Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame vetoes City Council 7-0 vote calling for Department of Justice Investigation

Slabbed New Media has confirmed that Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame has vetoed two recent City Council Actions including a Council resolution seeking a Department of Justice Investigation into the mishandling of several hundreds thousand dollars in Drug Forfeiture funds by the Fillingame Administration. This City Council resolution was passed 7-0 at the August 18, 2015 City Council meeting. Mayor Fillingame also vetoed giving the Clerk of the City Council online viewing access to the City’s main bank account, which passed at a recess meeting of the City Council on September 25, 2015. That City Council action resulted from the culmination of months of wrangling between Mayor Fillingame and the City Council over the Council’s inability to access basic financial records including cash balance information before being asked to vote on matters involving City finances.

The veto represents the latest sparring between the Mayor and City Council that most recently flared up when the City’s audit firm presented the Council with a draft of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year audit report in August, which by law was due to the Single Audit Clearinghouse on June 30, 2015 and the Office of the Mississippi State Auditor by September 30, 2015. According to sources familiar with the operations of the City, Mayor Fillingame has thus far failed to deliver the City’s Corrective Action plan to the numerous significant deficiencies identified by the audit firm for inclusion in the report. One of the significant deficiencies noted by the audit firm included the City running naked for Workers Comp insurance for 60 days just months after Mayor Fillingame was re-elected in 2013 due to nonpayment of the policy premium. Fillingame had previously steadfastly denied the City was experiencing any financial problems during the campaign.

This continues a pattern of Mayor Fillingame attempting to stonewall bad audit reports as the Municipal FY 2012-2013 audit opinion was disclaimed by the City’s audit firm after Mayor Fillingame failed to deliver a plan to deal with the City’s financial crisis, which has been an ongoing topic for discussion in the City since 2011 despite Fillingame’s repeated denials of same.  In June 2014 Mayor Fillingame finally admitted to the City Council that the City was on the verge of defaulting on an existing water and sewer bond issue due to a lack of funds. This bond issue was then refinanced at a cost to the taxpayers of over $150,000, which averted the default and resulted in a $13/month surcharge being applied across the board to every municipal water customer.

More recently Mayor Fillingame has diverted the $13/month surcharge that was added to utility bills to the City’s operating bank account, despite being dedicated by both loan agreement and council resolution to the payment of the refinanced Water and Sewer bonds. City financial records show only infrequent transfers from the operating bank account to the dedicated debt service fund despite a covenant in the bond debenture requiring the monthly deposit of these funds to the debt service bank account. This debt service funding is currently comingled with Utility, General and Harbor fund cash. Rumors have repeatedly surfaced that accuse Mayor Fillingame of mishandling these dedicated funding sources in an attempt to cover-up the accumulated deficit in the General Fund caused by repeated spending of tax money on non-budgeted items like free Trolley bus service for Ward 2 at a cost of over $70,000 for 6 months of service. Earlier in 2015 it was revealed Mayor Fillingame was providing City a owned dumpster for use by two restaurants in Old Town Bay St Louis.

On September 25, 2015  the City Council voted to allow the Mayor to use a portion of the municipal reserve fund for cash flow purposes. The municipal reserve consists of proceeds from the sale of City property such as the Old City Hall along with other one time revenue streams such as the City’s share of the BP oil spill settlement. The council approval was predicated on the condition the money be repaid to the reserve fund after the 2015-2016 property tax collections are settled early next year.

Slabbed New Media has also learned the Performance Division of the Mississippi State Auditor’s office has begun a review of the City’s financial practices in addition to the State Auditor’s Investigative division, which arrived onsite at City Hall in August, 2015.

Sources on the Bay St Louis City Council have indicated to Slabbed the Mayor’s vetoes will be addressed in the upcoming council meeting scheduled for October 6, 2015.  Slabbed will update this story as events unfold.

29 thoughts on “Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame vetoes City Council 7-0 vote calling for Department of Justice Investigation”

  1. Why would any Mayor not want to help find out what happened to these Police Funds?
    Actually, he should have been the one to ask the Council to support him in this effort!

  2. Excellent article. Please check the vote on the DOJ request. I’m almost certain it was 6-1, Windy voted against.

    1. I have not read BSL’s charter, but what does a mayor have to do with a council’s resolution? I have heard of a mayor vetoing an ordinance (which is normal), but a resolution? Isn’t a resolution simply to express the will of the council, and completely separate from the mayor?

  3. It is evident that the Citizens of Bay Saint Louis are paying Mr. Rafferty for Les’s Legal Defense. He is certainly guiding him in denying the Council Process to get the finances in order. Both of these situations are not compliant with State Law. I know, when did State Law matter to the Clown on the left and the Joker on the right. I’m smelling Bay Gate. The cover up will be better than the crime. Mr. Counselor and Mayor are very nervous about the court documents as well. The Play Ground may be closing soon but they will stay on the See Saw until removed. Oh Yea! Bless their Hearts!

  4. Excellent article, Doug. Thank you.

    Les is the gift that just keeps on giving. Unreal. How can anyone think that he has the city’s best interest at heart after these vetoes? So glad he had the opportunity to show his remaining supporters what he is really made of. How could anyone besides Rafferty justify his recent actions?

    Agreed, LL. The coverup is going to be worse than the actual dirty deeds. What exactly are they hiding?


  5. I have been keeping an eye on the BSL ordeal for quite awhile now. I find it quite interesting that the mayor would veto the action which should be considered nothing more than an attempt to make everything right. Of course, I also find it interesting how Stacey Pickering seems to be behind the curve when it comes to government corruption scandles. Maybe he is to busy putting away secretaries and low level employees for petty crimes.

  6. Think if Nixon could VETO the watergate investigation, or how bout Rod Blagojevich could VETO his investigation, they would have changed history…. Who in the F#$% does LES LIE think he is better than…. HE must have gotten legal advice from… wait the taxpayer paid attorney?????

  7. Not to piss in hizzoner’s cornflakes, but if any feds, DOJ or otherwise, decide to come investigate (assuming it hasn’t already started), his veto of their potential invitation won’t merit a hearty guffaw out of any of them…a snarky chuckle, maybe. Wanna piss off a fed? Just start telling them they can’t do something, especially if you are the one in their crosshairs – this ain’t poker and one federal badge beats a whole deck of small town mayors.

  8. Here we go again. Wake up People. Doesn’t this say something about our Mayor? Only a guilty party would want to deny a government entity access to the internal workings of the checkbook if he had something to hide. And the attorney allowing him to veto such an important financial matter for our cash poor city. I Wonder what Mr. Rafferty is hiding?
    Hopefully the DOJ will pick up on this and take it upon themselves to do the investigation on their own. I thought someone in an earlier post mentioned that the DOJ was already investigating?

    1. Yes you can bet the folks at 2909 13th Gulfport have taken notice on the HIDA funds… Fridays quote from Main and 90
      ” Vito told me to hide the funds!!!!”

  9. Maybe the real reason there is something else out there he is hiding that we don’t see and is far worse than the Police fund.
    Only time will tell.

  10. Easily go over his head and contact either the attorney general or the FBI fraud division. They both supersede the Mayors autority.

  11. Only if you have something to hide. Not typical for such a small town. Maybe he thinks being mayor is a big position. He is not the president, although his ego may be there. As Lana said before, when you get pushed into a corner you start to feel squeezed and now he is making mistakes. It is only time and it will all catch up with him..

  12. The play ground rules may be changing. The play ground bully rafferty may end up in the cross hairs…..bless his heart!

    Les is the guy cheating everyone out of their marbles. He is in the cross hairs……bless his heart!

  13. The DOJ was visiting this morning wanting his VETO! Haha they like the challenge. I think Raf was barred from federal court!

    Time will tell and shit will smell and water always seeks its own level……,im sniffing a whiff now…..peeee uuuuu

  14. Rachel, I researched the vote by the Council to call for a DOJ investigation into the Drug Forfeiture Funds. Doug ran it on Aug. 19 and it was unanimous–7 to 0.
    Gonna be interesting Tues. night to see if they stick together for the override. I would assume that would be advisable at this juncture.

  15. Wendy will fold. Stand by your man. She is knee deep in Raf and Les’s favors to friends! For instance. Events she was a part of received SOS benefits others were denied, use of city equipment and personnel for her and Rafs events. Voting on Chamber Issues after being told not to. Bless her heart!

  16. Has anyone heard from koff? He must have went back under his rock, like a troll. They can run but can’t hide. Let’s just hope everyone was bonded so we don’t have to pay twice when the bastards are put in jail. My taxes and utilities have went up $750.00 a year since les took office. That’s a weeks work for me for nothing. I see no improvements I my neighborhood. Someone needs to ride that trolly up his ace. Election time can’t come soon enough.

  17. It is my understanding that people may be in trouble over all this mess. I for one think that they need to be held accountable and the Council Woman needs to stand up for the citizens not the mayor!

    Mr. Counselor needs to represent all the citizens not just the few elected ones that make sure he is paid with our money.

  18. I think Charles Oliver sumed things up quite nicely when he said, “Whatever you have sticking out, you have to have sticking in.”

    What more is there to say about the state of BSL?

  19. That is the mentality of the Code Department. BSL is so lucky to have such brilliant and well educated people working in accordance with the International Building Codes. I wonder what year they are on? Most cities use the 2013.

  20. If Mr. Rafferty is your Legal Adviser you can do as you like. He is in charge of the City at Large. Permitting, Inspections, Prosecution, Harassment, Special Events just to skim the surface. It is my understanding that the loop may be closing in on the free play they have been enjoying!

  21. There is a Cruising Special Sandwich:

    “The Big Raff Pulled Pig Pork Barrel Sandwich”

    It can be bought with the “Les 3 Dollar Bill”.

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