Councilman Lonnie Falgout has released a statement regarding the incident with local businessman

As most of you are aware I have been and will continue to be a critic of the lack of code enforcement, ADA Compliance Laws, architectural protocol and controls by The City of Bay St. Louis’ Code Enforcement within our Bay St. Louis Building Department.

Since 2005 many governments, organizations and especially our citizens have been “bilked” out of hundreds of millions of dollars by unscrupulous “contractors and individuals” that promised “we’ll help your recovery” giving “trust me” assurances. We should have learned a valuable lesson! But unfortunately folks, the problem is still thriving and hurting our constituents. We as legislators from Jackson to local Council and Alderman board rooms must put in, enact and pass laws to protect our citizens. From simple jobs to building homes, our expectations must be of the highest standard of accountability for all. Constractors should be licensed, bonded, insured and in good standing or we will force them and prosecute according with our laws. We should not accept anything but quality work.

This “confrontation” with Keith Marquar of L&L (Marine) Construction is a “direct” result of many constituents and vendors complaints to me regarding L&L.

As for the aggression incident on January 24, 2017, I as a Councilman and/or as a private citizen, did not knowingly or willfully place my hands on Mr. Marquar as alleged. I have and will continue to consult with our City Attorney, Police Chief, City Prosecutor and my personal attorney on the options available to me as a Councilman and as a individual to resolve this matter within the justice system.

Bay City Councilmen Favre and Falgout have issued statements regarding the future of the Bay PD

And folks in these statements is some new information regarding the criminal investigations into the operations of the Bay St Louis PD. First up from Outgoing Council President Falgout:

Recently your City Council has been researching and evaluating operations of City Departments for cost cutting measures and better services.

Please allow me to enter my thoughts, opinion plus some information as your Councilman. PLEASE NOTE that as Council President there is INFORMATION I CANNOT share. So please give me a little leeway.

1. Who, When, Why, Where, and How did this $320,000 DOJ money go missing? This deficit dates back to 2011. It is not the City’s money. It belongs to the men and women of Bay St Louis PD who put their life on the line EVERYDAY! It was NOT disclosed to ANY Council memmber until Mike Farve, Joey Boudin. and myself was called to a private meeting by Chief Mike Denardo after hours to disclose his notes and findings. We then called for a review and investigation.
2. Since Mike Denardo’s suicide, there has been continuing investigations by NUMEROUS Federal, State and Local enforcement agencies. They are all still active as of this email.
a. BSL expended approx. $4,000 immediately to “secure evidence” by building a secure “evidence room” under the guidance of Sheriff’s Office and the MBI because of “lack of controls” over evidence.
b. City Attorney, Mike Favre, Mayor and myself, with Detectives, were made aware with evidence the day BEFORE Mike Denardo’s death of criminal allegations. Detectives requested evidence and a complete Police Department inventory of weapons directly of Mayor Fillingame. IT was not then available. We had to wait about one hour until one was brought to us to cross reference evidence. Very concerning to the Detectives and us since State law plus Police protocol requires it to be update to date and immediately available.
3. Info presented at that meeting of “gun pawning.”
4. Info also given regarding “payroll time sheets” from the police department that were delivered to the Administration to pay payroll.
5. Notes and other information was intentionally “left behind” by Mike Denardo for the detectives conducting the investigation.
6. I have personally met with face to face and by other means with some BSL officers, at their request, about numerous concerns they have now and still have.
7. There are current Police brutality cases.
8. Officer accused in one of the above cases has an attorney and is contemplating legal action against BSL.

Other info being “looked at” and or being investigated that I’m not allowed to state.

The above is information of facts, not assumptions, scare tactics or political rhetoric but based on info from meetings that I attended as Council President and or Vice-President over the last approximately 14 months.

Clearing up of misinformation that’s being talked about or being “spread” erronously:
1. BSL PD is not being abolished, eliminated or “taken over” and being brought “down to Sheriff’s Office.”
a. You will not notice any changes in uniforms, cars, building, where you call for a car (228-255-9191), 911 and or picking up copies.
b. Court will still be held at Council Chambers. Fines will still be collected and kept by BSL.
c. BSL Police Cars will always be in BSL patroling unless a tragedy must bring us all together.
d. The lower pay adjustment from BSL to Hancock County will be supplemented by a stipend to each officer presently employed by BSL and retained by Sheriff’s Office. Health insurance, pension, etc. will not be lost but absorbed thru Hancock County’s payroll system.
e. BSL Police Officers, Detectives and HIDTA Drug agents will have more cooperation, guidance, training and technology presently used by Sheriff’s Office and City of Diamondhead which is under Contract presently with Sheriff’s Office.
d. We have in the past experienced “patrol shortages” in Ward 6 as some of you have notated to me and was verified by me. This proposed contract will allow Sheriff’s Office to move cars in to assist BSL cars that may be tied up in other matters. This includes their Detective Division assisting us.
2. The reductions you’re hearing about will come from streamlining administrative staff with Sheriff’s Office administrative staff, staffing patrols as needed per areas and cutting overhead.
3. I assure each and everyone of you that I and this Council will never reduce “boots on the ground” or sacrifice public safety to save a nickel! We will and can add to staff as warranted by needs. The Council, Mayor and public will be briefed by Sheriff major on concerns that he may have go forward and he will listen and take our input on public safety matters in Bay St Louis.
4. Officers will still be able to receive and be compensation for off-duty activities.
5. BSL will have a Sheriff appointed Captain that will serve as required as BSL Police Chief.
6. BSL will be under the direction of our elected Sheriff Ricky Adam, Under Sheriff Don Bass and with cooperation of his entire staff as we may require.
7. We WILL NOT be billed any more than our monthly Contract when Sheriff’s Office “assist’s us” with “additional enforcement help” per our current interlocal mutual assistance agreements.

Finally I’d like to thank Sheriff Adam for being there for us in a very tragic time when we needed him.

Councilman Favre: Continue reading “Bay City Councilmen Favre and Falgout have issued statements regarding the future of the Bay PD”

Time to Call It: The Dysfunctional City of Bay St Louis, a Municipality Apart….

I could write a treatise in real life failed local government from closely observing the workings of the Bay St Louis City government over the past three years but I’m not. I am ready to call it like I see it and can do so in a fairly short post. The overarching principle here is municipal government is dysfunctional because that is exactly the way the Mayor and City Council want it. And yes last night again saw a City Council divided on what I see as a fundamental issue: Council access to the legal services the cost of which is born by the City’s taxpayers. The vote was for more of the status quo.

To blame the financial catastrophe that has befallen the City solely on Mayor Fillingame would be misplaced. Over the past three years I’ve attended meetings where the assembled crowd knew more about operating within the four corners of the state statutes than those charged with governing. A cynical man would automatically think such public displays of ignorance from elected officials could only mean a hidden, self interest based agenda had to be present. The bottom line is don’t hold your breath waiting over the next year for things to improve as the administration is certain to ignore the directives of the City Council that it doesn’t like and the Council lacks the collective political will to force the administration to play nice, for lack of a better term. Even worse, with its current Ad Valorem levy about 33% low compared to its sister Cities here on the coast the problems can only continue. On the other hand given the fiscal mismanagement that’s occurred over the past seven years there is no way I could ever justify recommending giving the current Mayor and this City Council any more tax money to squander. Its a classic catch 22.

By my rough count there are about 11 months before the City’s voters go to the polls and it will take more than a simple house cleaning to cure the structural problems with a municipal government that does not levy enough general fund taxes to fund the delivery of basic city services across the entirety of the City. Politically, the council districts have been pitted against each other competing for the delivery of basic city services. The divide between Ward 6 residents, who are now relying on the County’s good graces to maintain the public rights of way there and Ward 2 residents that sometimes exhibit the attitude the City limits do not extend past the intersection of Washington St and US 90 was on display as recently as this past Tuesday’s regular meeting. Continue reading “Time to Call It: The Dysfunctional City of Bay St Louis, a Municipality Apart….”

Lunch with the auditor a bad thing?

audit
1. A formal examination, correction, and official endorsing of financial accounts; especially, those of a business, undertaken annually by an accountant.
2. A systematic check or assessment; especially, of the efficiency or effectiveness of an organization or a process, typically carried out by an independent assessor.
3. In computer programming: a process used to detect accidental input or processing errors as well as fraud, often using test data and special-purpose software.
4. Another aspect of computer programming in which a set of procedures are established to ensure the quality and integrity of a data base and to carry out such a process or procedure.
5. Etymology: from Latin auditus, “a hearing”; past participle of audire, “to hear”.

It now stands for the official examination of business accounts, which were originally oral or spoken. The verb is from about 1557.

OK folks, now that I let y’all in on one of the secret questions you must successfully answer to learn the secret handshake of becoming an auditor, namely that to verb “audit” and the term “auditor” are derived from the Latin word for “listening” and “hearing” let’s examine an alternative world, where auditors must work in silence and are not allowed to ask questions:

Fillingame disagreed with Atkinson’s report in a telephone interview shortly after Thursday’s meeting.

“I read the report and was shocked at the amount of inaccuracies and the amount of very flawed details within the report,” Fillingame said. “It was obvious that a lot of the facts that were supposedly presented were taken from conversations and not drawn from the documents. Really, some of the more serious (accusations), and I’m very concerned about that.”
Fillingame said any information the council required has always been available at city hall, and any problems were due to a lack of manpower to duplicate and deliver the information.

I can understand Hizzoner’s confusion because he was not in attendance when Sam Atkinson, Director of the Office of the State Auditor’s Performance Audit Division, presented her office’s report on the causes of the many well documented problems contained in the FYE 9-30-2014 municipal audit report performed by the firm Wright, Ward, Hatten and Guel.  In its simplest terms the performance audit is a report on an audit report.

To the extent the Performance Audit Division owes its origins to what I’ll term an auditing fad dating from the 1990s it would follow it is not the same type of engagement as an audit in accordance with GAAS and GAGAS.  This explains why Ms. Atkinson is well qualified to run the Performance Audit Division because she is a Mississippi Governmental Finance expert rather than a CPA although her division has several on staff.  Hizzoner and the City’s finance department employees could certainly have benefited from training Atkinson gives at events like MML and that is really what the performance audit process is about, improving performance by pinpointing the root causes of the problems so corrective action can be taken. Continue reading “Lunch with the auditor a bad thing?”

Last night’s Bay City Council Heroes are Councilmen Reed and Falgout

By Lana Noonan, Special to Slabbed New Media

The big surprise party for Mayor Fillingame last night was courtesy of Ward 6 Councilman Lonnie Falgout. Falgout confronted City Attorney Rafferty and Mayor Fillingame with documents from the Hancock Bank pertaining to the Restructured Bond Agreement of last summer when the city could not come up with their payment of over 400,000 on Utility system bonded debt.

Falgout asked Rafferty if he was present when the documents were signed–Rafferty replied yes. Then Falgout told the Mayor that he had signed a document with the bank guaranteeing them that payments of not less than $30,000 a month would be DEPOSITED in the debt service holding account for the payment coming up on July 1, 2015.

Fillingame adamantly denied promising to DEPOSIT the money monthly to the debt service account until Falgout read the document aloud to the Mayor and all present. According to Falgout at the last meeting, no DEPOSITS were made from October, 2014 until the end of March, 2015, coincidentally when the Ad Valorem taxes were coming in from the County Tax office. So, what was happening to that “not less than $30,000 a month” promised to the bank under the Mayor and City Clerk’s signature? This is what caught the attention of Councilman-at-large Mike Favre when he didn’t see that account growing to the amount the council had appropriated in the 2014-2015 budget.

This is important because when the Mayor and City Clerk were taken to task several meetings ago about the funds not being deposited on a monthly basis or reported to the Council, the Mayor took the podium and chastised the Council saying–“you can only speak through your minutes, and you have never told us how you wanted it handled.” Mayor Fillingame then informed the council the transfer to the debt service fund would be made quarterly.

Well, get the Mayor some Aricept, because the Hancock Bank spoke through their document requiring the debt service account, the one that Mayor Fillingame and City Clerk David Kolf signed in the presence of the bank officials and the City attorney. Continue reading “Last night’s Bay City Council Heroes are Councilmen Reed and Falgout”