Monday, February 18, 2019

SOS: 16th Section Lawsuit Necessary for Public Schools

This column was submitted by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. 

This week, the State filed suit against the federal government seeking at least $25 million for damage to 8,000 acres of 16th Section land belonging to three school districts in southwest Mississippi.

It was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right one for our children. The background is important:

The Secretary of State serves as co-trustee of the 640,000 acres of 16th Section land held in trust for 101 school districts. Timber sales, mineral and hunting leases, and other transactions involving the land generate much-needed revenue for these schools.

In 2016, we became aware of artificial flooding damage to 16th Section land along the Mississippi River. The problem dates back to the 1950s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers devised a floodgate system in central Louisiana, the Old River Control Structure. The system, created to prevent harm to cities in Louisiana, changed the natural course of water flowing from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya River by diverting more water down the Mississippi.

The impact to school lands was not considered, but the result has been devastating. The artificial flooding has left behind large amounts of silt which has caused the deterioration of wildlife habitats and tree mortality. The value of affected acreage has plummeted. Oil and gas operations have been forced to close during periods of high water. Agricultural losses are substantial.

When we realized the extent of the damage, we attempted to find a beneficial resolution to all parties. I testified twice before the Mississippi River Commission requesting changes to the floodgate system. We held meetings with the Corps and our Congressional delegation.

When it became clear there was no realistic resolution, we took another route. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits the federal government to take our land — they just have to pay us for it. In a case with similarities to ours, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled a temporary flooding is considered a taking within the meaning of the Constitution.

Payment is what we now seek.

Importantly, our Agency’s respect, and my personal respect, for the Corps cannot be overstated. Growing up in Vicksburg, I witnessed firsthand the Corps continual contributions to our community, State, and Nation.

Mississippi’s 16th Section land, however, remains one of our State’s most important assets set aside for our public schools. Past decisions have led to current loss, and our school children must be compensated for it as the Constitution requires.


Compass and Chain said...

From the filed court documents posted here on 2-11-19 when JJ broke the story, Gilbert claims that Section 5, Township 7 North, Range 3 West, Adams County MS contains 3001 acres. Looking at the official MDOT County Map of Adams County, this "Section 5 T7N R3W" appears to be a skinny rectangle on Cowpen Point containing approximately 400 acres. It is adjacent to Section 38 to the south and Section 39 to the west. These are Spanish Land Grants that existed prior to the Original General Land Office (GLO) Surveys of the State of Mississippi in the early 1800's, of which the 16th Section of those Townships were reserved for the schools. These Townships were 6 miles x 6 miles and contained 36 sections each being 1 mile x 1 mile, numbered 1 through 36....unless they bordered on a navigable river or Indian Treaty boundary or.....a Spanish Land Grant, at which point the Townships were considered "Fractional". I'd like to see Kingfish ask Gilbert for some marked up maps with regard to this story.

Anonymous said...

Goobert is grandstanding with a BS press release on a BS lawsuit that he thinks makes him looks strong. KF, does he pay you to post these things?

Anonymous said...

12:52 - What the hell do you think you are doing? You are questioning the smartest man in the state - he knows all the answers without even knowing the question. Don't you know better than think Gilbert would jump on something without having the facts (according to him) in hand?

This is nothing but a bullcrap move by Dilbert to get some publicity with his buddy (that he was responsible for putting into office, in collusion with Mike Moore back in 2003) - to help them both in their quest to run the state. Anybody that thinks Dipbert as LG would bring about a better running government has obviously never been in a position of working "WITH" him.

So, 12:52, get out of the way with your facts and maps. Gilbert don't need no stinking maps in his claim over the Mississippi River lands. All we need now is to see if Hood can find an attorney to take on this case - on a contingency, of course - or whether all his buddies punt since there ain't no chance of recovery once the facts are shown.

Kingfish said...

I am quite sure that maps will be submitted as exhibits to the court.

Anonymous said...

KF, yes just like the maps that Gilbert submitted to the courts on the coast when he tried to claim control of property in Harrison, and Hancock, county. However, the courts found that his interpretation of those maps - where the "high tide" mark was, demarking the state's control, was different that Dilbert's interpretation. And in that case, he wasn't suing the feds, he was trying only to impose his opinion on the proper use of those coastal properties. I'm sure the feds will have a much stronger set of barristers taking on their position. Besides, this won't hit the courts during 2019, and once the year (and its elections) are over, neither Zebert or Hood will care.

12 ga. Over and Under.. said...

He might want to look into the 16th land in Rosedale that the Wildlife people have absconded with....where they closed down the park and turned it into a hunting camp for dignitaries. The school board is complicit. Illegal use of the school land. Secrets abound.

Anonymous said...

More grandstanding by Delbert. Work with him, and you'll know the kind of person he REALLY is. It's not the smiley-faced person you see in ads. It's more of the "if you don't agree with me, then you're outta here" type of person. He covers for friends, doesn't listen to employees who actually know what's going on, and runs off anyone who dares show him wrong, even when the wrong is right.

He needs to retire and stay at the house.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this just has "LA Law" (that's "lower Aberdeen") backstory written all over it. Dilbert and Elvis bow up on the the United States...Army... Corps....of Engineers tellin' them carpetbaggers (with real sincere ree-spect and all that-thar shit...) whatfer and how it's gonna be. Whereupon, the Corps, perhaps somewhat soothed and touched by all the respect shown, merely balls Delbag and Poochboy up like canned biscuit dough and uses them for catfish bait, rather than feeding them alive and screaming into a federal court bubbachipper and using the output in levee construction.

These guys are engineers...with tanks and guns...and DOJ lawyers. They helped design federal bureaucracy in their spare time, invented the whole "wetlands" Gordian-Knot-of-Bullshit for giggles, and have slowly amassed the authority to basically do whatever the hell they want within their area of command. Here's a tip, Dumb and Dumber, which I'm sure you will ignore with gusto: back away slowly, don't make eye contact, and act like it was all a big mistake on your part. If anyone at Corps Command happens to see this, please, the citizens and taxpayers of Mississippi didn't come up with this campaign stunt disguised as a claim, so take pity and mercy on our pocketbooks.

And before anyone starts up with the, "Well, those Missouri farmers won..." No, not yet, they haven't, and I'll see your coupla-hundred Missouri Plaintiffs and raise you about 500,000 Louisiana Plaintiffs who after about 10 years of litigation are finally gonna get...nothing.

On the positive side (for certain lawyers, that is), the limited few parents of those poor lil' schoolchildren who actually do pay taxes get to foot the bill, along with the rest of the taxpayers of Mississippi, for yet another debacle involving Mississippi buffoons with bar cards that don't know the slightest thing about the law, and frankly, are just too stupid and boorish to learn anything. YAY! We're number 50 in something else!

Anonymous said...

@8:46 Yep, dilbert at his usual. Always the smartest man in the room. Or anywhere else he is. If you don't believe him, just ask him. He's often wrong, but never in doubt. He has used/abused his powers at SOS office to take care of friends and punish enemies; he runs those off he might dare disagree with him, or those that will not follow unethical and/or questionably legal directions. Someday, it will come home to roost. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Sadly, I don't see another "Bill Waller" type to join the race for Lt. Gov. The poor folks of this state have only seen dilbert's cute little jingles and press releases for the last 11 years and his meddling in populist issues that SOS has business doing and are typically the domain of other agencies. There has been NO investigative reporting or even serious questioning of his actions, nor any other political accountability provided by our legislative leaders. The public has no idea what has really being going on under the surface. How can they?

So, we'll all see yet another election based solely on name ID and not the merits, honesty, competency or principles of the candidates. Ok, I'm dreaming. It usually does work that way. But, dilbert's extreme arrogance coupled with his legal experience may perhaps make him more dangerous than other "normal" arrogant/unethical politicians.

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