Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rooks-Barber fires back at Sun-Herald

Elizabeth Rooks-Barber fired back at the Sun-Herald about its coverage of her contract with the Department of Marine Resources in a letter to the editor a few days ago. Since this website published the original story as well as additional information, it seems only fair to publish her letter in its entirety. Ms. Rooks-Barber is the wife of Madison County Tax Assessor Gerald Barber.

Your Dec. 16 article, "Lack of bids on Mississippi DMR work under review," was misleading and one-sided. In referencing the work my firm is contracted to do for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, which administers the state Coastal Impact Assistance Program, you made several incorrect statements that I wish to address.

CIAP is a complex, multi-year grant program that funds 105 projects across the lower six counties and involves 42 agencies, local governments, academic and non-profit partners. I have helped the DMR CIAP staff with technical and administrative aspects of this program for the past six years. I am one of several staff and contractors working on this program for the state and three counties that receive CIAP grants in Mississippi.

My main work for the DMR has been to assist their CIAP staff with certain elements of the program administration. The State Personal Services Contract Review Board approved my firm's contracts four times in accordance with the required CIAP program guidance and the state procurement rules and regulations. The DMR properly procured these contracts, which are posted on the Transparency Mississippi website.

Despite your implication, my husband, Gerald Barber, who owns this firm with me and serves as Madison County tax assessor, has not been involved in any aspect of my contractual work for DMR on CIAP. You could have verified this if you had asked me.

In addition to administrative duties, I assisted the DMR with project management on some grants that included land acquisition for purposes such as future parks, green space, restoration or public access. The DMR staff identified the properties to purchase, hired local general appraisers and obtained appraisals. I coordinated the closings, managed subcontracts for things like surveys, site cleanup, environmental studies, etc. and assisted with grant reporting requirements. Contrary to your article, our firm was never assigned to appraise properties.

You quoted some potential findings from the initial phase of a program audit (which you refer to as a "report"). These potential findings are the first step of a program audit that is being conducted in all six states that receive CIAP grant funds. The findings represent one side and are labeled "potential" for a reason.

To be fair and balanced in the future, I urge you to learn about the steps in a program audit and include the answers from the federal, state agency and counties that are involved in this program when those formal responses are complete.

Vice President
Barber and Mann Inc.

One point must be made clear to Ms. Rooks-Barber. No one is claiming Mr. Barber is "involved with" her "contractual work" with DMR. However, Mr. Barber is an owner of the company and as such he does maintain some responsibility for the company's actions.  Contrary to some comments made on this website by readers, this blog does not "have it in" for the tax assessor. However, he is a local politician. Politician. That means he is elected by us and when a company he owns is criticized by the feds the way it was in the Inspector General's report, that is newsworthy. It is also fair to publish his wife's response so everyone can decide if the IG, JJ, and the Sun-Herald are wrong. It is also clear that although he is an owner of the company, his wife is apparently the conservation expert who performs the work on the actual DMR contracts, not Mr. Barber. 

The main point of contention seems to be the role of Barber & Mann, if any, in selecting appraisers and reviewing their work. B&M defenders argue the contracts with DMR did not impose such a responsibility on the company. Fair enough. I've read the contracts and they don't mention "appraisal" in the language. However, the inspector general for the Department of the Interior still wrote what he did in his report concerning Barber & Mann. If the Inspector General is wrong and has to make corrections, this website will be more than happy to publish them at the top of the page in a brand new post for everyone to see. Did everyone read that sentence? If the IG report is proven wrong or the IG has to make corrections, this website will publish it at the top of the page for everyone to see. However, it is a bit much to expect the media to ignore the report or the language in the report concerning a local company owned by a local politician.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting the similarity of argument between that of the letterwriter above and those stools deposited by Barber's yap dog here at JJ. Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

You made some very good points:

-Mr. Barber is an owner of the company and as such he does maintain some responsibility for the company's actions.

-he is elected by us and when a company he owns is criticized by the feds the way it was in the Inspector General's report, that is newsworthy

-the inspector general for the Department of the Interior still wrote what he did in his report concerning Barber & Mann

-it is a bit much to expect the media to ignore the report or the language in the report concerning a local company owned by a local politician

Very well said.

offerstillstands said...

12:46. I wouldn't know Ms. Barber in a lineup either. I offered you a chance to prove it wrong, but you evidently don't have the b**ls to pony up to the bar. Offer still stands - you want to continue to hide behind your anonymous assertions, or open it up and find out who is correct? Have at it.

The reason some of the arguments may be the similar is that they happen to be facts that were included in the links in JJ's original posting.

KF, nice of you to be willing to report what the final IG audit finds - but knowing (personally) how IG audits work, that will be six to ten months from now. In the meantime, all the IG does is assert that B&M "should have" done things that are not in the B&M contract.

Fact is - anyone who wants to read the contract can make the determination, just as I did. If the contract called for B&M to do appraisers (as KF first reported), to contract with appraisers or review appraisals - I would agree with the assertions made here.

But, a simple reading of the contract does not do any of those things. Thus, my "defense" of a man and his wife and their company - none of whom do I know from Adam and Eve. But I do know a slam job when I see it, and I am quite familiar with how federal IG audits make such assertions - only to remove them once the "final audit" is completed.

So - come on 12:46, jump in the water; its fine. If you don't like the terms of my offer of a bet, make your own. As long as it is based on any of my claims that I have "no dog" in this hunt, I'll take it.

In the meantime, grow some, or shut up. And KF, you can post those last couple of comments I made, or you can grow some as well.

Anonymous said...

12:46 PM it looks like he's trained real well and responds to a simple whistle.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous calls another Anonymous a piece of shit for being, well, anonymous. Bwahahahahahaha

offerstillstands said...

Not exactly, 2:41. The question was raised on the earlier post about my being "anonymous" by someone using a moniker. I offered a bet, calling the bluff of the asskissing moniker, to not only prove his erroreous contentions, but also included identifying each other. The asskisser who wants to throw stones, without any evidence, has failed to accept the bet, or double it down.

Hate to be a "he started it first" but the fact is that he questioned my identity while hiding behind one or more monikers all the while. I'll be glad to make the disclosure if you want to take up the bet. (And if you missed it, go to the previous post where KF claimed Barber was responsible for 'terrible' appraisals.)

Anonymous said...

3:28 is obsessed.

offerstillstands said...

Obsessed? I just don't like being called a liar by an anonymous individual who wants to hide behind a tree while yelling any insidious thought but unwilling to step up and defend his uninformed opinions.

I am obsessed by those that want to defame anyone by any claim without merit or substantiation. I have an admitted dislike of a majority of IG reports that want to rewrite regulations to what they think they "should be" but not what the law allows. (An overreach by a fourth branch of the federal government, IMHO.)

I don't mind calling bs on KF when he twists reports just to increase hits on his site. I actually like KF and JJ, but don't mind calling him to task when I think he is wrong - unlike some of the JJ a**kissers who will take whatever he says and think that he is God's greatest gift.

Obsessed? I've offered to put my claim up to inspection - to all those that think I am a shill for someone I don't know or even care about.

Actually, I'm a front for KF - just trying to build up traffic for his site by creating controversy (and evidently doing a somewhat decent job of it.) Hell, an ass kissing on the courthouse steps is always fun - and I have offered to let him video it so those invested in his new equipment can get some enjoyment out of their investment!

Anonymous said...

Bill Walker is on a forced vacation. FBI on the case in his neck of the woods. Start Yer bitchin' even before King's post. Meantime, the turd dropper can leave the next on wrapped counterclockwise and in a tight coil with a oval void in the middle. And then Kiss My Ass.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe I've ever said anything about Walker, or DMR. And he's not on "forced vacation" but that's close. He is suspended without pay. Same result. I expected his resignation before year's end (if for no reason other than benefits) so not at all surprised. Glad though that those asking for Bryant to fire him now know that it was the MCMR's job to fire him, not the Governor's.

In the meantime, asskisser, take the offer, or shut up.

Anonymous said...

I'm not into your asskissing offer, anonymous; and I greatly resent your implications that any commenter here would be interested in such behavior. In the meantime, what is your real obsession? Some sort of frustration which can be relieved by indecent conduct in public, and fantasizing the involvement of video equipment is included?

All this passive aggressive nonsense is just plugging up the comments. We're needing an internet enema to get things moving again. Capeesh?

Anonymous said...

How in the world can you be called a liar when you are anonymous here and no one knows who you are? Grow a set dude or get off your 'puter.

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