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….”

Microcosm of Dysfunction: Last night’s Bay City Council meeting had a little something for everyone….

First off I did not take a poll but WLOX (Hugh Keeton if I’m not mistaken), The Sun Herald and the Sea Coast Echo were all in attendance or watching one of the various the live streams. It was a marathon meeting and I’ll start with the later portion of the meeting before I left around 8pm, two and a half hours in and the August bill from the former City Attorney:

Bay council rejects $10,000 bill from ousted city attorney ~ Wes Muller

Anyone that has witnessed the early performances of the new City Attorney understands exactly why the City Council made the change. As an added bonus, the Citizens are finally getting value for their money in legal.

Next are the Third Street fence Nazis and that dysfunction in City government mentioned in the post title. First up we must backtrack to the September 6, 2016 Council meeting and I have this via Cassandra Favre at the Sea Coast Echo:

Several residents spoke out against Anita Warner’s application for a variance to the zoning ordinance in order to construct a six-foot aluminum fence on her front yard property line fronting on Third Street and Caron Lane and extend it to the side yards. The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the recommendation that the fence be aluminum and have a 10-foot set back. Many residents said they didn’t want the fence or greenery there because it would obstruct people’s vision. Warner attended the meeting and presented the city with photographs indicating similar fencing surrounding her residence. Ellis Anderson, a representative from the Historic Preservation Commission, told the board, after Warner and others had left the meeting. Two weeks ago, they voted down her request. Her choice was to appeal to the city, which Warner did, and the council sent her request to planning and zoning. The council granted the variance with the stipulation that the six-foot fence be constructed out of aluminum made to look like wrought iron, no obstructions in the right of way and a 20-foot set back on the corner and regular setbacks on the front and side, which is 20 feet.

Bay St Louis Historical Preservation Member Ellis Anderson addressing the City Council on September 6, 2016. Photo via the City of Bay St Louis Facebook page.
Bay St Louis Historical Preservation Member Ellis Anderson addressing the City Council on September 6, 2016. Photo via the City of Bay St Louis Facebook page.

The above is factually correct but it does not paint a very rich picture of the events. The meeting of September 6, 2016 was a marathon meeting, with the zoning variance being near the top of the meeting. Ellis Anderson made her entrance into the Council chambers and spoke to the council at 10:30 at the end of the meeting with the exchange between the Council and Anderson turning a bit testy. The City live stream of Anderson’s remarks is partially contained in the last three minutes of the meeting video but it cuts off right at the point when the exchange got a bit testy. Cassandra nailed the crux of the historical commission argument above and I’ll quote it again: Continue reading “Microcosm of Dysfunction: Last night’s Bay City Council meeting had a little something for everyone….”

Oppositional-defiant: This is what the Bay St Louis City Council deals with frequently

I’ve been to or saw the live stream of at least three Council meetings over the course of the summer where one or more City Councilmen explicitly warned the Mayor to not use the former City Attorney’s services after his contract expired on July 31, 2016 as the Council would not approve it for payment. And of course what does the Mayor do? If you guessed he uses the services of the former City Attorney you’d be a winner!

Courtesy of a person familiar with the operations of Bay St Louis Municipal Government Not Authorized to Speak with the Media
Courtesy of a person familiar with the operations of Bay St Louis Municipal Government not Authorized to Speak with the Media

Continue reading “Oppositional-defiant: This is what the Bay St Louis City Council deals with frequently”

18 U.S. Code § 4 – Misprision of felony: A primer for culpable Bay St Louis City Employees

I’m writing this post specifically for one group of people, Bay St Louis City employees that knew what was going on and decided to go along to get along in order to keep their jobs. “I was only following orders” is not a legal defense. Knowing of the commission of a crime and doing nothing is itself a felony.

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

As a matter of editorial policy, Slabbed New Media is calling for the immediate prosecution of any and all Bay St Louis City Employees that had knowledge of, or any involvement in the payroll fraud alleged by Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam.

Updated: Throw Momma from the Train: It’s Screwy in Bay St Louie and its now unraveling like a cheap sweater

What we have here folks is a recurring theme in the human condition when someone without a moral compass leads others astray, dirtying them up in the process. It’s deadly serious now and today the Sea Coast Echo has blown things wide open with some of their finest reporting in quite some time but first guess who is not dead after all? That’s right folks, Chief Denardo’s Mother. And who was it that told the world that Denardo was reeling from his mother’s death? Bay St Louis’ Dishonorable Hizzoner, Les Fillingame:

Asked about possible reasons the chief may have taken his life, he said De Nardo had been “reeling from the death of his mother,” was in a state of personal grief.

Interesting as this was in today’s Sea Coast Echo:

Eubanks said De Nardo is survived by his mother in New York; his wife Patricia; his son Michael, Jr.; his step-daughters Eubanks and Ashley Baradell; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; sisters; uncles; and aunts.

The truth is simply not in him folks but its worse because while Fillingame has been maintaining for two days in the media that the legal troubles facing Denardo were outside the scope of his employment with the City it turns out the issues were inherent to his employment and the following three current city employees can now be identified as being involved in the payroll processes that surround these very serious allegations: Continue reading “Updated: Throw Momma from the Train: It’s Screwy in Bay St Louie and its now unraveling like a cheap sweater”

Updated: Tip received by the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives led to Chief Denardo’s Suspension

The rumor mill has been going full tilt since Chief Denardo’s suicide about this time yesterday. None of the rumors have been 100% correct but I have spoken with two people outside of City government that were close to the Chief along with a number of off record interviews I will not go into but this much we do know now officially, that the ATF had received “unsubstantiated criminal intelligence” about the Chief but had not opened a formal investigation when the Chief tragically took his own life. Kevin McGill and Rebecca Santana have the skinny for the AP:

“ATF had not opened a formal investigation but had received to this point unsubstantiated criminal intelligence regarding the chief’s activities,” Denham said.

“We had not approached him. We had not confronted him.”

He said barring DeNardo’s death, the agency would have moved forward to investigate and confirm or dispel the intelligence. He could not give details on what the intelligence was about.

Slabbed has been told a bit more about the subject matter but it has not been officially confirmed. I will say this, the ethical tone for an entity is set at the top. Auditors are taught that time and again, if the CEO is unethical then they will have lots of company in their organization. At DMR we saw that exact scenario in the story Slabbed broke about the brother in law contracting in the artificial reef program. This concept will again manifest itself in the Bay. I will disclose this, indications strongly are that the Chief is not alone in terms of potential wrongdoing as other current and/or former employees have also been implicated to the ATF and as the facts bubble up, its likely the Bay will be shaken to its core. There is no way to candy coat it folks.

But that’s not all and it gets potentially worse. To get a clue on the worse we need to visit with Wes Muller’s story from this morning for the Sun Herald: Continue reading “Updated: Tip received by the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives led to Chief Denardo’s Suspension”