And since I’m well occupied with various and sundry multiple irons on the fire I’ll be as brief as possible:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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:
— Slabbed New Media (@SlabbedNewMedia) February 3, 2016
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:
- 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.