Bay City Councilmen Favre and Falgout have issued statements regarding the future of the Bay PD

And folks in these statements is some new information regarding the criminal investigations into the operations of the Bay St Louis PD. First up from Outgoing Council President Falgout:

Recently your City Council has been researching and evaluating operations of City Departments for cost cutting measures and better services.

Please allow me to enter my thoughts, opinion plus some information as your Councilman. PLEASE NOTE that as Council President there is INFORMATION I CANNOT share. So please give me a little leeway.

1. Who, When, Why, Where, and How did this $320,000 DOJ money go missing? This deficit dates back to 2011. It is not the City’s money. It belongs to the men and women of Bay St Louis PD who put their life on the line EVERYDAY! It was NOT disclosed to ANY Council memmber until Mike Farve, Joey Boudin. and myself was called to a private meeting by Chief Mike Denardo after hours to disclose his notes and findings. We then called for a review and investigation.
2. Since Mike Denardo’s suicide, there has been continuing investigations by NUMEROUS Federal, State and Local enforcement agencies. They are all still active as of this email.
a. BSL expended approx. $4,000 immediately to “secure evidence” by building a secure “evidence room” under the guidance of Sheriff’s Office and the MBI because of “lack of controls” over evidence.
b. City Attorney, Mike Favre, Mayor and myself, with Detectives, were made aware with evidence the day BEFORE Mike Denardo’s death of criminal allegations. Detectives requested evidence and a complete Police Department inventory of weapons directly of Mayor Fillingame. IT was not then available. We had to wait about one hour until one was brought to us to cross reference evidence. Very concerning to the Detectives and us since State law plus Police protocol requires it to be update to date and immediately available.
3. Info presented at that meeting of “gun pawning.”
4. Info also given regarding “payroll time sheets” from the police department that were delivered to the Administration to pay payroll.
5. Notes and other information was intentionally “left behind” by Mike Denardo for the detectives conducting the investigation.
6. I have personally met with face to face and by other means with some BSL officers, at their request, about numerous concerns they have now and still have.
7. There are current Police brutality cases.
8. Officer accused in one of the above cases has an attorney and is contemplating legal action against BSL.

Other info being “looked at” and or being investigated that I’m not allowed to state.

The above is information of facts, not assumptions, scare tactics or political rhetoric but based on info from meetings that I attended as Council President and or Vice-President over the last approximately 14 months.

Clearing up of misinformation that’s being talked about or being “spread” erronously:
1. BSL PD is not being abolished, eliminated or “taken over” and being brought “down to Sheriff’s Office.”
a. You will not notice any changes in uniforms, cars, building, where you call for a car (228-255-9191), 911 and or picking up copies.
b. Court will still be held at Council Chambers. Fines will still be collected and kept by BSL.
c. BSL Police Cars will always be in BSL patroling unless a tragedy must bring us all together.
d. The lower pay adjustment from BSL to Hancock County will be supplemented by a stipend to each officer presently employed by BSL and retained by Sheriff’s Office. Health insurance, pension, etc. will not be lost but absorbed thru Hancock County’s payroll system.
e. BSL Police Officers, Detectives and HIDTA Drug agents will have more cooperation, guidance, training and technology presently used by Sheriff’s Office and City of Diamondhead which is under Contract presently with Sheriff’s Office.
d. We have in the past experienced “patrol shortages” in Ward 6 as some of you have notated to me and was verified by me. This proposed contract will allow Sheriff’s Office to move cars in to assist BSL cars that may be tied up in other matters. This includes their Detective Division assisting us.
2. The reductions you’re hearing about will come from streamlining administrative staff with Sheriff’s Office administrative staff, staffing patrols as needed per areas and cutting overhead.
3. I assure each and everyone of you that I and this Council will never reduce “boots on the ground” or sacrifice public safety to save a nickel! We will and can add to staff as warranted by needs. The Council, Mayor and public will be briefed by Sheriff major on concerns that he may have go forward and he will listen and take our input on public safety matters in Bay St Louis.
4. Officers will still be able to receive and be compensation for off-duty activities.
5. BSL will have a Sheriff appointed Captain that will serve as required as BSL Police Chief.
6. BSL will be under the direction of our elected Sheriff Ricky Adam, Under Sheriff Don Bass and with cooperation of his entire staff as we may require.
7. We WILL NOT be billed any more than our monthly Contract when Sheriff’s Office “assist’s us” with “additional enforcement help” per our current interlocal mutual assistance agreements.

Finally I’d like to thank Sheriff Adam for being there for us in a very tragic time when we needed him.

Councilman Favre: Continue reading “Bay City Councilmen Favre and Falgout have issued statements regarding the future of the Bay PD”

Financial Failures of 2013 still haunting A Place Apart: The Case for Outsourcing Code and Law Enforcement (Part 1)

Going back over 140 plus posts Slabbed has done on the financial operations of the City of Mayberry Bay St Louis serves as a reminder that we’ve been on that particular beat since the Spring of 2014 and had been paying attention for about a year before that. In hindsight 2013 was the watershed year and that year also happened to be the last election year for City officials. To understand what is happening now is to understand what was going on back then. Also key to understanding today’s events is to understand that “A Place Apart” truly is Apart from a Home Rule Charter standpoint and therein lies the root cause of the problem. First up is the City’s Charter which is colloquially known as “Strong Mayor-Weak Council”.

There are about 300 municipalities in Mississippi and the overwhelming majority (90% or so) use the “Weak Mayor” home rule option. Bay St Louis is one of ten municipalities that use Strong Mayor: Here is the skinny from the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State:

The mayor-council form of government is essentially a “strong mayor” form of government made available by the legislature in 1973 and approved by the Department of Justice in August 1976. It is used in 10 municipalities in Mississippi: Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Columbus, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Laurel, Meridian and Tupelo.

The Bay is the runt municipality in the strong mayor world. The proverbial strong mayor has vast power including almost complete control over the City’s workforce. Larger Cities benefit from this kind of organization because keeping the bureaucracy on point is easier when there is a clear Chief Executive. In smaller Cities with smaller work forces like “A Place Apart” it has the drawback in allowing day to day municipal operations to be dominated by a single person, in this case Hizzoner.

The City Council (as opposed to Board of Aldermen in “Weak Mayor”) only controls two things directly and those would be the budget and the annual audit. City Councils also have investigative authority under the law.

With that set up we need to circle back to the previous City Council that was in place in 2013. Not long before the election that Council began to allow the Mayor to spend the remainder of the municipal reserve fund on capital projects such as decorative street lamps for Wards 2 and 3. By the time the party primary elections took place in May 2013 the City was effectively broke despite the Mayor’s very public denials in the media. We know the City was broke because less than a year later the City’s auditors disclosed they were considering issuing a “Going Concern” opinion on the City’s financial statements. But its worse than just being broke. Continue reading “Financial Failures of 2013 still haunting A Place Apart: The Case for Outsourcing Code and Law Enforcement (Part 1)”

Mystery Solved & Miscellany: Bay St Louis still has not submitted its 2014 Audit to the Office of State Auditor

As we unraveled this mystery the scene that pops into my mind is Homer Simpson doing his famous DOH after doing something boneheaded.

First up is why is the 2015 audit not online at OSA? The answer is the 2015 audit is in review and that it will not show up until the City gives OSA technical Assistance a copy of its 2014 audit. Further a letter was mailed on February 11, 2016 from the OSA’s Greg Higginbotham which stated:

As of February 5, 2016, this office has not received the Municipality’s Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year End 2014. Mississippi Code Section 21-35-31 requires this report to be filed with the State Auditor by September 30 of each year for the preceding calendar year. This statute also provides penalties for Municipalities who fail to file their reports. We ask that you file your report immediately.

We understand that there may be special circumstances causing your filing to be delayed. If this is the case, it is important that you make us aware of these circumstances. Please contact me at 800-321-1275 if the Municipality’s Annual Financial Report will not be forthcoming in the next few days.

If I may be so bold to give Municipal Clerk Gonzales some free advice since the above letter was addressed to the “Municipal Clerk” it would be Continue reading “Mystery Solved & Miscellany: Bay St Louis still has not submitted its 2014 Audit to the Office of State Auditor”

Playing the local media for fools here on the Coast is nothing new part 2 (Updated)

When it comes to Bay St Louis, WLOX seems to get played more than the rest folks. A compare and contrast is in order, first the WLOX story which relies on one source and that source happens to be the person responsible for the Bay St Louis – Department of Justice disaster:

Mayor Les Fillingame tells us the audit could be complete by the end of the year. Fillingame said DOJ officials indicated they want the city to remain in the drug forfeiture program, despite any potential problems.

Those problems could include not spending the drug forfeiture money the correct way or not documenting the expenditures properly.

If that is found to be the case, the city could be asked to pay back up to $300,000. That money would come from the city’s general fund. Fillingame said he hopes that is not the case.

Now let’s highlight Wes Muller’s story on this matter for the Sun Herald. Muller relied on multiple sources for his story and the difference shows:

“It was pretty simple,” Mike Favre said of the meeting. “We’ve got to put the money back. They’re going back and they’ll discuss whether we get to keep the money once we put it back or if they’re going to take it.”

He said there’s a chance the DOJ could take the $320,000 as “some sort of punishment.”

“We’re still being looked at by other agencies,” he said. “I think one of them is the DOJ’s inspector general, and from what I understand, it won’t be good if they come in. You don’t want them there.”

So not only will the City be required to make the DOJ fund whose cash were misspent by the Fillingame Administration whole it may have to repay the entire thing to the DOJ, which means the City will likely also be kicked out of the program. That sounds serious to me. Continue reading “Playing the local media for fools here on the Coast is nothing new part 2 (Updated)”

Secretary of State Hosemann: Bay City Officials Never Notified his Office of Triple Tails Encroachment on State Green Space

In our first post on the topic of the Fillingame Administration playing Santa Claus with state owned land I asked the following question:

Does anyone reckon that Seal, Compretta, McDonald or Hizzoner came clean with Hosemann about the council granting Triple Tails permission to cantilever their building over the green space in direct violation of the lease between the City and the Secretary of State?

I also disclosed that I had contacted the Secretary of State’s Office with some questions on this matter and here one day in advance of another meeting between City Officials and Secretary Hosemann I received an answer to the inquiry, which was:

Did the City ever contact SOS and advise SOS in early 2015 that they were allowing Triple Tails to construct their building over the state owned green space? If so what was the nature of the contact and how was the questions-City requests handled by SOS?

That was an important question because there was lots of paper wasted in the form of Board minutes in 2015 documenting contact between City officials and Secretary Hosemann’s office regarding Triple Tails. The timeline constructed with the help of the Hancock Alliance for Good Government contained in the first post on this topic illustrates: Continue reading “Secretary of State Hosemann: Bay City Officials Never Notified his Office of Triple Tails Encroachment on State Green Space”

Houston we have a problem Part 2: Councilman Compretta refuses to acknowledge massive problems in the Bay St Louis Building Department

Whether it is commercial buildings constructed over property lines, average citizens getting the run around or building department employees being used to harass the Mayor’s Critics the problems with having unqualified mayoral cronies instead of professionals in Building and Code enforcement are pretty well documented. Last month with the Council considering privatizing the building Department, the Mayor mustered the support of some favored contractors to speak in favor of the status quo as well as give his council ally Bobby Compretta some cover to make a fool of himself:

Otis Bounds said he agreed with Carrigee, but said the city needs to “upgrade our building department and put some knowledgeable people in there.” Bounds referenced Carrigee’s tenure in the building department and said even though he didn’t always agree with Carrigee’s answers, Bounds said he knew Carrigee was “always right.”

“If I get an answer now, you better go look it up because it’s probably wrong,” he said. “Either upgrade the building department or keep the bunch you got off the beach.”

Ron Thorp said he was at the meeting where the city of Waveland voted to privatize its building department.

Thorp said the aldermen were pleased with the privatization of the building department because they said it eliminated the phone calls, took the pressure off of them and took the politics out of the building department.

“It saved the city a lot of money,” Thorp said. “If you heard all the people that came up here, the one thing they said is,’if you’re going to privatize it, have someone that is good.’ So we can save money, have it privatized and have a good person in there.”

Councilman Bobby Compretta said, from what he’s heard, he doesn’t think the council needs to fix anything that’s not broken.

That workshop had a little something for everyone including Councilman Seal again showing his zeal to raise everyone’s taxes but it was Compretta’s attempt to spin the dysfunction in the building department that was most pathetic IMHO as he is a realtor and should know better than most. Continue reading “Houston we have a problem Part 2: Councilman Compretta refuses to acknowledge massive problems in the Bay St Louis Building Department”

Old bad habits live on in a Place Apart

Want to bring up new business to the Bay St Louis Council and not be on the meeting agenda? No problemo you just do it and the doormats on the City Council invariably seem to go along. This is how you end up with an audit presentation happening at a Council workshop when an “audit update” morphs into a full blown audit presentation. It is slated to happen again tonight with the Mayor telling WLOX he’ll be bringing his pick to be chief of police to the City Council. Funny thing is that item of business is not listed on the agenda emailed out by City Council Clerk Tilley.

12-06-16 Agenda
Click to obtain full 3 page City Council agenda

The first round of public comments are limited to agenda items only and since a new Police Chief is not on the agenda the Council will not hear from the public before they rubber stamp the Mayor’s choice. Worse though is the City Council spent around $10,000 on a performance audit which included the Office of the State Auditor telling the Council they should not take action on any item not on their agenda, noting the Council in the past frequently engaged in this highly questionable practice. Continue reading “Old bad habits live on in a Place Apart”

Bay St Louis City Council meeting recap: City Clerk Gonzales tries her hand at hoodwinking the City Council

Of the last four City Clerks only one had the kind of professionalism and personal integrity to follow financial portions of the Mississippi Code while the other three sold their professional reputations for a paycheck. Unfortunately Clerk Gonzales falls in with the majority in my opinion and it was a rather simple, somewhat innocuous looking agenda item in 3(g) that attracted my attention before last Tuesday’s meeting:

Source: Bay St Louis City Council
Source: Bay St Louis City Council

The reason the proposal to set up an Unemployment Compensation Revolving Fund within the Municipal Reserve Bank Account attracted my attention is the obvious co-mingling of dedicated funds, a major no no the council should have learned by now.

That said there were at least three City Councilmen, lead by Councilman Doug Seal, that evidently retained none of the training given them by the Office of the State Auditor’s Performance Audit division in favor of railing about there being too many bank accounts (itself a confusion between the terms “fund” and “bank account”). That said, after a member of the audience repeatedly mentioned to City Attorney Trent Favre the money needed to be separated into its own fund, were questions asked by Councilman Boudin. The council ended up telling Gonzales keep the funds separate. Continue reading “Bay St Louis City Council meeting recap: City Clerk Gonzales tries her hand at hoodwinking the City Council”

Rafferty out as Bay St Louis City Prosecutor

This has something to do about a conflict the City Council would not waive Tuesday night involving the lawsuit Mr. Rafferty filed against the City over his September bill.

As an aside surely Rafferty knew when he filed the Bill of Exceptions he’d be out as City Prosecutor. Something tells me there must be a backstory here worth knowing.

Saturday Special: It’s Still Screwy in Bay St Louie….

As a young auditor I learned very quickly that one thing governing boards dislike more than anything else is “Emergency” special called meetings. Along those lines we get a flavor from Cassandra Favre’s article on yesterday’s Bay Council emergency meeting that the Council was not very happy and for good reason. To set things up Cruising the Coast is in full swing with the Old Town section of the City jam packed with classic cars and people. If there is such a thing as a good time to call a City Council meeting, the Thursday – Saturday stretch of Cruising the Coast would be off limits yet that is exactly what the Mayor asked the Council to do, three days after a regular meeting, so the City could make its next payroll. The meeting was not streamed by Jerry Beaugez of Mayor Fillingame’s Administration as neither attended the meeting which the Mayor asked to be called. The lack of a live stream and the conspicuous absences appears to be an exercise in trying to hide the fact the City does not have enough of a general fund balance to make its first payroll of the fiscal year. Here is a snippet:

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

Oops, sorry folks, wrong meeting workshop. Here is a snippet from Cassandra’s story: Continue reading “Saturday Special: It’s Still Screwy in Bay St Louie….”