City Attorney Favre to meet with County Attorney Yarborough to hash out Library Inter-local

Those that watched the live stream of last week’s Bay City Council meeting already knew the score. The rest got the usual comprehensive account from Cassandra Favre over at the Echo. Using Cassandra as our primary source let’s imagine we’re a fly on the wall when the City Attorney meets the County Attorney and we get to hear Trent Favre’s talking points, as told by City officials at the last meeting:

“I don’t believe we need to fix something that’s not broke”…

“We have a bigger stake in this,” he said. “The county made mention that they had three libraries out there. Well, their three libraries look like little mom and pop shops. We got super Walmart.

Continue reading “City Attorney Favre to meet with County Attorney Yarborough to hash out Library Inter-local”

Analysis | Definitive Account: “Supervisors finalize their end of new HCLS library agreement”

Dwayne Bremer was at Hancock Board of Sups meeting, which was dominated by Hancock County Library system Executive Director Courtney Thomas raising a ruckus over the proposed new inter-local agreement because it gives the County, the system’s largest financial contributor by far, a majority of the new Library Board seats. Ms. Thomas currently has a “handpicked board” per Ward 6 Bay St Louis Councilman Josh Desalvo at Tuesday’s Council meeting. That pretty much sums up the crux of the controversy with speculation running rampant that the reason Executive Director Thomas is acting out so is because she fears for her job. Meantime the clock is ticking per Dwayne’s story:

A few months ago, supervisors voted to opt out of the current agreement, saying — among other things — that the current agreement is out-dated and unfair to the county.

If a new deal is not reached by Sept. 30, the county would no longer provide funding for the library system.

The original inter-local agreement that created the library system is about 25 years old and does not include the city of Diamondhead and its library.

This gets me to Tuesday’s Council meeting. At an earlier Supervisor meeting both Councilmen Reed and Seal asked the Sups to reconsider opting out of the current library inter-local but that request to kick the can never stood a chance. The issue of Library over staffing has put a strain on the relationship between the last 2 Boards of Sups and the current library Board.  It has popped in and out of the news cycle for the last three years including Thomas closing the Diamondhead branch for a brief time before the last election, an act that from outward appearances was designed to show the Sups who was Boss and that gets me to this snippet on who contributes what to the current inter-local: Continue reading “Analysis | Definitive Account: “Supervisors finalize their end of new HCLS library agreement””

Other Voices | Lana Noonan: Hancock County Budget Season Update

It’s difficult to tell where to begin when it comes to Budget Season with our local entities. The number crunching has begun, and the departmental wish lists are presenting major financial challenges for our local officials.

Let’s begin with the City of Bay St. Louis. The seven guys on the City Council are working hard to get their budget together for the upcoming fiscal year of 2017-2018.

One little kink in the wheel that must be resolved sooner rather than later is WHERE IS THE 2016 AUDIT??????? Kind of hard to formulate a budget until you examine your auditor’s candid verdict on your books of account for the past fiscal year. The Auditor, Bobby Culumber, is MIA. They had better find him pretty soon. I think the audit was due on June 30, 2017 which would have given the City Council ample time before budget workshops to identify and confront their monetary issues and prioritize them.

Moving right along, the issues that have been discussed at the last two budget workshops are:

1. Going out for bids on the city’s insurance which is due to renew in Feb. or March of 2018.

2. On this same subject, since Council does not approve benefits for part time employees, they should also remove themselves from this benefit. Their position does not require them to spend every day at City Hall. ALL OF OUR PUBLIC ENTITIES SHOULD ELIMINATE THIS FROM THEIR BUDGETS. THINK OF THE MONEY WE WOULD SAVE.

3. Supporting the continued presence of a Tourism Office in Hancock County and lending financial support. Councilman DeSalvo also wants to solicit support from the Downtown Merchants since they benefit the most from Tourism events such as Cruisin’ the Coast. Continue reading “Other Voices | Lana Noonan: Hancock County Budget Season Update”

A County Apart: Hancock Sups talk dissolving Hancock Solid Waste, gets push back from all the likely political interests

There’s too many pigs for the teats ~ Abraham Lincoln (As quoted by Shelby Foote in Ken Burns The Civil War)

Last month Slabbed took a look at the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority Budget as it was topical in political circles locally and sure enough on July 17th the County Board of Supervisors opened discussion about the future of the authority which is, with the possibility of one exception, unique in the State of Mississippi. Neighboring Harrison County for instance uses interlocal agreements for trash collection as administered by the Utility Authority, another local political subdivision that exists in most every county in the state including Hancock County. Put in simpler terms Hancock County is an outlier in having a separate layer of government to administer the trash collection contracts. That layer of government costs extra money to maintain and that is why the Board of Sups is looking at eliminating the Authority.

Before I get to Dwayne Bremer’s account of that portion of the July 2017 Supervisor meeting the following has to be set up. A frequent criticism I get at Slabbed from those readers that are not from this immediate area is that Slabbed writes “too much to the inside” and what that means is there are often important contextual details that are assumed in the narrative rather than being disclosed in the narrative. A reader in Jackson needs that context to truly understand what is happening and there is a whole line of books that goes by the title “insert name” for Dummies. So along those lines this post is Hancock County Solid Waste Authority for Dummies so everyone will understand, not just the locals.

Similarly the local paper which is written for a local audience often writes to the inside for the same reason.  For instance why disclose that local tax collector Jimmy Ladner is the Solid Waste Board’s Attorney’s Father when virtually everyone locally knows that fact?  Ladner himself prefaced his remarks on that relationship according to Lana Noonan and several other meeting attendees that spoke with Slabbed real time during the meeting.  But it is that bit of context that gets us to Dwayne’s story: Continue reading “A County Apart: Hancock Sups talk dissolving Hancock Solid Waste, gets push back from all the likely political interests”

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”