Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hinds County has not paid for Byram police radios nor obtained required approval from state

Note: WLBT working story for tonight's broadcast. Watch WLBT at 6:00 PM. Mrs. Lasseter confirmed radios were delivered.

Supervisors were surprised Monday when they learned Byram purchased its own police radios and rejected the radios supposedly purchased for Byram PD by Hinds County. Earlier post on meeting. Video included.The negotiations over the radios have been a source of controversy as the consultant for Hinds County pushed the County to purchase only radios he sold even though they were higher in price and inferior in quality.

Supervisor George Smith was outraged by the actions of Byram: "These radios have already been purchased. The Board approved those radios. Those radios made it here in four days and we can attest to that. The next day after they were delivered, Northstar went down there and discussed it with y'all... My question is that these radios have already been purchase by 911 funds. How do you tax the taxpayers for additional radios when they are already ordered, here, and ready to be installed? We've done exactly what Byram wanted"

Mr. Smith repeated the same statements to WAPT. Mr. Smith caught a break because the reporter, Erin Kelly, failed to ask him to support his claims. Ms. Kelly did not ask for proof the radios had been purchased or to actually see the radios. Ms. Kelly simply took his statements at face value .

Well, this correspondent rarely accepts what he is told at face value so I spent two hours this week pouring over the 2011 claims docket. Guess what? There are NO payments to Northstar Wireless, EF Johnson, or Nathan Hargrove. There are several payments made to Airwave, LLC but those payments are related to Airwave's contracts for radio and siren maintenance. This correspondent then checked with the Accounting and Finance department and no invoice, payment, or purchase order were on file. In other words, Hinds County does not have the radios nor purchased the radios. However, the negligence by Hinds County and WAPT does not stop here.

Hinds County also failed to obtain permission from the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission to purchase the radios. The procurement rules for the commission state on page three "No Committee or Commission approval or review required up to $100,000 per project or fiscal year; Between $100,001 and $250,000 per project or per fiscal year requires review and approval of Committee". Copy of rules.

Authority to issue such regulations resides in Section 25-53-171 of the Mississippi Code "The commission, in conjunction with the Department of Information Technology Services, shall have the sole authority to promulgate rules and regulations governing the operations of the wireless communications system described in paragraph (a) and shall be vested with all legal authority necessary and proper to perform this function including, but not limited to... (i) Having sign-off approval on all wireless communications systems within the state which are owned or operated by any state or local governmental entity, agency or department."

The procurement committee handles these matters for the commission. This correspondent verified Hinds County never obtained permission for this purchase or submitted a request for the Byram police radios to the commission. I attended the April 6 meeting of the procurement committee. No representatives from Hinds were there nor was any matter relating to Hinds County discussed. The committee only met on January 5, February 3, and April 6 this year. Chairman Keith Harkins and board member Willie Huff both said Hinds has not applied for permission to purchase the radios for Byram. Thus the purchase Hinds County probably violated state law. Mr. Smith has not returned phone calls seeking comment on this matter. Byram obtained permission from the commission for purchase of the Motorolas on February 4, 2011. Seeking funding from Hinds County E911 funds was the last step in the process.

What exactly is going on downtown? Supervisors berate Byram city officials over radios they did not pay for or purchase while claiming they did? If Hinds indeed did purchase the radios, is the purchase illegal since the commission did not grant its approval? One can only hope the media and the state auditor will further investigate this matter.

Phone calls were place to Supervisor George Smith, Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun, Board Attorney Crystal Martin, and County Administrator Carmen Davis. Messages were left with assistants but no phone calls have been returned.

One final note. Supervisor Smith made these comments on WAPT's website. I'll simply post them in full and let you make your own interpretation.

"It’s apparent that the truth about the purchase of the Byram Radios does not want to be disclosed. We, the Board of Supervisors, have provided documents to the news media showing that every piece of communication equipment that Byram requested was ordered and on time."

"Their requests were beyond items that we had purchased for other political subdivisions in Hinds County such as Utica, Clinton, and Jackson. It is clear that Byram made a purchase of $230,000 for radios after they knew that radios that we purchased for $113,000 had arrived here in Jackson ready to be installed. We have documents and proof."

"Anyone in the public that wants to see these documents, I can provide them to you. Another thing the public should know is that there is no emergency. The Hinds County Sheriff Department has and still is patrolling this same area 24 hours with less than ten patrolmen. You should ask where is the emergency?


Anonymous said...

"Anyone in the public that wants to see these documents, I can provide them to you."

Dear George:

Can we see 'paid consultant' Hargrove's contract?

Or is it on a napkin floating around in the trunk of Robert Graham's county car?

Anonymous said...

The more I see and the more I read about Jackson's and Hinds County's leadership the more I understand why people are leaving in record numbers for Madison and Rankin counties. Why would you want anyone like these clowns making decisions that affect your life and safety?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let the public know, since Erin Kelly was advised and she failed to give the truth, that no tax payer money is being spent on the radios purchased by the city of Byram. There will be a $15.00 dollar assessment to all traffic tickets that people are found guilty of and misdemeanor arrests that offenders are found guilty of. So....if you get a ticket or go to jail on a misdemeanor then you are helping Bryam purchase the radios. If you don't break any traffic or misdemeanor laws in Byram this purchase will not hurt you at all! People need to know the truth. Not what the media wants you to believe!

Anonymous said...

The new marketing and rebranding campaign being cooked up by the out-of-$tate con$ultant will fix all of that B.

Anonymous said...

KF, does that make Byram's purchase of the radios illegal as well? I think I remember something about approval from some E911 commission but not sure....

Kingfish said...

good catch. They got approval on Feb 4.

Anonymous said...

Just to answer 12:13 question, yes Byram did go before the Wireless Commission and recieved approval by the board to purchase Motorola Radios. Here is the difference between the BOS and City of Byram. Byram follows the rules! The BOS have no idea what the rules are and if they did all of them think why should the rules apply to us! We are the "untouchables"! They are a joke!

Anonymous said...

One more thing. Didn't Hargrove state in that video that "money has begun to change hands". If so, who's money was it and where did it come from? Or, was he lying?

Anonymous said...

But wait a minute. This can't be happening. Robert Graham is an expert.

Anonymous said...

Well Kingfish another local, local, local, local, local story the Cowsills in Fondren weren't able to find in their songbook.

Anonymous said...

Cowsills...........Man, talk about a blast from the past. Loved those groovy bellbottoms.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so there's no emergency ..... other than the NYE storm, another storm, and the freeze/ice Byram has experienced in the past 3.5 months - that's 2 tornadoes and one ice/feeze -- all while Byram is using sub-par radios. Why wait until there is (another) emergency down there? Why would the county resist putting the best equipment in Byram's hands? And the S.O. is not "patrolling 24 hours," but is only the first-responder to 911 calls until June 1.

Anonymous said...

George Smith says "there is no emergency"! Well George Smith there is an emergency in Byram. The Sheriff's Department is answering calls in Byram put Byram is not being proactively policed. In order to stop and prevent crime you have to take a proactive response to the criminal element. Not just sit back and what for a call and then respond to it once the crime has already been committed. I live in Byram and call the Sherrif's Department last week. I was told there was only 1 deputy working the Byram area. Just 1 deputy. So yes George Smith I would say there is an emergency for the Byram Police Department to get their radios. P.S. George Smith your an idiot!

Darryl Hamilton said...

How disconcerting it is to finally understand that incorporated communities within county boundaries are "political subdivisions." George Smith truly cannot be that unintelligent, can he? Do he and the rest of the BOS truly visualize Hinds County as variations of red/blue (or, black/white) and not as towns/cities? sigh...

Ironghost said...

The Hinds County BOS only sees black, it looks like to me.

Anonymous said...

And green.... as long as it is the taxpayers that is!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Smith-it should be a simple enough question-show the paid invoice and who gave authorization to pay it

Anonymous said...

Has Robert Graham gone underground?

Wireless Communication Commissioner Chris Epps confirms that the Board of Supervisors did not seek approval for a purchase over $100,000, as they were required to do when purchasing radios for the Byram Police Department.


The State Auditor's Office says, generally speaking, when a state purchase law is violated, the person who authorized the purchase will be liable for the expenses.

And to think that Graham travels the country earning consulting fees as some type of subject matter expert.

Graham's share of $132,928 comes out to $26,585.60!

Anonymous said...

Chris Epps? Isn't he head of Dept of Corrections?

And the Fondren Bugle will not cover this unless someone claims we need to disinter Frank Melton to find Hargrove's contract ;-)

Anonymous said...

I wish that you had a "Like" or thumbs up/down button. There are sooooo many comments that I am totally in agreement. Like the BOS are ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Did I hear Sup Smith correctly in the WLBT video? He says that the county can't return the Johnsons because there would be a restocking fee?

So let me get this right George. You'd rather the E911 fund eat $130,000 some odd in radios instead of returning the radios for a credit in exchange for paying a restocking fee?

Does Hargrove have pictures of y'all George in compromising situations? Are you out of your mind? No wonder this county is flat broke.

Anonymous said...

Finders fees to the BOS and other forms of pay.Tip of iceberg.

Kingfish said...

Ladd has already made it clear she is ok with public corruption when it involves her "friends" such as Derrick Johnson.

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