of you have already decided who will get your vote, while others may not have taken the time to acquaint themselves with the candidates’ records and opinions. Which group do you fall in? For those of you who have made your decisions, consider sharing them, along with the reasons why you made that decision. For those who have not, you may want to ask for an opinion from others who read the blog.