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
John Doe and others are like Richard Nixon except in this case, the crime (allegations of NCAA recruiting violations) is as bad as the cover-up
The Ole Miss NCAA football violations saga continues. Part of the story almost seems like a soap opera. Apart from the NCAA process, perhaps the most soap-opera like part of the story in how some Ole Miss boosters involved in the alleged cheating are doing everything possible to avoid being publicly exposed. There’s little doubt public exposure would cause embarrassment, humiliation and possibly even worse for some prominent and, in some cases, well known Rebel alumni or boosters. On March 22, the WeidieReport filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with Ole Miss for the names of any alumni or boosters who Ole Miss had disassociated from Rebel athletics because of the NCAA allegations. On May 3, the assistant general counsel at the school furnished me four letters sent to boosters notifying them of the decision to disassociate them from Ole Miss athletic programs. Shortly after that a reliable source informed me Ole Miss athletic officials had made five calls to boosters to inform them they also were being disassociated from Ole Miss athletics. The calls were reportedly made one evening and I was given four of the five names. Apparently, the individuals were not the same ones in the redacted letters. A John Doe filed action to stop the release of the names. The staff at the Mississippi Ethics Commission recommended names be released and apparently Ole Miss was going to comply. Ole Miss backed off giving the names pending the July 14 meeting of the Ethics Commission when the staff decision would be considered. Steve Robertson, Mississippi State beat writer for Scout.com, and blogger James Hendrix, took aggressive FOI action with the Ethics Commission. On July 14 members of the Ethics Commission ruled in favor of releasing the booster names and John Doe promptly filed legal action in Hind County against Ole Miss and the Ethics Commission to prevent them from making public the names of the boosters involved in the NCAA allegations (i.e. Ole Miss football cheating). If
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 Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze survive? Will Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter be strong enough to handle his AD, coach and the mess in Oxford?
Is there anything that stirs more passion in Mississippi than a heated political discussion or campaign? Of course there is and the easy answer is SEC football, in particular the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. When NCAA allegations were announced against Ole Miss athletics about a year ago, a firestorm of denials, finger-pointing, defiance, charges of persecution by the NCAA, a lot of spin control by Ole Miss and much, much more erupted. The volume increased recently with additional and very serious allegations against Ole Miss football. New Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Athletic Director Ross Bjork and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze filmed a 20 minute video to discuss the allegations, how Ole Miss would respond and announced a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017 and that the school would forfeit almost $8 million in SEC postseason revenue. While discussing the video with a friend, I made the mistake of calling it a press conference. I was quickly corrected. It was not a press conference and reporters were not invited so no questions by the press took place. The situation at Ole Miss has received widespread national coverage. While the final outcome may not be known for another year, the overwhelming consensus is the Rebels will suffer more severe penalties from the NCAA. It has been argued the NCAA wants to make an example of Ole Miss and that the university’s pre-emptive self-imposed penalties were a self-serving appeasement that won’t satisfy the NCAA. The most interesting speculation is how the investigation will impact Vitter, Bjork
(Editor’s note: Wednesday afternoon Andrew Puzder withdrew as President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor)
The Hill newspaper in Washington and other media are reporting the fight over President Trump’s Cabinet has moved from new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Andrew Puzder, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor. Democrats, teacher unions and other liberals targeted DeVos in an attempt to block a Cabinet selection. The Senate confirmation of DeVos ended in a tie until Vice President Pence broke the tie by voting for DeVos. Now, Senate Democrats view Puzder as their best chance to block a Trump Cabinet member from confirmation. Puzder, the CEO of a fast food chain, is thought to be vulnerable on several points. More important from a Mississippi angle is State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is expected to be named to a subcabinet position in the Labor Department if Puzder is confirmed. Puzder’s path to confirmation starts with hearings this week. From what I have read, most of the allegations against Puzder are bogus.
Attention Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss: There is no “assault” on the media
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mississippi statehood, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss will sponsor several programs during the spring semester. According to “HottyToddy.com”, a site covering Ole Miss and Oxford, the Feb. 17 program is titled “Assault on the Media.” The four journalists who will discuss the “growing hostility” toward the press will be Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, cartoonist Marshall Ramsey of the same newspaper, Ronnie Agnew, the executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger, and Kate Royals, formerly of the Clarion-Ledger and now a reporter for the web newspaper Mississippi Today. I repeat, there is no “assault” on the media. People are just sick and tired of the left-wing bias of the press. That is not an “assault”. Poll after
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
Goofy suggestions about changing our state flag
At the end of November it was announced that distinguished Mississippi author Greg Iles of Natchez will be the featured speaker for the seventh annual Statehood Day celebration on Dec. 10 at the Old Capitol in Jackson. The story in the Clarion.Ledger that best-selling author Iles will headline Statehood Day quickly evolved into one of the newspaper’s favorite drumbeats – removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state flag. The story noted that Iles and another best-selling author, former Mississippian John Grisham, drafted a full-page newspaper ad calling for removal of the emblem.
From that point, the story was more about the state flag than any celebration of Mississippi’s entry 198 years ago into the United States. Clarion.Ledger reporter Sherry Lucas quoted Iles as saying, “It’s hard to believe that we’re so far behind the rest of the South on his issue.” Then Iles really jumped off into the deep end of the pool. He said, “As for whether – or when – the state flag will be changed, I’ll tell you this: on the day that the football teams of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and USM say they won’t play another game until the flag comes down, we’re within five days of the change happening.” As we often see from other celebrity types, especially those of the Hollywood variety, fame does not always come with a heavy dose of common sense. As in the case when some members of the University of Missouri football team threatened to boycott football practice and even Tiger games if the president of the school did not resign, it was a clear case of the inmates taking over the asylum. Yes, I agree that if the Rebel, Bulldog and Golden Eagle football teams refused to play games until the state flag is changed, it would certainly prompt action on the flag. It will also cause a deeper division of people in our state and would be a stupid plan of action to force change. Iles then advocated an even more extreme position. He added, “Same thing if the NCAA refuses to allow other SEC teams to play sanctioned games in Mississippi. The Legislature is probably willing to lose a few $30 million movies over the flag, but this state is all about college football. Football is likely to be the final agent of change.” In the article, Iles goes on to make even more absurd and derogatory statements about the state he calls home. The NCAA makes enough bad decisions without
Brother of U.S. Sen. David Vitter
Jeffrey Vitter, the brother of Sen. David Vitter, and current candidate for governor of Louisiana, will be named head of the University of Mississippi this afternoon by the state College Board. The very highly regarded Vitter is currently provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. The WeidieReport learned Sunday night that the College Board had to move fast because Vitter is one of three finalists for president of the University of Arkansas. Another Mississippi connection is in 2010 Vitter was one of five finalists for the position of provost at Mississippi State University. At the time Vitter was a provost at Texas A&M. Instead, MSU promoted from within by naming Jerry Gilbert as provost. There was even one widely circulated report on the MSU campus that Vitter did not get the State job because his credentials were so impressive that he might overshadow then new MSU President Mark Keenum. A very close friend of Sen. Vitter told me Sunday night, “Jeff is super smart.”
Not everyone who wanted Dan Jones removed as chancellor at Ole Miss wants to wave Rebel flags, bring back Colonel Reb, or sing Dixie. From the drum beating on the left you wouldn’t know that. There are three quick assumptions that can be made about the Dan Jones situation at Ole Miss: 1.) With the lopsided college board vote of 9-2 not to renew Jones’ contract as chancellor, there must be a strong justification for the vote. 2.) Jones did not make a graceful exit after the board voted not to renew his contract. His statement and actions since then have done nothing but harm the University of Mississippi and add fuel to the fire of the messy divorce. 3.) The coverage by the press, especially The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, has had a lopsided, pro-Jones bias and has also been harmful to the school.
In most cases it should not matter if a college president is liberal or conservative. In the case of Chancellor Dan Jones it does matter. Jones is an avowed liberal and those on the political left in Mississippi have rushed to support Jones. His support has not been just from those left-of-center, but liberals have certainly been leading the pro-Jones charge.
Clear pro-Jones press bias
An interesting point was made to me Friday morning. After the Mississippi Department of Corrections scandal and other state contracting problems, there was a lot of outrage at The Clarion-Ledger and other newspapers. Why haven’t we seen similar outrage about the contracting problems at UMMC?
With increased success on the gridiron by Mississippi State and Ole Miss, there’s been an increase in demand from legislators for tickets—free of course—for State and Ole Miss games. It started early when the Bulldogs opened the season against the USM Golden Eagles. The demand was high because the Bulldogs were playing an in-state school at State’s newly expanded football stadium, and MSU fans anticipated a successful season. Ole Miss is also having an outstanding season despite last Saturday’s narrow loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. The ticket demand hasn’t slowed as Ole Miss hosts highly ranked Auburn on Saturday and the No. 1 nationally ranked Bulldogs played host to SEC foe Arkansas.