Playing the local media for fools is nothing new here on the Coast (Updated)

Here at Slabbed we always have fun examining the “journalistic facts” conveyed by the local main stream media against what those facts strongly suggest along which how those facts are being reported by the various local media outlets. The technical expression is take-away which google defines as “a key fact, point, or idea to be remembered, typically one emerging from a discussion or meeting.”

First up something is screwy in Ocean Springs:

Aldermen ‘blindsided’ by request to cancel popular Ocean Springs parade ~ Karen Nelson

Deputy Police Chief Derek Hoppner surprised aldermen Tuesday night by asking them to cancel the city’s popular Mardi Gras night parade, saying the move was needed to protect police officers.

Deputy Police Chief blindsiding the Board of Aldermen? My reaction was wow!

Hoppner gave the aldermen a memo outlining his complaints before Tuesday’s meeting and said Police Chief Mark Dunston agrees with him. Dunston, however, was out of town, he said, and did not sign the memo. Dunston called a press conference for 10 a.m. Thursday and is expected to announce the city will have the parade.

I mention this because WLOX is reporting that Dunston did not know his subordinate was going to the Board of Aldermen demanding the night parade be cancelled.

Police Chief Mark Dunston tells WLOX News Now that he did not approve the memo that was presented to the board of aldermen.

In the private sector this kind of insubordination would be considered a firing offense. Let’s see how the media frames the 10:00AM news conference. There is nothing special in that Ocean Springs night parade that differentiates it from the rest that roll from Lake Charles to Mobile. If there is a failure here it is in how law enforcement in Ocean Springs is tackling the challenges they face providing crowd control, not the parade. Given how the Mayor and Board of Aldermen are acting right now the skullduggery potential is off the charts:

Why did two Ocean Springs aldermen walk out of Tuesday’s meeting? ~ Karen Nelson

Alderman-at-large Bobby Cox apologized Tuesday night to volunteers who helped renovate the old city Armory for what he called the mayor’s lack of respect for the project.

He said Mayor Connie Moran attended the ribbon-cutting event last week and talked among the crowd about how the city could have had a $3.5 million multi-purpose storm shelter and gymnasium paid for by FEMA, “but we have this instead, because of the aldermen.”

To renovate what the City already had available or build new and increase permanent staff – the choices Nelson outlines in the story, is a policy decision. Here in Hancock County building all these “free” facilities sounded good at the time but now local government is struggling to pay the evergreen costs that comes with them. The Old Town Parking Garage is a classic example with the City and County engaging in a protracted game of hot potato trying to unload the facility on the other.

“This is not hurt feelings, this is a travesty for the city,” Moran said after Tuesday’s aldermen meeting. “We could have had a state-of-the-art gym and what we got was an undersized 65-year-old practice gym.”

With due respect for the Mayor this is 100% sour grapes and her handling of losing a policy decision does not cast her in a good light. I think the bottom line here is all the huffing and puffing is nothing more than a show for the local media. Even better is the side show going on as Scott and Trinity Walker decided to tag team Mayor Moran on the Sun Herald Facebook page.

Next up its still screwy in Bay St Louie and for those of you that haven’t figured it out already, Mayor Les Fillingame ran every major media outlet save one on a fools errand last Tuesday night. Here is the clue from the post I wrote in advance of the meeting earlier this week:

Mayor Fillingame had time to get his incomplete Mayor’s report agenda section of the meeting to the Council clerk before it was sent out yesterday afternoon and he evidently had time to tip WLOX he would be appointing a new police chief but evidently could not discharge both tasks simultaneously. It is another example of either ineptitude or the shit house, possibly even both.

The question that everyone should have been asking themselves is why didn’t the Mayor add this appointment to his Mayor’s report? The appointment must be very important to him based on his post meeting statements to the media coupled with the fact that he pumped the hell out of it in his pre-council meeting ‘leaks’ to the local media. Perhaps the Mayor knew the council was still actively exploring consolidating the Bay PD with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and thus would not take any action on his pick for Chief until the overall direction of the Department was decided? That would be my guess. How did the local media frame the issue?

Bay St. Louis holds off on decision about new police chief ~ Gordon Jackson

“I wanted it to be done tonight,” Fillingame told the Sun Herald outside the chambers. He chose not to reveal the name of his choice. “We’ve got a tremendous person in line to be the police chief. We’re at the process now where I have suggested to (the City Council) that I’m ready to give them the name of an appointment and I want them to be ready to ratify it.”

The council instead voted to hold a workshop Dec. 15 to review personnel matters of the police department and its relationship with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Ricky Adam has been overseeing the city’s police department since De Nardo’s death in September, and some council members have said they want to explore consolidating the two entities.

Jackson ends the story with a major factual inaccuracy:

De Nardo was being relieved of duties during a Sheriff’s Department investigation. He was suspected of mishandling a Department of Justice forfeiture fund and illegally selling city-owned firearms.

I’ve attended most but not all of the salient Council meetings on the comingling and misspending of the DOJ funds and never once was Denardo accused of mishandling DOJ funds. It has been alleged he participated in a Payroll Fraud scheme and was selling City owned assault rifles but never the mishandling of the DOJ funds. One naturally wonders where the author got that piece of misinformation and I think the story pretty well reveals it.

Mayor Fillingame is adept at playing people for fools before putting them under the bus. Two former City Clerks are fixing to find that out first hand. Stay tuned.

Update:

Since this story was published the Sun Herald revised their story on Tuesday night’s meeting eliminating the reference to the DOJ funds. The purpose of this story was not to rag the local newspaper, who in my experience always tries to get it right and in this business that it is not always easy. With all the moving parts, the Bay beat requires a very experienced reporter and the Sun Herald’s regular BSL beat reporter, Wes Muller is top notch. We’re not throwing stones at the newbie Jackson either, who furthered his journalism education immensely Tuesday night.

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