Archive for February, 2013

Ridgeland also in the hunt for Dept of Revenue

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Finding a new facility for the Mississippi Department of Revenue continues to be a hot political fight.

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn wants to keep it in Clinton and move it to the old WorldCom building.  The House of Representatives passed a bill to do just that drawing accusations of political meddling.

Senator David Blount wants to move it to Jackson and his bill to do that passed the Senate.  Promoting the Blount plan are a number of Jackson business interests and arguments that the Jackson option is better for taxpayers and will boost the economy of the capital city.

But in the back and forth fights between Clinton and Jackson, what has emerged is a third option: the former Diversified Technologies, Inc. (DTI) building on Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland.  Those in Madison County advocating this option are not seeking legislative interference, but rather want to keep legislators out of the mix.

The Department of Revenue is going to move from its current location and issued an RFP for options.  Three finalists emerged: the Clinton and Jackson locations pushed by the legislature and the DTI building in Ridgeland.  Madison County folks feel good about their proposal and want the RFP process to continue.

Madison County Board of Supervisors President Gerald Steen is leading the charge.  He wrote in a recent op-ed:

The Diversified Technologies building is a safe, gated, architecturally significant building located on a beautiful campus with easy ingress and egress to both Interstate 20 and Interstate 55. It would provide convenient services to the 500 employees and their families to shopping, restaurants, banks and fitness facilities Ð all factors that will increase Mississippi Department of Revenue employee morale and benefit our local economy. Currently, the building is without tenants providing a unique opportunity of immediate occupancy in a building that can easily and readily be modified to suit the unique needs of the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

I urge Madison County voters to reach out to our legislators and ask them to let the RFP process work. We’re not looking for an advantage, just a fair shot. Let’s remove politics from the process and let the professionals make the wisest decision for taxpayers.

The Madison Board of Supervisors and the City of Ridgeland have both passed resolutions supporting this option.

The Kingfish and I discussed the politics (listen here) of the Department of Revenue relocation last week on WJNT.

The Madison County folks have launched an online petition for people to sign to let the RFP process work: where people can contact legislators.

If the legislature doesn’t compromise - and I can imagine they would - then the RFP process could continue and in several weeks make a determination.  In the end, Gunn might win with Clinton afterall, or Blount might be happy with the Jackson selection, or the under-the-radar third option of Ridgeland might gain the benefit through the RFP process.

Senate 28 Run-off today: Crisler, Norwood

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Former Jackson City Councilman Marshand Crisler led the nine person field in the special election for Senate 28 with 25% of the vote and brings traditional political support and campaign experience (ran for Jackson mayor; Central District Transportation Commissioner) against former Jackson Public Schools Board Member Sollie Norwood who squeaked into the run-off ahead of Tamarra Grace Butler, niece of the deceased Senator Alice Harden.

Norwood’s pre-run-off report showed $5280 raised between January 27 and February 16 to push his total raised in the campaign to nearly $12,000.  Contributors: Mississippi Labors Local 145 ($1500), Rollin Branch ($500), Green Electric & Security ($250) and the personal injury law firm Tatum & Wade ($500) which has been a major contributor to Norwood already.  Norwood spent most of his money this period on radio with $250 to WMPR and $884 to WKXI.

As of this post, Crisler’s pre-run-off report had not been posted to the Secretary of State’s web site, but his previous period’s report noted contributors including former Speaker of the House Tim Ford ($250), Tougaloo President Beverly Hogan ($250), former Jackson Mayor Kane Ditto ($300), Ergon PAC ($500), and Neel Schaffer engineers.  Crisler spent $3464 on radio and $1000 to Artie Armstrong.

Crisler maintains his advantage going into the run-off, but I’ve not heard where - if to anyone - the other seven candidates have thrown their support and in a low turnout election that could make all the difference.

MS Senate 28 - Special Election - Campaign Finance

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Pre-election campaign finance reports for February 5’s special election show a few serious candidates, and demonstrate the lack of any real data the reports provide.

First, here are the numbers as reported on the campaign finance reports: candidate - total raised - total spent - cash on hand.

Tommy Wallace - $6520 - $5255.53 - $2004.47

Sollie Norwood - $6237 - $2634.10 - $3602.90

James Stewart - $6050 - $4000 - $2050

Tamara Grace Butler - $4123 - $1457.70 - $2665.30

Cindy Ayers Elliott - $2250 - $1508 - $700

Marshand Crisler - No Report

Kathy Sykes - No Report

Antonio Porter - $0 - $0 - $0

A few notes on the reports:

You don’t have to itemize every contribution or expenditure, just those that exceed $200 for the election.  Butler and Wallace didn’t itemize anything.  Stewart itemized $1050 of his $6520 raised. Marshand Crisler, didn’t file a report, nor did Kathy Sykes.

Antonio Porter reported raising, spending and having zero dollars.  He also filed a termination report to cease his fundraising efforts so it seems clear he is realistic about his chances Tuesday.

Elliott spent $600 on radio; $473.91 on printing and signs; $210 with the Jackson Free Press.

Norwood spent $1611 on radio.

Stewart spent $4000 on consulting from Joe Lewis and among his contributions is $250 from the campaign of Senator John Horhn.

Going into this campaign, the observers I spoke to believed Butler had the advantage in the race to replace her late Aunt Alice Harden.  Butler had experience at the Capitol and she appeared ready to win.  Based on these campaign finance reports (which are not verifiable) she placed fourth in total fund raised through January 26. Crisler has an established electoral track record.

I suspect with a crowd of candidates this large and the money spread out as it is, there will be a run-off on February 26, but I’ll not begin to speculate which two candidates advance into the final round.

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