I’m writing this post for my peeps on the CMR and Land Trust Boards so you folks listen up. Before I chime my two cents in I gotta set up some important concepts so let’s visit with Bugs Bunny:
I’m about to do something really stupid (what’s new right?). I’m about to offer up some opinion and advice to our local politico’s and public figures….for free. Why? Because it has occurred to me over the past couple of months just how ignorant our region’s esteemed leaders are when it comes to handling “da blogs, da twitters, da Fakebooks, and da intertubes in general.” It dawned on me that there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between their perception of “new media” and the reality of new media. Truth is, I kind of feel sorry for them and I think I may be able to help them avoid continually stepping in digital dog doo.
Back in June 2010 Jason Berry at AZ hit it out of the park with his post Pirates Parley excerpted above. I bring it up not because I fear being sued, rather, I got a peek inside the CMR a couple of days ago when an email the gang was circulating about my last post on Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, Inc, the DMR’s Kerwin Cuevas and Mike Holmes Construction and a no bid brother in law deal made it to my inbox. I’m including the Land Trust people because we’ve communicated and today’s topic is just as applicable there as the CMR. (The theory behind this 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon phenomenon can be found here.)
Two days ago I emailed Danny Guice introducing myself and asking if the gang had gotten to the bottom of those contracts involving Mike Holmes Construction and his brother in law Kerwin Cuevas. As I write this I have not received a response. Fair enough, Guice doesn’t answer to the media so in the absence of any further official information we can speculate.
There is no question the reef contracts should be competitively bid:
Slabbed’s tipster, very well placed I’ll add, was very specific in the information conveyed. Sometimes you can’t flash documents as it would give away sourcing but what we do have a couple of data points, Mississippi’s public purchase law and the 2013 Request for quotes from Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks for the reef work:
So clearly the work is not being bid in accordance with the Mississippi Code, which my read indicates does not have a brother in law exemption. To the extent these are public funds there is also no question MGFB is subject to the State purchasing law, as my tipster is very clear these sub-grants contain clauses that make it clear such is the case. And the notion the MGFB has all the permitting is also not accurate as DMR owns permits on several of the artificial reefs. And this brings me back to that email chain I mentioned above because it is now clear to me there are people serving on CMR that are blinded to their detriment by cognitive bias.
Everyone knows everyone in the environmental community and from my read of the last recipient header before the chain made it to my inbox I could have easily nabbed the communication from one of several people. I say that because people inside the CMR surely know the brother in laws. The reaction was one of defensiveness on part of officialdom as the suggestion that Slabbed unfairly tarred MGFB along with Kerwin Cuevas and Mike Holmes was made along with a promise to get to the bottom of it.
My reaction was one of amusement as it was also very clear many of the folks on the CMR still have absolutely no clue as to the extent the organization has been compromised into a cesspool of cronyism and mediocrity by Bill Walker and his cronies. Even worse, if people are coming to the media with the information instead of the CMR, there is a strong implication those in the know do not trust the CMR to do right. After reading that email it is abundantly clear some on the CMR are too close to the individuals to be objective in this. This is the bad news.
The good news is it appears there are individuals on both the Land Trust Board and the CMR that are open to new information and are not automatically put on the defensive when the brother in law deals bubble up. Being open to information from a variety of sources is the first and most important step in the discharge of fiduciary duty. And as I’ve written at least once on these pages there is way more to being a good board member than being spoon fed by management. Here are three friendly suggestions:
- Slabbed will continue to chase these type leads. The best way to prevent someone from being unfairly tarred is to answer my emails. Not just anyone gets a communique from Slabbed. Woe to those public figures that do not avail themselves of the opportunity.
- Both the Land Trust Board and the CMR need to have a workshop meeting/retreat WITHOUT any members of management being allowed to attend. Instead each board should hire an expert in corporate governance and do some soul searching with that person based upon the scandal at hand. I guarantee those that enter the room with an open mind will leave with a fresh perspective.
- I found evidence in the Sun Herald PRR release that people at DMR are in management positions for which they are likely not qualified. If I can see it how is it the CMR doesn’t? You must lose the cognitive bias and the best way to do that is to understand and recognize that it afflicts us all. Being on a board and properly discharging fiduciary duty means hard decisions must be made, sometimes involving people that share some level of personal affection. As an early business mentor that was also a friend once told me, “Business is business and friendship is friendship. One has nothing to do with the other.” That was his way of telling me that he’d fire me if I didn’t tote my weight.
In any event this is my constructive contribution to fiasco at DMR. Stay tuned as there is lots more muck to rake.