A few thoughts on last Tuesday night’s Bay City Council meeting

And since I’m well occupied with various and sundry multiple irons on the fire I’ll be as brief as possible:

    1. Ms. Hammond with the Metairie based accounting firm Carr Riggs and Ingram opened her remarks by disclosing the kind of service the firm was hired to perform and that service was an “agreed-upon procedures engagement“. If you follow the link you’ll find the service is pretty reflective of its name; the client provides the assertions that need to be tested and the CPA firm tests those assertions.  Even better is what it isn’t: An audit including, except for very limited circumstances, a “compliance audit”.So what were the agreed upon procedures that Carr Riggs and Ingram was hired to perform?  Easy folks, the US Department of Justice compliance review of the City’s Equitable Sharing Fund spells it out:

      The proceeds received and spent should be included in the City’s annual financial audit as part of the Single Audit. However, certain requirements were inadequately reviewed during prior years’ audits, and the City, as directed by the DOJ, will engage a third-party to independently review and reconcile the DOJ funds equitable sharing account.

      That verbiage is likely why the City Council voted to put the previous auditors professional liability carrier on notice of a claim.

    2. Considering no money had been expended from the Equitable sharing account reviewing and reconciling it was an easy job in taking the year end affidavits and tracing the revenues into the program. The math involves addition along with some rudimentary multiplication and division to calculate interest that should have been but was not credited to the DOJ fund.  So you spend a day on site to make the calculation while Hizzoner blows copious amounts of smoke up the ol’ derriere. The resulting presentation, which was complete with smoke still emanating from Ms. Hammond’s hiney, appeared to be more an exercise in auditioning for the 2016 audit because her remarks went far beyond the scope of her work.  As for the smoke believe you me I know first hand about it because I was literally next to her broadcasting the agreed upon procedures engagement report presentation on Periscope. Proof:

      Photo by Wes Muller | The Sun Herald. Captions by Slabbed New Media
      Photo by Wes Muller | The Sun Herald. Captions by Slabbed New Media
    3. With that background I hope everyone understands why I thought it was funny when City Attorney Donald Rafferty “cross examined” Ms. Hammond asking her if any illegal acts had occurred.  More amazing was Ms. Hammond’s  answer, which was not, “I was not hired to determine if any illegal acts have occurred.”  Rather she opined on a subject she demonstrably knew little about* while attempting to minimize the missing $300,000 in equitable sharing funds.  While CRI may be Hizzoner’s kind of audit firm, the agreed-upon procedures report CRI issued was no value for the taxpayers.
    4. Additional reading and more complete accounts can be found here and here. The second link highlights the confusion that can come from a CPA that makes remarks far beyond the scope of what they were hired to do:

      “In 2011, something happened with the restricted accounts, and they were all closed,” Hammond said, adding she saw no signs of illegal activity or malfeasance on the part of any city employees.

      But when city leaders asked what happened to the money, Hammond’s answers caused some confusion.

      “She would say one thing,” Councilman Jeffrey Reed said, “and then when one of the councilmen questioned her, it was like she was on one side of the fence and then she was on the other side of the fence.

      “We owe $300,000. That’s the bottom line.”

    5. The worst part of the meeting from my perspective wasn’t Ms. Hammond jonesing for the 2016 Bay St Louis audit though. The worst part came when it was again revealed that Mayor Fillingame was still openly violating the Bond Covenants of the Utility Refunding Bonds and at least one City Council resolution by not depositing the $13/month account surcharge into the bond sinking fund. Hizzoner spending restricted revenue sources on general or utility fund obligations is nothing new. Unfortunately the City Council lacking any semblance of a collective backbone is also nothing new. Let’s start with this Tweet from the Slabbed New Media after the Council meeting:

      What Lana’s Facebook post does not say is that Councilman Falgout made the motion to seek a Writ of Mandamus such motion seconded by Councilman Favre. It failed 2-5.

      I heard the discussion of whether or not Hizzoner needed additional direction from the City Council on this matter beyond the bond agreement they all agreed to when the money was borrowed along with the Council’s own resolution that put the surcharge dedicated strictly for debt service on everyone’s Utility bills but my own opinion is the Mayor and 5 City council members are playing the people paying the freight for fools. Here are the Five City Council members that, for whatever reason have chosen to not fight to protect the Utility paying public:

      Joey Boudin
      Doug Seal
      Wendy McDonald
      Bobby Compretta
      Jeffrey Reed

    6. Given #5, it is no surprise that Citizens have organized and will be filing for a Writ of Mandamus to force the Mayor and Five refusenik Council member to do their jobs.  I have this statement from Miss. Libby Garcia:

      Definition of Writ of Mandamus:

      A Writ of Mandate is an order to a public agency or governmental body to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so. It is also referred to as a writ of mandamus. A person may petition for a writ of mandamus when an official has refused to fulfill a legal obligation.

      Tell me why the Mayor of Bay St. Louis is not eligible to have such a writ filed against him for multiple acts of defiance against the City Council’s directives to obey the law and disburse the collected and designated mileage, to the designated entity or account, upon receipt. EXAMPLE: The Library (still behind for year 2015 – $2,900.00) and the Debt Service Fund (still behind $53,000.00). You can’t use that money for anything else. That is the law.

      Tell me why the Mayor of Bay St. Louis is not legally bound to pay Hancock Bank $30,333.00 by the 1st of each month, according to the supplemental debt agreement, that Mayor Fillingame and City Attorney Donald Rafferty signed. The Mayor refuses to do it unless ordered to do so every month by the Council.

      (News flash – The City could be considered in default for that refinanced bond loan, and Hancock Bank could call it in at will.)

      Like Councilman Bobby Compretta said, “(Mayor) why won’t you just pay it?”

      He still refuses.

      Disgraceful Malfeasance in Office.

At this point with a Citizenry that has seen the three ring circus that is the Fillingame administration grow very old it is a virtual certainty the Mayor and likely the Refuseniks will be defendants in a coming civil action to make them comply with the Bond covenants to which they previously agreed, along their own resolutions, which to this point the Mayor and the Majority of the City Council evidently view as mere suggestions to be later disregarded.

Things are heating up with news of Mayor Fillingame vetoing the Council’s attempt to put the Equitable Sharing Fund right.  Worse are the very disturbing rumors surrounding City Attorney Rafferty, which Slabbed New Media is working to confirm as I write this. Stay tuned.

* – This was apparent when Ms. Hammond couched the missing money as simply being in the wrong bank account the entire time when she mistakenly termed the City’s Municipal Reserve fund the “investment fund” such assertion made despite the fact the Municipal reserve was funded well after the DoJ money was misspent via the sale of City owned real estate and the City’s portion of the BP settlement in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

11 thoughts on “A few thoughts on last Tuesday night’s Bay City Council meeting”

  1. I want to hear more about Rafferty. I thought he worked for the Council and not the Mayor? This is like Abbot and Costello up there. Who’s working for who? Who’s on First?
    Just a joke…. I can’t wait for Les to throw him under the bus.

  2. I can’t understand why we aren’t asking for the bonds of the councilmen, also. If they don’t approve the docket of claims, nothing gets paid. They approved the payments. That also knew the utility money was supposed to be restricted; apparently, not one of them was watching out for it.
    There has never been a more appropriate time to change our form of government to manager- council. The upcoming election the council can be cleaned out and we can get our town on the straight and narrow again.

  3. The attorney legally represents both the council and the mayor albeit the citizens best interest. In real life it is not necessarily that way. Our Counselor has crossed the line many times to create his own billable hours, as well as avert the council in favor of the mayor. The reason is the Mayor directs him day to day thus creating his billable hours.

    Our council made decisions to pay bills without adequate information. But to their defense they begged & pleaded to get proper information and got no where. That is why they have reached an ultimate decision to get the DOJ and OSA involved. Their only error, I can see, was waiting too long. That milk is spilled and we have to move forward.

    For a few of them this is the boldest and most stressful event they have encountered while serving. Being a small town, they have ties personally and professionally to the mayor and counselor. Fortunately we had a few that were strong enough and resilient enough to get them to see the light. Yes, a few of them voted continuously to let Les run a muck with his Counselor. In retrospect they actually gave them enough rope to hang themselves. I believe they (Council)are all working in concert to right the wrongs that were allowed to happen.

    If the Mayor and Legal give bad advice and remedy, it puts all of them in a bad situation. I personally am proud that they have come together to fix the problem and not hide from it. It will be a great learning experience for them to move forward. I feel certain they will make the tax payer whole with the requested help of the Fed and the State.

  4. Wishful thinking Rod, it is evident they may have voted on using the Mayor’s Bond, but would not back up Lonnie and Mike on the other issue of the 13.00.
    Not lets see who has the Ba–s to move forward since Les has declared War and plans on vetoing their vote on the payment of the money for Police and Bond issue..
    Can’t wait for the outcome on this one.
    Maybe Wendy and Doug supported the Bond because they can’t wait for Les to leave so they can run for Mayor.. Hidden agenda… Oh how Politics can be devious.

  5. They did not use the present counsel. They will do writ but with special counsel. We don’t need to let Raff do our bidding anymore. I beleive we all can agree on that.

  6. Holy Smoke Signal Batman;

    At first glance of the SunHerald’s picture of Tuesday nite meeting I missed yo added ” smoke” caption coming out of Mrs. Hammond’s butt- LOL- which was however drawn much too small for the size of her ass and her fartuitous explosion dat night.

    When is the citizenry going to stop wasting time with Mandamus BS and get to the bottomline- a Recall Da’ Bums petition- “Bums”, meaning the BS music playing band, ” Lesbo and the Jackass 5″ ?

  7. The Mayor has, in my opinion, blatantly and publicly disrespected the Chief and his Department, not once but twice.
    First when he pooled their hard earned and well deserved Drug Forefieture Funds awarded them by the DOJ into the General Fund, and last week when he snatched it away from them again by vetoing the Council’s vote to take money out of Reserve to repay the funds and make the city’s Police Dept. eligible to once again participate in the Equitable Sharing Fund Program. By vetoing the Council’s action he has deliberately kept them suspended. However, they are not absolved from having to continue to risk their lives doing drug raids. The Mayor by his veto had told them they can take these risks with no opportunity to compensate their department.
    Let’s remember some very important facts here:
    This money is awarded the Police Department AFTER they have literally laid there lives on the line in drug raids protecting the citizens of Bay St. Louis.
    Another fact: the Mayor had no qualms about taking $300,000 from the Council last Sept. For his ” cash flow”
    problems. So, as long as things can benefit him, he’s fine with any arrangement.
    Another fact, when this “pooling of cash” was done in 2009 (as described by Ms. Hammond, the DOJ Auditor) the money apparently
    available mixed in the General Fund where the salaries, benefits, city automobiles to drive, travel, MML training, etc. come from. Are city officials entitled to these things as part of their positions? Of course, but not out of DOJ funds which were then commingled into the General Fund!
    At least everyone can stop speculating about how the Mayor’s attitude and degree of respect for the city’s brave men and women in Blue.
    If the Mayor wants to fight the Council over whether or not use his bond to replace these DOK funds, that’s fine, but to
    veto replacing the funds and getting the Chief and his men and women back in this program is the worst behavior by a public official I have ever witnessed in this community.
    Maybe we ought to suit up the mayor and send packing with the Dept. on the next drug raid.
    He may develop a better attitude for what they all do on a daily basis for all, including him.
    What a disgraceful legacy he leaves behind!

  8. Thank You Lana, well said. Now our Police have to continue to do their jobs, but with no guarantee for additional dollars for their departments needs to better our Police with the necessary equipment to protect their safety and do the best jobs they can.
    Thank You Mr. Mayor for taking this away from them.
    But this won’t stop them from doing their jobs. They are dedicated to our city. But shame on you Les for putting our force out there with less than adequate equipment because you spent their money and have taken the right away for more in the future.
    I just don’t know how you can sleep at night with all that you have done to our great city.

  9. Rachael is entirely right. Instead of pouring precious time into fighting the mayor, we should be devoting energy into getting a charter change, from mayor-council to a city manager form of government. Then, conduct a national search for a qualified professional manager with credentials and a college education (not a “pre-law” dropout who never even graduated). This person would be hired by City Council members and report directly to them. Les, or whoever the next mayor should be, would be relegated to kissing babies, toasting juvenile Mardi Gras royalty, cutting ribbons, and presiding over Bo & Dee concerts at the 100 Men Hall. Even an airhead like Wendy could do that. The city could get back on track and off the ruinous path to bankruptcy we now follow. Of course, there still would be expenses to repair the damages from City Hall imploding around Les’ ears, which is now happening, even though he can’t hear it.

  10. The Council can and should defund and park all vehicles that are not required to run the city. All Les uses his for is to ride the Missus around and look for signs to take down! I’m embarassed that he rides in a City funded vehicle.

    They need to remove him from the Solid Waste Authority as well as Bobby. Les just uses that position to run his ponzi scheme and Bobby just wants the Per Diem. What the [email protected] does Bobby know about Solid Waste other than he takes his garbage to curb that the city gave him!

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