Friday, January 12, 2018

CMU paid nearly $100K for "community outreach"

Canton Municipal Utilities paid nearly $100,000 to two companies for marketing and "community outreach" services for 18 months even though the Board of Directors never approved a contract for the services.

A May 31, 2016 engagement letter to CMU CEO Brian Finnegan states that Liaison Group, LLC will provide "marketing and community outreach services for your organization."  The letter states that that CMU will pay Liaison Group $21,000 from July 1, 2016 to November 30, 2016 at a rate of $3,500 per month.  The agreement would renew at a "mutually agreeable rate."  The letter is signed by Ashley Comstock of Liaison Group, LLC. 
Liaison Group was formed in July 2015 by Matt Armstrong.

 CMU paid Liaison another $5,346 per month from January 2017 to March 2017. CMU stopped paying Liaison in April and started paying Coastal Concepts, LLC for the same services. CMU eventually paid a grand total of $98,959 to Liaison and Coastal Concepts from May 2016 to December 2017 despite the Board never approving a contract although it did approve the claims dockets for those months.  Coastal Concepts is owned by Ms. Comstock.

CMU made 11 payments of $40,922 to Liaison and then paid $58,037 to Coastal Concepts for another seven months. CMU's attorney Ed Blackmon said in a response to a public records request:

We have been unable to locate any minutes wherein Canton Municipal Utilities adopted or approved agreements or contracts between Ashley Comstock, Coastal Concepts, Liaison Group, LLC and Canton Municipal Utilities.  However, Canton Municipal Utilities is in possession of an unsigned engagement letter from Liaison Group baring the name of Ashley R. Comstock dated May 31, 2016....

CMU paid Liaison Group $41,999 from May 2016 to December 2016.&nbsp





The invoices are posted below. They only state that CMU is charged for "monthly marketing charges for insterts and ad design>' and that the "scope of work" is to "provide marketing and community outreach services to customers of CMU." Each invoice is initialed by then-CMU CEO Kenny Wayne Jones.  The invoices were included on the claims dockets submitted each month.


54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wake up Nissan! It won’t be long before CMU will fail to serve you! Nissan needs to know that CMU is being poorly run and it’s only a matter of time before CMU will not be able to provide Gas. Between illegal contracts, mismanagement, paying 7 lawyers millions of dollars and lawsuits being filed against CMU on a monthly basis it’s only a matter of time until CMU is broke. I wonder how much money Nissan would lose per day if they were shit down due to no water or gas or power?? The State of Mississippi needs to examine their exposure with Nissan when CMU fails to meet their requirements to serve utilities to Nissan and ALL the suppliers. It’s coming.......

Anonymous said...

Community Outreach = increases in utility bills! Canton residents are being raped by the board of Alderman. CMU is controlled by city hall.

Anonymous said...

Another Kenny Wayne illegal schemes to put money in his pocket! Where is the FBI?

Anonymous said...

@12:24 you can bet Nissan will sue the state the city and anyone else if they are forced to shut down because of service interruptions!!

Anonymous said...

Ashley has made a lot of money providing “community Outreach”. Can someone tell me exactly what she does?? Matt ran for Mayor of Madison. I wonder if Ashley did his out reach?

Anonymous said...

Why does a utility company (monopoly) need "marketing and community outreach services?" If you are located in their service area you get your electricity from them, plain and simple. This stinks to high heaven!

Anonymous said...

CMU has gone from a well run organization under previous administration to barely paying their bills. They are on the brink of Bankruptcy! I feel bad for the businesses and residents who depend on them for service.

Anonymous said...

@12:48 good point! It’s not like you have a choice in who you buy water from if you live in canton. Wow!! This is terrible. I bet this is just the tip of corruption in canton.

Anonymous said...

Truly getting paid......... most crooks get money under the table. These crooks getting above the table and nobody cares.

Anonymous said...

I thought John Brown was getting paid by cmu for “community Outreach”. So we have 2 companies doing outreach? Outreach is another word for theft. “Community Theft” not “Community Outreach”

Anonymous said...

The Blackmon’s are to blame for this. If you follow them everything the touch winds up broke and they end up with another Rolls Royce.

Anonymous said...

Where is the State Auditor?????? Where is the DA???? Where is the FBI???? This is in your face theft of tax dollars!! Where is the oversight? Where is the accountability? This makes me sick to my stomach.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote the checks???

Anonymous said...

Good job kingfish getting the facts out on corruption in Mississippi. The Clarion Ledger and local TV Stations (WLBT) don’t care..... 3 on your side means 3 on the side they decide won’t effect their buddies. You won’t see any of this on TV because Howie and Kenny “bad boy” jones are tight.

Anonymous said...

Nissan is aware of the risk of losing utility service. They are in talks with the state about taking over CMU.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your premise 1:15. However, it is not "in your face theft of tax dollars". CMU doesn't rely on tax dollars. They rely on billing rates. So it is wasteful spending that results in higher rates for their customers. CMU is a stand-alone entity. They have a separate budget, equipment, employees, board, etc. from the City of Canton. However, the CMU board is appointed by the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

So if CMU wastes $100,000 it comes from the rate payers. This means higher rates.

Anonymous said...

Kenny “Dog Father” Wayne wrote those checks! He running game in Da City of Lights.

Anonymous said...

Does PSC regulate CMU?

Anonymous said...

The water that goes to serve Nissan actually comes through a big line from the City of Jackson OB Curtis treatment plant. When the City of Jackson is unable to provide water, Bear Creek Water Association in Gluckstadt will supply as the back-up source.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

We've got to stop putting Democrats in charge.

Anonymous said...

This is not Ashley’s fault it Matt. This is the CMU board of commissioners fault. They voted to pay the claims.

Anonymous said...

The PSC does regulate CMU to a point. The PSC regulates utility certificates of CMU. The PSC regulates level of service and complaints of CMU. The PSC does not regulate rates of CMU except for those rates on customers a certain distance outside of the city limits.

Anonymous said...

@1:27 thanks for clearing that up. I see the difference but if the CMU board is appointed by the Board of Alderman then ultimately the city / Board of Alderman is to blame. Alderwoman Daphne Sims is related to Kenny Wayne Jones.

Anonymous said...

Does CMU receive federal subsidies?

Anonymous said...

At least Nissan's water is safe. It does not come from CMU. Does the State get to take over anything run by minorities? Or form boards to run everything? This is what seems to be happening. I agree, Nissan is too important to the State and to all the people employed there, to let greedy people ruin it. The answer is the State Auditor's office and the FBI, and others. Not another Board set up by the state to dilute elected officials power. Punish those who do wrong and they won't be re-elected. To date we still do not have a provision in State Law for recall of elections.

Anonymous said...

@2:01pm so the regulate services to residents in Lake Caroline?

Anonymous said...

2:02 you are correct. CMU has 5 board members. They are supposed to serve a 5-year term. One position comes up for reappointment each year. So it would take a mayor and board of aldermen 3 years to get a majority on the CMU board, or 5 years to replace the entire board. The mayor and board of aldermen are then supposed to leave the CMU board alone and let them operate independently. But I promise that doesn't happen.

The mayor and aldermen have replaced CMU board members mid-term over the last several years, probably illegally and erroneously.

Anonymous said...

So what can the residents of canton do? This must end.

Anonymous said...

What about Natural Gas provided to Nisssan?

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Comstock that is involved in politics on the Coast? If so this is typical. Let a government entity pay for all types of studies, marketing, outreach, etc. so that said consultants can take money from the tax payers and give reward those involved in political operations. There has never been so much money for so little work as there is in these BS "consulting" firms.

Anonymous said...

@2:09 Not sure. I'm not sure if the PSC gets involved with the rates immediately outside the city limits, or if it has to be a certain distance outside (like 1 mile, or 5 miles, or whatever).

@2:06 Nissan does pay CMU for water, but the water actually comes from Jackson. Jackson sells it to MMEIA. Then MMEIA sells it to CMU. Then CMU sells it to Nissan.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to help the people of canton. Hello? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Follow the money!! Why did she get paid? I would like to see work product.

Anonymous said...

John Wallace(prior head of CMU) had built up a cash reserve so there would be money to rebuild in the event of a tornado or some other catastrophe. Sounds like the new bunch is burning through that money but fast.

Anonymous said...

Roll this shit storm together with the Separate Municipal School District, Rudy Warknocken, the Mexican enclave in the middle of town and you have.....well, you have Canton.

And The Kingfish is wasting 90% of this time on Jackson stories?

Anonymous said...

The Warnock lawsuit should come to court this year. He billed CMU mi!lions for doing a little work. CMU fired him then he sued. Everyone in Canton wants a piece of that pie, which is now disappearing.

Anonymous said...

@7:02pm yes CMU has over $15m in cash reserves and now they have less than $4m. All of which has disappeared in 18 months.....

Anonymous said...

@ 7:31
Where can one see proof of your statement?

Anonymous said...

Why do the "John Wallace(s)" of yore go away... never to reappear?

Good/GREAT man!!!!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious!?! They have a professional proposal and contract. General Mgr at the time was a Finnegan guy and not KWJ. They paid it for almost 2 years. I began getting a very professional and informative insert in my bill every month. Probably around the time that contract started. I know there have been newspaper ads and billboards. I don’t know a single utility company that doesn’t do marketing/outreach. In my professional experience, $50k a year for that kind of work is a bargain. Our rates are pretty comprable to others in the area.

But all of a sudden the Blackmons, who have been trying to takeover Canton for years, are NOW coming out that all of this is news to them? That Blackmon woman has dedicated her life to malice and deceit. Especially for KWJ. Come on... you people aren’t seriously buying this are you?? Nothing in the minutes about it???? Nothing at all? What else do they convienently forget to put in the minutes? Sounds to me like someone has a very good lawsuit on their hands. Be a shame to let those corrupt, bogus hacks in Canton get away with this. What else are they cutting checks for every month that the board is approving without knowledge?

How much are the Blackmons making off CMU? That’s the question.

Anonymous said...

@11:04am. Your so right! Barbara Blackmon is running the show! She carries the CMU checkbook in her Chanel purse and does what she pleases. Barbara is above the law, or at least she thinks she is! That house of cards is coming down. Wardog and Wallace are working behind the scene to put the Blackmon’s in a 10x10.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising here! Rate payers pay CMU then CMU hires “bag men” to invoice CMU and then give a portion of the fee collected from CMU to the elected officials at city hall. This is all being orchestrated by Alderman Andrew Grant, Alderman Eric a Gilkey and Alderman Rodriquez Brown. You best believe that if a vendor gets a contract with CMU is because they are willing to “play ball”. Pay attention Feds!

Anonymous said...

@2:39pm. Yes Alderman Andrew Grant works for Madison County and he has been shaking down vendors that work for Madison Countyfor Years. I can’t believe the board of Supervisors has not been told by the vendors that he is doing this. Surely if the board knew they would turn him in to the DA. Canton is in trouble because of people like Mr “Shake Down” Grant.

Anonymous said...

I heard rumors that CMU in recent history was paying insurance premiums for a tornado coverage policy that did not exist. Is this true, and if so name all who benefited from these premiums being paid for non coverage.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone will call the local FBI and State Auditor and demand that these allegations are investigated!

Anonymous said...

@9:15. CMU did pay for insurance through Roberts Insurance agency in Canton. But Roberts kept the money and didn't forward it to the insurance company. That of course is illegal. As many know, John Noble was a CMU board member at the time. Guess what insurance agency he is affiliated with? I will give you one guess.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link about the insurance scam

http://onlinemadison.com/Content/Default/News/Article/CMU-insurance-mishandled-with-premiums-paid-but-not-in-effect/-3/592/38830

Anonymous said...

We know the state auditor won’t do anything. He only works during election years.

Anonymous said...

Attn 10;28 P>M> Please tell me that this insurance company at least returned the money paid to CMU for the insurance that was not provided. What has the Mississippi dept. of insurance done about this?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, can you get copies of the “community outreach” work product that was generated by Ms Comstock? Surely this is obtainable through a public records request.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish’s while your at it could you get copies of JOHN BROWN’s work product? He is also getting paid for “public outreach”.

Anonymous said...

Hear is the game; each Alderman puts up a contractor / vendor to work at CMU. Said vendor received a contract in exchange for a kick back. As long as said vendor pays the kickback he keeps his contract. If you refuse to pay you get fired. This is why Espy and Warnock got fired I guessing based upon my reading of the lawsuits. CMU is appointed by the Mayor and Board of Alderman! CMU commissioners are pawns in the scheme to put money in the Alderman and Mayor pockets. Hear the silence? With all of this being reported in the news over the past year WHY have we not heard one word from those elected to protect the taxpayers money in Canton?? BECAUSE they (Alderman) are behind the rapping of the tax payers!!!!! Mike Hurst it’s time for you to show us why you were chosen!!! Hurst clean up this mess. Start by investigating Mayor Truly and the Gang of 7 (Alderman).

Anonymous said...

Kingfish what is the status of the Warnock Lawsuit against CMU? Don’t hear much.

Anonymous said...


@ 12:08

well thank you for the post!!

Which one of those Alderman at City of Canton have the most to loose here?

Agreed Mike Hurst should check into these issues at CMU.

Who is going to call him? Don't some of you folks with this INSIDE info have Hurst #?

Come one, do something about it.

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