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Showing posts from November, 2015

Giving Thanks

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Today, we officially celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday; a day set aside to show that we are thankful for the many blessings bestowed upon our lives. Every day there’s a reason to be thankful even if it’s nothing more than being thankful for being among the living. Today, people will travel near and far to be with their families and enjoy a fest. During this time, I can’t help but think of families that have great memories of these gatherings but at the same time, they’re grieving because a beloved member of their family has transitioned into eternity. Regardless if this is your first Thanksgiving without a loved one or your tenth, there are still moments when sadness take over and you must grapple with establishing new memories while embracing old memories. I am thankful that I will be eating dinner with my beloved aunt, Helen Williams, in Hattiesburg and we will share food, stories of old family gatherings and create new memories. There’s no doubt that we will probab…

And Then There Were Three...

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Unofficially, the field of candidates for the Lumberton Mayoral race has been whittled down to three candidates: David Kent Crider, Jonathan F. Griffith and Jerry Walters. For some reason, the others that picked up packets changed their minds about having their names placed on the 12-15-15 ballot. I don’t know when the potential candidates will be certified but there’s not going to be much time to campaign. Somehow, each candidate will need to find an effective way to convey their campaign message and urge residents to get out and support them. I am nervous and excited about the prospect of potentially becoming the next Mayor of Lumberton. For years, I have demanded accountability and transparency at city hall. Now, I’m in a position where I can get a different perspective and find out why our elected officials are not working together to advance the City of Lumberton. Someone asked if I thought my blog would be a hindrance in my bid to become Mayor and I th…

The Next Mayor of Lumberton 2015 ?!?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 5:00 p.m. is the deadline to submit your paperwork to be included on December 15, 2015 ballot to run for Mayor of Lumberton. So far, two candidates have submitted their paperwork, Kent Crider and Jerry Walters. By the time this post is published, you can add Jonathan F. Griffith, the Lumberton Informer to that list of potential candidates. I thought long and hard about this decision. I prayed about entering the race, I picked up a packet, prayed, tore up the packet, prayed, picked up another packet and still and prayed some more. I held on to the packet and then people started coming by the house to offer their support and signatures so I got up finished gathering the signatures needed to enter the mayoral race. I’ve tried to get a list of those running but of course they’re being very protective of the list of candidates. I don’t know who all turned in their packets but I guess the names will be released tomorrow sin…

If You Were Looking for a Sign...Well...This Ain't It

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When it comes to politics in Lumberton, the people seem to have the memory of a goldfish. I was told that Kent Crider was one of the first persons to pick up a packet to enter the mayoral race and apparently he was the first person to return his packet with the required signatures because he’s already campaigning. It’s rumored that Crider is talking to others that a planning on running in an effort to avoid splitting of the votes. I’m guessing that John Fairley is not one of the potential candidates he’s talking to. For years, the City of Lumberton has been plagued with a poor representatives and Kent Crider has been a part of that problem for the last 6 years and now he wants to be mayor. Interesting. When the board held the special called meeting to allow Alderwoman Rogers to serve as interim mayor and set the date for the special called election, I knew Crider had something up his sleeve because it was the first time he attended a board meeting with a clean shirt. Gene…

We Are Lumberton

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There’s no “I” in team but there’s always a leader and this year, Daylon Burks holds that distinction. Last week, the Lumberton Panthers won the first round of the play off games, defeating French Camp to make it to the next level. Throughout this seaon, Burks has continued to defy the odds and emerge as a leader. A recent sports writer had this to say about Burks: “Daylon Burks has flown under the radar in the Pine Belt area, due mostly to other standouts, Isaiah Woullard, Detric Hawthorn, Josh Miller and Jordan Duncan. But make no mistake, he belongs in the same breath. In the Panthers’ win over French Camp in the opening round of the class 1A playoffs, Burks rushed 28 times for 385 yards and four touchdown. Burks has rushed for almost 2,400 yards in the year as well as tacking on 30 rushing touchdowns.” Burks has truly etched his place into the annals of Lumberton’s glorious football history. The Panthers will look to Burks and rely heavily on his talents, skills and lead…

The Fall of the Westbank WALL

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I think this will be the last post about Merlene Wall this week because I don’t want a root of bitterness to spring forth. Besides, if I’m going to get bitter, it’s not going to be because of a unknowledgeable slore. One of the main reasons Merlene was able to fake us out so long was because she had access to the vast knowledge of a code charter municipality possessed by former mayor, Miriam R. Holder. When Ben Winston took office, there was no doubt that he was clueless and had no regard for laws. Merlene tried to hold on to the little knowledge she retained but it was not working in her favor. Thankfully, she has a board that just as clueless as her. I know there will be other posts regarding Merlene but I don’t want to dedicate too many blog post about her because I don’t want to become jaded. I still marvel at the fact that Merlene went into court, lied under oath and tried to have me jailed for expressing my first amendment rights. Wait, the lies started long before …

Lumberton Politics: Always Personal Never Business

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I’m still thinking about the fact that I was hauled into court to defend my freedom of speech. When Joe Montgomery helped me draft my response as a favor to one of his friends, he advised me that the matter would probably be dismissed and I would never go to court. Well, we all know that wasn’t how the story ended. I actually had to go to court, deal with an gag order and waited almost a month to get a judgement on this matter. I never thought I would lose but I think the case was drawn out because they thought they would at least drain me financially. Little did they know, my attorney did not charge me so their attempt to leave me drowning in legal fees failed just as miserably as their case. Now that I have a moment to reflect on what happened, I realized that Merlene Wall, a person that moved to South Mississippi to retire had the support and stamp of approval from a group of individuals I’ve known my whole life: Ben Winston, Bobby Gibson, Tommy Dukes…

Til You Do Right By Me...

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Last week, I posted a copy of the letter from the Army Corp of Engineers where former mayor Ben Winston presented paperwork attesting that the monies needed to secure the $2.5 million dollar grant was available in the general fund. I’ve attended every meeting and there was no public discussion giving the mayor permission to enter into contract on behalf of the City of Lumberton. If you look at the signatures, you will see that the letter was attested by the city clerk, Merlene Wall. Where are the minutes approving this measure? Was this another matter that was discussed privately during executive session? If it was discussed during executive session, I doubt the board members can recall the discussion since they have lapses in memory whenever they go behind closed doors, per the response from the investigation of the Mississippi Ethics Commission.Well, I know Winston’s action was a violation because I’ve attended meetings for such a long time and know that any action take…

Merlene P. Wall: The City Clerk With No Brain, No Heart and No Courage

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She’s not in Westwego, Louisiana anymore and this is not Kansas. In case you haven’t heard, I won the frivolous case that Merlene Wall filed against me, making a claim that I was stalking her in an attempt to have me banned from city hall, prohibited from blogging and when she realized she was losing, she had her attorney ask that I be incarcerated to stop me from blogging. In the words of Miss Celie from The Color Purple, “the jail you planned for me is the one you’re going to rot in.” I guess she thought she was able to manipulate a judge since she was able to manipulate a gullible, uninformed group of elected officials. This case was going on for almost a year and she had the full support of most of the board members (former Mayor Ben Winston, Hugh James “Jay the Thief” McGraw, Tommy Dukes and Cora Rogers) but when we finally had the trial, they abandoned her on the frontlines like Uriah. But her trusty side-kick, friend and neighbor, Melissa, was there in the end, espe…

The Not So Smooth Criminal

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It’s Friday the 13th and we have something here more frightening that Jason; elected and appointed officials. This is not Crystal Lake but in Lumberton we’re dealing with something more frightening than a masked man carrying a machete; their terror last for one night but we deal with terror year after year and unfortunately, these terrors are elected and for some reason they think laws, ordinances, guidelines for code charter municipalities are just suggestions. We’re still feeling the impact of the Winston administration. Thankfully, he resigned but that’s going to cost the citizens of Lumberton thousands of dollars because we have to pay for a special election. To top it off, there are current elected officials like Kent Crider and Cora Rogers that want to subject the citizens of Lumberton to another possible special election because they want to serve as mayor. It was problematic when Ben Winston did it and it’s still a problem because I feel you need to finish your term before s…

One Victory at a Time

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It's a small victory but they count too. Since this board took office, I have been sending in complaints to the Mississippi Ethics Commission and they're finally responding. I have several more but it's good to know that persistence is paying off. I've stated it over and over again that I'm aware of the process and how things are supposed to be conducted in a code charter municipality because I've attended meetings for 14 or more years. There are several boards that are in the news because they use executive session to discuss things they don't want citizens to know. Just this month, the board violated the Mississippi Open Meetings Act when potential mayoral candidate, Kent Crider, had a police officer waiting in the hallway to speak with the board during executive session. No one knew who this man was but it was obvious he was a police officer. It seems that the officer was there are Crider's request and there was a plan to hire him as a warrant office…

Stop the Insanity!

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The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Sadly, when it comes to elections in Lumberton, we're insane. For some reason, the people of Lumberton elect the same people over and over again and they expect different results. Why? If I knew the answer to that question I wouldn't spend so much time trying to shed the light of accountability on city hall. Last week, the board voted to accept the resignation of Mayor Ben Winston, who decided to leave the world of politics after losing to Warren Byrd....AGAIN. The board was going to set a date for the special election but Alderman Kent Crider asked the board to wait to set the date because he wanted to see if he could convince the taker of shinny things, Alderman Hugh James McGraw aka Jay McGraw, to resign. In the course of a week, Crider has designated himself as the negotiator because he's planning on running for the mayoral position. Interesting. In an interview with …

Delayed Not Denied

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I’ve almost been enthralled in this fight to protect my first amendment right for a whole year. In December of 2014, I was served with a cease and desist letter regarding certain posts in my blog. When I opened the letter, I didn’t take it seriously because the person that commissioned the letter name was not spelled correctly and the letter was mailed with a basic stamp. Personally, I would have expected the letter to be certified or at least required a signature. Well, fast forward and a couple of months later I was served with papers notifying me that I was being sued for my attempts to offer citizens transparency into the backdoor dealings at city hall. Surprisingly, I was hauled into court rather quickly. As a matter of fact, when a court date was set I was still in the process of obtaining an attorney. After motions, responses, other court delays and eventually a trial, I am still awaiting a verdict regarding the expression of my first amendment rights. However, the glaci…

Cora In Charge: Lord Help Us ALL

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Well, it’s official. Ben Winston is no longer Mayor of the City of Lumberton. The members of the board of aldermen had a special called meeting to officially accept the resignation of Mayor Ben Winston. The next step is to set a date for an election. The scary part is Cora Rogers is now in charge. Frightening!!!! It amazes me that she’s been in office for over two years and she’s still clueless about conducting a board meeting. I will call him squishy and he shall be my squishy! Maybe she speaks whale!? Before the meeting, Kent Crider was explaining how he already contacted the Attorney General about his plan to run for the position of mayor. Unfortunately, he is not required to resign in order to run for mayor. Basically, he can run for mayor, failed to get elected as mayor and still have a position on the board. Bummer. I think Cora Rogers is also planning on putting her hat in the ring because she really, really, really wants to be mayor. Well, I say they both shou…

Lumberton Embraces Change: On the Football Field

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You may have missed this story on WDAM because Lumberton was thrust into the spotlight...again...because of political issues. Since tonight is Senior Night and the Lumberton Panthers will play Stringer High School in a big regional game, I decided to repost the story that was published by WDAM.It is not completely uncommon now-a-days to find a girl on the football team, but what about on the offensive line? Lumberton High School freshman Montye Cook decided she could hold that line with the best of them. "I'm proud of her, she's a trailblazer. Most girls that play are kickers," Head Coach Zach Jones said. Cooke originally thought she might try out for the cheerleading team, but decided a helmet and shoulder pads were more her style. When concern was raised of Cooke getting hit too hard by the boys, Coach Jones said she could hold her own. "One day I heard one of the guys tell her he was going to knock her out, and she said no I'm going to hit you…

Ben Winston Resigns: You Mad or Nah?

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Apparently, there are some that are confused by something I said in a video post earlier. There are two things that make allows the United States to stand out among other nations and that’s the freedom of speech and the right to vote. I said earlier that I would no longer blog about Jay McGraw if he resigned but I can blog about anyone as long as it is not a written defamatory statement; something that’s otherwise known as libel. When it comes to public officials, the burden of proof is higher and actual malice must be proven in the defamation case. There are some that thought the news of the resignation of Mayor Ben Winston would prevent me from blogging about him and that is not true. The readers of this blog know I have made several references to former elected officials regarding their actions while they were in office. As a courtesy, I probably won’t blog about him after today unless I’m referring to his duties while he was an elected official. After all, Winst…

Review of the November 3, 2015 Board Meeting: The Orange is the New Black Edition

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For a moment, I thought there wasn’t going to be a meeting. The clerk was not in the board room but as Tommy Dukes, Cora Rogers and Kent Crider entered city hall, they went directly to the clerk’s office by-passing the board room. Was there a meeting before the meeting? Alderman Quincy Rogers came in the board room and then the rest came in one by one. Ben Winston was not there because he was either trying to bail his friend Jay McGraw out of jail for stealing….AGAIN or the most logical reason, he was at the voting precinct trying to garner more votes. In his absence, the board members seemed confused about starting the meeting. Alter woman at large, Cora Rogers finally called the meeting to order. Interestingly, she has been on the board for two years and was looking at the agenda like a calf looking at a new gate. In other words, she was totally lost. She was so slow and it took almost 30 minutes to address one agenda item because she didn’t understand what wa…

Judgement Day and Election Day: Exercising Our Freedom

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Today is election day and it’s also the day a decision is rendered in lawsuit that was filed against me for blogging. Personally, I don’t know why a decision wasn’t rendered the day of the trial since it was proven that I was protected by my first amendment rights. Well, I also wondered why the case wasn’t dismissed for the same reason but it’s just another reminder that I live in Mississippi. I’m still limited in what I can say but I assure you that once a decision has been reached, I will share with you the results. Right now, I’m getting ready to go to the polls to exercise my voting rights. It’s my hope that on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, Ben Winston will still be the Mayor of Lumberton and I will have the freedom to give a untethered review of the regular scheduled board meeting. Regardless of the outcome, this experience has changed me in ways I didn’t think was imaginable. I didn’t think that taking a stand for truth would be so taxing. I also realized that peopl…

Your Vote is Your Voice

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Here in Mississippi, today is the eve of the November election. On November 3, 2015 we head to the polls to make our selections. To select our representatives from the county to the state. The final results based on campaigns and debates. Regardless of the election, not much will change on the state levels. New promises, new schemes but the same old devils. Here in Lamar County, there’s some positions up in the air. Despite one candidate paying for votes, the campaign was pretty fair. It’s my hope that the residents of District 2 will be diligent and wiser. Please help re-elect Warren Byrd as District 2 Supervisor. The circuit clerk’s race was once over-filled. But there’s three candidates that looking to fill the bill. I see Hankins, Jordan and Townsend are the candidates from which we must choose. But LaDonna J. Townsend has the experience needed to administer the rules.Townsend has risen above the fray and all of the chatter. Proving each step of the way that experience m…