Another Stunning Display of Ineptitude by the Fillingame Administration……..

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was a doozie and that does not count this:

Lawyer’s discovery stuns Bay St. Louis officials ~ Wes Muller

Bay St. Louis attorney Stephen Benvenutti told the council the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance was never published, as required by law, when it was adopted by the previous City Council in 2010.

Municipalities are legally required to publish zoning change proposals and other significant measures in the municipality’s local newspaper within 30 days of a council’s vote. The newspaper of record for municipalities in Hancock County is the Sea Coast Echo.

The display of ineptitude inherent to not following simple, statutorily mandated tasks such as keeping a codified book of municipal ordinances and publishing them after Council adoption by Mayor Fillingame and his appointees is stunning, though not surprising. The fact is this problem was identified in 2015 by the FY 2014 auditors at Wright Ward Hatten and Guel. Here is what the state auditor wrote in their Performance Review of that audit:

You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday.

Ooops sorry folks wrong auditor. Here is what the State Auditor Performance Review said about Fillingame Administration problems handling ordinances:

PerRevBSL_Ord

It’s clear from the State Auditor’s language Mayor Fillingame was Continue reading “Another Stunning Display of Ineptitude by the Fillingame Administration……..”

Bad News Thursday: Mississippi Power Kemper Plant hit with “Tube Leaks”. Gasifier offline until further notice

RFP was Johnny on the spot with today’s 8K issued by Southern Company:

In its Kemper County Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle Project Monthly Status Report through January 2017, Mississippi Power disclosed that gasifier “B” required an outage to remove ash deposits from its ash removal system and it expected the remainder of the Kemper IGCC would be placed in service by mid-March 2017. Mississippi Power has completed the outage work for gasifier “B” and is in the process of resuming production of electricity using syngas on gasifier “B.” On March 9, 2017, Mississippi Power experienced certain tube leaks in one of the syngas coolers for gasifier “A” and commenced an outage on gasifier “A” to perform necessary corrective actions. As a result, Mississippi Power no longer expects the remainder of the Kemper IGCC will be placed in service by mid-March 2017. Specific updates to the schedule and cost estimate for the Kemper IGCC are expected to be reflected in the Kemper IGCC Project Monthly Status Report through February 2017, which Mississippi Power expects to file by early April 2017.

Further cost increases and/or extensions of the expected in-service date may result from factors including, but not limited to, difficulties integrating the systems required for sustained operations, sustaining nitrogen supply, major equipment failure, unforeseen engineering or design problems including any repairs and/or modifications to systems, and/or operational performance (including additional costs to satisfy any operational parameters ultimately adopted by the Mississippi PSC). Mississippi Power is also identifying potential improvement projects that ultimately may be completed subsequent to placing the remainder of the Kemper IGCC in service. If completed, such improvement projects would be expected to enhance plant performance, safety and/or operations. As of December 31, 2016, approximately $12 million of related potential costs has been included in the cost estimate for the Kemper IGCC, as discussed above. Other projects have yet to be fully evaluated and may be subject to the $2.88 billion cost cap. Any further changes in the estimated costs of the Kemper IGCC subject to the $2.88 billion cost cap, net of the Initial DOE Grants and excluding the Cost Cap Exceptions, will be reflected in Southern Company’s and Mississippi Power’s statements of income and these changes could be material.

Extension of the in-service date beyond March 15, 2017 is currently estimated to result in additional base costs of approximately $25 million to $35 million per month, which includes maintaining necessary levels of start-up labor, materials, and fuel, as well as operational resources required to execute start-up activities. However, additional costs may be required for remediation of any further equipment and/or design issues identified.

The bloodbath continues.

Time to move on from the DoJ Disaster

To borrow an old fashioned metaphor, there has been a lot of ink spilled over the mishandling of the Equitable Sharing Grant by the Fillingame Administration, a grant violation that resulted in one dedicated audit along with a performance audit that confirmed what Slabbed has been saying since late 2013: The Fillingame Administration can’t handle money. From bringing the City to the verge of default on its water and sewer bonds to using the resulting $13 debt service surcharge added to everyone’s monthly water bill to pay general city expenses the examples of the Mayor’s financial mismanagement are legion as are the casualties, figuratively in the parade of City Clerks turned over by the City to go with one police chief. Worse are the active investigations into Payroll Fraud among other crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by city employees centered in the Police Department.

Organizationally when the Mayor exhibits a complete disregard for the financial portions of the state home rule statute the allegations of impropriety should not surprise. State Auditor Stacey Pickering termed the phenomenon a “Culture of Corruption”. Slabbed covered it in the organizationally corrupt Department of Marine Resources. To quote the late Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again” in the Bay.

Now we’ve entered election season and its time for the public to be asking questions and arming themselves with information about the candidates for office. Early this year Slabbed published the meeting notes from the December 2016 meeting between City officials and the United States Department of Justice. That document contains a wealth of information that should be important to every voter in terms of the three elected officials, two of whom are now running for Mayor that were in attendance with the other seeking reelection to the City Council. That meeting started with the DoJ making a repayment demand of about $300,000 in misspent funds and ended with the DoJ representative making a promise to take the proposal to let the resource starved Bay PD spend the money immediately on very real needs such as mold remediation inside the station house.

From a political standpoint it would have been easy for the two councilmen in attendance to let the Mayor suffer the consequences for comingling and misspending the grant beginning in 2011 by keeping quiet and having the DoJ demand $321,000 from the City while the Mayor prattled on about someone forging his electronic signature on the annual financial affidavit. They didn’t and ultimately the City now will be able to use these funds for their intended purpose – bolstering public safety. And as I wrote in a comment after that news broke that act also got the Mayor off the hook for repaying the misspent funds. There was simply no loss to the City. Continue reading “Time to move on from the DoJ Disaster”

PSA: Hancock County Alliance for Good Government Political Forum for Bay St. Louis Municipal Elections

On Thursday, April 20, 2017 the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is sponsoring a Political Forum for all candidates who have qualified to run in the 2017, Bay St. Louis Municipal Elections.

While The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government does not endorse candidates, since 2010, the organization has provided Political Forums for City, County, and State-wide elections as an opportunity for the voters and candidates to meet and debate the current issues of their government.

The Forum will be held at the Old Town Community Center in the Depot District on Blaize Avenue from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Candidates can register to participate by calling—228-493-4358 or 228-363-9395.

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Trump – Still Getting Away with It

Posted on March 8, 2017

Getting away with what? The over-the-top lie to divert attention from a prior over-the-top lie and screw up that is exposing him for what he is … a real and present danger to the USA and the World.

Compare Trump with his predecessor, Barack Obama.

OBAMA has said in various interviews that he viewed his role as President as similar to that of a long-distance runner in a relay race. His job was to take the baton from his predecessor and hand it off to his successor eight years later with the country in better shape as a result of his efforts.

It wasn’t about “glory” or “legacy” with Obama. It was about duty and responsibility. It wasn’t about winning news cycles. It was about long game … running the race as best he could for the eight years he was given. It involved study, effort, and time … making thoughtful decisions (and not doing “stupid stuff”) day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Based on the facts that he is the only President since Eisenhower to win over 51% of the popular vote twice, and that on his last full day in office he had a job approval rating of 59%, the American people think he succeeded.

TRUMP … where do you start with this guy? Can anyone say with a straight face that he is a deep thinker who has studied history and world events? Can anyone say that he is a thoughtful individual … that if he says something happened, it actually did happen? The answer is a resounding no.

Can anyone say that he is an honorable person? Is he the kind of person who, if he makes an allegation that reflects poorly on someone’s character, he stands behind the charge and presents evidence to support the charge? Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Ashton O’Dwyer: The Public Has a Right to Know What’s Behind the Curtain on the Katrina Settlement

The Public has a right to know that the $20 million KATRINA settlement with the Levee Boards and their insurer is corrupt and fraudulent.

There are several “back-stories” to this settlement, none of which has been reported by this newspaper.

The Public needs to know that this settlement came about after the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the United States of America (acting through the Army Corps of Engineers) had immunity from any and all claims for damages arising out of KATRINA. And since “Plaintiffs’ Liason Counsel” Bruno, and the cabal he is a part of, failed to sue the State of Louisiana, because they had secretly represented the State in presenting the State’s $200 billion claim against the United States, the cabal was left holding an empty bag when the United States was determined to be immune from suit.

So how was the cabal going to recover its “out-of-pocket” costs incurred in fighting the Federal Government for several years (all for “nothing”, as it turned out)?

The insurance policies issued to the Levee Boards were worth, at a bare minimum, $20 million, or so. Accordingly, the cabal made a “grab” for those funds, which would have served several purposes: (a) the $20 million would reimburse the cabal its “costs”, and do so in a way that (b) did not cause the cabal the obvious ethical problem of pursuing its own client, the State, for damages (the Levee Boards being State entities). The cabal also had to be very careful that their “secret” client, the State, wasn’t implicated for more than “one policy limit” of $20 million. Luckily for the cabal, the Levee Boards and their insurer decided it was best if they would “play along”, but only if they could obtain a full and complete Release in exchange for one policy limit of $20 million. The alternative was years of uncertain litigation. Continue reading “Other Voices | Ashton O’Dwyer: The Public Has a Right to Know What’s Behind the Curtain on the Katrina Settlement”