We have a final IG report on the DMR Coastal Impact Program

But before we get to that I think we can now conclude that Jamie Miller released the preliminary report months after the fact in order to soften the blow in the final report, which he certainly knew was close to completion when he leaked the first report out to the Sun Herald.

I have skimmed the report and besides all the bad things we already knew about double dealing Billy Walker and his family along with Tina Shumate and her family, left unmentioned anywhere in the media to this point is the fact both the preliminary and final reports are damning to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, an organization both the Sun Herald and Slabbed identified early on since they served as financial intermediary in the DMR purchase of Scott Walker’s land,

Individuals connected to the Land Trust not speaking in an official capacity indicated to Slabbed the Walker purchase technically met the guidelines as property worthy of preservation.  I noted the Inspector General does not seem to buy into that notion. Even worse, the OIG identifies a conflict of interest no one seemed to notice.  Here is the specific verbiage from the final OIG report:

Final OIG Report on CIAP Capture 1

That pesky Billy Walker mud hole claims another victim in Judy Steckler, who joins the Walker and Shumate families in the local conflict of Interest club.

Final OIG Report on CIAP Capture 2

I’m not a LTMCP Board member but if I were I’d suggest a resignation was in order and if the person that needs to resign doesn’t leave, then I would because what the OIG describes in their report is that bad. The end result of selling out the organization to Walker and his family was the Land Trust’s purchase of Scott Walker’s land, helping Bill Walker conceal the transaction by acting of financial middleman.  The taxpayers of Mississippi are now stuck with the bill.

Worst part for me was that Jim Hood’s office was asleep at the switch when it came to Tina Shumate purchasing her parent’s house. He was handed it on a silver platter and ignored it.

Slabbed has not played favorites in this mess for a couple of reason the main one being that we’re equal opportunity muckrakers. That said over the past few months I have formed a mental picture of the agency and its operations and I think now is a good time to ask the question whether the agency was originally structured to fail. By that I mean classically state agencies are tasked with a specific role and have politically oriented oversight boards that are susceptible to regulatory capture but because of the constantly shifting sands of the political world the impacts are many times transitory.  After reading the DMR section of the Mississippi code the agency is designed to be a captured regulator to the special interests that are given seats on the governing board in the Commission on Marine Resources. The mess you see today is the result.

In some circles there is an attitude that is expressed by the notion that insert special interest (environmentalists, sport fishermen, commercial fishermen) would love to see everyone resign from the Commission on Marine Resources but draw the line at forcing their guy out if the others stay.  These acts of perceived self interest by the special interests are precisely what Walker and his ilk exploited to the hilt.  I think the agency would get by fine without any oversight board and the executive director answering directly to the Governor, which is what the CMR has been doing since the scandal broke.

This is plenty enough to digest in the first bite at the OIG apple.  The entire report is 79 pages long and chock full of the wasting of taxpayer money by the local political aristocracy. It is a must read.

12 thoughts on “We have a final IG report on the DMR Coastal Impact Program”

  1. Well Doug, it looks like it’s going just as we initially figured…lie, deny and cover up! I guess the FWS and IG are going to cover this up for the Walkers and friends. Unbelievable! How can this happen? They should release all of the people who are in prison and give them back-pay for being jailed. This is an outrage! Phil Bryant and Stacey Pickering need to explain this one. I am absolutely in despair. If this illegal type of conspiracy and bilking is allowed by our justice system, then I guess we can all go out and pillage and plunder with no repercussions!! Just unbelievable. The ‘good” employees at the DMR have had to cower and exist in this toxic atmosphere for years; and let us not forget the millions of tax dollars that were misappropriated and stolen right from under our noses! I guess we need to all get together and let Jackson and Washington know how we feel. This is just wrong folks….looks like the fix is in!

  2. 30 BILLION is scheduled to be dispersed to the Gulf states impacted the most by BP in settlement for the spill. There will be both state and parish/county pay outs. The politicos in La. coastal parishes are salivating ( Billy Nunguesser wants to build ??? to prevent surge) . I’m sure there are also politicos in Miss. jumping for joy thinking about all they can do, not with “peeon” millions but with BILLIONs.

    The question of our lifetime is will all these BILLIONS be used wisely to prevent further coastal damage/erosion and thus lower flood insurance rates for citizens or instead spent on washable sand beams or stolen by politicos, as exemplified above in OIG report.

  3. On pages 21 &22 I see the properties evaluated. The names Shumate and Hebert we constantly see in the Sun Herald. They even printed their photos when they left the DMR. That transaction was for 11% more than the county assessors valuation. That sounds about right. My home in Jackson County recently appraised for 16% more than the assessors price. But where are the other names in the Sun Herald. Does da Noose need help spelling Swetman,or Palazzo? It amazes me that we obsess about the folks who got 11% more instead of those who got 7300% more!

    1. I agree with you but would like to add a little more. The Hebert property is, as you say, the only land purchase that comes close to the assessed value. Market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for a property and based on the length of time this property was for sale the real value was not much due on the fact that it is located in a special flood zone in Pascagoula. Tina Shumate arranged the sale for her parents to be able to liquidate a property that may have never sold in my opinion. This should not take the place of other people who arranged the sale of other properties but it sure needs to be pubic knowledge. The names you mention deserve equal attention if they too did the same. I have not seen Swetman mentioned before. What property are they associated with that was purchased by the DMR?

  4. It isn’t just about how much profit someone made by selling to DMR. Buying those properties from friends and family did nothing for coastal restoration or flood prevention or any other legitimate purpose for which the funds were intended. You have to think about all the real coastal improvements and mitigation projects that coulda, woulda shoulda been funded but were not because the funds were diverted from their intended purpose. CIAP is not a program for saving your cronies from their bad investments or subsidizing stupid ventures pushed by developers and consultants.

    From the CFDA description of CIAP:
    The intent of the program is to disburse funding to eligible producing states and coastal political subdivisions for the purpose of conservation, protection, or restoration of coastal areas including wetlands; mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife, or natural resources; planning assistance and the administrative costs of complying with these objectives; implementation of a federally-approved marine, coastal, or comprehensive conservation management plan; and mitigation of the impact of outer Continental Shelf activities through funding of onshore infrastructure projects and public service needs.

    That is not supposed to be such a broad eligibility that buying just any old property in a watershed would qualify. They were supposed to diligently and professionally plan and evaluate the proposed projects and then implement the ones that gave the highest and best use of the funds for the specific purposes of the program.

  5. You’re right Brian. Some of these they knew damn well were inexcusable. Like Old Wire Rd, Ohr-O’Keefe, and Stennis. And Congressmen, Senators, Governor all come down and show off how they’ve misused OUR money at the ribbon cuttings.

  6. How about it? We want answers and compensation for our tax dollars….We are waiting Mr. Palazzo, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Pickering, FBI, Attorney General and FWS. These thugs need to be put away…..and for a long time. They need to forfeit all of the monies they pilfered and their personal belongings should be confiscated if needed to refund the grand larceny that has occurred against the Taxpayers….And this is not only the Taxpayers of Mississippi. This is the Taxpayers of the entire United States!!! I wonder how they will feel when the mainline media gets ahold of this???? Or is the fix in with them? I think that every Taxpayer in the U.S. should be enraged by this. And our Congressmen….what the hell are they doing? Looking the other way??? What’s up? I think it is time to clean house in Mississippi…..these crooks need to go.

  7. I hate to sound like a complete jerk but most this information and the comments are very old news. Over and over I keep hearing the same names: Walker; Bryant; Pickering; and Palazzo. I keep hearing of scandles and conflicts of interest. If people really want to correct the problem this radical republican regime is creating then start notifying the national press and vote them out on Election Day. If the general consensus matched what I see in the comment sections on SH and slabbed then there is no friggin’ way these types of ideots would keep occupying office. Remember this, if you are one to bitch and complain then I hope to God you are not one who voted them in office.

  8. Eye….the only way the public has to fight this at this point is to keep the pressure on and reminding the voting public about the crook so that they WILL vote them out!! I love the tag you gave them “radical republican regime “, because that is just what they are. Why the mainstream republicans have not kicked up a fuss and policed their own is beyond me. I don’t think that the majority would agree with any of this. And what is being written on this blog, is only a small taste of what is happening and what has happened. These tentacles are long and many. God Bless Us All….

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