Thursday, January 25, 2018

DPS whines about JJ "targeting"

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety complained that this website was "targeting" the agency with it's coverage.  DPS made the accusation in a response to a public records complaint this correspondent submitted to the Ethics Commission last year.  JJ attempted to obtain copies of correspondence and payment demands from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from DPS.  DPS said the records were part of an "investigation" and exempted from the Public Records Act.  The Ethics Commission ruled against the agency in December.  DPS provided the records.  Earlier post about Ethics Commission opinion.

JJ asked for "All correspondence in 2016 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or its representatives regarding the NHTSA DUI enforcement grants" in a public records request submitted to DPS on October 14, 2016.  DPS refused to provide any records  in an October 18 response:

For the past two months, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has been conducting an internal investigation into paperwork filed in a federally-funded initiative targeting impaired motorists. This is an on-going investigation. As such, pursuant to exemptions in the Mississippi Public Records Act, we cannot release information regarding this investigation at this time. Therefore, your request is denied at this time.
Keep in mind that JJ was asking for correspondence between the state and federal government and not any internal documents pertaining to an investigation.  JJ protested and said such correspondence is not part of any investigation.  DPS replied "The documents you are requesting are part of the investigation and are exempt from the Open Records Act." Earlier post with copy of federal demands.

DPS in its arrogance didn't consider there was another government agency at the end of this pipeline.  JJ submitted the same request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NHTSA provided records that showed it was demanding repayment of $7.1 million and was referring the demand to the Treasury Department for collection.  This dispute was never reported in the media.  

JJ submitted a complaint to the Ethics Commission.  DPS attorney Trae Sims responded on August 24, 2017 in a letter sent to the Ethics Commission.  The entire letter is posted below with some commentary by yours truly.  The letter begins:

1. Complainant xxxx submitted his purported Public Records Request to MOPS Communications Director via email on October 14, 2016 (see complaint). It is important to note that MOPS has for some time had on file with the Mississippi Secretary of State its Public Records Policy as part of the Administrative Code, which is publicly accessible online and otherwise. MDPS's policy therein states clearly that among the information a requestor should include is the address of the requestor and the signature of the requestor. Neither of those pieces of information were included in complainant's 10-14-16 request. Therefore, because complainant failed to submit a request in the proper form, the instant complaint is premature. It is understood that the request was denied for different reasons; however, the fact of agency policy based on applicable statute (Miss. Code§ 25-61-5) remains nonetheless.

There is just one problem with this claim: DPS is not telling the whole truth. JJ has submitted at least 20, yes 20, public records requests to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety via email. Every one of them has been accepted, reviewed, and answered by DPS attorneys. DPS never said that the requests were improperly submitted nor made this correspondent aware that this procedure was in place.

DPS also replied to this emailed public records request via email as well. DPS had no problem accepting and responding to JJ's emailed public records requests until it suddenly had to defend itself before the Ethics Commission. The agency then tried to play a game of "gotcha" that fortunately failed.  The learned attorney apparently has never heard of the term "waive."

However Mr. Sims, don't worry, the Kingfish will follow your procedure to the letter.  Instead of trying to force you to enter the 21st century, the Kingfish will simply bring his public records request to the Department of Public Safety and submit them personally to you every time.  Maybe you will get tired of seeing me in your face and modify your archaic procedures to more sensible ones.  Check out the Department of Education.  It could teach you a lesson or two in how to submit public records requests. 
2.  It is clear from the complaint and attached documents that complainant has met with success in obtaining the records he apparently sought as they were available from other sources.  Therefore, complainant has not been prohibited from accessing the documents he now complains of not receiving from MDPS.  Further, as stated in Warren Strain's email response to complainant's records request, MDPS understood that an investigation was being conducted surrounding the subject area of the request.  As such, and without the permission of the investigating agency, MDPS did not believe it was clear to release such records that may impact another agency's investigation with the agency's express authorization.  MDPS has no authority or control over another agency that may choose to release records.
Thus DPS's position is that it can break the laws as long as another agency complies with them.  Keep in mind that JJ did not ask for the investigative reports but the demands for payment from the federal government.  DPS, in it's arrogance, never once stated how the investigative exemption to public records applied to this request.  It just claimed it was under investigation and said "trust us."  Accountability is a concept lost on  the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.  Now for the best part of the response.

3.  While complainant argues that MDPS "lied" in its response (as seems to fit his ongoing narrative campaign targeting MDPS), he, at the same time, requests that the Commission promulgate rules to clarify the definition of an investigative document.  Therefore, it would seem that complainant also admits that an investigative document is open to more than one interpretation, thus supporting MDPS's position relative to its initial response.

For the above and foregoing reasons, MDPS would request dismissal of the instant complaint as both premature, or in the alternative as it seeks information related to ongoing investigations.  Should the dismissal request not be well taken, MDPS would request a hearing on the subject complaint.
Targeting?  This statement is simply more proof that the Mississippi Department of Public Safety thinks it is accountable to no one. It wasn't JJ that abused the clothing allowanceIt wasn't JJ that is forced to repay $7.1 million because it can't manage a grant. It wasn't JJ that settled a reverse discrimination lawsuit  or had to settle multiple employment discrimination lawsuits for $388,906. It wan't JJ that had several troopers accused of writing bogus tickets to get paid under federal grant and changed the procedures for their disciplinary hearing.  It wasn't JJ that screwed up the payment of the advertising contract or gave a million-dollar emergency no-bid contract because it botched the RFP.  It wasn't JJ that got caught by the feds for misspending the DUI grants.   It wasn't JJ that got caught having sex with a trucker on the job and escaped discipline.

It is quite clear there was nothing investigative about the records requested by JJ and DPS lied through its teeth.  DPS hid the fact that the federal government was trying to force Santa Cruz and his cult of cronies to repay $7.1 million for treating DUI enforcement grants as a slush fund.  Serve & Protect at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety means DPS leaders serve themselves & protect their asses.  There is incompetence and cronyism run amuck at that agency, and this entire fiasco is glaring evidence of it.  They are bureaucrats who hide in ratholes behind badges of blue while the politicians look the other way. 

While all of this has been going on between the feds and DPS, read the DPS coverage over at the "state newspaper." Unfortunately, readers will need read most of these stories in the rest of the media.  There is too much laziness, incompetence, and a fear of losing police access in the media today.  

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety's response to JJ's complaint shows everything that is wrong with the agency.  Unfortunately, our leaders worship the blue as Mississippi slides further and further into an abyss of corruption.

Perhaps if the media would actually do its job, DPS wouldn't feel that it was targeted by Jackson Jambalaya.


Anonymous said...

You are the best Kingfish...hang in there with the dancing Bastards.

You have got to be the best investigative reporter anywhere !!!!

I'm glad I found this blog.

Anonymous said...

"this correspondent" rattled their cage.

Anonymous said...

Great Job, Mr. Fish! A law enforcement agency can not write its own laws and, although they do, should not choose which laws to enforce. And our "state newspaper" shouldn't turn a blind eye. Again, great job!

Anonymous said...

They actually just used the word "targeting" once.

"Whining" would require them to tell everyone about it and provide all the salient in a blog post or something.

Anonymous said...

These agencies are allowed to run with impunity and arrogance. They have attorneys at their disposals and you will have to spend a shit load of your money to fight these bastards. It's not just DPS!!!

Anonymous said...

Wonk,wonk, wonk! Waaaaa, get over it DPS and do your job!

Kingfish said...

State newspaper? Not going to happen. Period.

Meanwhile, go check out the front page of Morning Advocate today and editorial page of Times Picayune as well. Different coverage of Louisiana State Police.

Jack Errata said...

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Full Report

Anonymous said...

You are 100% right on this KF. The Clarion Ledger's "crime reporter" is totally slanted toward law enforcement, there's never any real investigation going on.

Anonymous said...

Will any state-wide candidate run on a commitment to houseclean this poor state? Name names,departments,practices?

Anonymous said...

Good job KF! You are fair with all of your coverage. DPS is so used to having the likes of shows like JT on ST carry their water, that when they are challenged or not worshipped for the gods they perceive themselves to be, they get butt hurt. I cringe when I hear people talk about how many lives will be saved by more Troopers on the road. It's used as a scare tactic to garner support ie: more money for DPS. We do need more Troopers, I hardly ever see one while traveling this state but the tactics used to justify are tacky and old. And I know I'll probably be the first to get a ticket if it's ever allowed, but give Sheriff's Depts radar. They talk out of both sides of their mouths. Truth is DPS doesnt want Sheriffs to have radar, threat to their sovreign power. I don't buy the old speed trap argument either. This isn't the 1960's. Any Sheriff that allows that in his county by his deputies will be a one term sheriff. I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm picking on DPS. As a former LEO, I greatly appreciate what they do and have many close friends that work for DPS.

Flake Geldman said...

... there's never any real investigation going on.

Please, define "real investigation".

Wait, Whut??? said...

DPS lied?? You've gotta be shittin' me. I don't think any of those idiots know how to tell the truth...about anything.

Cash Me Ousside, How Bou Dah? said...

As long as Huggins is at the State Auditor's Office nothing will EVER happen to DPS or the troopers, unless there's some political gain to be had.

And by the way, all I hear from certain personalities on the radio and TV is about how tough troopers and DPS are, and they get upset because they think someone's picking on them?? Really?? How about you follow the law, quit trying to screw the public (and each other), and do your fucking job, how bou dah?

Plain ol' Catfish said...

Now you guys - you are supposed to be "Backing the Badge" - this not what your fearless leaders Feel Bryant & Taterous Thot Maximus wants to see!? Defiance from their loyal subjects against the royal guard!? They are above you measley peasants of the civilian class.

Fall in line and back the badge! LOL!!!!!

Anonymous said...

2:07 - nothing would surprise me. If DPS established the standards and approved the instructors, then it makes for a prefect kickback scheme.

Louis LeFleur said...

Kingfish gets the Bert Case Award. He doesn't stop even when the threaten to whip his a**.

Anonymous said...

I know Sims pretty well, he's an arrogant toolbag - perfect for the highway patrol.

Anonymous said...

"We do need more Troopers, I hardly ever see one while traveling this state . . ."

Well, 12:45, the reason you hardly ever see one while traveling is because they were doing 85, 90, 100 mph and already got where they were going while you were poking along at 55 or 60.

Keep up the skeer, KF. And when one of them next pulls you over, I hope it's not by one of the ones with the steroid problem.

Anonymous said...

12:45,you must not be very familiar with the town of Florence.
They were a speed trap until they got their radar guns took away from them.
Now they are a swerving trap. They can't stop anyone for speeding but they have just replaced that with stopping people for swerving.
Crooked is still crooked. Just had to find another way to stick it to the drivers who are forced to drive through their town.

Anonymous said...

Serve and Protect? That's a good one! More like Dept of Revenue generation. And no, I haven't had a ticket in years.

Anonymous said...

Awwww, poor troopers got their feelings hurt. Maybe we can find a safe space for them to play with a puppy, color or do some arts and crafts. Grow up you bunch of spoiled brats, whether you believe it or not the rules apply to everybody.

Anonymous said...

KF is required to sit out the first half of the next ass whooping of DPS.

Anonymous said...

KF is a hater! Hate crime! HATE CRIME!

Okay, now that we have the obligatory name calling out by those who believe it is better to demonize that have a substantive discussion, allow me to say that without KF and JJ this city would be much less informed. This blog is a gem in the Metro.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Fish keep up the great work.

Where are our other State leaders who are supposed to investigate corruption, cronyism, double-dealing, and other failings of State government? Where are you Governor, Lt. Gov., SOS, State Auditor, and particularly Attorney General?

All letting KF do your jobs for you?

Anonymous said...

2:56 - that would be your state auditor and his assistant David Huggins who was indicted last year for hindering prosecution. Mississippi needs to implement a truly independent inspector general's office like several other states and (try to) do away with all of the political influence. But it seems that corruption and cronyism are the norm, so I don't know if it will ever get better.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: If a rat pokes its head out of its rat hole, you're SUPPOSED to target him.

Anonymous said...

This is 2:56 am.

Dittos to 7:02 am. Agree 100%. The silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

2:56 am here. Dittos to 7:02 am. The silence from our government officials is deafening. I guess they have more important things to worry about like the State flag and wine being shipped to dry counties. Corruption and cronyism maybe are a bit too mundane?

Anonymous said...

" Mississippi needs to implement a truly independent inspector general's office..."


Thanks for that belly laugh.

Anonymous said...

KF...... now that you have exposed DPS for just what it is , please come flush the toilet on the pearl river valley water supply district and their bunch of thug cops. pretty the only guy in journalism with any guts.

Anonymous said...

Trea Sims is an asshole. The troopers hate him and so do all the other places he’s worked at. He’s about 4’9”, so that’s half his problem. If he would get his dick beaters out of the daily operation of the MHP, then maybe the administration would figure out he’s nothing more than a little prick with an asshole for a mouth. That whole HQ building is full of corruption. Chris Gillard needs to hurry up and retire before he completely ruins the morale of the entire department. They pay those boys hardly nothing, yet steadily screw with them by making new policies and picking and choosing who he wants to punish. Although, he damn sure didn’t punish “his boys” when they wrote bogus DUI tickets on a federal grant. He’s a closet racist that hides behind the Bible and a smile. He’s 1000% a politician. Been handed every promotion he’s ever had. Kissing ass in my profession doesn’t get you shit, hard work gets you what you want. Blame the leadership for DPS being in the shape it’s in today. The Governor needs to clean house and put some people up there that will be fair and unbiased. And maybe, just maybe, MHP may be able to regain some of its respect from the public. Until then, it will continue to fall and all at the hands of Gillard and his “boys.” Oh and by the way, my father was a Trooper for many years and when he found out Gillard was taking over MHP, he about fell out. Said it took Gillard two times to make it through the cadet academy, because he quit the first time. Says a lot for a “leader”, don’t you think???

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight:

1. Troopers abused active shooter grant funds by getting paid by the grant and receiving their salary at the same time, and nobody got fired;
2. Troopers wrote ghost tickets to get federal grant money for overtime, falsified documents, and lied about it, and nobody got fired;
3. A trooper who was a narcotics agent (and also was involved in the active shooter monkey business) slept with an informant, was fired, but re-hired because everybody was sleeping with that informant, and later was promoted, and nobody got fired;
4. But there's hope...a trooper who became the homeland security director had an affair with another trooper's daughter (who was also his subordinate), forced another trooper to falsify a crash report, negligently discharged his weapon inside homeland security headquarters and threatened his employees not to say anything, and misused federal grant funds FINALLY got fired (ok, he was allowed to retire and is still on the public dole as a state fire marshal...)

I could go on and on, but it is readily apparent that DPS and MHP are broken beyond repair and its time for state leaders to look at other options.

Anonymous said...

Gov Bryant needs more taxpayer dollars to fund another trooper school while all the above issues remain with the MDPS. Things never get better at DPS only worse at the expense of the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Bingo @ 9;47, disband Rez Patrol.

Anonymous said...

What exactly are the "non-official" qualifications to be a trooper? (beyond being 21, having some minimal education)

Anonymous said...

It’s not so much the Troopers as it is the leadership or lack there of. If the leadership would be fair across the board then there would be no problems. The bad would be weeded out, no matter who they are. For the most part, the Troopers are good folks just trying to make a living on a minimal salary, while working for a corrupt administration. They all are as disgruntled as the public is with the actions of DPS in the past few years, except for the ones who are receiving the favoritism from the admin. They’re soaking it up! I say the Governor brings someone in with some integrity and not an agenda to run MHP. It’s a shame he has let this happen. I had a lot of faith in him.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Kf.

Anonymous said...

Makes you think...if they're resisting so vehemently, it really makes me wonder what else they have to hide. I'd say redouble your efforts KF - this is how thieves and schemers are exposed.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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