And the good ol’ boys are going to town. A reminder to everyone that Auditor Pickering’s investigation nabbed a few low level DMR employees but refusing to release the formerly public documents will save his political buddies tons of embarrassment. There is a reason Scott Walker feels like that he was betrayed folks, mainly because he was.
I guess the low light of the night for me was early on seeing new City Clerk Robert Clark bullshit the City Council on why the Administration will not let the City Council review the original invoices of the claims on the docket they are being asked to approve in advance of the meeting. First, he termed himself “an auditor” despite the fact he lacks the credential to issue an audit opinion and then he told the City Council he could not walk the invoices from the finance office across the street to the City Council annex without getting in trouble with his auditors for not having all of the original invoices, the false assumption underlying this line of reasoning being that his invoices will automatically sprout legs and walk off if he brings them to the City Council Chambers in advance of the meeting for the Council to review. It was pathetic.
But since Clark, who according to Mayor Fillingame worked for a few years at Alexander and Van Loon before spending a few years at Hancock Bank brought up yellow book audits, I figure Slabbed can dispel this myth since your correspondent actually possesses the proper credential to render an audit opinion in the State of Mississippi.
When Jennifer Bell, the City’s auditor, pulls her triple-purpose non-payroll disbursement test (i.e. transactional and compliance testing of the claims dockets), she will require the City furnish the backup documentation to the items she selects for testing (most auditors myself included use a random number generator for sample selection purposes so the results can be statistically analyzed). Copies of possessed original invoices are not an acceptable form of audit evidence for most auditors, myself included, except in very limited circumstances. Auditing Standards Codified, Section 500 explains:
Audit evidence provided by original documents is more reliable than audit evidence provided by photocopies, facsimiles, or documents that have been filmed, digitized, or otherwise transformed into electronic form, the reliability of which may depend on the controls over their preparation and maintenance.
And so at the end of the day, Clark is asking to the City Council to accept a lesser form of documentary evidence to rely on in their vote to approve the claims docket than they give their own auditors for use in supporting their opinion on the financial statements and this despite the fact that in Mississippi personal liability attaches to the Councilmen that approve illegal claims but this is how about 10 minutes of last night’s meeting was spent by the administration, bullshitting the council on why they cant get access to original City records. It was a pathetic display by Mayor’s new City Clerk. They all strongly appear to be hiding something(s) which I guess is why both OSA and DOJ Investigators are now at City Hall.
Towards the end of that part of the meeting I began broadcasting the first Public Comment Section of the night. It took on an Alice in Wonderland quality when a member of the public scolded the City Council for expecting to see original invoices. There is no doubt Joan Coleman is a strong supporter of Mayor Fillingame. It just would be nice if she possessed all the facts before chewing out the council or other members of the public (more on that in a bit). What I’ll do is embed the Video multiple times at different time sequences. I encourage everyone to feel free to watch all 19 plus minutes, which ended abruptly when some kinda of technical glitch kicked me off Periscope. First up the beginning with the last of the discussion on the council’s inability to access the original claims invoices for review prior to voting: Continue reading “Stonewall: Fillingame Administration refuses to separate co-mingled funds plus information withheld from the City Council”
I have it on the best authority that business will be picking up rather dramatically and I plan on being at ground zero when the muck begins to fly later today. Meantime we have Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood joining State Auditor Stacey Pickering in an incredible display of asshatitude per Paul Hampton’s recap of Judge Schloegel’s contempt order against Pickering, Hood and company.
“General Hood curiously stated it might be very embarrassing for a chancery judge to be admonished by a federal judge should the assistant U.S. attorney charge the chancellor with obstruction of justice and contempt of a grand jury subpoena,” Schloegel wrote about the phone call. “General Hood’s hypothetical regarding criminal charges against the undersigned chancellor and other remarks reinforced General Hood’s clear intent not to seek to mitigate the contempt of his client, the auditor, and furthermore, raised questions of his own role, the role of the Attorney General’s Office and the role of the defendants and their employees in the issuance of the federal grand jury subpoena and the wrongful removal of the records from state court jurisdiction.”
I’m not sure where to start on today’s performance by Stacey Pickering in the contempt hearing being held in Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel’s courtroom in Gulfport but this snippet from the latest Sun Herald update seems a logical starting point:
Pickering’s chief of investigations, David Huggins, admitted under oath at the contempt hearing Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy subpoenaed records from the Department of Marine Resources to avoid making them public.
Since we don’t have a transcript the above raises some serious questions and it plays into something I heard from the mean streets of Jackson. The question is whether Huggins actively worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy to deprive the Mississippi public of access to their own records. This much is clear, if we take that snippet at face value then Dowdy was complicit on some level and this goes back to what I heard. This twitter exchange explains it.
It is at this point that I feel compelled to take the Jefferson Parish legislative delegation for a trip down memory lane to the last time the Parish council wanted a law changed that attracted the attention of good government activists across the parish. What makes the similarity in my mind between the stripping of a civil right from the populace in removing the provision for a public vote on the sale/lease/management of the two public hospitals and the “tweaking” of the public records statute on the behalf of TheRiot is both involved major losses of public transparency. Of course it was the behind the scenes deal making that brought the taxpayers both the Performing Arts Center and River Birch Landfill debacles so you’d think the gang on the 10th floor of Yenni along with the Parish Council would have at least had the sense to consider all the ramifications here. Instead I sense the politics of self enrichment are at play, likely with a heavy dose of crony capitalism on top.
In the Spring of 2010 TheRiot asked Louisiana State Senator Danny Martiny to change the Louisiana Public Records law drawing the ire of good government activists in Jefferson Parish. Slabbed made an editorial decision to become involved and I subsequently welcomed Senator Martiny to the legendary Warren Suite at the Do Slabb Inn. Within a few days Martiny appeared on Fox 8 cryin’ that people thought he was some kind of crook. The Parish Council ran for the hills pulling the rug out from under Martiny and this in turned caused me to opine Senator Martiny was a stooge. Now Slabbed has since gone easy on Senator Martiny as he really is not the devil reincarnate as he was the guy that pushed the Louisiana version of the SPEECH Act through the legislature so we obviously share some common ground.
The Parish council met last week in secret with hospital officials and others. Out of that meeting came the request to change LA R.S. 46:1064.2 which would exempt the hospital from the public vote provisions in that law.
Both hospital boards are stacked with political insiders and are notorious troughs where crony capitalism, double dealing and self enrichment are the rule of the day.
The request to change the law was done with “no public discussion, and no dissenting vote on the council.”
Potential public opposition was cited by Sheriff Noodles Norman as the reason for stripping this civil liberty from the taxpaying public. Sheriff Noodles, when he is not palling around with washed up actors like Steven Seagal or arresting criminals is the Chairman of the East Jefferson Medical Center Board of Directors.
Chris Robert$, Cynthia Lee $heng, Elton LaGa$$e are all responsible for the River Birch debacle and their judgment is not to be tru$ted.
Now regarding this legal war between the Parish council and the Housing Authority Board. In it simplest, most boiled down terms the fight is about the financial interests of one man in Gary Lala as it intersects with the desire in the Gretna political set to keep subsidized housing out of that City. Everything else is smoke and mirrors except the stealing and looting, which is very real.
Vital background on Lala can be found here and here.
Folks we all gotta take off our hats to the DMR Beat Team at the Sun Herald because the gang is doing a great job, especially in today’s day and age of the local newsroom cut to the bone by absentee investor owned chains like the Sun Herald’s McClatchy that struggle under massive corporate debtloads. Bad times in the newspaper industry are no secret but the Sun Herald’s reporting on the unfolding scandal at DMR should remind us all of the societal value of high quality investigative journalism.
I mention this because often times one has to often read between the lines in a straight news story to fully understand the situation the reporter(s) is (are) trying to convey. Today it does not take much reading to figure out the Sun Herald would love to fully flesh out this entire DMR topic but they feel stymied. Here’s a long winded explanation why.
Today’s top story on DMR by Anita Lee and Karen Nelson on Bill Walker’s Foundation is mostly a recap of previous reporting dating back to December 8, 2012. That said it had a few new quotes from CMR Chairman Vernon Asper and yes, he comes across as clueless Billy Walker tool, which he surely was considering he chaired the Commission on Marine Resources yet evidently knew next to nothing about what was going on at the agency. This in turn is a massive breach of Asper’s fiduciary duty as Chairman of the CMR but we need to circle that for now. It also had quotes from emails involving Bill Walker’s son Scott arranging one of those taxpayer funded fishin’ trips with representatives of an engineering firm out of Mobile, Thompson Engineering. It was nice to see the taxpayers bought beer and that Pascagoula Mayor and fellow crony capitalist Robbie Maxwell has entered into the equation. Maxwell, Pascagoula’s part time Mayor is as bad as Bill Walker folks, maybe even worse IMHO.
As bad as this is, and believe me what Phil Bryant’s coastal political cronies have done is very bad, none of this is new and Gov Phil, better than anyone should know exactly what I’m talking about as he was state auditor when it all came down: ENRON.
It was massive accounting frauds at ENRON and WorldCom that led to government regulation of large swaths of the CPA profession and deservedly so I’ll add. For instance at ENRON there was an ossified, ineffectual Board of Directors stacked with politically connected phonies like Senator Phil Gramm’s wife Wendy, an economist that could rationalize about anything. At DMR, by their own admission we have a Board of Trustees that had no clue what was going on and who evidently did not bother to engage their jobs beyond the free boat rides, fishing trips etc. When the people that are supposed to be running the show are asleep at the switch bad things happen as we found out at ENRON and now DMR.
ENRON used off balance sheet special purpose entities or (SPE in accounting lingo) as a major vehicle for much of the criminal activity that occurred DMR director Bill Walker created an off books foundation that sucked all manner of tax dollars away from DMR’ mission to support the boats Walker used to wine and dine everyone on the taxpayer dime and lord knows what else. Continue reading “DMR Scandal Day 80: This is too rich…….:-)”