That post title is a mouthful folks. So while we continue to dig out after taking a long weekend to see the eclipse here are a few documents of interest. First up is from Slabbed’s Twitter timeline:
Slabbed has confirmed with #SMTTT. Hancock Library Director did not finish Library Science Masters. Info on Clearinghouse 100% accurate.
— Slabbed New Media (@SlabbedNewMedia) August 21, 2017
Lana Noonan was kind enough to nab via Public Records Request the Tuition Assistance Grant Agreement between Ms. Thomas and the Mississippi Library Commission for everyone to see. As Lana aptly put it seeing the documents is so much better than gossip:
Interesting and important is that Ms. Thomas only drew $4,600 of the $10,000 total grant. From the Transparency Mississippi Website:
The Hancock Library dog and pony show crossed into the Twilight Zone at the Waveland City Council meeting with Executive Director Courtney Thomas giving legal opinions. Even better her ‘professional opinions’ differed from Waveland’s City Attorney. It reminded me of a Twitter exchange between Piers Morgan and Ben Shapiro earlier this week where Morgan and Shapiro compared law school credentials.
At the Waveland meeting, Mayor Smith shut down Ms. Thomas when she began trashing the County Sups but it was then we really began to wonder what Thomas was hiding behind these outbursts. One email with links solved the mystery.
Since Ms. Thomas has been fond of quoting the Mississippi Code how about we join in and quote section 39-3-17(2): Continue reading “Are the Hancock Sups undermining the Library system? If not then who is?”
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.
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””
OK folks, I know “politiced” is not a proper word but the notion fits. There has been a ton of ink spilled on the Hancock Sups wanting to see change in the Hancock Library system going back to the prior Board. By now everyone should know the drill as it has repeated itself a few times, the first with the old Board of Sups. County funding is cut and one or more of the various branches close or have their hours of operation drastically reduced. The people that depend on the library system howl and funding is restored. The current Board of Sups took a better approach by opting out of an outdated interlocal agreement which funds the system. The clock is ticking away to September 30, 2017 when the funding agreement dissolves and the interests behind the library system are making tons of noise.
Despite massive amounts of reporting from both the Echo and the Sun Herald including an oped which contained what I’d term a blanket endorsement of the County system, the public has yet to hear why County officials are motivated to see change in how the Library Foundation conducts its business. That changes today and it comes courtesy of a document on the County’s website which was given out to the municipal governments that participate in the interlocal agreement.
It was put together by County Administrator Eddie Favre and contains comparative operational information from both his research and from the library system itself. The devil in the details becomes self evident, the Hancock Library system is overstaffed by a 2-1 ratio compared to its peers including and especially its peers in Mississippi. The library system is overbuilt, again by a 2-1 ratio to its peers nationally and in the State. More disturbing to me is it lags in certain technological measures including ebooks. It’s all in the 38 page pdf sent out by Favre on behalf of the County Sups.
Its at this point that I’d urge the more thoughtful folks reading Slabbed to put yourself in Supervisor Scotty Adam’s shoes. A mile of paved country road cost over $120,000 these days with the price of everything going up while tax revenue is stagnant. Before you even talk about raising taxes it behooves most elected officials to see if they can gain some money by right sizing the various departments and component units. That is clearly what is driving the Supervisors here and the political interests that are driving the library system are pushing back in order to maintain the status quo. The numbers make this much crystal clear, the Hancock Library system is no bargain for the taxpayers, especially those in the Cities of Waveland and Bay St Louis that pay for the bloated library system twice on their annual property tax bills.
I always thought the difference between living in a City or in the country boiled down to a quality of life calculus. For City dwellers, having a local library is a generally part of the quality of life equation.
Maybe we’re math challenged but removal of the County millage would reduce the average property tax bill no where near $60 per that breakdown nor can we see how the small library millage added to Bay St Louis taxes would bump the total to $60. In any event the name of the local tax collector was invoked: Continue reading “Senior Fillingame Administration Official “feeling delighted” about potential cancellation of Hancock Library millage”