Election Open: What others are saying

Here is some of the best Mississippi election coverage I could find:

How I will vote on Tuesday ~ Wayne Weidie

Campaign Finance and Other Political Comments ~ Wayne Weidie

The kind remarks in the second link about Slabbed is a nice Monday treat.

Campaign money and how it’s spent? ‘Nunya’ ~ Geoff Pender

And a three pack from Dark Horse Mississippi:

If State Frauditor Stacey Pickering Is Corrupt, So Is A Sizable Chunk of Mississippi’s Legislature: Exhibit A: Is State Senator Joey Fillingane Clothed in Corruption?

State Senator Dean Kirby: Driven By Corruption on the American Expressway? (EXHIBIT B of the Case Against Corruption, Racketeering, and Tax Evading in Mississippi’s State Legislature)

State Representative John Moore: He’s the Education Chairman, but the Dog Ate His Campaign Finance Report (EXHIBIT C of the Case Against Corruption, Racketeering, and Tax Evading in Mississippi’s State Legislature)

Heads should roll at Mississippi PERS

I bet there is a back story here with knowing as there is no excuse for this:

Glitch delays benefits for state retirees ~ Jimmie Gates

Paula Ainsworth of Tupelo put in her state retirement this month and was expecting to begin receiving her benefits soon, but a glitch in new software at the Public Employees Retirement System has caused a large backlog in processing applications.

Ainsworth says the latest information is that it could be January before she starts receiving benefits. Ainsworth, who retired this month as a special education teacher, said she is too young to qualify for Social Security benefits and was depending on the state check.

“My budget was depending on my retirement check,” Ainsworth said. “I figure I won’t get anything until after Jan. 1.

What follows in Gate’s story is a display of the most pathetic excuse making by PERS Executive Director Pat Robertson I’ve seen since Slabbed covered Jackson County Supervisor John McKay telling everyone what a swell guy Bill Walker was after the DMR scandal broke. Robertson’s nonsense does not compute folks.

At this point I think the best next question is identity of the software vender so we can begin to figure out whether the change was motivated by Mississippi style political payola or what not because back office disasters like this do not just happen, especially out of a glorified payroll system. This reeks worse than a dead skunk.

I am in agreement with the reader comments to Gate’s story about withholding payroll from Mississippi PERS in total until the problem is fixed so the perpetrators take the same financial medicine they prescribe for their victims.

Slabbed makes the following endorsements in the 2015 Mississippi Primary Election

The main one being to go vote on Tuesday. Even better would be to harass your registered but nonvoting friends to make sure they vote as well. With the various and sundry displays of disregard for their own constituents well chronicled on these pages and across the local media going back almost two years now, how anyone would stay home on Tuesday is mind boggling to me. As it stands currently convention wisdom is only two incumbent Supervisor stand a real chance at losing their jobs in Jackson County. A 60% turnout in Jackson County would be an incumbent supervisor’s worst nightmare in my opinion.

I’d also like to second the reader comment on the Supervisor McKay’s North Vancleave lake to vote in the GOP primary.  Mississippi, just like the old days, is a virtual one political party state the only difference being the political party has changed.

Friday Omnibus

A few announcements. In the course of doing some software upgrades I inadvertently cleared the moderation que so if you left a comment and it does not show up that would be the reason. Also to the nice person that stopped by a week or so ago I appreciate you coming by but the best way to get face time with me is by appointment. I manage two businesses and my scarcest commodity is time.

I’d like to thank those of you that took the time to send donations to the P.O. Box. I’ll disclose that the response has generated close to $1,000 though half was with one donor group. Year over year donations are down about $800 and that is not the because of a lack of a PayPal donate button, which I removed a bit over a month ago.

It would be misguided to not continue supporting Slabbed just because I unlocked the site as I’m still not satisfied with the top line in 2015 and that must change out of necessity. The next time Slabbed offers an electronic payment option the site will be behind a pay-wall. My overall goal is to spend less time engaging readers with fundraising in order to spend more generating content. Go forward content will have a stronger correlation to the geographic areas which support Slabbed New Media. Eighty percent of the donations sent last week were from Jackson/Harrison Counties. I’d like to see more reader support from Hancock County for a couple of reasons the main one being the news here is under reported in the local main stream media.

Those of you that want to help out should click here for more information. Thank you.

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Iran Deal Opponents – Ungrateful and Hysterical

Published on Jul 29, 2015

Let’s get to the point on the Iran Deal.

If Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, withdrew his opposition to the Iran Deal, the following would happen: 1. Rupert Murdoch would call up his hacks at FOX, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal and tell them to shut up about Iran and go back to hitting Hillary on Benghazi. 2. Both Houses of Congress would approve the Iran Deal by overwhelming majorities.

The fact that the leader of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, can stand in the way of the elected President of the United States in his efforts to begin the process of some normalization of relations with a longtime adversary is, at a minimum, ridiculous.

Add in the following factors, and it becomes absurd:

1. Israel has received well over $233.7 Billion (Inflation Adjusted) US Dollars from American taxpayers since its founding in 1948. (See, Haaretz, March 20, 2013.) Israel has received more moeny from the United States than any other country in the post WWII era.

2. Israel has never put a soldier into battle alongside those of the United States in our multiple wars in the Middle East since 9/11 … Afghanistan, ISIS, Iraq.

3. Our bona fide allies, UK, France, and Germany, have signed on to the Iran Deal with us. Each of these countries have sent soldiers that have fought and died alongside ours in one or more of our Middle East wars. None of them receives United States taxpayer assistance. Continue Reading………..

Hancock County Supervisor District 4 Candidate Lonnie Falgout withdraws from race

On Tuesday, Hancock County District 4 Supervisor candidate Lonnie Falgout announced his withdrawal from the election citing unfinished business related to his position on the Bay St Louis City Council representing City Ward 6. Per Mr. Falgout’s Press Release:

After many days of soul searching, praying and evaluating my candidacy for Hancock County District 4 supervisor, I shall remove my name for the position of Hancock County Supervisor District Four. My decision was based on one thing and one thing only. Bay St. Louis’ Ward 6!

Over two years ago I received a wonderful honor from the good folks of Ward 6 when they elected me as their Bay St. Louis city councilman. They asked me to work for them in obtaining, receiving and bettering the quality of life and services they were not receiving from the city of Bay St. Louis since annexation in 2006. After many miles traveled, meetings attended and just plain old talking, their claims are still most accurate today. Yes some improvements have been made and others started, but the betterment of Ward 6 as the ‘Gateway to Bay St. Louis’ is miles apart from where I want it to be and what these folks deserve.

To the wonderful people and businesses who have called me, welcomed me into their homes and businesses, plus trusted me in attempting to make Ward 6 and Bay St. Louis a better place to live, you deserve more. There’s much more to be done and I will continue to fulfill this trust you have placed in me for the next two years. We have a lot of work to do – together.

Falgout’s withdrawal from the race does not impact any of the primary elections scheduled for Tuesday as he had previously qualified as an independent in the race. On Tuesday, Scotty Adam will face Jeff “Poolman” Harding in the GOP primary. The winner of that race will face independent Anthony Pace and Democrat Maurice Singleton in the general election.

Jackson County Public Relations begins the tale of woe struck County retirees, Slabbed has the privilege of finishing it

Jackson County Attorney Paula Yancey
Jackson County Attorney Paula Yancey

Way back in 2013 April Havens over at the Mississippi Press began telling County Attorney Paula (Sue Nations Stennett) Yancey’s story of her tie-up with the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System on behalf of the Jackson County Sheriff’s office everyone should have known there was a major problem with the county’s compliance with certain laws and regulations, mainly because the early reports of the exact nature of the problem were largely incomprehensible and it is with the first incomprehensible report that I start circa March 15, 2013:

Jackson County is going up against the state’s Public Employees’ Retirement System in an effort to save thousands of hours in leave that employees have accrued over many years.

County attorney Paula Yancey was in Chancery Judge Charles Bordis’ courtroom this afternoon to ask him to stop a March 26 hearing before the PERS board in Jackson.

Attorney Amy St. Pé, who is representing the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, joined Yancey in court. Representing PERS were Alison O’Neal and Jane Mapp.

So there we have it folks, all the legal players are laid out neatly by Havens and for this we should be appreciative. But she loses me terming the legal dispute “a debate” because while courthouses may indeed occasionally house debates featuring master debaters what was going on with the attempted home cooking of Mississippi PERS in a Jackson County Courtroom was not a debating society prattling away discussing esoteric issues:

The debate cropped up near the end of 2011, Yancey said, when the county was copied on a letter sent from PERS to a retired sheriff’s department employee.

The employee had been retired for about 9 months when PERS said he was retired in error and asked him to repay money he had received, she said.

PERS then asked for a copy of the county’s personnel policy.

On May 31, 2012, the county received another letter from PERS “that made an administrative determination” and included an analysis and interpretation of the county’s leave policy, Yancey said.

The letter said that allowing current county employees to continue using leave would be considered a “prohibited donation,” she said, and asked the county to wipe the leave off its books.

Jackson County is arguing that PERS doesn’t have jurisdiction to interpret a county’s policy with total disregard for how the county interprets its own policy, nor does it have the power to dictate policy.

“They are so far outside their authority,” Yancey told the judge, noting that PERS doesn’t have a role in the process until an employee actually retires.

So are we getting this folks, those nasty PERS people have no business telling the County how much leave its employees may apply to the system in order to collect benefits. As a former auditor that knows a few things about Mississippi PERS I can assure everyone the system has some very clear rules about how much unused leave can be applied to creditable service but you’d never know that from that early 2013 story. You see the problem wasn’t with PERS at all, rather it was the County’s own leave policies that was too generous with PERS benefits, such not being the first time a local government tried using PERS in a way that is financially detrimental to the pension plan to the benefit of the local employees. Evidently Ms. Yancey and the County Controller, an Ex State Auditor’s office employee, did not get that memo as we fast forward a year to March 2014 and an update from County PR:

Jackson County supervisors today passed a resolution asking for the state Legislature, Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to clarify the authority of the Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Specifically, the county — which has been at odds with PERS since 2012 on an issue of retirees’ accrued vacation and sick leave — is asking the legislators to clarify whether PERS has authority to interpret a local government’s personnel policies.

Since 2012, the county has been trying to save thousands of hours in leave that its employees have accrued over many years.

According to the resolution, PERS has retroactively revoked or reduced benefits and asked some retired employees — many of whom have been retired for more than a year and a half — to repay certain benefits.

This was followed by another update two days later reporting progress on the legislative front:

An amendment passed by the House today on Senate Bill 2257 could help Jackson County in its fight against the Public Employees’ Retirement System to save benefits for many county retirees.

Earlier this week, Jackson County supervisors formally asked the Legislature to clarify PERS’s authority, which has been questioned by the county in court hearings.

The amendment, penned by Jackson County state Rep. Manly Barton, does just that.

The short amendment reads, “No administrative agency of this state shall interpret the personnel policies of local governmental entities. Local governmental entities are the initial interpreters of its personnel policies, and same shall only be reviewed by a court of this state situated within the jurisdiction of the local governmental entity whose policy is in question.”

The issue of policy interpretation came up in the county’s dealings with PERS, which began in 2012. The issue deals with accrued vacation and sick leave that PERS says is not creditable to certain retirees’ retirement.

Thousands of hours are at stake, and the retirement system has asked several county retirees to repay benefits. PERS argues that the county’s personnel policy was vague and did not comply with regulation, but the county argues it did comply and that PERS doesn’t have authority to interpret its policies.

“If we wrote the policy, then obviously we should be the ones to interpret our own policies first,” said Barton, a former Jackson County supervisor. “Then if there’s evidence that the personnel policy somehow does not conform to state law, then the state agency can take it to court. Rather than us proving we are right, they’ve got to prove we’re wrong.”

Barton was evidently drinking Ms. Yancey’s brand of kool-aid but his amendment was struck from the final bill that passed. Even worse Jackson County was losing in court.

Now it is at this point I’d like to remind everyone of a major catastrophe that was brewing right at the same time that Barton was pumping his anti-PERs amendment and that was Singing River Health System’s financial house of cards was also unraveling in March 2014.  This is important because the County supervisors are very clear that no tax money will be used to bail out the SRHS pension plan that was secretly terminated by the Supervisor’s appointees on the SRHS Board of Trustees late last year. With such parameters defining pension problem solutions in Jackson County, how did the Sups solve the problem they had with Sheriff’s Department Employees that had over collected pension benefits based on bad county leave policies?

I’d turn to April Havens for the answer but March of 2014 marked the last report on this matter that I could find. It seems as if the County Sups suddenly wanted to keep this matter quiet. Luckily for everyone I have the answer to this question. Continue reading Jackson County Public Relations begins the tale of woe struck County retirees, Slabbed has the privilege of finishing it