Bay Councilmen Question Audit Work Performed by Culumber, Harvey & Associates

I was somewhat surprised last Thursday that what was billed on the City Council workshop agenda as an update on the progress of the very late 2015 FY audit turned into a full blown audit report presentation before five City Council members with Councilpersons Boudin and McDonald not attending. To get a flavor of why members of the City Council began questioning the thoroughness of the latest City auditor, we need to refer to Geoff Belcher’s story on the report presentation for the Seacoast Echo which ran this past Saturday, Bay council questions new audit report. Belcher did a good job recapping the meeting and only left one thing out that was of interest to me but for now we need to circle that for later exploration:

“You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday. “You aren’t over-leveraged, you’re under-leveraged.

“The city has expanded in size from 2005 and you’re working with 10 percent less staff (than you had then) for a much larger-sized city, so you’re doing okay.”

I happened to be at the City Council meeting not long ago when the Mayor first dropped the “10% less staff” talking point and it is true. However, as Councilman Farve pointed out when Mayor Fillingame first used the phrase that the 10% less has largely been taken out of public safety. This in turn explains why the City has periodically closed the Highway 603 Fire Station including in December 2014, which was in Culumber Harvey and Associates audit year. It is also symptomatic of the larger financial and management problems that the new auditors evidently missed but it gets deeper folks as I circle back to Belcher’s story:

Culumber said that the administration’s internal controls “were definitely improving,” and that several negative findings from earlier audit reports had been cleared up.

Both Councilman-at-Large Mike Farve and Ward 6 Councilman Lonnie Falgout were puzzled by Culumber’s comments

I’m unsure how those negative findings were cleared up in the 2015 fiscal year since the 2014 report was not issued until after the 2015 Fiscal Year ended with every finding re-reported in the 2015 audit report. Maybe its possible the auditors worked ahead into the 2016 fiscal year but that would have exceeded the scope of their contract but the giveaway was when audit partner Robert “Bobby” Culumber removed all doubt:

Culumber said Thursday that the DOJ funds had not been “missing,” just put into the general fund.

“Basically, the money was there,” Culumber said, “It was just in the general fund. All the reports were filled out correctly … I feel if there was something criminally wrong, something would have been done by now.”

This too is a favorite talking point of Mayor Fillingame, whose bond is on the line for the missing money but it is one that has no basis in reality. The mathematical concepts are not very difficult in understanding the concepts of greater than and less than.

For instance the September 30, 2013 audit indicates the City had $49,139 total cash in all of its governmental funds including the DoJ Fund while the related affidavits sent to the Department of Justice swore the City had in excess of $284,000 in the DoJ fund alone. The September 30, 2014 audit indicates the City had $99,367 total cash in all of its governmental funds including the DoJ Fund while the related affidavits sent to the Department of Justice swore the City had in excess of $298,000 in the DoJ fund alone. Is $49,139 greater than $284,000? How about $99,367 and $298,000?

In laymans term to say “the money was there” in the general fund when it clearly wasn’t is foolishness, not auditing, thus the reasons the Councilmen are now questioning the rigorousness of the 2015 audit, which itself cost the City’s taxpayers over $50,000. As far as not hearing anything from the DoJ the City is suspended from the program. Perhaps the Mayor and Police Chief did not give the auditors that memo but that fact is widely known among those that regularly attend Council meetings.

More interesting is the fact that the new auditors did not find anything else to report in the audit beyond the audit findings they inherited from their predecessors. I can think of one major finding that was missed just from attending council meetings but that would be another post.

Not mentioned in Belcher’s story is due to a new accounting pronouncement regarding pension liabilities, the City of Bay St Louis’ general fund deficit is $7.7 million dollars. Auditor Culumber tried to downplay the significance of that fact but I feel compelled to point out that if the new accounting pronouncement had been in effect in 2009, the games CEO Chris Anderson played at the Singing River Health System would not have been possible. If the GASB thought it was important enough to make governments accrue their unfunded pension liabilities there is a good reason for it.

Is the City of Bay St Louis really “healthy” per the auditors? Let’s check in with Lisa Monti who was at the Tuesday Council meeting:

The public forum speaker said he wishes money was being spent on grass cutting and other services in the outer ward. Councilman Reed felt his pain. He said there are 56 piles of trash waiting for pickup in Ward 3 alone. (I know where one is: right around the corner from where I’m writing this.)

That sure does not sound like Bay St Louis is a “healthy city” where piles of rubbish do not get picked up for weeks on end and public rights of ways are not maintained. Maybe the City would be doing something if the 10% less hours came out of the payroll budget for the Mayor’s cronies but gutting public works and public safety is not very healthy IMHO. Neither is trying to spin the misappropriation of over $300,000 in federal funds.

It is not clear that the City Council will vote to approve the Culumber, Harvey & Associates audit as it was presented last Thursday night to an empty City Council Chamber. Mr. Culumber is due back to present the report at a regular council meeting when the Council can actually take action on it. Stay tuned.

64 thoughts on “Bay Councilmen Question Audit Work Performed by Culumber, Harvey & Associates”

  1. Infamous Huey Long once said ‘…. you can buy a politician for a sack of potatoes……’

    Today you can BUY CuCUMbers in the grocery fo’ bout .69 lb last time I looked…

    In my small mind a sack of dem big phallic green tings done bees bout the proximate worth of CuCUMbers’ BS, BSL audit……..

    And surprise surprise, Mr. CuCUMberhead cuming back to ejerk-u-late da truth some mo’…. dis gonna be better den Hellary xplain’ her e-mails……. who now claims even da Russians bees against her…..

  2. He was Bill Walker’s DMR Foundation accountant. His mugshot is on the internet from a domestic dispute. BSL still keeping it Les-classy at City Hall.

    1. I like links.

      Previously at Slabbed

      Walker’s (and DMR’s) Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation ceased to officially exist on Dec 7, 2012 when the state performed an “Administrative Dissolution”, possibly for failure to file an annual report.

      The most recent filing for this entity (2011) shows a Robert L. Culumber of Biloxi as the treasurer.

      Now seems like a good time to mention several additional items from several Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation (MMRF) filings :

      September 23 2010:
      A Robert L. Culumber files the 2010 MMRF annual report and both reports he is a new director, and the treasurer of MMRF, and signs the 2010 report as a director of MMRF. This report is apparently the first time that a John Blossman of Biloxi (who is previously reported as a MMRF founder and director) is reported as the President of the MMRF. I’ll point out here that John R Blossman of Biloxi died on March 30, 2009. Mr. Blossman’s MMRF address is now listed as 1141 Bayview Avenue Suite 101 in Biloxi rather than at 809 Washington Avenue in Ocean Springs (aka the Blossman Building). Interestingly, this filing also appears to be the first where the MMRF reports 1000 common stock shares authorized and 4 shares issued. I believe this is the first time I have seen a Mississippi non profit report the authorization and issuance of common stock shares. (Shares in what? Shares in all the DMR “research” Red Snapper and bait you and your friends can eat?)
      See filing at:
      https://corp.sos.ms.gov/corpconv/portal/c/ExecuteWorkflow.aspx?workflowid=g12dbd558-fa5d-49a1-a869-ad8b9db198db&FilingId=b4b0b5df-0a70-4ee9-801e-7912a38fb401

      October 25, 2010:
      William Walker files another 2010 annual report for Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, this time with the shares authorized and issued lines blank. No new directors are reported. This filing also lists John Blossman as a director and President of MRRF, even though he still had apparently passed away in March of 2009. Blossman’s contact address for MMRF remains the same (1141 Bayview Avenue Suite 101) as September 23, 2010. The MMRF now reports their corporate email as “[email protected]”. Walker signs and gives his title as “Director MS Marine Resources Foundation”. (This is different than some of the earlier MMRF annual reports where he signed listing his title as “Executive Director MS Dept. of Marine Resources (2005-2007 report); Exec. Dir. MS Dept. Marine Resources (2008 report); and the 2009 filing which has Walker’s signature with the title left blank. (Yes he was wearing two hats, that apparently was one of the problems!)
      See filing at:
      https://corp.sos.ms.gov/corpconv/portal/c/ExecuteWorkflow.aspx?workflowid=g12dbd558-fa5d-49a1-a869-ad8b9db198db&FilingId=b4b0b5df-0a70-4ee9-801e-7912a38fb401

      May 9,2011:
      MMRF 2011 annual report filed which again reports 1000 common stock shares authorized and 4 shares issued. Report made and signed by William Walker “Director”.

      https://corp.sos.ms.gov/corpconv/portal/c/ExecuteWorkflow.aspx?workflowid=g12dbd558-fa5d-49a1-a869-ad8b9db198db&FilingId=b7afc141-032f-4ed0-9012-e88292f21735

  3. On their website I see “Culumber, Harvey & Associates, P.A.”

    Why does this article say, “Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates”.

    P.A.s are OK for bookkeeping and filing basic tax returns. Audits? No way.

    1. A P.A. in that usage stands for “Professional Association”, a legal form of organization for professionals such as lawyers and CPAs here in Mississippi.

  4. I can’t wait to see the list of findings that Mr. Columber arbitrarily downgraded.
    Some of the findings were based on violations of state law, but who cares about the law in that surreal bookkeeping department in Bay St. Louis City Hall😜😜

    1. Much more leverage and the taxpayers are likely to see city vehicles and equipment at the local pawnshops on a regular basis. :-(

      1. Thanks.

        Just tying up a loose end or three.

        Any observation or opinion on the filings which report that the MMRF authorized common stock and issued 4 shares of the same?

        :-)

        1. Since you ask I have seen a not for profit corporation issue stock. The example most sports fans would be familiar would be the Green Bay Packers. Locally I see that setup with the “academy” type private schools where the parents are (were) made to purchase stock to provide the seed capital for facility construction or as counter-parties to sale-leaseback transactions for facility improvements, a financing mechanism that remains popular with Mississippi local governments to this day with the related not for profit owned 100% by the local government. (Back in the day my experience auditing K12s was most school districts pretended the counter party existed, never formally setting one up). Having the not for profit is a great advantage for several reasons but that is an entirely different post.

          That setup makes the most sense when the not for profit is serving what I’d describe as a captive group of stakeholder(s).

          It is possible Walker issued those 4 shares of stock to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources but then again why weren’t all the shares issued to the state agency when it was formed?

          The other popular form a not for profit can take is a Charitable Trust that does not have any owner per se and a stated reason to exist. My experience is not for profits that use the term Foundation are likely set up as trusts (think private foundations for example). The DMR Foundation is an outlier that way.

          1. The Packers did come to mind while the schools didn’t. Like you say, the schools are an entirely different concept.

            In any case there was no mention of the MMRF stock or naming the holders of the MMRF stock in question in any of the other MMRF filings (other than those filings listed in this comment above) unless I missed it. Nothing about the stock in the initial filing, the three page addendum to the articles of incorporation incorporated as part of the initial filing , nor in any other filing unless I missed something.

            The three page addendum to the MMRF articles of incorporation reads like it could have been written by an attorney. Whether that was an attorney associated with or employed in some way with the MMRF, or whether someone preparing the MMRF filing just borrowed the three pages of boilerplate from another source might be another question.

  5. I guess Les hired a firm that would tell him what he wanted to hear. Totally down played previous audits. “Money wasn’t missing in another account”. The report this firm did was what I always referred to as “creative accounting”
    Les wake up and get out of Denial. Accept the fact there are problems and agree to work on them and make the City right again. Maybe you should be on Trumps bandwagon and “make BSL Great Again”

  6. Thank you, rfp. I think this is called not betting contractors. I can fully understand Fillingame’s recommendation of Culumber, but come on, Council? The people deserve better, especially in such troubled financial times.
    Culumber’s diagnosis of the city being healthy is like a surgeon telling a patient, ” don’t worry about giving up
    smoking. You can be on the ventilator in between cigarettes!”

    1. Culumber has been practicing a long time on the coast and is well known in the business community. Outgoing City Attorney Don Rafferty called him “Bobby” during the workshop for instance and it would not be unusual that Rafferty would be familiar with him. I think a couple of the City Council members also have had previous associations with Mr. Culumber as well, though not as a governmental auditor. As a young man not long out of college, then working for AVL, I was part of an audit team that followed Culumber’s firm on a municipal audit here on the coast so I’ve been familiar with the quality of their work a long time.

  7. Typo- meant not vetting contractors. But while I am still on site, let me share the budget workshop last night.
    Over an hour discussing why the grass and ditches can’t get cut. Culumber, right out of Les’ playbook, last week pointed out how the city had grown by annexing part of the county and naming it wards 5&6. More to be responsible for with less personnel.
    For crying out loud, these annexed people have paid taxes into that city for 10 years now. The city did not go get them out of a shelter and bring them in as orphans. And, a great number of them pay top dollar because they are second homes– no
    Homestead Exemption.
    So stop playing Mother Theresa. You have made money off of them for 10 years.
    We are getting ready to get into the same situation in Waveland. We had better be delivering services to these county folks because we are ‘t taking them in for free!

    1. The tiny City of Wiggins has more land area than Bay St Louis yet I see the grapple truck (called the rubbish truck here) runs by the place at least once per week, often 2 times. The mosquito truck runs at least 2 times a week and the rights of way are mowed roughly monthly. You and I have compared water bills Lana and not only is Wiggins cheaper, we just got an entirely new water system. As an added bonus the water here is not brown and does not particulate matter sometimes floating in it. We pay about 14 mills more in property taxes but do not have a casino. We’re not “cool” like Bay St Louis but the folks here are fine and dandy with that fact.

      Providing City Services is easy where there is a will to provide them. One place that I see a money priority difference is Bay St Louis is top heavy with Indian chiefs (all friends of the Mayor) and it does not have enough Indians. The other place I see an operational difference is the Org chart in the Bay has around 30% or so of the employees directly answering to the Mayor. Some department heads like the Public Works Director are figureheads in the Bay.

  8. Ward 4 Councilman Bobby Compretta told Ward 6 resident David Well’s, that it took 20 years for the city to
    provide services when Compretta’s Ward was annexed years ago.
    Compretta stopped short of saying whether he was happy with the arrangement!!!!!!!
    Pretty much just told Ward 6 to suck it up.

    1. And therein lies the reason Compretta has got to go. He could work to fix the underlying problems but instead prefers to live in the past. I’ve heard Councilman Reed make the same type remark to a Ward 6 resident a year or two back.

  9. Nothing that needs to happen up there happens because some of the elected officials:
    “Don’t want to get involved.”
    Yep, a quote right out of the Pie hole.
    Then resign!

  10. They are trying to justify the problem not fix it. Reed and Compretta are two of our weakest councilmen. They are also the most uninformed. It is apparent Raff got to Culumber. They socialize and run some of the same circles. The Audit needs to be probed deeper by the council. I will assure you Reed and Compretta will listen but not ask a question. They don’t have the stomach for the fix and are in office for the pay and benefits only.

    1. Mr. Culumber has had his name on a CPA firm for at least 30 years and the City of BSL is not his first municipal rodeo. CPAs and auditors have certain ethical duties including maintaining both their Professional Independence and Professional Skepticism. If it is true that someone in the administration “got to Culumber” then the next logical question in my mind would be whether or not Mr. Culumber is in fact “Independent in appearance”.

      The Conceptual Framework for AICPA Independence Standards defines “independence in appearance” as: “The avoidance of circumstances that would cause a reasonable and informed third party, having knowledge of all relevant information, including safeguards applied, to reasonably conclude that the integrity, objectivity, or professional skepticism of a firm or a member of the attest engagement team has been compromised.”

      This definition of independence in appearance offers no bright-line standards but rather should be used as part of a risk-based approach to analyze independence matters not explicitly addressed by Rule 101.

      Problems with independence in appearance occur when practitioners become too close to their clients.

      http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2013/jun/20137656.html

      The only encouraging thing out of last Thursday is certain councilman are asking questions and will certainly probe deeper into the 2015 audit.

  11. Agreed. He certainly took the political high road. It is the council’s job to ask the right questions to get the answers they are looking for.

    1. Based on Mike Favre’s questioning of Culumber last Thursday I’m not sure the man has a straight answer in him with regards to his audit client.

      What I would like to see is the 2014 audit displayed on the brand new video board, specifically the balance sheet showing the total general fund cash and have Culumber show us where the missing DOJ money is located on the face of the statement.

      1. Attention blog operator!

        Have you ever taken a look at the bankruptcy of Steven Richard Colson?

        I didn’t get this from PACER but an interesting document can be read for free here. If you have not taken a look at this, then I highly recommend spending a minute or two on a quick review of pages one and two.

        Next, I suppose a search of the document for all occurrences of a certain name would be productive. Just by looking at pages one and two of the document already linked, and considering where this comment is posted, I suspect you will be able to come up with a name to search with. If not, I’ll be happy to provide an additional clue.

        1. I’ll shortcut this for everyone.

          Biloxi attorney sentenced in multimillion-dollar fraud

          A Biloxi attorney and businessman was sentenced Tuesday to a five-year prison term and ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution for defrauding two banks and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

          U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden also ordered Stephen Richard Colson, 48, to serve three years of post-release supervision and to pay a $100 special assessment.

          Colson pleaded guilty in March to falsifying, concealing and covering up material facts in his business and legal dealings.

          From the document RPF linked above.

          The Biloxi Attorney Stephen Colson, used Culumber as his outside CPA. On the question of whether or not Colson defrauded the Bank the court summarized Culumber’s testimony this way on Page 63:

          Culumber testified that in the performance of his duties as an accountant for Prestige, he found no indication that Colson had engaged in fraud. (5 Trial Tr. at 43-44). Culumber believed that the shortfalls in the Title Companies’ escrow accounts existed because the Title Companies simply “grew too large too fast.” (5 Trial Tr. at 47). “Well, in my professional opinion . . . the problems, accounts over many years of mistakes, those problems did not become apparent until the housing market came to a crash.” Culumber also said that Colson demonstrated “poor accounting practices” by mixing his fee income in the Wachovia Funding Account with escrow funds. (5 Trial Tr. at 44, 47-48).

          On Page 71 this is what the Judge Found:

          The mere fact that Colson was running a Ponzi scheme is sufficient to demonstrate severe recklessness and an extreme departure from the standard of ordinary care. Colson had to have known that a Ponzi scheme cannot operate in perpetuity and, consequently, that there was a high risk that the lenders and individuals in those real estate closings near the end of the Ponzi scheme would lose their money.

          Despite his qualifications, the Court rejects Culumber’s opinion that Colson did not intend to defraud anyone because he based his opinion solely on his knowledge of the Operating Account. While employed by Colson, Culumber did not review the Wachovia Funding Account or any of the escrow accounts. (5 Trial Tr. at 51). More important, Culumber did not know about the Abstract Account until sometime after Colson had commenced his bankruptcy case. For that reason, none of the transfers to or from the Abstract Account is reflected in the general ledgers of Prestige or included in any of the tax returns prepared by Culumber.

          So in the case of the above mortgage fraud, a case which made national news BTW, Culumber could not identify a Ponzi Scheme. No wonder he couldn’t find anything wrong in the Bay.

          1. Several things I found interesting about the Colson situation and bankruptcy proceedings.

            So in the case of the above mortgage fraud, a case which made national news BTW, Culumber was apparently called as an expert witness by counsel for the defendant Ponzi operator. Culumber apparently testified in court that it was his opinion that Colson had not intended to defraud anyone.

            Item:
            Missing tax returns. From page 19 and footnote 16 on page 19:

            Culumber
            39.
            Sometime in 2006, Colson hired Culumber and his accounting firm, Culumber, Harvey & Associates, to reconcile the Prestige Operating Account, to pay the payroll and other expenses of Prestige from the Prestige Operating Account, and to prepare tax returns for Colson and his companies. 16 (5 Trial Tr. at 21).

            16 Culumber also performed these same accounting services for two other entities owned by Colson, Vic’s Chophouse of Mississippi, LLC (“Vic’s Chophouse”), and Red Eye Grill (5 Trial Tr. at 76). Although Culumber purportedly prepared tax returns for Colson, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) was unable to locate filed returns for the years 2005 through 2008.

            Thanks to both the missing IRS filings and the state of the business records the bankruptcy trustee couldn’t prepare the missing IRS filings.

            From page 68:
            Colson apparently believed (he probably would, wouldn’t he?) that he was making more than enough money to justify his personal expenditures from the Wachovia Funding Account via the Abstract Account. How much income Prestige and Advanced Title actually generated by providing escrow services was just as elusive to Fidelity as it was to Ingram, Culumber, the Trustee, and the IRS. (Dkt. 374). Colson did not file tax returns for the 2005-07 tax years and the absence of meaningful accounting records prevented the Trustee from preparing tax returns for Colson or for any of his business entities during the same pre-petition years.(Id.)

            When an accounting firm is engaged to perform work of the type described above, would the accountant and the accounting firm typically file the returns after signatures are obtained? Or would they leave this to the client?

            Item:
            A discussion with the QAR (Quality Assurance Review) auditor who is on site and focused on the escrow account bank statements. From page 25:

            67.
            By happenstance, Culumber was present when the 2007 QAR (Quality Assurance Review) took place in the main office in Biloxi. (5 Trial Tr. at 23). Culumber testified that Sutton of Lawyers Title showed no interest in the Prestige Operating Account but focused her attention solely on the bank statements from the escrow accounts. He recalled that Sutton discussed with him the necessity of “three-way” reconciling the escrow accounts. Because his job duties included only the Prestige Operating Account, however, he did not view this casual conversation as a directive from Colson to perform this task.

            The business was described by the <a href=”https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms/pr/biloxi-attorney-pleads-guilty-creating-scheme-falsify-conceal-and-cover-material-facts”DOJ press release reporting Colson’s guilty plea as follows:

            Colson, a settlement agent and closing attorney, owned Prestige Title, Inc., and Advanced Title and Escrow, both headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, with 18 office locations in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. These offices handled loan closings for new mortgages and the refinancing of existing mortgages. In addition, Colson served as escrow agent for several condominium developments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As settlement agent on loan closings, Colson was required to establish trust accounts from which to disburse funds exclusively for activities related to each individual loan. These trust funds were not to be commingled with other personal or business accounts.

            So the auditor performing the QAR has concerns about the business’s main business-which is storing and moving other people’s funds between different parties and accounts. The auditor is focused on bank statements from the escrow accounts. This is where the business supposedly keeps other people’s funds segregated and available for delivery on command. The auditor has concerns that the accounting for other people’s money is allegedly not being done as the QAR auditor (and the counter parties who employ the auditor) wanted. On the other hand, remember that what the QAR auditor is concerned about might not be your department.

            Does anyone else see that light? Is it the end of the tunnel? Or is it an oncoming train?

            1. When an accounting firm is engaged to perform work of the type described above, would the accountant and the accounting firm typically file the returns after signatures are obtained? Or would they leave this to the client?

              If the returns are efiled the it is up to the preparer to transmit them provided he gets the required authorizations. Paper filings are left to the client. In that time period it could have been either. It is an interesting parallel to the MS Marine Resources Foundation, which also never filed income taxes.

              In regards to the QAR, it is another major red flag.

              Honestly, as I read the court filing pictures of the “three wise monkeys” floated about in my mind, especially the part where Culumber accurately describes Colson’s Ponzi Scheme while dismissing the possibility anything illegal happened.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_wise_monkeys

              And Yes, I see a clear pattern of behavior.

              1. It is an interesting parallel to the MS Marine Resources Foundation, which also never filed income taxes.

                I’m not done yet.

                :-)

  12. No surprise that Culumber is associated with the MDMR scandal and on a chummy, first name basis with Rafferty. Again, the dots connect. One big, fraternal order engaged in a calculated and collaborate effort to defraud and deceive in order to divert/steal. From the diverted Katrina HUD/Port of Gulfport to Nowhere monies to the SRHS scandal to MDMR scandal to the MDEQ-Trudy Fisher swept-under-the-rug to the Kemper lies to etc., – the same people keep popping up as the “players.” And, when the corrupt get caught, what’s their punishment? Multiple charges dropped in exchange for a plea deal – minimal sentencing – nice job/contracts waiting for you when releasesd. Do we not have any level of our justice system that is not corrupt and involved?

    And, regarding the failure to pickup the trash and maintain the ROWs – at what point does the accumulated trash and overgrown ROW constitute a public nuisance and health threat – as the City has selectively deemed one citizen in particular who regularly rides herd on and voices his opposition to the shennanigans.

  13. Lana, when Councilman Compretta said that my tongue was actually bleeding because I was biting it so hard, I’m not kidding. I have, in our Association’s minutes, that &*%#$7 was going to be the FIRST to get road word done when the “Ward 6” bond issue was passed. It’s in writing. Instead, as usual, wards 1,2,3,4, &5 are being done first & we will be done last. Lonnie was even “offended” at the last meeting by David Wells who was maybe trying to remind Lonnie that Mike Favre is the Councilman at Large NOT Lonnie!!!!!

  14. I think David was just trying to make the point that so much money has been wasted on unnecessary things like 5 auditing firms just this year just trying to get the Mayor and his staff to follow state law. Not criticizing Lonnie, Mike, and Joey. They are the only ones constantly trying to get things done the right and legal way. But David is right. Bobby dismissed him like” who cares.”
    Very disappointing.

  15. Can someone please explain how the Council allowed Les to hire this new firm. Didn’t the Council have to approve the contract? What was the necessity for “another” firm to come in and audit the city? How many is the city going to hire to make sure they hear what they want?
    Compretta and Reed have to go. We need a good grass roots campaign going NOW to get the movement going..

    1. Technically, the council did not follow state law, AGAIN. 21-8-13 says: (2) At the end of each fiscal year, the council shall cause a full and complete examination of all the books, accounts and vouchers of the municipality to be made by a competent, independent accountant or accountants who shall be appointed by the council, and the report of said examination shall be typed or printed in pamphlet form. The council shall make available a copy of said pamphlet to all persons who shall apply therefor at the office of the municipal clerk and shall cause three (3) of the printed copies of said pamphlet for each fiscal year to be substantially bound in three (3) volumes which shall be kept and preserved as a record of the clerk’s office. Said pamphlets shall be published as now provided by law.

  16. Culumber is the new independent auditor for the city replacing a very reputable firm, Wright, Ward, Hatten & Guel. Les recommended and Council approved. Normal procedure. Normal results? Jury is still out on that.
    Waveland used Wright, Ward, & Hatten. Our audit was done and presented to city officials sometime in March.
    But we do have a CPA for City Clerk. All of this can be done. It doesn’t have to be as chaotic as it is in the Bay.
    Depends on who’s driving the bus!!!

    1. Lana, remember the exact sequence of events? I too was at the meeting where Culumber Harvey and Associates was hired. If you remember they were low by a very small amount, a couple of hundred dollars on a $50,000 job. Bobby Culumber was also in attendance at that meeting to introduce himself and his firm to the council.

  17. That’s right. Any vetting by Council?
    David Well’s is right. Too much money wasted trying to get Mayor and staff to obey state law. Taxpayers should not have to spend their hard earned tax dollars on such as that, especially when their elected officials took oaths to obey the laws of the state.
    Waste!!!!

  18. Les doesn’t care, its not his money he is spending. There must be some type of limit from the budget the council can spend each year on auditors?
    How could the council approve another firm? I can see that it is apparent Les keeps hiring firms until he gets the one that says the things he wants to hear. The council could have tabled the vote, reviewed the submitted proposals or start all over again before hiring Culumber? Come on Guys, let’s do the right thing here… Quit taking Les’ lead.

    1. Not saying Les didn’t set them up but I was there when Culumber was hired. They hired his firm because they were a little cheaper than the rest.

      If the City opened their bidding to Firms across South Mississippi, they’d get a much better price and still get very high quality work.

      As bad as the bookkeeping has historically been in the Bay, $50K for the audit is very high. Fillingame and his hijinks are a large part of the reason for the high price.

    2. Or, they could have just followed the law and made the sole Council decision required by 21-8-13(2), and hired the auditor by themselves, with no input from the mayor and administration about to be audited. The mayor will drag at least some of them down with him…

      1. I like your thinking but there are some practical issues that need to be worked out.

        1. No reputable CPA firm will bid an audit of a new client without first looking at the books and speaking with the person most responsible for day to day accounting operations.

        2. Most but not all reputable CPA firms typically would like to see the prior year audit workpapers.

        3. I’m personally aware of two firms that tried to submit bids but could never get a return phone call from David Kolf, the Mayor or anyone that could help with item #1 above.

        If the Administration does not cooperate it makes it much harder but there is a workaround in having every interested firm come on the same day to a pre bid meeting at the council chambers where the prior year workpapers are available for everyone to look at and certain current year financial information is also available for inspection. To the extent the Council is the defacto audit committee they are not only discharging their duties under the accounting standards they are also strictly adhering to the state statute you cite.

  19. You miss the bigger picture. They hire from within their fraternal order, which includes the state auditor, attorney general, and on up the line. Someone falsified the books, spent the DOJ monies, and then tried to doctor the books, after-the-fact. That’s a crime and no one’s been charged – that’s a bigger crime. And, most of the crooks involved will never be prosecuted – they’ll simply resign, prior to being exposed, and be picked-up on the wagon train somewhere down the line – just like Trudy Fisher and several of the MDMR cronies -Diaz, Ziegler, et al.,

  20. Typical Les, not returning phone calls and shutting out other firms from bidding. What Les wants, Les gets…He has his way of doing business and it is obvious things will never change. The council needs to be a little stronger with him and not allow more of this nonsense.
    Does anyone here see the picture. Wake up everybody
    This is like the “goodfellers” their little group meets and muscle everyone to do what they want. What’s going to happen when his buddy and attorney is GONE. What power will he have then? I sure hope the council is totally independent on the hire of a new attorney.

  21. From what I am hearing, the City Attorney does not plan on being GONE, and has even communicated his hourly fee going forward at &250 an hour which included “conferences with the Mayor.”
    Tuesday should be interesting since his current contract ends tomorrow!!

  22. He is kicking and screaming. As always contracts, laws and regulations mean nothing to Raff & Les. Les would love to give him a $100 hour raise. Incentive to defend is wrong doings.

  23. What part of “Fired” “Contract not renewed” does Mr. Rafferty not get?
    This is the problem we have that people think they can do what the heck they want. You are OUT Donald…..End of Story. Why would the council rehire you for 250 hour. They can hire any top Lawyer in a National Firm for that price.
    I bet anyone from Jones Walker, Phelps Dunbar, Balch & Bingham or Butler Snow would work for that price.
    What is wrong with this person?

  24. It may be that he is the attorney until a new administration comes in like the Fire Chief, Police Chief, Building Inspector, Public Works, etc. unless he chooses to step down like the Public Works Director and Fire Chief did.
    Maybe the terms of his contract can change.
    The AG opinion they are seeking ( may have it already) is to clarify his employment with the city because like the others I mentioned are Department Heads. The city does not have a Legal Dept.His current contract ends today.
    Tuesday should be interesting!

  25. Raff loves headlines Les loves Raff and his underhanded ways. They live in the world of”I may have done it can you prove it”!
    Remember:
    Buddy Z gone
    San Filipo gone
    Raff gone
    Kolf gone
    Big Girl clerk gone
    Charlie nearly gone
    Les is next! Always something good to think about!

  26. It could be that the big issue for the Mayor is if this city attorney goes, there goes his free legal advice??!’
    Imagine having to cough up that $250 an hour yourself for ” conferences”😠😠

    1. Seems like “The Big Raff” will have plenty-o-time to defend Les really SOON!!!
      Bet 1000-1 odds hes gonna need it.
      I sure hope the Council doesn’t pay the bill for services rendered after mid-night. They also need to throw his AZZ out of the meeting tuesday.

  27. He is the”Pulled Pig Pork Barrel Sandwich” stick a fork in him he is done!

    working within the 4 corners of a contract is not the way Les and Raff work!

  28. Lets see if the council has the testicular fortitude to tell Raff to LEAVE!!! He sat like a
    bump on a log during the workshop last night, I’m sure billing the taxpayer $250 per hour….
    Bet they fold like cheap lawn chairs and say please forgive us your HIND-AZZ.
    They eyes and pockets for the next election are watching!!!!!

  29. The “Pulled Pig Pork Barrel Sandwich” just got the wienie from the council. Les sat there silent and let Lonnie put mustard and ketchup on it while he struggled to stay employed.

    Raff is having a fund raiser for Les with bands, beer and other entertainment. They are not required to have security as they say it is not needed. Everyone else has to do the responsible thing and pay for it at $25 per hour per officer. Maybe the attends are few. I don’t know but apparentl Raffs office gets more Quid Pro Quo from the City.

  30. Mike the oyster guy must be funding that gig. Who would vote for Less after the crimes he has committed. It must be for financial support when he is unelected. I was told Less was silent when Lonnie was firing Don last night. Wow what a friend. His friends and followers don’t last very long.

  31. Everyone is disposable in that Cartel. Even “lil Les Daddy said” is going under the bus. The spoiled fruit did not fall far from the tree.

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