ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..

Nunn Yabidnez was kind enough to give us his take on the Pascagoula’s mayor’s race in comments. It also pairs up well with Tyler Carter’s article last week in the Mississippi Press:

Pascagoula mayoral candidate addresses speculation regarding his residency

A few more links:

Eighteen candidates qualify for municipal races in Ocean Springs ~ Warren Kulo

Who’s running for city offices? Several Coast mayors face challengers ~ Paul Hampton

Over on the West side what we have is the proverbial culture of corruption:

Bay officers fired amid federal probe of ‘secret’ account, officials say ~ Wes Muller

Off books secret bank accounts in Mississippi local government is more common than one would think. Once uncovered nothing good ever happens for those involved, even if the secret account was created with the best of intentions. This is what Hizzoner told Wes for the above article:

Mayor Les Fillingame would not comment on the investigation but confirmed the officers’ resignations and terminations.

He was a little chattier with the Sea Coast Echo’s Dwayne Bremer:

“None of these officers were targets into the investigation of former Police Chief Mike De Nardo, he said. “They all left for various reasons. I really cannot get into specifics because they are all personnel issues, but I can say that two of them left to take jobs at other departments.”

It is at this point that I will disclose a number in the number 6. Continue reading “ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..”

Other Voices | Lana Noonan: The Devious Bay Waveland School District

The “dog and pony” show that was put on for public view by the majority of the Bay-Waveland School Board, their attorney, Ronnie Artigues, and guest speaker, attorney Jim Keith on the night of February 15 led me to make a Public Records Request for the CD audio of the meeting.

Mr. Keith’s visit to the School District Board meeting was, I assume, at the suggestion of School Board Attorney, Artigues. The bill for his visit, however, will go to the taxpayers. Obviously the Advisory Opinion of Tom Hood, Director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission either didn’t impress Artigues or Keith, or they knew the majority of the board was dumb enough to follow their advice rather than an Ethics Board Opinion. This is not a first for this board and its attorney.

Hood’s Advisory Opinion pertained to the school board appointing Vikki Landry Superintendent. She is the sister of the Business Manager, John McCraw. Long story short, the ethics opinion cited state law and an AG Opinion prohibiting such nepotism, and held that one or the other should resign their position. The brother sister team could not serve together.

Artigues and Keith convinced the board, with the exception of Casey Favre, to defy state law.

Keith even went as far as to tell the board there were “other districts in the state that do this all the time.” When I confronted him after the meeting for the names of those districts, his reply to me was, ” I’d rather not name them. I don’t want them to get reported.” I replied, “Reported for what? You just told this board it was perfectly okay for sister and brother to work together in the Central Office in violation of State law.” I didn’t get any names.

My experience in acquiring the audio of this meeting is evidence of the devious behavior that goes beyond the board and their attorneys. Continue reading “Other Voices | Lana Noonan: The Devious Bay Waveland School District”

It’s all relative: Senate Bill, Ethics Opinion put the Kibosh on School District Nepotism

Earlier this month we did a series of posts on K-12 education, the last one disclosing a meeting Slabbed had with Bay-Waveland School Board Trustee Mike Bell. The meeting, which included local parent volunteer Cami Cornfoot and Lana Noonan, President of the Hancock County Alliance for Good GovernmentTM dealt with the hiring of a new Superintendent of Education and the optics involving the fact the new Superintendent’s Brother was the existing business manager of the school district.

We covered a lot of ground over the ensuing two plus hours of discussing the state of the school district. I reserved judgment as I was in it for the information and I wanted to hear the School Board’s side of things. Lana on the other hand was pretty staunch in holding her position that the resulting nepotism from the hire of Vikki Landry looked awful. Simply put, Lana held Trustee Bell’s feet to the fire as they would eventually nicely agree to disagree on the subject.

To kick start things we need to re-visit Cassandra Favre’s January 27, 2017 story, BWSD may need 2 assistant superintendents, which left her readers (myself included) with the distinct impression the School District’s Central office expanded by one Assistant Superintendent solely to ameliorate the problems created by hiring the sister of the business manager as the Superintendent. Trustee Bell took issue with that characterization saying the addition of the second Assistant Superintendent was a discreet event that was not done to solve the nepotism problem involving Landry but rather involved a more sweeping reorganization of the business office in a move that cut the amount of local funds spent on Administration.

First what I found strange was both the before and after job description matrices we were presented showed the business manager answering organizationally to one of the Assistant Superintendents, a setup I had never seen in my 20 plus years auditing and consulting with Mississippi K-12s. Every other school district that I have first hand knowledge had the School Business manager answering directly to the Superintendent which makes sense given the job responsibilities handled by the School Business Office. The “before reorganization chart” was thus strange for lack of a better term because the arrangement would have had the Business Manager answering to his sister when she was Assistant Superintendent. Turns out that was not the case but before I get to that let’s visit with Kate Royals at Mississippi Today:

A bill removing a provision in the law allowing school districts to hire relatives of the district’s superintendents and principals passed the Senate on Wednesday.

State law defines a relative as a spouse, child, sibling or parent. The bill would, however, put in place a process for spouses of superintendents to be hired.

This bill was sponsored by Sen. Grey Tollison at the request of the Mississippi Ethics Commission. Continue reading “It’s all relative: Senate Bill, Ethics Opinion put the Kibosh on School District Nepotism”

Jefferson Parish Council Jackassery Miscellany: Mini-me and Zahn lead the way with Noodles on top

One thing I’ve learned is you don’t mess with the M&M sisters or the CFGG and the reason for that is simple: The CFGG’s message is pure, without hint of hidden agenda.  Councilman Ben Zahn will learn that in time but first:

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn disagrees with citizen group ~ Adriane Quinlin

The headline was charitable because the story makes it clear that Zahn was more of a garden variety ass than anything IMHO.

Next up the gang is taking illegal straw polls as Slabbed will continue to assume there is double dealing galore in the shadows of these specious public hospital “negotiations”.

Jefferson hospital lease suitors to present in public; secretive conduct called into question ~ Ben Myers

Of course, when I write posts about the Jefferson Parish Council and Chris Roberts in particular, I generally get the warm fuzzies thinking about the pictures.  :-)

Slabbed catches up with the original Jefferson Parish deadhead worker as Norma Broussard comes out of hiding.

I was amused Wednesday evening when Ignatius stopped in with a comment on a comment (since deleted by NOLA.com on their site) regarding the second Times Picayune news article that appeared Wednesday evening on Team Theriot suing the blogosphere. The second article was modified by T-P editor Drew Broach whom evidently maintains ties to Team Theriot and who slipped the word “deadhead” into the lede along with changing the author from Rich Rainey to himself. Now I honestly could not tell our readers exactly what a newspaper editor does besides proofing stories but one thing is certain, Mr Broach must have had his head firmly inserted in Mr Theriot’s hiney when we profiled a true deadhead worker in Aaron Broussard’s daughter in law Norma, the lady responsible for keeping a drunk in Craig Codina on the road until he finally killed someone. The other posts in our original series on Norma Broussard and how a lawyer with little to no experience was put in charge of the prosecution of every traffic offense in Jefferson parish can be found here (We busted the Picayune making excuses for Norma) and here (Tax Assessor Lawrence Chehardy’s law firm could not “de-Norma” their website fast enough after our first post).

Norma and her handlers must have thought the coast was clear after months in hiding from the media, so this past week she got up with Times Picayune reporter Melinda Morris. The story is sadly of the variety that I term “lazy journalism” and not because of the big wet kiss the Picayune planted on Norma but rather because it touched on very important constitutional issues the reporter flat-out missed (along with any semblance of reality about life in local traffic court). Let’s begin with Ms Morris’ report from team Broussard:

People arrested on suspicion of DWI know it’s harder for them to get convicted if they refuse the breath test, so they often do refuse, according to a Jefferson Parish prosecutor. Continue reading “Slabbed catches up with the original Jefferson Parish deadhead worker as Norma Broussard comes out of hiding.”

There is a Broussard in the woodpile part deux: The Times Picayune carries water for DA Connick and misses a chance for Jazz. Slabbed passes out the Razz.

Over the two plus years Nowdy and I have done this blog I’ve had occasion to take employees of news organizations out to the woodshed from time to time for sloppy reporting. Notice I did not use the term journalist or journalism as such implies a level of professionalism which is invariably missing when I bring the wood. With few exceptions my poison missives are directed at the national financial media, which in reality is a collection of well read parrots and whores such as AP reporter Ieva Augstums or Reuter’s Kevin Drawbaugh (The brothel over at CNBC is another post). After reading my poison posts invariably I’ll get an email from a real journalist with the question along the lines did you email them for clarification before you ripped them? While I don’t normally waste valuable finger time with financial reporters that should know better I will go out of my way for the  local press and that brings us to today’s topic of Craig Codina, a serial drunk driver that I introduced to the Slabbed nation early this month where I profiled the politics of drunk driving in Jefferson Parish and identified the unqualified political hack responsible in former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s daughter in law Norma. And it is with Craig Codina’s recent plea to his 4th drunk driving offense, the one that finally killed an innocent motorists that we’ll visit with next. Times Picayune employee Michelle Hunter filed the story:

Craig Codina, a multiple DWI offender from Destrehan, pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular homicide and third-offense DWI in connection with two separate Metairie car crashes.

Codina, 26, also pleaded guilty to first-degree negligent injuring before Judge Conn Regan in Gretna’s 24th Judicial District Court, according to Trooper Melissa Matey, spokeswoman for the State Police.

The homicide and negligent injuring charges stem from an Aug. 1 wreck on Airline Drive in Metairie that killed Sandra Stevens, 30, of New Orleans, and severely injured Santos Garcia, 28.

Codina pleaded guilty to third-offense DWI as well as careless operation of a motor vehicle in connection with an October 2008 accident on Causeway Boulevard in which he crashed into the back of a vehicle driven by a teenager. She was not injured.

Despite the fact that the August fatal wreck was Codina’s fourth arrested for driving while intoxicated, he was booked only with second-offense DWI for both that crash and the Causeway Boulevard wreck.

That’s because the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office was erroneously informed that Codina’s first conviction in St. Charles Parish in 2001 was for underage DWI, which can’t be used to enhance penalties for subsequent offenses.

The mistake came to light after a Times-Picayune article in August about Codina’s record. Codina actually pleaded guilty to first-offense DWI in 2001. Prosecutors upgraded the charge in the October 2008 crash to felony third-offense DWI, after learning about his past record.

Regan sentenced Codina on Monday to 30 days in parish prison for the careless operation charge. Neither Codina, nor his attorney, David Motter, could be reached for comment Thursday.

Codina and his attorney David Motter were not the only folks unavailable for comment as I sent Ms Hunter an e-mail seeking clarification of the paragraphs I highlighted above: Continue reading “There is a Broussard in the woodpile part deux: The Times Picayune carries water for DA Connick and misses a chance for Jazz. Slabbed passes out the Razz.”

There is a Broussard in the woodpile: The politics of drunk driving and the Jefferson Parish criminal justice system

It was in the fall of 2006 that I attended my second funeral for a person killed in an accident involving a drunk driver but this time it was extra tough as the victim was a 5 year old girl that was killed on US Highway 98 in Marion County when a drunk driver rammed into the back of the SUV driven by her daddy. The force of the impact caused the SUV to flip several times after it went into the median. Momma was also in the vehicle and her legs were crushed. At the time the surgeons did not know if one of her legs could be saved. She couldn’t come to her baby’s funeral due to those injuries. As I approached the family and the casket I was worried as I didn’t know what words of comfort I would offer to the family. All I could do was shake my head when I got to the front of the line as I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words. “The funeral home did a wonderful job for my baby” her dad remarked to me as we gazed at her in the casket. Indeed they had as half her face had been crushed in the accident. To this day I don’t think he has recovered from that loss.

Jim Brown rekindled those memories for me with his recently published column that took Louisiana’s courts and DAs to task for not enforcing the existing DUI laws. In response to that column we were pleased to have the Avoyelles Parish DA stop in with us begging to differ with the premise of Jim’s column but we also noted that Jim stuck to his guns in his reply. Curious as to the real cause of the problem I sent out some email inquiries to several of the Louisiana based lawyers that we count as regular Slabbed readers and that input, along with my remembrance of a fairly recent story involving a repeat DUI offender in Jefferson Parish resulted in this post where we’ll explore the politics of the DUI as it exists in Jefferson Parish.

Let’s begin by backing up to August of last year and the case of Craig Codina, a serial drunk driver who finally killed someone in his fourth alcohol fueled accident as Paula Devlin reported for the Times Picayune:

When State Police handcuffed Craig Codina last weekend for plowing his truck into the back of a car on Airline Drive, sending the other driver to the hospital and fatally injuring a passenger, it marked his fourth drunken-driving arrest in just eight years.

In fact, the 25-year-old Destrehan man is scheduled to appear in court this week for trial in the third case, a frighteningly similar crash in which he is accused of smashing into the back of a teenager’s car on Causeway Boulevard in October. Continue reading “There is a Broussard in the woodpile: The politics of drunk driving and the Jefferson Parish criminal justice system”