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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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Jonathan David Jackson

I love the clear, careful reasoning as you build this case against a closet (or not so closet) bigot and expose the true complexity of these issues. I also admire the primary source documents that you post on the site. This essay is definitely one of your most insightful.

Suzy Sharino

Wow, what accuracy!

What a post, Mr. Greenberg! Your reporting would make Prince blush, for more reasons than what you hit on in this posting, especially for the simple reason that you are a much better journalist than is Prince.

I for one have inside information for you. I worked for Jim Prince at one of his newspapers during the 2004 Philly Coalition Memorial. Prince fired me a little under one year later as the trial was underway. I was fired, basically, because I was looking for another job and Prince told a colleague that he would fire me before I had the chance to quit.

I began seeking other employment because Prince was quite sloppy about shared folders on the network and I read some sensitive and personal material pertaining to Prince and to his finances vis-a-vis the Philadelphia Coalition.

My friend and co-worker Walter C. Shirley wrote the unattributed Neshoba Democrat article that is linked on your post. Shirley's name was probably removed from the article on the Democrat's Web site because of a dispute Prince had with Shirley shortly after that article was written and published in the print editions of his three newspapers.

[A portion of this comment has been deleted for reasons explained here. —BG]

On the more pertinent matters, it was common knowledge in the office that Prince's grandfather was the top-dog in the Citizens' Council -- an elite racist organization that used the Klan for dirty work -- back in the 1950s and 60s. Thanks for exposing that. I only wish AP writers would expose Prince for the hypocrite that he is, yet despite the common knowledge of Prince's familial roots and affiliations, journalists all over the country have given him the benefit of the doubt and taken his comments on his family's past at face value.

When journalists interview other journalists, there'll be some boldface lies and journalists protect their own, for the most part.

Also, notice the names of the Philadelphia Coalition members on its Web site. Also notice that around 90 percent of them are business owners in Philadelphia or Neshoba County. Therein lies Prince's rationale for forming the Philly Coalition.

Prince has college connections to Jim Hood and with Hood's election to Atty Gen in 2003, it allowed Prince to have access to the most powerful elected official in Mississippi. Prince knew that Hood would bring charges against Killen (outgoing atty gen. Mike Moore had built the case while Hood was campaigning. It was a political hand-off). Prince also knew that he could get Hood to persuade the judge not to move the trial outside of Philadelphia.

Prince's goal, as was the entire Coalition's goal, was to have a big, grandiose, kangaroo court (not that Killen was innocent, mind you) in Philadelphia so that all of the local businesses could take advantage of CNN coming down, Fox News coming down, New York Times reporters and photogs coming down, reporters from freaking Sweden even stayed a week or two in Philadelphia.

That week of the trial, Prince was like a kid in a candy store. Prince loves talking to the media, unless they work for him.

For probably a greater part of a year, from the time of the Memorial to the time of Killen's indictment, Prince didn't do a darn bit of work at any of his newspapers. In that time he lost employees of eight, 10 years service...and he lost other employees due to his strange management practices.

Nonetheless, Prince was fixated on the Coalition and the Trial and Killen for a long time. In the meantime, his papers were floundering. He repeatedly jerked ad reps out of their commissions and he used Coalition funds to shore up the poor finances of his "news organization" as he called it.

But the week of the indictment, Prince was busy talking to reporters left and right. There was hardly a day that Prince did not grant an interview to some TV news crew. He was giddy when the trial began and there wasn't a vacancy at any motel from Philly to Jackson to Meridian.

This was his intent. It was his time in the limelight. It was Philadelphia's time in the limelight, rather than the focus of a murder mystery.

On Chaney's brother, Prince just hated that guy because he figured out that Prince's Coalition was nothing more than an elaborate slush fund for Prince's "news organization," the town's businesses, et al.

I had intimate dealings with Prince and Chaney before that 2004 Memorial and during a conference call one afternoon, Prince indeed promised Chaney that there were no connections between the GOP and the Coalition, especially with Barbour and the Pickerings.

I knew at that time it was a boldface lie. Chaney wasn't stupid and he knew what the truth was. Prince acted as if it hurt him that Chaney didn't show up. Prince was livid that night when a Jackson TV channel had Chaney on the 10 o'clock news, claiming that the Coalition was a bunch of bullcrap and his ethics prevented him (Chaney) from having any dealings with it.

The next day around the office, talking to a news crew, Prince acted shocked by Chaney's statements. Then he denigrated the man and attacked his character. Later that day he told a reporter to dig up some dirt on Chaney. A week later the reporter had an arrest record and some unsavory personal facts like divorce, children by more than one wife, credit problems. Prince seized on the arrest record and I chimed in telling him...hello, Chaney was a civil rights activist in the 60s, in California under Gov. Reagan, no wonder he has an arrest record. HELLO...PRINCE YOU DUMBASS, EVEN CHANEY'S BROTHER HAD AN ARREST RECORD...IN YOUR FREAKING TOWN!!!!

Even so, when the cameras and tape recorders were out of the office, Prince was giddy. It was his best mood ever in the three years, two months that I worked for him.

It was so freaking disgusting to me. At that time I began looking into Prince. Everyone in three counties new him, especially where he had a paper. Most who knew him, knew of Prince's days at the Mississippi State U. newspaper -- The Reflector back when Prince was in college.

One reporter who worked under Prince at The Reflector asked me if "Jim still threw temper tantrums from time to time." She asked that sarcastically and all I could say was "how d'you know that?"

She told me of Jim's insanity during his days at the Reflector and how he had been outed while still a student and a member of a fraternity. She said it was very embarrassing to him and that he was further up Da Nile river than anyone she'd ever known.

There were other problems for Prince during the time between Killen's indictment and trial. In Madison County, where Prince had one newspaper, the economic development authority of the county had given Prince a tax abatement when Prince purchased the paper back in 1992. The abatement came with a provision that Prince would employ anywhere from 15 to 25 employees at the paper.

When MCEDA board members had learned, which was no secret, that the newspaper's staff had dwindled to four people, they simply proposed ending the abatement and auditing Prince to determine how much he owed in back taxes. The MCEDA Board determined that due to unexplained and continuous turnover at the Madison County Journal, stretching from 1993 to 2004, that the entire abatement was to be revoked and Prince should repay all of those back taxes because Prince was essentially guilty of breach-of-contract.

And the turnover at the Journal was impressive. From 1993 to 1997 the Journal had a total of 17 managing editors, many of whom only worked at the Journal for a few months. One only worked one week. In that time, the Journal had probably 38 reporters, copy editors and junior editors on staff; many of whom lasted only a few weeks.

From 1997 to 2000, the Journal's staff was rather stable. Don Hill served as managing editor at that time and it was a time after Prince had purchased the Democrat in Philadelphia. Even so, Hill went through 14 staff members in that time; some of whom worked there only a few weeks before quitting. From 2000 to 2004, the Journal again experienced great turnover. The paper had roughly 20 staff members come and go in that time and it experienced four managing editor changes.

A large turnover rate for a paper with a maximum circulation of about 4,000 per week. But employment was the reason the MCEDA Board extended to Prince an abatement back in 1993.

Since Prince's reporters at that paper were all over MCEDA like white-on-rice and editorialized about its dealings often (at Prince's behest and due to Madison's exponential growth in that time), Prince called the dispute with MCEDA a "political witch hunt."

The day his hearing was to be held, the lawyer got up and addressed the charges. Then he said Prince wished to address the Board. Prince got on a soapbox and did not specifically address the charges the Board had against him, instead Prince launched into an impassioned oratory about First Amendment rights. He did not answer, nor did he address one of the charges against him.

The lawyer, myself, we were entirely embarrassed. Later, one of the Board members asked me if "Jim is 'alright'? I took it as a reference to his sanity.

Looking into the abatement, I found out that Prince had further financial problems of a legal nature. There were documents in his shared folders that contained bank statements. His "news organization" was being bankrolled by the Philadelphia Coalition.

Knowing that the Coalition was a non-political 501(c)3, I knew that the Coalition could not donate money to political parties or candidates. Nonetheless, Coalition financial statements had imaged checks with payments of $3,500 to the Miss. GOP, the Madison County GOP and $2,000 to Haley Barbour, all signed by Prince. Chump change compared to the monies Prince had funnelled into his struggling newspapers.

This was the time that I had to get out after being thoroughly disappointed in Prince's leadership and management abilities. I knew by that time, before I saw his finances, that Prince was a liar, totally inauthentic, sociopathic and downright immoral -- all the while posing as this fundamentalist Christian do-gooder who'd bring awareness to Neshoba County's "racial harmony" that has existed ever since the 1964 murders.

I was surprised at how well you captured Prince's racism on your post. It's as if you too have spent some time with the guy.

I studied extensively history and the civil rights movement while in college. I knew more about Mississippi's racist past than did Prince, so it seemed. The week Killen was indicted, Prince wrote an editorial talking about how if this man were tried and found guilty that it would close the door of Mississippi's past and blah, blah, blah...as if the '64 murders were the only blight on the state from that turbulent time or any other.

I reminded Prince that Emmitt Till's murderers walked scot-free and then bragged about killing that kid just days after their acquittal. I mentioned that others involved in that murder were still around. Prince asked "who's Emmitt Till?"

I find it laughable that Prince would insinuate that Neshoba County is racism free. That shows me just how out-of-touch he really is, nevermind the fact that he never hired anyone who was other than white.

Walking into Philadelphia High's lunchroom during a school-day and you'll find black students on one side, whites on the other. Prince denies that vestiges of racism linger in Mississippi, probably because Prince was serving essentially as a P-R rep for Neshoba County through the advocacy of the Philadelphia Coalition.

Remember, economics served as Prince's sole motivation for starting the Coalition. He was the prime mover in its forming, while Molpus was set up as a "front man." He even made other businessmen "buy" membership into the Coalition, while these monies just went to Prince's newspapers.

Nonetheless, after an overall 10 year career as a reporter myself, never have I read an account of something that I know extensively and personally that was entirely 100% accurate.

How'd you figure all of this out? You had to know someone....so it seems.

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