ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..

Nunn Yabidnez was kind enough to give us his take on the Pascagoula’s mayor’s race in comments. It also pairs up well with Tyler Carter’s article last week in the Mississippi Press:

Pascagoula mayoral candidate addresses speculation regarding his residency

A few more links:

Eighteen candidates qualify for municipal races in Ocean Springs ~ Warren Kulo

Who’s running for city offices? Several Coast mayors face challengers ~ Paul Hampton

Over on the West side what we have is the proverbial culture of corruption:

Bay officers fired amid federal probe of ‘secret’ account, officials say ~ Wes Muller

Off books secret bank accounts in Mississippi local government is more common than one would think. Once uncovered nothing good ever happens for those involved, even if the secret account was created with the best of intentions. This is what Hizzoner told Wes for the above article:

Mayor Les Fillingame would not comment on the investigation but confirmed the officers’ resignations and terminations.

He was a little chattier with the Sea Coast Echo’s Dwayne Bremer:

“None of these officers were targets into the investigation of former Police Chief Mike De Nardo, he said. “They all left for various reasons. I really cannot get into specifics because they are all personnel issues, but I can say that two of them left to take jobs at other departments.”

It is at this point that I will disclose a number in the number 6. Continue reading “ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..”

BREAKING: Mississippi Ethics Commission finds that Bay-Waveland School Board violated open meeting law

On July 10, 2015 the Mississippi Ethics Commission cited the Bay-Waveland School Board for improperly entering executive session to discuss the award of a professional service contract for architectural services on February 19, 2015. At that February meeting the School Board was advised it OK to discuss the contract award by Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues, who recently completed his 20th year providing legal services to the School District. The Ethics Commission found the discussion of a RFPs for a professional services contract did not meet any of the clear-cut criteria set forth in authority section 25-41-7(4) of the Mississippi Code.

Worth noting is the school district, in response to the ethics compliant filed by Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, did not actually claim to meet any of the exceptions set forth in the Mississippi Code, the compliance requirements of which Mississippi School Board members receive extensive training. Unfortunately the conduct of the public’s business in secret by the School Board also fits a troubling pattern of secrecy involving conduct of the taxpayer’s business with politically connected citizens dating back to the purchase of the Bay Tech Building by the school district for use as the Central Office.

One of the School Board members that voted to enter the improper executive session, Board President Sherry Ponder, is a long time member of the school board that also holds an education doctorate. She faces at least two declared opponents this fall in the upcoming school board election in the City of Waveland including former Waveland City Councilman Mark Kidd. Another school board member, Maurice Singleton, is running for County Supervisor in District Four. Both have employment connections to the local newspaper of record, the Seacoast Echo.

More recently, the School Board has voted to explore giving the cash strapped City of Bay St Louis fifty thousand dollars for use on a municipal sidewalk project off school property. According to Hancock County Alliance for Good Government President Lana Noonan, the request for the Attorney General’s opinion submitted by Board Attorney Artigues neglected to mention the district’s funding of the project would involve municipal rights of way that did not belong to the School District, an area of the law that is well settled based upon previous Attorney General opinions finding that Mississippi school districts have no statutory authority to fund a municipal capital project.

Those wishing to see the four page preliminary report and recommendations on the matter by the Mississippi Ethics Commission, including the school district’s response, can click below to obtain the four page pdf which was released to the public earlier today Continue reading “BREAKING: Mississippi Ethics Commission finds that Bay-Waveland School Board violated open meeting law”

Public Education: Why Johnny can’t read and a severe lack of transparency at BWSD dominates the local grapevine

The Clarion Ledger was on a tear over the weekend:

Education politics grow more absurd ~ Geoff Pender

Geoff, thanks for this article. What we are dealing with is an ELECTION YEAR. That is when any and everybody can get thrown under the bus, even the kids.

Educators sound off on Common Core, MAEP ~ Emily Le Coz

Loophole lets pedophiles get educator licenses ~ Emily Le Coz

Meantime for those that missed it a comment bump from Lana Noonan regarding a special meeting of the Bay Waveland School District’s Board of Trustees:

The Bay-Waveland School Board hit a home run again today in their efforts to operate under the same clandestine scenario that has become business as usual for them. At a special called meeting to interview potential architects for future projects, they chose to do so in Executive Session.

Now, currently, there is no provision in the Open Meetings Law in Miss. for discussing in Executive Session those professionals who will do contract work for a public entity, only the entity’s own personnel. In a effort to keep things clean, I reminded them of this, but Board Attorney Artigues, stated that this was a” special situation.” Really, after reading the Open Meetings Law, I could find no “special situations” that could be subjectively declared by a public Board or their attorney that would give permission to conduct the kind of business they did today. Continue reading “Public Education: Why Johnny can’t read and a severe lack of transparency at BWSD dominates the local grapevine”

I hear A. J. Giardina was in town today

And the legal fight brewing between the Bay Waveland School District, New Orleans developer Jim Macphaille and singer Rochelle Harper is gonna make the local TeeVee News. The subject is complex and comes with requisite cronyism and incompetence. Hopefully Giardina does not butcher it.

One naturally wonders why Hancock County beat reporter Al Showers does not have this story for WLOX but maybe he took the day off to pay his severely late water bill. More on that later today.

Let the subpoenas fly: A Bay Tech Building Swindle Update

Joe Friday comes to mind here folks since the parties did not remain silent and Magnolia Group Attorney Ben Galloway is hot on the trail. Sending a subpoena to the Echo, whose publisher is married to the School Board President, is an interesting maneuver. I’m sensing quality muck will emerge in this case as I hope the taxpayers learn the full extent to which their local schools have been co opted by the politically connected in service to their pecuniary interests.

Magnolia Group v O'Dwyer et al Doc 16

We have new signs of life in the Bay Tech Building lawsuit

I was mildly surprised to see the beginnings of a response from certain members of the defense. Not as surprising is that Ben Galloway is like a pit bull and was all over that filing the next day for the Magnolia Group. Here is the answer and counterclaim of Team LNG Investments along with Team Magnolia Group’s insta-response.

Magnolia Group v O'Dwyer et al Doc 10 Continue reading “We have new signs of life in the Bay Tech Building lawsuit”

Because they just do things a bit different in Hancock County

This post has a little something for everyone from the Goatherders to Good Government peeps plus we get to do a  bit of compare and contrast:

The first story is still in its original form while the second was updated. It is unclear who the 22 residents are who filed suit against the Hancock County Board of Supervisors using the services of Goatherder lawyer Henry Laird as neither story mentions them and it may well be none ultimately have any standing to sue but Harris updated her story with comments from the property owner, American Legion Post 139, which is the exact context I heard about this budding controversy originally. Specifically:

The county has leased the property from American Legion Post 139 for 25 years, but the lease expired in November, post Commander Clayton Thompson said. Board attorney Ronnie Artigues said supervisors have been in negotiations to buy the property.

The board will meet Monday to discuss renewing the lease monthly until the property can be purchased, he said.

So the county constructs bathrooms on property it did not have any legal rights to and for some inexplicable reason did not bother to renew the lease on the property, which expired last November electing to break ground instead.  Ignorant does not quite do the actions of the Board of Supervisors justice in this circumstance but earlier this month Bay Waveland School Board President Sherry Ponder attempted to swear in a school board member that had not yet been been appointed to the school board by the City. Sources indicate to Slabbed Ponder lashed out at the Alliance for Good Government member that pointed this out in the school board meeting which makes one wonder exactly which local government is more clueless, the School Board or the Board of Supervisors.

OTOH not much good law gets practiced when a Goatherder is involved so this one has FUBAR potential written all over it so it is worth keeping an eye on.  This is about more than just building flood mitigated bathrooms IMHO.

Let’s drill down on the OIG report on DMR’s friends and family program to expose fatal flaws in the appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School District in the Bay Tech Building Scandal

Let’s use some excerpts of the OIG report on DMR’s land acquisitions to illustrate why the taxpayer paid appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School Board as cover for their friends and family program are not worth the paper they are written on. First up we need to know what the OIG auditors did and they well explain it:

You see folks, the auditors may have had specific information that DMR Director Bill Walker and his assistant Tina Shumate were looting the program for their personal gain but going in blank they would have noticed a ton of red flags. Preliminary procedures would include comparing the real estate valuations (appraisals) against tax roll appraised values. Drilling down into the appraisal report themselves for those transactions that had large variances would include evaluating the appraiser’s work product against professional standards in the field. The OIG was kind enough to identify for us 15 requirements and best practices and summarize how each DMR transaction failed at least 4 of those 15 best practices/requirements: Continue reading “Let’s drill down on the OIG report on DMR’s friends and family program to expose fatal flaws in the appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School District in the Bay Tech Building Scandal”

Delisted: Bay Tech lot withdrawn from MLS

Just because I’ve not written anything on the Bay Waveland School District real estate scandal does not mean things have not been happening folks.  I’m not going to slice and dice this subject like some of the other matters I cover as there is no need. That said I’ve have enough accumulated for an update so here goes.

First is the local rumor mill, which is saying the FBI has been poking around.  I’ve found doing Slabbed that rumors about grand jury investigations and investigations in general to be notoriously unreliable since there are so many moving parts involved, so I’d urge the buyer of such ruminations to beware.

Second is I’ve heard several tantalizing tidbits about the confirmed investigation into this by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission.  After taking a peeksie at their list of disiplinary actions I wonder what it would take for a realtor to actually lose their license in this state. That said this investigation appears to be moving quickly to a resolution.

Third is what I’ll call a verifiable fact on the Bay Tech Lot next to the building as the listing with McDonald Realty has been cancelled per the MLS as of October 17, 2012.  Going back through my notes on the lot from earlier interviews with Mr Bill Washburn with the Magnolia Group and Avra O’Dwyer of O’Dwyer Realty I noted Mr Washburn indicated the lot was listed at $135,000 and that soon after Slabbed broke this story he indicated he fired his realtor Mary Bunch.  I duly noted the McDonald Realty sign remained on the property and the listing remained active in the MLS for weeks after Mr Washburn gave me that interview. Continue reading “Delisted: Bay Tech lot withdrawn from MLS”