Tag Archive for: Mississippi politics

 

Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation.

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports.

Poland, Slovakia to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation

A recent Household Pulse Survey by the Census Bureau found that more than half of Mississippians (52.9%) are struggling to pay typical household bills. This is the highest percentage in the nation and the only one over 50%. Mississippi narrowly edges out neighboring Alabama which came in second at 49.7% and far exceeds the national average of 39.7%. 

Over that same period (the week of Feb. 4-13), Mississippi was 5th in the nation at 48.6% among states whose residents fear eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Mississippians also led in the category of householders that were unable to pay an energy bill in full in the last 12 months with 30.5%.

Median household income is the lowest in the nation at $46,637, far below the national average of $70,784. Recent data shows that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation with 19.07%.

State Republicans suddenly remember this is an election year

During the pandemic, states received millions in federal dollars to help people get through the economic downturn. Despite the great need, average Mississippians received far less help than people in other states. Instead, the state government decided to use this windfall to push for income tax cuts.

While income tax reduction is popular in the state (62%), the suspension of the state’s 7% grocery tax is far more popular (74%). Mississippi is one of the few states to tax groceries and has the highest rate of any of them. Grocery taxes disproportionately burden the poor while income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But the state’s Republican leadership hasn’t considered using the state’s surplus to cut grocery taxes, despite rising food costs. 

State legislators recently narrowly rejected proposals that would have eliminated income taxes in the state. This means the stalled bills likely won’t move forward in this year’s legislative session. However, House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar said the bills’ failure was “more of a timing issue with some of these representatives as opposed to any real opposition to income tax elimination. Coming off the heels of last year’s income tax bill, and this being an election year, there are a few that would just prefer to wait a little longer before making further cuts”.

Reeves believes life begins at conception, but when does it end?

In a rare win for public welfare in the state, Gov. Reeves has just signed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers and babies from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Mississippi has some of the worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country. Until Reeves signed this latest bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that had neither extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers nor expanded Medicaid eligibility overall. 

Reeves touted expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms and babies to 12 months as being in line with the state’s pro-life stance. However, Reeves was quick to remind us he still opposes expanding eligibility for Medicaid for low-income families under Obamacare. Maybe Reeves thinks life ends at 12 months?

 

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports

So far in 2023, there have been at least nine near-collisions of commercial airplanes at eight US airports. That number may seems small in light of the fact that there are about 45,000 flights taking off each day. But when you consider the hundreds of lives put at risk each time, even one near-miss is unacceptable.

The circumstances vary in each case, but in some instances, the near-miss was the result of air traffic control clearing two planes to use the same runway. This was the case in the most dramatic near-collision in Austin, TX, in which a FedEx cargo plane came within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane. Controllers had cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway where the Southwest Airlines flight was taking off. In this case, it was the quick thinking of the FedEx pilot that averted disaster, rather than any action by air traffic control.  

On Wednesday, FAA held an emergency summit this week, its first in 14 years, to discuss the issue. The panel of aviation experts cited low staffing numbers at the FAA and a lack of experience among new hires as a major factor. The staffing issues come at the same time that US demand for air travel is surging, making accidents and near-accidents more likely.

It may also be significant that 8 of the 9 incidents took place after an outage of the FAA’s automated NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system which notifies pilots of potential hazards they may encounter during their flights. The NOTAM system went dark late in the night of Jan. 10 and grounded all flights in the US for two hours the following morning. An investigation found that the outage was the result of FAA contractors deleting files.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Poland, Slovakia send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine

After nearly a year of requests from Kiev, Poland yesterday agreed to send about a dozen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Today, Slovakia followed suit, promising 13 MiG-29s. At the time of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s that it had retained following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not clear how many of these remain in service over a year later.

According to Slovakia’s Defense Minister, the European Union is offering Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in compensation for giving the jets to Ukraine. Slovakia will also receive $745 million in unspecified arms from the US, the minister said. There’s no reporting on whether Poland is receiving similar compensation for its pledge. However, Poland’s Defense Minister did mention that they would be replacing their MiGs with South Korean and American-made fighter jets.

The White House says it was informed of Poland’s decision before it was announced. Biden has long been under pressure to give Ukraine F-16s, a request the US has so far steadfastly refused. National Security advisor John Kirby neither endorsed nor condemned Poland and Slovakia’s decision, but said it would have no bearing on the US position on sending F-16s. 

Unlike F-16s, Ukraine’s fighter pilots require no additional training to fly MiG-29s. But maintaining them may pose a problem. Slovakia had previously grounded its MiG-29 fleet due to difficulties obtaining spare parts and the departure of Russian maintenance workers.

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss. News Brett Favre, Tate Reeves, Phil Bryant

Mississippi’s Department of Human Services (MDHS) is suing former non-profit head Nancy New and others involved in the embezzlement of millions in federal welfare funds. The suit hopes to recover some some the misspent funds. Defense attorneys for New are attempting to halt the civil case until the criminal probe into the case is complete. MDHS says the motion is a ploy by New and the other defendants to “avoid, or at least delay, liability for their actions”.

In July, Gov. Tate Reeves advocated for the criminal case preceding the civil case. This was part of his justification for the abrupt firing of Brad Pigott, the state’s lead attorney in the case, who was probing high-profile players in the case. Pigott and independent reporting says Tate’s firing of him was to head off Pigott’s probe of former Gov. Phil Bryant and former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and their involvement in the case.

The following is from Mississippi Today, authored by their reporter Anna Wolfe (link to the story here):

 

Nonprofit founder Nancy New and former welfare director John Davis, defendants in the state’s civil litigation over the misspending of millions of federal grant funds, have asked the court to stay the case until the criminal investigation concludes.

Mississippi Department of Human Services, the agency that administers welfare programs and is bringing the suit, is objecting against the stay, arguing that defendants are attempting to “avoid, or at least delay, liability for their actions.”

Now, the attorney representing New and her son Zach New is questioning the motives of the state agency, which was responsible for managing the funds in question, especially since it omitted at least one key recipient of improper welfare payments from the defendant list.

“Of course, MDHS would love nothing more than to rush this case through discovery with the cloud of criminal prosecution looming large, thereby muzzling witnesses who would reveal the depth of its wrongdoing,” wrote the News’ attorney Gerry Bufkin.

Both New and Davis have pleaded guilty to charges related to the welfare scheme and have agreed to aid officials in prosecuting other individuals “up the ladder,” Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said after Davis’ plea hearing in September. They have not been sentenced.

Under the leadership of Davis and the politician who appointed him, former Gov. Phil Bryant, officials stole or wasted at least $77 million in federal grant funds, many of which flowed through Nancy New’s nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center to the pet projects of celebrities and politically connected figures. Some of the purchases were criminal while others simply violated federal spending regulations. Communication obtained by Mississippi Today reveals Bryant’s involvement in many conversations about the projects.

In its Oct. 11 response to the News’ motion to stay, MDHS shot back a fiery response to the defendants’ claims that the welfare agency is also responsible for the misspending.

“The New Defendants nevertheless seek to have the Court and the public absolve them of liability by pointing the finger back at MDHS, despite the fact that the New Defendants admit that they bribed MDHS’s Executive Director,” the filing reads. “But no public official or employee can approve fraudulent payments or waive statutory requirements. This strategy may generate media attention, but it is no legal defense to civil liability.”

Bufkin has argued his clients have already taken responsibility for their actions. But in response to the state Tuesday, he said the threat of an ongoing criminal investigation hinders the News from providing testimony in the civil case.

“The civil suit is the best opportunity the New Defendants have had in years to tell their story. The evidence will show that politicians, MDHS bureaucrats, and well-connected powerbrokers funneled tens of millions in welfare funds to pet projects in a series of sad and disturbing examples of TANF-flexibility gone wild,” Bufkin wrote. “The New Defendants look forward to telling their story, but unfortunately the opportunity is premature.”

Gov. Tate Reeves, who is overseeing the state’s civil lawsuit, said in July that civil cases should come after parallel criminal cases.

In the civil case — filed more than two years after the state auditor’s initial findings — the state is attempting to recoup roughly $24 million from 38 individuals or companies that misspent or received improper welfare payments. 

Bufkin argued delaying the civil litigation until the criminal cases have concluded is necessary “to ensure the thorough, complete and efficient discovery of one of the most sprawling and complex cases in Mississippi history.”

The single largest purchase within the misspending scandal is the $5 million in welfare money that Mississippi Community Education Center paid the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation to build a volleyball stadium at the university on behalf of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. MCEC also paid Favre’s company an additional $1.1 million, which texts indicate was also intended for the volleyball project, bringing the possible total to $6.1 million. Reeves’ office and the welfare agency chose not to include the athletic foundation as a defendant when it filed the complaint in May.

MDHS then terminated the private attorney it had contracted, former U.S. Attorney Brad Pigott, who spent a year crafting the case, after Pigott filed a subpoena on the athletic foundation in July. Pigott was attempting to examine the events surrounding the volleyball stadium project, including Bryant’s involvement.

“Not only has MDHS refused to pursue recovery of this $6.1 million in welfare funds, but it has actively thwarted its former counsel’s efforts to uncover facts related to the expenditure of these funds,” Bufkin wrote.

If the purpose of the state’s civil suit is to recover as much welfare money as possible, Bufkin questions why it would not pursue the single largest purchase, which has already resulted in a criminal conviction. Zach New pleaded guilty in April to defrauding the government by paying for the volleyball stadium construction under a sham lease agreement.

“MDHS argues it ‘aims’ to recover money damages, and, therefore, Defendants should not be concerned with allegations of criminality in the Complaint. Whatever motives lurk beneath the civil suit, in the post-termination of former counsel Brad Pigott era, the efficient recovery of welfare money is not one of them,” Bufkin wrote.

Current MDHS Director Bob Anderson answered questions about Pigott’s firing Tuesday during the Mississippi Legislative Democratic Caucus hearing on the scandal. He told lawmakers that the agency terminated Pigott because the attorney subpoenaed the athletic foundation without discussing the filing with him first and while he was out of town. Pigott did email a copy of the subpoena to a MDHS attorney before filing it, but Anderson said that was not sufficient notice as he was not copied on the email. Anderson also said that the agency felt that Pigott did not have the capacity to handle the breadth of the case, which includes hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery documents.

Bufkin also represents the nonprofit, Mississippi Community Education Center, that Nancy New founded and ran alongside Zach New.

Bufkin stated in his Tuesday response that even though MDHS filed the complaint in May, it did not request discovery from the nonprofit until October. He also said MDHS has not produced documents that MCEC requested through discovery in August. The court will address several motions and filings in the case, including multiple subpoenas on Bryant, at a hearing in early 2023.

 

 

Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis. Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices. Zelenskyy: 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations destroyed. Nigeria: Floods kill 600 since summer.

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis

House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have sent a letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves asking him to explain how millions in federal funds are being distributed for water infrastructure projects in the state. Since Jackson’s days-long water outage this summer, questions have swirled about whether Mississippi’s Republican-led government has been overly stingy and restrictive of funds to the Democratic-led predominately black city. Recently, the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint with the EPA. The complaint alleges that the state government has discriminated against Jackson on the basis of race.

Maloney and Thompson’s letter requests details about which municipalities will be receiving federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure plan. They also want information on the population sizes and racial demographics of those communities. The chairs also want to know why Jackson is subject to an “additional layer of review” that was applied to no other municipality in the state to receive funds.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

 

Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices

Supermarket giants Kroger and Albertsons have agreed a $25 billion merger deal. If it goes through, it will be one of the biggest retail mergers in US history. The deal would bring more than 5,000 stores across the country under the same corporate umbrella. Kroger operates more than 2,800 stores in 35 states (including subsidiary brands like Ralphs, Smith’s and Harris Teeter) while Alberstons operates 2,220 stores in 34 states (with subsidiary brands Safeway, Jewel Osco and Shaw’s). 

The merger has already drawn antitrust scrutiny from members of Congress. Progressive Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MT) are already calling for regulators to block the deal.  Sarah Miller of the American Economic Liberties Project warns that the merger “would squeeze consumers already struggling to afford food”.

The companies’ executives say that the merger will save them $500 million, which can then be passed on to consumers. The merger will also allow them to expand their store brand offerings and save customers money. This may be true in the short-term, but in areas where there is little competition, supermarket mergers tend to drive consumer prices higher over time. Large mergers also tend to squeeze out smaller competitors, giving remaining stores more power to set prices.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Zelenskyy: Russian attacks destroyed 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that recent barrages of Russian missiles have destroyed nearly one-third of Ukraine’s power stations. The downed power stations have led to blackouts in parts of the country. Despite comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week indicating missile attacks would be scaled back for now, air attacks against civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine have persisted. However, Putin is relying less on conventional missiles in favor of Iranian-made “kamikaze drones”. US intelligence says Putin has been purchasing these drones for months, but this is the first time they’ve been deployed on a mass scale.

Compared to missiles, the drones are slower, noisier, and easier for Ukraine’s air defense to eliminate in flight. But because there are so many of them, Ukraine simply can’t stop them all. Ukraine’s allies have promised more air defense systems and equipment, but they haven’t yet arrived.

Meanwhile, Iran has promised to deliver surface-to-surface missiles to Russia in addition to more drones.

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Nigeria: 600 killed in floods since summer

Nigeria has long been accustomed to seasonal flooding, but this year’s flooding has lasted longer and done more damage than any in the last decade. Like Pakistan and areas of southern and central Asia that saw overwhelming flooding this year, overbuilding and poor water management in Nigeria have also contributed to the impact.

Since early summer, more than 600 people have perished in Nigeria’s floods. The flooding has destroyed over 200,000 homes and displaced about 1.3 million people. Experts expect the flooding to continue into November.

As in Pakistan, floods have also devastated much of Nigeria’s agricultural land. Nigeria is among six countries the UN says is at high risk of hunger. The country’s economy has already been battered over the last year due to high levels of inflation. 

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News Bullying City Hall

 

 

Phone calls and texts to New Albany aldermen and mayor put the already lousy local cell service under terrific stress during recent days.

By a three-to-two vote last Tuesday, August 2, the New Albany Board of Aldermen voted to allow medical marijuana to be produced and sold within the city limits. The vote came at the end of a two-hour public hearing, during which those for and against medical cannabis stated their opinions.

Many who had followed the four-year debate on the subject let out a sigh of relief.

The people of New Albany had voted their approval of medical marijuana almost two years ago. The city board had just approved an ordinance to make it legal immediately.

Done deal? Guess again!

Immediately after the board voted Tuesday night the vocal opponents of medical marijuana escalated their attack. It started getting heated right there in the auditorium of  the Magnolia Civic Center. There were verbal challenges shouted at aldermen who voted in favor of medical cannabis and threats of ‘throwing the rascals out’ at the next election (some of these threats from folks not even qualified to vote in New Albany elections). A majority of those in the auditorium seemed to be anti-marijuana. The buzz in the lobby and out on Bankhead Street as people left the civic center was combative.

Starting that same Tuesday evening and continuing through the weekend, the three aldermen who voted in favor of medical marijuana and Mayor Tim Kent have experienced intense pressure from people seeking to reverse the board’s decision.

There have been rumors that one or more of the aldermen would “rescind” his favorable vote. Many have pressured the mayor to veto the actions of the board majority.

Will one of the aldermen try to change his vote? It’s hard to imagine.

Will Mayor Kent veto the board’s vote in favor of allowing medical marijuana in New Albany? Kent has supported allowing medical marijuana in New Albany until now. Ken Newburger, executive director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, spoke at last Tuesday’s hearing at the mayor’s invitation.

The mayor’s a bright guy, a savvy politician. The three aldermen who voted to “opt in” are well educated people who studied the issue long and carefully before voting.

The mayor and aldermen are all keenly aware of this long-established political maxim: politicians who reverse their positions, bowing to pressure from those who disagree with them, often face dreadful consequences.

Bowing to pressure, once a position has been taken, is usually a sign of political weakness. Those who supported the politician’s original position will be disappointed and angered. Those who have pressured a politician to reverse his position almost never treat the politician they have intimidated with respect. Instead, they see him as prey, a timid animal which they have knocked over with a small stick.

Does Tim Kent want to make himself a lame duck for the remaining two years and ten months of his fifth term as mayor? Do any of the aldermen want to anger those who supported their original favorable vote? Again, hard to imagine.

The fat lady has, in fact, sung her song. Will she waddle back on the stage and change her tune?

The link below is to a video of the full marijuana hearing last week at the civic center. It was produced by and is courtesy of Kenny S Studio.

https://youtu.be/kyJxiAXstiM

 

 

 

 

British man killed after taking Texas synagogue hostage. Mississippi has highest U.S. infant mortality rate. Fears after volcanic eruption cuts communication in Tonga

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

British man killed after taking Texas synagogue hostage

On Saturday, FBI agents stormed a Dallas-area synagogue where a British national had taken four hostages. The agents shot the attacker dead and freed the hostages unharmed. This ended a 10-hour standoff between law enforcement and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, who hailed from Lancashire, England.

It’s since emerged that Akram had a history of mental illness. It’s not clear exactly when he arrived in the country, but he apparently began putting a plan into motion soon after arriving. In an impromptu statement to reporters, President Biden said Akram purchased his weapons here soon after landing in the U.S., and spent his first night in a homeless shelter. It’s not clear if he was working alone, but British police have arrested two teenagers in connection with the case.

During the siege, video captured Akram demanding the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui has been serving an 86-year sentence in a Ft. Worth federal prison since 2010 with multiple convictions, including attempted murder of a U.S. soldier. Her case has been a source of controversy and international tension since she was taken into custody in 2008 by U.S. forces. U.S. prosecutors claimed that she had ties to al-Qaeda, and that while in custody in Ghazni, Afghanistan, she attempted to shoot some of her U.S. captors with an M4 carbine.

There are many in the international Muslim community who believe Siddiqui’s prosecution was unjust due to the secrecy and conflicting reports about her offenses and arrest. Her supporters contend that she was a mentally-ill woman caught up in the overzealous prosecution of the war on terror.

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Mississippi has highest infant mortality in U.S.

Even as the Supreme Court prepares to consider Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the state has so far made little headway in improving infant care since the law’s passage. When former Gov. Bryant signed the law in 2019, he said he aimed to make Mississippi the “the safest place for an unborn child in America”. But, he offered no plan to strengthen care for children already born. That year, Mississippi led the nation in infant mortality by a considerable margin at 8.71 deaths per 1000 births. The only state that came close to catching us was Louisiana, with 7.97 deaths per 1000 births.

In 2019, Mississippi’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee called for allowing new mothers to stay on Medicaid for up to a year after giving birth rather than the current 60 days. Statistics show that 40% of pregnancy-related deaths occur after the 6-week mark. Two years later, MMRC co-chair Dr. Charlene Collier is still waiting for movement on this issue.

According to Dr. Collier, “In Mississippi, there’s been a lot of focus on the issues of abortion and restricting that, but there’s no commensurate efforts to improve birth outcomes for pregnant women and babies in the state”.

Now, some Republican and Democrat state legislators are pushing to extend Medicaid coverage for new babies and mothers. They have until February 1 to put the proposal to a committee vote if there is any chance of passing such a measure this year.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Fears after volcanic eruption cuts communication in Tonga

On Saturday, an undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific island nation of Tonga erupted violently, sending a tsunami crashing over its shores. A satellite captured dramatic footage of the eruption from space. Communications from the island since Saturday have been difficult, but there have been some videos uploaded of the destruction. New Zealand is planning to dispatch a surveillance flight over the island to try to assess conditions on the ground.

The ash cloud from the volcano is now apparently blanketing the island. Tonga has a limited fresh water supply under the best of circumstances, and the ash cloud will bring with it poisonous contaminants. New Zealand plans to deliver a supply of fresh water to the island by sea.

Since communications are spotty, it’s difficult to get a full picture of the impact of the eruption remotely. One British man managed to learn that his sister was killed, but even days later there’s no clear picture of total casualties. Tonga has a total population of about 100,000 people throughout its archipelago.

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Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

 

Contrary to Shands’ assumptions, black Mississippians may actually be more vaccinated than white Mississippians. Get the facts below.

 

Earlier today, NEMISS.NEWS published Judge Rodney Shands’ rebuttal to Steve Patterson’s excellent opinion piece, published last week. Both Judge Shands and Mr. Patterson covered a lot of ground, ranging from COVID, to climate change, to national and state politics. Personally, I found much to disagree with in Judge Shands’ piece. But Mr. Patterson is far better-equipped than I to respond to those points, should he care to, at a time of his choosing.

However, there is one point in Judge Shands’ piece that I feel compelled to forcefully (and factually) push back on, and without undue delay, for reasons that will become apparent. Fortunately for me (and our readers), this won’t take long.

First, let’s consider this portion of Shands’ piece:

“Nevertheless, it is known that the two groups who have been the most reluctant to get vaccinated are Latinos and blacks. I watched NBC News ask various Americans if they intended to get the shot a few months ago and the majority of black Americans said “no”. One said “That would be a hard no”. With a virus, you either get the shot or you get the virus. The odds of missing the virus without any protection other than a mask are slim to none and slim left town a while ago.

Mississippi has the highest percentage of black citizens per capita so if they don’t get the vaccine, our Covid numbers go sky high. With the historical reluctance to get shots due, in large part, to the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study between 1932 and 1972, when governmental researchers withheld treatment while promising free medical care, meals and burial insurance, this is understandable. This is not a Republican Governor’s fault. He has encouraged vaccinations and in reality, that’s about all he can do.”

Here, Shands has fallen victim to some deeply problematic assumptions, which can ensnare anyone. Most widely-held assumptions are based more on hype than facts. What I specifically object to here is Shands’ attempt to provide political cover for Gov. Reeves’ many COVID failings by shifting the blame onto black people’s vaccine hesitancy. Unfortunately, scapegoating the least powerful to defend the most powerful is nothing new in Mississippi politics.

But more to the point, a few simple Google searches reveal that Shands is also dead wrong on his facts when it comes to Mississippi. While it’s true that nationwide, black people are slightly more vaccine hesitant than white people, what you don’t often hear is that black people are far less vaccine hesitant than white Republicans! And in Mississippi, that’s a distinction that definitely makes a difference.

Just how wrong is Shands’ assumption?

According to the most recent (2019) estimates, Mississippi’s population is roughly 59.1% white and 37.8% black. And guess what? Data from the state health department (on August 27) shows that white Mississippians have received about 57% of the total number of vaccines given out in our state, while black Mississippians have received 38% of them.

Assuming those 2019 population estimates are still close to right, that means that black Mississippians are slightly ahead of white Mississippians in getting their vaccines! Even if those numbers have shifted somewhat since 2019, black Mississippians are, at worst, more-or-less on par with white Mississippians as vaccinations go.

Of course, no group in Mississippi is hitting it out of the park when it comes to vaccines. But Mississippi’s COVID problem is most certainly NOT a race problem. It’s a political problem, for which Gov. Reeves takes much of the blame.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some maps …

Below are three maps that debunk Shands’ defense of Gov. Reeves, county-by-county. I apologize for the image quality. Unlike my 70+ year-old mother, I am no Photoshop wizard. Also, I cannot embed the interactive versions of these maps on our site. But, as always, I encourage our readers to visit my sources, for which you will find links below each map.

Our first map shows the percentage of black residents by county as of 2019. The lighter blue counties have the largest white majorities and the darker blue have the largest black populations.

Black vs. white population with darkest blue having largest black majorities and lightest having largest white majorities. Info sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program (PEP). Updated annually. Link to interactive map: https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/mississippi/black-population-percentage#map

The second map shows vaccination rates by county in Mississippi (as of Aug. 30). The light blue counties are the least-vaccinated and the dark blue are the most-vaccinated. You’ll notice some of our “whitest” counties are also some of our least-vaccinated.

Most and least vaccinated counties in Mississippi. Info sources: State and county health departments, CDC. Link to interactive map: https://data.news-leader.com/covid-19-vaccine-tracker/mississippi/28/ 

 

And no, Gov. Reeves is NOT off the hook…

The third map shows the counties that voted for Gov. Reeves in 2019. If you visit the source link and scroll over each county, you’ll start to notice that the counties where Reeves won overwhelmingly (70% +) track pretty closely with the least-vaccinated counties. Conclusion? Mississippi’s COVID crisis is not a “black” or “white” problem. It’s a “red” or “blue” problem.

The red counties went for Gov. Reeves, and the blue counties went for his Democrat opponent Jim Hood. Info source: Associated Press via WLBT.com. Link to interactive map: https://www.wlbt.com/2019/11/05/interactive-map-governor-votes-by-county/

 

  — Liz Shiverdecker