Ethics Commission Dismisses Open Meeting Complaint Against Bay Mayor and Council

They sure did folks involving two separate incidents, the first involving the Delta water contract and the other involving lunch with developer Jim Macphaille at his restaurant 200 North Beach. This document is not yet online at Mississippi Ethics so Slabbed’s readers get the sneak peek.

Click to Obtain 6 page pdf
Click to Obtain 6 page pdf

I am aware of several other ethics complaints that have been made against the City, I suspect each is very close to a resolution. Stay tuned.

“It’s deja vu all over again”

Photo Courtesy of David Wells
Photo Courtesy of David Wells

A quick PACER sweep indicates there are two active civil suits against the City (Marquar and Issman) with three suits resolved within the past year or so. The docket at the local Circuit Clerk’s office would have the rest of the active cases involving the City.

Just a thought, but it seems like just yesterday the Bay City Council took some very bad legal advice and got in trouble with Ethics. When the opinion came out the lawyer that gave the bad advice got none of the blame as 100% of that went to the elected officials. Deservedly so I might add.

As the coming weeks unfold I’m probably going to be bringing that concept back up.

“The Optics are Terrible”

And worse, Bay St Louis City Councilmen conducting the public’s business in secret being defensive upon hearing (well deserved) criticism for holding closed door meetings with no public notice with vendors discussing a large contract (or a quorum of the Council being wined and dined by developer Jim MacPhaille at a meeting discussing one of his proposed real estate developments).

Bay Council bickers over utility audit contract ~ Stacey Cato

When Knoblock questioned DeSalvo on who initiated the meeting with Delta Water, things got a bit heated.

“I’m not going to get into this political argument with you Mr. Knoblock,” DeSalvo said. “They met at my office.”

“Who was there?” Knoblock asked.

“Myself and them,” DeSalvo said.

“Was the council president notified?” Knoblock asked.

“I notified everybody that they were coming at the (previous) meeting,” DeSalvo said.

“I’m just saying that if you’re going to negotiate contracts, that’s a council procedure,” Knoblock said.

Worse is the City Attorney that would advise a City Council to not bid large contracts just because the law says you don’t have to bid them. It would be nice if public officials would treat the public’s money with the same respect they treat their own. Continue reading ““The Optics are Terrible””

Bay Council again becoming interesting to watch

What I am getting right now are accounts of last night’s meeting but I feel safe in saying the taxpayers of the great state of Mississippi could well save money if the Ethics Commission would open a branch office at Highway 90 and Main Street in Bay St Louis.

I want to see the show for myself before I comment further but it appears these gatherings of City Council members that have respectively included developer Jim MacPhaille, former Mayor Les Fillinagme, former City Attorney Don Rafferty and current Mayor Mike Favre have gotten out of hand. It seems like yesterday…..

Unanimous Mississippi Supreme Court Decides Columbus Mayor and Council Violated Open Meetings Act ~ Mississippi Justice Institute

Today [9/7/2017], the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the Mayor and City Council of Columbus violated the Open Meetings Act when they previously met in prearranged, non-quorum size gatherings to discuss public business, intending to circumvent the Act. This is the first time the Supreme Court has ever addressed the issue of whether meetings of public officials in less than quorum numbers violate the Open Meetings Act. The Mississippi Justice Institute represented The Commercial Dispatch in the appeal.

“This is a huge win for the citizens of Mississippi and for open and accountable government,” said Mike Hurst, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “People are tired of backroom deals and secret agreements by government officials that affect their lives. The Supreme Court’s opinion puts public officials and bureaucrats on notice – you cannot circumvent the law and do the people’s business behind closed doors anymore. Today’s decision is a monumental victory for transparency in government.”

[Link] to actual decision Continue reading “Bay Council again becoming interesting to watch”

Cancer in the Locker Room Part Two: Ellis Anderson out at Bay Historical Preservation….

Ms. Anderson broke the news she was discharged yesterday morning via Facebook:

It was getting on to 11pm when the council came out of an executive session. No video was running and only myself and three other people were present when they reconvened. They approved the minutes and then Larry Smith said he wanted to make a motion.

I’m paraphrasing, but it was something to the effect of “I make a motion that we discharge Ellis Anderson from the Historic Preservation Commission.” There was no discussion or reason given. I wasn’t asked to speak.

Gary Knoblock was out of the room, but Smith, Gene Hoffman, Buddy Zimmerman and Josh Desalvo voted yes. Doug Seal and Jeff Reed voted no.

After the meeting adjourned, I asked for some explanation. The mayor and Josh DeSalvo mentioned a possible lawsuit brought on by something I’d done on behalf of HPC. I pointed out that I’d only been carrying out an action discussed and voted on unanimously by the HPC at our last meeting. I wasn’t even chairing that meeting. I’d heard no complaints, nor had anyone contacted me to let me know there was an issue.

Sources in Bay City Government not authorized to speak with the media indicated to Slabbed weeks ago that Ms. Anderson became time limited after Mississippi Archives and History issued the stop work order on the P. J. Coffee Shop, which Slabbed covered back in March. The issue boiled down as follows: Continue reading “Cancer in the Locker Room Part Two: Ellis Anderson out at Bay Historical Preservation….”

Cancer in the locker room……

I’ve had this post title conceived for several weeks now, ever since MDAH shut down the new PJ’s Coffee House project, a story which was well reported in the local media but which Slabbed actually broke on Twitter. Given those events as well as more recent ones it seems appropriate for the post title to cover multiple topics there in the Bay. First up was Monday’s special called school board meeting. Lana Noonan attended and she sent in a short report:

After a 33 minute Executive Session, the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School Board took action to go forward with advertising the position of Superintendent of Education.

In addition to advertising on their website and several educational entities in the state, the board voted to notify all 33 applicants who had applied in the previous search that the position is open again.

Two more Special Meetings were scheduled for April 2, and April 4, to begin interviewing those applicants who respond to the District’s ad. Those interviews will be conducted in Executive Session after the meeting opens in open session as required by the Miss. Open Meetings Act.

The Board also accepted the resignation of the Athletic Director, Vernon Powell, effective March 16.

A way to the inside observation but I do not think Bay Waveland is ready for a swinging Superintendent so lets make that 32 instead of 33.

Moving back a few weeks in time does everyone remember MDAH shutting down the construction of PJ’s Coffee House? Here is the 4 paragraph refresher from Casandra Favre: Continue reading “Cancer in the locker room……”

Good Reason or Racism? Public Service or Public Display?

Knowing the difference is the entirety of the context behind the last night’s Bay Waveland School District Trustee discussion and vote at the Bay City Council meeting. First we have this:

Black official called N-word in letter read aloud at controversial Bay City Council meeting ~ Paul Hampton

Paul’s rendition of the events involving last night’s City Council meeting is spot on. Councilman Reed did read such a letter. My thought on that subject comport to those of Alice and Michelle. I had another councilman bring up receiving a nasty gram or two on this subject just like when Mrs. Arnold was appointed last July with Councilman Seal bringing up such an instance. Nasty grams and school board appointments have that time honored pattern in the Bay. So much effort for so little per diem indeed.

Folks, Hancock County got to watch the Courtney Thomas library drama unfold last year, so predicting a bad spinoff show for this year’s spring season for the school board seat involving Momma was a no brainer as was predicting it’s cancellation. That said it takes both talent and dedication to alienate both the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and the Mayor of the County’s largest City.

In any event, for all the posturing we saw at last night’s meeting, the City Council members that were very critical of the Mayor’s choice of Ms. Lathrop didn’t seem to want to discuss any of the Mayor’s reasons for letting Ms. Thomas go after two years of service and replacing her with Ms. Lathrop. I reckon it was easier to play the race card than to discuss actual issues. Voting against Ms. Lathrop’s appointment were Councilmen Reed and Zimmerman with Councilman Seal attempting to have it both ways.

Finally, I’ll tackle the reason why the Bay Waveland School Board maintained diversity with Ms. Lathrop’s appointment despite the fact she replaces an African American since it is a hot potato. Continue reading “Good Reason or Racism? Public Service or Public Display?”

Bay St Louis Civil Alert: Break out the Hip Waders, It’s getting deep

We have this from the last Bay St Louis Council meeting:

Bay residents urge city to keep Joan Thomas on school board ~ Stacey Cato

I watched the last Council meeting live stream and Stacey’s story was short a couple of paragraphs because not everyone that spoke was highlighted in her coverage. For example one of Ms. Thomas’ former students speak on her behalf which is a testimony to how well respected she is by her former students and that speaks well to her time as a teacher in the Bay Waveland Schools.

Another of the public speakers on the topic of the school board appointment was David Wells, who I thought did exceptionally well making his points in a way that most respectful of Ms. Thomas. For those that are uninitiated in the ways of a Facebook live stream is the audience gets throw cyber-rotten tomatoes in the form of emojis such as angry emoji, the ‘rolling on the floor laughing my ass off’ (ROTFLMAO) emoji etc and sure enough when Mr. Wells started his remarks so did the rotten tomatoes. Then something happened about half way into his time when the assembled audience in the Council chambers were told of the declining, abysmal accreditation scores at the elementary schools and let out an audible gasp. Mr. Wells spoke to nut and bolt issues and never in fact mentioned Ms. Thomas once by name in his remarks. It was very well done.

The point I want to make is a bit over a week ago I predicted there would be a change on the school board and I stand by that prediction. Here Slabbed has no inside intel, no leaks as to who Mayor Favre is appointing other than knowing it will not be Ms. Thomas. Somehow though, things have gotten nasty. As we have this public service alert from Facebook:

Chenaey Beaugez Cody, please change your settings so that we have the ability to share the post. Better yet, make it public.

Enter Ms. Courtney “Cody” Thomas, Trustee Thomas’ daughter with new information that Ms. Beaugez thought needed to be seen widely:

So, apparently, someone paid to spam the residents of the Bay-Waveland area with a text in attempt to disparage my mother, Joan Thomas. I will say three things:
1. It is disgusting that these people are using the school board to push their own political agendas.
2. Every vote that my mother cast was done with the best interest of the children of the BWSD in mind.
3. I challenge them to put the resume of ANY applicant next to Joan’s resume. Not lies, nor innuendo, but a side-by-side comparison of qualifications.

Councilman Smith offered his sympathies:

Larry Smith oh I am so sorry this has happened..i know it happened to you too! My heart goes out to you and your mom.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage…

Sorry folks that was last post. What I mean is the Ca Ca is getting very deep. Continue reading “Bay St Louis Civil Alert: Break out the Hip Waders, It’s getting deep”

There was indeed wailing and gnashing of teeth…

Sure was folks, exactly one week ago there was drama aplenty at the last Bay St Louis City Council meeting. Let’s start with a drive through:

‘No drive-thrus in downtown’ — BSL citizens show up in droves to protest zoning changes ~ Stacey Cato

This location must be cursed, rumor holds by an undiscovered poltergeist type of Native American burial ground for all the controversy it has caused. For instance it seems like just yesterday…..

Ward 4 Councilman’s Interference in Ward 2 dispute between shop owners the talk of the town ~ Doug Handshoe

The irony inherent to this whole drive through dust up was not lost on Miss Kathleen Johnson:

“They” did not want canopies and artists down town. The replacement a corporate drive thru they find totally unpalatable. KARMA

Social media has been buzzing and there is talk of an organized boycott of 200 North Beach Restaurant, one of developer Jim MacPhaille’s portfolio of old town properties. The ‘busy-body’ aspect to this latest dust up amuses. See folks, by my reckoning the MacPhaille train left the station several years ago. They’re to the executing phase of things and a PJ’s on those near corner properties will enhance the entire area. Old Town Bay St Louis is changing and the pace of change is quickening. The worse news is the real estate shakeout is not nearly done. The people I speak with whose opinions I value told me years ago the number one issue coming to Old Town was parking. Population density trends there are no where near the peak given the development that is currently on the books not counting what Mr. MacPhaille plans for the old middle school on Second Street. Parking in Old Town Bay St Louis will only get worse. Continue reading “There was indeed wailing and gnashing of teeth…”

Guest Post: Politics Trumps Public Safety and Being a Good Neighbor

Is it too high of an expectation these days for the concern for public safety and being a good neighbor to trump politics and personal agendas for just one day out of the 365 that the Good Lord blesses us with this year?

WLOX reported Friday that Bay St. Louis Mayor, Mike Favre, has decided not to assist the City of Pass Christian with 4 off duty Bay Police Officers for crowd control at the St. Paul’s Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade.

Mayor Favre contends he needs all of his force in the Bay to protect their citizens. Mayor Favre may want to consider the fact that a very large number of his citizens will be in Pass Christian tomorrow for the infamous “Pass Parade” which draws the largest crowd of any parade on the Coast, and is historically the most volatile.

Year before last two people were shot and killed at the parade, and this was not the first time violence was an issue for this event.

Former Bay St. Louis Police Chief, Matt Issman, told WLOX that he has access to two text messages from Bay Officers saying Issman’s suit against the Bay and Mayor Favre was the reason given to the officers as to why they are not allowed to assist the Pass, coupled with Issman’s position as a Reserve Officer with the Pass PD. Continue reading “Guest Post: Politics Trumps Public Safety and Being a Good Neighbor”