PSA: Hancock County Alliance for Good Government Political Forum for Bay St. Louis Municipal Elections

On Thursday, April 20, 2017 the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is sponsoring a Political Forum for all candidates who have qualified to run in the 2017, Bay St. Louis Municipal Elections.

While The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government does not endorse candidates, since 2010, the organization has provided Political Forums for City, County, and State-wide elections as an opportunity for the voters and candidates to meet and debate the current issues of their government.

The Forum will be held at the Old Town Community Center in the Depot District on Blaize Avenue from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Candidates can register to participate by calling—228-493-4358 or 228-363-9395.

Hancock Schools District Consolidation Study Committee Meets

By Lana Noonan – Special to Slabbed

The first meeting of the Committee to Study the Consolidation of the Two School Districts in Hancock County was held Tuesday in the Bay St. Louis City Council Chambers.

Ron Thorp, Co-Chairman of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government put together a very well thought out and structured cost study program to provide information for the public with regard to what the taxpayers in Hancock County are spending to have two School Districts.

Each member received a packet of the subject areas to be investigated and their particular topic to gather facts on and report back next month. The subject areas to be studied are: Legal expenses, Transportation, Alternative School, Travel/Special Student Expense, Purchasing, Consultants, Administration/ Debt Consolidation, School Board Consolidation, Insurance, Maintenance, State Fees, Dues and Organizations.

Some early figures were obtained by the committee members. For instance the current Maintenance Budgets for the two Districts are:

Hancock School District Current Maintenance Budget–$3,969,883.20, which includes $820,000 insurance, with custodial services, grass cutting and lawn services out sourced to private contractors. These expenses are being incurred for a student body of 4,552 students and 7 campuses.

Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District Maintenance Budget— $2,766,136.83, which includes facility employees ( no number given), janitorial employees (no number given), supplies, equipment, and repairs for 1,865 students and 4 campuses. Bay-Waveland’s insurance cost approximately $800,000 two years ago, and was not included as part of the Maintenance Budget. Continue reading “Hancock Schools District Consolidation Study Committee Meets”

A couple of nuggets from a very somber Bay St Louis Council meeting

Slabbed was there as was WLOX and the Seacoast Echo. The latest meme out of the Fillingame camp involves asking the rhetorical question Who is the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government? It is the exactly the meme the Library folks whipped out after Slabbed pointed out that the Library system and its supporting Foundation had spent $2,400 to Gold sponsor the annual Chamber of Commerce gala, a night of recognition, revelry complete with firewater less than a year after closing East Hancock County Library citing a lack of funds. Since the ideas can’t be refuted when all else fails attack the messenger. A clue for you Facebook Warrior hens, it is possible have an organization without a Facebook page. As an experienced webmaster I’d personally recommend organizations steer clear of Facebook because the company plays too many games with its news feed but that is another post.

Of course it is a very poorly kept secret that the easiest way to find a member of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is to attend a meeting of the Bay St Louis or Waveland City Councils, the County Board of Supervisors and the School Districts. Sadly you seldom see the Facebook warriors at any of these thus the need for news organizations like Slabbed, The Sea Coast Echo, WLOX, The Sun Herald, etc. Slabbed was at last night’s special meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council and sure enough I found three members of the Alliance, Co Chairmen Lana Noonan and Ron Thorpe along with Libby Garcia (Miss. Libby), who was giving an interview to Make Lacy of WLOX when I arrived to cover the meeting for Slabbed:

Here is a short version of yesterday’s story and WLOX interviews with Lana and Miss Libby: Continue reading “A couple of nuggets from a very somber Bay St Louis Council meeting”

The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government has released the following letter to the Bay City Council

Lonnie Falgout, President
Bay St. Louis City Council

Dear Councilman Falgout:

On behalf of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government and in view of the recent and tragic events in the city of Bay St. Louis Administration, we feel a Special Called Meeting of the Bay St. Louis City Council is in order, and are requesting you poll the Council for a Special meeting for the following:

Mayor Les Fillingame in recent statements in the local news media has confirmed that he suspended without pay, late Bay St. Louis Chief of Police Michael De Nardo, because the Mayor had been informed by the Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam that De Nardo, was the subject of an investigation.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department has now confirmed that the City of Bay St. Louis Payroll Department is the subject of a Federal investigation for Payroll Fraud.

Using the same premise under which Mayor Fillingame suspended Chief De Nardo without pay, we are asking the Bay St. Louis City Council to request Mayor Fillingame, Payroll Clerk Pat Tice, Acting City Clerk Paula Fairconntue, Comptroller Sissy Gonzales, Human Resource Director Gus McKay, and any other city employees or elected officials who either prepare or present payroll and benefits for Council approval, to step down without pay until the Payroll Fraud investigation by the FBI is concluded.

If the aforementioned publicly compensated individuals will not voluntarily step down, we are asking the Council to call a Special Meeting and suspend their pay and remove them from their positions immediately and until the investigation is completed.

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Ron Thorp, Co-Chairman

To the Editor: Municipal Donations to Non-profits

To The Editor:

It is Budget preparation time again for our public officials. While we appreciate the effort they put into managing our tax dollars, we would like to make a couple of suggestions since all are working with tight budgets and face many needs to be met for their communities.

  1. As always, public officials are solicited by “non-profit” organizations for donations of public money to help meet their needs. When considering your contribution of our tax dollars to these groups, please make every effort to determine if there is anyone on their staff or in their organization that is paid more than your entity’s highest paid employee or elected official. If so, the answer has to be “no.” If a “non-profit” can out compensate the entity they are soliciting, they do no qualify for public assistance.
  2. If you have outstanding accounts payable that cannot be resolved in the current fiscal year, and have to be carried over as expenses to the next, please do not use our tax dollars for anything other than our immediate financial obligations.

We appreciate the work of non profits and belong to several ourselves. However, we do feel there are other avenues of approach to meet their financial needs such as fund raisers and raising membership dues.

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Ron Thorp, Co-Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

Last night’s Bay City Council Heroes are Councilmen Reed and Falgout

By Lana Noonan, Special to Slabbed New Media

The big surprise party for Mayor Fillingame last night was courtesy of Ward 6 Councilman Lonnie Falgout. Falgout confronted City Attorney Rafferty and Mayor Fillingame with documents from the Hancock Bank pertaining to the Restructured Bond Agreement of last summer when the city could not come up with their payment of over 400,000 on Utility system bonded debt.

Falgout asked Rafferty if he was present when the documents were signed–Rafferty replied yes. Then Falgout told the Mayor that he had signed a document with the bank guaranteeing them that payments of not less than $30,000 a month would be DEPOSITED in the debt service holding account for the payment coming up on July 1, 2015.

Fillingame adamantly denied promising to DEPOSIT the money monthly to the debt service account until Falgout read the document aloud to the Mayor and all present. According to Falgout at the last meeting, no DEPOSITS were made from October, 2014 until the end of March, 2015, coincidentally when the Ad Valorem taxes were coming in from the County Tax office. So, what was happening to that “not less than $30,000 a month” promised to the bank under the Mayor and City Clerk’s signature? This is what caught the attention of Councilman-at-large Mike Favre when he didn’t see that account growing to the amount the council had appropriated in the 2014-2015 budget.

This is important because when the Mayor and City Clerk were taken to task several meetings ago about the funds not being deposited on a monthly basis or reported to the Council, the Mayor took the podium and chastised the Council saying–“you can only speak through your minutes, and you have never told us how you wanted it handled.” Mayor Fillingame then informed the council the transfer to the debt service fund would be made quarterly.

Well, get the Mayor some Aricept, because the Hancock Bank spoke through their document requiring the debt service account, the one that Mayor Fillingame and City Clerk David Kolf signed in the presence of the bank officials and the City attorney. Continue reading “Last night’s Bay City Council Heroes are Councilmen Reed and Falgout”

Pro Bono Publico: Hancock Alliance for Good Government holds Waveland Election Forum

And the new council chambers on Coleman Avenue was standing room only which is a good thing:

The feistiest exchanges happened with the 3 candidates for School Board Trustee:

Circuit Court Judicial Candidate Chris Schmidt gave a quick PSA telling those assembled that because the Judicial races are state elections, Waveland voters may have to vote at two different polling places to vote in the Municipal and State Judicial elections:

The candidate forum concluded with the Mayoral election candidates. Outgoing Mayor David Garcia Continue reading “Pro Bono Publico: Hancock Alliance for Good Government holds Waveland Election Forum”

Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government Spring Newsletter

Spring is trying to arrive, but looks like Old Man Winter just doesn’t want to let go this year. We will be dreaming of these cool temps come August when we are in the middle of a Mississippi summer and heated campaign for the 4th Congressional District Seat. Actually the run-off should be mild compared to the primary between Palazzo and Taylor. The negative flyers are already arriving in mailboxes. Sure hope this doesn’t turn into the fiasco of 3 years ago when the PACS were stuffing our mailboxes and TV screens with all of this nonsense. If this does start, we hope both candidates will step forward and denounce them and demand a real debate on the real issues, and tell the PACS to get packing.

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors is in a quandary over insurance coverage for the spouses of county employees. Claims are much higher than in the past, but on the other hand, employees have not had raises for the past 5 years. This is supposed to be hashed out at the Supers’ meeting on April 7. It would be so nice for the taxpayers of Hancock County to be able to sit at home on their own computers and view the monthly expenditures of the Supervisors, but alas that still has not happened even though District 3 Supervisor Lisa Cowand said at their Nov. 2013 meeting minutes and dockets would be online by April of this year. We checked on Friday, April 4, and their last published docket is still from April 2009, even though we requested this now 5 months ago.

They have been submitting them to the Sea Coast Echo for publication, but that is at the expense of the taxpayers. It would be so much easier and less expensive to just put them on their website. Enough of taking them at their word on this issue.

The City of Waveland is preparing for Municipal Elections, but few have announced to run for office. As the summer gets closer we are sure announcements will be forthcoming for Mayor and Aldermen with the retirement of Ward I Alderman Lili Stahler. Time will tell, and we’ll be watching, and reporting. Continue reading “Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government Spring Newsletter”

Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government: 2014—-A Year of “Elections” and “Decisions”

First of all, a Happy New Year to all–hope your holidays were all you wanted them to be and the New Year will be successful for you. This year will be a year of “elections” or “decisions” if you will. Waveland will hold their municipal elections in the Fall, and if that seems far off, just wait. It will be here before you know it. Certainly the announcements and campaigning will be here soon. The Alliance will sponsor a political forum as we do for all the elections, so stay tuned if you are a candidate or simply a voter.

Events that have unfolded since the Bay St. Louis officials took the oath of office last July indicate that the Bay City Council needs to “elect” to see that their city’s bills get paid whether or not the Mayor does. They may have to “take the checkbook” away from him if need be. This is, of course, a figure of speech, but they do have the legal responsibility for seeing that the bills are paid, which could be to refuse to approve any more dockets until he pays the Solid Waste and Hancock County Utility Authorities what the city owes them. After all, these folks have dockets to pay as well. And using the excuse that they fell behind because they didn’t charge enough for utilities is ridiculous. That’s not the fault of the Utility Authorities. By the way, what happened to the $500,000 line of credit that was supposed to cover these utility bills? And, most importantly, what is the administration doing with the money the users are sending to city hall to pay these bills? The city does’t own any garbage trucks or employ any garbage workers. So what makes them think they can keep funds for a service they not only do not, but cannot perform? Amazing. Who knows what the list of delinquent bills looks like? Now we are hearing that Lowe’s has cut the city off for non payment; and heard it from RELIABLE sources.

Let’s hope the ad valorem taxes in the Bay are enough to take care of these problems what with the Harbor coming on board between March and May–built by the Feds, but to be maintained by the locals. The continuing long list of foreclosures in the paper each week is very disturbing. Continue reading “Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government: 2014—-A Year of “Elections” and “Decisions””

Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government: Openness in Governing

In the state of Mississippi the efforts of some public officials to exclude the taxpayers from their deliberations on the expenditure of public funds has reached epidemic proportions. The sad thing is that the weak laws in this state don’t offer much relief for the taxpaying public.

In one day we get to observe a state official, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, and his staff admit under oath their efforts to hide information not only from the public, but from a Judge.

Then the Bay St. Louis Mayor and City Council call a “special” meeting to finalize the purchase of a new fire truck that will come in at slightly over $500,000. The notice of the meeting went out the morning of the meeting. This doesn’t give John Q. Public much chance to make arrangements to listen or participate in the discussion of the purchase of this equipment with our hard earned tax dollars.

No one is questioning the necessity of the equipment, but the urgency of the meeting is what is suspect. Continue reading “Guest Post | Hancock County Alliance for Good Government: Openness in Governing”