Bay Taxpayers, Utility Users Stuck Repaying Excessive Post Katrina Engineering Firm Fees

If there was one lesson of the post Katrina rebuilding process that some places had to learn the hard way is that FEMA and Uncle Sam should not be confused for Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a role reserved for the local taxpayers and in this case Taxpayers/Utility ratepayers in the City of Bay St Louis that are stuck repaying what FEMA has termed excessive to the tune of $62,925 in engineering fees, an amount which is not chump change in small town Mississippi. There are a few things that I noticed researching this topic and it is at this point I must acknowledge the contribution of Lana Noonan of the Hancock Alliance for Good Government to this post as she went up to the City Hall complex and read several years worth of minutes that adds a great deal of color. Before we get to any of that we first check in with Cassandra Favre at the Sea Coast Echo and her telling of Tuesday a week ago’s Council meeting:

The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to extend the $13 fee on utility billings through Dec. 31 to satisfy a payment to FEMA for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project.

Mayor Mike Favre told the council that MEMA owes the city about $168,000 for the Rutherford Pier project.

“We write the check back to them and they give it back to FEMA,” Favre said.

The city owes FEMA about $238,925, he said, for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project. That would leave the city owing $70,000, which is due by March 31, Favre said.

Favre said the second appeal to FEMA for engineering costs reimbursement was denied in December 2016.

According to the second appeal analysis from FEMA, “on Sept. 10, 2014, FEMA”s Region IV Regional Administrator denied the applicant’s request for an additional $171,499 for engineering design costs. The RA noted that the $171,499 awarded for engineering fees is considerably more than the suggested percentage normally allowed for engineering and design services of above-average complexity.”

It is here that I recommend those interested in this topic should read or re-read Cassandra’s story but here is the bottom line for Bay Utility Rubepayers Ratepayers: Continue reading “Bay Taxpayers, Utility Users Stuck Repaying Excessive Post Katrina Engineering Firm Fees”

Goodbye Chief, we hardly knew ya… (Updated)

Never a dull moment folks:

Acting police chief in BSL removed after ‘disagreement’ with mayor ~ WLOX

We are waiting for a press release from the Mayors office on this latest development. Stay tuned.

Update:

Mayor Farve’s office issued the following Press Release:

Press Release9.26.17 by Slabbed on Scribd

Analysis: Chief Freeman now a Free bird

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….I must be traveling on, now…..

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What is truly amazing is how long the allegations of now former Chief Darren Freeman choking a handcuffed man took to break in the media. Guess who’s back folks.

THE INVESTIGATORS: Bay St. Louis police chief resigns amid brutality allegation ~ Wes Muller, Investigative Producer WAFB

Those following Slabbed’s twitter account were in the loop since last Friday evening that something major was going down with the scandal ridden Bay PD. Lana Noonan noted the irony of the word leaking out on the exact date one year ago that Chief Denardo took his own life in the parking lot at the police station.

I’ll back the time period up to late August on the original leaks as Slabbed began receiving tips about major scandal brewing at Bay City Hall on August 30, 2017. To the extent this latest choking incident happened in May, 2017, it has been held close inside the police department for months. The optics can’t get much worse.

This is what I do know and this bit of wisdom I shared months ago with select local civic leaders because there was a major red flag on Mr. Freeman’s resume that was ignored.  Wes gives us a clue:

Freeman, who has been on the job less than a year, was hired as chief to reform the department which suffered a series of embarrassing scandals and the late Chief Mike De Nardo’s suicide. His resume boasts serving as the head of internal affairs for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

I understand some of y’all are scratching your heads going “huh” but for those of us that followed the multitude of embarrassing revelations involving DPS that have broke in the Jackson media over the past year……here is a sampling:

DPS settles discrimination suit for $84,474 ~ Jackson Jambalaya Continue reading “Analysis: Chief Freeman now a Free bird”

These things tend to happen when a new administration takes over.

The winds of change are blowing through City Halls across the coast. When measured against the speed of the changes in Pascagoula, the Bay has seen far less but then last night I received the names of some city employees that had either lost their jobs or were demoted. The much maligned Building Department is the place that has Mayor Mike Favre’s attention.

We purposely did not mention any names on Twitter and outside of the two public figures in Charles Oliver and CAO Jerry Beaugez, I’d ask you good folks commenting to exercise some discretion with artful comments appreciated. As for the Building Department employee terminated earlier this week, it was not Mr. Oliver.

The winds of change are blowing over at the Bay-Waveland School District but that is another post.

Where does the time go….

Its been nice to get away for a couple of weeks. That said some significant things have happened including the Hancock County beat losing Wes Muller. Tonight is Inauguration for the City of Bay St Louis. Worthy of note is incoming Ward 4 City Councilman Larry Smith showing Hancock County Alliance Chair Lana Noonan a text message that he purportedly received from Patricia Keating a week or so ago at a Hancock County Board of Supervisor meeting before threatening her with bad karma. I get the feeling that watching the City Council for the next 4 years may just be fun in a train wreck sorta way. We’ll see.

I’ll be checking in over the next few days with a few things – to set things up I highly recommend starting here.

Meantime have a safe and fun extended holiday weekend y’all.

Analysis: Defeated Fillingame Campaign Pivots to Help Hancock GOP backed City Council Candidates

Monday a week ago the Hancock County GOP held a meeting at the home of a local member. The meeting was very well attended and it’s aftermath immediately caused a stir locally and by 8AM on Tuesday the 23rd Slabbed had already received the first reports of this extraordinary gathering and by close of business Wednesday Slabbed had heard directly from a couple of local GOP party members that were in attendance. Comments alluding to it were left on this website, culminating in this post from last week.

Fresh off working for Mayor Fillingame’s campaign, local political operative Rhonda Gamble was there at the meeting and it was her presentation that had tongues wagging. To understand what she was offering to the Wards 4, 5 and 6 GOP nominees for the Bay City Council let’s visit with a national story from last week which ran in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative ~ Alexandra Berzon and Rob Barry

Later, going through what the hacker sent as someone who “actually knows what some of these documents mean,” the GOP consultant said he “realized it was a lot more than even Guccifer knew that he had.”

The episode shows how the hacker’s activities extended to exposing Democrats’ get-out-the vote strategies in swing states and informing a Trump ally of hacked data during the national campaign.

DCCC documents sent to Mr. Nevins analyzed specific Florida districts, showing how many people were dependable Democratic voters, how many were likely Democratic voters but needed a nudge, how many were frequent voters but not committed, and how many were core Republican voters—the kind of data strategists use in planning ad buys and other tactics.

The Journal reviewed these documents as well as Democratic voter analyses also sent to Mr. Nevins about congressional districts in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

In Bay St Louis we are not talking about hacking or other cyber crimes. But the information the Fillingame campaign, via Ms. Gamble, shared at that meeting was exactly the kind of voter intel that costs time and money to develop in lists of what I’d term Chronic voters, Nudge Voters and “Don’t waste your time potential voters”. One source in attendance described the information being shared by the Fillingame campaign as super high quality. The same sources all indicated that it was also announced that Miss Gamble would henceforth be taking point for the GOP Candidate’s campaigns in the Wards 4, 5 and 6 races. Continue reading “Analysis: Defeated Fillingame Campaign Pivots to Help Hancock GOP backed City Council Candidates”

All eyes on the Bay Council races in the upcoming general election

Here is the lineup via Cassandra Favre:

Ward One: Incumbent Doug Seal (I) and George Williams (R).
Ward Two: Carol Strohmetz (D) and Gene Hoffman (R).
Ward Three: Jeffrey Reed will not face a challenger in the general election.
Ward Four: Larry Smith (R) and Tad Black (D).
Ward Five: Incumbent Joey Boudin (D) and Buddy Zimmerman (R).
Ward Six: Incumbent Lonnie Falgout (I) and Josh DeSalvo (R).

And then in the Council at large race is a triple threat match between Mike Weems (D), Susan Vegelia (I) and Gary Knoblock (R). That race will certainly be decided by a plurality rather than majority.

The electoral battle between Hizzoner and Mike Favre was not just between them as individuals. Hizzoner wanted a friendlier City Council. Being the current Councilman at Large, Favre begged to differ. That said of the list above I see up to 3 candidates that would have been considered Hizzoner friendly that were certainly encouraged to run by Hizzoner or his political operatives. If the Favre campaign has any coat tails (I personally think it does), he will have a chance to use some of his influence in the upcoming general election on June 6.

One more thing about the Council races, the voters for both At Large and in Ward 2 have good slates of candidates to choose from while the overall candidate quality varies in the rest of the races (some way more than others). That is not to say there aren’t good candidates in those other races because there are and it will be up to the voters to separate the wheat from the chaff over the next three weeks.

It takes a community……..

First, identify a particular issue or concern that really gets your attention. Find at least one other person that feels the same way you do and help each other. Do your homework on the details of the issue (the devil is in the details) and state your opinion on line or in person to decision makers.

Second, remember knowledge is power, there’s strength in numbers (wherever two or more are gathered…) and last its your government as much as its anybody else’s.

I knew a fellow who spent 30 years with the CIA. He’s now very active on peace oriented issues. He generally doesn’t talk about his activities. The only thing he told me was “find six people you trust”.

What Tom Callaghan was describing locally are citizens groups like the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, which is bound together under the ideal that your local government should be transparent, accountable and equally important run within the framework of state law. The SRHS retirees group are another example. And when people get together, even in smallish numbers it can have a proportionally out-sized impact.

Mr. Sam was out in Ward 6 distributing fliers. Ron in Ward 1 was out knocking doors spreading the Favre Campaign’s message. It was Rachael that made sure her supporters turned out for Mike Favre. Continue reading “It takes a community……..”

Bay 2017 Primary Elections Part 2: Rachael Ramsey, Kingmaker

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.