Time is short folks but this latest turn of events bears mentioning as Tuesday’s meeting has now made the news both on WLOX and the Sun Herald. The quote WLOX snagged from retiring Police Chief/new City Manager Kenny Johnson sets things up nicely:
“I think the council stepped up and showed confidence in me to lead not only the police department but to lead the entire city,” Johnson said. “I want to make sure that things are done properly, that we’re running like we’re supposed to run, we’re working within the perimeters of our form of government and make sure that happens moving forward before someone else is appointed to take my place.”
Slabbed corresponded with a member of the audience associated with the Speak Up Pascagoula Facebook page who indicated exactly what Margaret Baker wrote for the Sun Herald that Mayor Dane tried his hand at forcing out the Chief along with two other officers and ended up getting the chief promoted to City Manager. In this type of Mississippi home rule charter the Mayor is essentially the chief councilman at large with ceremonial duties and one vote (not to be confused with the Mayor Alderman “Weak Mayor” form of home rule). Without a council majority Maxwell has been neutered as a political force in Pascagoula.
No meeting account would be complete without a show of bad sportsmanship and according to the Citizen that wrote to Slabbed the award for that would go to Mayor Dane’s wife, who evidently did not react well to the vote to install Johnson as City Manager.
Folks there has been a lot lacking in Mayor Dane’s performance as a politician in his hometown. Maybe that is why he is running for Southern District PSC. The people that know him best there in Pascagoula will be the first to tell you he is no bargain as a politician.
Slabbed will be having a bit more on the Southern District PSC race very soon.
I do not have a ton of extra time today to write a more comprehensive post on this topic but is the State Auditor’s repayment demand related to the City of Pascagoula designed to help get Mayor Dane Maxwell a seat on the PSC? In my opinion the answer is clearly yes because both the City and Shad White stopped way short on going after all of the culpable parties such as the audit firm which evidently never bothered to read the bond covenants to test compliance with same, to name one such party. Heck, Mayor Dane even re-hired the audit firm, which evidently uses the three wise monkeys method of auditing so they were actually rewarded here.
The fact that the co-mingling of bond money into the general fund didn’t end until Mayor Dane ran up over $9 million of the accumulated deficit should not be lost on anyone. None of that excuses the actions of Maxwell’s predecessors Joe Huffman and Bobby Parker but Shad White’s office stopped far short here. I’d submit that Maxwell is a cesspool politician of the type that White would do well to keep an eye on rather than assist.
Maxwell is opposed by Kelvin Schulz on the GOP side for Southern District PSC. Based on his June campaign finance report, Schulz does not appear to be a serious candidate. Former Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran and Sugar Stallings are battling on the Democratic side.
Slabbed has been keeping one eye peeled on the machinations in Pascagoula, where property taxes are set to increase a whopping 34%, to make up for the financial mismanagement of the current administrations ($9 million of the $14 million dollar total deficit in 1 year) and the prior administration ($6 million of the $14 million dollar deficit over 4 years).
For those catching up, current Mayor Maxwell dropped the budgetary bombshell in late July and blamed a bookkeeper and the former Mayor for the $14 million dollar deficit. Slabbed was the first media outlet to call BS and for good reason as the math didn’t add up the way Mayor Maxwell claimed. Soon the forensic audit report was made public and the more traditional media outlets caught on quickly. Here is the evolution of Tyler Carter’s coverage for the Mississippi Press:
Budget numbers show overspending may be to blame for Pascagoula deficit
Reports show current Pascagoula city leaders have overspent by $9 million
Now for the more recent stories, which are very good, the first containing a nice summary of the events that got the City to a very bad spot:
Pascagoula was nearly broke in 2015, according to forensic audit
It was pretty clear to me that the first set of budget cuts Maxwell announced was little more than window dressing on the administration’s part. Buried in the pre-labor day holiday “bad news Friday” news cycle was this informational nugget: Continue reading “And now its time for a Pascagoula Financial Disaster Update……”
Folks, I thought Mayor Dane and his band of Trumpies had all the answers. Maybe he should have been paying attention to the City’s checkbook instead of grandstanding for headlines in the press last December because the topic of the City being broke should have been publicly discussed way before now:
Independent audit reveals City of Pascagoula faces $14 million deficit ~` Tyler Carter
The story is instructive in the respect that Carter recounted the events Joe Friday style but as you’ll learn reading this post, when the City Attorney is involved in ‘splaining the annual audit, there is going to be a certain level of dishonesty bandied about because it taketh not a lawyer to explain numbers, though lawyers can certainly spin them. Here is an example of some of the bigger whoppers told a few days back:
The auditor and council agrees that this was not an issue from the previous council, but an issue spanning multiple past administrations.
Per the audit reports on file at the Office of the State Auditor there was $4.5 million dollars cash in the General Fund at September 30, 2015 and the General Fund was owed $5.3 million by other City Funds. By September 30, 2016 the City’s General Fund had no cash and was owed a whopping $14.2 million by other City Funds. The General Fund also owed other funds $8.861 million in money it had taken from them in the City pooled bank account.
Anyone with half a brain, including those who purport to be the City’s leaders that balance their own checkbooks could recognize the red flags. The audit report, dated June 29, 2017 was certainly a rude gift to the new City Council and Mayor but the City’s bleak financial picture was certainly no secret. According to the date stamp by the Office of the State Auditor the 2016 annual audit was received by them on October 3, 2017, which means the audit was submitted over 3 months late. I did a cursory search of the Mississippi Press’ on line story archive and do not see a story about the presentation of the 2016 audit to the City Council but I did find a few nuggets: Continue reading “About Pascagoula Being Broke and The Copious Amount of BS Being Bandied About by Mayor Maxwell”
Not long after Slabbed began covering the SRHS crash and burn I was contacted by a knowledgeable observer from out of this area that was kind enough to give me a refresher on Pascagoula/Jackson County politics dating back a generation or so. The story involved SInging River Hospital and those pesky yet economically wonderful railroad tracks that run through the City of Pascagoula and a politically connected landowner. I filed that bit of wisdom away because such background, even though it is ancient history, often comes in handy when deciphering the more recent, topical events.
All of this is a long winded way of saying it was only natural when commenter Ben Dover appeared on the scene here on Slabbed Monday night, commenting on an old post that is not linkable from the Recent Comments widget on the right sidebar they would resonate with me. As such, Ben’s comments, posted to an old untitled music post, were strictly on the inside for those following Slabbed on twitter…..until now that is. I personally can’t wait for Ben to finish the timeline:
Horny Problems in Pascagoula. Kicking over some rocks to see what’s under.
Just the other day I was out for a walk. I heard the train horn and thought to myself something like “Hope Morris didn’t hear that!” Then I thought to myself why would he have such a problem with those trains? Because even before the SRHS financial fiascos were revealed, Morris seemed to have the proverbial hard on to do something about those horns. I know they are loud and no doubt many guests at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pascagoula appreciate such old fashioned sounds less than I do (see various online reviews/complaints for the details.) Then too, building the Jackson County Chamber building about 50 feet from the crossing and then complaining about the noise was a stroke of something.
Then I thought to self something like: Maybe there is more to this horny problem? Continue reading “Comment Bump: Of railroad tracks, overpasses and taxpayer loot in Pascagoula”