Some pointers for the uninitiated that have never dealt with blowhard Koolaid drinkers like Rep. Jeffrey Guice

Folks, the story of Nicole Nichols trying to approach State Representative Jeffrey Guice is illustrative in a myriad of ways the main one being your average State Legislator is out of touch with the needs of their constituents. In this case we’ve come to a day in the poorest state in the Union where the less fortunate, in this case a family with a breadwinner that works two jobs, are regarded as freeloaders for using state resources in the form of medicaid to keep their Type 1 Diabetes stricken daughter alive.ย  In the case of the now blocked HB 1523, these same out of touch legislators voted against their own constituents by passing blatantly discriminatory legislation of the type guaranteed to create a backlash against the hospitality industry costing us visitors and the associated tax dollars in the process to go with the self inflicted black eye.ย  You gotta wonder if these folks have any clue how their average constituent lives and for most of them the answer is a resounding no.

But that doesn’t mean your average $tate legi$lator i$ incapable of communicating. They love communication$ in fact, ju$t a$k Phil Bryant’$ wunderkind Joe Cloyd and Josh Gregory, who routinely $core five and $ix figure no bid communication$ contract$ from $tate governmental agencie$. Unlike the working poor, those guy$ are not regarded as freeloader$ in the rece$$e$ of the $tate Capital $o they must be able to reach the average $tate Legi$lator in a way not widely known to the uninitiated such as Mrs. Nichols.

Now with Mississippi’s campaign finance laws being what they are the best way I can tell to approach a $tate legi$lator for help i$ with a bag filled with ca$h. If you are one of the 47% of the overall populace that doesn’t have $400 laying around to cover an emergency room visit (the number is certain much higher in Mississippi) or pay off contribute to the campaign of your state legislator, do not despair because all is not lost. If I may be so bold as to suggest that Mrs. Nichols offer to communicate via no bid contract on the State’s behalf (with the obligatory campaign finance return of 50% of the loot) her financial worries would be over and the legislative class would hold her in much higher regard.

Just a thought folks, please feel free to add yours in comments.

MDOC Corruption Investigation is boiling over

Prosecutor: 11 more can be indicted in Epps case ~ Jimmie Gates

Through sheer luck I’ve been able to develop a couple of lower level sources on the Epps Investigation, one of which spoke to me at length about certain jail contract vendors. The FBI has been all over this aspect of the investigation. Today in Court some of this was hinted at by the prosecutors. With 10-11 more names floating about inside the US Attorney’s office chances are one or two of them are bound to be major players on the Mississippi political scene, maybe more. In any event this will be unfolding very soon up in Jackson.

Guest Post: Bay-Waveland School Board Budget Hearing – A New Ballgame

The Bay St. Louis-Waveland Budget hearing Monday night was a whole new ball game as compared to the last 15 years. Not only was the Administration called on to justify their spending, but the public was actually invited to speak and ask questions.

The School District Budget report distributed to the audience last night claims a per pupil spending $11,083.00 to educate each child in the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District. While the Superintendent stated they are underfunded $700,000 by the State, it appears we are doing just fine without State Funding because $11,083.00 is more than it costs to educated a student in our local private schools.

But what are we spending this $11,083 on?

Locally Under Major District Maintenance Expenditures the Instructional Budget ($297, 931) came in way behind Insurance ($794,307), Utilities ($900,670), and Transportation ($834, 500). Bringing up the rear were School Nurses ($180,000) and Maintenance ($127,000). Remember folks, the more we continue to play with bricks and mortar the more our Maintenance Budget will be and the Administration seems to be addicted to Architects and Engineers.

Under Administrative Costs, of the 14 Coast School Districts listed, we are the second highest percentage wise. That has pretty much stayed the same since a survey the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government did on Coast School District Administrative Spending in 2010.

The Superintendent and Business Manager defended their Administrative spending with regards to the low enrollment 0f 1,924 by saying that no matter how small a district is, the State still requires the same number of administrators. Well, there is your best argument for one School District in Hancock County. Why should the taxpayers in a county of only 45,000 residents, a lot of whom are below poverty level, have to continue to support duplicate administrative costs for a little over 6,000 students combined? Continue reading “Guest Post: Bay-Waveland School Board Budget Hearing – A New Ballgame”

Comment bump: Walkers continue to rent out East Beach Residence despite C&D (Updated)

So reports Tommy Gordon:

I had a close encounter with an East Beach resident yesterday who told me that Scott and Trinity Walker do not care if the city approves their B&B request. They are currently renting the place out to all kinds of folks with different strokes and continue to take reservations.The will not cease and desist.This has me wondering why Mayor Moran make such a big deal about a fake KKK flyer produced by teenagers? She calls a news conference and claims this is terrorizing LGBT residents. At the meeting of the Mississippi Rising Coalition she told all that the city of Ocean Springs will not tolerate this type of activity. Why does the good mayor and other city officials not do something about the Walkers terrorizing their neighbors.Call a news conference and demand that this type of inconsiderate behavior displayed by this โ€œlocal businessmanโ€ be stopped immediately. Maybe a flyer about the Walkers illegal activities could be produced. I think if someone placed in the flyer in a Ziploc bag, then placed in the driveway of Doug Myatt for he and his fiance Brandon Hall to read, just might get city hall in gear. They could even get the Mississippi Rising Coalition involved. Just some Sunday morning thoughts about some real issues that deserve immediate attention

Since this post was published I’ve gotten a fair amount of additional background, especially on the Yeti people coming to town for the Billfish Classic a few weeks ago. They had the entire property to themselves according to several readers with heightened knowledge of this subject matter. One of them sent a picture and wrote: Continue reading “Comment bump: Walkers continue to rent out East Beach Residence despite C&D (Updated)”

Time to Call It: The Dysfunctional City of Bay St Louis, a Municipality Apart….

I could write a treatise in real life failed local government from closely observing the workings of the Bay St Louis City government over the past three years but I’m not. I am ready to call it like I see it and can do so in a fairly short post. The overarching principle here is municipal government is dysfunctional because that is exactly the way the Mayor and City Council want it. And yes last night again saw a City Council divided on what I see as a fundamental issue: Council access to the legal services the cost of which is born by the City’s taxpayers. The vote was for more of the status quo.

To blame the financial catastrophe that has befallen the City solely on Mayor Fillingame would be misplaced. Over the past three years I’ve attended meetings where the assembled crowd knew more about operating within the four corners of the state statutes than those charged with governing. A cynical man would automatically think such public displays of ignorance from elected officials could only mean a hidden, self interest based agenda had to be present. The bottom line is don’t hold your breath waiting over the next year for things to improve as the administration is certain to ignore the directives of the City Council that it doesn’t like and the Council lacks the collective political will to force the administration to play nice, for lack of a better term. Even worse, with its current Ad Valorem levy about 33% low compared to its sister Cities here on the coast the problems can only continue. On the other hand given the fiscal mismanagement that’s occurred over the past seven years there is no way I could ever justify recommending giving the current Mayor and this City Council any more tax money to squander. Its a classic catch 22.

By my rough count there are about 11 months before the City’s voters go to the polls and it will take more than a simple house cleaning to cure the structural problems with a municipal government that does not levy enough general fund taxes to fund the delivery of basic city services across the entirety of the City. Politically, the council districts have been pitted against each other competing for the delivery of basic city services. The divide between Ward 6 residents, who are now relying on the County’s good graces to maintain the public rights of way there and Ward 2 residents that sometimes exhibit the attitude the City limits do not extend past the intersection of Washington St and US 90 was on display as recently as this past Tuesday’s regular meeting. Continue reading “Time to Call It: The Dysfunctional City of Bay St Louis, a Municipality Apart….”

Special Meeting of the Bay City Council set for Thursday

In order to succeed in reducing or eliminating such audit findings and improve the financial position of the City, over the
next year, the Council, the Mayor, and the administration will need to make some very hard decisions that may not always
be popular. In addition, the City will need to find ways to sustain the changes and cuts that it makes in order for these
solutions to be long-term. ~ Bay St Louis Performance Audit Report issued by the Office of the State Auditor

Those of you following Slabbed’s Twitter timeline got a taste of last night’s City Council meeting. Stacey Cato at the Seacoast Echo filled in many of the later gaps.

As the City winds down the 3rd Quarter of its fiscal year the above verbiage I quoted from the Performance Review of the City came to mind. OSA used a very specific term, “Deficit” to describe the City’s financial situation and in Mississippi there is no statutory authority to park accumulated deficits into bank debt. The only options are to raise more revenue or cut spending. There is not much that can be done from a revenue raising standpoint at the end of a municipality’s third quarter leaving one other option to get a budget into balance.

As for the MIA City Attorney, we found him: Continue reading “Special Meeting of the Bay City Council set for Thursday”

State Auditor releases City of Bay St Louis Performance Review, a Slabbed Musical Rendition

Folks I really don’t know where to start except to report the State Auditor has released the Bay St Louis Performance Review, a 42 page document which drills down on the root causes of each and every major finding contained in the City’s 2014 audit report that included the Mayor Les Fillingame committing the Citizens to bank debt without City Council’s approval, among many other major internal control issues including a general failure to follow the financial portions of the Mississippi Home Rule Statute.

That the City is cash strapped with major budgetary issues is a given for anyone that has followed the coverage of the financial meltdown here on Slabbed. Even more disturbing is Mayor Fillingame’s steadfast refusal to hire a competent City Clerk while the clock runs on the deadline for the City to submit its 2015 FY Audit to the Single Audit Clearinghouse as required by law. It is a certainty the June 30, 2016 deadline will again be missed by the City marking the third straight year the City has been seriously delinquent closing its books.

More disturbing is that sources with knowledge of the operations of City Hall that are not authorized to speak with the media have disclosed to Slabbed that the City’s new audit firm has experienced their first “run in” with Mayor Fillingame, who is attempting to limit the scope of the audit procedures being applied in certain audit areas. [See paragraph .11]

With that set up and given that Slabbed, along with the Seacoast Echo, The Sun Herald and WLOX all covered the Performance Audit Presentation a few months back I figured the best way to present the report would be to present the Mayor’s belated response to the detailed analysis of the audit findings, which he submitted three weeks late, in a musical format so without further adieu: Continue reading “State Auditor releases City of Bay St Louis Performance Review, a Slabbed Musical Rendition”

Profiles in courage: Ocean Springs Planning Commission Tables Walker B&B Use Permit

Folks if a B&B in Ocean Springs requires only a Use permit instead of a Conditional Use permit Walker family attorney Billy Guice is right. Wes Muller’s story quotes Billy Guice as saying “Use Permit” and if that is the case the people over on East Beach that will be impacted may well be screwed.

If all that is true the problem is not the Walkers, rather it is the City Ordinance. File this one under there goes the neighborhood.

Mississippi DMR and Oyster Council: ๐ŸŽถ M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E ๐ŸŽถ

There was a public hearing on the much promoted DMR Oyster Aquaculture Program in Pass Christian last night and although I did not attend Slabbed had someone in the audience taking notes that estimated attendance at around 100 people with 25 people addressing the assemblage of Commissioners and DMR employees. Not a single person spoke out in favor of the plan to allow an oyster farm in the Bay of St Louis between the CSX and US 90 bridges. Terese Collins and Chris Lagarde get singled out for the overall quality of their comments in opposition to the plan, which is the product of the DMR Oyster Council’s work.

But before I go any further we need to stop and point something out that was missing from the DMR public relations rollout of the plan that we saw in the local media a month or so ago and that would be section 49-15-315 of the Mississippi Code:

(1) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in commercial harvesting of crabs, oysters, shrimp, bait shrimp or saltwater fish in the marine waters north of the CSX bridge in the three (3) coastal counties, except for the following:

(a) A person may take any euryhaline species of minnow; and

(b) A licensed commercial oyster fisherman may harvest oysters from reefs approved by the commission.

(2) The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory shall study all estuaries and bays deemed to be nurseries. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory may recommend the establishment of nursery grounds in the estuaries and bays if necessary to protect the state’s fishing resources.

(3) The department shall set the limits on all catches for noncommercial use.

It appears the DMR Oyster Aquaculture plan was conceived and sites were chosen without first checking the laws already on the books. Continue reading “Mississippi DMR and Oyster Council: ๐ŸŽถ M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E ๐ŸŽถ”