On Tap Tonight: A New School Board Trustee

The Lady that will be appointed – her name was dropped a couple of time in comments here, I’m sure she will make a fine trustee.

As for outgoing Trustee Joan Thomas, her goose was cooked by her own hand, almost one year ago to the day:

Siblings working for Bay school district an ethical concern, says commission – Justin Vicory

Either the superintendent or the business manager of Bay St. Louis–Waveland School District — who are brother and sister — should resign from office to avoid the appearance of nepotism, a Mississippi Ethics Commission opinion says.

Yet the majority of Bay–Waveland School Board members disagreed, and recently voted 4 to 1 to approve an additional 18-month contract for business administrator John McCraw, as well as a contract for Superintendent Vikki Landry, his sister.

And the so called Chinese firewall the high priced lawyers constructed to rationalize and prettify such nepotism? It is bullshit, or put another way if it weren’t, the exchange where the lawyers advised the school board in an official meeting would not have been purposely omitted from the record and the business manager would to this day not be presenting cash balances to his sister for the School Board to approve. It’s sad folks:

At the February meeting, board attorney Ronnie Artigues and James Keith, a longtime education attorney with the North Pike and Pearl River County school boards, told the board it was acceptable for them to appoint an employee other than Landry for McCraw to report to. In response, the board appointed Kristen Ladner and Cherie Labat as assistant superintendents.

School board meetings are open to the public, and an audio recording is normally taken and saved. But when Lana Noonan, a member of political watchdog group Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, contacted the central office secretary to get a copy of the February recording, the conversation about McCraw and Landry was not on the tape.

The flawed decision making that created a mess in the district’s elementary schools, along with multiple assistant superintendents to go with the family at the central office has to be fixed folks. Tonight’s school board appointment will flip the Board majority away from those that would disregard state ethics opinions.

State Auditor releases City of Bay St Louis Performance Review, a Slabbed Musical Rendition

Folks I really don’t know where to start except to report the State Auditor has released the Bay St Louis Performance Review, a 42 page document which drills down on the root causes of each and every major finding contained in the City’s 2014 audit report that included the Mayor Les Fillingame committing the Citizens to bank debt without City Council’s approval, among many other major internal control issues including a general failure to follow the financial portions of the Mississippi Home Rule Statute.

That the City is cash strapped with major budgetary issues is a given for anyone that has followed the coverage of the financial meltdown here on Slabbed. Even more disturbing is Mayor Fillingame’s steadfast refusal to hire a competent City Clerk while the clock runs on the deadline for the City to submit its 2015 FY Audit to the Single Audit Clearinghouse as required by law. It is a certainty the June 30, 2016 deadline will again be missed by the City marking the third straight year the City has been seriously delinquent closing its books.

More disturbing is that sources with knowledge of the operations of City Hall that are not authorized to speak with the media have disclosed to Slabbed that the City’s new audit firm has experienced their first “run in” with Mayor Fillingame, who is attempting to limit the scope of the audit procedures being applied in certain audit areas. [See paragraph .11]

With that set up and given that Slabbed, along with the Seacoast Echo, The Sun Herald and WLOX all covered the Performance Audit Presentation a few months back I figured the best way to present the report would be to present the Mayor’s belated response to the detailed analysis of the audit findings, which he submitted three weeks late, in a musical format so without further adieu: Continue reading “State Auditor releases City of Bay St Louis Performance Review, a Slabbed Musical Rendition”

Recessed Bay City Council Meeting: “These people don’t know what they are doing”

Last night’s Bay City Council meeting was evidently one for the ages and the Mayor’s new citizens group, the Les Lovers United were in attendance. But what interested me most from last night was the above quote from a Citizen that had never previously attended a City Council meeting because only those blinded by cognitive bias born of perceived self interest can’t see the three ring circus that is the Fillingame Administration as it is pretty apparent to everyone else.

Since the local newspaper of record’s idea of beat reporting on recent meetings consists of letting Les Lovers United spew venom at the Mayor’s critics we’ll do our best here at Slabbed New Media to actually inform the public about what is happening in their City and in that way differentiate the news product. The bottom line here is Slabbed gets its news to report from the City Council Chamber, not the back of the Mayor’s limousine.

First on the agenda was the City Attorney’s contract. You see folks, under the Fillingame Administration the City Attorney evidently operates off a handshake, nod and wink and despite months of the City Council asking for a contract, as strongly recommended by the Office of the State Auditor, one has not been presented to them for approval. I was not at the meeting but you get the feeling City Attorney Rafferty would drag this all out until June 30, 2017 if he could but last night Councilman Doug Seal read the council’s offer to the City Attorney and told him to either have a contract which conforms to those terms ready to execute at the next meeting or the Council would advertise the position.

Mayor Fillingame opened the Mayor’s report by withdrawing his nomination of City Cultural Affairs Director Paula Fairconnetue to be City Clerk.  The Council has previously directed Mayor Fillingame to advertise the position in November after Clerk Clark resigned but that has not still not happened according to Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, who was in attendance last night. My own opinion is its hard to find a qualified City Clerk to hire when you don’t look for one. Continue reading “Recessed Bay City Council Meeting: “These people don’t know what they are doing””

Showdown: Tonight’s recess Bay City Council meeting in jeopardy (Updated)

Left unsaid in yesterday’s post but well explained in the video embed was the Bay City Council refusing to take up the City’s claims docket for approval until they were given access to the original invoices that support the docket they are being asked to approve. This routine vote is far from meaningless as personal liability attaches to any yes vote for any expenditure made without statutory authority and it is not an esoteric concept, especially if one carefully reads the Auditor’s internal control and legal compliance findings in the 2013-2014 audit report Mayor Fillingame is stonewalling because there is an open question in my mind if a money demand is not already coming to the Mayor and certain members of the City Council for reasons I will not disclose at this time. Given the pervasiveness and totality of the problems, self inflicted as they are, it would take a special kind of masochist to vote blind on the financial matters before the City Council.

I mention this because Slabbed has learned Councilman Boudin has not been given access to the original invoices supporting the current claims docket and according to email correspondence he sent that included the local media he will not be attending tonight’s recessed meeting of the City Council.  Additional follow-up correspondence from Councilman at large Mike Favre which included the local media is suggesting the Council formally seek a Writ of Mandamus to force Mayor Fillingame to share the original public records supporting the claims docket with the City Council.

Stay tuned for updates on this rapidly developing situation.


10/8/15 recessed meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council which adjourned due to lack of quorum. | Photo Courtesy of Lana Noonan, Hancock County Alliance for Good Government
10/8/15 recessed meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council which adjourned due to lack of quorum. | Photo Courtesy of Lana Noonan, Hancock County Alliance for Good Government
Last night’s recessed meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council was a nonstarter as Councilmen Boudin, Favre, Falgout and Reed were absent thus the lack of a quorum. Continue reading “Showdown: Tonight’s recess Bay City Council meeting in jeopardy (Updated)”