Landslide vote against union at Nissan is a win
for Nissan workers and also for Mississippi
On the Monday after the Saturday when workers at the Nissan plant in Canton overwhelmingly rejected the United Automobile Workers attempt to unionize, The Wall Street Journal called the vote “another humiliation” for the UAW. The editorial noted the UAW spent heavily to win the unionization vote and enlisted supporters such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez and actor Danny Glover. Of course, the UAW was supported by Mississippi’s own congressman Bennie Thompson, the state NAACP and Jackson’s new mayor, Chokwe Lumumba. I had previously been told about 65 percent of the workers at the Nissan plant are black, but the WSJ said more than 80 percent of those who voted were African Americans. Of course, the UAW tried to exploit racial politics before the vote. Socialist Sen. Sanders said the UAW supporters were “connecting workers rights with civil rights.” Fortunately for the Nissan workers and future industrial development in Mississippi, playing the race card did not work for the UAW and its supporters like Bennie Thompson, longtime radical Danny Glover and Mayor Lumumba. The WSJ editorial was right on target when it said “race-baiting fell flat in Canton.” Most workers at the plant make $24-26 per hour. What do you think most of them would be making elsewhere? The WSJ also noted, and I assume the Nissan workers were also aware, a week before the vote a deceased UAW vice president teamed up with an official at Fiat-Chrysler to allegedly steal millions of dollars from a fund that was intended to train auto workers. The wife of the late UAW VP and the Fiat-Chrysler official have been indicted. UAW leaders often live high off the hog compared to the workers they represent. It is no wonder during the past 35 years the UAW’s ranks have shrunk by more than 75 percent. The Center for Union Facts also estimates during the past 10 years big labor unions have used more than $1 billion in member dues to donate to the Democratic Party and other left-wing special-interest groups. While workers at Nissan were voting 2,244 to 1,307 against joining the UAW, Toyota and Mazda announced they will spend $1.6 billion to build another assembly plant in the South. The plant is expected to have 4,000 jobs, a huge prize for whatever southern state is the winner of the competition to build the plant. That competition will be very stiff and Mississippi may be a longshot to win the plant, but one thing is very clear – if Nissan had lost the vote to the UAW, Mississippi would have zero chance to secure the economic development prize.
Correction and apology to Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins
In the August 2 WeidieReport, I commented that popular radio talk show host Bo Bounds noted a disclosure lapse at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. In that post I was incorrect when I wrote that veteran Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins had written several
Hinds County lawsuit shows at least one, and probably more Rebel boosters are nervous
Without question, some Ole Miss alumni and boosters are nervous about their names being made public in connection with their role in the NCAA allegations of illegal recruiting involving the football program. One booster, “John Doe” filed legal action against the University of Mississippi and the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). The suit was filed May 23 in the Hinds County Chancery Court and heard by Judge Denise Owen. “John Doe” sought to enjoin Ole Miss and IHL from publicly divulging his name in connection to allegations made against him regarding his involvement in football recruiting cheating. As the legal action was filed in Hinds County, it was not hard to surmise that “John Doe” is from the Jackson area. On March 22 the WeidieReport filed a Freedom of Information request with the University of Mississippi with a copy to the IHL commissioner. The request was for the names of any alumni/boosters Ole Miss had disassociated from the Rebel athletic programs as the result of the NCAA allegations. After several email exchanges and phone conversations, on May 3 the Assistant General Counsel at Ole Miss sent me a cover letter and copies of four letters that had been sent to alumni/boosters notifying them of the school’s decision to disassociate them from Ole Miss athletic programs. The names of the boosters, (a.k.a alleged cheaters) were redacted. I thought at the time the blacking out of the names in the letters was akin to changing the names to protect the guilty. Steve Robertson, who covers Mississippi State athletics for Scout.com, has been tenacious and like a bulldog, no pun intended, in digging into the NCAA allegations against the Ole Miss football program. When Robertson’s FOI request resulted in him receiving the same redacted booster names, Robertson filed a complaint with the toothless Mississippi Ethics Commission. And I emphasize the word “toothless.” It would have made more sense, but also been more costly, to file action in a chancery court to force Ole Miss to release the names of the
Will legislators put an end to “legalized bribery”?
The upcoming 2017 session of the Mississippi Legislature will face the usual mix of key issues: funding for public education, transportation, meeting the needs of state agencies while balancing the state budget despite stagnant revenues, providing much need health care for Mississippians, job creation and on and on. The ugly issue of political ethics (i.e. campaign finance reform) will again get much needed attention even if it will not be a favorite issue with many legislators. The past Sunday Clarion-Ledger political editor Geoff Pender reported that House Speaker Philip Gunn says campaign finance reform will be a top priority. Gunn should have, and could have, done something about campaign finance reform during the 2016 session when the bill died a shameful death in the House. Gunn claims he had nothing to do with the disgraceful failure of campaign reform during the last legislative session. That is either a lot of bull or Gunn is admitting he is a weak leader of the Mississippi House. Campaign finance reform unanimously passed the Mississippi Senate before being killed in the House without even a roll call vote. Pender’s excellent column pointed out our current campaign finance laws and how campaign expenses are reported are nothing short of “legalized bribery” paid for by lobbyists and other special interests. He wrote, “As long as they avoid tax scrutiny (reporting as taxable personal income), Mississippi politicians can spend campaign money in ways that would land them in jail in most other states.” Pender noted a Clarion-Ledger investigative series earlier this year showed “many politicians – legislators in particular – use lax campaign finance laws, farcical reporting regulations and nonexistent enforcement” to spend campaign donations “on clothes, cars, groceries, apartments,
Prior to the start of the 2016 football season, MSU coach Dan Mullen frequently talked about his young team. After last Saturday’s embarrassing loss to South Alabama, a 28-point underdog, Mullen’s postgame press conference was almost a joke. It seemed like 8-10 times Mullen referred to his “young” players or “young team.” This is Mullen’s eighth season as head coach of the Bulldogs. After leading the Bulldogs for eight years, if his team is young and inexperienced, whose fault is that (note: recruiting)? This week a prominent sports show host said State has ConferenceUSA quarterbacks, a C-USA offensive line, a C-USA running back and C-USA cornerbacks. Bo Bounds was right on target. Of course, the problem is State plays in the SEC not C-USA. Even worse, South Alabama is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
The real reason for Ole Miss’ collapse against Florida State
After leading Florida State 28-6, the Ole Miss Rebels collapsed in the third quarter against the Seminoles. Following the game, the lead sports columnist for the Jackson Clarion.Ledger listed a number of concerns for Ole Miss in the wake of the defeat. Hugh Kellenberger ignored an additional concern that was promptly called to my attention. The major reason for the loss to FSU is that the Ole Miss band is now prohibited from playing
The Mississippi Flag issue
Let me get a couple of things out of the way. When the vote to change our state’s flag took place in 2001, I had left Mississippi and was living in Washington, D.C. If I still lived in Mississippi I probably would have voted, like an overwhelming majority of Mississippians, to keep the existing state flag. I have never considered the state flag or the Confederate battle flag to be racist. It has sickened and disgusted me to see the KKK and other white supremacist groups co-op the flag. At an early age I was fascinated by Civil War history and read as much as I could about the Civil War. Today, my personal library has more than a hundred books dealing with the Civil War. As yes, some of the titles are even about Lincoln, Grant and Sherman. There are very few of the major Civil War battlefield parks in the nation I haven’t visited. An ancestor, John C. Breckinridge, was vice president of the United States but was later a major general in the Confederate States of America army, and later Secretary of War for the CSA. Of course, Breckinridge was wrong when he defended slavery before and during the war. Of course, he was right in 1870 when he denounced the Ku Klux Klan.
Flag hysteria in the press
The nine murders in Charleston were a horrible tragedy. The alleged killer is clearly a twisted, racist redneck. That doesn’t justify the mass hysteria in the media about the Confederate flag. The terrible murder of innocent black church goers in South Carolina is no cause for massive advocacy journalism concerning the state flag in Mississippi. As far as the press in concerned, during more than 20 years as a journalist, I have had no problem with newspapers taking an editorial stance, even when those opinions were contrary to my own. My problem is when obvious bias creeps into the news pages. Few newspapers are as guilty of advocacy journalism than our state’s largest newspaper, The Jackson Clarion Ledger. On Wednesday, the CL online home page had nine headlines dealing with the flag issue and the “Right Now” section contained three stories. Thursday’s print edition front page had only three stories, all dealing with the flag. Friday’s lead story on the top half of the front page was about the newspaper’s survey of state legislators
It is not a scientific survey but my gut feeling is that during recent months The Clarion Ledger’s guest columns, op-eds, etc. have leaned even more toward left field than in the past. The most recent example was a guest column that appeared in the newspaper’s online edition in early June. If the column appeared in the print edition, I did not see it. The article was written by Carol V.R. George. George was identified a research professor of history emerita at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. George has a new book that deals with the murders and struggle for civil rights in Neshoba County. The column also noted George “splits her time in Florida and New York.” In her column, George takes shots at the college board for not extending the contract of Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones and essentially adds criticism of Mississippi’s “good ole boy” network, past and present. However, not once, but five times in her column, George refers to Kirk Fordice, who served two terms as governor. Five times George spells the late governor’s name as “Fordyce.” Before someone who “splits her time in Florida and New York” dispenses advice to Mississippians and comments on state politics and history, I would suggest she correctly spell the now late governor’s name. Which leads to another question about the spelling: Does The Clarion Ledger still employ copy editors?
Did any reporter ask Adrian Shipman who is paying her expense lawyers? It is certainly not Shipman.
Last week the Mississippi Supreme Court heard arguments from the two sides involved in the constitutional amendments dealing with public education that voters will consider next November. Sitting behind the lawyers was the Oxford mother of two children, Adrian Shipman, who is the plaintiff in the case opposing the legislature’s amendment versus the one supported by the Better Schools, Better Jobs organization. The press noted that Shipman spoke to reporters after the hearing. Do you think any of those reporters asked Shipman who is paying the expensive lawyers who are representing her? I think you know the answer to that. The Better Schools, Better Jobs organization has been quick to cry foul about the Mississippi Legislature and other opponents of its constitutional amendment. On the other hand, shouldn’t we know who is Shipman’s real benefactor?
Ole Miss alumni on both sides should move forward
A week ago the battle of Ole Miss apparently ended with Chancellor Dan Jones’ press conference and his statement that he and the college board could not reach an agreement to extend his contract beyond September. Jones finally did what he should have done earlier. Despite the actions of his supporters, the college board did not reverse its decision on extending Jones’ contract. When the college board voted 9-2 on March 20 not to renew his contract, it never received much publicity that the two board members who supported Jones did not go to Ole Miss. Of the four members that voted with the 9-2 majority to fire Jones, two of the four attended school on the Oxford campus and two went to school at the medical center in Jackson. There was never a presumption in the press that the overwhelming majority, with the facts they had at hand, made a decision that was in the best interests of Ole Miss. Now it is time for Ole Miss alumni to move forward regardless of their support or non-support of Jones. I have little doubt that the college board will conduct a nationwide search for Jones’ successor. The best thing that can happen now for Ole Miss is that a truly outstanding candidate will be selected to lead the university.
Keith Heard is Sen. Thad Cochran’s new chief of staff. Another veteran Cochran staffer, Adam Telle, has been named deputy chief of staff and will also continue as legislative director. Heard was a good choice after Cochran’s previous of chief of staff, Bruce Evans, moved over to the Senate Appropriations Committee where Cochran is again chairman. Heard is a Mississippian and after Cochran served in the U.S. House for six years and was then elected to the Senate to replace Jim Eastland, Heard joined Cochran’s senate staff. He later moved on to work with a couple of trade associations before becoming a lobbyist. Heard was very active in Cochran’s most recent re-election campaign. After the Republican first primary when state Sen. Chris McDaniel almost defeated Cochran and had the veteran senator on the ropes, Heard assumed a more active role during the runoff and general election. There is no doubt that Cochran had a poorly managed campaign during the first primary and a number of changes were made that made a difference during the runoff. An increased role by Heard was one of them.
I don’t know if you’re been reading the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s investigative series on Mississippi’s prison system. If you haven’t, you should. If you’ve missed some of the stories, go online and read them. Don’t miss the upcoming stories that remain. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the series is a horror story.
During more than 20 years in journalism and in my time outside of that business, I have seen The Clarion-Ledger and a handful of other state newspapers publish investigative series. Some have been very important. Some have been average and in some cases have hardly been worth reading. From my journalism background, I also know that to some extent newspaper editors have initiated investigative series to win state, regional, or national awards. In the case of The Clarion-Ledger’s current series on Mississippi’s prison system, any recognition or award would be very deserving.
I have felt for many years that a good editorial cartoon can have ten times the impact of even the most hard hitting, well written newspaper editorial. That is certainly the case with Marshall Ramsey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Ramsey has done an excellent job for many years. The campaign in Mississippi for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate has certainly given Ramsey a lot of material and he has been at his best. Chris McDaniel’s behavior and actions since he lost the runoff to Sen. Cochran on June 24 has been a editorial cartoonist’s delight and Ramsey has taken advantage of it. So much so that I think Ramsey should contribute to the McDaniel campaign to keep McDaniel’s ridiculous election challenge going.