A County Apart: Hancock Sups talk dissolving Hancock Solid Waste, gets push back from all the likely political interests

There’s too many pigs for the teats ~ Abraham Lincoln (As quoted by Shelby Foote in Ken Burns The Civil War)

Last month Slabbed took a look at the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority Budget as it was topical in political circles locally and sure enough on July 17th the County Board of Supervisors opened discussion about the future of the authority which is, with the possibility of one exception, unique in the State of Mississippi. Neighboring Harrison County for instance uses interlocal agreements for trash collection as administered by the Utility Authority, another local political subdivision that exists in most every county in the state including Hancock County. Put in simpler terms Hancock County is an outlier in having a separate layer of government to administer the trash collection contracts. That layer of government costs extra money to maintain and that is why the Board of Sups is looking at eliminating the Authority.

Before I get to Dwayne Bremer’s account of that portion of the July 2017 Supervisor meeting the following has to be set up. A frequent criticism I get at Slabbed from those readers that are not from this immediate area is that Slabbed writes “too much to the inside” and what that means is there are often important contextual details that are assumed in the narrative rather than being disclosed in the narrative. A reader in Jackson needs that context to truly understand what is happening and there is a whole line of books that goes by the title “insert name” for Dummies. So along those lines this post is Hancock County Solid Waste Authority for Dummies so everyone will understand, not just the locals.

Similarly the local paper which is written for a local audience often writes to the inside for the same reason.  For instance why disclose that local tax collector Jimmy Ladner is the Solid Waste Board’s Attorney’s Father when virtually everyone locally knows that fact?  Ladner himself prefaced his remarks on that relationship according to Lana Noonan and several other meeting attendees that spoke with Slabbed real time during the meeting.  But it is that bit of context that gets us to Dwayne’s story: Continue reading “A County Apart: Hancock Sups talk dissolving Hancock Solid Waste, gets push back from all the likely political interests”

These things tend to happen when a new administration takes over.

The winds of change are blowing through City Halls across the coast. When measured against the speed of the changes in Pascagoula, the Bay has seen far less but then last night I received the names of some city employees that had either lost their jobs or were demoted. The much maligned Building Department is the place that has Mayor Mike Favre’s attention.

We purposely did not mention any names on Twitter and outside of the two public figures in Charles Oliver and CAO Jerry Beaugez, I’d ask you good folks commenting to exercise some discretion with artful comments appreciated. As for the Building Department employee terminated earlier this week, it was not Mr. Oliver.

The winds of change are blowing over at the Bay-Waveland School District but that is another post.

At what cost? Hancock County Library System over built, over staffed, over politiced…

OK folks, I know “politiced” is not a proper word but the notion fits. There has been a ton of ink spilled on the Hancock Sups wanting to see change in the Hancock Library system going back to the prior Board. By now everyone should know the drill as it has repeated itself a few times, the first with the old Board of Sups. County funding is cut and one or more of the various branches close or have their hours of operation drastically reduced. The people that depend on the library system howl and funding is restored. The current Board of Sups took a better approach by opting out of an outdated interlocal agreement which funds the system. The clock is ticking away to September 30, 2017 when the funding agreement dissolves and the interests behind the library system are making tons of noise.

Despite massive amounts of reporting from both the Echo and the Sun Herald including an oped which contained what I’d term a blanket endorsement of the County system, the public has yet to hear why County officials are motivated to see change in how the Library Foundation conducts its business. That changes today and it comes courtesy of a document on the County’s website which was given out to the municipal governments that participate in the interlocal agreement.

It was put together by County Administrator Eddie Favre and contains comparative operational information from both his research and from the library system itself. The devil in the details becomes self evident, the Hancock Library system is overstaffed by a 2-1 ratio compared to its peers including and especially its peers in Mississippi. The library system is overbuilt, again by a 2-1 ratio to its peers nationally and in the State. More disturbing to me is it lags in certain technological measures including ebooks. It’s all in the 38 page pdf sent out by Favre on behalf of the County Sups.

Its at this point that I’d urge the more thoughtful folks reading Slabbed to put yourself in Supervisor Scotty Adam’s shoes. A mile of paved country road cost over $120,000 these days with the price of everything going up while tax revenue is stagnant. Before you even talk about raising taxes it behooves most elected officials to see if they can gain some money by right sizing the various departments and component units. That is clearly what is driving the Supervisors here and the political interests that are driving the library system are pushing back in order to maintain the status quo. The numbers make this much crystal clear, the Hancock Library system is no bargain for the taxpayers, especially those in the Cities of Waveland and Bay St Louis that pay for the bloated library system twice on their annual property tax bills.

How about a wild romp through the latest FBI Investigation that has the peeps electrified

It all started back on the 4th with the folks at the Clarion Ledger:

FBI investigating post-BP spill contracts: what we know ~ Anna Wolfe

In the three years since Director Trudy Fisher’s resignation, federal investigators have looked into DEQ’s activities under her leadership. The probe looks at contracts granted by DEQ in an attempt to determine whether Fisher personally benefited from them, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation, including several people who have been interviewed by the FBI.

Under Fisher, private contractor and attorney Amy Whitten reaped nearly $2 million in DEQ contracts, either directly with the agency or through subcontracts with law firm Balch & Bingham. Whitten, a well-known state contractor, had worked with a number of agencies and secured four previous DEQ contracts before Fisher took over the agency.

The link above that Slabbed put out on Twitter was still warm when the Sun Herald picked up Wolfe’s story on Wednesday by then it had really captured the attention of many folks including here. Then we got the wet blanket that lie under the salacious headline:

Mississippi gave millions in BP funds to firm with ties to scrutinized contractor ~ Anna Wolfe

Amy Whitten, a Mississippi attorney who received a subcontract with the state Department of Environmental Quality in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, shared her Ridgeland office address with two companies that also gained contracts related to the spill.

One of the companies, Covington Civil and Environmental Engineering, received tens of millions of dollars in contracts related to the April 2010 BP oil spill. The other company, Adaptive Management Services, received a small contract before eventually subcontracting under Covington.

It sounds juicy and salacious but further down the story: Continue reading “How about a wild romp through the latest FBI Investigation that has the peeps electrified”

A couple of thoughts on last night’s recessed BSL City Council Meeting

Sadly folks, City Clowncilmen were spotted. Just a thought, but using a school board appointment to fight a political consultant’s third party agenda is ill advised on so many levels, including and especially invoking a new found love for ethics in government involving a school system which has systemic issues complying with basic state mandates on the subject [Lana Noonan’s first hand account for Slabbed is here]. Whoever put that bug in Councilman Buddy Zimmerman’s ear did well in making him appear to be a Clowncilman rather than a Councilman.

Equally amusing but not quite as inane was the question about whether or not a school level administrative assistant (school secretary) had any  contact with the children. My own experience is a teacher has a kid for a year, maybe two tops while the same child comes to the same office needing help at various times every year they attend school. By definition a school secretary would have more contact with the children over the long haul.

Just an observation but in all my time attending BSL Council meetings, never once did I see the previous council deny the Mayor such an appointment, even when the Mayor and Council were not otherwise getting along. That would have been true in February of this year had then Mayor Fillingame appointed Maurice Singleton to another term on the School Board.

I am told the reason Singleton was not reappointed when his term of office expired was because then Mayor Fillingame was trying to leverage Singleton into qualifying for City Council against Ward 3 Councilman Reed. It is for that reason that Slabbed presented this post, and accompanying artistic rendition of a Toolman. Last night’s short meeting was the final chapter in that particular saga, such chapter titled “disposal”. Continue reading “A couple of thoughts on last night’s recessed BSL City Council Meeting”