As Promised, Today’s Protest at City Hall

My thanks to you readers that sent in photos. Here is a representative picture via the Slabbed Twitter account.

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.

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?”

One of the last Bay Police Brutality Suits filed one of the first to settle

It’s for true folks and sources with knowledge of the settlement indicate the cost to the City to get rid of this lawsuit was frightfully high. I hope all of the officers involved in terrorizing Mr. Koenann have been shown the door though I do not believe that is the case here.

Koenenn v Nelson Et Al Doc 45 by Slabbed on Scribd

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”

Deconstructing the Denardo Payroll Fraud: A Detailed Look at the Transactions

I bring many years of experience auditing to this project and that is how I approached the Denardo payroll fraud story. Before an auditor can assess individual transactions, professional standards require gaining an understanding of the internal control environment surrounding the transaction stream. Internal controls are the policies and procedures an entity uses to conduct business, in this case being the policies and procedures Bay St Louis used to generate payroll. Auditors gain this understanding by reviewing written policies and procedures, interviewing people involved in the internal control process along with a walk-through. It makes sense because to breathe life into financial transactions it helps greatly to understand the process that creates them. I relied on interviews with two former employees that have requested anonymity who have a detailed knowledge of the City’s payroll processes dating to the time Chief Denardo took his own life and what follows is directly based on those interviews.

The first step to being able to draw a paycheck is being listed on the annual payroll ordinance and I examined those going back to the year ended September 30, 2013 and sure enough Patricia Denardo was listed as a reserve police officer without fail. With that basic step understood the payroll process at Bat St Louis consists of two major parts.

Part 1 – Departmental time keeping:
1. The Employee turns in a time sheet to their supervisor, in the case of the Bay PD that would have been the Patrol Captain.
2. After approval the time sheet was sent to the Records Clerk for entry.
3. The Chief of Police approves and sends to City Hall for payment.

Part 2 – Finance Department
1. The time is received by finance, balanced, prepared for payment and sent to the Mayor for Approval.
2. Once approved by the Mayor, the payroll is generated including a direct deposit file which sent to the bank for payment.

In the case of the paychecks that I scheduled for Patricia Denardo, no less than 5 people would have been involved in the processing. The checks and balances are such that no one person can generate a paycheck. It is why the mechanics of the fraud required collusion, or in this case collusion by silence thus the audit finding in part 1. Continue reading “Deconstructing the Denardo Payroll Fraud: A Detailed Look at the Transactions”

Deconstructing the Denardo Payroll Fraud: The Mechanics Require Collusion

So who are we to believe folks, the 2016 Auditors or the Outgoing City Attorney? This is what the draft 2016 audit report says:

Excerpt from City of Bay St Louis draft 2016 audit.
Excerpt from City of Bay St Louis draft 2016 audit.

And per Cassandra Favre this what Board Attorney Trent Favre said the FBI said at the last City Council meeting:

Their findings were that fraud had occurred, that the fraud was committed by Chief De Nardo through the processes of payroll to his personal account. They cleared Patricia De Nardo in their investigation, she was not complicit in the fraud. They determined that there was no other person involved in the fraud.

Did the FBI truly tell Trent Favre that Denardo acted alone with “no other person involved in the fraud”? My informed opinion is no way folks as Favre was whitewashing what happened and blamed the dead man, which is easy to do considering the circumstances plus he is contradicted by the City’s own audit firm who used the term “collusion” to describe the events.

Slabbed New Media is conducting its own investigation into the events leading to the suicide of Mike Denardo as a police department that was seething with corruption imploded under the weight of years of lies and deceit. I have interviewed sources close to the investigation as well as several former City employees that have requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter and fear of reprisal. I also spent the better part of Wednesday at the Bay St Louis Council chambers combing through years of official Council minutes. I’d like to personally thank Mayor Mike Favre, who ultimately declined to be interviewed about this topic but who ensured the complete and total cooperation of the City and Deputy Council Clerk Caitlin Thompson, who assisted on Wednesday fetching the 8 or 9 minute books. The City Council has two keepers in Council Clerk Tilley and her Deputy Clerk Ms. Thompson.

Ultimately I scheduled payroll transactions that were done in Ms. Patricia Denardo’s name stretching back to 2014 and it was very clear from the annual salary ordinances that she was being paid back to the previous City Council in 2013. Those early records were fragmentary but I still managed to schedule 65 paychecks totaling $78,209.71 gross payroll that were issued in her name. We also obtained Ms. Denardo’s salary history from FEMA dating to 2008 which indicate she started with FEMA in late 2007 at GS-11 on the federal salary scale. Notably Ms. Denardo’s own LinkedIn page contains work dates that correspond to the salary information Slabbed obtained via FOIA.

There is much work that remains to duplicate the FBI investigation within the constraints of not being able to obtain warrants so this project is ongoing but we will not stop until the Citizens of the Bay St Louis get some much needed transparency on how the City ran under former Mayor Les Fillingame.

To understand how the auditors came to their conclusion the Payroll Fraud involved collusion is to understand how the City processes its bi-weekly payroll. It is also clear that certain personnel actions taken by new Mayor Mike Favre directly relate to what I think the FBI really told him and the City Attorney a couple of months ago. Continue reading “Deconstructing the Denardo Payroll Fraud: The Mechanics Require Collusion”

Who Dropped the Dime on Chief Denardo? Inquiring Minds Want to Know….

Of all the work she has ever done covering Bay St Louis, yesterday’s story by Cassandra Favre on the latest in the Denardo payroll fraud saga may be her best work yet. And when you couple it with the piece Robin Fitzgerald wrote for the Sun Herald a picture is painted that is both interesting and curious. First a snippet from Cassandra:

Favre said that someone from within the city anonymously reported the fraud to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office. After the report, the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the FBI conducted an investigation, he said.

“During this period of time, we were asked to basically stand down and let them conduct their investigation,” Favre said. “About a month ago, two months ago, we were contacted by the FBI and asked to attend a meeting. They advised us that they had concluded this investigation. Their findings were that fraud had occurred, that the fraud was committed by Chief De Nardo through the processes of payroll to his personal account. They cleared Patricia De Nardo in their investigation, she was not complicit in the fraud. They determined that there was no other person involved in the fraud. He was approving payroll for Mrs. DeNardo, though she had not worked.”

It’s almost as if the payroll transactions were completed by a magical process that only Chief Denardo controlled yet someone else in the City clearly knew what Chief was doing thus the dime drop. How about a snippet from Robin’s story:

“The FBI determined he and he alone did the payroll fraud and gun sales,” Favre said.

The term “heresay” comes to mind as Robin also snagged a quote from Mayor Favre: Continue reading “Who Dropped the Dime on Chief Denardo? Inquiring Minds Want to Know….”

PSA: City of Bay St Louis Needs Attorney

Via The City’s Facebook Page:

The City of Bay St. Louis is seeking to hire an attorney. The candidate will Work under the direction of the Mayor & City Council. The City Attorney is the legal adviser & attorney for all officials, officers, & departments of the City & represents the City in all litigation & proceedings. Work involves drafting & reviewing ordinances, resolutions, policies & procedures, & contracts prior to consideration by the City Council to ensure compliance with state, federal, & local laws. Emphasis is placed on municipal law, civil code enforcement, land use, Zoning, labor relations, & legislative interpretation. Duties include researching / preparing oral & written legal opinions for City Council, Mayor, Department Heads, staff, committees, commissions & boards, & preparing city ordinances, resolutions, contracts & other legal documents involving the City. Should have 10 years of experience. Must have knowledge of labor relations, civil litigation, municipal, state, federal and constitutional law affecting municipal government. Must be skillful in managing situations requiring diplomacy, fairness, firmness & sound judgement, providing coaching to improve staff performance & understanding / applying City policies & procedures. Doctor of jurisprudence degree from an accredited law school. 10 years experience in municipal law is preferred. Must be licensed by the State Bar of Ms. Resumes & cover letter should be mailed or hand – delivered to the office of the Mayor, City Hall, PO Box 2550, Bay St. Louis, MS 39520 by December 13 , 2017 for consideration.