Thursday, August 2, 2018

City Bails Out Zoo, Cites Misuse of Bond Funds

The Jackson City Council approved a $255,000 bailout for the Jackson Zoo at an emergency meeting this afternoon.  The Lumumba Administration said the bailout was needed because the Jackson Zoological Society is dead broke and can not meet its payroll tomorrow.  The Administration also said that the crisis was caused by the use of state bonds to cover operational expenses.  Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Robert Blaine said that the Department of Finance & Administration is investigating the use of the funds and will demand repayment of $350,000.



The Jackson Zoo obtained $1 million in 2015 and $200,000 in 2015 from the sale of state bonds.   The Zoo has been able to obtain bond funds in the state bond bills that are approved by the legislature.  However, DFA said that Jackson Zoo management has been using the funds to cover operational expenses for the zoo instead of the stated purpose for the bonds - capital improvements.  It is a sacred commandment of bonds that thou shalt not spend bond money for anything other than the stated purpose of the bonds.   Indeed, the agreement between the Jackson Zoological Society and DFA states:

SECTION 3-. The Jackson Zoological Society, Inc. agrees to use all funds receive from the 2016 Jackson Zoo Improvements Fund within the recommended thirty-six (36 month time period and solely for the costs of the Project as set forth in the Act and upon the terms and provisions of this MOU; and further, by execution of this MOU, the Jackson Zoological Society, Inc. does hereby certify that all funds it receives from the 2016 Jackso Zoo Improvements Fund shall be used exclusively for the Project as authorized an provided by the Act. Failure on the part of the Jackson Zoological Society to any provision within this MOU may result in immediate action by the State to recover any unexpended funds.
However, the most recent annual audit states in Note 15:

The Jackson Zoological Society entered into an agreement with the State of Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to receive $1,000,000 in bond proceeds during fiscal 2016.  This bond is to be spent on construction, repair, renovations, replacement and improvement of buildings, facilities, exhibits, and infrastructure at the Zoo.  Upon performing compliance procedures, it was discovered that during the fiscal year 2017 the Zoo had spent $395,000 of these funds on operations.  This is not in compliance with the agreement with the Department of Finance and Administration.  The Zoo repaid the $395,000 to the Zoo Improvement Fund cash account in December 2017.

However, the administration said zoo management borrowed another $350,000 several months later to cover operational expenses in violation of the agreement.  Dr. Blaine said DFA recently learned of the use of the bond funds and notified the Lumumba Administration that the violation had occurred.  DFA told the city that the  management had "borrowed" the bond funds to cover operational expenses for several years.  The Lumumba administration met with DFA and Jackson Zoological Society representatives yesterday.

The Society's Executive Committee met today and had a vote of no confidence in Executive Director Beth Poff.  The committee placed her on administrative leave.   The Society has been forced to cut the pay of all zoo employees and has not been able to meet a full payroll for the last two pay periods.   The bailout will restore the employees to their regular pay. 

Dr. Blaine presented a transition plan to the City Council today.  The plan provides a $200,000 bailout to the zoo to meet payroll until October 1.  The city will transfer $46,000 to the Society tomorrow so payroll can be met and health insurance payments can be made.  The health insurance for zoo employees faced termination in a week due to non-payment of premiums.  The city will continue to transfer funds upon receipt of payroll invoices.  The zoo has no cash on hand.  The attendance since October 1 is more than 16,000 visitors fewer than a year ago.  Admission revenue is down nearly $180,000 while other sources of revenue are down nearly 50%.  The Lumumba administration will handle the DFA repayment in a separate appropriation.

The City Council discussed closing the zoo or operating it on a part-time basis.  It will take months, and possibly up to a year, to transfer the animals to other facilities if the zoo closes.  Society Board members Jeffrey Graves and Kim Hardy said that the only employees that would be cut if the zoo closes are those who handle admissions.  Thus the dilemma for the city is whether to keep the zoo open at least part-time in case of closure (did that make sense?) since some revenue would trickle in that could defray expenses. 

The bailout passed on a 4-1 vote as Council members Ashby Foote, Aaron Banks, Virgin Lindsay, and Charles Tillman approved the measure.  Councilman Melvin Priester, Jr. voted against the bailout.  The city will provide $200,000 while the zoo will finally received the $55,000 Hinds County donation. 

Dr. Blaine said the city will issue an RFP for new management of the zoo.  




66 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where's the plan?

Anonymous said...

Such a short letter to not be proof-read.

Anonymous said...

So, the director of the zoo, borrowed bond money specified for repaying debt, and used it as operating capital?

David Watkins got in big trouble for using bond money for purposes other than issued.

Anonymous said...

What's an RPF? This is so freakin' embarrassing! Put the director in a cage for misuse of funds!

Anonymous said...

Jesus,
These people can't help themselves. Let the zoo move to the area near children's museum and science museum. It makes sense and would do well there. Plus it's true the benefactors live in that area anyway. These black leaders bitch when $hit moves but do nothing up to that point... stop blaming NE Jackson and the burbs... west Jackson has had no leadership and can only blame themselves. Consequences are just reality.

Anonymous said...

Why throw good money after bad? Close it.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:37 The question now should be, what did the board know and when did they know it. I read from some reporter's FB post that this was standard operating procedure for the zoo. If that's true... wow

Anonymous said...

Shut it down. Jackson needs the funds, albeit not much, it provides to the zoo to try to provide necessities right now.

Anonymous said...

Only days before the end of the contract and Lumumba's administration still hasn't released the RFP he's been yammering on about for months.

"Shuttered Option"? Indeed.

Anonymous said...

What other group will want to run the zoo?

Anonymous said...


@ 4:24.......

This is after several proofs, revisions and final approval from the Communications Director.

Sorry, but this is as good as it gets.

Anonymous said...

What’s the background on this likely soon to be fired zoo director?

Anonymous said...

What, pray tell, is an RPF?

Anonymous said...

If people really cared about the zoo, they would go visit it or donate to it. But they don't, because nobody cares. Put it out of its misery like a wounded animal.

Anonymous said...

Throwing $150K (or any amount for that matter) for this disaster-in-progress would be akin to having JFD firemen attempt to stop City Hall from burning by urinating on it. The time has come to transfer the animals to another competent zoo and shut the Jackson Zoo.

Dominos Pizza recently gave Jackson $5,000 to patch potholes. City officials commented that amount would be one day's worth of patching. If that is true the $150,000 would get 30 days of patching. I would much rather have the streets patched so we could get to the zoo!

Anonymous said...

"daid daid"

Anonymous said...

Does the City own the Zoo and is the Director employed by the city? Who's name is on the line to repay the bonds or debt? It seems the Director and the City both have a problem with the handling of Bond money. This is getting to be a mess but that is to be expected.Is there a non-profit zoo group in the mix?

Anonymous said...

Ponzi scheme.

Anonymous said...

6:10 you know so little you should really refrain from commenting. Geez

Anonymous said...

Has there been a estimate on how much it would cost to move the zoo? If they can’t pay the workers I doubt they have the money to move.

Anonymous said...

Too late. Jackson just wasted $200,000 that it can afford to lose.

KG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What the mayor is leaving out is that part of the reason they couldn't meet payroll and have borrowed bond funds for is that the city drags its ass in paying the zoo their annual appropriation from the city, not to mention the county contribution from TWO YEAR AGO.

Anonymous said...

"Thus the dilemma for the city is whether to keep the zoo open at least part-time in case of closure (did that make sense?) since some revenue would trickle in that could defray expenses."

What morons. The cash flow from tickets does not cover the salaries/benefits of ticket sellers.

Can you say circling the drain?

Anonymous said...

In my agency RFP means Request for Purchase. It could be a number of other things I suppose.

Anonymous said...

"misuse of funds"? Doesn't the board have to approve all spending? The entire zoo board should also be held accountable in addition to Poff for approving the expenditures from the state bond and they ALL too should be put on leave as well. One way or the other, they were either ignorant or complicit. Just saying. Fair is fair.

Anonymous said...

I would rather drive out of state than ever take my family through the rotting hellscape that surrounds the Jackson Zoo.

Seriously, every resident and leader of the city should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Goddamn you all to hell!

Anonymous said...

This is for 4:47PM and 5:13PM:

The correct term is "RFP," standing for "Request for Proposals." A standard step along the way to securing the offers of firms/companies to perform work for the entity requesting the proposals.

There...can we say, "Oh, I didn't know that?"

Anonymous said...

RFP = Request for proposal

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment on an old post:

https://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2013/09/auditors-warned-of-zoo-problems-in.html

"Dear kf please please ask them why they took federal money ear marked for the exhibits in the education building and used it to pay off "debt" the deputy director and director said they would replace it in the summer with profits but never did..."

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, hopefully y'alls' D&O liability insurance premium is paid in full....

PittPanther said...

Isn't KF on the zoo board? You knew Poff was paying salaries out of bond funds? If you didn't know, then you were incompetent in monitoring zoo finances.

I assume you will be resigning from the zoo board immediately?

"Tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Malfeasance. Misappropriation of funds."

Anonymous said...

I think PittPanther must have visited the zoo today and whilst there he smoked some elephant dung,

Anonymous said...

For those of you who can't read....the question was (twice), "What is an RPF" which supposedly meant RFP.

Anonymous said...

Commendable to be telling on yourself here kingfish. Don’t worry we still love your reporting- though I expect a little humbleness from the kingfish these next couple of days. As a cpa I am always amazed at how many b o ds are all ignorant as hell. They are there to network, and because they think it will get them recognition, or maybe they think they can easily “help”. Little do they think about the magnitude of the responsibility they are taking on. Many times too there is a wiser fox on the prowl too gettin err body messed up.

Anonymous said...

I think most of you are missing the point - the Director was doing this for years on her own, and whoever was presenting financial reports to the Board over the past few years, was helping to cover it up.

NOW, do you see why Kingfish wanted on the Board? No one else cared enough to figure it all out. The Zoo can't be "fixed" until the main problem is taken care of, i.e., a dishonest Director and obviously at least two Board members.

Anonymous said...

@12:30am how do you know Kingfish isn't the one who figured this out and raised the alarm? You don't.

Kingfish said...

Keep on getting out there on that limb. I"m enjoying it, That also goes for Pitt and our so-called CPA.

I'm not worried one bit. At all.

Anonymous said...

Guys, pay attention.

We all know what a Request for Proposal is (RFP). The document in the photo mentions an RPF. Look at the order of the letters. The dunderheaded city council can't even proofread their own agenda.

But maybe we shouldn't be so rough on them when it went WHOOOOOSH over the heads of at least two JJ commenters.

Anonymous said...

Don't know Kingfish, don't know Poff, haven't gone to the Zoo in over 10 years. But it is plainly clear that the Zoo has a big time major cash flow problem. As another comment above alludes, that cash flow problem is in large part of the city's own making. Now that problem is Lumumba Jr's, he owns it. So where does the money come from in a city that is effectively flat broke?

Anonymous said...

This is for 10:07PM:

The city council plan, displayed in the photograph above, states, "The City has completed the RPF..." The two comments were mocking that error. It is known as "Sarcasm". The use of irony to mock or convey contempt, such as the entirety of this comment.

There...can we say, "Oh, that went completely over my head?"

Anonymous said...

A city with a sub-standard water system and crumbling streets can't afford a zoo.

Close it.

Anonymous said...

I think in the bigger picture zoo's have basically gone out of style. Although the present location of the zoo is not ideal, I think that a zoo in any metro area would not survive. People's attitude toward caged animals for human entertainment has evolved over the last few decades to the point that it is distasteful for much of the viewing public. Only a few large zoo's with more natural settings and lots of space for the animals (San Diego) seem still thriving. Also, the entertainment value has decreased with the advent of computers, iphones, and gaming devices. Not only can I view these same animals in their natural settings, I can watch them eat each other too. Anyway, just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

9:00AM - I agree in that zoos are falling out of favor. I'm not one of these militant tofu-eating vegan assholes that throws red paint on fur coats, but it seems that building or moving a zoo in this day and age is not really in line with the modern mindset.

An aquarium, however, doesn't suffer from the stigma that the zoological parks do. Imagine a new aquarium at LeFleur's Bluff that could have synergies with the Pearl River and Mayes Lake, as well as the Natural History Museum and the Children's Museum.

A better solution IMO, and probably cheaper to build and maintain.

Anonymous said...

9:00 am Your point has some merit, but I think the bigger problem is that most museums ,zoos ,aquariums etc. are dependent on tourists that don't live in the community in which they exist.
Mississippi could be a great tourist destination , not just Jackson, but Natchez, Vicksburg , the Gulf and the Blues trail through the Delta.
You kill the day and weekend travel trade right away with the criticisms.
Unfortunately, too many Mississippians bad mouth all of these places and push against State funds going to help them become tourist destinations.
It's shocking to those of us " from someplace else" as other places promote their States and learn early on " not to air the family's dirty laundry" as the whole family is dirtied in the process. It's even more disturbing the those who try to promote our State professionally.

We should have plans to help those locations, one at a time, become show places and visually inviting. I would vote for Jackson, simply because any big investor from " someplace else" will come here to meet with State officials.

But, at this point to beautify any of our tourist areas and enact strongly enforced zoning around them.


Anonymous said...

It's shocking to those of us " from someplace else" as other places promote their States and learn early on " not to air the family's dirty laundry"...

That is total and complete crap. You can find online somewhere in every damn state, city and town where the "family's dirty laundry" is actively discussed in the exact same way as it is discussed in Mississippi. BS.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:24 PM - It was proofread, by alumni of the JPS system.

Change the Flag and Fill the Potholes said...

This is really a series of sad events and there is no joy in the loss of the zoo. My kids are around 20 and we spent many hot sweaty days pushing them around in strollers. The first priority must be to begin transfer of the animals for their welfare - not stringing along the employees from paycheck to paycheck. I worry that this is just a microcosm for the City of Jackson: deteriorating leadership, schools, infrastructure and balance sheet. It's a zoo with no future. We are the animals - where are we going to go?

Steve Brandon said...

As a member of the Jackson Zoological Society's board, I'd like to jump in and say that KF has brought fresh energy to the Zoo board. He has been vigilant in his efforts to understand and address the Zoo's problems; he has passionately dedicated himself to the success of the Zoo; he has been keenly sensitive to the political and social issues implicated by our decision-making and planning; and he has not been timid in confronting the board with the questions that are important to him.

Anonymous said...

Since Madison is God’s gift to Mississippi, why not move the zoo there?

Anonymous said...

Did the Zoo board know and approve of spending the bond money on this?

Anonymous said...

Steve Brandon that’s great to hear. That’s exactly what the zoo has needed for many years. With the proper leadership and support the zoo can come back. Question is will they bring in the proper people and continue removing the dead weight still at the zoo?

Anonymous said...

Aug 3 @ 12.10 PM

Good idea, but Mayor Mary is going to need to see a demographic and socio-economic profile of visitors to the zoo. The clientele may or may not be up to Madison standards, so there will need to be a rigorous vetting process before any invitations are extended or permits granted for construction of a zoo within the city limits.

Should permission be granted, there will be strict architectural standards imposed on any structures comprising the zoo's infrastructure, most certainly including copious use of Greek-revival-styled facades and columns. Corinthian is preferred. Ionic is acceptable, but no Doric - Doric is far too plain.

Anonymous said...

Since the bond money was misused, how will it be repaid? No one in their right mind will buy any bonds with Jackson's name on it.

Anonymous said...

@12:10pm....Madison is not a gift from anyone, especially God. Madison is a collection of hard working people and elected officials that seem to actually know what their jobs are AND how to perform said jobs on a daily basis. I find your comment especially ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Closing the zoo will be very costly and take time.
Keeping that property safe at night will take a small force.
They should advertise it as location for a Hollywood Horror flick.

Anonymous said...

Mumbo must be worried about Re Election
What has to happen is Tough Decisions
He has no Gonnads !
Get rid of this Albatross
The Zoo
The City Council
The Pimps Running The City
Hey Hire A Consultant
They can tell You Morons How Brilliant U R “

Anonymous said...

We don't want the zoo in Madison. Move it out of Jackson into an unincorporated area of Hinds County. The zoo would just attract Jackson's riff-raff and other undesirables to beautiful Madison. We don't need your animals, whether two legged or four legged.

It's your zoo - own it or close it.

The truth hurts - because it should.

Anonymous said...

6:49, you made my point. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Everybody in government lives within their budget," said Councilman Kenneth Stokes. "The zoo should have lived within their budget. To say we need more money is easy to say, but we need someone to check the books. We need books checked, thoroughly, and let's make sure that the money was spent in a proper manner."

He also told a bus company out of New Orleans, whom he hired to transport parishioners of his church, “You can’t get blood from a turnip”. I’m new to all of this ignorance. Is everyone scared of the Councilman. He is very incompetent, yet keeps getting elected. Please, stand up to this man and shut him down. When there is a problem, usually it helps to discard its root.

Anonymous said...

Next time you think a zoo is worthy, consider this -- the only way that Disney could make a zoo attractive was to turn it into a theme park where the animals are a minor part of that park. You can't even see any animals after 5 in the afternoon (I was there in Jan., I know this is true). As stated by another poster animals on parade only works in natural settings, and getting to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is not a major trip anymore. Shut her down...

Anonymous said...

10:02 pm You seem unable to tell the difference between problem identification and the discussion of solutions in a positive way and the kind of vitriol here. You also don't seem to understand that other states support their capitol city.

But, I'm sure in my home state you found the blog by my high school classmate who is has been in and out of the state mental institution for years.

Anonymous said...

Why are you here 8:38 AM?

Anonymous said...

Well Stokes And The Rhino were on TV
Sunday Night Trying To Explain Why They
Are Pissing Away $200 Grand “
- Well let’s See - Show Me The $
Poof -
—- Divide $200,000 by -6- City Council
Members
Leave Some For The Payroll and Bananas
Stokes - “ For The Animals “
Dial 1-800- Rhino
He Looked Pretty Intelligent
—- The One With The Tusk —-

Anonymous said...

Absolute Idiots is The Very Best
Way to Label This !
Can Clowns Be Moved To The Zoo “

2016 Hottest Reporter Poll

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?

Archives

Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

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.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

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.

Note: Security provided by INS
.