Will someone please get the DMR and Bill Walker outta the real estate business.

Suspension of disbelief

Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

Land swap for marina questioned by developer. ~ Mary Perez

So the DMR is actually considering swapping Harbor Landing, which taxpayers bought from the taxpayer real estate king David Harris for over $3.6 million plus 18 months of free use for a piece of larger parcel of undeveloped land on the Biloxi waterfront the owers could not sell in total for $2.5 million. This folks, sounds like DMR Director Dr Bill Walker math to me, but then again maybe that is why the Office of the State Auditor had investigators crawling all over Walker’s office around a week ago. I hear the OSA has taken an interest in taxpayer funded real estate transactions across the coast in fact. From my vantage point this area is indeed rich in scams and rife with fraud.

If there is one place that has more leaks than the Yenni Building that would be the Bolton Building

I was there on business just a few weeks ago and actually know a few of the inhabitants. I mention this because the Sun Herald has a connection or two there as well as Donna Harris and photojournalist John Fitzhugh showed up yesterday at Bolton while a few folks from the investigative division of the State Auditor’s office were holed up in DMR executive director Bill Walker’s office going through his files and computer hard disks.

Naturally the rumor mill is going full tilt and I shook the tree to get the low down, which I did on an off the record basis.  As the comments to Harris’ story illustrate, most everyone knows Bill Walker has double dealt most every chance he’s had while at DMR enriching himself and his cronies at the taxpayer trough for years.  There was the Cedar Point land swindle involving David Harris and Ben Stone funded by the Jackson County taxpayers for instance.  More recently we have Walker and DMR playing Santa Claus for Harris on a sweat heart land deal to create green space on the Ocean Springs waterfront, bailing Harris out of a previously money losing investment with taxpayer funded largess.  And since the oil spill we’ve watched Walker try to get control over Mississippi’s portion of the BP fines via the DMR, no doubt with an eye towards self enrichment as that issue almost scuttled his renomination as DMR Director earlier this year.

Let’s be clear, the Investigators with the OSA are not the FBI and the OSA typically pursues civil rather than criminal remedies. That said I do not think they’ll have to look very hard to figure out what DMR is about in its new role as Santa to the politically connected.  To the extent Walker is highly connected in statewide GOP circles, the fact this investigation was green lit by the powers that be is telling.  Stay tuned.

Just another day in the state ethics board neighborhood….

Screen Capture Courtesy of the Mississippi Informer / mississippiinformer.net/mississippiinformer

With our last post examining the ethics of a local ethics professor generating such interest a second post on the general topic is certainly in order.  IMHO one of the most thankless public service jobs has to be as a non political staffer at your local State Ethics Administration.  Both Louisiana and Mississippi’s are fairly ineffective by design of the political class and indeed just a year ago the Mississippi Business Journal called out Ben Stone, chair of the Mississippi Ethics Commission for blatant double-dealing. Along those same lines it appears as if the Louisiana Ethics Commission is routinely neutered by the courts and/or the legislature but the folks at the Louisiana Ethics Administration has Mississippi beat by miles in the transparency department as a few clicks on their website gets you the meeting agendas in advance. Website like that are favorite of the journalistic class for good reason.

So today I take a reader tip and click away and we find a clue that the insurance portion of what would become known as the Jefferson Parish Corruption Scandal is still percolating away as the various slow motion wheels of government grind, cuss and discuss Mr Scott Fontenot and Fontenot and Associates. Names such as Tim Coulon, Tim Whitmer, Wally Pontiff among others also occupy this general vicinity of the scandal. I’ll add that I have reason to believe the federal grand jury has also taken a look at Fontenot so there is a reasonable basis to surmise he may be in bigger trouble than the potential $210,000 in fines plus forfeitures.

Along those lines the last council meeting as portrayed thus far on Slabbed deal with garbage as the Parish awarded the new landfill contract to IESI despite the fact their bid was more expensive than Waste Management’s and that indeed was a big deal. Discussed both here in comments and elsewhere was the redundant hiring of a Parish Council Legal Analyst, the brainchild of the ethically challenged, bucktoothed  interim councilman Mike Thomas. But my mind is open to the possibility the most underhanded double deal of them all was the selection of Coventry for the Parish’s health insurance.  I suspect the evaluation committee scores for that contract would be interesting reading. Continue reading “Just another day in the state ethics board neighborhood….”

Ethics and morality? Shakespeare knew not of sociopathy: A quick Slabbed update.

My desktop is cluttered with links and that does not count the ones I present today for the consideration of the Slabbed Nation.  If the spirit moves me I’ll try to string some of the saved links together around the Saints game today and put a couple of posts in the can for next week.

We must begin here in Mississippi where the judges are not mere pigs at the trough a la Judge pOrteous but instead are completely drunk with power.  Oxford lawyer Tom Freeland has been telling the story of Judge Tommy Talmadge Littlejohnson and his asinine behavior jailing a lawyer for contempt because he wouldn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Those wanting additional background can read Patsy Brumfield’s original story on the topic here.

Speaking of north Mississippi, escapee Jarvis DeBerry chips in with today’s column on the latest NOPD guilty plea in the Danziger Bridge shootings.  Unfortunately for Shakespeare the term sociopath did not exist in his days but I think it is the word Jarvis is looking for.  I’ll add this is a subject we’ve been interested in since we first identified similar personality traits in some of the insurance folks we’ve run across since beginning Slabbed.

We’ve spoken a lot about legal ethics and ethicists here on Slabbed through time.  Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino, for example, is a favorite of the Slabbed Nation and we’ll be circling back to Dane but first Continue reading “Ethics and morality? Shakespeare knew not of sociopathy: A quick Slabbed update.”

I mentioned a few concerns some well intentioned folks on the political right have about GOP Congressional candidate Steven Palazzo. Slabbed adds to the discussion.

In Mississippi it is called the GOB or Good Ol’ Boy network and today at the post insurance forum print media luncheon the topic of the 1990s era “Cedar Point Land Deal” in Ocean Springs came up in context of the discussion of the congressional race between Gene Taylor and Steven Palazzo. It came up because candidate Palazzo’s dad, Frank Palazzo, was part owner of a parcel of land along with politically connected Gulfport lawyer Ben Stone for all of one minute before they resold it to Jackson County for $3 million dollars netting a cool $1.5 million in the process. This in turn caused the folks at Fire Gene Taylor.com to conclude they could not support Mr Palazzo for Congress as they consider him a political hack. In support of that the Mississippi Informer has done a bang up job compiling all the old Sun Herald reporting on the subject.  Here is an excerpt from those reports all of which are well worth reading that the Informer was kind enough to highlight almost at the bottom of the page:

Frustrated county grand jurors, who spent five months examining the deal, said they failed to find enough evidence to indict anyone. But they urged county officials to keep looking “for information that may convince a subsequent grand jury to conclude otherwise.”

Jackson County bought 214 acres in November 1995 from two Gulfport land speculators who doubled their money in one day. Taxpayers spent $3 million on the land.

One month later, the county gave the land to the University of Southern Mississippi to expand the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. But USM had no concrete plans, timetable or money to expand the lab.

“The whole thing was rotten in my estimation,” Attorney General Mike Moore said Friday, “but not being able to find anyone with a bag of cash who made a bribe to anyone made an indictment difficult.”

That Mike Moore quote was priceless and here is why.  Moore’s name also came up a good bit in the Dick Scruggs Judicial bribery scandal and conservative author/blogger Alan Lange laid out a large amount of evidence against Moore, especially his role in a certain case in the Jackson County Court System as it related to the tobacco litigation.  Chances are Moore was dicked up in that land deal in one way shape or fashion as I offer this old story from Continue reading “I mentioned a few concerns some well intentioned folks on the political right have about GOP Congressional candidate Steven Palazzo. Slabbed adds to the discussion.”