President Biden

Biden declares emergency for Jackson water crisis


President Biden declares emergency for Jackson water crisis

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced late Tuesday night that had approved an emergency declaration for the Jackson water crisis.

The drinking water system in Jackson — Mississippi’s largest city and home to more than 160,000 residents — is failing, officials announced on Monday. Thousands of Jackson residents have no or little water pressure, and officials cannot say when adequate, reliable service will be restored.

Biden’s emergency declaration will scramble federal resources to assist local and state officials. Emergency protective measures, the White House said, will be provided at 75% federal funding for a period of 90 days.

“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” a White House press release said.

READ MOREMayor Lumumba says water connections being restored, welcomes state to the table

Biden’s decision will “provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures … to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in .”

Earlier on Tuesday, Jean-Pierre said that had been briefed on the Jackson water crisis situation.

READ MORE: ‘Won’t be solved overnight’: Gov. Tate Reeves gives update on Jackson water crisis

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

President Biden briefed on Jackson water crisis


President Joe Biden briefed on Jackson water crisis

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that had been briefed on the Jackson water crisis and the federal government stands ready to assist.

The drinking water system in Jackson — Mississippi’s largest city and home to more than 160,000 residents — is failing, officials announced on Monday. Thousands of Jackson residents already have no or little water pressure, and officials cannot say when adequate, reliable service will be restored.

READ MORE: Jackson water system is failing, city will be with no or little drinking water indefinitely

“At (Biden’s) direction, we have been in regular contact with state and local officials, including Mayor Lumumba, and made clear that the Federal Government stands ready to offer assistance,” Jean-Pierre tweeted on Tuesday.

She continued: “FEMA is working closely with the state officials to identify needs, and the EPA is coordinating with industry partners to expedite delivery of critical treatment equipment for emergency repairs at the City of Jackson water treatment facilities.”

The city water system has been plagued with problems for years, including tens of thousands of residents losing water between one and three weeks during a 2021 winter storm.

READ MORE: State health department declares drinking water emergency for Jackson

Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to assist on Tuesday, and the declared a public drinking water supply emergency.

“We will continue to partner closely with state and local officials to support the people of Mississippi, and stand ready to assist further as soon as we receive an official request from the state,” Jean-Pierre said.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Jackson residents encouraged by slight drop in gas prices

405 views – Mississippi – 2022-07-01 15:28:06

With summer planning in overdrive, gas prices have taken a small decrease giving residents in the Jackson area a sense of relief from record-high gas prices. 

“The small hiccup in gas prices is a great thing for larger families traveling this summer,” said Myles Wilkins, 32, of Ridgeland. “Every year we travel to Miami for our family trip to visit relatives,” Wilkins said. “For a round…

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Congress sends landmark gun violence compromise to Biden

143 views – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-24 15:13:15

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads the passage of the gun safety bill in the House, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House sent the most wide-ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades on Friday, a measured compromise that at once illustrates progress on the long-intractable…

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Where do Ezell, Palazzo stand on the issues?


Videos: Where do Ezell, Palazzo stand on the issues?

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo faces challenger Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell in Tuesday’s runoff for the GOP primary for the 4th District House seat, serving South Mississippi.

Palazzo, facing a crowded field of Republican challengers in the midterm primary, received about 32% of the vote; Ezell about 25%, forcing a runoff.

The two candidates spoke with Mississippi Today ahead of the runoff and a Friday debate on Coast television station WLOX.

Here is some background on the candidates, what they believe the top issues are and what differentiates them from one another.

The candidates

Ezell, who grew up in , is a 42-year veteran law enforcement officer in South Mississippi.

He started his career with the Pascagoula Police Department, working his way from jailer to chief of detectives, then served as chief of police for the city of . He was elected sheriff of Jackson County, a post he has held since 2014.

Ezell has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Mississippi Today Senior Politics Reporter Geoff Pender interviews Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Palazzo, a Coast native, is a certified public accountant who ran his own business before taking his current office. He is a former legislator, and has held the 4th District U.S. House seat since 2011.

Palazzo is a Marine Corps veteran and serves in the Mississippi National Guard.

Mississippi Today Senior Politics Reporter Geoff Pender interviews U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Voters’ issues

Both candidates said inflation — particularly soaring gasoline prices — is the top issue they hear from 4th District residents as they campaign.

“The cost of energy is off the charts,” Palazzo said. “It was to be expected — when he was on his campaign said we would end our reliance on fossil fuels. Well, guess what? Now we have $5 a gallon gas. He cancelled Keystone pipeline on day one, killing hundreds of thousands of jobs, and many of those were in Mississippi, where we have pipe manufacturers.”

Ezell said he hears from constituents: “Gas prices, grocery prices, not having groceries in some stores. I’ve talked with some of our trucker friends and they said the fuel prices are killing us, making it hard to get our goods to the stores. People are very upset about this.”

Palazzo said illegal immigration, with attendant human trafficking and drug smuggling is another major issue for South Mississippi.

Ezell said high taxes and overregulation are also major issues.

Policies and proposals

Both candidates said they would push for deregulation, particularly on the energy sector.

Ezell said he would work to get fertilizer and other costs down for Mississippi farmers “so they can make a profit.”

“There are so many regulations out there right now,” Ezell said. “… We need to work with like-minded conservative people in Congress to get some policies in place to make life better for people, like getting grocery prices down … We need to see about cutting the gas tax, for the truckers who get the goods to the stores … We’ve just got to remove some of these regulations so that we can help people earn a living.”

Palazzo said: “As someone who’s worked offshore, I know the importance of American energy — drill here, drill now. We need to unleash American energy resources and get America back to being energy independent, and I think we can do that.”

Palazzo said he would also push to re-start plans to build a U.S. southern border wall and increase military spending, and protect tax cuts and jobs legislation passed in 2017.

Candidates list accomplishments

Palazzo said his accomplishments as a congressman include, “I was able to secure $1.4 billion for the border as the homeland security negotiator on the Appropriations Committee in 2019, and we were building the wall two years ago and securing America.”

“With the ships we build at Ingalls (shipyard) we’ve been able to secure $26 billion for 26 different ships in 10 years, and that is so vital to our national security, but also to our quality of life here, because of the dependence we have on those jobs created locally,” Palazzo said. He said he has also worked to keep federal flood insurance affordable for homeowners on the Gulf Coast and worked to support the state’s military installations, including for upgrades at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg to expand training.

“The number one driver of the in South Mississippi is federal spending,” Palazzo said. “We have to admit that to ourselves, but it’s good federal spending — national security, NASA programs, NOAA to help predict storms — and every bit of that goes through my committee where I sit on Appropriations.”

Ezell said: “Some of my greatest accomplishments are being a husband and a father and a grandfather … I started working in the jail, and worked my way all the way up to chief of detectives at Pascagoula. During that time, I was a competitive shooter, and got to travel all around the southeastern part of the country to compete and shoot and learned a lot of techniques from other officers. I also graduated from the FBI’s national academy, where I excelled in all fields of training and received an award for physical fitness and attention to duty. I am also proud of that. During my time at the Pascagoula Police Department, I went to night school at USM and got a degree in criminal justice. That was a big thing for me. I was only the third person in my family to get a college degree.”

Ezell said that as sheriff, Jackson County was the first in the state to open its own lab, to avoid backlog problems faced by the state lab and “to save taxpayers money and help all the surrounding agencies in our county have a crime lab.” Ezell said under his tenure his agency has also recently opened its own shooting range and training facility.

“When I first took over as sheriff, the former sheriff had been indicted and removed, and all the police chiefs came to me and said, ‘Mike, help us rehabilitate and get this (narcotics) task force back together,’ which we have done and now have a highly respected organization,” Ezell said. “We have our own budget, and don’t have to depend on seizures or anything like that for funding.”

What differentiates them?

Ezell said one thing that differentiates him from Palazzo is, “I will be available. You won’t have to look for me.”

Palazzo has for years faced criticism for not being very visible or accessible in his district.

“What I’ve heard so many times around this district is we don’t know where (Palazzo) is at,” Ezell said. “Where is our representative? We don’t know where he’s at, we can’t talk with him, he won’t call us back. I will be available. I will be in the district and I will return your phone calls … General rule 101 with the sheriff’s office is if you call, somebody better call you back and if not, I’m going to be asking you why did you not call that person back. That’s just a common courtesy, be it a sheriff or police officer or state representative or congressman.”

Palazzo said his experience and seniority in Congress, and relationships he’s built over years are needed for the 4th District.

“Most importantly, I have a proven, conservative record,” Palazzo said. “My opponent has no record where he has ever cast a vote on issues that matter most for South Mississippians, whether it’s pro-life, whether it’s pro gun, pro military or pro business. For 12 years I’ve been serving South Mississippi and I have a proven record of delivering for them on all those issues.

“… Seniority is important in the military and it’s important in Congress,” Palazzo said. “That’s how you get on the key committees and get key assignments.”

He said that should Republicans retake the House this midterm, he would be in line to be the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee of Appropriations where he can push for building a border wall.

Recently, all other Republican challengers in the first primary vote threw their support behind Ezell. U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in a trip to South Mississippi endorsed Palazzo.

The two candidates have agreed to a televised debate, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday on WLOX-TV on the Coast.

“I’ve been to multiple debates, Steven Palazzo has not been to any of them,” Ezell said of this election cycle.

Palazzo said: “I think it’s important for voters in South Mississippi to see the contrast.”

The winner of the June 28 GOP runoff will face Democratic former longtime Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Libertarian Alden Patrick Johnson in the Nov. 8 general election.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Biden to call for 3-month suspension of gas and diesel taxes

163 views – Associated Press – 2022-06-22 07:20:56

WASHINGTON (AP) — on Wednesday will call on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — a move meant to ease financial pressures at the pump that also reveals the political toxicity of high gas prices in an election year.

The Democratic president will also call on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, the White House said.

At issue…

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Guest, Cassidy sharpen attacks ahead of runoff


Guest, Cassidy sharpen attacks ahead of 3rd District GOP runoff

The 3rd Congressional District runoff between U.S. Rep. Michael Guest and upstart candidate Michael Cassidy has devolved into a bitter affair featuring attack ads, name-calling and pointed questions about who is a true Republican.

For a few hours after it became apparent last week that upstart candidate Cassidy had garnered the most votes in the 3rd District U.S. House seat and had forced a June 28 runoff against incumbent Guest, policy — not politics —  the focus.

The Cassidy campaign sent out a release the day after Election Day touting his “improved pro family policy,” a $10,000 per child federal tax deduction “for working families not currently receiving government assistance.”

But as the candidates and their supporters maneuver ahead of the June 28 runoff, focus is not on the child tax deduction nor any other policy. The two sides are slamming each other with negative attacks — including support for the child care policy.

PODCAST: Mississippi’s high-profile congressional runoffs

The Congressional Leadership Fund, an influential national super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to Congress that has close ties to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has rushed to Guest’s side with a TV ad attacking Cassidy for his support of costly programs, such as Medicare for all and a $20,000 payment for newlyweds.

“Another lying RINO,” the ad said, referring to the oft-used attack term that stands for “Republican In No Only.” The ad continues: “Michael Cassidy is hiding his socialist agenda.”

Cassidy, who says he will caucus with the ultra Conservative Freedom Caucus if elected to the U.S. House, has called Guest the “RINO.”

Cassidy, a former Navy fighter pilot, has said on his campaign website he supported what he thought would be the same health care for all Americans as what members of the military have.

“Within a week or two, I determined that this would cost too much money and that there were more conservative options, such as tort reform and allowing insurance to be purchased across lines,” Cassidy said in response to the charge of him supporting Medicare for All. “I never raised this issue on the campaign trail or in any ads, literature or mail we sent out.”

The proposal, though, along with a wedding stipend and other proposals costing an estimated tens of trillions in federal funds over 10 years were touted on Cassidy’s campaign website until the June 7 election day.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi also is joining the fray in defense of Guest. According to the Federal Election Commission website, Hyde-Smith’s Mississippi Victory PAC is spending $6,800 in opposition of Cassidy.

And, of course, the candidates are attacking each other in dueling ads. Cassidy blasted Guest for joining Democratic in sending funds to Ukraine to combat Russia’s attacks.

“Ukraine is not in our national interest, but fighting inflation and illegal immigration are,” the Cassidy ad said.

A Guest ad countered, “Mississippi doesn’t need a carpetbagger. It needs a conservative. A conservative like Michael Guest.”

The ad references that Cassidy is from out of state.  He moved to Meridian as part of his Navy military commitment and registered to vote in the state last year, according to the Guest ad.

Both sides are hitting each other with other charges as they campaign for the runoff on June 28. The runoff is needed because neither candidate garnered a majority in the June 7 Republican primary.

All registered voters in the 3rd District who did not vote in the June 7 Democratic primary will be eligible to cast a ballot in the runoff.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Help us test water quality in Mississippi


Help us test water quality in Mississippi. Is your water safe?

When two winter storms struck the city of Jackson last year, it wasn’t the snow. It wasn’t the ice. It was the water.

Century-old pipes burst, leaving residents of Mississippi’s capital city without running water. Schools and businesses closed, and some residents went for a month without water.

The disaster brought the need for safe, clean water into clear focus, and last August, pointed to the problem in a televised address: “Never again can we allow what happened in Flint, Michigan, and Jackson Mississippi. We can never let it happen again.”

More than 30 million Americans live where water systems have violated safety rules. That problem is even more acute in Mississippi, which is filled with small, often antiquated water systems. Of the ’s 1,200 public water systems, about 70% are rural systems serving 1,000 homes or less, most of which were built in the late 1960s or early 1970s. 

Some communities provide no water at all, forcing residents to turn to well water, which often goes without testing.

When testing is done, it may detect heavy metals. In 2015, high levels of lead appeared in Jackson’s drinking water. Since then, two-thirds of all water samples have contained at least a trace amount of the metal.

Mississippi Spotlight* and Consumer Reports are partnering to test water systems across Mississippi with volunteers who will use a special testing kit to take samples that will then be analyzed in a lab for any heavy metals or PFAS. We will share individual results with volunteers once the testing is complete.

Tests of drinking water across the nation have also detected synthetic chemicals, including PFAs, which have been linked to a range of health woes.

Would you like to help us test the water in your community? Is there a story about water quality where you live that you would like to share with us?

Volunteer to be a water tester

Please get in touch through this form, hosted by our partners Consumer Reports. Your responses are secure as the form is secure, and only we and Consumer Reports will have access to your contributions.

Tell us about your water supply experiences

In addition to testing, we want to hear from readers who have a story to tell about their drinking water. If you have a story that one of our reporters should check out, please respond in this form.

This report was produced in partnership with the Community Foundation for Mississippi’s local collaborative, which is independently funded in part by Microsoft Corp. The collaborative includes the Clarion Ledger, the Jackson Advocate, Jackson State University, Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Mississippi Today.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Republican Michael Cassidy’s $48 trillion social spending platform


Republican Michael Cassidy’s $48 trillion social spending platform

It’s not the ambitious social spending platform of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But little-known Republican Michael Cassidy, who forced a runoff with incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Guest in one of the nation’s most conservative districts, proposed social spending programs would cost taxpayers at least $48 trillion over 10 years, according to a Mississippi Today analysis.

Among Cassidy’s ideas are Medicare for All, stipends for married couples, and universal basic income for families with children.

Cassidy, a Naval reserve pilot whose campaign slogan is “America First for Congress,” garnered 48% of the vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary, while Guest received 47%. Griffin earned just 5% of the vote. Because no candidate reached 50%, Cassidy and Guest will duke it out in a June 28 runoff.

A Mississippi Today analysis of several ideas Cassidy proposed on his campaign website shows that his platform — focused on social spending — would cost taxpayers at least $48 trillion over 10 years.

On Wednesday, after several people posted to social media about some of the ideas listed on his website, Cassidy them from his site. But Mississippi Today saved an earlier version of the website that was publicly available to voters ahead of the June 7 primary.

Some of Cassidy’s ideas, now scrubbed from his website, include: 

  • “Allowing all citizens to enroll in Medicare, regardless of age.” Kaiser Health , forecasting the “Medicare for All” platform idea of Bernie Sanders in 2020, estimated that the policy would cost $44.8 trillion over 10 years.
  • “Providing newlyweds with a $20,000 wedding gift, paid back if the couple divorces.” Across America in 2020, there were 1.68 million marriages — down from about 2 million in 2019. $20,000 per 2020 marriage is $33 billion a year, or $330 billion over 10 years.
  • “Giving married citizens a $250/month stipend for children under 10, and $500/month for children 10-17.” There are 72.9 million American children in these categories. Assuming an equal distribution between the two groups, that’s $318 billion a year, or $3.18 trillion over 10 years.

Cassidy, meanwhile, has focused energy on touting himself as a “fiscally sane representative” for the district. Ahead of the primary, Cassidy ran a TV attack ad that sharply criticized Guest for to provide $53 billion in aid to Ukraine to assist its defense efforts against Russia — all while “the national debt is over $30 trillion and inflation is raging,” Cassidy said in the ad.

Cassidy, whose modest campaign has been bolstered by more than $200,000 he loaned himself, had few other supporters. At least 87% of his total receipts through May 18, 2022, came from personal loans.

READ MORE: Prominent 2020 election denier is aiding Cassidy campaign

After Facebook and Twitter comments blistering much of Cassidy’s original platform on Election Day, Cassidy removed his entire fiscal platform from the website sometime on Wednesday. 

By end of business on Wednesday, Cassidy’s campaign consultant Matt Braynard issued a press release announcing an “improved pro-family policy” and posted it to Cassidy’s campaign website.

Noticeably missing from Cassidy’s new platform is any mention of Medicare for All, stipends for married couples and universal income disbursements for families with children.

“Based on helpful feedback from many conservatives in the 3rd District of Mississippi, I’ve improved my America Dream policies by focusing on lowering the tax burden for working families with children,” Cassidy said in the press release.

The principle idea of Cassidy’s new-and-improved platform is expanding the current child tax deduction from a maximum of $3,600 to $10,000 “for working families not currently receiving government assistance.”

Cassidy’s idea for the child tax credit is remarkably similar to one of ’s chief economic focuses — a program the president fought to include in the .

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Will Trump endorse in GOP midterm runoffs?


Trump coming to Mississippi. Will he endorse in GOP midterm runoffs?

Former , headlining his “American Freedom Tour,” is to be in Southaven on June 18.

This visit comes ahead of Mississippi’s June 28 GOP primary runoffs, with two incumbent Republican congressmen struggling to keep their seats. With Trump remaining popular with Mississippi Republicans, his endorsement in either race could be a deciding factor for incumbents or challengers.

Incumbent Rep. Michael Guest trailed Republican challenger Michael Cassidy in unofficial results from Tuesday 46.6% to 47.8%, forcing a runoff with no candidate breaking 50%. Cassidy, a former Navy pilot, tried to to the right of Guest, including criticizing Guest for with Democrats to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by those trying to overturn Trump’s loss to .

Incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo is headed to a runoff with Sheriff Mike Ezell. Palazzo led Ezell 31.6% to 25.2% in unofficial results, with the two topping a crowded field of Republican challengers to Palazzo. Palazzo drew numerous challengers in part because he has faced an ethics investigation over allegations he misspent campaign and congressional money and misused his office.

Trump’s only endorsement in Tuesday’s Mississippi midterm primaries was for incumbent 1st District Rep. Trent , who handily won his primary with 90% of the vote.

Trump carried Mississippi with 58% of the vote in 2020, and to date, candidates he has endorsed and campaigned for here — including Gov. Tate Reeves and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith twice — have won. On Tuesday, all 16 candidates he endorsed for midterm primaries held by seven states won, although most were, like Kelly, strongly favored to win.

Trump’s American Freedom Tour event is billed as being for Memphis on the group’s website, but is set to be held at the Landers Center in Southaven on June 18 from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event includes some free access with pre-registration required, but also includes special paid access and seating ranging from $1,295 for the “chamber” level to $3,995 for the presidential level.

The daylong event schedule includes roundtable discussions, meet-and-greet and photo ops and speeches. Speakers include Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., former Secretary of Mike Pompeo, conservative commentators and authors Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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