BREAKING: City of Bay St Louis Cited in Preliminary Opinion for Violating Public Record Law

The long and short of this dust up is David Wells asked for a copy of the City’s open litigation list, a document that previous City Attorney Trent Favre kept as a matter of routine. Not only was he stonewalled by City Attorney Heather Ladner Smith, Mr. Wells was then told by Smith the document he asked for didn’t exist, a “fact” the Ethics Commission adopted in its findings. After being stonewalled by Smith, Mr. Wells was able to obtain the document that he requested from Mayor Ice, who evidently understands the value of treating the Citizenry with some respect. Here is the preliminary opinion:

R 18 036 PubRecords by on Scribd

Here is the litigation list as it existed at that time: Continue reading “BREAKING: City of Bay St Louis Cited in Preliminary Opinion for Violating Public Record Law”

Mississippi Ethics Commission finds that the City of Bay St Louis violated the Mississippi Public Records Act

On June 5, 2015 the Mississippi Ethics Commission cited the City of Bay St Louis for failure to comply with the Mississippi Public Record law set forth in authority section 25-61-1 et seq of the Mississippi Code (1972).

The City’s response to the Ethics complaint, lodged by Ron Thorpe of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government claimed the City’s response to the Thorpe PRR was “proper complete and adequate”. However, the Mississippi Public Records statute is very clear that public records requests must be be produced seven days after receipt of the request for production or within fourteen days provided certain notification protocols are utilized. Bay St Louis City Clerk Katherine Smith failed to produce the records within the 14 day time frame, belatedly producing the requested records after Mr. Thorpe was compelled to file an ethics complaint on the matter.

Several members of the public have complained to Slabbed New Media regarding the City of Bay St Louis openly flouting compliance with the Mississippi Public records law as well as in public comments to the City Council. These compliance problems coincide with the exposure of the financial crisis that gripped the City in 2014, when it was forced to refinance its Water and Sewer Bonds or face default. Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame had previously steadfastly maintained the City was solvent despite the imminent default, which was averted with the refinancing of the bonds at a cost to the taxpayers of over $150,000.

Finally, sources familiar with the operations of the State Auditor’s office indicate to Slabbed New Media that an investigation has been opened into certain of the City’s financial practices, including the issuance of $500,000 of debt without any apparent statutory authority that was used to pay past due bills owed to the Hancock County Utility Authority dating to the 2013 fiscal year.

Those wishing to see the final order should click below to obtain the two page pdf.

BSL Ethics Opinion

BSL Ethics Opinion