Bay 2017 Primary Elections Part 1: Interesting Numbers

I put together a spreadsheet with the Mayoral vote totals broken down by votes cast in person and the absentee ballots. Then I calculated “common size” vote shares.

BSL Democrat Primary Mayoral Vote[5.2.17]

What are the chances the absentees would so radically diverge from the in person results?

Additional background here.

PSA: Bay St Louis Primary Election Polling Places

Polls open at 7 a.m. tomorrow and close at 7 p.m.

In Bay St. Louis, there are six polling places:

• Ward One: Bay High School, 750 Blue Meadow Road.
• Ward Two: The Bay St. Louis Library, 312 Highway 90.
• Ward Three: The Senior Citizen’s center at 601 Bookter Street.
• Ward Four: Christ Episcopal Church 912 South Beach Blvd.
• Ward Five: The American Legion at 645 Green Meadow Road.
• Ward Six: The Bay St. Louis Fire Station at 9998, Highway 603.

(H/T Mayor Rachael on Facebook)

Hizzoner under Investigation: The Misdemeanors that simply won’t go away

And last night Wes Muller dropped the latest from Sheriff Ricky Adam:

Did more than 700 improper checks come from Bay St. Louis City Hall?

You betcha they did as this also implicates a couple of former City Clerks. As Wes points out in the story none of this is exactly new information having been pointed out in the 2014 Fiscal year audit and the State Auditor’s Office Performance Review of same. Hizzoner of course is having none of it and pretty much says the seasoned professionals at both Wright Ward Hatten & Guel and the performance audit division of the State Auditor’s Office are full of it.

Nevertheless, the mayor said the fact the auditor’s office disputed itself on one issue puts everything else into question.

When asked why the investigation is expanding if he has proof no checks were improperly issued, the mayor said it’s possible the sheriff and his investigators favor his opponent.

The State Auditor changing the draft of their Performance review is hardly contradictory and such is why a draft is a called draft. Getting it right before a final report is issued is usually known as professionalism in locales other than A Place Apart, a concept that has been missing from the financial side of City Hall for many years. In any event this is what the State Auditor had to say about problems in the claims payable process since Hizzoner brought it up: Continue reading “Hizzoner under Investigation: The Misdemeanors that simply won’t go away”

A few thoughts on the Hancock Alliance for Good Government Municipal Candidate Forum

For those following along last night Slabbed put out two pictures but little else live as I was on the media panel that asked the questions.

After the forum an audience member asked where the panel got its questions which I thought was odd, my instant answer pointing to my brain was “from here”. Turned out he was upset because he thought we were picking on a candidate he supports. The operative term here is more colloquially known as a “closed mind”.

Wes Muller from the Sun Herald and Brad Kessie from WLOX rounded out the panel and we didn’t toss out any softies to either the Mayoral or the council candidates for office. Speaking for myself I asked questions that would help the candidates differentiate themselves, from the allocation of scarce tax dollars in the city budget to whether or not tax increases were on the table to deal with the current revenue challenged times derived mainly from declining gaming revenue. There was no such thing as a wrong answer to these questions and overall the candidates for office did a good job responding to the questions, including Hizzoner.

The panel also asked questions designed to find out if the Candidates knew what they were getting into in terms of the office they were seeking. Those questions also got very good responses and the candidates again differentiated themselves. Without going into the he said, she said specifics I’ll add WQRZ was there last night to record the event and it will be streamed on Saturday. I highly encourage those of you that did not attend last night to listen in Saturday.

Several people in attendance commented to me on what was evidently a pretty sharp contrast between the Republican-Democrat-NAACP Forum the night before which was promoted by a new, proxy registered, anonymous website BSL Beyond Politics and last night’s event, which focused heavily on financial questions. Wes Muller was at both and his story on the Republican-Democrat-NAACP Forum tells the tale: Continue reading “A few thoughts on the Hancock Alliance for Good Government Municipal Candidate Forum”

Unfinished Business: “Elephants never forget”

Slabbed is the current beneficiary of some good old fashioned elbow grease that is being applied to certain issues from the past. Those various tidbits from the past should make for a fun election season.

One fact that has been established with the help of Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is the Administration was capable of running legal advertisements as she found an instance where the Water and Sewer Refunding Bonds were advertised by then City Clerk David Kolf back in 2014. Tuesday night Mayor Fillingame took the microphone to dispute the State Auditor’s Office Performance Review which first documented his refusal to discharge the duties of his office while instead blaming the City Council clerk for his Administration’s ineptitude in failing to publish the Zoning Ordnance as required by state law. Such a performance by Hizzoner can only mean the silly season is on in a big way.

So to set up tomorrow’s post what we need to do is circle back in time to the release of the FY 2014 audit with its multitude of major internal control and compliance findings. I put that link in the preceding sentence out on Twitter early this week and it garnered a good reader response. Those that remember those particular times in 2015 understand that part of Hizzoner defending his administration against terrible audit results included him saying the audit findings were bogus including one that involved the City’s property insurance lapsing during Hurricane Season. Slabbed was Johnny on the Spot to debunk the dishonorable Hizzoner’s media talking points and the rest is history…..well not quite as it turned out and that is fodder for the next post. Stay tuned.

Leslie’s law: Senator Harkins helps clean up Good Ol’ Boy politics in “Strong Mayor” towns

And why are we calling HB 51 Leslie’s law? Mainly because it cleaned up a questionable AG’s opinion that involved the City of Bay St Louis and its unqualified perpetually interim crony Chief Building Inspector Charles Oliver. Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya has been all over this issue for two years now and his post yesterday on the topic is a must read for everyone in the Bay. The citizens in “Strong Mayor” Chartered towns throughout Mississippi owe Senator Harkins an Atta Boy for seeing this good government measure through the legislature to the Governor’s desk. Here is a snippet from Kingfish’s post:

The first challenge to this law took place in Bay St. Louis, where good ole boy politics reigns supreme. The Mayor fired the building inspector seven years ago and appointed a close friend who was not qualified to the job on an interim basis. He has never been confirmed by the city council and is not a certified building inspector. Such things mean nothing to Mayor Fillingame. Interim means eternal as far as he is concerned. The city council challenged his employment after the law became effective on July 1, 2016. However, Mayor Fillingame and city attorney Donald Rafferty went running to Jim Hood for some cover and he gave it to them. Earlier post with copy of opinion.

I’d posit this is also very bad news for Mayor Fillingame’s latest scheme involving the Bay Waveland School Board as he has failed to make an appointment to fill Maurice Singleton’s seat on the Board of Trustees. Singleton’s term expired in February and Fillingame has steadfastly refused to make a school board appointment to fill the seat, instead arguing that Singleton, who appears to be cooperative in the Mayor’s scheme, is now a 180 day interim appointment. With the State Auditor’s office now empowered to enforce financial penalties associated with this kind of abuse, it will be interesting to see if Singleton continues his role as the Mayor’s lap dog. Stay tuned.

Senior Fillingame Administration Official “feeling delighted” about potential cancellation of Hancock Library millage

Think about the kind of city you want and vote for the person who will lead you there. ~ Liz Zimmerman

I always thought the difference between living in a City or in the country boiled down to a quality of life calculus. For City dwellers, having a local library is a generally part of the quality of life equation.

Screenshot_20170326-122633

Maybe we’re math challenged but removal of the County millage would reduce the average property tax bill no where near $60 per that breakdown nor can we see how the small library millage added to Bay St Louis taxes would bump the total to $60. In any event the name of the local tax collector was invoked: Continue reading “Senior Fillingame Administration Official “feeling delighted” about potential cancellation of Hancock Library millage”

Another Stunning Display of Ineptitude by the Fillingame Administration……..

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was a doozie and that does not count this:

Lawyer’s discovery stuns Bay St. Louis officials ~ Wes Muller

Bay St. Louis attorney Stephen Benvenutti told the council the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance was never published, as required by law, when it was adopted by the previous City Council in 2010.

Municipalities are legally required to publish zoning change proposals and other significant measures in the municipality’s local newspaper within 30 days of a council’s vote. The newspaper of record for municipalities in Hancock County is the Sea Coast Echo.

The display of ineptitude inherent to not following simple, statutorily mandated tasks such as keeping a codified book of municipal ordinances and publishing them after Council adoption by Mayor Fillingame and his appointees is stunning, though not surprising. The fact is this problem was identified in 2015 by the FY 2014 auditors at Wright Ward Hatten and Guel. Here is what the state auditor wrote in their Performance Review of that audit:

You’re – in essence – healthy,” Bobby Culumber, of Gulfport-based CPA firm Culumber, Harvey & Associates, told council members at a workshop meeting on Thursday.

Ooops sorry folks wrong auditor. Here is what the State Auditor Performance Review said about Fillingame Administration problems handling ordinances:

PerRevBSL_Ord

It’s clear from the State Auditor’s language Mayor Fillingame was Continue reading “Another Stunning Display of Ineptitude by the Fillingame Administration……..”

Time to move on from the DoJ Disaster

To borrow an old fashioned metaphor, there has been a lot of ink spilled over the mishandling of the Equitable Sharing Grant by the Fillingame Administration, a grant violation that resulted in one dedicated audit along with a performance audit that confirmed what Slabbed has been saying since late 2013: The Fillingame Administration can’t handle money. From bringing the City to the verge of default on its water and sewer bonds to using the resulting $13 debt service surcharge added to everyone’s monthly water bill to pay general city expenses the examples of the Mayor’s financial mismanagement are legion as are the casualties, figuratively in the parade of City Clerks turned over by the City to go with one police chief. Worse are the active investigations into Payroll Fraud among other crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by city employees centered in the Police Department.

Organizationally when the Mayor exhibits a complete disregard for the financial portions of the state home rule statute the allegations of impropriety should not surprise. State Auditor Stacey Pickering termed the phenomenon a “Culture of Corruption”. Slabbed covered it in the organizationally corrupt Department of Marine Resources. To quote the late Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again” in the Bay.

Now we’ve entered election season and its time for the public to be asking questions and arming themselves with information about the candidates for office. Early this year Slabbed published the meeting notes from the December 2016 meeting between City officials and the United States Department of Justice. That document contains a wealth of information that should be important to every voter in terms of the three elected officials, two of whom are now running for Mayor that were in attendance with the other seeking reelection to the City Council. That meeting started with the DoJ making a repayment demand of about $300,000 in misspent funds and ended with the DoJ representative making a promise to take the proposal to let the resource starved Bay PD spend the money immediately on very real needs such as mold remediation inside the station house.

From a political standpoint it would have been easy for the two councilmen in attendance to let the Mayor suffer the consequences for comingling and misspending the grant beginning in 2011 by keeping quiet and having the DoJ demand $321,000 from the City while the Mayor prattled on about someone forging his electronic signature on the annual financial affidavit. They didn’t and ultimately the City now will be able to use these funds for their intended purpose – bolstering public safety. And as I wrote in a comment after that news broke that act also got the Mayor off the hook for repaying the misspent funds. There was simply no loss to the City. Continue reading “Time to move on from the DoJ Disaster”

Reader links: What y’all are talking about

RFP sent in the following interview Ryan Vlastelica of Marketwatch did with Bernie Madoff from prison that is an interesting read. Madoff is not only a rock star in the prison world he has also done well for himself (in relative terms) by being himself:

At one point, he cornered the hot chocolate market. He bought up every package of Swiss Miss from the commissary and sold it for a profit in the prison yard. He monopolized hot chocolate! He made it so that, if you wanted any, you had to go through Bernie.

Moving right along the Tweet Slabbed put out from Al.com about the new District Attorney being indicted just before he was to take office:

New Jefferson County District Attorney indicted for perjury; will face suspension ~ Kent Faulk

As usual trouble naturally follows when the little head does all the thinking:

Then at the Sept. 26 trial at which Henderson allegedly perjured himself, the issue of whether there was a romantic relationship between Henderson and the mother, Ms. Akl, surfaced.

On Sept. 28, the day after the trial ended, the mother’s attorney, Daniel Chambers, asked to withdraw from the case. Chamber’s motion included information about evidence that the “defendant (mother) and the former Guardian Ad Litem (Henderson) have been in a romantic relationship.”

So what kind of woman could cause the newly elected DA to take leave (allegedly) of his senses? Social media gives us a few tantalizing clues first up being this Youtube Channel. The connection is the product of a Facebook like of this photo from the DA elect’s Facebook page which leads to this Facebook page. Run the names through the ol’ search engine you get the YouTube channel linked above and it is clear the ladies knows their way around the Chakira and then some. To be clear none of this is conclusive but Ms. Akl’s lawyer withdrawing looks very bad. Continue reading “Reader links: What y’all are talking about”