Let’s drill down on the OIG report on DMR’s friends and family program to expose fatal flaws in the appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School District in the Bay Tech Building Scandal

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:

You see folks, the auditors may have had specific information that DMR Director Bill Walker and his assistant Tina Shumate were looting the program for their personal gain but going in blank they would have noticed a ton of red flags. Preliminary procedures would include comparing the real estate valuations (appraisals) against tax roll appraised values. Drilling down into the appraisal report themselves for those transactions that had large variances would include evaluating the appraiser’s work product against professional standards in the field. The OIG was kind enough to identify for us 15 requirements and best practices and summarize how each DMR transaction failed at least 4 of those 15 best practices/requirements: Continue reading “Let’s drill down on the OIG report on DMR’s friends and family program to expose fatal flaws in the appraisals obtained by the Bay Waveland School District in the Bay Tech Building Scandal”

Sea Coast Echo story on Bay Waveland Schools buying Bay Tech building raises additional questions (UPDATED)

Earlier today I linked the Sea Coast Echo report on the Bay Waveland School Board’s purchase of the Bay Tech Building encouraging our readers to read it as reporter Geoff Belcher attempted to frame the story as a business spat between realtors.  I beg to differ and as I examined his story critically, especially the quotes from Mary Bunch, Avra O’Dwyer and School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues, I ended up with more questions than answers.  Luckily for everyone I did some interviewing of my own so maybe I can answer some of these questions.

Belcher compartmentalizes the topic into “two major components to the controversy” but he missed a few components in the spin cycle so we need to first examine what we know and compare that to the quotes he snagged and the assertions he made.  Since I bring my day job skills to the blogging scene I’ll warn my new readers this won’t read like a newspaper guy wrote this story but I bet I can make everything understandable thus we begin with the disclosure of the people I interviewed for this post: Bill Washburn, former owner of the Bay Tech Building via his company Magnolia Group LLC, Lana Noonan with the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, and Ms Avra O’Dwyer, owner of O’Dwyer Realty.  Before I get to their remarks I’d like to make a couple of observations so let’s quote from the end of the story, specifically the attributed remarks of School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues with Butler Snow:

Artigues likened the process to the district’s recent purchase of two properties near Waveland Elementary to make room for road expansion there.

“We had to offer them the appraised value,” he said. “It’s no different, it doesn’t matter who the owner is.”

Mississippi is considered a non-disclosure state. Property owners are not required to reveal what theythemselves paid for the property to a prospective new buyer.

The $325,000 figure did not become public until Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a nation-wide real estate listing, added it to the Bay Tech description page.

“We got it for the lowest possible number based on the appraisal,” Artigues said, adding that the district was quite pleased with the price, at the time of the sale.

The assertion a govermnet has to offer “appraised value” in a privately negotiated real estate transaction is absurd. I’m not sure of the context of the reporters statement regarding the late date the transaction was entered into the MLS or how it fits. For instance is the reporter trying to hint at the fact the last sale of the building was not considered in the appraisal report the school district paid for after the August School Board meeting?  It simply isn’t clear. Continue reading “Sea Coast Echo story on Bay Waveland Schools buying Bay Tech building raises additional questions (UPDATED)