Are the Hancock Sups undermining the Library system? If not then who is?

The Hancock Library dog and pony show crossed into the Twilight Zone at the Waveland City Council meeting with Executive Director Courtney Thomas giving legal opinions. Even better her ‘professional opinions’ differed from Waveland’s City Attorney. It reminded me of a Twitter exchange between Piers Morgan and Ben Shapiro earlier this week where Morgan and Shapiro compared law school credentials.

At the Waveland meeting, Mayor Smith shut down Ms. Thomas when she began trashing the County Sups but it was then we really began to wonder what Thomas was hiding behind these outbursts. One email with links solved the mystery.

Since Ms. Thomas has been fond of quoting the Mississippi Code how about we join in and quote section 39-3-17(2):

There shall be one (1) library director for each library system. Said library system director shall have such educational qualifications as are prescribed by the Mississippi Library Commission.

And what are those requirements? Luckily for us the Mississippi Library Commission revised them at their March 28, 2017 meeting:

A library system with a service area population of greater than 15,000 must have a permanent, paid, full-time director who has, or will have within three (3) years of hire, a master’s degree in Library Science from a school accredited by the American Library Association.

Requiring degreed professionals to run the library system is a good thing because, at least on paper, it would keep unqualified political hacks and their political enablers out of the libraries.

Hancock County Library Executive Director Courtney Thomas. Photo via the Sea Coast Echo
Hancock County Library Executive Director Courtney Thomas. Photo via the Sea Coast Echo
As for Hancock County Library Executive Director Thomas, she got an assist from the State Library Commission in getting her masters per this Sea Coast Echo article:

Courtney Thomas, Hancock County Library System’s (HCLS) Executive Director, was recently named the sole recipient of the Public Librarian Scholarship by the Mississippi Library Commission.

The scholarship is part of the Library Services and Technology Act grant program administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The grant, in the amount of $10,000, covers the tuition costs associated with Thomas’ enrollment in the Master’s Degree in Library Science program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is scheduled to complete the coursework and receive her master’s degree in December 2015.

So the Hancock Library system is slick with the law correct? After all, our Executive Director got a nice scholarship and is no dullard, as her legal opinions can attest.

Not so fast folks. To understand how Ms. Thomas ended up as Executive Director is to understand her political bloodline. It is well known locally that Ms. Thomas’ mother is Bay Waveland School Board Trustee Joan Thomas, an appointee of former Mayor Fillingame. Fillingame’s former “Grant Writer” Paula Fairconetue is Trustee Thomas’ sister so we have a triumvirate of political appointees. Clearly these are formidable women politically.

But is Ms. Thomas qualified to run a library system? The very short answer is no as the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that Ms. Thomas does not even have a bachelors degree in library science, let alone a Masters:

Screen Capture of National Student Clearinghouse Return for Executive Director Courtney Thomas
Screen Capture of National Student Clearinghouse Return for Executive Director Courtney Thomas

I think Ms. Thomas may just be right about the Library system being undermined. That said Mayor Smith is dead on that it isn’t the Sups doing the damage. Stay tuned folks because all the muck is now bubbling up.

37 thoughts on “Are the Hancock Sups undermining the Library system? If not then who is?”

  1. Holy family tree! as always, thank you for the info. Many of us have not lived here all our lives & are still find ourselves surprised

  2. To my knowledge, Ms. Thomas does have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from USM. While neither are in library science, she is both “book smart” and educated. Being politically savvy and having the degree needed to meet the qualifications of her current position, that’s another story. It is highly questionable that she doesn’t have a master’s degree in library science by now. She has been given the resources and more than enough time to get it done.

    1. I get the feeling that the Courtney Thomas show has been playing a bit too long.

      If she does not have the proper credentials then what in the wide world of sports is the current library board doing keeping her in violation of state law?

      Councilman DeSalvo’s reasoned comments about the dangers of a handpicked board a few weeks ago are wearing very well with time.

    2. Lord Clifford,
      If you know something USM does not know, please share. The important part of this equation is our Director accepted a $10,000 grant to earn a Master’s Degree in Library Science, and the only thing the University has her documented for is enrolling.
      As of the March 28, 2017, minutes of the State Library Commission, she is not now qualified to direct the operations of a library in a county of over 15,000 residents.
      So, at this point, all I can say is:
      1. Why hasn’t the Hancock County Library Board done their due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers that support the Library? March 28, was 41/2 months ago.
      2. What is the State Library Commission, who granted her the $10,000, waiting for?
      3. AND Where is the money?
      The argument for oversight by the elected officials is overwhelming in this situation. It can no longer rest with an appointed Board at the Library.

      1. Lana,

        Always appreciate your insight and feedback. However, I’m confused by your question. I don’t know anything that USM knows or doesn’t know. I don’t work for nor am I associated with the university. I clearly stated Ms. Thomas, to my knowledge, has two degrees. NEITHER of which are in library science. She certainly has a bachelor’s degree in English or some other language arts degree. She was valedictorian of her class. She attended college at USM after high school and finish with her bachelor’s. I’m not sure if she finished up the master’s degree (in English??) that she was working on A LONG TIME AGO.

        Also, The National Student Clearinghouse website Doug’s screen capture is from clearly states: it does not verify the accuracy or correctness of any information provided by the requestor. Just shows Ms. Thomas is enrolled in that particular college of study. Could it be that she has finished her degree and the info on this particular “clearinghouse” site hasn’t been updated?

        Until Ms. Thomas or someone from the library board either confirms that she DOES (with documentation to back it up) or DOES NOT have a master’s degree in library science, this is all just conjecture. But it was smart of Doug to raise the question because it is NOT CLEAR whether or not she holds the proper qualifications for her current position.

        Again, this is just my opinion.

        1. I want to make clear that while I appreciated the disclaimer on the Clearinghouse website, I have no reason to think the information is inaccurate. Quite the contrary.

          I am certain the question will be asked nonetheless as it should.

          1. Thanks, Doug. I have zero familiarity with the National Student Clearinghouse.

            The fact that this question even has to be asked simply boggles the mind.

          2. Put up and or shut up: this Bd of Supervisors should order their attorney to immediately investigate pass hiring practices of Ms. Thomas by past Supervisors. If law was broken and still being broken, she should resign, terminated and or ethics violations levied! Fillingame shamelessly got Singleton out at School Board because of breaking laws for selfish reasons. Supers and trustees did not check her resume to see laws! Thomas took $$$ knowing she must finish program but hasn’t….. plus shouldn’t be there to begin with…. let’s see what Supers (now) grow some!!!

              1. Wow sir: gets job in May 2014 per Gecko and working on Masters in Library Services then????Than gets Grant from State for Masters??? Before??? After??? Or Still??? Ethics people need to research Trustees, Thomas and Bd of Stupers!!! Who is in charge of laws?

        2. Lord,
          I was referring to your statement “to my knowledge.”
          Let’s think this through logically. The Echo does a special story about our Director receiving a $10,000 grant in July of 2014, to complete a Master’s Degree in library science, by Dec. of 2015.
          We are approaching 2 years now that this degree was to be completed according to the news article.
          Seems like a follow up article in the local newspaper to her receiving the grant would be another story about her COMPLETION OF AND BEING AWARDED the Degree.
          I did see on facebook where she posted having finished USM with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1994. Wonder why she’s not posting her Master of Library Science?
          You are correct. The Student Clearinghouse does issue a disclaimer which means they are making clear the information they are” publishing” was not compiled by them. It is a document of the University of Southern Miss.
          If all of this is incorrect, and I were Courtney, I would show up Monday with my Masters credentials and go after the University for giving out incorrect information on me to the Clearinghouse!!

        3. Lord Clifford,
          I confirmed the Student Clearinghouse information with the Registrar’s Office at the University if Southern Miss. on Monday afternoon only a few hours before Courtney, unfortunately, publicly stated to the Bay St. Louis Council that she ” is still in the program!” How disappointing.
          If she is in a Master’s program for Library Science, I wish she would share with the public for whom she works which University. It is definitely not USM.
          The Library Commission, a State Agency, granted that money. We have to obtain that grant and examine the terms. I am told one public official has made that attempt, and was told by a Commission member that
          ” it is none of his concern!”
          We’ll see!

  3. Anytime Les Filingame’s name is mentioned it is always the same. Unqualified, political and contentious.
    Mayor Favre has a lot of old dirty laundry from the previous administration starting to smell.
    If we stay the course we will get there.
    Most of these non profits are not benevolent nor do they represent the publics trust. They mostly represent their pay checks.

    1. You are spot on, Blue Eyes. This is Fillingame residue. Mike Favre will not clean this up over night. It will take time, one day at a time, once issue at a time.

      1. Miss Lana…
        Not to stir the pot or anything, but it is common practice to place “friends” in State positions without qualifications in this State. This is certainly nothing new. Just check out the heads of all of our coastal agencies. Old [email protected]@ass stocked it full of his political cronies whether they were capable, educated, or not! And they are all still in “entitled” positions. So, the republicans do not need to dog the democrats – they are the worse scourge on our State that there ever has been. I feel that the problems in your area are the same all along the Coast. We have been invaded by the Jackson, Mississippi elitists, and they are still controlling everything we do down here with their puppets and the help of Phillie’s Coastal Pimp Boy Mayor. But all good things must come to an end. All are laying low and quiet. We shall see who is rooming with who when the indictments issued by the Feds get handed out. They had better be kissing the butts of the two ladies that the Feds are currently working on. They know all and may just be convinced to tell all to save their own hides.

        1. Charlene, Honey,
          Don’t apologize for stirring the pot over here in” Handcuff County.” It’s so thick now we can’t stir it by ourselves. I don’t even think my super powered Cuisinart sitting on the kitchen counter could handle what we witnessed this week.

          First three School Board members voting on an item that was NOT on the Agenda– an item, I might say, that is going to cost us $1,388,000.00. Unreal. Hell, two of the Board members didn’t even know about it, much less the public. The Superintendent announced that every student in the Middle School scored a zero on the writing section of the State Test. Minutes later she gets rewarded with a 4 year extension on her contract ( that’s how it works in government. The worse you do, the better the pay). The three amigos even threw in 4 more years for her brother, the business administrator. This was the unannounced Agenda item.

          Then the visit to the Library Board meeting. Wish they would spend less time chowing down on their chicken salad and grapes during their meeting, and do some due diligence serving the public that picks up the tab for them. An eye opener to say the least!!

          Then on to Waveland Wednesday night where the Mayor, bless his heart, had to call down the Library Director for accusing the Supervisors of “trying to undermine the Library System.” He did it very nicely with great gentleness. That’s the kind of guy he is, but she got the message when they voted to support the amended Inter Local Agreement.

          And today I find out the Library Commission is a State Agency, so our Director took $10,000 in” public” money for a grant to earn a graduate degree that no one can locate.

          I’m going to watch the” doo-wap” show on PBS.
          Night, night!

          1. Miss Lana – if it wasn’t all so sad and sickening, we might could laugh about it. But the “entitled” of this State are running this State just like they want….in and entitled fashion. The Federal government is not doing a thing about it…nor is our illustrious Congressman, [email protected]$$-o. He is too busy trying to hop on the Trump train….good luck with that.
            The people just thought they had it bad with the Democrats….little did they know that the “new” Republican party put the left to shame when it comes to take, take, take, and line your own pockets. Simply unbelievable….no end in sight (that’s showing).

  4. Well, I had hope for our new council but it appears we went from bad to worse. The echo store said, they want to raise millage 4 mills? Two that the school lowered and two for road and bridge? What’s to say the school won’t need two more next year? Why didn’t they speak of tax increases during the election. Why don’t they cut some fat.

    1. The schools set their property tax levy for a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. For whatever reason they reduced local suppprt by 2 mills. Politically tbose 2 mills were low hanging fruit for the City to take. If the BWSD needs that money back any increase will be blamed on the School Board.

  5. Exactly, they think we are stupid. They will blame the school board when the time comes. We could have elected any moron to raise taxes. Cut the waste or say you can’t. It’s simple math, it sure sounded easy at election time.

  6. The comment was made “if we are going to raise taxes we need to do it our first year, voter’s have short memories”. They need to look at the hundreds of delinquent taxes in the echo, them people are struggling to pay the current rate. Businesses are coming and people are building, don’t screw it up by taking our low tax incentive away. “Stupid is what stupid does,” by: Forrest Gump’s mom.

  7. Raising taxes makes it easier to fulfill the promises they made to special groups before being elected.

    Avoid the hard decisions and raise taxes.

    Why are these part time decision makers getting retirement and medical benefits? Is this really legal?
    Seems to me to be a huge burden relief to the tax payer to drop their benefits! Being paid nearly $20K a year a piece should be sufficient! The council costs the tax payers nearly $350K per year but only focus on raising taxes not trying to work a budget. Who is working for who?

  8. Every councilman said they were not giving any money away. All elected to be conservative. We will see when the Chamber comes to the table. They have all the info they need to show them to the door.

  9. Mrs Thomas needs to have an opportunity to set the record straight. There may be a logical explanation.

    Taking public money to enhance your qualifications is a great thing. When you abuse that privilege that is another. To act as if you did get the qualification is another. Why not just tell the truth?

    If it is true that she is not qualified it is another story. It explains why she did not want concerned citizens as representatives but instead her hand picked cronies. It would be very apparent that she needed the help to cover up!

    The nonprofits are not necassarily benevolent. I see trends that suggest they hide behind the status to benefit themselves and close friends through employment by salaries and benefits.

    More to follow. There are several high profile non profits that are ripe to be looked into!

    1. Watching You,
      With all due respect, Ms. Thomas, the Library Board, and their enthusiastic supporters have had the same opportunities and taken them at the podium of every public meeting on this subject.
      It just seems the information they offered was, shall we say, a little less than candid.

  10. Watching,
    You are correct. No one has stepped up to say yes or no it is true. The info that we have is certainly adding up to her guilt. Guarding her turf by demanding her own hand picked board is certainly alarming.

    It is indicative of board collusion to hide material facts from the funding entities, misleading her supporters, possible abuse of the grant, and operating in a professional capacity under false credentials!

    Lots of explaining. BSL council saying it ain’t broke why fix it?Without checking details doesn’t sound so cool now. The last time that was said was by Councilman Compretta about the BSL Police. He ate those words. Saying it ain’t broke don’t fix it without verifying is just a way to kick the can down the road to avoid the issue.

    The Supervisors obviously have had an ass full of her bullying them. The cities need to ask more questions and quit vasilating on the details and do what is right which is to guard the taxpayers money as if it was The Holy Grail! Quit spending it without regard what is important.

    1. Doug said on twitter that he verified w/ #SMTTT that the info from the National Student Clearinghouse is 100% accurate. Sheds a whole new light on Ms. Thomas and the HCLS BOD.

      SMH

      What else have they been hiding from the public? Why should we trust anything they’ve said leading up to this point? Can we trust they will be more forthcoming and transparent in the future?

      1. Mr. Clifford right on! Week of researching: Library salaries not disclosed/ Foundation has over $750k in kitty 🐱/ Trustees give raises whenever needed/ Where is Foundation ( non-profit ) filings???/ all this done within!!!! No taxpayer oversight or annual report to ANYONE… Bay Council(s) past & present in dark….. Our Waveland too. Their cities millage needs to be cut in half. Make Foundation spend that “rainbow of cash” then go raise more…….. services won’t suffer a lick…… truth is in numbers: Waveland and especially BSL Council needs to wake up TONIGHT…. fleecing of the Public by a Public body.. sad

  11. They run their nonprofit through their attorney’s sister at Director the Chamber of Commerce. They don’t believe in disclosure of books.

    Doug has the Chambers 990 Filing if he chooses to publish it. It wont show the Library but it will show how non profit money flows to the employees.

    1. Pissed,

      You or anyone else can find the latest 990 available (2015) for the chamber and many other nonprofits @ guidestar.org.

  12. So tonight’s Council Budget Workshop agenda has completely changed & is now a recessed meeting about the Library Agreement. Do you think Ms. Thomas’ credentials will be brought up?

  13. I was told the chamber bombed at the podium. They actually took credit for the new tractor store. Wow they are getting desperate for attention. Mr. Seal seems to be leading the way on tough questions as he asked what she did to get them and she replied everyone calls her first. That is really laughable. She called them soliciting a membership she needs to increase her base salary as we know now that she gets all the dues money the membership pays.

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