The Worst Mayor in America

Meet Jackson, Mississippi's Frank Melton.

Last September, my newspaper reported that on August 26, 2006, Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Frank Melton had taken an entourage of police officers and teenagers (some with criminal records) to a duplex in a poor neighborhood. Stating that the duplex was home to drug dealers, Mayor Melton then directed the odd mix of cops and teenagers to destroy the house with sledgehammers.

Strange as it may seem, none of this surprised us.

This is just our mayor—“Frank,” as the former television executive and ousted director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics insists that everyone call him. Most people, including a doting mainstream media, do.

Even before he was elected mayor, Frank Melton was known around Jackson as a loose cannon with little regard for civil liberties or the U.S. Constitution. He was adept at saying what people want to hear. The African American TV executive from Texas defeated the capital city’s first black mayor in 2005 by absurdly promising to rid the city of crime and “thugs” (clearly referring to the black variety) within 90 days of taking office (yes, we still have crime). Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., the man Melton defeated, was quieter, more methodical, and more focused on issues like development and infrastructure, and balancing the city’s budget. He sat back and allowed a professional police chief do the job of crime fighting—and presided over a steady drop in crime over his eight-year tenure.

In his campaign, Melton claimed that Johnson's administration doctored the crime statistics, but offered little in the way of evidence. It didn’t matter. Melton won the Democratic primary with 63 percent of the vote.

Since he came to Jackson from Tyler, Texas, to run WLBT-TV in 1984—leaving his wife and biological children behind—Melton had constructed a persona for himself as a tough-on-crime folk hero. He bought billboards where he plastered mugshots of accused drug dealers. Once a week, he’d end his TV station’s newscast with a “Bottom Line” rant, often focusing his ire on some public official who had challenged his vigilantism and do-it-yourself justice system (Melton, for example, has often allowed young men wanted for serious crimes to turn themselves in to him and stay at his home rather than bring them to the police).

Going all Buford Pusser on an occupied duplex might have been extreme, but it’s par for the course for Mayor Melton, whom no one will ever accuse of lacking for a sense of drama. Among our mayor’s greatest hits:

• He once stopped a school bus on a busy interstate because he “needed a hug” from the kids inside.

• He’s been known to strap weapons to his chest and leg that he has no authority to carry or conceal, then wear them in public.

• He regularly suits up and leads SWAT-style “raids” on homes, businesses, and even roadblocks in busy traffic—without cause or a warrant.

• He has tried to close down the city’s strip clubs for moral reasons, despite no authority to do so.

• He once bulldozed an elderly woman’s house, promising to build her a better one. He then forgot to build it.

• He recruited a team of kids to torch a row of dilapidated shotgun houses, without clearance or first turning off the utilities.

• He keeps a house full of young men, including minors and/or felons, without having the proper foster-parent credentials.

• He once hid two of those young men wanted for armed robbery from the district attorney and county sheriff, driving away with one of them in his car after deputies stopped them and tried to serve a warrant on the young man (who later assisted with the duplex demolition).

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  • ||

    Damn, there goes my planned vacation to Jackson, MI for the 4/20 holiday...

  • ||

    Umm, every link from this article was a 404 error. Could an admin look into this? Thanks!

  • ||

    Taktix -- the vacation is safe. You'll be at least 700 miles away in Jackson, Michigan.

  • ||

    Donna -- welcome aboard. Loved you in Charlie's Angels.

  • SIV||

    Taktix,


    Did you miss the part about no drug dealing arrests by the city police for all of 2006?

    I almost can't believe that statement unless the Hinds County sheriffs or the state does all the drug enforcement.

    Jackson MS is a neat place to visit though.

  • Moo Cow||

    Interesting article, but the links are all messed up. Would like to read more. Can ya fix em?

  • Paul||

    Oddly enough, under Melton's leadership the Jackson Police Department didn't arrest a single person for selling drugs in 2006. So while Melton basks in the glory of his own extra-legal vigilantism, he really isn't doing much to fight the drug war by legal means

    Oh, this is an easy one.

    "But for Mayor Melton's activities, drug dealing and use would be through the roof."

    But seriously, is it just me, or does anyone get the idea that at some point, Mr. Melton will be driving through the streets of Jackson in a "technical" with a small gang of...armed youths riding in the back?

  • ||

    Sorry...

    Jackson, Miss.

    Is that better? I knew I should have never deviated from AP style, no matter how arbitrary it is...

  • ||

    This is the type of mayor that they try to make TV dramas about.

  • ||

    Donna, I'd stay out of Jackson, if I were you.

    Looks like the mayor has organized the criminal element and his mansion is the headquarters.
    I wonder how long before he dresses them in brownshirts?

  • Dave Weigel||

    Sorry, there was an HTML error that turned all the links into junk code. Fixed now.

  • rho||

    FWIW, Donna Ladd is the editor of a left-leaning news-weekly in Jackson. Her criticisms of Mayor Melton aren't without merit, but her characterization of Harvey Johnson lacks, shall we say, context.

    Harvey Johnson's administration was characterized as the guy who brought state and federal government money into the city to build stuff. (Such as a multi-modal train/bus station that is very fancy and practically empty and unused. Buses rarely have more than a half-dozen passengers.) Crime was a serious problem, to the extent that downtown Jackson becomes a ghost town at night. Without the state and city government offices, and the small businesses that cater to them, downtown would be deserted during the day, too. Taxes are high, services desultory, and businesses and the middle-class fled to the suburbs.

    I say none of this to defend Mayor Melton. I only want to explain that the problems in Jackson run a lot deeper than who sits in City Hall. As absurd and dangerous as Mayor Melton is, at least when he leaves office there won't be too many unaffordable new boondoggles or bonds to service.

  • ||

    This is the type of mayor that they try to make TV dramas about.

    Yeah, "The Shield" meets "Mien Kampf"

  • Guy Montag||

    Oddly enough, under Melton's leadership the Jackson Police Department didn't arrest a single person for selling drugs in 2006.

    So, is the reason staff moving there to vote? Sounds like the perfect guy for Mr. Balko to endorse!

    I am not far behind, but I need to know more about the police attitude toward reasonable vehicle speed, no matter the posted speed.

  • SIV||

    rho,

    to the extent that downtown Jackson becomes a ghost town at night

    Upside: No problem getting a free parking space!

  • ||

    "the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the basement underneath it-a pool where Melton has for years brought boys from the inner city to teach them to swim."

    Hmm.

  • SIV||

    Guy,

    The streets of downtown Jackson are one big expedient speed bump.I find the decrepit "preservation" of neglect and decay to be charming.Jackson has wonderful deco/modernist architecture they forgot to tear down in the 1970s.

  • teh||

    I feel a lot less ashamed about the fact that my county elects Joe Arpaio after reading that. Wow.

  • ||

    But seriously, is it just me, or does anyone get the idea that at some point, Mr. Melton will be driving through the streets of Jackson in a "technical" with a small gang of...armed youths riding in the back?

    Sounds like that's pretty much what he's doing now. Holy crap.

    Sounds like a mash-up of Marion Barry and Robert Mugabe.

  • JBinMO||

    Who run bartertown?

  • ||

    That's pretty fucked up right there.

  • smoker with no kids||

    If the people of that city are gonna put someone like this guy in charge, the state should revoke its charter.

  • ||

    (Melton's bed)room was exactly the same size as the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the basement underneath it



    Is this right? That would mean his bedroom is over 11,000 square feet! How big is his house?!

    It's stuff like this that makes it hard for me to determine the difference between facts and literary embellishment.

  • smoker with no kids||

    Is there a current Mrs Melton or is it just him and a bunch of young men and boys?

  • Donna Ladd||

    This has to be my favorite comment ever about one of my pieces:

    Donna -- welcome aboard. Loved you in Charlie's Angels.

    I SO wanted to be a Charlie's Angel. People still get confused and called me Cheryl. I don't mind.

    A couple factual clarifications: My ride-alongs with Melton were in April 2006. As for drug arrests, the city did not REPORT a single drug-distribution arrest in 2006; I can't say absolutely for certain that they didn't make any. I've been told that any drug-sales arrests that were made last year were in conjunction with other agencies.

    As for the pool, it is a big-ass pool and a huge bedroom/office/meeting space. Melton calls the pool Olympic-sized, and it is the exact size of his bedroom above. I haven't measured it myself, though.

    Melton's wife, Dr. Ellen Melton, is a pediatrician in Tyler, Texas, where she lives. His two biological children grew up there.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Oh, and the postal abbreviation for Mississippi is MS. Don't feel bad: Everybody screws it up.

    Let me know if anyone has other factual questions.

  • ||

    Melton invited me into his bedroom as he finished preparing for the raid. This room was huge ... exactly the same size as the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the basement underneath it-a pool where Melton has for years brought boys from the inner city to teach them to swim.

    Um, are any of these inner city boys ever seen again? Or do they end up in the lime pit that's underneath the bathroom?

  • ||

    Melton invited me into his bedroom as he finished preparing for the raid. This room was huge ... exactly the same size as the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the basement underneath it-a pool where Melton has for years brought boys from the inner city to teach them to swim.

    Now THAT sounds like a line from a crime novel.

  • ||

    ... or from "Silence of the Lambs"

  • SIV||

    Oh, and the postal abbreviation for Mississippi is MS. Don't feel bad: Everybody screws it up.

    Donna,

    Not everyone. See my 3:57 comment.
    Jackson is a great town despite the Mayor.

  • Steve Verdon||

    The thing with the boys is...more than a bit creepy.

    Let me see, most olympic sized pools are 50 meters by 25 years...or one huge room once you factor in the pool deck, like say 16,000 square feet. Was it so big you had trouble seeing the bed?

  • Steve Verdon||

    25 years

    Sorry, that should read 25 yards.

  • ||

    Dear Jackson Resident,

    OK, You probably won't get a saint or a genuine hero to be your mayor. Shoouln't you at least demand an adult?

    Just Asking,
    J sub D

  • duster||

    Worst mayor in America? That's saying a lot.

    If there had actually been no arrests for drug-dealing in his city in 2006, that would make him the best mayor in the country.

    We know that can't be true. If it were, Jackson would have a lot less crime.

  • LC||

    "Donna, I'd stay out of Jackson, if I were you."

    We'll protect her.

    Great article Donna.

  • ||

    I was going to make a joke about how this could only happen because Sharpe James didn't run for re-election, but even he'd have to concede this title.

  • ||

    At this point asking Donna Ladd to write yet another story about Frank Melton is akin to asking Bob Novak to write one more about Plame and Wilson. In both cases one should seriously question the writer's perspective but, more importantly, the need.

  • ||

    This guy's life would make an excellent TV show, sort of half way between a Crime Drama and a Sitcom, where you are never sure one way or the other.

  • TheZeroMan||

    This is why I ignore the "violence never solved anything" dweebs.

    A bullet to this guy's head would end most of the BS instantly.

  • Matt Moore||

    I think the problem here is that the Mayor, like many people, refers to any pool that's 25 yards long and has more than 2 lanes as "Olympic sized."

    Like Steve says above, a truly Olympic sized pool is frikin' huge, and I don't think even John Edwards has one indoors.

  • ||

    If there had actually been no arrests for drug-dealing in his city in 2006, that would make him the best mayor in the country.

    No drug arrests vs. basically a junta in the U.S.? Yeah, I don't think it's worth it so much.

    I hear they don't "arrest" a lot of people in North Korea, either...

  • ||

    "Donna, I'd stay out of Jackson, if I were you."

    No worries, she probably does. Jackson may be fucked up beyond redemption (bring on the 'dozers!), but those with a modicum of self-respect live and work in the suburbs, like Flowood, Pearl, Brandon, Madison...

    ...curious what joe has to say about it.

  • ||

    And, Donna, what's your take on the E-city thing?

  • ||

    This is an excellent cautionary tale for those who believe the Constitutional limits on the powers on an individual executive are too restrictive.

    And- that pool-in-the-basement thing; this guy must have a truly vast (homemade) gay porn library.

  • robc||

    Let me know if anyone has other factual questions.

    Why didnt you shoot that fucker in the head during your ride along?

  • robc||

    Saw ZeroMan's post after I sent mine. Great minds yadda yadda.

  • ||

    What quite a few of you don't understand is that Jackson was a great place. For those of us that grew up here and still live here, we want it to return to some sort of semblance of normalcy but little melton is doing his best to ruin our city - not his but ours. He is not from here, hell he had to come from TX in order to find somewhere he felt "wanted". Sadly, some people in Jackson gave it to him. The problem is that some people have raised him to the status of "Folk Hero" without questioning any of his motives and that allowed him to get where he is today.

    The Jackson Free Press has done an exceptional job and I applaud Ms. Ladd and her staff for going through some of the crap they have in order to report the truth - which for some reason everyone hears and goes "Wow wacky crime drama on TV - this can't be true!?!" But folks, it is.

    Regarding Harvey Johnson - he might have been a quite man and appeared ineffectual - but he got a lot stuff rolling, like the Farish Street District, the King Edward Hotel, the bus/train station, crime was down because he let the police chief do his job as opposed to trying to play cow-boys and indians (or in Melton's case - mentors and thugs). In all Mr. Johnson ran the city like a manager and got things done but he apparently wasn't in your face enough for people so they thought he wasn't doing a good job. Since melton is so in your face people thought he would do a great job and he made promises that he couldn't, hasn't and never could have kept.

    Regarding why Downtown is appears to be like a ghost town on the weekends or nights - it has nothing to do with crime. Like most downtowns across American where there isn't a big residential population, there just isn't anything to do there on the weekends unless you want to go cruise law offices. Occasionally we walk our dogs downtown or go to Hal and Mals or something - we and everyone I know feel safe. That isn't where the crime is happening.

    Point is, Jackson was a great city - I grew up here and then moved to NYC and SF - but you know what? I moved back. The people here are wonderful, the area was great and I love my city. Sadly over the past two years Melton has done more to damage the city than a bull in a china shop. So until you visit and live here and until you experience Melton for yourself - don't criticize us and tell us to leave - we just want our city back, damnit.

  • Donna Ladd||

    The bed is tiny in the bedroom-and was never made up when I was in there. It also has a red phone on the bed table, which he says rings when there is a murder (which is more often of late). On one visit, Melton, the chief, assistant chief and I sat at the table at one end and talked, while one of his bodyguards chased his dog Abby back and forth, up and down the room for exercise. (I assume the bodyguard was being paid overtime at that point, but can't say for sure.) I think Melton gave me the exact dimensions of both the bedroom and the pool, but I'll have to comb old notes for it, which I don't have time to do right now.

    I've also reported that his guns lay casually on the dresser in his bedroom, and his gun holster hung on a coat rack there. He says he locks his bedroom, but young people seem to come in and out at will.

    I live in the city and love it. I'm not the suburban type, and I've lived in more crime-prone places than Jackson (like the Lower East Side of the 1980s). And I should add that, despite Melton's antics, there are many, many positive things going on in Jackson, including a vital downtown Renaissance with development money from heroes like Deuce McAllister.

    And don't assume that Jackson is wholeheartedly behind Melton at this point. He worked for years establishing himself as a folk hero with no real media coverage, and people bought it. He is *very* personable and easily draws people in by his charm. Some of us have force fields, though. I enjoyed time in his presence, but I'm also not charmed into excusing his actions. I do have compassion for him, though, and believe he needs help. He also has quite the knack at saying what different groups want to hear, even if it's dramatically different, and the media coverage in the past of him was so bad that most people didn't know how different his message was to white Republicans and black rap artists.

    Judge past support of Melton here as you will. But it is a different time now (and a different media climate ... finally). We happen not to have a recall law in the state, so really the only way to remove him from office is by felony conviction. The feds may or may not bring that to fruition, but the investigation seems to be very real. (There was an attempt by the Jackson police to get the FBI to investigate him and others years ago, but that failed ... and the FBI agent resigned and went to work with him at a local TV station. But that's another whole story.)

    This has been, and is, a vital story here in Jackson-not only about Melton's actions, but about an electorate that so easily bought his promises. My goal is not to judge that, but to use real and specific reporting to get people to question empty promises in the future and realize that fighting crime and drug problems isn't about electing a self-proclaimed drug warrior who picks and chooses which drug dealers to target and which ones to befriend and make part of his posse. To me, it is the most cynical "drug war" rhetoric I've ever seen.

    I don't know if he's the "worst mayor in America"-that's Reason's phrase-but he certainly is competing for the title.

    Thanks for all the comments.

    - Cheryl

  • ||

    He is not from here, hell he had to come from TX in order to find somewhere he felt "wanted".

    Props to my home state for making this evil scum feel unwanted.

    He says he locks his bedroom, but young people seem to come in and out at will.

    Cue boom-chukka-wah-wah soundtrack.

    The bed is tiny in the bedroom

    I bet that's not the only that's tiny in the bedroom.

  • snapshot of reality||

    From the average observer, this lady Donna Ladd has painted a picture of a corrupt mayor running wild in the city of Jackson. but what she failed to write about was these 2 facts:
    1.This man was corrupt way before he was elected mayor of Jackson and the majority of the voters who voted already knew this but voted him in anyway.
    2.Her lack of getting vital information to the people pre-Melton's mayorship via her free press rag(yes, she knew he was corrupt beforehand and failed to warn more potential voters in Jackson), has now created this "Melton must go" attitude.

    When the truth is...Melton should have never been voted mayor in the first place, and she knew this. She only decided to quiz this guy in interviews AFTER the fact on many occassions of his known corruption. Never once probing this guy for information prior to him being elected. Only after he was mayor did she go on her "sweeps & raids" with Melton and his cronies.

    It's almost like an owner of raging pitbull who knows the dog will bite, but waits until the dog bites somebody before he will warn people walking by. same logic here.

    Ask Donna who she voted for and I'm willing to bet it was Frank Melton.

    And although this article was well written, it reeks of liberal spin and irresponsibility in journalism.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "So until you visit and live here and until you experience Melton for yourself - don't criticize us and tell us to leave - we just want our city back, damnit."

    ..tsk..tsk. the cries of a once Melton supporter now grimacing at the ucler you've created for the city of Jackson. thanks a lot!

  • ||

    lol

    Snapshot - why so bitter?

    And to answer your statement (not question) I never have been a melton supporter. I supported the incumbent mayor. I knew melton was crazy at cat shit way before hand. As did Ms. Ladd.

    But... I know there always has to be that one person that wants to rile the nerves of everyone. I cheer you for taking the lead on that - Bravo!!

  • Donna Ladd||

    Snapshot, I don't know where you're getting your information, but your post is very amusing for anyone who has followed the Melton saga over the last two and a half years. My paper is five years old; we started it a year after I returned home to Mississippi in 2001. Having been gone for 18 years, I knew very little about Melton, except that people would say he was some kind of folk hero/activist. When the mayoral election campaign rolled around in January 2005, I did what we do to get started on campaign coverage and called his campaign person to arrange a sitdown interview with him. I soon found out that she was his sister-in-law from Texas, and Melton proceeded to run from a real interview with me for 14 months. From that day forward, I (later joined by reporter Adam Lynch) did critical (meaning substantive) coverage of him and his record. I dived into archives. I did lots of background work. We developed sources. And we quickly figured out that Melton was not right to be mayor, to put it mildly.

    (See links down the right side of our Melton blog for examples:

    Also I point you to this endorsed the incumbent in the Democratic primary, and then we endorsed and I personally voted for Melton's Republican opponent, Rick Whitlow, in the General. We ran every story and column we could in order to help reverse years of adoring media coverage before the election. It didn't work. Then.

    My conscience is clear.

  • Guy Montag||

    Donna,

    Let me know if anyone has other factual questions.

    What about speeding tickets? Can I drive my 1972 hybrid Dodge Charger as fast as I think is safe through town without a ticket?

    Will be glad to give you a ride in it when I am finished restoring!

  • Laurel||

    I disagree about the new train station in downtown Jackson, it's beautiful and it DOES get used, I've been there myself.

  • snapshot of reality||

    I'm no more bitter than you are SBH. I too voted for the incumbent, and went a step further and convinced a great number of
    would-be voters to do the same.

    and maybe "shooting him in the head" is more nerve-rattling than my comments don't you think?

    I don't deserve your rally call. somebody else up there is lobbying for that.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Argh. I screwed up those links in my last post. I meant:

    Read the column I wrote about Melton and the profile of Melton I wrote before the primary. Here's my most recent column about him, written a couple weeks ago. It has some more details about the ride-alongs.

    Sorry for links snafu. We do them different on our site.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "Snapshot, I don't know where you're getting your information, but your post is very amusing for anyone who has followed the Melton saga over the last two and a half years. My paper is five years old; we started it a year after I returned home to Mississippi in 2001. Having been gone for 18 years, I knew very little about Melton,..."

    With all due respect, I find that VERY HARD to believe. Even the most unknowing traveller to Jackson gets the "411" on Frank Melton. He's the most recognized pariah in the city. And he's been here since the early 80's. how could you not know or "see" how corrupt this man is or capable of being? I'm not a political analyst, but I know a lame duck when I see or hear one quack.

  • Donna Ladd||

    It's simple: I wasn't following Jackson city politics when I lived out of the state. But as soon as I started following/covering him, I saw and started reporting the problems with him, when no other media would and have steadily since them, as other media have joined us. Perhaps you might go back and read our coverage before making false statements about, say, how I voted. Then we could start on the same page and have a good conversation about it. I have no reason to mislead you or anyone; the evidence of what we've done/said has been right there on our Web site for years now. And we were willing to be critical of him when it was not popular to do.

    Melton has indeed been in the city since the 1980s, but he was not treated at all like a "pariah." My research of all the media archives show that he was long treated as a folk hero by an adoring media that did not give people the information they needed to make informed decisions about him-and, indeed, enthusiastically endorsed him.

    (The daily newspaper was even wound up in a lawsuit with him because they published a damning memo about narcotics agents that he had leaked to them that turned out to be false. At the time of their endorsement of him, he was lying under oath to a judge, saying he hadn't leaked the document. They endorsed him anyway, even as they had pointedly omitted news of their role in that lawsuit throughout the campaign. We broke that story locally as well.)

    I'm choosing not to be judgmental about Jacksonians' refusal to see the real Melton, but I am regularly urging people not to simply blame him for this mess. Jackson residents need to recognize the role many of them played in making such a person a "folk hero" for the very basic reason that it does not need to happen again. The truth is, the city elected a man with a track record of such shenanigans.

    When he says the city got what they elected, he's not wrong.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "It's simple: I wasn't following Jackson city politics when I lived out of the state. But as soon as I started following/covering him, I saw and started reporting the problems with him, when no other media would and have steadily since them, as other media have joined us."

    I see. but as an apprentice to an editor, I'm currently doing my research on Charlotte,NC before I move there from Jackson. so if you didn't know about Melton, you should have. so I give you the benefit of the doubt of not knowing.

    Secondly, I didn't mean to lump you in with the rest of the jaded Melton supporters, but your article is similar to "beating a dead horse" with a gracious amount of liberalism mixed in, in my opinion. no offense if you are a liberal, I just picked up on it from reading. don't ask me how. I haven't been to your website but if it's "liberal based", I'm probably not interested but I will give it a look see from your links posted above.

    "Melton has indeed been in the city since the 1980s, but he was not treated at all like a "pariah."

    Now here, I don't know where YOU were getting your information, probably some Melton supporters, but the majority of clear thinkers in this city have always viewed Mr. Melton as a hot-headed control freak(see- the Bottom Line rants on WLBT archives). And now that he is Mayor, "others" are finally waking up to his real persona.

  • ||

    While Melton has been a major let down he by no means is responsible for all of Jackson's problems. The former mayor Harvey Johnson created a lot of the current problems and mayor before him can be blamed also.
    It's funny Ms. Ladd says Melton had to come to MS to feel loved. Although she is from MS she moved away from here for many years. She has no clue about the state as a whole and does not know as much about Jackson as she thinks she does.
    Melton has made some really screwed up choices, but he is by no means evil. He is power hungry and has no idea how the financially run a city, but he did have some good ideas when elected. Problem is he has no idea how to enact any of his ideas.
    As for Jackson itself. It was once a great city and can be again. It does have theater, opera, ballet, and many other forms of arts just like other cities it size. This is a lot of crime, but it didn't just start with the current mayor. With that said the crime rate is about the same as other cities it's size or maybe a little higher in some areas.
    The areas surrounding Jackson or vibrant and growing with housing, retail, and commerical development. Some of the people living in the burbs would like to move back to Jackson and help bring the city back. It's just that the city has to become more welcoming to them and others that may be moving in from outside the area.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "As for Jackson itself. It was once a great city..."

    Pre-Danks era.

    It's been decades since Jackson lost it's luster. this city won't walk upright again until the people stop following sorry Mayors out to pasture just because they are black or empathize with the poor communities.

  • Jason||

    Jackson folks want to moan and groan about crime but when you get a mayor who wants to get control of it, hands-on, all you do is complain. Either learn to live in the crime infested shithole of Jackson or get the hell out of the way and let somebody clean it up.

  • ||

    Melton has made some really screwed up choices, but he is by no means evil. He is power hungry and has no idea how the financially run a city,

    If power-hungry and incompetent doesn't add up to evil, what does?

  • Donna Ladd||

    cmd, I didn't say that "Melton had to come to MS to feel loved." I don't know that to be true, and I don't feel the need to guess at his motives. Perhaps someone else said that. Even if I were to guess at his motives, which I'm not going to do, I wouldn't pick that one.

    Jason, the mayor has done nothing to "clean up" crime in Jackson. And even if he were trying to "clean up" crime, I'm too libertarian-leaning to believe that he gets to do that by any means necessary, damn the Constitution.

    snapshot, I sure do wish that "majority" of thinkers who considered Melton a "pariah" had turned out to vote two years ago. Instead, he was elected by a rainbow coalition ranging from white Republicans to black Democrats, and all points in between, who believed the hype. Y'all speak up a little louder next time; we needed you then.

    As for all the efforts to tuck me into some stereotypical little political box, this is the way I described myself on my own Web site earlier:

    "I'm a libertarian-leaning progressive who supported Clinton's impeachment, am not a Democrat or a Republican, and believe that government should be as small as possible without sacrificing our moral obligation to help those in need."

    What any of that has to do with Frank Melton's methods-which an alliance of people with many different political allegiances is questioning here in Jackson-is beyond me. If I was what you're trying to paint me, wouldn't I be supporting Frank Melton no matter what because he's a black Democrat?

    I don't do blind partisanship, regardless of the party or ideology.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "snapshot, I sure do wish that "majority" of thinkers who considered Melton a "pariah" had turned out to vote two years ago. Instead, he was elected by a rainbow coalition ranging from white Republicans to black Democrats, and all points in between, who believed the hype. Y'all speak up a little louder next time; we needed you then."

    As do I. and I think they did(speak up). but I can only speak for the ones I actually drove to the polls, despite some having angst against voting at all..

    I've come to the realization that most, if not all, voters in Jackson enjoy going along with the concensus, even if it means their ruin in return. It's like a deer in headlights syndrome. most don't know what hit them until it's too late. and most don't care as long as their boat isn't rocked. then you have those that think voting doesn't work at all... the fat of the land so-to-speak.

  • ||

    To bad jessie and al don't have the integrity to go after a black man. Lets face it, if the mayor was white we would never hear the end of it. Lets just worry about the jenna 6, all they did was a 6 on 1 beatdown of a white guy and naacp gets their panties in a wad because of harsh sentences. Where are all the racial crybabies?

  • snapshot of reality||

    for some strange reason, this last comment by "bob" reminds me of the white lady who drowned her 5 sons in cold blood and got a slap on the wirst and deemed "insane" to keep her from feeling the sting of the death penalty that so many blacks have felt in the past, in Texas. speaking of justice?

  • Kingfish||

    As someone who frequently disagrees with Ms. Ladd and publicly criticizes her positions at times, I must say that is column written by her is dead on the money.

    Melton is a joke of a mayor and has no respect for principles dear to Libertarians.

    When he first took office, he immediately moved to shut down the broadcasting of the weekly City Council meetings on the public access channel, even though it had been a regular feature for years. He then stopped releasing all crime statistics to the public. Only the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the media caused the release of some crime statistics. When it was noted that crime had increased under his watch, he said that the previous administration had intentionally misreported the crime statistics. Unfortunately, such a response is all too often his modus operandi. Whenever challenged, he will state that his opponent on that issue is corrupt. When damaging facts are pointed out to him, he usually says that the previous administration was understating the problem. Be that as it may, he has repeatedly tried to reduce the public's access to its government.

    Ms. Ladd was correct in her reporting of his dealings with juveniles. What is sad is that more and more of these teen-agers get into WORSE trouble AFTER they become associated with him. See her reporting on Michael Taylor. Since he moved in with Melton, he has graduated to arrests for armed robbery, then later carjacking and extortion. Then there was a star football player that was busted for drugs. Melton intervened and took him under his wing. He is now being prosecuted for bringing a gun to school in the last year. Then there was another who stole a car, and so on. What is sad is the list keeps growing.

    However, Melton does not stop with juvenile delinquents. He has moved on to abusing private business owners. For some reason he has gotten worked up over A-1 Pallets, a pallet recycling company. It employes forty people and pays taxes. It is in a blighted area of town. For some reason Melton is trying to tear it down, calling it an embarrassment. He hasn't really said what will replace it, he just calls it a nuisance with no proof and says he will ignore the city council and the laws on the books and tear it down anyway. So much for property rights.

    Next is Second Amendment rights. Like many incompetent politicians, Melton took office (spouting conservative rhetoric by the way) and tried to ban gun shows in direction violation of state law. This is usually done by politicians who ignore the fact that gun shows follow the same federal laws as regular gun dealers. Its usually done by a grandstanding politician who wants an easy headline without actually doing something about crime.

    So we have public access to government, gun rights, private property rights. What is next? Oh yes, search and seizure.

    Upon taking office, Melton immediately started going out on raids with the police. He kept the police mobile command center at his house, often taking his young wards out on the streets with him at night in the MCC. He carried guns and personally used dogs in roadblocks and searches. He has not been trained in the use of dogs nor firearms. He has not completed a certified law enforcement training program in Mississippi. He claimed as Mayor he was chief law enforcement officer and claimed not to need such certification.

    Not stopping there, Melton has systematically destroyed the rest of hte police department. He appointed a chief who had no experience as a chief or assistant police chief in any jurisdiction. The number of police officers has dropped to 410. Crime has skyrocketed. He brought in a former police chief as a consultant who was forced out by the previous administration for misconduct. The consultant is the father in law of his bodyguard, who he just promoted to assistant police chief, even though he is not qualified to be a police officer with rank. When the veteran officers complain, he threatens to replace them with recruits currently in training .

    One must ask how he was elected. Ms. Ladd's paper had provided very thorough coverage on Melton for the last few years. Sadly enough, the main newspaper here, Gannett-owned, did not do so before he was elected. However, one must ask what effect it would have had as Mr. Melton owned a tv station. Do the numbers and determine which one has more effect on voters: a newspaper that has a circulation of 30-50,000 or so or a TV station or reaching hundreds of thousands of people every week where the owner takes a minute at the end of the program every week on the highest rated news program to provide his take on things.

    Having said that, for anyone to accuse Ms. Ladd of covering for Melton or supporting him is either ignorant or a liar. Her newspaper has been one of the few media outlets that have provided consistent, thorough reporting of Melton and his antics. It is hard to believe that a mayor acts like this in a major American city but unfortunately, it is all true.

  • Millsap||

    snapshot, I've sat here and watched you "pine" about this article and I'm sick of it. who cares if Donna knew Frank prior to him being elected, the point is, none of us would know half the stuff we've learned about Frank without her due diligence in fact-finding. it's people like you that give Jackson a bad name. You're probably a "Frank supporter" yourself and just wish to stir the spot. I moved here to Jackson 3 years ago and I too was "unknowing" about Frank myself. but after finding out about the JFP, although I'm far from liberal, I now have a clearer understanding of this man. but I will say, I voted for him out of ignorance. SUE ME!!!!

  • ||

    "Worst Mayor in America?" This guy could move to Phoenix next. He could bookend with the county's "Toughest Sheriff in America," Joe Arpaio, who also qualifies as the worst sheriff in America. Actually, it would be best if they both moved to, say, New Orleans, so when it's swept into the ocean the country would be rid of them both.

  • snapshot of reality||

    Millsap -

    Spare me the "Sue Me" rant, please.

    And not knowing about Frank could be used as a cop-out these days for people who voted him in and now see they've made a terrible mistake. At least you claimed it.

    As for me, I've NEVER voted for somebody without doing a THOROUGH check of their history and background as a politician. so for you to "vote for him out of ignornace", all I have to say to that is...YOUR FAULT. not only did you not research the candidate you voted for, you've effectively helped Jackson take gigantic steps backwards in progress. so please, don't try to put me in your group of "know-nots" because I know better. and to be honest, you should've never voted but instead kept your hanging chad to yourself until you found out the truth or at the very least found out about the candidates..

  • Millsap||

    SCREW YOU!!!!

  • ||

    Joe Arpaio=Best Sheriff in America
    My bet is the only ones that don't like him or criminals that have been in his jail and of course the ACLU.

  • ||

    Kingfish is right. Ladd covered the story. The problem is that her reach is very small and not influential. She wasn't idle but she is ineffective.

  • yugi||

    what's the big deal here? Melton let us down...BIG DEAL...just vote in another one. no need to put him on blast for the nation to see. It makes the state of Mississippi look bad. He's an in-house problem than we have to fix, that's all. so let's "fix him" and move on. I'm sure we can all agree on that point.

  • C.Pressin||

    maybe Ladd can be Mayor...but is Jackson ready for a female commander-in-chief? probably not, but we wasn't ready for mr. melton to ransack our city either..

  • ||

    Being from Jackson, having read the JFP and contributed to their online forum on a number of occasions, having disagreed with some things the JFP says and stands for as well as sometimes agreeing with what the JFP says and stands for, and having seen Melton from afar and up close I can say that not only is Ladd's story factually accurate, it really does not come close to telling the full extent of the insanity of the Melton administration and the chagrin of many Jackson citizens feel.

    I won't go so far as to say the Melton's predecessor was a great mayor as Donna often does, but he certainly was not on the mismanagement lunatic fringe that Melton is.

    And btw, the JFP FREQUENTLY pointed out Melton's questionable past, unethical campaigning, and ridiculous "policy statements" (if one could really call them that) during the primary and prior to the general election. The only reason more citizens didn't take head is because the rage of a statewide paper not only refused to mention these things, printed false reports concerning the incumbent as fed to them by Melton supporters.

  • ||

    Screw the TV Dramas, I want to see a Tarantino movie about this guy!

  • Donna Ladd||

    We do have a great photo of Melton and the b-guards that looks straight out of "Reservoir Dogs." I'll post a link if I can find it.

    "Stuck in the middle with us ... "

    BTW, I have no interest in being mayor, never, ever, never. I prefer keeping on an eye on 'em.

  • ||

    Perhaps the nickname "Papa Doc" would be appropriate.

  • Curly||

    I'm going to ignore all of the civil rights violations that make up the story...

    Mr. Mayor, it's one thing to be tough on crime, it's another to die from multiple gunshot wounds when you, an untrained and unqualified civilian, assume the role and responsibilities of trained police officers. Maybe your antics look good to your voters but you should remember the old saying that "it's better to be seen than viewed". Mr. Mayor, if even part of the story is true, you're going to get yourself and innocent people killed. Let the professionals do their jobs.

    Or, is it possible that the Mayor only kicks-in doors of known non-drug dealers? He likes to look tough while not actually being tough?

    The more I ponder the more I channel Teddy Roosevelt... "Bully"!

    Of course, I then start to wonder how he differs from the average politician...and I recall the Harry Reid Smear Letter... Is this another case of "guess the political party"?

  • kingfish||

    If you want some more info about Melton, here it is:

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/07/meltons-protege-set-free-to-terrorize.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/07/1-pallets-build-it-up-or-tear-it-down.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-1-pallets-eyesore-you-be-judge.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/06/update-on-meltons-new-tool-for-fighting.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/05/hey-frank-why-dont-you-show-some.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/08/melton-no-friggin-clue.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/06/melton-hijacking-mdot-cameras.html

    http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2007/05/you-cant-be-serious-jackson-fire.html

  • ||

    Kingfish is another good writer in Jackson. Ladd isn't the only one though she thinks she is the only good one. Give.us.a.f'ing.break.already.

  • Stewart Vardaman||

    [Me: Jackson born and bred]

    Melton is frankly nuts, but SBH, Jackson is in no way a great city. It isn't just "white flight" anymore. Harvey and his stupid convention center boondoggle alone will cost the city more than Melton's antics.

    I hate to say it, but my hometown has been declining most of my life and it's looking worse every year. The best and the brightest get the hell out, and even the average now move to Madison, etc, if not completely out of state.

    I can't blame them....I live in Denver, which has arguably the Best Mayor in America. I never want to move back to Jackson.

  • Larry||

    Kingfish is a blogger not a journalist and that's useful. Not the same thing though. As for Ladd's 'reach', put 'Frank Melton' in Google and see what the JFP's 'reach' is. And, it sounds from the leaks like the FBI is following the trail her paper has blazed. I'd call that 'reach'.

  • Matt||

    Whoppee! BFD. Google hits don't move voters to swing elections. If Ladd had any pull in Jackson we'd have already installed Harvey Johnson as Mayor-for-Life. Get a clue.

  • ||

    I see Larry.

    Like when Melton tried to get his venue changed citing JFP pre-trial coverage? Then the judge denied the motion finding that nobody reads the free alt.

    Some reach. LMAO.

  • kingfish||

    Larry,

    never said otherwise. No false advertising here. Every post I have is properly sourced to local media when they are quoted or used. TV, Newspaper, even the JFP. I stand by everything written, posted, and cited.

    Ms. Ladd didn't even get around to Melton's penchant for firing qualified agency heads and attempting to replace them with very underqualified people. Example: Head of Parks and Recreation, an agency with a multi-million dollar budget, was very well-respected throughout the city and state. Melton canned him and tried to replace him with a cop that was a former driver of his. No experience or expertise at all. Council rejected his choice. Melton said he would ignore state law and let him continue as the interim head indefinitely. This is usually the norm, not the exception.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "The only reason more citizens didn't take head is because the rage of a statewide paper not only refused to mention these things, printed false reports concerning the incumbent as fed to them by Melton supporters."

    Typical cop-out statement.

    It bewilders me to no end why the so-called educated voters of Jackson aka "the BOURGEOIS" aka the majority, never seem to know thoroughly about the candidates they elect into office. then they wonder why people vacate the city in droves.

  • franklin||

    All I know is he promised us a state-of-the-arts studios but he left us hanging like he never said it. I feel so stupid now for supporting this crazed vigilante.

  • snapshot of reality||

    Kingfish - I got a question for you..

    WHY on earth, if you have all this information on Melton, it's only coming to the light now? everybody don't pick up the JFP..You seem to be hot on Frank's heels and appear to have known him for some time, more than Miss Ladd at least. so why didn't you go to the WAPT, or local access, or fliers in the streets and make sure people knew about this guy and the potential damage he could cause our city?

    to me, your postings on Melton are worthless now.

    How hard is it to place an ad in the Thrifty Nickel that says "Town Hall Meeting" to get people informed?

    I did my part by informing as many as I could over the phone and in person and I pray they voted against this moron. it wasn't enough.

    I can't do it all alone. you media outlets need to step up your information prowess adn stop being so biased in your reporting.

    CL, JFP, etc...all you guys do is backbite on each other, while the fox is in the hen house.

    STOP THAT!

  • pike||

    what we SHOULD do is flog Melton across his buttucks until the cherry red welps of pain register inside his feeble mind. "Nuts" is an understatement for this loon.

  • kingfish||

    good question. Alot of stuff was not reported by the media before he was elected. He had never been a politician before and thus had no real track record. Except for that one perjury case when he was director of the Bureau of Narcotics, there was not much that would tell you he would do all of these things. People relied on his tough talking tv commentary that he gave for over ten years. The JFP reported some things but honestly, I did not read the paper at the time. I've made it a point to become better informed since then and accept that chastizement from you.

  • ||

    snapshot -- "It bewilders me to no end why the so-called educated voters of Jackson aka "the BOURGEOIS" aka the majority, never seem to know thoroughly about the candidates they elect into office. then they wonder why people vacate the city in droves."

    Actually, Melton was elected with an odd combination of voters from the wealthier white northeast section of Jackson and the poorest of central and west Jackson black precincts during the Democratic primary. Keep in mind that the real election was the Democratic primary, which saw large numbers voting in ordinarily Republican dominated precincts. (There was no GOP primary as a result of one candidate "dropping out.")

    Then in the so-called general election, the lone remaining Republican candidate avoided campaign activities like the plague only to hand Melton a victory in one of the lowest turnouts in a technically "competitive" general election.

    Wonder why the Republican didn't campaign?
    Well, he ended up getting a job with Melton's administration....

  • Matt||

    Raggsy makes it sound like it was a close election. It wasn't. Melton won 77 of 95 precincts. He didn't need one single solitary vote from "the wealthier white northeast section" to win. Yeah, Melton duped alot of whites out of their dollars to fund his campaign but he won that election by swamping the incumbent in the black community of this 73% black city. White GOP voters didn't put that lunatic into that office.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Yep, Melton brilliantly used a lot of white Republican dollars to get black Democratic votes. That wasn't the only way he got them, though. I've already mentioned that he is brilliant at saying just what people wanted to hear. Yes, many politicians do that, but not like Melton does. Trust me.

    If you go looking for critical media coverage of Melton pre-mayoral campaign and JFP, you will find very look. I know; I've looked for it. I have very extensive files on just about everything ever written about him in the media. We became critical very soon after he appeared on our radar as a potential public servant. We haven't let off, and won't as long as he is in the position to spend taxpayer money.

    Over the last couple years, since Melton took office, more and more people have gradually joined us on the critical side of the fence, including a number of local bloggers. I think that's great. I should also add that one other media figure, conservative (and black) radio talk show host Kim Wade, was also critical of him back during his campaign. Kim and I don't agree on everything, but we often agree on Melton.

    For the record, the Republican (Rick Whitlow) did not stay with the Melton administration very long. I've seen no evidence that he was part of the inner circle in any way. Quite the contrary, really.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "People relied on his tough talking tv commentary that he gave for over ten years. "

    that's all?..man you are breaking my heart.

    I'm an ordinary person trying to cut my teeth in journalism and if it's one thing I would have discounted melton on is the glaring fact that he has never run a city....period. he has never been on any city's city council(red flag #2)...and his brazen "Sheriff pike" attiude in person and in print would be a enough for me to ring the alram that THIS GUY...is NOT our guy.

    Miss Ladd pointed out that she voted for whitlow...which, I don't understand either...but he was damn sure someone with a LITTLE class about himself at the very least. and I think he would've listened to the city more, to quite honest.

    yes, I voted for harvey, but as his time in office wore on I realized he was not the guy to lead this city either.

    One thing I do get tired of is voting in people just.... because.

    that's old hat.

  • snapshot of reality||

    Rex Raggs - I've read your last comments


    But that still has nothing to do with making sure the citizenry is aware of this guy.

    NO WONDER THE VOTER TURNOUT WAS LOW.


    simple cause and effect.

    Most of the people didn't cared for the cause(Jackson)
    and now we all are suffering the effects(high crime, corruption, backsliding, city in a slump)

    make sense?

    WE GOT TO DO BETTER PEOPLE!!!!!
    GIVE A DAMN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIVES!

  • snapshot of reality||

    "We became critical very soon after he appeared on our radar as a potential public servant. We haven't let off, and won't as long as he is in the position to spend taxpayer money.

    that's good. keep it up. but I think the damamage was done when we allowed this guy into City Hall first place...He has literally "upheaved" a lot of things and got the whole city in an uproar. It will take some years to fix after he's gone. and if I have my way, he WILL be gone if I have to run him out of the city myself.

  • ||

    Matt => "Raggsy makes it sound like it was a close election. It wasn't. Melton won 77 of 95 precincts (one precinct was a tie vote). He didn't need one single solitary vote from 'the wealthier white northeast section to win. Yeah, Melton duped alot of whites out of their dollars to fund his campaign but he won that election by swamping the incumbent in the black community of this 73% black city. White GOP voters didn't put that lunatic into that office."

    Actually, I never said it was close. I never even hinted that.
    Yes, Johnson won only 17 of 95 precincts in the Democratic Primary. Yes, Melton likely would have won if there had been a Republican primary and the Republican precincts stayed out of the Democratic vote. However, to say that white GOP voters did not help elect Melton is at best disingenuous and at worst blatant BS.

    Since you want to argue about statistics, take a look at the precinct votes and you will notice the citywide vote was Melton 62.8%, Johnson 36.5% (a 3rd candidate received only .7%). However, in the northeast precincts typically voting for GOP candidates in the last three election cycles, the vote never fell below 78% for Melton while by comparison the rest of the city's precincts averaged only 56% for Melton. (ftp://www.co.hinds.ms.us/elections/20050503-dem-jackson.zip )

    Could Melton have been elected without the northeast GOP votes (and money)? Yes.

    Would he have received the appearance of a landslide? HARDLY

    Would he have possibly moderated his lunacy without the "mandate" the GOP votes appeared to solidify?

    Who knows?

  • Matt||

    You're too funny Raggsy. Wards 2-7 cast 82% of the total votes in that primary. Melton won over 57% of those votes versus a two-term incumbent Democrat's Democrat with eight years of the mayoral bully pulpit under his belt. You somehow believe the smaller 15% net margin over the "real Democrat" Johnson (without Ward 1) would have given Melton the lunatic pause to go slower and act more cautiously once he got sworn in? You are naive. Haven't you read anything Ladd has written?

    You and the other Johnson apologists need to put down the bottle and sober up long enough to face the cold hard facts of the lives your still living in denial. Johnson lost the election in the black community. The question you need to ask is how. Let me give you a little hint, blaming it on an uninformed black electorate or the Clarion-Ledger or the whites in Ward 1 or low turnout (it wasn't) is not the answer to the question. All that may dovetail nicely into your various conspiracy theories but it still ain't the answer.

  • snapshot of reality||

    I'll be the first to admit I wasted my vote on Harvey Johnson in the past. but eventhough he was a jellyfish, I would prefer his slow-to-pull-the-trigger style over Melton's brazen acts of ignorance and arrogance right about now.

    The point of all this is..Jackson is in dire need of a Mayor that knows how to run a city effectively. PERIOD. Jackson has been without a good mayor for at least 25 years. and that's a damn shame in anybody's eyes.

    We tried to "look outside" of the state for possible leadership for Jackson and all we could come up with is Frank Melton?

    Maybe if Jackson was forced to unicorporate due to ridiculous lawsuits, money mismanagemment, and weak leadership. ...mayabe if the people have to move out into the burbs to survive..maybe..just maybe the people will get a clue.

  • ||

    Matt-- "You and the other Johnson apologists need to put down the bottle and sober up ..."

    Proves you don't even know what you're talking about; such poor assumptions. Read my earlier posts. I am no Johnson apologist, having voted for Anelle Vaughn Smith in the Democratic primary and Rick Whitlow (R) in the general election.

    Further, I never said the Democratic primary was low turnout, I said the general election was one of the lowest turnouts in recent history.

    And I don't drink, btw.

    0-3

  • Peggy T.||

    Rex and Ladd you both do realize that voting for Rick Whitlow helped to insure Melton's victory, right?

    split the votes.

    some people could view that as helping Melton get in.

  • Donna Ladd||

    No, it didn't, Peggy. Melton ran against Whitlow, head to head, in the general election. Melton was the Dem; Whitlow was the Repub. It didn't split any vote.

  • Peggy T.||

    Ladd-

    I was referring to the votes between Harvey and Whitlow.

    Whitlow has no history in politics. He was a sportscaster. He was not going to win regardless. Most just voted for him because he wasn't Harvey. But at least Harvey did what he could when he could. his hands were tied most of the time but the public didn't know how hard he had to fight for the little bit Jackson has now.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Huh, Peggy? Harvey didn't run against Whitlow; he ran against Melton in the Democratic primary. Voting for Whitlow, a Republican in the general election, in no way "split the vote" or "helped to insure Melton's victory." Let me break it down for you:

    Democratic Primary: Frank Melton vs. Harvey Johnson (incumbent) vs. Annelle Smith

    General Election: Democrat Frank Melton vs. Republican Rick Whitlow

    Perhaps you're mixing Whitlow up with Smith? That would make more sense. If one had voted for Smith, you could argue that it helped split the vote in Melton's favor-but certainly that wasn't the deciding factor. A bipartisan, multiracial coalition of voters across Jackson was fooled by Melton. Trying to blame it on one or another party is now foolish (although I do blame the Democratic Party for not rejecting Melton from his ticket when he lied about moving his homestead exemption from Texas to them). But in a more general sense, he was truly a bipartisan mistake, er, choice.

    Voting for Whitlow was, indeed, a protest vote. And I have no doubt in my mind that of the two choices in the general election that Whitlow would have been a better mayor than Melton. A certain single mother would still have her rental property on Ridgeway Street intact, for one example of many.

  • Peggy T.||

    Ladd-
    I think you are misunderstanding me.

    before I respond I want you to ask yourself this question: when was the last time Jackson had a Republican Mayor that you can remember?

    let's continue...

    You voted for Whitlow, right? well, that could've been a vote for Harvey in the general election since he was better qualified than Whitlow and Whitlow wasn't going to win anyway had Harvey beat out Melton.. that's why I said (split up the votes)

    The point I'm making here is, Whitlow(R) was not going to win no matter what. That's a given if you've lived in Jackson long enough. Jackson is mostly Democratic in terms of voting despite what you read and hear. He is possibly a class act, but that wouldn't have been enough to sway these
    Jacksonians. the people who voted for Whitlow(minus your vote) most likely knew he wouldn't win either and chances are they voted for Melton in the primary election to make sure Harvey had no chance in the general.

    Frank basically won the election off "bait and switch" if you ask me. and you can bet your bottom dollar that Jacksonians love a good show and Frank put on a good one. Bascially the squeaky wheel got the grease, but deserved none of it.

    I totally understand what you were TRYING to do with protest voting. I've done it myself in the past. sometimes it worked, other times it didn't. In this particular case, I knew that it would not work or I would've done exactly like you did and voted for Whitlow. But the fact of the matter is Whitlow was not near as strong enough candidate, coupled with Harvey's soft-shoe approach to winning his own Mayorship back led to the victory by Melton.

    Now had Whitlow been about the business of winning over the people and providing leadership qualities in the city prior to running for office, instead of allowing Frank to grandstand his way into office. Whitlow wouldv'e possibly won, but honestly, I don't think he wanted it as bad as Frank did. Nor did Harvey.

    Harvey and Whitlow appeared passive in their passion for running this city, and that's why they lost.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "Harvey and Whitlow appeared passive in their passion for running this city, and that's why they lost."

    I have to agree on this point if not much else.

    but Peggy T. you have to understand that regardless of Whitlow, Harvey's support was dwindling. and that's his own fault. He seem to lose his zest to be Mayor.

    I helped Harvey's campaign when he was first elected mayor by making calls etc...this time, it seem like his people were not as enthusiastic about winning it again so it left me wondering if he really wanted it. I still voted for him, but in the general election, I didn't vote at all. I just had no idea why Whitlow was running in the first place and I'd be damned if I was going to vote for Melton.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Peggy wrote: You voted for Whitlow, right? well, that could've been a vote for Harvey in the general election since he was better qualified than Whitlow and Whitlow wasn't going to win anyway had Harvey beat out Melton.. that's why I said (split up the votes)

    Peggy, you have your basic facts wrong here. I don't know how to make it more clear: Johnson was not in the general election because Melton beat him in the Democratic primary. Then Melton ran against Whitlow. I would have voted for Johnson had it made it to the General Election--but he didn't. He never ran against Whitlow.

    In other words, there is no way that a vote for Whitlow in the General Election could split the vote and help Melton. A vote for him was, pure and simple, a vote against Melton and/or for Whitlow. Nothing else. Johnson was out of the equation by then.

    I voted for Johnson in the primary, and for Whitlow in the general, as I've said already.

    Is this clear yet? I don't know how else to eludicate this, so I'll stop trying.

  • Matt||

    Every voter who touched the screen for Melton in the primary made a mistake but it was the black community, black Democrats, who propelled him to victory at the polls.

    The election results are the election results. To overcome the advantage Melton built in the rest of Jackson, Johnson would have needed 84.9% of the vote in Ward 1, the white Republican ward, to win the primary outright in the three candidate race.

    Ladd needs to spin it differently because otherwise her storyline of a conspiracy amongst Jackson's white community to oust Johnson doesn't play out.

  • Donna Ladd||

    You're completely misrepresenting my comments, Matt, as is obvious from actually reading them-I haven't mentioned a conspiracy among anyone to oust Johnson. I've said that it was a coalition of very different people, in fact (and the stories about their fights during the campaign are near-epic). There was certainly a North Jackson "citizens' committee" that came together to do that, certainly, but it didn't include every white person in North Jackson, just a few determined ones, most of whom likely feel like utter fools right now. I mean, that isn't a secret, what with Melton's finance director apologizing all over town for organizing all these people and doing the fund raising from rich Republicans right in his own restaurant. And there were also black groups that came together to oust Johnson as well-namely the Jackson Advocate folks. (The history of that historically pro-segregation newspaper-that annointed blacks who work with whites in the "Brown Society" and regularly bash white Republicans, many of whom also supported Melton-would blow all you Jackson newbies' minds even further, so I want go deep into that now!) Suffice it to say that race politics in Mississippi are much more complicated than Tom Brokaw tries to tell you.

    Then there were the progressives, black and white, who voted for him precisely because he had multiracial, party support-thinking that was oh-so-progressive and not getting what they were getting into.

    Like I said, Melton is a bipartisan problem and always has been. He has (had) one of the most bizarre rainbow coalitions of supporters I've ever seen-and he said exactly what they all wanted to hear, and back then his supporters weren't willing to listen to fact and reason, pardon the pun. *Any* efforts to blame either major party (neither of which I care for much) for him are silly. He's bigger than partisan politics, and they are both to blame for getting behind someone with such a record of thumbing his nose at the Constitution and who promised truly ridiculous things in order to get votes.

    I do remember saying way back during the campaign that when Melton failed as mayor that it would be funny to watch all his enthusiastic Republican funders/supporters try to pass the buck and blame Democrats. And it is funny, as watching silly party squabbles always is.

    I do blame the media, though, for not telling the real Melton story (much of which they knew), and I blame Harvey Johnson for not having a stronger voice or staff around him-but he was up against quite the machine(s). I've never said he was perfect, but he sure as hell had his head on a lot straighter than this guy. Beyond that, there is remarkable history on Melton's rise to power that goes back many years, but you're going to have to read that in future writings from me. Hang on. This story is far from over.

  • kingfish||

    The author speaks the truth in that last post. The gentleman she refers to as his campaign finance director turned against him and voiced his opinion about Melton's tenure as mayor. This individual is someone who cares about his town and puts his money where his mouth is as he has opened several restaurants in Jackson instead of fleeing to the suburbs.

    He cares enough about Jackson to raise money for the police through the Jackson Police Foundation. Well, Melton tried to have the foudnation disbanded right after he spoke out against Melton even though he had no legal authority to disband it (He wanted to grab its multi million dollar budget to shore up his deficit, money that was meant for the police department, which is always underfunded).

    The result is, Melton went out of his way to alienate the private citizens group that helped the police even though it was headed by the man who helped elect him.

  • Matt||

    Now comes the Ladd narrative about media failure to tell the true and complete Melton story. Her need to blame the local media is more about Ladd's deep seated trade animus, really a fundamentalist chip on her shoulder for journalistic orthodoxy, than about the hope and a prayer for a different election result.

    Had the media reported on Melton to Ladd's exacting standards it may have swung some white Republican votes to Johnson or, more likely, back to the sidelines versus crossing over in the primary, and the overall margin of victory over Johnson may have been much smaller, but the result would still, in the end, have been a Melton win.

    What Ladd still doesn't get is that black Jackson needed a hero, almost any hero, even a terribly flawed hero and nothing was going to get in the way of that change.

    Because after eight years King Harvey had completely lost touch with the commoners who swept him to office as Jackson's first black mayor back in 1997. The black community had become sick and tired of being treated like subjects in a monarchy versus citizen partners in a representative government within this 73% black city.

    The king was deposed and replaced with a despot. Such are the mistakes voters make. Harvey Johnson lost touch. Plain and very, very simple.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Matt, we are SO far from "exacting standards" for media in this case that it's not even funny. For instance, asking The Clarion-Ledger to report that they were even involved in a lawsuit with Melton during the campaign in which their editors knew (or were required to know) that he was lying under oath to a judge about leaking them a false memo about law enforcement officers. Instead, they gave him a ringing endorsement while keeping all of the information (from their involvement in the lawsuit to his lying) from the public! There are many, many more examples that are even more disturging. Stay tuned.

    Oh, and good media coverage of Melton during the campaign was clearly too late, no matter who did it. The media blackout on him has gone for decades now. I know that, and it was clear that our coverage wasn't going to sway this deep-seated problem. However, that doesn't mean we jumped on the adoration wagon, too, just because it was the thing to do. Thus, my conscience today is clear, if troubled.

    The funny part is that I don't disagree with you about Johnson: He did lose touch. The "King Harvey"-monarchy stuff is clear hyperbole, though, but hey this town is ruled by hyperbole. Hopefully, that will change, and the Melton Era will teach us to return to considering, and demanding from our media, the cold, hard facts that people need to make smart decisions. Damn partisanship. I hate it, and it sure has no place in Jackson's mayoral politics.

    The black people of Jackson, I dare say, don't need a "hero." They need their communities repaired and their problems takens seriously (as do whites and other races). The problem here is that they were sold a bill of goods by a powerful rainbow coalition of selfish people, and thus taken advantage of. It's really too bad that Melton's myth was not exposed earlier, but the good news is that the city really has the opportunity to grow as a result of it.

    Otherwise, I know some of you are miffed at me-I and my paper have served as the primary messenger of all this bad news for the longest period of time, and I wish we hadn't had to play that role. But the bad news is the bad news, no matter who delivers it. The question now is: What do we do to change the circumstances that allowed this to happen. There are a multitude of solutions, and all are needed: Better media literacy (which is happening, thankfully) is one. Another is lobbying the Legislature to give us a recall option. Another is paying attention to what actually will help lessen crime-and get away from the dumbass notions pushed by the Ledger and others that we have to solve all the crime downtown BEFORE we really push for a downtown Renaissance, instead of recognizing that eco-devo will help crime conditions. Anyway, I could go on, but I'll be publishing more on all of this, so I'll save it.

  • Tom Head||

    Donna! Fish! Stewart! pike! Jackson is a small town after all.

    Speaking as someone who bought into the Melton idea growing up in this city, like the vast majority of Jacksonians did, I would suggest that Melton got his "folk hero" reputation during the 18 years Donna was not here. This would explain why she had a force field, so to speak. I suspect that if she were here during those years, her assessment of Melton's folk hero status would be very different--though of course I have no way of knowing for sure.

    There's a lot of talk of how the election of Melton proves this about Jackson voters or proves that about Jackson voters. Jackson is a formerly majority-white city that became majority-black, a formerly white-led city that has become black-led, so when we say "the people of Jackson need to learn [x]," with the implicit message that black voters need to learn [x] from whites, there is a dynamic there that tends to develop that I don't think is very productive.

    What we need are more checks and balances so that when our municipality elects the wrong person--which can happen to any municipality in any part of the country at any time--there is a better way out. Whether we accomplish this system of checks and balances by decreasing the power of the mayor relative to that of the City Council, or by introducing a recall process, is a matter best discussed in the halls of the Mississippi State Legislature. But it needs to be discussed. The election of Frank Melton has, to borrow a term from Stalin, heightened the contradiction. We now know the dangers of unchecked executive power on the municipal level, and we need to enact long-term policy reform to prevent this from happening again.

    We also need better tools. Donna's AAN paper, the Jackson Free Press, is certainly one of those better tools. The Mississippi Link, which Donna mentions in the article above, is another such tool. There also needs to be, and I'm sure has been, some soul-searching in the offices of the Clarion-Ledger, the broadcast media affiliates, and even (dare I suspect) some sectors of the national press. Nonprofit groups also need to do a more aggressive job in serving as watchdogs. And of course all of us could stand to be more vigilant, more skeptical, more cynical, as good Bill Maher might say.

    But in the final analysis, this says less about Jackson than it does about what inevitably happens when the stars line up in the wrong way, we get the Mayor from Hell, and there's no system of checks and balances in place, no accountability system, to protect us. So the long-term solution needs to be policy reform, in Jackson and in every other city that does not have proper channels of accountability.

    Other cities have a lesson to learn from this, I believe, and folks who read about Frank Melton and walk away with the lesson of "Gee, Jackson sucks" are missing an important point, from where I sit. Remember the inscription on the statue of Ozymandias: "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair." Or to put it another way: There is no city in America that is not potentially one election away from a Frank Melton, so be sure you know what to do if this happens in your city.

    Kudos on a good article, Donna, and on some bold and gutsy coverage dating back close to three years now.

  • pinestraw||

    ladd wrote- "The media blackout on him has gone for decades now. I know that, and it was clear that our coverage wasn't going to sway this deep-seated problem...."

    Earlier you said that you knew very little about Melton upon your return to Mississippi in 2001. Now you're saying you were aware of the media blackout on him that has gone on for decades.

    Are you sure you didn't know about Melton prior to moving to Mississippi?

  • Donna Ladd||

    No, I didn't know about him when I was gone from Mississippi. I left in 1983; he came here in 1984. The way I now understand the media blackout on his weaknesses so well is by research, research, research. There is plenty out there on him-for instance, non-questioning news stories about how he "brought in" young criminals who were wanted for drug crimes and murder, pulled police friend off their beats to help him, and then managed how they were going to be turned over. In other ways, he has gotten in the police's way for a long, long time. But you wouldn't believe the news stories-written as if there was nothing unusual about this TV executive from Texas getting these boys to turn themselves into him first (and, thus, according to prosecutors, tainting a lot of the evidence. I'm not saying on purpose.)

    Meantime, the police chief was pissed about this as he should have been, but The Clarion-Ledger went after him repeatedly for saying something that he did not say (that crime was just a "perception"; the last chief had actually warned media and residents that the perception of crime being unstoppable, as pushed by a sensationalist media, works against us, and he was taken terribly and stupidly out of context. Repeatedly.)

    It's truly remarkable to go back and piece together Melton's media trail here. There is so much more that I don't have time or space to get into on this forum.

    As for the assertion that I have a "force field" toward Melton because I was gone for 18 years of his halycon "folk hero" times, well, that's not true and wouldn't make sense to anyone who actually knows me personally. I've been a journalist for a long time, and I look at public servants through journalistic eyes, both to examine the positive and the negative being said about them. I've seen Melton's old "Bottom Line" segments in my research, and I assure you that the first thing I would have done (as I started doing during his campaign in January 2005) was start asking him for sources and factchecking his assertions, especially those lambasting various law-enforcement officials (remember the MBN memo that he leaked to The Clarion-Ledger that they published without knowing whether the assertions against agents were true?). Had my paper been here much earlier, the media climate would most assuredly been different toward Mr. Melton. We would have asked him hard questions (like about the halfway house he runs) because that's, well, how journalism is supposed to work. I'm not easily charmed, and especially by obvious demagogues; I would have always taken the same approach we've taken with him, in other words.

    And let's not take away credit from all the people who did live here all the years who questioned him and tried to raise concerns about him at various points, including during the campaign. These people weren't fooled by the "folk hero" facade, either. But that's where the media blackout on Melton (and friends) is so, so important; the stories are rampant about how media outlets wouldn't touch anything remotely negative about him over the years, much as The Clarion-Ledger wouldn't report the Ridgeway demolition until after we reported it and they had no choice.

    I should also add that much of the media in Jackson is now in a mea culpa phase on it, even if they're not saying that in print or on the air. I've been on panels and in personal conversations with editors and top managers from most of the print and TV outlets in town, who have admitted outright that they dropped the ball on Melton all these years. So it's not like I'm just pulling this out of my ... you know.

    Melton had it good for a while. He ran WLBT with a former FBI agent by his side to protect him, and media throughout the city was afraid to criticize him all those years. But all wild parties eventually come to a close.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "There is plenty out there on him-for instance, non-questioning news stories about how he "brought in" young criminals who were wanted for drug crimes and murder, pulled police friend off their beats to help him, and then managed how they were going to be turned over."

    Eventhough you didn't know about Frank, this is proof that the voting people of Jackson did, but voted him in anyway. He's been doing this for years. I knew about this years ago. I told a lot of people about this and it fell on deaf ears since they loved Frank from his "The Bottom Line" grandstanding on WLBT.

    Thanks for posting this. now let's see the Melton supporters argue the validity of this and why still, he was voted into office.

  • pinestraw||

    "No, I didn't know about him when I was gone from Mississippi. I left in 1983; he came here in 1984. "

    I see. understood.

    ....snapshot-

    Frank was tough on kiddie criminals back then. he helped them get their lives back on track for the most part. Now I can't say where those kids are now or how they turned out, but it was his intenetion to help them out. Can't knock him for that.

  • snapshot of reality||

    pinestraw, I'll tell you how they turned out:

    1. most are dead
    2. some are in jail.
    3. the rest are on his payroll with impunity.

  • Tom Head||

    There is no evidence to support the "most are dead" claim. I read an article in the Link earlier this year about one of the at-risk youths who had just graduated from college--one of more than 150.

    With respect to the fact that Donna was not here during the 1980s and 1990s but seems to know with remarkable certainty how she would have reacted to things if she were, I can only say that from the perspective of social psychology, that's something of a pseudeoscientific claim. None of us, including Donna Ladd, operate independently of our social environment.

    The people of Jackson are not stupid, and they made a mistake that any electorate could have made. Look at who we have for a president, for God's sake.

  • Donna Ladd||

    There's nothing "pseudeoscientific" about it. Melton's schtick is just not one that would have stuck to me. I guess the argument would be that he was so good at it that even a journalist who routinely asks for sources and backup for serious accusations and odd statements of "fact," and who has always wholeheartedly believed in the Constitution, would have been lulled into not applying those same standards to Frank Melton for some reason because he talked a good, charming game.

    Yes, I can say with certainty that I would not have done that. That doesn't make me any better than anyone else; it means that I do, and would have done, my job with Melton in the 1990s just as I have done in the last few years. Perhaps basic reporting-and the megaphone effect on other media-would have changed the accepting/adoring climate toward him then just as it's done since 2005.

    I've never said the electorate here was/is stupid. I have said, repeatedly, that the media and other people with the knowledge and ability and forums (including various law-enforcement folks) did not share enough facts about him with the public so that people could use cold, hard facts to rise above the hero worship before it reached such Teflon proportions. That withholding of facts is remarkably easily proved by research, so I have no need to belabor this further here. As I said, I will be laying out all of that in more detail soon as we explore in more depth how we got to this point, as we must do to make sure that such a long-brewing calamity does not happen here again.

  • Tom Head||

    I just don't know that any media spends all that much time investigating the lives of private citizens, and that's all Melton was prior to 2005. To be honest, if you'd asked me prior to the MBN appointment if I thought he'd ever run for mayor or any other political office, I wouldn't have just said no. I'd have laughed. It was so completely inconsistent with his persona.

    If Melton never actually did help kids, never actually did much philanthropy, and so on and so forth, then I certainly look forward to reading your exposé on that. It'll be one for the ages. But assuming he did do those things, it's not hard to see how he'd win the mayor's office. People see a commitment to the community, they see a guy with executive management experience going back decades, and they think "Gee, he'd be a good mayor."

    And it blew up in our faces this time, but Jackson being a city of 176,000 people, that's basically how mayors tend to be selected. The only exception I can think of in recent years is Kane Ditto, because he was technically a state representative first.

    But what did Harvey Johnson have in his background that showed us he wouldn't go nuts? The Mississippi Institute for Small Towns, a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati, and a previous, failed bid for mayor. He was something of an unknown quantity when we elected him in 1997, too, and he turned out pretty well from where I sit.

    I don't anticipate that we're going to know everything we need to know about every mayor we elect. New media being what it is, we have access to more information than we used to have--and I don't mean to sell the work you're doing on this short, because it's great work--but the key to preventing this from happening again, from where I sit, would be to make sure checks and balances are in place to limit the power of the mayor should that person get out of hand. Unchecked executive power is something we're becoming more conscious of as a national problem, and it's a city problem, too.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "There is no evidence to support the "most are dead" claim. I read an article in the Link earlier this year about one of the at-risk youths who had just graduated from college--one of more than 150.

    Speaking from a first hand account and logical standpoint and not of speculation as your statement suggests, I'd say most are dead, some are jail, etc.
    Melton was in Jackson during the "crack days" when drug related deaths happened often in and around Jackson. Check the murder rates of Jackson between the years 1984-1995. most of them at one time or another was mentored by Melton. or at least "jacked up" by him when he was a narc.

  • snapshot of reality||

    ".. just don't know that any media spends all that much time investigating the lives of private citizens, and that's all Melton was prior to 2005."

    This statement is incorrect. Melton had a major stake in WLBT, which made him a public servant, NOT a private citizen. He did things such as ranting on his "The Bottom Line" segments after the news, to mentoring at-risk youth. So sir, with all due respect, you don't know what you're talking about.

    I was an at-risk youth. My parents threatened to send me to Piney Woods, Oakley training school AND Frank Melton. My only bargaining chip that I could throw at them to keep from sending me was to ask to volunteer/attend the NYSP Summer youth program held at Jackson State and also attend the Capital Street Boys Club. and BOY am I glad I was thinking to do those things and not have to deal with Frank Melton. I would've probably ended up like many of my friends. dead or in jail.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "If Melton never actually did help kids, never actually did much philanthropy, and so on and so forth, then I certainly look forward to reading your exposé on that. It'll be one for the ages. But assuming he did do those things, it's not hard to see how he'd win the mayor's office. People see a commitment to the community, they see a guy with executive management experience going back decades, and they think "Gee, he'd be a good mayor." "

    And this is what I just don't understand. Because so many families have been detroyed due to the influx of crack, which made robberies go up too. how in the world could we be so blind to elect a guy who was in the middle of this epidemic and did more harm than good. I just can't..understand it.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "I don't anticipate that we're going to know everything we need to know about every mayor we elect. "

    This is why you have Town Hall Meetings and debates between candidates to find out. geeesh.

    I suspect that I'm younger than you, but you appear to be so clueless it's not even funny.

  • Peggy T.||

    snapshot -

    I have to agree on those points you made. I had to send my son to NYSP to keep him out of trouble too, although he still got into some. It was better than letting him sit at home while I was at work during the summer months.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Only one factual correction: Melton has operated in the public sphere in Jackson since the 1980s when then-Mayor Dale Danks allowed him on the youth beat, so to speak, allowing him to drive around with police officers to "help" young people. Then his friends like Frank Bluntson, then head of the Juvenile Detention Center, and Youth Court Judge Karen Gilfoy sent young men and children to live with him, even though he was not a certified foster parent and sometimes over the complaints of their parents. That is, he has been "assigned" young people for years by his friends on the taxpayer rolls.

    All of that may have been done with the utmost of good intentions, but it certainly does not support the argument that Melton was not in the public sphere and did not warrant scrutiny by the media.

    This is all fact, sitting in the public domain for people to know, discuss and consider. Bits of it was reported years ago by young reporters who are now editors at The Clarion-Ledger and higher-ups at TV stations. But when it was reported, it was reported ever-so-gingerly, and then the stories went away never to be seen again.

    There is no argument that anyone can make to me that explains away why this was not an issue for the public to monitor-it is simply mind-boggling to say that he was a private figure before 2005 and, thus, the media should be excused for not paying closer attention to what he was doing. But such reasoning does explain, I suppose, how the public ended up so ignorant about him by the time he ran for mayor. As I heard two different editors from our daily newspaper say in forums, they didn't report more about Melton during the campaign because people didn't want to know the whole story. And that was one of the more shocking statements I've ever heard journalists make. Why not go be a trial attorney, or a lobbyist, and make real money if that is your attitude?

    People can't know what they don't know, or have access to. And they were not told enough information about Melton for decades here. It's that simple.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "There is no argument that anyone can make to me that explains away why this was not an issue for the public to monitor-it is simply mind-boggling to say that he was a private figure before 2005 and, thus, the media should be excused for not paying closer attention to what he was doing."

    Of course there isn't. the voting public in Jackson knew very well of Melton, his attitude and his antics. I was a kid when I first met him and found out so I know full-well people like Tom knew. what you have here is a bad case of amnesia when it comes to being honest and telling the truth. that's all. People do it all the time, especially in Jackson.


    "But such reasoning does explain.... how the public ended up so ignorant about him by the time he ran for mayor.....two different editors from our daily newspaper say in forums, they didn't report more about Melton during the campaign because people didn't want to know the whole story. And that was one of the more shocking statements I've ever heard journalists make."

    Shocking?...Oh you just wait..wait until it's time to oust Melton. You'll have a treasure of things to peg him on.

    On thing about Jackson voters is clear. when their candidate doesn't pan out or makes a horrible mayor, no one can seem to claim they voted for him.

  • Tom Head||

    Donna writes:

    As I heard two different editors from our daily newspaper say in forums, they didn't report more about Melton during the campaign because people didn't want to know the whole story. And that was one of the more shocking statements I've ever heard journalists make. Why not go be a trial attorney, or a lobbyist, and make real money if that is your attitude?

    I can't imagine that the C-L would think its readers would care about the whole story of a private citizen's life--that's really kind of tabloid stuff--but if Melton was on the youth beat, then of course anything he was doing in that capacity would have been fair game.

    The C-L wasn't vigilant enough about Melton in 2005, no question, and I'm sure members of the editorial board are kicking themselves over it.

    snapshot of reality, I don't know Melton personally. Like most people in Jackson, I know him by reputation. He had a good reputation, more from word of mouth than from the media. I can't speak to whether or not he deserved that reputation. For my part (and this can be easily documented by posts I made on Donna's forum and others at the time), I voted for Harvey Johnson in the primary but Frank Melton in the general election.

  • snapshot of reality||

    --- "I don't know Melton personally. Like most people in Jackson, I know him by reputation. He had a good reputation, more from word of mouth than from the media. I can't speak to whether or not he deserved that reputation."

    for the record, I love Stamp's burgers. but I wouldn't vote the owner into the mayor's just off his good reputation.


    "For my part (and this can be easily documented by posts I made on Donna's forum and others at the time), I voted for Harvey Johnson in the primary but Frank Melton in the general election."

    So what "good" did you learn about Melton prior to voting for him in the primary? and how did you learn of it?

    Just asking, because if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing ,then the problems of Jackson go way deeper than the mayor and nonchalant media not reporting the news. It actually pierces to the heart of flatout ignorance and loathing by the people.

    Are you saying that the majority vote(black) was ignorant and loathing in their quest to find the answers?

  • Tom Head||

    snapshot, I've read your post several times and I can't figure out what it is that you're trying to say. "Loathing" means "feeling an intense dislike or disgust for." Do I believe that I and other Jacksonians who voted for Melton were ignorant and hateful? Not especially, no.

    With respect to the primary, I voted for Johnson, not against Melton. I said at the time that I thought all three candidates were excellent, but that I was sticking with Johnson because I felt he was the best mayor we'd ever had. When he was defeated, I picked Melton over Whitlow--not only because I had a very favorable view of Melton but also because, Melton belonging to the same party as Johnson, I figured he would be less inclined to fire Johnson's excellent staff. We all know how that went, but there was no way of predicting it at the time.

    I think (as I have been saying throughout this thread) that a certain amount of this comes with the territory when you're voting for an elected official. You never know everything about a given candidate. Melton looked really good on paper, sounded really good on TV, and had a really good reputation. Voters picked him. It went badly. These things happen in a democracy, and I don't think it reflects poorly on voters at all.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "You never know everything about a given candidate. Melton looked really good on paper, sounded really good on TV, and had a really good reputation. Voters picked him. It went badly. These things happen in a democracy, and I don't think it reflects poorly on voters at all."

    I've never been one to vote on anything without knowing the facts. But I'll take into consideration that you assumed, as did the rest who voted for Melton, that he would do a god job without knowing for a fact that he could do the job, but just on his persona on TV.

    It's times like these that harken back to the Jim Crow era and makes me realize that not only do our citizens not mind whose in office, they actually don't care.

    Ladd-

    When you hear responses like this, do you ever think your paper and it's news will ever cut through? I'm sure you get depressed a lot when writing about Mississippi.

  • Tom Head||

    snapshot writes:

    But I'll take into consideration that you assumed, as did the rest who voted for Melton, that he would do a god job without knowing for a fact that he could do the job, but just on his persona on TV.

    And we knew Dale Danks, Kane Ditto, and Harvey Johnson "could do the job" before they actually became incumbents how, exactly? Whenever you elect a new officeholder, you're taking a calculated risk.

    You're doing a great job of following what seems to have become the party line on Melton--e.g., that his election somehow proves that the people of Jackson are not intelligent enough to vote--which is certainly the view that many seem to hold on Donna's site, and the impression that national coverage of the Melton debacle might give observers. But if you're actually from here, you should know it's not that simple.

  • Donna Ladd||

    --e.g., that his election somehow proves that the people of Jackson are not intelligent enough to vote--which is certainly the view that many seem to hold on Donna's site,

    Where in God's green acre did you come up with such absurdity!?!

    I, for one, say repeatedly that the people of Jackson never got enough information from the media and others to know enough about Melton's background to have known what/who they were really electing. You keep trying to morph that bizarrely into an unfounded accusation that the JFP is saying that the "people of Jackson" aren't intelligent enough to vote?!? Please. There is nothing logical, or accurate, there. You're being offensive for reasons that are beyond me.

    Snapshot, writing about Mississippi does not depress me. It's my home state, and I love it and her people, and that's why I hold the state to higher standards than many others do. I don't have a bigotry of low expectations toward my state, and I believe we have to band together to overcome our problems, our inferiority complex and to talk back to outsiders who try to treat us like idiots. Excuses don't work; information and action do. There is corruption and apathy and idiocy everywhere. And the corporate media problem is all over the country now. I'm taking my stand in my home state, but that does not mean that Mississippi is any worse than other states. We just have conditions that magnify our problems a bit.

    In other words, there is *nowhere* I'd rather the fight the good fight then right here at home. I had to run around the country for a few years to find that out. But I'm so glad I did. Now I'm loaded for bear in my determination to fight for my state.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "You're doing a great job of following what seems to have become the party line on Melton--e.g., that his election somehow proves that the people of Jackson are not intelligent enough to vote--which is certainly the view that many seem to hold on Donna's site, and the impression that national coverage of the Melton debacle might give observers. But if you're actually from here, you should know it's not that simple."


    I was just about to query if YOU were actually from here.

    I was born and raised in Jackson and still here. there's nothing you can tell me about how things are in this city. And frankly, I've come to the conclusion over the years that the people of Jackson DO have an issue when it comes to picking a good Mayor for this once great city, especially when they are not informed properly. This city was one of the first town's in the south where travellers, preachers,philanthropists, and settlers all stopped during the age of American pioneering. Jackson was not some small outpost to let your horse take a dump and keep going. No, Jackson was well on it's way to being like Houston, Memphis, Chicago and other great cities that were once bustling towns with a vision. Jackson, over the years saw a lot of flight by the original settlers of this town and an influx of "wannabe" Jacksonians which has caused the city to slow down in terms of growth because most of the progressive thinkers moved out west(California, Texas), North(Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago), East(Atlanta, New York) and has basically left a remnant of what could have been, with the good ol' boys taking full control of the land and city government and a confuse/uninformed citizenry taking the brunt of the madness.

    So don't tell ME about Jackson, I Know Jackson.

    Ladd-

    After you get enough of exposing Melton's underachievements, I would love for you to tackle the issue of why the Banks in this city give minorities such a hard time when it comes to securing loans for small businesses. I'm sure you'll get half the town's attention of why things are the way they are here.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "In other words, there is *nowhere* I'd rather the fight the good fight then right here at home. I had to run around the country for a few years to find that out. But I'm so glad I did. Now I'm loaded for bear in my determination to fight for my state."

    I hear you. I was just being facetious.

    I like exposing falsehoods around this town too. keep it up.

  • winter||

    Tom Head,

    Could you give me one example of anything good Melton has done in the realm of politics that would warrant voting for him for mayor either in the primary or general election?

    I tend to agree with snapshot here. why wouldn't you want to know the background of whose going to be your Mayor?

  • Tara||

    I have to agree with you there snapshot. Information is power. and those that know, don't share the information and pretend to be none the wiser when exposed.

    Reminds me of the Senator Craig incident

    lol

  • Donna Ladd||

    Thanks, all. Melton does take a lot of our time, admittedly, but there are SO many stories ignored here that we hope to shine more daylight on as we go forward, now that we've forced the spotlight of scrutiny to shine on Melton. Lingering discrimination against minorities by institutions is certainly one of them. It kills me, for instance, that our black employees have to jump through more hoops to do their banking than our white employees.

    And of course you're right, Winter. It is the primary role of the media to watchdog both public servants and those who insert themselves into a role in the government, elected or not, especially when it comes to the welfare of children. The saddest part is that so many people (white and black) in this city turned their head for many years on Melton's style of "mentoring" because he talked a good game, and that is what the media fed the public. Meantime, the needs of some of our city's weakest citizens were ignored.

    I was talking to a former ardent supporter of Melton yesterday, who was telling me that he just didn't know the truth about him, and he blamed the media for his being misinformed. There is a huge difference between an electorate being "misinformed" because information was hidden from them and being unintelligent. I would never say the second, and any attempt to paint my efforts that way are dishonest.

    Jackson is filled with many intelligent people-and they were snookered by a power structure and a media system that has protected Melton for many years. That is simply fact, and at this point, people left and right are realizing it.

  • Donna Ladd||

    Oh, and I'm with Winter. I looked hard and could not find a single reason to vote for Melton. But, as I said, I've never been easily sucked in by empty sound bites.

  • pinestraw||

    I stayed in Jackson after graduating from Belhaven and although I miss living in Boston, I wouldn't move. something about the fresh air and quietness about Jackson that I fell in in love with.

    I can't begin to feel how snapshot feels, but I can tell he has some issues about how this city has fared over the years. I can only hope it gets better because I want to continue living in Jackson.

  • Al||

    Just send Melton to Philidelphia,PA. We have a special way of gettin rid of corrupt cops.

  • snapshot of reality||

    "There is a huge difference between an electorate being "misinformed" because information was hidden from them and being unintelligent."

    Having listened to my parents and the parents of others, along with other people in high positions of power concerning the plight of Jackson over many years, I'd have to say it's 10/60/30.

    10% intelligent who know what needs to be done, don't make "blind" decisions without in-depth facts and work to get results...

    60% ignorant, who could care less as long as their weekly/bi-weekly/monthly check is not interrupted or their posh neighborhood is not affected...

    then there's this huge 30% elderly class in Jackson, who have been here since they were born who just want things to be better but most of them are too old to fight for change and just want to live in peace.

    that last 30% is the crowd Melton targeted with his "Fear" campaign of high crime and thugs running loose.

    We have to work on that 60% crowd to get any real results in Jackson going forward.


    To Tom Head,

    could you answer winter's questions please?
    I also would like to know.

  • Laura||

    Snapshot, why don't you run for Mayor? You seem to have the city's issues on your sleeve. Maybe you can fix it and bring about a Renaissance in Jackson?

    I drive to New Orleans from Memphis often but rarely do I stop in Jackson, if only for gas/restroom. Now my interest is piqued as to what's really going on down there.

  • Who Cares!!||

    LOL...I TOLD YOU PEOPLE OF JACKSON A LOOONG TIME AGO THAT FRANK MELTON WAS NOT THE RIGHT PERSON TO BE MAYOR OF JACKSON, BUT NOOOO, YOU FOOLS DIDN'T LISTEN AND GOT WHAT YOU VOTED FOR...A LUNATIC!!...HAHAHA....GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR SUFFERING BECAUSE YOU DESERVE EVERY LITTLE BIT OF IT. DON'T CRY ABOUT IT NOW MS.LADD. YOUR STUPID ASSES SHOULD'VE LISTENED TO THE SCREAMS IN THE WILDERNESS...AND I HOPE HE WRECKS THE CITY OF JACKSON FINANCIALLY. I'M GLAD I MOVED OUT OF THAT SHITHOLE RIGHT AFTER HE WAS ELECTED BECAUSE KNEW WHAT WAS COMING.. YOU CLOWNS WILL LEARN ONE DAY, BUT MAYBE NOT...HAHA... AS MALCOLM X WOULD SAY "THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST". HAHAHA

  • KC||

    Imagine that. Donna Ladd complaining about dishonesty. What is that saying about the pot calling the kettle?

  • Donna Ladd||

    Example, KC?

    It's not about crying, Who Cares. It's about reporting the facts.

  • snapshot of reality||

    to Who Cares -

    Frankly I'm glad you moved out of Jackson. One less uneducated criminal roaming our streets.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    THANK U

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