Tag Archives: ENRON

DMR Scandal Day 80: This is too rich…….:-)

There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Folks we all gotta take off our hats to the DMR Beat Team at the Sun Herald because the gang is doing a great job, especially in today’s day and age of the local newsroom cut to the bone by absentee investor owned chains like the Sun Herald’s McClatchy that struggle under massive corporate debtloads.  Bad times in the newspaper industry are no secret but the Sun Herald’s reporting on the unfolding scandal at DMR should remind us all of the societal value of high quality investigative journalism.

I mention this because often times one has to often read between the lines in a straight news story to fully understand the situation the reporter(s) is (are) trying to convey.  Today it does not take much reading to figure out the Sun Herald would love to fully flesh out this entire DMR topic but they feel stymied.  Here’s a long winded explanation why.

Today’s top story on DMR by Anita Lee and Karen Nelson on Bill Walker’s Foundation is mostly a recap of previous reporting  dating back to December 8, 2012.  That said it had a few new quotes from CMR Chairman Vernon Asper and yes, he comes across as clueless Billy Walker tool, which he surely was considering he chaired the Commission on Marine Resources yet evidently knew next to nothing about what was going on at the agency.  This in turn is a massive breach of Asper’s fiduciary duty as Chairman of the CMR but we need to circle that for now.  It also had quotes from emails involving Bill Walker’s son Scott arranging one of those taxpayer funded fishin’ trips with representatives of an engineering firm out of Mobile, Thompson Engineering.  It was nice to see the taxpayers bought beer and that Pascagoula Mayor and fellow crony capitalist Robbie Maxwell has entered into the equation.  Maxwell, Pascagoula’s part time Mayor is as bad as Bill Walker folks, maybe even worse IMHO.

As bad as this is, and believe me what Phil Bryant’s coastal political cronies have done is very bad, none of this is new and Gov Phil, better than anyone should know exactly what I’m talking about as he was state auditor when it all came down: ENRON.

It was massive accounting frauds at ENRON and WorldCom that led to government regulation of large swaths of the CPA profession and deservedly so I’ll add.  For instance at ENRON there was an ossified, ineffectual Board of Directors stacked with politically connected phonies like Senator Phil Gramm’s wife Wendy, an economist that could rationalize about anything. At DMR, by their own admission we have a Board of Trustees that had no clue what was going on and who evidently did not bother to engage their jobs beyond the free boat rides, fishing trips etc.  When the people that are supposed to be running the show are asleep at the switch bad things happen as we found out at ENRON and now DMR.

ENRON used off balance sheet special purpose entities or (SPE in accounting lingo) as a major vehicle for much of the criminal activity that occurred   DMR director Bill Walker created an off books foundation that sucked all manner of tax dollars away from DMR’ mission to support the boats Walker used to wine and dine everyone on the taxpayer dime and lord knows what else. Continue reading

The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain helps DMR Director Bill Walker buy his son’s property. A DMR friends and family program update.

Like the systemic political corruption in Jefferson Parish, the unfolding scandal at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is like a cheap sweater in that one loose thread has been pulled and now the whole thing is unraveling.  As Karen Nelson at the Sun Herald has reported on each new out house transaction, I sense a growing public outrage, especially now that a not for profit organization with a previously sterling reputation has emerged as a co-conspirator to what strongly appears to be illegal acts involving DMR Director Bill Walker and his son Scott.  Tina Shumate, the person at DMR in charge of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program is also neck deep in the cesspool doing real estate deals with her parents with public money and it is with Tina’s parents brother that we’ll start as she is no ordinary legacy political hack stinking up state government as her daddy brother Curt Hebert is an expert in wallowing in the crony capitalism cesspool dating to his disastrous run as head of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Agency, which in reality regulated nothing expect the lining of their own pockets:

Hebert, a former Mississippi utility regulator who is often regarded as a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), was named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in January 2001. A Republican, Hebert was first nominated to FERC in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton. During Hebert’s tenure, FERC has been criticized for being too laissez faire, and Hebert’s critics accuse him of being a free market ideologue.

Indeed it was under Hebert’s watch that ENRON price gouged west coast power consumers by manipulating power supplies, causing rolling blackouts and other disruptions that allowed ENRON to profit mightily from selling electricity into the contrived power shortage.  Hebert is an expert in Mississippi style crony capitalism and it appears his daughter sister well learned at his side how to slop at the trough.

What I am gonna do today is link the Sun Herald reporting for those that want to catch up and call bull on DMR Director Bill Walker’s assertion the OIG showing up at his office late last Summer is somehow routine.  A state agency seeing someone from the State Auditors Office is routine though it appears the Auditor’s office, as it concerns DMR corruption, has been asleep at the switch for many years and in my opinion their Johnny-come-lately appearance on the DMR scene is to ascertain the extent of the scandal so it can be contained as I have no faith Governor Phil Bryant wants to see this scandal exposed since it involves so many of his supporters.

But before I get to those links everyone needs to know what a questioned cost is as I get the feeling many people think it is an auditor raising their hand saying, “Oh ohh I got a question about this cost!” as that could not be further from the truth. Continue reading

Thank goodness for the New Media……

Because large segments of the traditional media certainly seem to suck these days.

I mention this because the UK House of Commons has passed judgment on News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and the verdict is not good.  News Corp is the international parent of US-based Faux News, the news network for the faux conservatives also known as the modern-day republican party.  It all fits in a weird sort of way.

Interestingly, the claims of ignorance about what was happening in the companies Murdoch was running has long been used by US-based business execs, with some success I’ll add, to defend themselves against claims of wrongdoing, ENRON’s Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay being prime examples along with your typical Wall Street investment banker.  It appears the representatives in the House of Commons are possessive of more commonsense than your average US Congressman. Continue reading

Working girls: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

Here is a quick blast from the past for our newer readers circa early 2009 where we explored the employement history of Senator Chris Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, as companies her husband oversaw chairing the Senate Banking Committee had a curious preference for hiring Ms Dodd, especially the now taxpayer supported AIG.

Meantime over at Yahoo ALL Mr CLS finished his Thanksgiving reading and added Wendy Gramm, wife of former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, architect of the financial deregulation bill that ultimately imploded our financial system, who had a preference for working at ENRON and State Farm. Continue reading

Juriscribe checks in with a great post on executive pay. Lesson of the financial crisis #1: Why good corporate governance matters to everyone.

FORGET HEALTH CARE, IF THE CRAZIES WANNA LOCK AND LOAD LET ‘EM TAKE A BEAD ON CORPORATE EXECUTIVE PAY

Ever wonder why you just paid $2.75 a gallon at the discount Kroger pump? Oil went from $145.00 a barrel in July 2008, down to $34.00 in December. And, when the recession hit, domestic consumption went way, way down. So . . . how does this supply and demand thing work anyway . . . shouldn’t the price be really cheap right now?

Well, here’s a possible answer that the feds are saying they’re gonna look into. There are these super rich corporations, investment bankers and hedge funds that manipulate the commodities markets, and make money from us by keeping the prices of things we gotta have, like gasoline, artificially high. In other words, they flip the supply and demand rule upside down, and hijack the market. A Los Angeles Times Business column Money and Company reported about 30 days ago that a report was coming out soon that will show oil traders, aka “speculators” are to blame for the oil prices’ spike ups in 2008.  Imagine the profits – let’s say you and buy all the oil contracts we can get our hands on at $50.00 p/b and by the time we sell, we’ve spiked the market to $145.00.

So who are these traders or “speculators?” If you ever saw the documentary film “Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room” you’d know. Watch this You Tube clip, or if you’re really intrigued, watch the whole film some time. (Personally, I think it ought to be part of the core curriculum in every high school). There’s a scene in the You Tube clip where some Enron energy traders are laughing about manipulating California’s electricity grids to jack prices up. If you wanna cut straight to the chase, start watching at about the 2 minute mark.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvLZBv8HsO4]

Right now there’s a lot of grousing by corporate execs over this Citigroup oil trader, and his bonus pay for the fine work he did for Citigroup in 2008-2009.  The execs claim the government is unlawfully tampering with his pay package, and illegally taking away his “earnings.”   This Continue reading