The long and short of this dust up is David Wells asked for a copy of the City’s open litigation list, a document that previous City Attorney Trent Favre kept as a matter of routine. Not only was he stonewalled by City Attorney Heather Ladner Smith, Mr. Wells was then told by Smith the document he asked for didn’t exist, a “fact” the Ethics Commission adopted in its findings. After being stonewalled by Smith, Mr. Wells was able to obtain the document that he requested from Mayor Ice, who evidently understands the value of treating the Citizenry with some respect. Here is the preliminary opinion:
On February 1, 2019 the Mississippi Ethics Commission cited the Bay St Louis City Council for violating the Mississippi Open Meeting law in the matter styled Noonan v Mayor and Councilmen of the City of Bay St Louis. In what is a recurring theme with a different cast of characters, the City conducted an improper executive session which resulted in the removal of Ellis Anderson from the Bay St Louis Historical Preservation Commission.
The opinion is not yet on the Ethics Commission website but I have seen portions of it. Essentially the Council and Mayor in the City of Bay St Louis are on the receiving end of an ethics compliant that mostly resulted from not receiving good legal advice from Board attorney Heather Ladner Smith, who failed to caution the Mayor and Council not to act on an item which was not contained on the official meeting agenda. Smith, the politically connected daughter of Hancock County Tax Collector Jimmie Ladner took over as City Attorney when Trent Favre was appointed County Court Judge.
According to Mrs. Noonan, Ms. Smith of the Butler Snow law firm is providing legal services to the City without a formal written contract, a practice the previous administration was advised to discontinue by the Office of the State Auditor.
It’s on tonight in Bay-Waveland with both the Bay City Council and the Waveland Board of Alderman meeting.
The Bay City Council meeting has potential because Mayor Favre is making another school board nomination tonight. Rumor holds he will reappoint his son Casey Favre to the Board. I’m further advised the gang has checked out the legality of such an appointment and was told it is OK provided that Trustee Favre serves without pay. School Boards are not big spenders on their Boards with per diem set by statute so serving for free is not a big hardship. Given last year’s controversy that portion of the agenda has fireworks potential. The Bay City Council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. sharp.
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.
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.
Smith gave each council member an information package which included details of a lawsuit where suspected drug money had been seized from an individual during an arrest, but a judge had ordered it must be paid back.
“Is this part of the FBI (police) investigation fund?” Mayor Mike Favre asked Smith.
“It is, which is why I don’t want to go into details on this now,” Smith said. “We can go into an executive session if you need a few to discuss the backstory.”
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.
Slabbed readers may remember this same group of folks that are sponsoring the Town Hall recently protested at City Hall. Their demands were:
1. No PJ’s Coffee drive through be allowed in town.
2. The Alcan property must remain vacant/undeveloped.
3. A Minority must be placed on the school board at all cost.
If you live in Wards 1 or 3 this is your chance to meet your City Councilman.
My thanks to you readers that sent in photos. Here is a representative picture via the Slabbed Twitter account.
Reader submitted photo of today's protest at City Hall. Citizen complaints about lack of permit mitigated by Mayor Favre, who issued permit to demonstrators without formal application because that is how they roll in the Bay. pic.twitter.com/CBMfsCz2Rp
We have a movie that was sent in as well where I counted 19 total protesters. Here are their demands:
1. No PJ’s Coffee drive through be allowed in town.
2. The Alcan property must remain vacant.
3. A Minority be placed on the school board.
As the above Tweet stated my understanding is Mayor Favre pulled the groups permit to hold the event as he was getting Citizens complaints about the event on Highway 90, which was staged without a permit. Props to Hizzoner for helping instead of harassing the peaceful group of demonstrators.
The gang at WLOX was there was well as the Echo. It will be interesting to see their coverage.
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.
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.