Why Hancock and Jackson County newsers should have their eye on the recent MDOC Scandal guilty plea

Bribes ‘cost of doing business in Mississippi,’ says consultant who pleaded guilty ~ Anita Lee

Simmons also admitted bribing the county supervisor with $2,000 monthly payments from a consulting fee provided by Health Assurance LLC of Jackson. The company had a contract to provide medical services at the Harrison County jail. Health Assurance paid Simmons a total consulting fee that climbed to $10,000 a month while he represented the company from 2005 through 2011.

We’ve heard the name Health Assurance LLC here on Slabbed before and that would be here among other places. The link in that old post leads to Jackson Jambalaya and this from the very end of Kingfish’s post:

Priesters? Now we are getting into Bennie Thompson territory.

Robert Simmons goes into Bennie Thompson territory as well according to Anita Lee’s reporting on his guilty plea but those are not the only territories where Health Assuarnce LLC plying it jailhouse contract trade leads: Continue reading “Why Hancock and Jackson County newsers should have their eye on the recent MDOC Scandal guilty plea”

Guest Post: How Long Does Transparency Take in Hancock County???

On November 19, 2013, the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government appeared before the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and requested they put their Minutes and Dockets online as part of their website for the general public to view,especially since their meetings are at 9:00am when the vast majority of folks are out trying to make a living.

It is interesting that they have upgraded their site somewhat to include Agendas and Dockets although not completely up to date. But there are no Board minutes. Folks, that is where the business of the taxpayers is taken care of—where you can read who made what motion, how your elected officials voted, who missed meetings etc. That is the meat and potatoes of the public’s business.

The “chatter” throughout the County about how secretive some of their “business” has been conducted bears out in one glaring example:

In their February 7, 2011 minutes the Board of Supervisors actually voted over the telephone, which is in direct violation of the Mississippi Open Meetings Law. There is no provision in the Open Meetings Law for telephone polling– only telephone conferences of which the public must be informed in advance. The Alliance for Good Government was given a “tip” on this. When we inquired about it, Mrs. Lisa Cowand Board President, emphatically denied it. So we appeared at their office unannounced and obtained a copy of the minutes revealing the truth about their actions.

The February 7, 2011, telephone poll was for a resolution on Tourism Legislation. Now, what could have been so secretive about that? We’ll never know because the public was deprived of hearing their representatives deliberate the issue in front of the public they represent and who pays their salaries.

Those voting in secret over the telephone were:
David Yarborough—Yes
Roderick Pullman—-Yes
Lisa Cowand———Yes
Steve Seymour——Yes
Tony Wayne Ladner-Yes

This is only one example of how they have no conscience about handling the Public’s business in secret. And 3 of them are running for Re-Election this year—Yarborough—Cowand—Ladner.

This is the 15th year of the 21st Century—IT IS PAST TIME FOR TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT IN HANCOCK COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI!

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

More transparency issues with the Hancock Board of Sups

My personal opinion is the local government with the most transparency issues is the Bay Waveland School Board but the new Hancock County beat guy with the Sun Herald documents more transparency issues involving the Supervisors including an unwarranted executive session. This type problem extends across the coast:

Lack of transparency at Diamondhead Water and Sewer District and Hancock Board of Sups Disturbing

All I can tell you folks is that my spidey senses tell me something is not right when Citizens can’t gain access to basic financial records.  And when a governmental body conducts their financial affairs without public oversight bad things invariably seem to happen.  Dwayne Bremer has a must read story on Monday’s Hancock County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Calling Car 54……

Is Diamondhead an old school southern plantation? Discuss.

All I know is that the Bat line here at Slabbed New Media is ringing off the hook on the Diamondhead Water and Sewer District, it’s capital project plans and it’s budget. These public records are what I would term basic and yet I am getting reports the Citizenry is being denied access. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors appoints the DWSD Board. Watch out for the Mississippi two step when the Sups and DWSD start pointing fingers at the other. Either way this topic has captured my interest.

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”

Bonus link: Down the primrose path we go…….

In today’s day and age entities with several hundred employees should have a qualified risk manager on staff, the post title and my takeaway of the below explains why in this particular instance:

Supervisors weigh options as health insurance costs climb ~ Dwayne Bremer

Back in the good ole days local governments could actually bid their coverages. Nowadays, salesmen for oligopolies rule the day.

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”

Wednesday Omnibus: Jefferson Parish Pay to Play gets scrutiny, Miller reviewing offshore drilling regs plus the Rocks, Lucky Coin and more

I’ve been having some technical difficulties but finally knocked those out yesterday afternoon. I’ve also spent some time lately improving technical back office issues here at Slabbed including a better security perimeter as Slabbed has been subject to at least one denial of service attack in the past 6 weeks. The streets of information dissemination aka the news biz are mean indeed.

That has worked out OK though since the local news cycle has been slow but today the dam has broken and we have links galore.  In the interest of time I’ll do this in one post so let’s start with Margie Seemann of the Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government.  Margie, her sister and the gang at CFGG are true public servants and today the issues with campaign finance so often highlighted by CFGG go front and center in the NOLA.com series Louisiana Purchased. Let’s start with a video interview of Margie:

Companies seeking no-bid contracts dominate Jefferson Parish campaign contribution list ~ Manuel Torres

Campaign finance transparency not enough to fix Jefferson Parish’s contracting problems, groups say ~ Manuel Torres

Who to believe? The likes of Chris Roberts and Mark Spears or our own lying eyes? It’s not even close folks.

Next up in that pesky FBI investigation into former St Charles DA Harry Morel, a story Slabbed pioneered beginning over 2 years ago. Continue reading “Wednesday Omnibus: Jefferson Parish Pay to Play gets scrutiny, Miller reviewing offshore drilling regs plus the Rocks, Lucky Coin and more”