Monthly Archives: October 2009

Phil’s Person of the Week – LaVerne Edney

Phil’s Person of the Week is a salute to someone making a positive contribution to the community.  This week I salute LaVerne Edney and the law firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC for their efforts in helping low-income Mississippians with legal representation.

LaVerne Edney La’Verne Edney is going from A to Z in the state bar roll looking for attorneys willing to represent poor people in need of civil legal services.

Since she joined the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project as general counsel on Sept. 1, Edney has signed up 60 additional lawyers who have agreed to take a case for free. She’s gotten through the B’s in her alphabetical recruitment. There are more than 6,700 practicing lawyers in Mississippi. Read more…

Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, has accepted La’Verne Edney’s withdrawal from the firm to enable her to accept the position of General Counsel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Although Ms. Edney’s employment by MVLP is expected to last for two years, after which she is expected to return to the Brunini law firm. Brunini has agreed to make a significant financial contribution to MVLP during Ms. Edney’s tenure as General Counsel to support her work. Ms. Edney’s focus during her employment by MVLP will be on significantly expanding the pro bono delivery system in Mississippi.  Read more…

Most mission statements are dumb

At least that’s what Nancy Lublin, CEO of Do Something, says in an article in Fast Company magazine. She also says that good mission statements have a goal.

Good advice, but what I liked about the article was that it had four mission statements, two of which were created by the Dilbert mission statement generator (no longer online) and two were from real organizations. Below are the mission statements. I’ll go ahead and tell you that the two organizations are Enron and the United Way. Can you guess which two are not real and which two belong to the organizations?

1. It is our job to continually foster world-class infrastructures as well as to quickly create principle-centered sources to meet our customer’s needs.

2. Our challenge is to assertively network economically sound methods of empowerment so that we may continually negotiate performance-based infrastructures.

3. To improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities.

4. Respect, integrity, communication, and excellence.

And the answer is: (scroll down)


1 and 2 were created by Dilbert. Number 3 is United Way, and number 4 is Enron.

What do Renaissance Men Wear???

This following is a guest blog from Kesha Perry, on of my colleagues at the Stennis Institute of Government (reprinted with permission) –

Morehouse College. History. Tradition. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Maynard Jackson, and countless others have roamed the halls and grounds of this private, all-male, historically black institution. Recently, Morehouse has instituted a dress code policy in efforts to “get back to the legacy,” according to Dr. William Bynum the school’s Vice President of the Office of Student Services. He continued, “We expect our young men to be Renaissance men.” This policy was not only driven by the powers-that-be at Morehouse, but also by student leaders. Cameron Thomas-Shah, student government’s co-chief of staff, believes “the image of a strong black man needs to be upheld. And if anyone sees this policy as something that is restrictive then maybe Morehouse is not the place for you.”

Morehouse is not the only historically black college or university (HBCU) to institute a dress code. Hampton University has instituted one, which also encourages its graduate business students with locs or braids to cut their hair. Bennett College in North Carolina has adopted a comparable policy as Morehouse’s.

Included in the new dress code policy:

–no caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues

–no sun glasses worn in class or at formal programs

–no jeans at major programs, as well as no sagging pants on campus

–no clothing with derogatory or lewd messages either in words or pictures

–no wearing of clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.

Those found in violation will not be allowed to attend class until they abide by the new policy. However, repeat offenders could be subject to suspension.

The one restriction that has many students upset is the no wearing of women clothing. Co-president of Safe Space, a gay-straight student alliance, Daniel Edwards believes the policy unfairly targets gays. “Some believe that this restriction is what the entire policy is correlated around. It is all an issue of perception and what manner of image you want to prescribe to.”
Click here to read a CNN article regarding this restriction of the policy.

Dr. Bynum believes this policy “is necessary, this is needed according to the students. We know the challenges that young African-American men face. We know that how a student dresses has nothing to do with what is in their head, but first impressions mean everything.”

(Interviews courtesy of Mashaun D. Simon of the Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Published in: The Black Man on October 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm Comments (1)
Tags: Atlanta Journal Constitiution, Bennett College, CNN, Dr. William Bynum, Hampton University, HBCU, Jr., Martin Luther King, Mashaun D. Simon, Maynard Jackson, Morehouse College, North Carolina, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee

Ole Miss Chancellor to address Stennis-Capitol Press Luncheon

Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones will address the Stennis-Capitol Press Luncheon on Monday, November 2.   The event is open to the public, however seating is limited and pre-registration is required.  To register or get more information go to

Daniel W. Jones, M.D. is the 16th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. As Chief Executive Officer he is responsible for the operation and management of a four-campus comprehensive university. The University includes nine schools at Oxford, five at the Medical Center in Jackson, an Advanced Education Center in Tupelo and the Desoto County Center in Southaven. Through these four campuses, the University provides extraordinary educational opportunities for more than 17,000 students. Prior to his appointment July 1, 2009, Dr. Jones was Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, Dean of the School of Medicine and Herbert G. Langford Professor of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. He served as the institution’s chief executive officer for six years overseeing the five schools and the health system.

The most important comment made by the TARP Special Inspector General

Last week TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky issued a report that “blasted” the Tresury Department’s handling of the $700 billion bailout program.  An article in USA TODAY provides a good summary.  There is a lot to read in the report, but a comment made by the IG relates to something that this writer believes is at the root of where the United States is today.  He said (emphasis added) that, Treasury’s failure to provide more details about the use of TARP funds has helped damage “the credibility of the program and of the government itself, and the anger, cynicism, and distrust created must be chalked up as one of the substantial, albeit unnecessary, costs of TARP.”

By the way, did you know that the Special IG has a Web site where you can sign up for reports, press releases, etc. from his office?

It’s Friday – Time for Hero of the Week

The biggest business and political event of the week was Hobnob Mississippi, a signature project of the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC).  The gathering of the state’s business and political leaders drew over 1,000 attendees.  Hobnob is just one of MEC’s many projects.  In the past few years MEC has become a leading force in causing change in Mississippi.  From Momentum Mississippi to Mississippi Building blocks MEC has taken a leadership role.  Although he will probably disagree because he likes to give others credit and point out that we do it all together, MEC’s CEO is a person who has played a huge role in changing MEC and Mississippi.  And that’s why my Hero of the Week is Blake Wilson.

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson came to MEC in 1998 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he served as Executive Vice President — and where he developed the most sophisticated grassroots member legislative action program in the nation.

Previously, Blake was Executive Director of Associated Builders & Contractors’ in Delaware and prior to that, spent nearly 10 years with the Delaware Chamber of Commerce. Before entering the association business, he spent nine years as a newspaper editor and reporter.

Connecting the Apple, Google and Gannett Earnings Dots

This morning I connected the dots as I read the 3rd quarter earnings reports and reflected on my own travel habits.  One little change in habit tells me a lot about why Apple and Google are up this quarter, while Gannett is down.  Specifically, Apple’s profit is up 47%, Google’s is up 27% and Gannet’s profit is down 53%.

I spend a fair amount of nights in a motel.  I’m also a news junkie.  These days I check in, go straight to my room, turn on my laptop computer, check the latest news and handle pending e-mail.  That is in contrast to several years ago when I would check in, pick up the USA Today, go straight to my room, turn on the television and read the USA Today. Consequently, advertisers who want me to see their ads must connect (pun intended) with me via the Internet instead of a newspaper.  And to connect to the Internet I need a laptop computer that has a wireless Internet connection.  Motels have figured it out.  They provide me with free wireless Internet.  Advertisers figured it out as well.  National advertising revenue fell 37% for USA Today; paid search accounted for nearly all of Google’s revenue.

Is nonprofit status the answer for financially failing newspapers?

There is a lot of discussion in the public domain about the future of newspapers.  Some have opined that newspapers that can’t make it financially in the current environment should be given a federal bailout.  Others have said that the market should dictate the outcomes because newspapers are just another business.  Then there is the idea that newspapers could become nonprofit organizations, complete with tax-exempt status.  This last idea is the subject of an interesting paper authored by Marion R. Fremont-Smith, and published by the Joan Shorenstein on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.  It is entitled Can Nonprofits Save Journalism? Legal Constraints and Opportunities. Fremont states that, “…review of the law and these rulings strongly suggests that, under existing conditions, a nonprofit newspaper could qualify for tax exemption without the need for legislation by Congress or waiting for the IRS to issue new guidelines.”  Click here to read the paper.

Hero of the Week

Everybody seems to complain that there is too much bad news being reported.  Nevertheless, there isn’t a week that goes by when there is not a report of a heroic act or a heroic person. So, in order to give recognition to some of these heroes I am announcing my Mississippi Hero of the Week every Friday here on this blog.  My heroes are those who are “…of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”  They can be from any field of endeavor and any age.  If you read a story about a Mississippi hero I’d love to hear from you.  And now for my first Mississippi Hero of the Week.

Dr. Janice Barton, who has been Principal at Oak Grove Elementary for the past five years and will be the new Director of Elementary Education for DeSoto County Schools, has been named as Mississippi Principal of the Year by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  Her heroic act?   She “…took over a rundown school with an unfriendly atmosphere and low teacher morale,” and turned it into one of the top-performing schools in the state.  The school went from a Level 3 to a Level 5.  Oh, I neglected to mention that she is deaf.

“It was a 24/7 job to start with,” Barton said during an interview Wednesday. “I put in some long hours. I would get to school at 6:15 a.m. and it would be 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and sometimes 10 o’clock when I got home. It just took a long time to sift through a lot of what I had to do. I thought I had to get it all done that night.”

Oak Grove Central underwent “school improvement” status her first year on the job.

Two private school enrichment programs, “America’s Choice” and “The Excellence Project” were enlisted to help get test scores up and improve teaching methods.

“Bringing technology to Oak Grove helped the school step up to the plate,” Barton said.

Behind it all stood Barton.

Under her tenure, Oak Grove students continually outshine their counterparts in statewide chess competition and other gifted education programs.

A reading garden was established during her watch, as well as an outdoor chess garden.

The Cockrum native said she always wanted to become a teacher, and later a principal.

When she was about eight, she began to permanently lose her hearing.

“I had red measles and chicken pox in the second grade and that’s when it started happening.”

Despite her hearing impairment, Barton never gave up on that dream.

“God helped me do it,” Barton said. “I prayed to him all the time. Back when I was younger, it (hearing impairment) bothered me a lot. When I was in college, I really, really struggled. People sometimes want to hide their disabilities. I remember the first day of college, I marched up to the professor and I told him I was deaf and that I read lips. So if he grew a beard or something, I would be out of luck.”

Barton sat on the front row of her classes so she wouldn’t miss a word. She received her doctorate in education in much the same manner. (DeSoto Times Tribune, Feb. 21, 2008)


Bailout helps fuel new era of Wall Street wealth

Thanks, Washington.  Excerpt below.  Click here to read the entire article from the NY Times as posted on

It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system — reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts — helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth. …  Titans like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are making fortunes in hot areas like trading stocks and bonds, rather than in the ho-hum business of lending people money.