Wednesday, July 3, 2019

JJ Files Complaint Against Pelahatchie

JJ filed an Open Meetings Act complaint against the Pelahatchie Board of Aldermen yesterday with the Mississippi Ethics Commission.    The Board held a "work session" that started an hour before the regular Board meeting Monday night.  However, the Aldermen and employees huddled in a small group in the corner of the Board room and spoke in lowered voices that were impossible for the audience to hear. The behavior continued for the duration of the work session.


Just a work session, so it's ok.


It is the position of this website that the public has a right to know what business is conducted when its lawfully elected representatives hold a public meeting.  The work session was properly noticed.  A quorum was present.  The Aldermen met in one small area away from the microphones and proceeded to conduct a public meeting out of earshot of the public.




The city attorney defended the practice. John Wakeland, Esq.  said it was a work session so the Aldermen didn't have to make themselves heard to the audience.  He said anyone could walk up to the members and listen although space was extremely limited.  I walked up with a video camera but he warned me about "blocking" anyone's view.

 Oddly enough, he continued the same practice during the regular Board meeting.  Each time the Mayor, an Alderman, or the Alderwoman had a question for him,  he would get out of his seat, walk over to the person asking the question, stand in front of him or her, and softly answer the question.  The audience was unable to hear his remarks.  (See 13:50, 17:20, 19:15, and 22:30.).



The Board started holding work sessions last year.  The meetings have been conducted in the same manner.  The Aldermen and Alderwoman huddle in a corner, speak softly, and call city employees over for discussion as needed.  Microphones are not used, thus the audience is unable to hear what these elected representatives are doing.

Board, PW Director, Attorney, Police, Clerk huddling
 Mayor Ryshonda Beechem is usually absent from the work sessions.  However, she appeared at the March work session and chaired the meeting.   She required everyone to sit at their regular Board seats and use the microphones.  One would have though Sherman was marching through Atlanta again given the Board's reaction.  They raised holy hell about allowing the public to hear what they were doing.  She said several Pelahatchie citizens complained they were unable to hear the Aldermen.  They demanded to know who complained as they howled their outrage.  Don't take my word for it.  Watch for yourself.



Monday's work session lasted close to an hour while the Board meeting (minus the tirades of Mr. Adams and Mayor Beechem) was less than 20 minutes.

JJ submitted the Open Meetings Act complaint to the Ethics Commission.  The city has 14 days to respond to the complaint.  Section 25-41-15 of the Mississippi Code states:

 After a hearing, the Ethics Commission may order the public body to take whatever reasonable measures necessary, if any, to comply with this chapter. If the Ethics Commission finds that a member or members of a public body has willfully and knowingly violated the provisions of this chapter, the Ethics Commission may impose a civil penalty upon the individual members of the public body found to be in violation of the provision of this chapter in a sum not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for a first offense and One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for a second or subsequent offense, plus all reasonable expenses incurred by the person or persons in bringing the complaint to enforce this chapter.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the Ethics Commission from mediating or otherwise resolving disputes arising under this chapter or from entering orders agreed to by the parties. 
 The Kingfish said "such actions are clearly an attempt to circumvent the public's right to observe its public officials conducting the public's business." 

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is NO journalist in Mississippi over the past decade who has done more to demand open government and transparency than Kingfish. Period.

Anonymous said...

Props to you Kingfish don't give them an inch.

Anonymous said...

As much as I've disliked some of Mayor Beechem's actions and statements, she is not the only bad actor in this government. I dare say, that the Board of Aldermen is far more corrupt than she is, though her responses haven't helped her case. And their behavior didn't just start in the last 2 years; I'm sure this has been their modus operandi for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Time to deliver Enoch to their meetings . . . .

Anonymous said...

What's the fascination with Pelahatchie? I don't really even know where it is. Somewhere around the Reservoir?

Anonymous said...

Get out a map. Educate yourself. There is a world outside your bunker.

Anonymous said...

11:20 a.m. It is located near Madison. You should know better.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who these cretins think they are doing this. This is our government. We set the rules, not them. The arrogance and pure stupidity of it all blows me away. Keep up the good work KF.

Hermit King said...

@11:20 AM
Pelahatchie is a little chicken farm town on I-20 in Rankin County. The significance is that their current mayor is the first African-American Mayor elected in a majority white county that has a long history of good ol boy corruption and institutional white supremacy.

The other aspect of this is that Pelahatchie is on the county line on I-20 and the Rankin County Sheriffs office runs a sophisticated Civil Asset Forfeiture operation nearby which facilitates massive influx of confiscated cash into the coffers of the city that has allegedly been misappropriated.

Several City Police Departments in Rankin as well as Rankin County Sheriff's have drawn the attention of national investigative journalists regarding their Civil Asset Forfeiture operations on the interstates.

Kingfish keeps tabs due to the historical nature of the Mayor and the potential for a possible Civil Asset Forfeiture conspiracy to someday be exposed.

Anonymous said...

11:20,
Pelahatchie has the potential to expose corruption involving Civil Asset Forfeiture and misuse of funds that could go all the way to the top of the MSGOP.

Anonymous said...

This type of government shenanigans goes on in Nettleton, Mississippi as well. Small towns are hotbeds of corruption and under-the-table deals. Most people in government in small towns like Pelahatchie and Nettleton are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they do excel at corruption and dirty business.

Anonymous said...

Lol kingfish u have done it again u have always been one sided and it shows once again. Still doesn’t negate the fact that the mayor is a nit wit and the board is trying to hold this town in the road. U filed for what to show the mayor that u were on her side because I didn’t see you run the story of identity theft or the husbands dui

Anonymous said...

You should get a boom mic and drop it in right in the middle

Anonymous said...

This so simple, so let me help y'all out.

They were discussing...wait for it...the mayor.

Anonymous said...

12:36

That stellar education shining through your words is a beacon...for abortion

Anonymous said...

@12:51
Never forget that the minimum requirememt for becoming a City/State/County employee in Mississippi is a GED. There is no minimum requirement for elected officials other than votes. And in Rankin County the GED minimum requirement even includes Judges.

Anonymous said...

I’m confused- if the meeting hadn’t started can they not talk to one another? Can they only discuss the town when the microphones are on? They weren’t voting on anything. Are they not allowed to have private conversations just b/c they have been elected to be board members? This is awful presumptious and some big accusations just b/c some people are sitting around talking. I’m sure if they were trying to do something under-handed they would smarter than to do it with others sitting around taking their photos and recording them. This is some big accusations with no proof. They are allowed to talk about whatever they want whenever they want. They weren’t voting and making decisions.

This has become the a total childish circus.

Unknown said...

There are hundreds of Pelahatchies across the USA - small towns riddled with incompetent and/or corrupt leadership.

Anonymous said...

They can talk about ty mayor if they want to. Someone, once told me that what others think or say about me is none of my business. That applies here. I mean The Mayor IS suing present board members. She’s even drug past board members into it. Does she really think people aren’t seeing her theatrics. The hearing is Monday at Rankin Chancery.

I feel so bad for the people of this great town. What was once known as a quaint little town that was Home of one of the best festivals in this state is now nothing but a joke. All it’s become about is the attention seeking mayor.

Anonymous said...

11.20 here. My bad. Sounds interesting. Love to see corruption exposed so I am on board now.

Micah Gober said...

I think something like this happened in Canton, Mississippi awhile back. They blocked a person from filming the work session.

Anonymous said...

1:32,

Word of the day: Quorum. Look it up.

Halfwit alderman’s relative commenting on here needs to shut his trap. Your stupid is showing.

Anonymous said...

If a quorum of members are present ANYWHERE and business is discussed in any way, it is considered a meeting and subject to open records laws, despite what time the meeting is scheduled to begin. That being said, strategies to answer any lawsuit could be shielded via the executive session provision, but must be so declared.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 5:56 p.m. Go get em, Kingfish!

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, if 12:36 is correct then it does raise a question about your journalism.

Anonymous said...

King - if 2 members conduct business, isn't that enough to invoke open-meeting law?

Anonymous said...

Hermit: Pelahatchie is on Highway 80. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

@1:17 AM - yo bright spark, approximately 1-mile of I-20 is within the city limit, including the Marathon station south of I-20. This incorporation allows the boys in blue to snatch up some of that contraband rolling on the interstate, along with asset forfeiture. You're welcome, jackwagon, and try to keep up.

Anonymous said...

It seems like in many of these tiffs the mayor is the one trying to do the right thing. Nobody gives her much benefit of the doubt I suppose because of race. Kudos to Kingfish for calling out these rednecks.

How many lawyers has this bunch been through during this term until they could find one who would agree with whatever they want ?

Anonymous said...

Good point. Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled officials cannot meet in pairs to avoid open meetings act. In general, all discussion of public business must be open to the public, unless the body chooses to invoke one of the exceptions found in statute.

http://www.ago.state.ms.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/A-Guide-to-Open-Meetings.pdf

Example: The court ruled 9-0 Thursday that the city of Columbus was wrong to set up pairs of meetings with the mayor and three city council members apiece, avoiding the city council's quorum of four members.

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2017/09/07/mississippi-open-meetings-ruling/643723001/

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