Hancock County Omnibus: Library Executive Director lacks required credentials, Local Tourism Agency must receive dedicated millage

That post title is a mouthful folks. So while we continue to dig out after taking a long weekend to see the eclipse here are a few documents of interest. First up is from Slabbed’s Twitter timeline:

Lana Noonan was kind enough to nab via Public Records Request the Tuition Assistance Grant Agreement between Ms. Thomas and the Mississippi Library Commission for everyone to see. As Lana aptly put it seeing the documents is so much better than gossip:

thomas-mlc agreement
Mississippi Library Commission via Lana Noonan PRR Click to Obtain the 6 page pdf file

Interesting and important is that Ms. Thomas only drew $4,600 of the $10,000 total grant. From the Transparency Mississippi Website:

Source: Transparency Mississippi web portal
Source: Transparency Mississippi web portal


To reiterate, the qualifications set out per the Mississippi Library Commission for areas with population greater than 15,000 people require the local Executive Director to have a Masters in Library Science within three years of hire or per the contemporaneous press accounts, May 2017 for Ms. Thomas. Had she still been on progress for the Masters, I doubt anyone would have raised a fuss if the academic work had been completed at the expiration of the Tuition Assistance Grant earlier this month. But none of that happened. The political damage done to the system by Ms. Thomas and her ‘handpicked’ Board of Trustees during this time period however is undeniable.

Did anyone else watch the Bay St Louis City Council meeting last night? I watched part of it. The most disappointing part was when Council President Seal let people stand up in the audience and address the Council without going to the Microphone during the library segment. With the audio quality so poor to begin with the viewing public was cheated out of hearing part of the meeting. And then last night the bat signals began coming in thus the following Tweet this morning:

Next up is tourism and the diversion of a 2% Hotel-Motel tax to the Coast wide CVB by the Hancock Sups. First up exactly who is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Tourism Bureau and by that I mean their governing Board? Luckily for everyone they are transparent by sharing their meeting minutes on the internet. Here is a snippet that identifies the governing Board:

VMGC_Board_Meeting_6_29_17

The problem per the Attorney General’s Office is that the Hancock Sups lacked the statutory authority to divert the 2% Hotel-Motel Tax to the Coastwide CVB as the law was very specific that the money go to the Hancock County CVB, an agency that was to the point of closing its doors because of the tax diversion. Here is the AG opinion that was sought by State Representative David Baria:

Tourism AG Opinion by Slabbed on Scribd

Behind the scenes the Hancock Chamber had proposed additional local funding of Hancock County Tourism according to a proposal that was circulated within the Bay St Louis City Council obtained by Slabbed New Media. One major issue was the Chamber’s proposal was the cost, which was roughly two times the amount of the current Hancock CVB operating budget. With this AG Opinion it appears the Hancock CVB is back in business while Hancock County’s continued participation in the Coastwide CVB will certainly be the cause for much more discussion both in the County and in Biloxi, where the regional CVB is based.

22 thoughts on “Hancock County Omnibus: Library Executive Director lacks required credentials, Local Tourism Agency must receive dedicated millage”

  1. Just because an entity is deemed a non-profit it does not make them benevolent nor does it alleviate the need to audit and verify. Non-Profits can suck the life out of the system and never achieve their goals. The Chamber is the mother of most of these groups and we know what they are after. Political and Financial Control. Before another tax payer dime is given to any of them they need to be audited on their own dime and the results presented for public review.

    Whenever the financials are not discussed and made available to even their own members there is a reason for it!
    The Chamber and the Library want autonomy and control with what they do with tax payer money with no accountability. They are now trying to get the money under a contract to supply services that they are already funded to do. Insatiable lust for cash. Audit them asap!

    As Ronald Wilson Reagan said “Trust but Verify”!

  2. Wouldn’t it have made sense to get a legal opinion before a decision was made to give away our tourism money? Now it is a legal quagmire!

    Jimmy Ladner was instrumental in this give away. He also said $125,000 in savings is paltry in disbanding the Solid Waste Authority. His daughter is the attorney for the Solid Waste. Who is he representing? Hancock County or someone else? Bad decisions beget bad decisions.

  3. I am sick to death of the CofC coming every year, hat in hand, begging. They are a dues collecting private organization. What to give them money? Join them. They’ll happily take your money. You don’t need to own a business. Every civic organization performs services for the greater good. The Crab Festival is tourism. Our city employees haven’t had a raise in two years. The current proposal is to give them a quarter an hour. How about we give them a real raise, and a COLA annually, instead of underwriting the CofC. Or that extra money we all get to pay in our utility bills. Let’s eliminate that before we write a check to anyone. Citizens first.

    1. You right Ms. Rachael! CofC Dir. pay $118k plus perks, total Tourism budget: $179k.. ripoff…… last year xCouncil Falgout asked for AG opinion and Mr. Trent said at meeting he believed Tourism & 2% must stay in Hancock County. Tk you Mr. David Baria for getting the truth.

      1. I wish Mr. Baria would run for Governor. I am sick of these wannabe Tea Party Republicans. They only serve themselves….not the people they are elected to serve.

        1. ?? which ones are you speaking of Charlene>…especially in the context? The library, Chamber, Tourism or Mrs. Thomas, Tish, Les, Ladner?? Which Tea Party member are you speaking of?

      2. Baria did get the opinion. I am a conservative but our conservative representation, Moran, played good Ole Boy on this to keep his good buddy jimmy Ladner safe after he initiated giving away our valued tourism dollars. May have helped Moran get the mosquito contract? Who knows but it kinda has a smell to it!

  4. Rachel,
    You are right. We have public needs and do not need to give money to The Chamber. If you saw the 990 Filing you will see the dues go straight to the Director! All $118,751 dollars of it!

  5. The Chamber Director said that the new Tractor Budiness called her as with all new businesses.

    What she didn’t say was that they were returning her call asking for their membership to pay her salary!

    She is a spin master. Trying to be relevant! She needs to go back to networking her members and leaving the public alone. If we don’t join don’t try to get our money from the elected officials.

    If she leaves us alone her members and board are all she needs to please. Of course her salary will probably take a hit.

    Support the masses not the Haases!

    1. That’s funny…. I have the name The New Hancock County Chamber of Commerce for sale…. want to start a new non profit????

  6. This morning at their regular meeting the Hancock County Board of Supervisors officially accepted the resignations of their two appointees to the Hancock County Library Board of Trustees:
    Board President, Stephanie McConnell, and Board member, Sandra Ladner.
    Their replacements will be announced at the next Supervisors meeting on September 19.
    The new document for the establishment of a new Inter Local agreement between the County- Bay St. Louis and Waveland for operation of the Library System has been completed, and presented to both cities for signatures.
    Both municipalities meet tonight to officially vote to enter into the agreement.
    Either way, the County is out of the present agreement
    as of October 1.
    Stay tuned.

    1. They resigned because they were asked to resign by the Sups, who understandably want their own picks on the new Board of Trustees.

  7. Makes sense they were not representing the tax payers best interest. Instead they were representing their interest with a bucket full of tax payer money! Thomas as well needs to explain in full financial detail why she was not truthful with BSL Council or the grantors! Not likely to happen under the present board!

  8. Again! Most non profits start out benevolent but eventually succumb to their main priority of paying their own salaries and promoting their personal agendas! Not uncommon, but still it is what it is.

    Look at the Chamber! They support everything as long s the director gets paid…it ain’t cheap nor benevolent. When they wanted donations for hurricane Harvey I had to question what was their service fee? The Director always tells everyone they will support an event but there is a cost! LOL! I hope that this wasn’t the case but you have to look at past behavior!

  9. The Bay St. Louis City Council authorized Mayor Favre to sign the new Inter Local Agreement with the Library at their meeting tonight.
    The Board of Supervisors put a lot of work into bringing our Library System operations into compliance with State law. I am convinced it would have never happened with the Library Board.
    Congrats to the Supervisors for taking the heat and character assassinations on the chin for a noble cause.

      1. Confused,
        Are you asking what the Supervisors did to bring our County Library System in compliance with state law? If so, here is what happened:
        Did a complete and professional review of the Library System’s books.
        Had the County attorney write a document for a new Inter Local agreement giving the local entities that financially support the System with our tax dollars authority to appoint the Library Board of Trustees rather than the Trustees recommend who should replace them.
        Responded to State Law and the resolution of the Miss. Library Commission of March 28, 2017, to secure an Executive Director with the State and Commission mandated educational credentials.
        That is why I am congratulating them. All of the above are good for our county and tax dollar.

  10. Step Down! Courtney Thomas doesn’t deserve to make 67,ooo a year as a library director without proper creditials and Adrienne Bradley doesn’t deserve 47,000 doing a job that requires a Masters degree…they both need to go to Along with Mary Perkins!!!! I hope the people of Hancock County go after these people!!!

  11. Wow Angela I understand your passion but don’t need to go after them just hold them to the standards tha are odopted and understood. It is not ambiguous. The student grant that she accepted is proof of that.

    To me, more than anything else she mislead Councilman Smith when asked about her credentials. He is a representative of a funding partner. That in and of itself is very ugly. The whole system has to be reviewed and purged of any other personnel that may not be qualified or performing. Needing a job should not be a criteria. I would suspect that there is probably nepotism in a system so closley secretive to demand to appoint your own board. Audits from operation, spending, hiring and best practices need to be done. If not it will show up situation at a time at tax payer expense!

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