I feel compelled to comment on Mayor Fillingame’s latest “political theme” ad recently published in the Seacoast Echo: “PROVEN LEADERSHIP!”
Actually, Mr. Fillingame has certainly proven his “ability to lead”. The results are in……….
It has been “proven” that with no notice to city employees, he failed to pay their insurance premiums, leaving them in the lurch regarding medical expenses.
It has been “proven” that he misappropriated the citizens’ utility payments (Seacoast Echo, Oct. 12, 2013) and then stuck those same citizens with an illegal loan to cover up his actions. (Nov. 25, 2013, Council minutes and 2014 Audit)
It has been “proven” that in 2011, he illegally “unrestricted” the Department of Justice Police Fund, forcing the DOJ to demand that these funds must be repaid. This forced the DOJ to make the determination that in the future, those funds are to be spent exclusively by the Police Chief, after the approval of the DOJ and the City Council only. (2014 Audit and Department of Justice Report)
It has been “proven” that he continues to insist on a Building Department with uncertified management, who apply the building code selectively to citizens. (City Council minutes, chock full of citizen complaints)
In the very near future you are going to have to decide which direction you want your city to go in. You have the choice of continuing with the policies and errors of the “proven leadership” of Mayor Fillingame or choosing new leadership that will hopefully lead your city back into prosperity with lower taxes, better services and prompt attention when you have need of those services.
Mayor Fillingame insists his administration has been one of leadership and responsibility, but that bears closer inspection. In the past five years he’s “lost” tremendous amounts of money the city is now responsible for replacing, been involved in numerous law suits that you, the tax payer are responsible for through your taxes, failed to pay the city’s debts on time and soiled the city’s reputation.
It was his choice to remove Chief Tom Burleson from his position as the city’s police chief and replace him with Michael De Nardo, a person who was known to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana to be someone not of good character and failed to have an in depth background investigation conducted before elevating him to that position. In fact De Nardo was fired from that agency for numerous and repeated violations of the Sheriff’s policies and other misconduct. So here we are in 2017 after the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has conducted an investigation into the financial business of the city which again does not speak well of Mr. Fillingame or Mr. De Nardo.
That investigation revealed that De Nardo had been involved in the theft of several thousands of dollars through payroll fraud by submitting false payroll records on behalf of Patricia De Nardo, his wife, knowing she had not worked the number of hours claimed nor, in fact, had she even been in the State of Mississippi during many of those times. Further investigation revealed that De Nardo was also involved in the theft of police equipment and guns that had been confiscated and secured in the city’s evidence vault.
Mr. Fillingame is responsible in that he either condoned or failed to stop it and simply signed off on those financial records and that no accurate inventory was being kept of either city equipment or evidence maintained by the police department. Now he may say he didn’t know or realize what was being done, but he should have since he’s required to approve every expenditure including the payroll. It is his responsibility to double check anything he’s signing off on. Continue reading “Guest Post | Why Les Fillingame has got to go: The Ballad of Detective Sergeant Joe Kepfer”
And sometimes the stars align just right to help create some of that sweet serendipity.
Whatever the case, when I look back over the last 9 years plus doing Slabbed, some of our biggest topics came to us exactly that way. Now the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority, a governmental entity unique in Mississippi local governance, has presented itself for us. Last week Slabbed wrote about how the Les Fillingame Administration manipulated elections horse trading City jobs in exchange for a candidate leaving the Ward 6 Council race. The virulent reaction it caused among what I would term the supporting cast to the larger story was an important clue that a sore spot had been hit. What we quickly found out was the time documentation submitted by the contracted Solid Waste Enforcement Officer Tommy Kidd has been a continuing source of controversy within the Solid Waste Authority for the past 18 months. Far from being some sort of ghoul that rises from the dead every election cycle to serve as click bait as was suggested this is a prime example of a story that has been under reported.
Every instinct tells me the Hancock Solid Waste Authority is fertile ground for examination, especially after last night’s Solid Waste Authority Board meeting. Tomorrow we examine the reactions to Slabbed’s initial post, give some additional details that I purposely omitted from the first post, post Mr. Tommy’s contract for everyone to see and plus make a connection to an old story Slabbed covered several years ago.
All you gotta do is look at the numbers to see that those who voted for Rachael Ramsey have the power to make the biggest difference in the coming Mayoral runoff election.
Conventional wisdom would hold that Hizzoner, being an incumbent and a known quantity, reached his maximum potential vote share last Tuesday night. The key in a runoff is continued turnout for those that voted the first time around plus maybe expanding the electorate with those that didn’t bother going to the polls in the primary.
Ms. Ramsey’s endorsement could well be the difference in two weeks thus all eyes are on the former Candidate.
This morning, Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government nabbed the following work notes from County Enforcement Officer Tommy Kidd, which are attached to the minutes of Hancock County Solid Waste Authority. The promise of a job was evidently enough to get former Ward 6 GOP candidate Hunter Adam to drop out of the Ward 6 GOP race, clearing the field for Josh Desalvo in his challenge against Ward 6 incumbent Councilman Lonnie Falgout:
File this one under your county tax dollars at work for Hizzoner.
Update: Since this post was first published Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government made another trip to the solid waste authority to examine the County Enforcement Officer’s work logs. You wonder what was going through the minds of those that sit on the authority’s Board approving payment for attending Christmas parties and a Bay City Council meeting on the future of the Bay PD. Is Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke an active member of the solid waste authority’s board or just a waste taking up space there? Same goes for Waveland Mayor Mike Smith. You gotta wonder exactly what those guys were thinking. Continue reading “How the Fillingame Machine Manipulates Elections…. (Updated 2X)”
You betcha they did as this also implicates a couple of former City Clerks. As Wes points out in the story none of this is exactly new information having been pointed out in the 2014 Fiscal year audit and the State Auditor’s Office Performance Review of same. Hizzoner of course is having none of it and pretty much says the seasoned professionals at both Wright Ward Hatten & Guel and the performance audit division of the State Auditor’s Office are full of it.
Nevertheless, the mayor said the fact the auditor’s office disputed itself on one issue puts everything else into question.
When asked why the investigation is expanding if he has proof no checks were improperly issued, the mayor said it’s possible the sheriff and his investigators favor his opponent.
The State Auditor changing the draft of their Performance review is hardly contradictory and such is why a draft is a called draft. Getting it right before a final report is issued is usually known as professionalism in locales other than A Place Apart, a concept that has been missing from the financial side of City Hall for many years. In any event this is what the State Auditor had to say about problems in the claims payable process since Hizzoner brought it up: Continue reading “Hizzoner under Investigation: The Misdemeanors that simply won’t go away”
In another matter, last year, the Bay St. Louis City Council questioned the validity of the city’s building official, Charles Oliver’s employment. Although Oliver has been employed by the city for years, since he was never actually certified by the state, council members consider him the city’s “interim” building official.The council referenced Senate Bill 2587.
Councilman Lonnie Falgout said at a July 2016 council meeting that any compensation paid to Oliver after July 1, 2016 was a “direct violation of the law.”
At a July 2016 council meeting, Fillingame said an AG opinion said that the new law did not relate to municipal employees.
Fillingame said Friday that Oliver is the “building official, not an interim and not in an appointed position. He is a city employee.”
And like I said at the beginning of the post, the problem with making it up as you go along is the budgets submitted by the Mayor which have been adopted clearly shows the real story with respect to Oliver:
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. ~ Mark Twain
For former Bay St Louis School Board member Maurice Singleton the news is just as bad. For the incestuous School District, some fresh blood on the Board of Trustees would be a good thing in any event.
And why are we calling HB 51 Leslie’s law? Mainly because it cleaned up a questionable AG’s opinion that involved the City of Bay St Louis and its unqualified perpetually interim crony Chief Building Inspector Charles Oliver. Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya has been all over this issue for two years now and his post yesterday on the topic is a must read for everyone in the Bay. The citizens in “Strong Mayor” Chartered towns throughout Mississippi owe Senator Harkins an Atta Boy for seeing this good government measure through the legislature to the Governor’s desk. Here is a snippet from Kingfish’s post:
The first challenge to this law took place in Bay St. Louis, where good ole boy politics reigns supreme. The Mayor fired the building inspector seven years ago and appointed a close friend who was not qualified to the job on an interim basis. He has never been confirmed by the city council and is not a certified building inspector. Such things mean nothing to Mayor Fillingame. Interim means eternal as far as he is concerned. The city council challenged his employment after the law became effective on July 1, 2016. However, Mayor Fillingame and city attorney Donald Rafferty went running to Jim Hood for some cover and he gave it to them. Earlier post with copy of opinion.
I’d posit this is also very bad news for Mayor Fillingame’s latest scheme involving the Bay Waveland School Board as he has failed to make an appointment to fill Maurice Singleton’s seat on the Board of Trustees. Singleton’s term expired in February and Fillingame has steadfastly refused to make a school board appointment to fill the seat, instead arguing that Singleton, who appears to be cooperative in the Mayor’s scheme, is now a 180 day interim appointment. With the State Auditor’s office now empowered to enforce financial penalties associated with this kind of abuse, it will be interesting to see if Singleton continues his role as the Mayor’s lap dog. Stay tuned.
Bay St. Louis attorney Stephen Benvenutti told the council the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance was never published, as required by law, when it was adopted by the previous City Council in 2010.
Municipalities are legally required to publish zoning change proposals and other significant measures in the municipality’s local newspaper within 30 days of a council’s vote. The newspaper of record for municipalities in Hancock County is the Sea Coast Echo.
The display of ineptitude inherent to not following simple, statutorily mandated tasks such as keeping a codified book of municipal ordinances and publishing them after Council adoption by Mayor Fillingame and his appointees is stunning, though not surprising. The fact is this problem was identified in 2015 by the FY 2014 auditors at Wright Ward Hatten and Guel. Here is what the state auditor wrote in their Performance Review of that audit:
“You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday.
Ooops sorry folks wrong auditor. Here is what the State Auditor Performance Review said about Fillingame Administration problems handling ordinances: