Months after civil rights advocates and protesters began to demand more accountability from Tupelo’s police force, elected officials have officially approved the creation of a citizen board that will advise local law enforcement.
Daily Journal local government reporter Caleb Bedillion (8:32) joins Derek and Brad on today’s episode to talk about Tupelo’s new police advisory board. It is believed to be the first such board in Mississippi, and Caleb discusses how it will operate.
The board is designed to advise the police department and to strengthen relationships and build trust. It will not have any oversight or accountability powers.
Each of the Council members will now make an appointment to the board, and Mayor Jason Shelton will make two, including Bill Allen, a retired Army colonel who chaired the committee that recommended the board’s creation. The board could begin meeting in June.
Also on today’s episode, Daily Journal Capitol Bureau chief Bobby Harrison (21:07) looks back at the recently completed 2017 legislative session. He talks about the biggest bills that were passed this year and key legislation that did not get passed.
Legislators will need to return to work for a special session in the coming months to pass a couple of budget bills that did not get approved during the regular session. Bobby talks about this looming session, and whether other issues – such as the education funding formula, a program for infrastructure needs or a state lottery – could be included.
And there was big news recently on the topic of a lottery. Speaker Philip Gunn, who has been the most powerful opponent to enacting a lottery in Mississippi, announced he would form a committee to study the issue.
Dennis Seid (29:31) talks about the future for Contour Airlines in Tupelo. With flights leaving and arriving on time and high customer satisfaction, Contour Airlines’ first year of service between Tupelo and Nashville has been successful in many regards.
But the airline faces a couple of major hurdles. For one, even though it is near 70 percent capacity on its flights, it is falling short of a $200-per-passenger cap for the $4.2 million annual federal subsidy it receives, the Essential Air Service. It could switch to a different subsidy program, the Alternate EAS, that allows more flexibility.
Then there is the question of what will happen to the federal subsidy program, which was not included in President Donald Trump’s budget.
And Daily Journal chief photographer Thomas Wells (37:23) talks about his recent photo essay that went inside the Tupelo Public Works repair shop, where police cars, fire trucks and other city vehicles are repaired and maintained.