Notes from here and there
July 22, 2001
Mississippi politics heat up again tomorrow as legislators return to the Capitol to deal with Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's special session on teacher pay. Musgrove has lobbied hard for elimination of the 5 percent clause, which tied teacher pay hikes to the state's economic growth.
Predictions are that, with the support of Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and House Speaker Tim Ford, Musgrove's initiative will fly and teacher pay hikes will no longer be connected to economic growth.
Sad to say, sufficient growth isn't happening and some political pundits have decried the fact that teachers are caught up in the middle. Others argue that if public education was doing its job adequately, students educated in Mississippi public schools would be able to compete with the best of the best anywhere, lifting the state's economy to a higher level and contributing to the growth that would help teaches get their pay raises.
Suffice it to say, most observers will be surprised if the 5 percent clause lives longer than a half-hour during the special session. The cost of the special session will still be at least $47,000 because that's what it takes to get 174 members of the Legislature to town for a single day.
It's a shame Musgrove refused to consider taking this vote during another special session he must call at some point soon on congressional redistricting. The governor is too busy making a political statement to save taxpayers money.
City fathers have put forward an interesting proposition on privatizing enforcement of Meridian's downtown parking rules. At the current time, officers of the Meridian Police Department walk their routes, mark tires and write $6 tickets for overtime parking.
Meridian had the good sense to banish parking meters years ago. But the "timed" downtown parking deal remains a problem for any one who works in the core business district.
Having a private firm enforcing the parking policy seems problematic, but a feasibility study in this case is not a bad idea.
Better yet, city officials should take immediate action to free up more unlimited parking spaces for people who work downtown.
Donna Jill Johnson
A round of applause, if you please, for Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson, who's been named circuit clerk of the year in Mississippi. She does excellent work keeping all the records straight and making sure court runs in a timely manner.
Her award means she runs the most efficient circuit clerk's office in Mississippi and Lauderdale countians are fortunate to have her on the job.
And, a final note. An old friend and Meridian native, Scott Ware, continues to distinguish himself in journalistic circles. Scott has been named editor of The Sun in Bremerton, Wash., effective Aug. 1. The Sun, a Scripps newspaper, publishes seven days a week and has about 34,000 subscribers.
Scripps is probably best known around these parts for its ownership of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, where Scott worked as a reporter, city editor, news editor and night managing editor.
Scott got his start in newspapers here at The Meridian Star while still in high school, working as a proofreader and copy boy and, later, as a sports and news reporter. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ole Miss and embarked on a career that has taken him from Mississippi to Memphis to Puerto Rico to New Mexico and now the State of Washington.
Scott has been editor of The Tribune in Albuquerque, N.M., since 1995. In 1996, The Tribune was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and was a first place winner in 1998 and 2001 National Headliner Awards. The Tribune also won three first place awards in the Best of Scripps annual contest for 2000, more than any other Scripps newspaper.
Scott was also editor of The San Juan Star in Puerto Rico.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3213, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.