Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Kingfish wins one against DPS at Ethics Commission.

The Kingfish won a public records fight against the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The Mississippi Ethics Commission ordered DPS to provide this correspondent with a copy of all correspondence between the agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016 regarding the DUI enforcement grants.  DPS refused to do so as it claimed they were part of an "investigation."


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."

DPS in its arrogance didn't consider there was another government agency at the end of this pipeline.  JJ submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The NHTSA provided records that demanded DPS repay $7.4 million in federal DUI-enforcement grants to the federal agency.  DPS has never admitted that it received such a demand.  Earlier post with much more information about Federal demand for $7.4 million.

The Kingfish filed an complaint with the Ethics Commission.  The opinion gives a brief synopsis of the dispute between JJ and DPS:

DPS  timely  responded  to  the  request,  but  refused  to  produce  records.  DPS’s written  response  explained  that  the  Mississippi  Highway  Patrol  had  been  conducting  an investigation “into paperwork filed in a federally-funded initiative targeting impaired motorists.” DPS denied the request because of the investigation, stating that “pursuant to exemptions in the Mississippi Public Records Act, DPS cannot release information regarding this investigation at this time.”

Kingfish  eventually submitted a similar  Federal  Freedom of Information Act request  to  NHTSA  which  produced in excess of one  hundred  pages  of  documents.  These documents consist of correspondence between state officials and NHTSA and related documents. Thereafter, Kingfish filed this public records complaint against DPS.

DPS decided to get real cute in its response:

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 DPS. Further, as  stated  in   DPS’s  email  response  to   complainant’s   records   request,   DPS understood that an investigation was being conducted surrounding the subject area of the request. As such, and without the permission of the investigating agency, DPS did not believe it was clear to release such records that may impact another agency’s investigations [without] the agency’s express authorization. ...

Um, yeah.  The Ethics Commission was having none of the DPS malarky.  DPS said an agency can't just say something is under investigation.  There has to be some limit on this exemption of else a rogue agency could conceivably claim every uncomfortable record is under investigation so it could escape public scrutiny.  The order states:

2.3  DPS’s  response in this matter fails to explain how the investigative reports exemption applies to the specific records sought by Kingfish. The response does not identify the agency allegedly conducting the investigation or explain how DPS’s records related to the grant program qualify as investigative reports.1 The burden of proof in this matter lies with DPS to establish  the  exemption  applies....

DPS has failed to establish the investigative reports exemption applies to any documents responsive to Kingfish’s request. Based on this record, DPS violated the Act by refusing to produce documents responsive to Kingfish’s public records request.
The Commission approved the order at its December 2017 meeting.  Commissioner and former Mississippi Highway Patrol Colonel Don Berry recused himself from the vote.

Kingfish note: DPS provided the records.  A separate post will be written about them.   The agency has never admitted that the feds want their money back.  $7.4 million is a substantial sum of money.  The Gutless Wonders at the Legislature need to abandon their conquest of Tico's and demand some answers from Marshall Fisher.  They let him skate during last fall's budget hearings and have yet to hold him and his agency accountable.  They are elected to oversee our government, and make no mistake, it is our government.  The people have a right to know if the state will have to repay millions of dollars due to DPS mismanagement and if troopers were accused of submitting bogus tickets.  Legislators need to either start doing their jobs or go home.

As for DPS, it is quite clear there was nothing investigative about the records requested by JJ and DPS was lying 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 and that my friends, is the bottom line. 

While all of this has been going on between the feds and DPS, read the DPS coverage over at the "state newspaper." 







26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice win. Thank you for holding our state agencies accountable to the people.

Anonymous said...

Nice,Pat on the back, you are a genius!

Anonymous said...

Did the Ethics Commission fine DPS a whole $100?

Anonymous said...

Whose job is it to protect the public from those that are commissioned protect the public? Get a spine Governor.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your hard work on this, KF. Hopefully, the legislature will hold them accountable (I won't hold my breath). Also, the CL's "crime reporter" is nothing but a shill for her buddies at DPS/MBN.

Anonymous said...

So......you won. Exactly WHAT did you win???

Anonymous said...

You just destroyed Warren Strain's catch all excuse for not providing information. Sorry Warren, this isn't the gaming commission where you could get away with clipping news articles and kissing the director's ass all day.

It will be interesting to see the level, scope and depth of corruption surrounding that grant.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the state auditor would like to know what was purchased with those funds if they were in fact used as a slush fund?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to FOIAs. Trust me...

Anonymous said...

Governor is pushing hard for additional taxpayer dollars to fund another trooper school to put more troopers on the road. My understanding it takes many many thousands of dollars to outfit a new trooper as it includes new cruiser computer etc.

Anonymous said...

No agency better reflects the competency of the Governor better than his pet agency DPS.

Anonymous said...

Governor is pushing hard for more taxpayer dollars to fund another trooper school.

Anonymous said...

I just hope that any new trooper school has at least one trucker friendly trooped enrolled.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations KF and keep holding their feet to the fire!

This is a story for another day, but why do we have a "trooper school" in the first place? Why can't we just have a professional training facility that replaces highway patrol officers as vacancies turn up. I imagine all the vacancies are due to retirements, and you usually know those months in advance. OK, one more story/gripe while I am on the subject: we are "down" so many officers based on what? Officer levels in the 1970's? 1960's? With all the technology available (Google Earth, cell phones, etc.)do we need as many officers as we have in the past?

Anonymous said...

Good job, KF. The DPS is also in hot water for lying on a citizen's public information request. More about that later ...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many taxpayer dollars are being paid out now or have been paid for DPS lawsuit settlements the last 20-25 years. 7.4 Mil? Wow!!!

Anonymous said...

KF, Please keep a tally on all the times you get pulled over from now on out. We know how the MHP rolls. You can bet they have your name and tag#.

Anonymous said...

MHP and DPS will remain "most favored" by the legislature and the tip top of the executive branch forever. It's very simple. Who do you think comes and picks up Joe Legislator from the bar in Shubuta when he's drunk and gives him a ride home? The local Highway Patrolman. Who drives the Governor and Lt. Governor around everywhere they go, as fast as they want to go? MHP. This ain't hard to figure out. Mississippi's Troopers are the personal valets of our state legislators and chief executives. I guess that makes the legislature kind of like those sugar daddies the CL reported on today up at Ole Miss.

Anonymous said...

Every time a cop even takes a stinkin' dump, it's part of some "ongoing investigation."

Nice one, KF.

Nooo Baddy said...

The Kingfish also claimed he would release the names of Boosters who have been disassociated in the Old Miss 'scandal'. Where is that information?

Anonymous said...

It has been my personal experience that DPS attorneys are either illiterate and can't read statutory law, or just plain evil liars. You pick.

Anonymous said...

'Atta person Kingfish (don't want to be sexist by saying "'atta boy.") Keep up the good work shining the light of public disclosure on our government. Like a previous poster sure would like to know where the $7.5 million went?

Anonymous said...

Do you fine individuals know why the feds wanted the money back? The troopers were working for the money they received. The ppl who want the money back do not understand what troopers do. Just think if you have a wreck and a trooper who is working these DUI funded call backs sees you they don’t want you to stop because that is not part of the call back. Troopers tho attempt to do everything they can to help the public. I know this topic was about getting the paperwork but it does not tell the whole truth I’m sure. I have not seen any of the paperwork but the knowledge of the situation says I bet it Doesn’t.

Anonymous said...

I have been told from an individual at DPS that they are paying the 7.4 million back plus interest. Just another episode of Santa Cruz and the MHP not using grant funds properly! It is time to dismantle this agency. As long as MHP runs DPS this will continue to happen.

Anonymous said...

Dismantle MHP? Are you serious? The agency that gets called when counties and cities need help? Leadership in MHP May lack sometimes but to get rid of the premier agency in the state is stupid. Even some of the most and best trained local law enforcement still call MHP on occasion. MBI is also part of MHP in case you didn’t know.

Anonymous said...

@1:35 , No not dismantle MHP. Read the post, dismantle DPS. MHP/MBI can be an agency by itself. And the last time I talked to local law enforcement they did not have nice things to say about MHP troopers. As long as MHP is allowed to call the shots at DPS we will continue to see the misuse of funds.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.


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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

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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