Two years after the North Mississippi Rural Legal Services laid off workers, slashed wages up to 19 percent, and eliminated needed programs for the poor, the agency is now shutting down its office in the region's largest city and eliminating a unit that handles public benefits issues.
"The struggle for legal services in North Mississippi goes on," said Elaine Lantz, regional organizer with the National Organization of Legal Services/UAW Local 2320. The union represents workers at the agency.
The agency covers 39 counties across northern Mississippi and helps clients with food stamps, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, evictions, and other needs. Dependent on federal and state grants and other funding, it has faced budgetary cutbacks now for years, resulting in decisions two years ago to eliminate a unit that helped those facing eviction from their homes and to transfer half its small staff of lawyers off courtroom duty and onto full-time "hotline" telephone duty.
With the budget crunch still continuing to deepen, the NMRLS board last week decided to shut down its Tupelo, Miss., office -- which served 10 counties -- and relocate its services to the agency's office in Oxford, Miss. "Cuts necessitated that one office must be closed," NMRLS executive director Ben Cole told the Oxford Eagle in Oxford. "The overall effect this will have on legal aid services is not yet known, but it is going to directly impact clients in the Tupelo area."
With the closure of the office in Tupelo -- north Mississippi's largest city -- the NMRLS will have four remaining offices across the region, including the Oxford office.
Lantz said "one thing that is very bothersome" is that the board of directors is currently raising "outside" non-program money to build a new building for its offices in Oxford. "In a time when funds for legal services are shrinking, it does not make sense to spend time raising money for a new building. Any fund raising efforts should go toward maintaining client services."
In a public hearing on NMRLS cutbacks in August 2009, Nancy Jones, then 54, a mother of three and grandmother of six, said legal services helped get her unemployment checks restored and eliminate a $4,100 fine imposed on her by the state because she had unknowingly failed to meet a requirement that she re-register with a temp service after a series of layoffs from several jobs.
"We were out in the street, looking for a job, unemployed for eight months," Jones said. "I was already poor. A lot of us out there don't have no job, no money. I know I didn't have money to pay for an attorney. ... I don't know what I would've done."
At that same hearing, veteran paralegal Henry Boyd warned, "You've got the wolves out there waiting for the NMRLS to go down. Who's going to serve these people? Let's don't cut our help to poor folks."
Link to original article on Labor South
In a major step forward, Mississippi banned slavery this week. This type of definite legislative action is ostensibly the type of thing to be excited about in an era of unprecedented political foot-dragging, so congratulations Mississippi for finally ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment. Sure, the state is a little behind the curve on this one, given that the nation is a full 148 years past the official end of slavery (more on that, in a second). But Mississippi isn’t the only state that took...
Laura Gottesdiener | AlterNet 21 Feb 2013 Hits:341 Mississippi
A lawmaker from Mississippi is coming under fire for voting against aid to Hurricane Sandy victims seven years after he pleaded with federal officials to fund the recovery in his storm-battered community after Hurricane Katrina. Talking Points Memo reports on the details today.
The lawmaker, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), was Deputy Director and CFO of the Biloxi Housing Authority in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast. Biloxi, a city in Mississippi, was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Talking Points Memo cites...
Alex Kane | AlterNet 07 Jan 2013 Hits:746 Mississippi
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday sued the state of Mississippi, the city of Meridien, the county and several state agencies, alleging they "help[ed] to operate a school to prison pipeline" that routinely violated the rights of African-American children and children with disabilities in the city of Meridien.
"As a result," the court filing states, "children in Meridien have been systematically incarcerated for allegedly committing minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions, and are punished disproportionately without due process of law. The students...
Common Dreams Staff 26 Oct 2012 Hits:580 Mississippi
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi has long been one of the sickest and poorest states in America, with some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and more than 1 in 7 residents without insurance. And so you might think Mississippi would jump at the prospect of billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid.
You'd be wrong.
Leaders of the deeply conservative state say that even if Mississippi receives boatloads of cash under President Barack Obama's health care law, it can't afford...
Emily Wagster Pettus | AP 20 Oct 2012 Hits:628 Mississippi
Michael Carter hardly evokes the Hollywood image of a podium-pounding, fire-breathing labor agitator. With his dark blue "New York" cap, light blue knit shirt, slight build and soft-spoken voice, he looks like what he is: a 38-year-old working man, husband and father of two.
He's talking with me in the United Auto Workers' newly opened office just off Nissan Parkway and within view of the 3.5 million square-foot Nissan plant. On the wall behind him is a framed, black-and-white photograph of Martin Luther King...
Joe Atkins | Labor South 17 Aug 2012 Hits:529 Mississippi
Mississippi's only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, found itself the target of anti-choice legislators this year, who--after failing to ban abortion through the ballot---tried a back-door method to shut the clinic down, requiring its staff to gain admitting privileges at hospitals. For a while, it looked like Mississippi might be the only state in the union to have not a single abortion-providing facility. But a judge granted the clinic a reprieve, for now.
The law requires doctors who perform abortions to...
Sarah Seltzer | Sourced from AlterNet 15 Jul 2012 Hits:518 Mississippi
After months of speculation about where the United Auto Workers was going to focus its do-or-die Southern campaign to organize workers, the giant 3,000-worker Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., has emerged as Battleground No. 1.
The $1.4 billion, nine-year-old plant has been eyed by UAW leaders for several years as a potential prize in its efforts to regain ground it has lost over the past several decades. UAW membership has dropped 75 percent in the last 30 years, and that decline has been aggravated by...
Joe Atkins | The Institute of Southern Studies 03 Jul 2012 Hits:601 Mississippi
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi's only abortion clinic is open after a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a law the clinic says could regulate it out of business.
The owner of Jackson Women's Health Organization says it was "business as usual" on Monday. Abortion opponents prayed outside.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a temporary restraining order Sunday to stop Mississippi from enforcing a law requiring any physician doing abortions at the clinic to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital.
Emily Wagster Pettus | Huffington Post 02 Jul 2012 Hits:466 Mississippi
A Mississippi jail is on lockdown today after a Sunday night riot left one prison guard dead and as many as 20 inmates and guards injured. According to sheriff’s reports, the violence began as a gang feud and soon engulfed the privately operated facility, which holds 2,500 non-citizens incarcerated for reentering the United States after deportation and for other charges. But the fragments of information that have emerged from inmates and advocates suggest that the violence had more to do with a pattern...
Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com | Report 24 May 2012 Hits:529 Mississippi
Jackson, MS - March 30 - In a closed meeting lasting less than one minute, two Mississippi Public Service Commissioners voted to issue a temporary authorization to Mississippi Power Company to continue spending $3 million per day building the Kemper County coal plant, with no opportunity for public comment. This authorization allows Mississippi Power to continue construction of the $2.88 billion plant after the Mississippi Supreme Court revoked its initial permit in a ruling issued March 15 of this year. Since the ruling,...
The Sierra Club 30 Mar 2012 Hits:422 Mississippi
Yes, it's true, as BuzzFlash at Truthout documented a short time ago, the State of Mississippi (MS) "sucks up $2.73 in federal support for every dollar its residents pay in national taxes." In the dog-whistle language of the right wing, that makes the state where 66 percent of GOP voters believe in creationism, an official "welfare state."
In short, the MS state government run out of Jackson is a leech upon the US government, but try telling that to Mitt Romney.
While pandering for votes in Mississippi before the recent...
Mark Karlin | BuzzFlash Blog 17 Mar 2012 Hits:811 Mississippi
In November's elections, the national media gave extensive coverage to a proposed "personhood amendment" to Mississippi's state constitution. This extremist, anti-choice ballot initiative declared that a person's life begins not at birth, but at the very instant that a sperm meets the egg.
However, extending full personhood to two-cell zygotes was too far out even for many of Mississippi's anti-choice voters, so the proposition was voted down.
Meanwhile, the national media paid no attention to another "personhood" vote that took place on that...
Jim Hightower | Sourced from Other Words 20 Dec 2011 Hits:593 Mississippi
Mississippi’s “Personhood Amendment” self-imploded and succumbed to an unexpected defeat last night. Analysts are already dissecting the reasons for the collapse of an initiative that seemed a sure thing just a few weeks ago.
Yet this setback should not obscure a crucial truth: the hard Christian Right, which sponsored the Amendment 26, is the most swashbucklingest social movement out there. They will pull out all the stops, give you the razzle dazzle, double-down on doubling down. And, yes, they will be back, bigger and better than ever.
Jacques Berlinerblau | The Washington Post 09 Nov 2011 Hits:470 Mississippi
Tuesday’s ballot initiative in Mississippi regarding a constitutional amendment that would grant fertilized eggs legal personhood is polling right down to the wire, with 45% of Mississippians favoring it and 44% opposed. Gender influences opinion on this initiative somewhat, with men favoring it by six percentage points and women opposing it by four percentage points. Race and party affiliation has even more influence, with Democrats and African-Americans registering around 60% opposition to the amendment. This suggests that the racial and class-based aspects to this amendment...
Amanda Marcotte | AlterNet 08 Nov 2011 Hits:479 Mississippi
The New York Times has a story on something we've written about a bit before—the push to pass state-level constitutional "personhood" amendments to ban abortion (among other things) by defining life as beginning at conception. Previous initiatives have fallen short, but Mississippi's personhood movement, which was initiated by a one-time Christian secessionist who backed a plan to create an independent theocracy in upstate South Carolina, has a decent chance of passing this November—at least if its high-profile endorsers are any indication:
Mississippi will also elect a new...
Tim Murphy | Mother Jones 07 Nov 2011 Hits:472 Mississippi
The 2011 Mississippi ballot Initiative 26 on Personhood and Initiative 27 on Voter ID exclusions may be one of the most important opportunities on the ground for the…
KOSCIUSKO, Miss. (AP) — Mary Ikerd has lived in Kosciusko 17 years, and said she sees the same poll workers every election day. Because of that, she said…
Two years after the North Mississippi Rural Legal Services laid off workers, slashed wages up to 19 percent, and eliminated needed programs for the poor, the agency is…
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