If there was one lesson of the post Katrina rebuilding process that some places had to learn the hard way is that FEMA and Uncle Sam should not be confused for Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a role reserved for the local taxpayers and in this case Taxpayers/Utility ratepayers in the City of Bay St Louis that are stuck repaying what FEMA has termed excessive to the tune of $62,925 in engineering fees, an amount which is not chump change in small town Mississippi. There are a few things that I noticed researching this topic and it is at this point I must acknowledge the contribution of Lana Noonan of the Hancock Alliance for Good Government to this post as she went up to the City Hall complex and read several years worth of minutes that adds a great deal of color. Before we get to any of that we first check in with Cassandra Favre at the Sea Coast Echo and her telling of Tuesday a week ago’s Council meeting:
The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to extend the $13 fee on utility billings through Dec. 31 to satisfy a payment to FEMA for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project.
Mayor Mike Favre told the council that MEMA owes the city about $168,000 for the Rutherford Pier project.
“We write the check back to them and they give it back to FEMA,” Favre said.
The city owes FEMA about $238,925, he said, for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project. That would leave the city owing $70,000, which is due by March 31, Favre said.
Favre said the second appeal to FEMA for engineering costs reimbursement was denied in December 2016.
According to the second appeal analysis from FEMA, “on Sept. 10, 2014, FEMA”s Region IV Regional Administrator denied the applicant’s request for an additional $171,499 for engineering design costs. The RA noted that the $171,499 awarded for engineering fees is considerably more than the suggested percentage normally allowed for engineering and design services of above-average complexity.”
The answer to that question is pretty clear to me, the folks that elected Congressmen Steve Scalise, Bill Cassidy and John Flemming that flooded out in Louisiana should practice what they preach and not get a dime of federal help. By extension, since Mississippi’s fluffer Congressman Steven Palazzo also voted to deny Federal Aid to Superstorm Sandy victims the same would apply here in Mississippi the next time a hurricane hits the coast right?
In light of recent allegations that some insurers in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may have denied or rejected Superstorm Sandy flood damage claims based on falsified reports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now prepared to reopen “every flood insurance claim” filed by Sandy victims, officials announced.
As someone in the industry who has represented liberty mutual on dozens of their cases it is with certainty that I can say they are the worst slimeballs in the industry second only to State Farm. I have heard their newbie adjusters tell elderly insureds they did not have a claim despite having lost their teeth and fractures to their jaws from slipping on wet floors that had been mopped in dark rooms. I have seen them deny claims that were clearly covered. I have seen them justify and defend cheating beneficiaries of their benefits and I have seen them cheat their own employees.
State Farm just had another reorg and guess who got cut. All of the employees from Mississippi who had to defend Eds Russ and Lecky’s decisions to cheat policyholders. That is how they rewarded their loyal senior staff. It was sad that the local adjusters managers and agents got the shaft for Ed and lecky’s unscrupulous behavior.
Additional vital background can be found here and more recently here.
Folks, a few years ago when the Ed Rust Memorial Flood Insurance reform act was passed there was one website in the country that knew the fix against the ordinary Joe was in and that would be Slabbed. Locally, the real estate market died when the cost of Flood Insurance skyrocketed and all the local pols like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Mississippi’s Steven Palazzo, both of whom voted for the insurance industry sponsored bill, ran away as fast as they could as the specter of mass bankruptcies in their constituency loomed large. Another bill with band aid attached was passed and all was declared right in the world, except it isn’t.
There is nothing I could write on election day that would impact more than a handful of voters as people generally have their minds made up well before election day but today before most of you head out to the polls I’d like to remind you folks there is not a nickle’s worth difference between the two political parties as it appears most of those running for high office are strictly in it for themselves, their friends and family and I have an example right here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast which again illustrates the concept.
Last February, NBC News’ Bill Dedman ran an expose on how the rich, famous and powerful had an inside fix for the Flood Insurance blues in simply paying someone to have their property removed from the Flood plain in the FEMA Flood Maps. Gulfshores Alabama had several beachfront luxury condominiums remapped from the Flood Zone saving them (and the folks from places like Jackson, Mississippi that own the units) literally hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The specter of the owner of the house just up the beach actually paying more in annual flood premiums for a beach house than a luxury condo tower became reality and those that can afford to own an oceanfront condo once again get the government subsidy.
StopFemaNow is a group of concerned citizens, who have not only been effected by Super Storm Sandy, but who have been impacted on varying levels by the implications of the new FEMA flood maps. The decision to adopt these maps is premature and requires additional consideration. We want to, quite simply, Stop Fema Now!
Our goal is to create community awareness as the adoption of these maps will heavily impact many communities across this country. These maps will tear many from their homes, force many to make harsh decisions about their futures with no real place to turn and ultimately change our lives. The financial implications alone are frightening!
We are faced with many unanswered questions and very little direction. StopFemaNow intends to provide a fact based argument as to how and why we can rebuild stronger and more resilient with a more “realistic” approach. Together we will prevail!
And I am already hearing rumors additional defendants will be added to the suit. The Bay Waveland School Board, in my opinion, has wholly failed to properly discharge their fiduciary duty to the taxpayers and voters of Hancock County and if this litigation begins consuming tax dollars meant for education, Slabbed New Media will not be kind to the perpetrators. Click the pic to nab the PDF:
I see from Pacer Magistrate Roper has recused himself from this case. It took me a few seconds to figure out the likely reason, which I will not share, but I will say Magistrate Roper is known as a straight shooter that calls his cases down the middle and he was absolutely right to stand down here IMHO. Continue reading “Magnolia Group sues over Bay Tech Building Swindle”
The troubled Flood Insurance program is billions of dollars in debt and the Biggert-Waters Act, designed as it was by the Insurance Industry for the sole benefit of the insurance industry guarantees that the billions of dollars in wind claims private insurers such as State Farm dumped on the NFIP after Hurricane Katrina will be repaid by the NFIP ratepayers instead of the large companies that socialized their contractual obligations under their insurance policies that dumped them on the US Treasury. Unfortunately the people of this area were sold out to the insurance industry by our own politicians, who now claim ignorance of the impacts of the bill upon which they voted Aye.
In related news Alpert checked in yesterday with a report on the FEMA pilot program on adjusting flood maps to give credit for locally built, non-accredited levees. This seems a risky proposition to me due to the fact ongoing maintenance of these systems has been historically neglected plus filling in marshlands for development is bad for the environment. What this area needs is smarter development that does not impact or alter the floodplain, not more levees.
Let’s use some excerpts of the OIG report on DMR’s land acquisitions to illustrate why the taxpayer paid appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School Board as cover for their friends and family program are not worth the paper they are written on. First up we need to know what the OIG auditors did and they well explain it: