Oppositional-defiant: This is what the Bay St Louis City Council deals with frequently

I’ve been to or saw the live stream of at least three Council meetings over the course of the summer where one or more City Councilmen explicitly warned the Mayor to not use the former City Attorney’s services after his contract expired on July 31, 2016 as the Council would not approve it for payment. And of course what does the Mayor do? If you guessed he uses the services of the former City Attorney you’d be a winner!

Courtesy of a person familiar with the operations of Bay St Louis Municipal Government Not Authorized to Speak with the Media
Courtesy of a person familiar with the operations of Bay St Louis Municipal Government not Authorized to Speak with the Media

Continue reading “Oppositional-defiant: This is what the Bay St Louis City Council deals with frequently”

A couple of nuggets from a very somber Bay St Louis Council meeting

Slabbed was there as was WLOX and the Seacoast Echo. The latest meme out of the Fillingame camp involves asking the rhetorical question Who is the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government? It is the exactly the meme the Library folks whipped out after Slabbed pointed out that the Library system and its supporting Foundation had spent $2,400 to Gold sponsor the annual Chamber of Commerce gala, a night of recognition, revelry complete with firewater less than a year after closing East Hancock County Library citing a lack of funds. Since the ideas can’t be refuted when all else fails attack the messenger. A clue for you Facebook Warrior hens, it is possible have an organization without a Facebook page. As an experienced webmaster I’d personally recommend organizations steer clear of Facebook because the company plays too many games with its news feed but that is another post.

Of course it is a very poorly kept secret that the easiest way to find a member of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is to attend a meeting of the Bay St Louis or Waveland City Councils, the County Board of Supervisors and the School Districts. Sadly you seldom see the Facebook warriors at any of these thus the need for news organizations like Slabbed, The Sea Coast Echo, WLOX, The Sun Herald, etc. Slabbed was at last night’s special meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council and sure enough I found three members of the Alliance, Co Chairmen Lana Noonan and Ron Thorpe along with Libby Garcia (Miss. Libby), who was giving an interview to Make Lacy of WLOX when I arrived to cover the meeting for Slabbed:

Here is a short version of yesterday’s story and WLOX interviews with Lana and Miss Libby: Continue reading “A couple of nuggets from a very somber Bay St Louis Council meeting”

The 1st Amendment under attack by the City of Bay St Louis, A Place Apart | Updated

First up with the debut of the LesLie Mobile, an act of political expression by local resident Jeff Harding aka the Poolman. Slabbed was there to cover it in Old Town Bay St Louis last Saturday:

The people I saw looking at the vehicle thought it was pretty funny, after all it is far better to laugh than cry at the current state of affairs in the Bay:

Let’s circle the LesLie Mobile for now and fast forward to last night’s Bay St Louis Council Budget Workshop: Continue reading “The 1st Amendment under attack by the City of Bay St Louis, A Place Apart | Updated”

Tonight’s Bay Council meeting should be a marathon session

And that was before Councilwoman Wendy McDonald was critically injured after being hit by a car. Eyewitness accounts indicated Ms. McDonald was bleeding from her ear after impact which is not a good sign. She is fighting for her life over at Ochsners. A couple of links:

UPDATE: Bay Councilwoman Wendy McDonald reportedly undergoing emergency surgery after being struck by car

Bay councilwoman hit by vehicle transported to New Orleans hospital

Tonight’s meeting agenda indicates HB1523 is again going to surface as a topic of conversation. Best I can tell the Council is divided about three ways on this one and without Councilwoman McDonald I seriously doubt we see any official action on it.

And then there is the Hizzoner factor. Stay tuned.

A few thoughts on last Tuesday night’s Bay City Council meeting

And since I’m well occupied with various and sundry multiple irons on the fire I’ll be as brief as possible:

  1. Ms. Hammond with the Metairie based accounting firm Carr Riggs and Ingram opened her remarks by disclosing the kind of service the firm was hired to perform and that service was an “agreed-upon procedures engagement“. If you follow the link you’ll find the service is pretty reflective of its name; the client provides the assertions that need to be tested and the CPA firm tests those assertions.  Even better is what it isn’t: An audit including, except for very limited circumstances, a “compliance audit”.So what were the agreed upon procedures that Carr Riggs and Ingram was hired to perform?  Easy folks, the US Department of Justice compliance review of the City’s Equitable Sharing Fund spells it out:

    The proceeds received and spent should be included in the City’s annual financial audit as part of the Single Audit. However, certain requirements were inadequately reviewed during prior years’ audits, and the City, as directed by the DOJ, will engage a third-party to independently review and reconcile the DOJ funds equitable sharing account.

    That verbiage is likely why the City Council voted to put the previous auditors professional liability carrier on notice of a claim.

  2. Considering no money had been expended from the Equitable sharing account reviewing and reconciling it was an easy job in taking the year end affidavits and tracing the revenues into the program. The math involves addition along with some rudimentary multiplication and division to calculate interest that should have been but was not credited to the DOJ fund.  So you spend a day on site to make the calculation while Hizzoner blows copious amounts of smoke up the ol’ derriere. The resulting presentation, which was complete with smoke still emanating from Ms. Hammond’s hiney, appeared to be more an exercise in auditioning for the 2016 audit because her remarks went far beyond the scope of her work.  As for the smoke believe you me I know first hand about it because I was literally next to her broadcasting the agreed upon procedures engagement report presentation on Periscope. Proof:
    Continue reading “A few thoughts on last Tuesday night’s Bay City Council meeting”

Bay City Council meeting agenda released

And it is headlined by Becky Hammond, CPA. Ms. Hammond will be presenting the DoJ report to the Council.

And I have this from Facebook:

Tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm the Bay St. Louis City Council will hold their regular meeting at the Council Chambers behind the Shell Station on Main St.

The most important item on the Agenda is the report from the Department of Justice regarding the some $300,000 in Drug Forefieture Funds that the DOJ has deemed misappropriated and have issued to the city an immediate demand for repayment.

The Mayor made an attempt 2 weeks ago to transfer funds from the General Fund to the DOJ account without authorization from the Council. The Council overrode that action and made him replace the money to the General Fund.

Tomorrow the Council must rule on how this repayment will be handled. Continue reading “Bay City Council meeting agenda released”

Tuesday evening promises a full house…..

And with Sam Atkinson of the Office of the State Auditor Performance Audit Division rumored to be in attendance, Tuesday’s Bay St Louis City council meeting promises to be quite the spectacle. I’m certain everyone attending will be on their best behavior (or not).

Reading the tea leaves locally there is an incredible amount of heat being applied to the City’s elected officials by concerned citizens regarding the DoJ report. Everyone on the City’s email list should get a sneak peek at the meeting when the preliminary agenda is released sometime this afternoon.

Stay tuned.

Other Voices | Libby Garcia: OSA Performance Audit Division educating Bay St Louis City Officials – A grim reality

January 22, 2016

On Thursday night January 21, 2016, Mrs. Sam Atkinson held a 2 hour training session with the Bay St. Louis Administration (Mayor), City Council and a handful of Bay St. Louis city employees. It was so artfully done, that there were very few questions that had to be asked of Mrs. Atkinson by the officials. The public was allowed to attend the meeting as observers only, and no comments were allowed from the observers, in an effort to maintain the training atmosphere rather than distractive rhetoric which was a good idea. You could tell that Mrs Atkinson was well versed in her field and that we all; employees, elected officials and citizens alike, could learn a lot from her expertise. I later reviewed my own notes and then listened to the tape of the session again. There were three things that seemed to primarily target the City Council:

1. The proper development of the council meeting agendas,
2. The documentation of council actions through accurate minutes, and
3. The approval of the payment of the city’s bills (Docket of Claims) through an orderly procedural chain.

Mrs. Atkinson stated firmly that there was great liability facing the Council Members if their procedures in paying the bills did not follow clear policies and procedures of verification. Verification that the bills were paid in the order they were received, that the bills were separated by docket numbers, properly dated, and subsequently logged into a docket book. She also stated that it was illegal for the Administration to hinder the Council from receiving requested information or the originals of those invoices, because it could make them vulnerable to liability. Then she said something astounding: Misspending of the public’s funds could require replacement of those funds to the public by use of the bonds of the officials that did not do their part to protect those public trust funds…. and (here is the key):

LOSS OF BOND EQUALS LOSS OF OFFICE.

Mrs Atkinson also stated several things that were actually against the law, or you could say “illegal”:

1. The Administration not presenting documentation to the Council when requested.
2. Transfer of funds without the approval of the Council.
3. Spending funds outside the budget
4. Co-mingling of designated funds and several others things that space does not allow me expand upon in this post.

I have attended the Council meetings consistently for at least six years, and have heard the Council repeatedly ask, demand, beg, and downright grovel (in my opinion) before this administration for dated original invoices in time before the meetings so that they could be sure what they were actually paying on the docket, only to be put off meeting after meeting. It has been an embarrassing display of disrespect to the Council by the Administration. All of these problems could have been avoided, had the Administration simply complied with the law. Continue reading “Other Voices | Libby Garcia: OSA Performance Audit Division educating Bay St Louis City Officials – A grim reality”

BREAKING: Word filtering out the Department of Justice report on the City of Bay St Louis has been released (Updated)

In fact, based on what I am being told, it appears the final report on the Equitable Sharing Grant has been released for several days but this situation is fluid as I write this. According to unofficial sources:

1. The DoJ Report has been released.
2. It mandates the City repay all misspent money to the grant program or be debarred from participating in the Equitable Sharing Program.
3. The tab for this is being stuck on the taxpayers of Bay St Louis instead of the perpetrators.

There is more that I will not go into here folks.  If number 3 above is accurate, there is going to be hell to pay because there are some very fired up members of the community already speaking about hiring counsel to sue to the City.

Stay tuned.

Update:
Since this post was published it has come to my attention official denials have been made regarding the release of the DOJ report and the repayment demand. We are working to clarify this situation.

Update:

Slabbed New Media stands behind its initial reporting.