Monday, August 1, 2016

Did Mississippi get hustled again?

Remember that $36 million help the Mississippi legislature gave earlier this year  to Edison Chouest? It appears the company played a similar game in Louisiana using the same tactics: promise jobs, promise investment,  or promise the world and watch the politicians fall all over themselves as they rush to dole out the dough.   Unfortunately for Louisiana and the working people who pay the bills, this friendly bout of crony capitalism has not worked out too well.  Fox 8 (NOLA) reported Friday:

In 2008, the state of Louisiana signed an agreement with LaShip LLC, a subsidiary of Edison Chouest Offshore. In that agreement, LaShip committed to hiring 1,000 new employees for new positions, with a total payroll of $54 million. The positions and payroll had to be sustained for 42 months, from September 2012 until the end of 2015.

But in August 2012, the state amended that agreement, giving LaShip more time to meet their job guarantees. They moved the start date from September 2012 to March 2014, the end date to June 2017. In return the state invested $42 million in the shipbuilding facility.

According to Chouest's website, "LaShip is an ultra-modern facility and is now the largest shipyard in the Chouest family of companies."

The state handed over the money. But LaShip has underperformed on the job commitments; they are not fulfilling the contract right now.

"They are out of compliance with the contract," confirms Don Pierson, Gov. John Bel Edwards' pick to lead the state's Department of Economic Development.

LaShip likely wanted to amend that original agreement because of low job numbers.  In March 2012, when those job guarantees were supposed to begin, LaShip had half the committed amount: 507 of the 1,000 jobs promised. That initial contract should have expired at the end of last year; if the company hadn't signed an extension, they would have fallen below that 1,000 job benchmark in 24 of the 42 months. The amendment created a new timetable.

 But the jobs still aren't there.  In the first quarter of 2016, LaShip had just 232 jobs.  Again, they promised 1,000....

 But there's more.  Remember, LaShip is a subsidiary of Edison Chouest.  Edison Chouest is also a parent to North American Fabricators, another shipbuilding company.  North American Fabricators' facility is closed.  The company isn't even referenced on the Chouest website.

 Even though LaShip promised the state new jobs, it doesn't appear that it actually happened.  The state admits Edison Chouest simply transferred the workers from their shuttered company to the new one - and got a large incentive package for it.  Rest of the article and video.

Anita Lee reported in the Sun-Herald last March that Edison Chouest was laying off employees at one plant while it got $36 million for a sister plant:

While state officials announced with much fanfare a deal that is supposed to create 1,000 jobs on the Coast at a new company, Topship, they've been mum about layoffs at a sister company, Gulf Ship.

I'm trying to find out just how many people Gulf Ship employs and just how many have been recently laid off. If you have been laid off recently by Gulf Ship, or know of someone who has, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at

Gulf Ship employed about 600 workers when the oil industry was booming, but was down to 300 employees a few months back, according to Bill Hessell, executive director of the Harrison County Development Commission. Hessell said he hasn't checked Gulf Ship's employment figures lately.

Both Topship and Gulf Ship, which opened in Gulfport in 2006, are subsidiaries of Edison Chouest Offshore. ECO was founded in 1960 in the little town of Galliano, La., and is today a major player in the global transportation industry.

Gulf Ship builds supply boats for the oil industry. Topship also plans to build vessels for the oil industry. CEO Gary Chouest said specific plans for Topship manufacturing are still being finalized...

Gulf Ship gets a tax break from the county. Topship is receiving a bundle of tax incentives, breaks and government funding – $11 million from the state, $25 million of the port's federal funds for Katrina relief.

I sent a list of questions about Topship and Gulf Ship to the deal's broker, the Mississippi Development Authority, on Wednesday. Still waiting to hear back. Rest  of post

Beef Plant, Kior, Twin Creeks, Stion.......


Bill Dees said...

For the life of me I can't understand why folks keep voting for Mississippi Republicans. They'll pass laws at the drop of a hat to drug test poor Mississippi citizens on public assistance, but won't bother to even superficially vet a foreign corporation before giving it millions in taxpayer dollars. Wake up folks! The Republican "leadership" doesn't care about you unless you're a fat cat rich white guy.

Beef Plant? said...

What's the alternative Dees? The Yeller Dog buffoons who ruled the roost before?

Anonymous said...

Nothing unusual. A company slips a little money in the pocket of some politician and they are set. Nothing matters except the cash going to the politicians. It isn't their money they are wasting. Why should they worry about it especially when their pocket is full?

Anonymous said...

@ August 1, 2016 at 9:00 AM

You take the alternative and make sure they don't follow the same exact model of the asshats you gave the last term to. Its that simple. You voted out the Dems for the Beef Plant and gave the power to Repubs to fix, instead they just worried about two guys screwing than getting real sh*t done and shelling out corporate welfare this go round! I've had enough! Time for them to go, they had their turn and you see what they've done with it.

Kingfish said...

Go to the actual Fox story and you will see something that shows why we have a problem with the Jackson media. Read the bylines and you will see "investigative producer". The Jackson tv stations rarely produce this type of journalism because none of them have an investigative producer.

Half the time the reporter is someone who has been out of journalism school for only a couple of years. Doesn't know anything but how to write a story. No science, business, or other backgrounds. Then they are told to go cover something or investigate. TV stations in larger markets have the same reporters but that reporter gets the support of an investigative producer. That doesn't happen in the Jackson area and is why you don't see stories such as this one on tv or on the websites.

Anonymous said...

9:07, You should have learned by now that when it comes to crooked and useless politicians there is no difference in democrats and republicans. What difference does it make when you are just going to trade one for the other? Both are the same.
What makes people forget so soon?

Anonymous said...

@ 10:24am

There's a clear difference between the two party's. When you look at the platforms. Where they became the same is when you give them super majorities and let them control every facet of government, from state wide office to the legislature. With absolute power, comes absolute corruption. But the parties are definitely different when it comes to platforms: gay marriage, medicaid expansion, workers rights, voters rights, taxation are definitely talking points for both party's whether they oppose or advocates.

Anonymous said...

I agree 11:13 AM. The Democrats are absolutely corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Both parties are the same when it comes to dishonesty, lack of knowledge, and inexperience. Most of the real difference is with things that no govt. officials should have any say in.

Anonymous said...

How much had the state of Mississippi lost on KIOR plant in Columbus - worse than the beef plant!

Anonymous said...

@ 11:35

Who's running the state right now? How can anyone be corrupt if they don't have the power?

Anonymous said...

11:13 am You are absolutely right about absolute power corrupting absolutely. You are absolutely wrong in believing that a party platform has any meaning whatsoever.
During the years either party has been in power, especially on the national scene, they ignore their platforms.
The reason is simple, much of both platforms is hogwash and they know it. The items in the platform exist to play to cater to party bases and in response to the policies of the party that holds power.
Don't believe that? See if you can dig up the party platforms from the 50's. The GOP was pro Civil Rights and pro abortion. Why? Because African Americans were Republicans and the South ( where they couldn't vote) wasn't in play. Catholics who were anti-abortion were Democrats.
This wasn't such a problem because we had State Courts, the Federal Courts and The Supreme Court and The Fourth Estate to protect us from political nonsense. Sadly, the courts have been politicized and the Fourth Estate is corporately owned and all about profit not professionalism . KF is absolutely right about " investigative reporters" but there are no longer "research departments" in the media that once vetted a person's claims or the facts purported BEFORE they went public with a story or event. There was even a movie about a news researcher and a reporter starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and that's BEFORE researching the facts of an issue was easy and required a paper in a large city to have an extensive reference library.
Now, " reporters" are the inexperienced young people KF described and sadly, think a press release or information from the director or committee chairman is the same as attending the meeting about which they are reporting!

Corruption Has No Face said...

The primary difference in perception and reality of the parties is there was effectively no internet and no such thing as Facebook and Twitter when Mississippi Democrats were in charge for a century.

An ex-sheriff from Bolivar, a worm-farmer and a casket-salesman pretty much had free reign. And at the end of the day, they could yuck it up at Tico's over a fifth of Scotch and nobody was the wiser. Well, except the waitress.

Anonymous said...

Too many news sources are using their time and resources trying to defend one side against the other. Just one look at any news station should tell a person which side their favorite news has decided to defend. There is no more reporting, just opinions. Even the comics have become politicalized.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:11 AM
@ 9:06 AM
@ 9:43 AM

Great points by all! Well said indeed!

Anonymous said...

The real question is who did Mississippi get hustled by and how? The proposed Topship shipyard is no different than another Coast project called the Island View Casino's newly renovated hotel tower on the south side 90.They both are being paid with the taxpayer's money to do what they were going to do anyway.Who really greased the tracks to get both approved to receive the windfalls? Would you believe they both paid the same consultant lots of money to make it happen? Yes they did.One call was all it took.

Anonymous said...

Our govt. is so crooked that people just ignore it. Ms. is a welfare state. As long as the checks keep coming from uncle Sugar everyone is happy.

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