Archive for April, 2009


RR: Unsealing State Farm v Hood

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Last week, Jackson New Media, Inc., publisher of Y’all Politics (YallPolitics.com), filed a motion to unseal the 2007 federal court case of State Farm Insurance vs Attorney General Jim Hood. Raycom Media, the owner of three Mississippi televisions stations - WLBT in Jackson, WLOX of Biloxi, and WDAM of Hattiesburg - joined in with supporting motions to intervene before U.S. District Court Judge David Bramlette.

Y’all posted a comprehensive report on the matter (Y’allPolitics files to unseal court records in case of State Farm vs. Hood - Seeking to unseal ’secret agreement’) complete with links to the motions and supporting reports. It generated quite a buzz.

Media want access to sealed document in Katrina lawsuit (WLBT)

Web site motions to make Hood settlement with State Farm public (Legal News Line)

Media request Katrina papers (Clarion Ledger)

Geaux Y’all Geaux (Jackson Jambalaya)

Alan Lange and YallPolitics go to court to obtain the settlement order in Hood v. State Farm (NMissCommentor.com)

State Farm-Hood settlement under scrutiny (Mississippi Business Journal)

“State Farm v. Hood” - Jackson New Media wants to take a peek (Law And More)

TV stations want agreement between State Farm, attorney general unsealed (Associated Press)

I was at MerleFest in North Carolina and only now able to put my thoughts into the mix.  I wrote this week about the effort to open up this sealed settlement. The facts are essentially the same as the prior reports, but here are some brief excerpts.

State Farm sued Hood not because of his personal activity, but based on actions they allege he committed as our Attorney General. They reached a settlement.

Hood claims the settlement vindicates him and the “allegations lodged against me by this insurer were shown to be false.”

Other than dispute over the characterization of the settlement mentioned above, State Farm has been largely quiet.

But if Hood is correct, then he should be pleased that Y’all Politics has petitioned for this settlement to be opened. We should all be glad that new media and old media have teamed up to protect our access to open government and our freedom of the press.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Unsealing State Farm deal


RR: Government Twittering

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Last week I attended a conference hosted by the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet in Washington DC dealing with online politics and new technology tools for campaigns, public affairs, and governing.

The online gurus for the Obama Campaign, the McCain Campaign, Bush-Cheney 04, elected officials, the RNC, the DNC, bloggers, and reporters got together to discuss innovations and “what’s next.”  I was impressed with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Here is an excerpt from my column:

Bowen said the challenge for new technology yesterday was to make government transparent and open to the public. Those needs remain, but the challenge today is to make government interactive: able to reach people in real time and receive input from citizens.

She said agencies and state employees historically view government information as secret or proprietary and changing that attitude is necessary for openness. Another obstacle is the internal infrastructure of state government. The legacy of tools and methods used by independent departments are often incompatible because government just “made it up as we were going along.” The difficulties in integrating these disparate networks creates an impediment to openness.

Shifting attitudes and integrating networks aside, Bowen employs new media technologies to stay in contact and get feedback from citizens. Unlike some elected officials, she herself manages her Facebook and Twitter accounts, although she says her frequent posts and tweets “drives my communications department to drink” because “you hate to be the biggest leak in your own office.”

She refers constituent services questions from these social networks to her staff. One Facebook message she received was a tip regarding election fraud. She dispatched an investigator and that tip led to an arrest.

Her office is considering utilizing Wikis to receive input from citizens on regulatory or rule making procedures. She is not afraid to try new technology, even if it fails, “We’ll try them all. Some of them probably won’t work.”

She says California plans to use Twitter during the next election to reach the 24,000-plus polling stations across the state simultaneously. As long as at least one person at each station has a portable communication device, she’ll be able to let everyone know about late breaking changes and answer common questions in real time.

Bowen said technology can cut costs for government. On election night, the servers for California’s Secretary of State must be prepared for millions of hits and requests for information during a very short amount of time. But the rest of the year, that is excess and costly infrastructure. Bowen is looking to move to a “cloud” infrastructure - distributing the computer resources to other servers over the Internet.

I also wrote briefly about how Mississippi state government uses technology to share public information with its citizens.  Here is some of it, tongue in cheek.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently announced it will be using Twitter to inform drivers of traffic concerns, specifically hurricane traffic. With specific twitters for I-55, I-59, US-49, US-98, I-10, and I-20 MDOT will be able to advise those at home making travel plans or drivers on the road who enable their mobile Twitter feed.

Presumably, these would not be teenage drivers, as the Mississippi legislature outlawed teenage texting while driving. For a teenager, reading that mobile Tweet from MDOT could cost a $500 ticket. The same goes for Amber Alerts issued via text and Tweets. But you know the difficulties kids have these days multitasking new technology and old technology (a car). They’re not nearly as adept as us old folks who may still text, Tweet and drive legally.

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Government Twittering


Barbour: Abundant cheap energy, not “cap and trade”

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour promotes his energy policy (”more energy”) in today’s Washington Times. Barbour has encouraged energy expansion and infrastructure enhancement in Mississippi as a vital component of economic development. He has said that in the future, businesses won’t ask how much energy costs, but whether they can get it.  And he wants Mississippi to be able to meet the needs of job creating businesses. Now, President Obama’s policies threaten that not only in Mississippi but across the country.  Here are some excerpts from Barbour’s column:

Conservative economic policy is under attack on many fronts by the Obama administration and its liberal allies in Congress: taxes, spending, government borrowing and free-market capitalism itself. As we fight on these fronts, conservatives also must be focused on another issue of critical importance to our country’s economic and national security: energy.

America needs more American energy, but the Obama policy is for less American energy and more expensive energy.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle last year: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity bills will necessarily skyrocket.”

And the cap-and-trade tax he has proposed in his budget fulfills his prediction. It will be the biggest tax increase in history and will clobber low- and middle-income families. His additional proposal for $81 billion of tax increases on the oil and gas industry will add that much more to gasoline and electricity prices, while also reducing supply, thereby driving fuel costs even higher.

Over and above the gigantic cost increases to families, these skyrocketing electric rates and motor-fuel prices will dramatically drive up the cost of doing business in our country. Small businesses, America’s economic engine that creates nearly 80 percent of all net new jobs, will pay far higher utility bills, and the cost of manufacturing goods in the United States will make many of our products uncompetitive and drive production and jobs overseas.

While the Obama policy is to drive energy costs through the ceiling, what Americans want and need is abundant, affordable, reliable, American energy. And, with the right energy policy, they can have it.

A policy based on more American energy would mean our families and, critically, our economy would benefit from all the available energy sources our tremendously endowed country has to offer: more oil and gas, not less; more nuclear power; cleaner coal-generated electricity; and wind, biomass, hydro and solar to the maximum degree they can contribute. And that will increase over time. Conservation and efficiency also can and must play a larger role in our energy equation.

A policy of more American energy will result in more abundant, more reliable and lower cost energy, and because it’s all American, it will reduce our reliance on foreign oil even more than efficiency and conservation, as important as they are.

The answer to our energy policy is: All of the above - more American energy. We need it all.

Such a policy reduces, then eliminates excessive U.S. dependence on foreign oil. It keeps costs where Americans can afford the quality of life they deserve and work so hard to attain, and allows our nation’s businesses and industries to stay competitive.

More American energy is the right policy for conservatives and for our country.

You can read the full piece here: Barbour: Cheap energy, yes; cap and trade, no


RR: Ultimately, Mabus brings clout

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

This week I write about former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus and his nomination to be Secretary of the Navy. I discuss his credentials, a couple of items that appear in articles looking at his nomination (his divorce, his connection to a company that funded Haitian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide), and the clout he brings to the Mississippi military infrastructure. Here is an excerpt:

Unlike his predecessor, Mabus does not have ties or potential conflicts with the defense industry. Mabus will replace Donald Winter who - before his nomination as Navy Secretary - was head of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. However, Northrop Grumman wins again with Mabus as the industry is Mississippi’s largest private employer through its shipyards facility on the Mississippi Coast.

Mabus is expected to be confirmed. Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker - both Republicans - support the nomination. Wicker serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Fourth District Congressman Gene Taylor (a Democrat) serves on the House Armed Services Committee where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces. Mississippi’s military infrastructure will only be strengthened with Mabus directing Pentagon policy while Wicker and Taylor’s push legislative initiatives.

Following the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission’s (BRAC) recommendations, the Pentagon ordered Naval Station Pascagoula closed. Any chances that Naval Air Station Meridian could be on the block in the future will be diminished by a Wicker-Taylor-Mabus team. Twenty years after his gubernatorial inauguration, Mabus brings yet additional clout to Mississippi’s military establishment.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Ultimately, Mabus bring clout


30 New Jobs in Noxubee County

Monday, April 13th, 2009

The Noxubee Alliance and Thomasson Company will host a ribbon cutting and grand opening for the new Macon Treating Company Tuesday at 10am at 14877 Hwy. 45 in Macon.  Macon Treating Company, along with sister company East Mississippi Pole Company, represents a total investment of $6 million and approximately 30 new jobs in Noxubee County. The public is invited.



RR: Tax Tea Party Day

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Everywhere you look, Americans are fed up. Frustration, the opposite of hope. But they are determined to make a real change and folks around the state and country will be speaking out on tax day. I wrote about the Jackson event, here are some excerpts:

Eight blocks north of the Medgar Evers Post Office in downtown Jackson - which traditionally stays open to midnight accepting last minute tax mailings - attorney Mark Mayfield, talk radio host Kim Wade and others will lead a Tax Day Tea Party on the south steps of the Mississippi Capitol.
I spoke with Mayfield and Wade at the WJNT-1180AM studio about this tea-roots movement.

Wade and Mayfield said they are not targeting or supporting any party.

“The tea party is not an ends in and of itself,” explained Mayfield, “it is the beginning of a movement.” They said when people leave the event they will possess a game plan to get involved in 2010 and 2011.

Mayfield and Wade hope this event spurs lovers of liberty and economic prosperity to throw their hats in the ring of campaigns. “Debt and regulations suffocate the free market,” said Mayfield, “we need leaders who understand this, and citizens who will hold them accountable.”

“We’re really in trouble when Eastern Europe is warning us away from socialism,” Wade continued, “The warning signs are here. Now its time for us to take our country back.”

The two-hour event kicks off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15 and will feature patriotic music, a color guard, and speakers including U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, state Sen. Chris McDaniels of Jones County and state Rep. Rita Martinson of Madison County..

The full column discusses how conservatives in Mississippi are using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking technology to spread the word about the event. You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Tax Tea Party Day


RR: Obama’s unilateral economy

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Unpopular policies, global outrage, longterm credibility problems domestically and internationally: this is not George W. Bush fighting the War in Iraq, this is Barack H. Obama struggling through an economic recession which his administration owns more every day, and which continues to move his poll numbers down. Here are some excerpts from this week’s column: Obama’s unliateral economy

The economy may become President Barack Obama’s Iraq War. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, faced plummeting poll numbers as the American public, anxious for victory, grew fatigued as Bush strategies (some successful, some not) failed to provide resolution.

Americans agreed we need security; we disagreed on the necessity of an invasion of Iraq. Americans agreed we need economic recovery; we disagree on whether it requires trillions of dollars of spending, taxes, and debt.

By ordering the termination of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, or threatening massive targeted tax increases at AIG employees whose contracts provided for bonuses, Obama and the Democrats show every ounce of cowboy arrogance they accused of Bush and Republicans on foreign policy.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner informed Congress last week, “We will work with the Europeans, we cannot move alone,” but he said, “We cannot wait for consensus with the rest of the world.” Geithner’s unilateral economic policy was exactly what the Obama campaign criticized Bush’s foreign policy for embracing.

But Obama’s global economic policy - like Bush’s foreign policy - is not truly unilateral. In addition to a number of smaller nations who turn to America’s leadership, our long stalwart friend Great Britain remains by our side.

But for all the political damage done to Tony Blair’s Labour Party by Bush, Obama inflicts comparable harm on Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The British Conservative party has told Brown “you have run out of our money” and he faces opposition from the Bank of England Governor, as well as a lack of demand for the purchase of U.K. government bonds to finance his growing debt.

German finance minister Peer Steinbruck called Brown’s U.K. stimulus, “crass Keynesianism.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed, “I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was “never the intention” of the G20 to create additional global stimulus. France and the Czech Republic agree.

You can read the rest of the column that includes thoughts on the G20 meeting and impressions from Ronald Roosdorp, Private Secretary to the Vice Prime Minister and the Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands who last week addressed a Stennis Institute forum in Jackson, online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Obama’s unilateral economy.


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