The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain helps DMR Director Bill Walker buy his son’s property. A DMR friends and family program update.

Like the systemic political corruption in Jefferson Parish, the unfolding scandal at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is like a cheap sweater in that one loose thread has been pulled and now the whole thing is unraveling.  As Karen Nelson at the Sun Herald has reported on each new out house transaction, I sense a growing public outrage, especially now that a not for profit organization with a previously sterling reputation has emerged as a co-conspirator to what strongly appears to be illegal acts involving DMR Director Bill Walker and his son Scott.  Tina Shumate, the person at DMR in charge of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program is also neck deep in the cesspool doing real estate deals with her parents with public money and it is with Tina’s parents brother that we’ll start as she is no ordinary legacy political hack stinking up state government as her daddy brother Curt Hebert is an expert in wallowing in the crony capitalism cesspool dating to his disastrous run as head of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Agency, which in reality regulated nothing expect the lining of their own pockets:

Hebert, a former Mississippi utility regulator who is often regarded as a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), was named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in January 2001. A Republican, Hebert was first nominated to FERC in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton. During Hebert’s tenure, FERC has been criticized for being too laissez faire, and Hebert’s critics accuse him of being a free market ideologue.

Indeed it was under Hebert’s watch that ENRON price gouged west coast power consumers by manipulating power supplies, causing rolling blackouts and other disruptions that allowed ENRON to profit mightily from selling electricity into the contrived power shortage.  Hebert is an expert in Mississippi style crony capitalism and it appears his daughter sister well learned at his side how to slop at the trough.

What I am gonna do today is link the Sun Herald reporting for those that want to catch up and call bull on DMR Director Bill Walker’s assertion the OIG showing up at his office late last Summer is somehow routine.  A state agency seeing someone from the State Auditors Office is routine though it appears the Auditor’s office, as it concerns DMR corruption, has been asleep at the switch for many years and in my opinion their Johnny-come-lately appearance on the DMR scene is to ascertain the extent of the scandal so it can be contained as I have no faith Governor Phil Bryant wants to see this scandal exposed since it involves so many of his supporters.

But before I get to those links everyone needs to know what a questioned cost is as I get the feeling many people think it is an auditor raising their hand saying, “Oh ohh I got a question about this cost!” as that could not be further from the truth.  The term “question cost” comes from OMB Circular A-133 which is a major document in the governmental auditing community when it comes to examining the use of federal funds:

Questioned cost means a cost that is questioned by the auditor because of an audit finding:

(1) Which resulted from a violation or possible violation of a provision of a law, regulation, contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or other agreement or document governing the use of Federal funds, including funds used to match Federal funds;
(2) Where the costs, at the time of the audit, are not supported by adequate documentation; or
(3) Where the costs incurred appear unreasonable and do not reflect the actions a prudent person would take in the circumstances.

Of course this fits that which is going on at the Mississippi DMR in their friends and family program to the T. When an auditor, especially one from the OIG questions a cost it is usually followed by a repayment demand, sometimes by the FBI. We need the FBI looking at this whole fiasco in the worst way IMHO.

Here are links to the Sun Herald reports and I urge everyone to read the story comments as it is all coming out as people are beginning to talk.  My experience doing Slabbed is that it is best we get everything out in the open so we can really see the politicians tap dance.

Read ’em quick as McClatchy will break the links to these excellent reports around a month after publication (slitting their own throats in the process).

34 thoughts on “The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain helps DMR Director Bill Walker buy his son’s property. A DMR friends and family program update.”

  1. First let me give you some info for correction. Curt Herbert is the brother of Tina Shumate and did serve as chairman of FERC. Second, while all of the land buying was going on and some with Heritage money as we now know Ann Hebert, the mother of Tina Shumate,Scott Walker, the son of Billy Walker,and Judy Steckler with the Land Trust all served as Commissioners on the Ms. Gulf Coast National Heritage Area Board. This organnization Director is Tina Shumate. One can view the entire list of Commisioners by going to http://www.msgulfcoastheritage.ms.gov. The MGCNHA is operated by and from the Ms.DMR location in Biloxi.. Scott Walker no longer is listed as a Commisioner but is listed all the way back to the begining of 2010 and that as far back as info is available to view..Also the FBI is involved in this investigation and has question people in the community already.

    1. The OIG report had Ann and Curt as Tina’s parents but from the sound of it FERC Curt must be Curt Jr.

      I hated to see Judy Steckler and the Land Trust come up in this. Ms Steckler is wife to Harrison County Chancery Court Judge Sandy Steckler. I imagine they all hang in the same political circles.

      The narrative gets better given the rumored suicide of Bill Walker’s administrative assistant last August. I’m very happy to hear the FBI is involved.

  2. The comments on the Sun Herald articles are something else. I’m guessing the suicide and the murder mentioned in the comments are possibly the same person? Biloxi crooks… To bad the internet wasn’t around 25 years ago. We might know the truth about the Sherry murders. Legend has it, that was about land too.

    I can’t wait for the data on the multi million dollar transactions.

  3. Doug,Curt Hebert Jr./ Sr. is correct. Ann Hebert is a very well know Republican organizer in Jackson County with long time ties to Trent Lott.So many conflicts in this mess. One important conflict is Tina Shumate who serves on the Board of Directors of the Land Trust for the Ms.Coastal Plain, Director of the Ms.DMR Office of Coastal Management and Planning,Director of the Ms.Gulf Coast National Heritage Area and Director ot the Ms.DMR Distressed Real Estate Acquisition office.She is very busy. Must be why some sellers of distressed real estate got to use their own appraisal/appraiser which would not be allowed by any lender or buyer in the real world.We need to take the time to examine every purchase and layout a timeline.As an example the property on Hanover Drive in the Windsor Porte subdivision was filled illegally and was shutdown by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors after many complaints by people in the subdivision. How did they get the necessary permision to complete the site work thru Ms.DMR? Now that the Ms. taxpayers own it are we going to now pay to have it returned to its natural state for the sake of a purple heron I saw when I visited the site? I bet the people on that street hope the Ms.DMR does not feel the need to make a dog park or something. They just recently organized against a land owner who has access from Washington Ave but his lot backs up to the lots on Hanover Drive, to stop him from getting approval to operate a tour boat business leaving fom his lot on the same bayou.Jackson County said “NO”.Too much to do too little time.We all need to drill deep!

    1. I agree 100% O S Dog.

      I am ready to roll with Harbor Landing (much discussed), Henderson Ave in Pass Christian and thanks to you and Brian Old Fort Bayou. Without doubt there is a story and connection for each of the properties OIG mentioned.

      And then there is a larger connection, that of the appraisal service that did the overwhelming majority of the DMR appraisals, Global Valuations as they also surface in the very specious transaction chain surrounding the Bay Waveland School Board’s purchase of the Bay Tech Building.

      Given what we’ve seen so far I am amazed in respects Phil Bryant is sticking with Bill Walker. We’ll all find out how deeply those two are tied together by how long Phil sticks with his DMR Director.

  4. One point that is missing from these articles is that when the Sun Herald and the Times Picayune and all the local business groups and community organizations join with state and local politicians to support demands that the money from federal oil and gas leases should be controlled by the locals, and the money from the BP fines should be controlled by the locals, and the money from tidelands leases should be controlled by the locals, and the FEMA mitigation grant projects should be controlled by the locals, these corrupt cronyism projects are the inevitable result of doing that.

    These good Christian Republicans are not being corrupted by the federal government. They are precisely the people who constantly aggitate for everyone to be terrified of federal authority over local land use, environmental policies, flood control policy, shipping and port policies, etc., so that Congress will be forced politically to pass the federal funds straight to the state and local officials for them to decide how to spend, supposedly for those larger policy purposes.

    Then, the federal agencies are left in the very weak position of ruling only whether the local projects are eligible for the federal funding – not whether they are good projects or the best use of the funds or even pass any legitimate cost-benefit analysis – only whether what the locals want to spend the money on is an eligible use of the funds. And if the federal agency says no, all the state and localst fly up to Washington to get their Senators and Congressmen to put the pressure on the federal agencies to back down.

    Once the money is approved, the federal agencies do not have the staff, the resources, or the budget to ensure compliance. The locals know there will only be desk reviews, not on-site reviews, by the feds, so all they need to do is make sure the right boxes are checked on the paperwork. So they just write that the money is to preserve coastal habitat, not that it is to buy property from a son or parents or cronies. Even if DMR had not overpaid for these properties, these were dumb uses of the funds because they accomplished very little if anything. There are dozens of very good plans out there that really would protect critical habitat AND reduce future flood losses AND protect water resources from pollution runoff, but those projects are not being funded because the money is going to bailing out friends and family who made poor investments in waterfront property.

    Occasionally, as it appears in this case, the cronyism is so rampant and so obvious that there is so much low-hanging fruit that federal investigators finally come in, generally after someone else has pointed out all the smoking guns. If the feds have to do any real digging to figure something out, they won’t even bother because they don’t have the people or the expense budget to do the job.

    1. Here’s what I see: the CIAP program was supposed to buy out repeatedly flooded properties and return them to green space and low-level public use. When this program was announced, perhaps the whole Cedar Point gang got together and it was suggested that all the good ole boys and girls buy waterfront property. In 2007, I bet it was cheap. Then, the existence of CIAP money for such purposes was weakly publicized, if at all. Them,the list was cherry-picked; what and who had the final say on the properties?

      The plot thickens; Harris, Moran, Reynolds (2 lots),the usual gang, now including Shumate, all buy or offer waterfront property. it gets valued at 10 times the value or so. Property closes, and loans against the property, based on the inflated value, get paid off. No one notices. Turns out Scott got overlooked. Fine, the Land Trust steps in. How could anyone not know not to ask DMR for money to buy the director’s sons’ property?

      As for green herons, people here know they are like seagulls, a nuisance. We put rubber snakes out to keep them off our boats. There’s a bunch around the Harbor Landing area, where Connie Moran is still pushing for a boat house and restaurant, despite court orders. Save that for the birds. The birds I am interested in are the 20 thousand greenbacks…who got that and feathered their nest?

      1. I don’t think the properties were purchased in anticipation of CIAP as a general rule.

        The developed lot in the Pass that was the old location of the Winn Dixie DMR purchased from Jackson developer Gary Cress was owned by Mr Cress for years before Katrina. Sources indicate Cress had condo mania badly, as was the fashion circa 2005-2007 during the real estate bubble mania, and those dreams crashed and burned along with the economy. The 3 acres across Henderson St, much lower in elevation than Cress’ paved lot, is already green and the far better candidate for setting aside. Real estate records show it was purchased just before Katrina for $800,000 and today remains for sale by owner.

        The comp implies DMR greatly overpaid Cress for his land. In DC the taxpayers funded bailouts for Wall Street while here on Main St. the taxpayers paid to bail out the politically connected. Like Brian, I notice the same bunch that hollers for no regulations on Wall Street is the same group robbing their own kind blind back home.

        There is a price to be paid for following such demagogues into the weeds with the scapegoating of Hispanic ditch diggers, welfare recipients and whatever other part of the “47%” make convenient targets du jour and we’re tallying it today.

        Brian also nailed the value of websites like Slabbed because we can put out the information to make the FBI’s job much easier. In Mississippi the US Attorney has historically been quick to indict those that stole a few thousand dollars from FEMA after Katrina, not so much on the organizations and people that looted millions (think Rosemary Barbour and the insurance companies). Dunn Lampton left the office a politicized disaster, I have doubts it is much better today.

        1. CIAP money should neverbe spent buying expensive properties surrounded by affluent developments such as Gulf Hills. What good is it environmentally or as a mitigation measure to buy one or two lots on a bayou with homes, bulkheads, boats, docks, decks, fertilized and pesticized lawns, up and down and across the bayou from the lots? If you are not going to let a substantial portion of the bayou frontage go wild it is pointless to buy a couple of lots and call that a restoration program. There are other locations where the money could have paid for a legitimate project.

    1. Sunhearld is repoting that Danny Guice has been appointed Deputy Director @ Ms.DMR. Looks like the Govenor is getting troops in a position for the forced retirement of the current Director which I predict will be before Christmas.Does anyone know the name of the deceased lady who was Billy Walkers executive secretary at DMR? Also have been told by a reliable politico that Mayor Robbie Maxwells decision not to run for mayor of Pascagoula again is a direct result of the current investigation into the Walkers and he will be implicated as part of Maxwell Walker Consultants. He is supposed to be working on a deal with investigators. He learned from Trent Lott how to cut your losses and move on.Smoking D. where is the second parcel of Reynolds property? I know the Front Beach parcel.Do you know what was paid for each ?

  5. Sorry for the the incorrect spelling but typing on the run in the Walmart parking lot after getting the breaking news on my phone.I do believe the sweater is unraveling based on what I am hearing.

    1. We’re not too picky about spelling here though Grammar Bully does lurk.

      I have the name of Walker’s secretary but would need to dig it up and it is absolutely insane here this afternoon so it will be a while. The rumor mill indicates she hung herself in August at the DMR offices at the Bolton Building and at least one member of her family somehow holds Walker responsible. It has come up in comments at the S-H and feel good enough about the general subject to at least acknowledge that rumor though I have no desire to inflict additional pain on the woman’s family. If one of you guys reading this wants to jump in with details please feel free.

  6. You need to also look at the Institute forMarine Mammal Studies connection. Dr. Sharon Walker- familiar name- is the Director of Development. Happens to be Bill Walker’s wife.

    1. All these “Doctors” we have associated with scandals here on the Slabb. I think it was Warren Buffet that had something sage to say about people possessive of high levels of Intelligence without Integrity.

      As OS Dog mentioned yesterday the Sun Herald is reporting today that Danny Guice has been brought on board at DMR in a move that does not bode well for one of the Drs. Walker.

  7. That poor, honest lady was named Michelle (Mikayla) Hill. She was Billy’s assistant for a long time. She apparently knew too much and was put under the oppressive and pointy-haired boss, Tina Shumate; she of the Land Trust, the Heritage fund, and the CIAP director who bought her parents’ property.

    That lady did not die in vain. I think a lot of what has come out is because many, many of the good people at DMR, those who did not go on the YADA boats and suck up booze and play fanny-pat, but did their jobs while all around them phantom contractors with two and three other jobs, including city aldermen, ripped off Uncle Sugar like bandits, decided that enough was enough. Can you spell “whistleblower”? I hope they get what they want and all the people in the racketeering scheme go to jail.

  8. Thieves flock together. Sad that someone had to die in order to gain proper attention to all the illegal deals going on since Katrina and folks saw a way to bilk taxpayer money. The street knows exactly what happened. Public corruption is rampant; we are only at the tip of the iceberg. One can only hope until the jail door slams hard behind these folks that they are spending many, many sleepless nights.

  9. Thanks Smoking D for the info. Ms. Hill is not to be found on the net no matter how many ways you try.Strange.Many tenacles this monster has.Such obvious public corruption is rare.Usually in dark rooms with a wisper not in the light of day with a shout.I understand Ms.Hill left behind some good info that has been passed on to the proper authorities.Hope so.Love Billy Walkers statements about bringing Danny Guice on board at the DMR. Time for a change to someone who knows nothing about the operation of the agency.Walker will be gone by Christmas so Danny boy better learn quick.I feel certain Phil sent him after the phone call to Billy to tell him he was the new DD.He does have realestate experiance which will help.

  10. Has anyone made the connection between Bill Walker’s DMR and his wife, Sharon’s position with the Marine Institute? I feel sorry for the professionals working at the Marine Institute as they will suffer from the eventual fall out of this scandal. Mixing public and private money to create a dolphin study/ocean aquarium can be fraught with issues that raise red flags. Obviously the Walkers feel entitled to our tax dollars regardless of how they obtain them or hand them out to family and friends with abandon. But some of the beneficiaries of this corrupt misuse of public funds have been long-time crooks with friends in high places who got to thinking they were untouchable. NOT.

    1. Yes, and I wonder, Did IMMS get CIAP money? Was Sharon there when they got it? Did IMMS get some of that post-Katrina disaster relief money? Did it go through DMR like the CIAP money did? Was Moby really voted “Biggest Dolphin Pimp”? What about BP money, did they get any? Inquiring minds want to know!

  11. This has not even begun to be investigated! This involves Billy Hewes’ brother-in-law, Joe Zeigler, an Ocean Springs Alderman, and lots more. It takes a lot of money to keep people quiet. When employees at the DMR refused to be part of this schenannigans, they either (1) Got trumped up charges put against them (2) Got stuck in a closet, or (3) lost their jobs. The Feds need to speak with Janet Doucet, Crystal Morgan, and Ava Coleman….to name a few. They could give them plenty to chew on. This thing is way bigger than CIAP properties. It involves the O. S. YMCA, and lots of “important people”. So, if the Feds really want to know the truth about everything, they need to speak with the employees.
    And I think you are right …. our Governor past, and present, have idly stood by and protected Big Walker and Baby Walker. It might behoove you to know that Baby Walker’s “fiance”….now wife, has just had a new office fixed especially for her in the Public Relations department on the sixth floor of the DMR, and Big Walker’s girlfriend has been on the DMR contracts payroll for years until she recently retired, and I think she is still drawing funds. It might surprise you to know that Billy Hewes’ brother-in-law is a “Special Projects Officer” with no education, that makes $86K +++++ perks ++++gas card and private UNMARKED State-owned vehicle. And….his name is Joe Zeigler. Danny Guice will be 2nd in charge down there and he will only be making $65-$70K per year. Go figure that one!
    And further, Joe Zeigler’s wife, Connie Zeigler, has been installed in a “position” in that building and is being paid a huge salary. And you might want to know that Walker has put his flunky, David Rose (a law enforcement officer) out at the Lyman Fish Hatchery to do the maintenance work and to do his bidding. David Rose has his own son, Derrick, working directly for him under contract.
    So, you see boys and girls…..this is just the tip of the iceburg. The people working at the DMR should all be offered immunity from losing their jobs and allowed to speak up. Everythiing will come out then.
    I hear that large inventory items were disappearing….such as FEMA cottages, outboard motors, etc…..and also found out they they were not being charged under equipment or capital so that they would receive a serial number to be tracked. That involves whoever is in accounting going against State directions….misappropriation of funds.

  12. The Michele Hill lady was insane. She had prior occurances with killing herself. So before you go putting peoples name out there you better get the information correct. This lady had tried to kill herself in the past you idiots.

    1. She was sane enough to work at Walker’s DMR John.

      I’d be careful running down the deceased too badly. It generates bad karma.

    2. This post is reprehensible! How dare you dirty her memory like that??? She was a very honorable lady Sir…and whomever is filling your head full of the trash you have written, are just trying to cover for themselves. You can’t hide from the TRUTH!!! Shame on you for posting lies about the innocent.

      1. Now I completely understand why Ms Hill’s family is upset. John is parrotting the tame stuff the political jet set is saying about the poor woman because in the past week I have heard worse outta the Land Trust set.

  13. Douge Handshoe is an idot, who I bet doesn’t even respond to this comment because he is a coward. Please dont be a coward and delete this.

  14. Doug you write for a blog man. Get a real job. Also get your facts straight before you write them. This is coming from someone who use to live in the area, and you are giving good people a bad name.

    1. John, you and your hogg at the trough friends seem to have a problem with people knowing how their tax money is being spent. This is disturbing and betrays an arrogance that I know I won’t tolerate bud.

      When you can learn to make a living without being a taxpayer funded leech I’ll let you lecture me about having a job.

    2. With all due respect Sir, Just who are the “good people” that Doug is giving a bad name??? I think he has been nailing it right on the head!! Dead on with the info…

  15. Yes, I agree with you Doug….John Carter must be a member of the Croaker family too. He definetly is a bottom feeder and hangs with political parasites and feeds more than his share at the public trough. The poor victim of the ruthless DMR mafia would be alive and well today, had she not been used for a scapegoat by the DMR Don and his accomplice over the CIAP program. Let there be no mistake about that!! He can try to ease someone’s conscience by telling lies on the poor girl, but EVERYONE knows the truth and the facts!!!

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