Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dispatches from Pelahatchie, Summer Edition


Highlights: 
-State Auditor calls out Former Mayor
-City Attorney suddenly quits
-City Attorney accuses Mayor of ignoring bid laws

Former Pelahatchie Mayor Knox Ross complained he is a victim of persecution by the State Auditor.  State Auditor Stacey Pickering demanded that Mr. Ross and the Aldermen who served from 2014 to 2017 repay $421,688 in drug seizure funds that were illegally spent.  Mr. Ross told the Clarion-Ledger two weeks ago:


Ross has hired an attorney to argue for the town in the state auditor's probe. Ross said the board acted on the advice of its CPA and followed protocols not unfamiliar to similarly sized towns. He said he was surprised the auditor's office didn't contact him or other board officials during the investigation. 

"We were surprised by the action, as we believed, and continue to believe based on the audits and subsequent additional review of the fund operations by our certified public accountant, that we were operating within the law ... 

The funds were all spent on public purposes for the benefit of our town," Ross said in a letter to Pickering's office.   "There was nothing illegal or improper. No money went missing, there's been no embezzlement," he said.  Rest of article.
The Jackson Free Press reported:

The board of aldermen has not been open to the media, with all five aldermen either ignoring this reporter's past calls or hanging up at the mention of Beechem.

However, the group released a statement Tuesday entitled "The Mayor Who Cried Wolf," condemning Beechem and resurfacing accusations that she does not live in Pelahatchie, among other statements. Beechem said she dealt with these claims when she ran for mayor and submitted proof of residency. The Pelahatchie aldermen and former Mayor Ross are holding a press conference Wednesday.

The aldermen's statement says their own city auditor told them they could borrow drug-seizure money as long as they repaid it each year. The statement also says that Pickering's office did not interview the aldermen or the former mayor, and that borrowing the drug money is common. Rest of article.

Indeed, the statement says:

The Board was notified of the investigation through media, aldermen say. Neither they nor Ross were interviewed by the auditor’s office about the way they used the drug money, they say. Aldermen want to know why their town is being singled out by Pickering since many small towns across the state use drug seizure money to pay the bills and then repay those funds during the same calendar year.
There is just one problem with claiming the State Auditor did not talk to the former Mayor or Aldermen - they are not true.

Mr. Pickering told this correspondent yesterday that Knox Ross twice met with him and his staff at the State Auditor's office in the spring of this year.   Attorney Frank Trapp accompanied Mr. Ross on each visit.  Mr. Pickering said he was going to issue the demand letter to Pelahatchie in early March but postponed doing so after Mr. Ross promised to provide documents that would exonerate the Pelahatchie officials.  However, Mr. Ross never provided the documents and Mr. Pickering finally issued the demand letters on May 21. 



Meanwhile, the Board of Aldermen met last night after providing a public notice only a few hours earlier.   Mayor Ryshonda Beechem did not attend the meeting.  However, the meeting did not lack for drama despite the Mayor's absence.  as City Attorney Brad Mills announced he was resigning his position when the meeting concluded.

The Board also revoked approval of a claim for $8,876 that was approved at the previous board meeting.  Murphy's Lawn & Landscape built a retaining wall at the baseball field at Mill Town Park Athletic Complex.  The Mayor apparently ordered the work.  Murphy's completed the project and sent an invoice to Pelahatchie on May 25.  The invoice is included in the documents posted below.

Mr. Mills said that the Mayor did not obtain a second bid or quote as required to do so since the project cost more than $5,000 but less than $50,000.  He said Section 37-7-13 of the Mississippi Code decreed that the Mayor shall seek two competitive bids in writing although advertisement was not necessary.  Mr. Mills opined that the Mayor illegally spent the money without following the statute.   The Board revoked the approval for payment of the claim on a unanimous vote.

So ends this week's dispatch from Pelahatchie.

26 comments:

Antard said...

The truth is so elusive.

Anonymous said...

Only nugget I see is that if a person did not follow bid procedure or asked for money not pre-approved could be fined 500 dollars or imprisonment or both. Please explain the golden nugget.

Anonymous said...

The Golden Nugget is found up that attorney's nose. Quite the reach there.

The walls are closing fast.

Anonymous said...




3:51 apparently can't see the forest for the trees!

Indeed, the statement says:

The Board was notified of the investigation through media, aldermen say. Neither they nor Ross were interviewed by the auditor’s office about the way they used the drug money, they say. Aldermen want to know why their town is being singled out by Pickering since many small towns across the state use drug seizure money to pay the bills and then repay those funds during the same calendar year.

There is just one problem with claiming the State Auditor did not talk to the former Mayor or Aldermen - they are not true.

Mr. Pickering told this correspondent yesterday that Knox Ross twice met with him and his staff at the State Auditor's office in the spring of this year. Attorney Frank Trapp accompanied Mr. Ross on each visit.


A close read reveals that "this correspondent" mentioned in the quote found in the JJ post apparently is none other than the KF.

Anonymous said...

Only nugget I was looking for is that if the mayor approved the 8800 dollar expenditure and was not approved by the board that she violated the law. Thanks 457 for your insight but I'm not concerned about what the audit says or what Pickering says that's for those involved to be concerned with.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the auditor did not speak with the board members. They found out through the media. KF what was explained at the Mrs was that ryshonda did not put that in the initial claim docket. She had a second one submitted at a later time. Post the video and why are you being so biased what do you have to gain

Anonymous said...

Exactly the auditor did not speak with the board members. They found out through the media. KF what was explained at the Mrs was that ryshonda did not put that in the initial claim docket. She had a second one submitted at a later time. Post the video and why are you being so biased what do you have to gain

Kingfish said...

The Auditor notified both past *ND current Mayor. It's not his job to contact every alderman everyone there is an investigation. Ross can't say he wasn't contacting when he was actually negotiating with the state Auditor and visiting his office on multiple occasions.

Kingfish said...

The video was posted Last Thursday. Quit lying.

Anonymous said...

Video from last nights meeting, the one you videoed so you quit lieing

Anonymous said...

I have never seen you post negative comment about Ryshonda but you seem to bash the board. Why is that kingfish

Kingfish said...

Nice try. It was posted and is posted.

I also post the board packets as well as the minutes for each board meeting I attend as well as the complete, unedited video.

I've bashed the board? All I've done is post the unedited videos and let you judge for yourselves what happens. My coverage of last night's meeting was pretty damn fair. Show me where it wasn't. The problem is like followers of another politician in Mississippi, you think that if someone doesn't agree with you 200%, then he is the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Why the red-ass, Kingfish? Please take disagreement and challenge like a man and deal with it without being an exploding time bomb, running around slitting throats.

Anonymous said...

How can a person tell the difference between these Pelahatchie Peckerwoods and the McDaniel supporters that used to pee in the comment pool?

As far as I can tell there ain't much difference.

Anonymous said...

Looks like KF is a bigger man than you are 7:17. He cleared your comment while you hid your panty waist behind anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Three questions:

Who was the city attorney during the time the drug seizure funds were utilized for general fund purposes?

Did the city pay the money back to the drug seizure fund from the general fund during the year that it borrowed it?

Has the outside CPA (Windham and Lacey in Pearl, MS) issued any statements since Ross is hanging his hat on their professional opinion? They are the independent auditor for many cities and governmental entities in Mississippi includind Pearl, Carthage, MDEQ, etc. They probably don’t do Pearl anymore since the mayor is related to the members of the firm though.

Anonymous said...

The Pelahatchie mayor...yawn. But on a positive note, Mike Ponzi Billings was sited cruising through Woodland Hills in his new Mercedes. I guess checking things out before the slammer door closes for a few years.

Anonymous said...

So, what can the landscape man do about collecting his $ 8,876.00? Even if the mayor did not follow correct protocol, the contractor did what was asked of him. Is he screwed?

Seems I remember that in the first video posted of a Board meeting, there was some other contractor dressing down the board about not being paid for some type of dirt work?



Anonymous said...

@8:55 I saw Billings in town too. Having lunch with one of his alleged timber clients HH at Walkers

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Pelahatchie Jambalaya.

Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Boards speak through their minutes.

All the spending should be documented by the clerk.

There is no reason for the state auditor to interview anyone if the allegation is funds from one account were misappropriated to another account.

The answer is in the paperwork.


Criminal charges are another matter. I would expect interviews.

Which makes it odd that the former mayor wants an interview.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a summit is in order. Pickering can use the "campaign" BMW (if his daughter isn't using it) to collect Ross, and they can take the "campaign" RV to Disneyworld and go garage door shopping together. Sure, it ain't a resort in Singapore, but hey, it's Mississippi.

Sarcasm aside, Pickering investigating hinkey spending is yet another sad, sick joke on decent Mississippians.

Anonymous said...

If Ross has a legal opinion and a CPA opinion stating that the funds can be spent the way they were spent, he will be doing more than hanging his hat on those opinions. He will be hanging the civil money demand on their E&O insurance. Frankly, that's what non-lawyers do -- they get legal opinions as to the legality of a certain action before they take said action. Right now, you have a bunch of he said/she said. If you were to undertake thorough background research on the parties involved, I don't think trusting the current mayor is what most people would choose to do. But, we shall see.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to order microwave popcorn by the case? I keep running out of popcorn following this "The Real Residents of Pelahatchie" reality program.

Louis LeFleur said...

Just made the connection between the title of this thread and Richard Grant's book. Kudos, KF.

Anonymous said...

In a professional capacity I have dealt with Mississippi municipalities and their bidding for over 30 years, and it has been my experience that pretty much everyone violates or circumvents the state procurement laws pretty much all the time, although much of the time it is unintentional. Generally, the problem is that project managers or elected officials determine what their procedure is, instead of having their attorney tell them what the law requires, and then doing that.

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Trollfest '09

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.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

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!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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