Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Dispatch From Pelahatchie: Mayor Strikes Back

Pelahatchie Mayor Ryshonda Beechem issued the following statement.

Mayor Ryshonda Beechem's first day in office was July 1, 2017. In the days that followed, the former City Clerk presented the Mayor with checks to sign on behalf of the City, indicating that they needed to be signed right away because 'bills were due' and that the Board had 'already approved the expenditures at the board meeting.' The Mayor was initially under the impression that this was normal procedure, and signed what she understood to be checks for the City's bills for July and August, 2017.

Shortly thereafter, the Mayor became suspicious as to the City's bookkeeping methods, and also took notice of the 'drug fund account.' The Mayor researched and found the relevant Mississippi statute dealing with how seized monies were to be spent, and showed it to the board members. In response, the Board refused to change their practices and began their systematic retaliation against the Mayor. (emphasis added)

In September 2017, the Pelahatchie City Attorney Brad Mills provided the Mayor with a copy of a research memo he prepared which concluded that, in his opinion, "All money disbursed or used from the Police Seizure Fund, was done so properly, and in accordance with State and Federal Law." The Mayor resisted, stating the usage of the drug fund account in this manner appears to violate the law.

When the Board and City Clerks continued to request the Mayor to sign checks of this nature, she contacted the State Auditor for clarification on the issues. She was instructed to contact investigations at that point. The Mayor complied with all requests made of her by the State Auditor's office relative to the investigation.

In January of 2018, the Board took substantive steps to retaliate against and punish the Mayor for her cooperation with the investigation, by formally reducing her salary 75%. This despite the Mayor being an employee required to accomplish time-consuming tasks and job duties requiring her to be present at city hall for the purpose of, among other things, keeping city hall open such that city business can go forward. Furthermore, the Board sought to ban cameras from City Hall meetings to cover up their actions, going as far as to pass a city ordinance that cameras would be banned; however, the Mayor vetoed the ordinance and the Board did not override her veto. This was an overt bad faith act to silence the Mayor and the investigation of the State Auditor.

Approximately three (3) weeks before the State Auditor's demands were released, one of the board members was reported by a Pelahatchie police officer as using a racial slur to threaten the Mayor. This was a racial threat of violence and overt act of retaliation against the Mayor. The matter was investigated by the F.B.I. as a potential hate crime.

The State Auditor's demands were released on May 21, 2018. In it, Mayor Ryshonda Beechem herself is ordered to repay $80,694.97, within 30 days, joint and several with the current board members and city clerk. Mayor Beechem’s legal team has been in constant contact with the Assistant Attorney General handling the demand, as well as Mayor Beechem’s bonding company. Neither the Mayor nor her bonding company have issued payment for the demand.

As the Mayor continues to observe the Board's practices, it is clear they are violating another Mississippi statute, namely Miss. Code Ann. § 21-3-15. That statute, titled 'Duties of the mayor; authority of the board of aldermen', states as follows, in relevant part: (2)(a) The legislative power of the municipality shall be exercised by the board of aldermen by a vote within a legally called meeting. No member of the board of aldermen shall give orders to any employee or subordinate of a municipality other than the alderman's personal staff. (emphasis added)

On numerous occasions during her tenure, Mayor Ryshonda Beechem has learned of instances wherein members of the City of Pelahatchie’s Board of Alderman have engaged in private meetings with city employees outside of public meetings for the purpose of handling public business. These meetings take place without notice to the Mayor or the public. During these meetings, Alderman give direction to city employees regarding their duties and without the approval of the full board. These actions have included, but are not limited to, notice of the resignation of the chief of police, the coordination of the hiring of a zoning administrator and changing the locks on the police station doors. The Board speaks through its minutes; these actions violate the separation of powers doctrine.

The duly elected Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of Pelahatchie, Alderman Margie Warren, has constantly and consistently stepped beyond her authority in that role, and sought to serve as mayor in instances where Mayor Ryshonda Beechem was either temporarily physically absent, or instances where the Mayor was actually present. Miss. Code Ann. § 21-3-13 states “The board of aldermen shall elect from among its members a mayor pro tempore, who shall serve in the place of the mayor in cases of temporary absence or disability of the mayor.” The Attorney General has opined that “A mayor’s mere physical absence from the jurisdiction does not trigger the powers of the mayor pro tempore. A mayor must be absent from a jurisdiction in such a manner so as to prevent the mayor from performing the duties of the office.” 2006 Miss. Op. Att'y Gen. 12. Ms. Warren has communicated directly with city employees regarding their daily duties on numerous occasions and has sought to sign checks and take other unauthorized official actions during times where the Mayor was not absent from the jurisdiction in such a manner to prevent her from performing the duties of the office.

Mayor Ryshonda Beechem has requested on numerous occasions that the current city clerk Thomas R. Lyle provide her with a copy of the town budget, a full monthly accounting of the assets and liabilities of the town, prepare agendas and packets for board meetings in sufficient time so that the material can be reviewed and provide a copy of a timesheet accounting for work time, each of which has been refused or ignored. Miss. Code Ann. § 21-15-11 states “The mayor shall have power, when he deems it proper, to require any officer of the municipality to exhibit his accounts or other papers, and to make report to the governing body, in writing, touching any subject or matter he may require pertaining to his office.” These actions constitute insubordination and a serious breach of proper discipline. If allowed to continue, these actions may result in a loss or injury to the public, or in the altering, destruction or loss of documents.

In July of 2018, the Board sought to hire Frank Trapp of Phelps Dunbar to sue the Attorney General and the State Auditor. Numerous ethical questions arose.

On August 29, 2018, Pelahatchie City Attorney Michael Wolf formally posed a particular ethics question to the Mississippi Ethics Commission. On October 12, 2018, Executive Director and Chief Counsel to the Mississippi Ethics Commission Tom Hood responded by stating “public boards are not authorized by law to use public funds for the defense of public officers or employees in cases brought against them by the State to collect public funds misappropriated or otherwise illegally applied or withheld by said officers or employees.”



The Mississippi Attorney General has consistently opined that "it is within the discretion of the governing body to establish the mayor's salary and the board should set such salary in consideration of the duties and responsibilities of the mayor. MS AG Op., Beckett (January 31, 2003). Moreover, when setting salaries, the governing authority should act in good faith and in a manner that is not considered arbitrary and unreasonable when considering the municipal resources and the duties of the office. MS AG Op., Greer (January 12, 1994); MS AG Op., McWilliams (November 10, 1982). Therefore, it remains the opinion of this office that the governing authority has the authority to reduce the mayor's salary when the governing authority is acting in good faith and the reduction will not be considered arbitrary or unreasonable in relation to the municipal resources and the duties of the office." 2007 WL 2688635 (Miss.A.G.) (emphasis added)

Miss. Code Ann. § 21-3-15 states: (1) The mayor shall preside at all meetings of the board of aldermen, and in case there shall be an equal division, shall give the deciding vote. The executive power of the municipality shall be exercised by the mayor, and the mayor shall have the superintending control of all the officers and affairs of the municipality, and shall take care that the laws and ordinances are executed. (emphasis added) The reduction of the Mayor's salary in this instance was clearly done arbitrarily and in bad faith and to retaliate against her.

The Board has hired numerous employees and approved claims dockets for expenditures in the months since the arbitrary salary decrease and has continued to shell out monies for the benefit of everyone it sees fit, with the exception of the Mayor’s salary and the projects the Mayor seeks to champion. Superintending control over the officers and affairs of the city of Pelahatchie requires a lot of time and hard work. Any individual, whether a layman, a doctor or a Mayor deserves payment for their work. Mayor Ryshonda Beechem deserves payment for her work. (emphasis added)

The Mayor is calling on members of the community and the news media to help hold Pelahatchie's elected officials to a standard of conduct that reflects a respect for the law and for those tasked with upholding it. True compliance with the law requires integrity in accounting.

The Bonding Companies have the right to sue these individuals for the monies paid out pursuant to their bonds, and the Board is retaliating against the Mayor in response to that. This must stop. The Mayor has intervened in the Knox Ross lawsuits, in her individual capacity and official capacity as Mayor of Pelahatchie, Mississippi, to protect the rights of the citizens of Pelahatchie and to seek indemnity from the actions of the current Board, the former Board, the former Mayor, the current city clerks, the former city clerks and potentially others. The Mayor intends to file suit for equitable relief in Chancery Court in the coming days.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a cluster fuck

Anonymous said...

yep

Hermit King said...

Mayor Beechem,

I'm glad to see your side of the story. I will say that you seem to have uncovered what appears to be a vast multi-layered conspiracy to get fat on the riches that flow on I-20. And that conspiracy is probably bigger than what you are finding in your city.

Since it isn't the 20th century and potential conspirators can't just murder the first female black Mayor of Pelahatchie, they have attempted to assassinate your character. Stay strong.

The truth will come out one day. But the saga reads like a southern Gothic crime novel.

Anonymous said...

KUDOS, Mayor Ryshonda Beechem's. Hang in there and don't back down. It's a shame more Mayor's don't do the same.

Anonymous said...

It is Rankin County's Canton.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the good ole boys were upset that the new boss asked for receipts.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Kingfish (or whoever he has doing his work) went to all the trouble to document and compile all this bullshit. It's as useless as Limbaugh's daily diatribes regarding what all the democrats are doing to Trump. None of it amounts to a hill of peas.

Anonymous said...

Where is Shad White?

Anonymous said...

9-0 blow today to civil asset forfeiture per SCOTUS directly aimed at states. Good luck with those million dollar bail bonds, Mr. Danks.

And for the corrupt ones (you know who you are), no more stealing people’s crap without due process of law. If you can’t make a case in court, then tough pooey. You’ll have to prove your case. The burden of proof is on ‘the state’ to prove guilt, not on the accused to prove innocence. Don’t go running to the legislature to squeeze corruption back into criminal justice system, either. They can’t.


Anonymous said...

It's as useless as Limbaugh's daily diatribes regarding what all the democrats are doing to Trump.

Rush and Kingfish both appreciate your helping to pay their light bills.

Anonymous said...

Pelahatchie is in Rankin County. Based on what I have seen the last 16 years coming from our state elected officials, I'm taking the Mayor's side in this one, and I'm a white guy in Madison.

Anonymous said...

I thought we were going to get the punch line on all the Hinds County re-posts from 2011?

I supposed Pelahatchie has stolen all of the thunder from Hinds County now that Kenny quit.

Imagine if Kingfish didn't bother to cover this mess. Those idiots would keep getting away with this crap. Probably is happening all over this state.

Anonymous said...

Did the landscape man ever get paid for the work Ryshonda ordered in the city park?

Anonymous said...

8:38 yes Murphey’s Landscape got paid. Probably came from the proceeds of the muscadine jubilee. If her click gave her the money they are supporting illegal activities and lies. But what should we expect, everything about her has been a lie.

Anonymous said...

The mayor is selling piles of crap to anyone that will buy it. ( and people are buying) She needs the money to pay her legal counsel.

Hermit King said...

@7:00PM
You should remain silent and get a lawyer. You are in over your head.

It would be a lot easier to convince people that the elected and unelected Pelahatchie municipal employees weren't involved in a corrupt asset forfeiture scheme if they weren't publicly acting EXACTLY like a bunch of guilty municipal employees.

When covering ones ass you must use cunning and subtlety.

What we have witnessed appears to be a bunch of PHS grads that would have to look up the definition of subterfuge.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the same disgruntled Pelahatchie resident (who blindly supports an out of control mayor) is posting over and over and over.

Anonymous said...

Hey Knox, your cover-up is unraveling.

Anonymous said...

Hermit king I can’t afford a lawyer so I will start a GoFundMe (dig and it will make sense). It is obvious that you have bought a few piles of this crap. But don’t feel bad your not the only one, most people that have no connection to the town have. Thanks for your two cents, made me a wiser person.

Anonymous said...

Asset forfeiture is organized crime by the police and governments. A widely abused procedure.

Anonymous said...

They didn't say anything about the board cut their pay as well to $ 250 per month. The so called mayor is hardly ever their and ask her why she changed the locks on city hall after the board voted no? Ask her why she can't pay for automotive bills on her personal vehicle that was done and not paid for yet? And what lawyer would let a client get $ 30,000 without getting something as collateral? This go fund me account was done by her personal lawyer cause he is like everyone else CAN'T GET PAID BY HER!!!!

Following Mayor Ryshonda Beechem's cooperation with an investigation by the State Auditor into misappropriation of funds, the Board of Alderman of the City of Pelahatchie retaliated against her by voting to reduce her pay to $250.00 per month.

To this day, the Board continues to disregard state law and violate the separation of powers doctrine. The illegal and retaliatory actions of the Board of Alderman have caused Mayor Beechem to incur legal fees and expenses in her individual capacity of over $30,000.00 during the last 12 months.

Rod Knox said...

I'm over here 8:06. And flattered that you care even if you mistake someone else for me.

StarRider said...

From my vantage point on the outside it appears to me that all of them are ass clowns. I would agree with 9:45 about the asset forfeiture policies that have just been revised, it's unconstitutional and most of our government here is crooked enough without added incentive. Maybe the Supreme Court ruling the other day will put that to rest for good.

Anonymous said...

Hermit king has left the building. The book didn’t look as good as the cover.

Anonymous said...

Oh my how those pink porkies squeel when their bacon is getting fried!

Anonymous said...

Killing folks in Madison county jail and we are talking about a pimples on folks butt because an outsider got elected it's good enough for the U.S (most people are pissed too) so why not Pelahactie.

Anonymous said...

When is Shad the WonderKid going to make a demand for the money? Still waiting.

Hermit King said...

@2:56 PM

I am at a loss to decipher that gibberish.

Perhaps you got your idioms confused?

Mayor Beechem isn't perfect. But her mistakes do not erase the antecedent crimes of City Hall

Anonymous said...

You are correct, She isn't perfect nor innocent!! Look at the locks she changed without approval and wanted the town to pay for. Look at the wall she had built at the ballfield and never got the proper quotes for but had the work done anyway along with the ex court clerk and then contacted the contractor to have them to resubmit two invoices that don't go over the $ 5000 each and still wanted the town to pay, Look at how she wanted the board to approve the netting for the ballfield at the last meeting prior to having the quotes.And I'm going to check with the state to see if it was legal for her to release some of the paperwork from this officer with the names and address on them.

Kenneth Adams said...

First off to some of the dumbassses that think she’s done wrong. She caught hell from them tobtry and get the park done to make money for the town for baseball tournaments and things like that. When the board tried to make her pay, people even donated for the park and the board refused the money. She never started a go fund me, citizens did. The mayor is always going above and beyond to do things for the town she grew up in and has been met with resistance every step of the way. They tried to cancel the Muscadine Jubilee just to be spiteful and the people game through in spite of them. This mayor has done and tried to do what’s best for the city and they are trying to make it hard for her. I know because a cousin of mine is on the board. They ran an awesome policeman off, Willie Robinson, and others. This thing is happening and these idiots who say negative things about the mayor are blinded because they are just that, idiots.

Kenneth Adams said...

And she changed the locks because people who no longer worked for the city still had keys and if something happened there would be no accountability. It’s like buying a house but letting the previous owners keep the keys. Please think people. Damn

Unknown said...

Welcome to Mississippi there is a reason Ms comes.in last place on everything good.moving to Honolulu was smartest thing I ever did.i make way more.money and live alot better lifestyle

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