Friday, January 18, 2019

DPS Doesn't Like to Lose

Never let it be said Commissioner Crybaby is a quitter.  The Mississippi Department of Public Safety fought State Representative Joel Bomgar over a public records request.  DPS denied his request but Mr. Bomgar appealed to the Ethics Commission.  The Commission ruled in the State Representative's favor and fined two DPS attorneys $100 each. However, Commissioner Marshall Fisher doesn't take such losses lightly but instead appealed the decision to Hinds County Chancery Court.  DPS is the only government agency to ever appeal a public records ruling by the Mississippi Ethics Commission to Chancery Court. 

JJ reported on July 30, 2018:

You can't make this up.  The Mississippi Department of Public Safety managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a public records fight with State Representative Joel Bomgar.  The Mississippi Ethics Commission ruled against DPS and fined two employees $100 each on June 1 after DPS denied a public records request from Mr. Bomgar.

  Mr. Bomgar submitted a public records request  to DPS about its drug-fighting policies a year ago. However, Mr. Bomgar's request didn't ask for records but instead asked for opinions and information.  Here is one such example:

[Scenario 2] If successful, drug enforcement efforts will restrict the available supply of drugs. If this is the case, the price of the drugs will rise due to the laws of supply and demand. In this case, the black market premium (profit) available in the drug market will be higher. If there is already a lot of crime committed related to the sale and trafficking of drugs, such as deals gone bad, fighting over turf, fighting over trafficking routes, violence against potential rival dealers, etc., how would there not be more crime related to the increasingly lucrative drug market?
It is a standard rule of Mississippi Public Records Laws that one must ask for actual records when submitting a public records request.  There are more than a few Ethics Commission and Court rulings that denied requests similar to Mr. Bomgar's when they didn't ask for actual records.  His request should have been denied.  However, DPS is the agency at issue and as usual, it shot itself in the foot. 
 Unfortunately for DPS, the agency admitted in a letter to the Ridgeland Representative that "While Director Dowdy did prepare a response to your letter, he did not release it because it is not a record which his agency is required to maintain."  Uh-huh.   Once a record is created, it is a record.  the Ethics Commission overruled DPS and ordered it to produce the records as well as issuing $100 fines to two DPS attorneys.

This being DPS, DPS appealed the order to Hinds County Chancery Court.   DPS argued that the two employees should not have been fined because they did not make the final decision to deny Mr. Bomgar's public records request.    They are fined without due process as they were not given an opportunity to defend themselves.  DPS also argued that Dowdy's responses were protected by attorney-client privilege even though there was no litigation.  The agency further argued that the public records law does not allow the Ethics Commission to fine state employees.

Kingfish note: Jim Hood's office wouldn't even touch this appeal so what did Commissioner Crybaby do? Go fire some private lawyers to fight over $200 fines.  Attorneys John Sims (Taggart Rimes & Graham) and Thomas Whitfield represent DPS.  Attorneys Leonard Van Slyke and Matt Allen represent Mr. Bomgar.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What a waste of taxpayer dollars to finance this appeal simply because the commissioner wants to save face. First DPS and now MDOC - what is it with these state agencies wanting to operate behind a veil of secrecy?

Anonymous said...

So now Fisher is an advocate of due process? I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

So exactly how much taxpayer money is fisher willing to piss away to keep an embarrassing memo from the public? Looking at the filing, Whitfield's firm did a metric shit-ton of research.

Anonymous said...

You OWN these lunatics Phil Bryant.

Anonymous said...

10:14 - YES, due process for me, but not for thee!

Anonymous said...

Mississippi has all of the corruption and poverty of a third world dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't all the usual liberal harpies stomping their feet about these efforts to evade transparency?

Anonymous said...

@ January 18, 2019 at 10:52 AM

"Why aren't all the usual liberal harpies stomping their feet about these efforts to evade transparency?"

Because its foregone conclusion on who Phil Bryant and his Republican base will fall lockstep in support of?

Anonymous said...

My experience in dealing with agencies and agency attorneys is that they are used to wielding absolute power, and are greatly offended when their authority is challenged. To hear them tell it, even the courts, a separate and equal branch of government, are required to show their decisions and actions substantial deference. This, despite the fact that agencies are creatures of the legislature, and yet operate independently of that body. They are the kings of their own little kingdoms!

Rick Ward said...

I think the Governor has done some good things but retaining Fisher is not one of them. He is a jerk and a bully who cares much more about himself than the public. I have had the same issue with him that Bomgar has. He needs to fired.

Kingfish said...

Same people who complained about targeting.

Anonymous said...

I saw these two comments left on a post from last week. Still relevant.

-DPS and the Highway Patrol will not change their M.O. until they bring in leadership from outside of DPS and MHP. They bill themselves as the elite law enforcement agency in the state but all they really do is work wrecks and write tickets.

Municipal and Sheriff Department's do that plus actually investigate crimes, answer calls, etc.

MBI takes the "smart" troopers and makes them investigators but they are still troopers investigating troopers.

MHP has a 20-25 year retirement while the state bumped local and other state LE officers to 30 years. Plus, a trooper can still work for the state after retirement. Why? Because they lobby the f*** out of Jackson every legislative session.

MHP could jump aboard like other states and do an abbreviated trooper school and take certified law enforcement officers. Alabama just recently held their first abbreviated class and it went very well. It would save the state time, money, and resources. Plus, you are getting a cop/deputy with some time in law enforcement. But that will never happen as long as a DPS or MHP employee is at the top because that's not how it's always been. Those officers would never be considered "real troopers" in their eyes.

The biggest issue with MHP is lack of oversight. Whether it's administrative or on the road. There is no real checking up with road troopers so they are out there doing whatever they want with no real consequences. Heck, they don't even WRITE REPORTS (unless it's a felony or high profile)! What law enforcement agency can get away without writing reports?? If heard of troopers overlooking felonies because they would be forced to write a report. Again, lack of oversight and supervision.

-There are no telling how many Troopers who are lobbyist every legislative session. If you go to the MS LEG site you can search for they many "MHP bills" that get introduced every session.

Take this one for instance: HB 136


MHP would get $9.05 for EVERY ticket in the state, $24.35 for EVERY DUI in the state, $8.90 for EVERY game and fish violation, $12.18 for EVERY speeding, careless, or reckless driving ticket, and $28.05 for EVERY felony.

What a load of crap! If this passes (which I doubt it) you better believe they will be out even more hitting people for every violation they can come up with.

This is the type of crap MHP gets away with.

Anonymous said...

Here is something you won’t hear from DPS.

MHP received a tip that 2 cadets in the MHP Trooper academy were smoking weed on the weekends. They decided to drug test the whole class. 4 cadets pooped hot. The 2 in question (who happened to be African American) and 2 others (who are white). The white cadets popped for amphetimines. They, however, both got the flue while down there and were prescribed pseudoephedrine among other meds and provided the prescriptions.

MHP fires the 2 for smoking weed (rightfully so) and kept the other 2. Now they are raising hell about 2 white cadets popping hot for meth and getting to stay.

Anonymous said...

@ January 18, 2019 at 12:57 PM

You hit it out of the park.

I can't co-sign 11:42am's comment saying Phil has done some good things. Phil has only maintained the status quo and that's keeping Mississippi in 50th.

This state has a ways to go.

Anonymous said...

Why do conservatives fear a little transparency?

Anonymous said...

Just pay your taxes, shut up and go away. To hell with open records. We know best.

Anonymous said...

If this comes down to a battle of brains, my money is on Bomgar.

If this comes down to becoming totally obsessed with winning a point, its going to be a long slugfest.

Anonymous said...

1:05 - so did the white candidates test positive for meth or legal medications? If they were prescribed medication for the flu and tested positive for it, I don't see a problem - what's your beef?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else on here think Fisher is trying to position himself for something post Bryant? Public office maybe??? The old guy just needs to go to the farm

Anonymous said...

He should appeal this decision.

The lawyers were fined personally for giving legal advice.

That's bad policy. This ruling chills lawyers from giving objective advice.

Sometimes lawyers are required to make decisions when the law isn't clear. When the make that recommendation in good faith they should not be held personally liable. "Personally" is the key here. The agency should take the hit. The lawyers should not.

And by the way, this could be real expensive for these lawyers. That $100 could be per occurrence. What if they withheld hundreds of pages and the ethics commission decided every document was worth $100? The fee, plus legal fees, would crush a state government lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is the old commissioner is rumored to have engaged in a lot of the same behaviors he’s firing people for now when he was younger

Anonymous said...

Nobody puts Marshall in a corner!

Well, except for Joel Bomgar. Wish he would file papers instead of Tater head.

Anonymous said...

After many years of both Federal and State Governent and now living a simple modest retired life I find myself skimming MS news. After my daily read I always look to see my home state and see their national recognition for being dead last in absolutely everything. Now the topic at hand is my old friend Marshall. So sad to see that the Governor has allowed you to play your childish immature games you play. No one beats you and I mean no one. You are one evil person and only you and a few others know it. I see you have tried charming MS legislative body to take up the issue of removing MHP from SPB. So typical of you Marshall this would allow your dirty corrupt deeds to never be seen by a hearing officer, staff, and the public. You have charmed them with your speeches that everyone has heard and your stern lean towards public safety which is all your front. I know you old friend. You have not changed a bit. In no time if you have not already you will slide into the ranks of the Troopers there in MS. Send your cronies which you always try sorrounding your self with and try to convince all them that this is for them the (Troopers). To better them and be a better place. You always do. So if you haven’t already you better hurry and try your old tactic and see if you can fool the men and women of MHP to decide by trying to convince them it’s better. Maybe you have changed old friend but I sincerely doubt it. It’s time to go Marshall go stomp around in Montana and hunt like the old days. Step down before your corruption is exposed don’t engage Troopers in the political crossfire for your own agenda.

Anonymous said...

@ 09:30 hmmmmm you have my mind wondering now

Anonymous said...

Stack Joel's resume against Fisher's and Dowdy's and despite that duo having 40 more years on him, they've accomplished maybe a tenth of what Joel has. No wonder he has them twisted like pretzels.

Anonymous said...

The Mississippi Dept. of “Public Safety.” What a joke! From the very top of the food chain all the way down to the incompetent imbeciles who work in the driver license offices, the latter of which would have a hard time qualifying to be hired by McDonald’s or Burger King. Pitiful all the way around.

Anonymous said...

What's so damned outstanding about Bomgar's resume?

Anonymous said...

From the internet: "Bomgar Corporation is the world's leading provider of enterprise remote support technology."

What the hell does that mean? They make remote controls for television sets? He produces the devices that make toy airplanes fly and land safely? They build the components for the device that raises and lowers hospital beds to maximize lumbar support?

Anonymous said...

Fisher's got an employee who was busted for selling pot back in the 1970"s! He knew it when he was at MBN and nothing was done. The narc that arrested him still has his logs from then. The employee had his record explunged because of his age. Said employee is also and elected official.

Anonymous said...

@2:12 PM - you are showing your ignorance. Look up "remote support technology" if you can figure out what "Google" is.

Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

@3:25 pleaseeeee do tell!!!!

Anonymous said...

Fisher is trying to punish the men and women who refused to drink the cool aid he has been making. The legislators should refuse any request he makes due to his ulterior motive. His ship is sinking fast and he wants to fire one last shot. Shame on the governor for keeping this vindictive fool in his position this long. He has well earned the distinction of the governor who allowed MHP to implode from the fifth floor.

Kingfish said...

Governor won't do anything. That's his boy.

Anonymous said...

The Governor will have no CHOICE but to ask for Marshall’s resignation when all the truth comes out. Boy or not! He wears many hats as The Commissioner of Public Safety but made it his business to bring one entity down over jeaslously

Anonymous said...

Marshall is easily a Bigot. When facts don’t support his own belief or some lie others have told him and he is totally convinced he is right and no one else is. He ignores facts to carry out his own idea. You go with him or your his next victim. A petition to remove this man could gain thousands of signatures.

Anonymous said...

10:09, I both agree and disagree with you - the decline of DPS/MHP has been a slow moving, predictable, preventable train wreck that at least the last three governors have presided over - and by decline, I mean the failure to evolve and seize opportunity. Institutional change takes some modicum of pain, but it is necessary for positive evolution. Law enforcement as a whole has evolved over just the the past few years, but Mississippi (at least at the state level) seems stuck in the 50's.

Anonymous said...

8:35 I can’t agree more with you. Your absolutely right. Three administrations is more correct though. Two terms with Phil is like a 4th for Haley. He isn’t gone. Still calls the shots for Phil to take. Appoint, promote, policy to adhere or breach. But the real truth is the good ppl within DPS feel the direct punch equally as the nearly 3 million Ms residence that deserve an agency that provides the best second to none in the nation men and women that are sworn to protect and up hold state and federal laws in our state. Instead Troopers that are afraid to do their sworn duty because of the administration and fear of termination. So they do barely enough to get by or most times not even that until absolutely made to. Survival mode is what it’s commonly referred to. We are the ones that suffer the citizens.

Kingfish said...

"He isn’t gone. Still calls the shots for Phil to take"

Um, yeah.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Haley gives a rat's ass how DPS is run or who's in the wheelhouse.

Anonymous said...

§ 25-61-15. Penalty
Any person who shall deny to any person access to any public record which is not exempt from the provisions of this chapter or who charges an unreasonable fee for providing a public record may be liable civilly in his personal capacity in a sum not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00) per violation, plus all reasonable expenses incurred by such person bringing the proceeding.

Seems to me if the DPS attorneys gave bad legal advice and the ethics commission found they had a hand in denying the public record to Bomgar, they ought to take their $100.00 fine on the nose, quit wasting taxpayer funds to fight it out and move on. The government attorneys are still employees of DPS and were obviously involved in the denial of Bomgar's records request; they can't just choose to hide behind their attorney cloak whenever it benefits them.

And you may want to actually read the case and quit claiming the sky is falling - the fine is $100.00 each, in their personal capacities, not per occurrence, nor per the # of documents denied. If government attorneys/ public employees who handle public records requests want to avoid a fine in the future, I have a suggestion - actually READ the Public Records Act and follow it.


Anonymous said...

Keep in mind these are second rate attorneys. Not the brightest or the highest graduate of their class. These are out of work attorneys that Fisher brings with him everywhere he lands. They know his dirt and they follow him around like puppies. He feels important and so do they. They can’t get a job any place else. The road starts and ends with Fisher. They have a steady job with benefits and the Gov office behind them so they can refuse, rebuke, and deny any policy/law that exist. They are DPS attorneys and feel invincible. Don’t people get it! When the Gov has your back and his boy has your back. Hell they will appeal the $100 fine because they can. They are DPS!

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