Friday, February 21, 2014

One simple question

What the hell is going on in Madison County?   A $1.2 million contract to "study" moving the airport and no one has a copy, no minutes, no nothing??????   The Madison County Journal experienced a bout of actual reporting and published this story:

The Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) has entered into a $1.2 million no-bid contract with Warnock & Associates for one year of engineering work related to a new airport in the county, multiple sources have confirmed to the Journal.

The firm is that of County Engineer Rudy Warnock.

The sources, who have all spoken on the condition of anonymity, refer to the airport study as "Project Phoenix."

The extent of the work being conducted is unknown, as MCEDA Executive Director Tim Coursey declined to comment on whether or not "Project Phoenix" existed. He said he could not discuss matters that took place in executive session.

The contract is expected to have been made around May 2013, but board minutes were unavailable to the Journal on Wednesday. (KF note: That is a violation of state law, if true.) It is unknown if MCEDA Board Member Calvin Harris, an employee of Warnock & Associates, abstained from voting in favor of the contract.

To date, sources say over $380,000 has been paid to Warnock & Associates. The Journal is in the process of filing Freedom of Information Act records for payments made by MCEDA to Warnock & Associates since May 2013.  (KF note: Claims dockets are not confidential. Another violation MCEDA won't release the payment records)
There has been no motion made by the Madison County Board of Supervisors in regards to an airport study. However, in the Nov. 4, 2013, minutes from executive session, Supervisor Gerald Steen unsuccessfully made a bid to end any sort of airport study by MCEDA.

"During executive session, Mr. Gerald Steen did offer a motion to end any study by the Madison County Economic Development Authority regarding a site selection for an airport until additional support and approval can be obtained from Federal Aviation Administration and the City of Madison," the minutes read. "The motion failed for a lack of second." 

One man had a few things to say about this whole deal:

The City of Madison would need to be the first entity approached if plans were in play for a new airport because of FAA funding intricacies, said Bobby Isonhood, former chairman of a county airport study committee....

Isonhood said he spent several years working with the county to look for a new airport site. The county later hired Neel-Schaffer, a local engineering firm, to help find a suitable location.

He said, in total, they spent around $150,000 and found the "only suitable site" left in the county where Highway 16 crosses Interstate 55 in the northeast quadrant of the county.

"We spent most of that money going around in circles," he said. "It was all political."

When asked if $1.2 million was an excessive amount of money for any airport project at this stage, he said "Yes."

"All this has already been done," he exclaimed. "If they were to pick it up again, all they would have to do is look at the site that's already been accepted. It's pretty much the only site available...

He did make one penetrating observation:

"It just doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on with this particular engineer and the county," he added. "Sadly enough, it's all been exposed. The general public just wants it swept under the doormat. $1.2 million for a study - that's crazy, that's absolutely crazy. The ex-mayor of New Orleans (Ray Nagin) would fit right up here with the board of supervisors." 
That is true.


Anonymous said...

Hi Stacey,

Is this enough to move you off your ass and camp out in Madison County. Maybe this time do a real investigation, unlike the last time you were there?

Anonymous said...

Considering the sheer number of engineering firms in this area this contract stretches SEC. 19-3-69 to the extreme. This work should have been competitively bid out. But until people start filing lawsuits nothing will change.

Here's hoping the Madison County Journal will go to the mat to get the information or, at the minimum, consult with Kingfish on how to get it done!

Kingfish said...

Engineering contracts don't have to be bid

Anonymous said...

I noticed Ronny Lott would not second a vote in Executive Session to stop this ridiculous study. Is he that stupid or just corrupt. Now he wants to be elected Chancery Clerk. Poor Madison County.

Anonymous said...

Understand that. Said it stretches the spirit of professional services to the extreme. It didn't have to be bid but it could have been so and would have likely saved taxpayers money. If Warnock was some nationally renowned expert in airport placement it may be one thing but he's not.

The laws governing execution sessions need to be majorly reformed. Reading your Motorola coverage down there in Hinds all these years that became readily apparent.

Anonymous said...

Section 17.5 of MS Board for Engineers Rules & Regulations actually prohibits an engineering firm from giving a price in a competitive scenario. Even if a entity did a RFP no engineer could/would respond.

"The Professional Engineer, and the engineering firm, is to seek professional employment based primarily on the qualifications and competencies required for proper accomplishment of the work. This process restricts the Professional Engineer or firm from submitting a price for services until the prospective client has selected that Engineer or firm, based primarily on stated qualifications and competencies, for final contractual negotiations.
Competitive price proposals may not be submitted or solicited for professional services"

Anonymous said...

When it comes to taxpayers and transparency 9:39 AM Ronny Lott is missing in action.

Anonymous said...

Then they should rename 17.5 the Engineers screwing over Payees rule. Now I see that professional engineering firms are one shade removed from being a criminal enterprise.

Anonymous said...

This is a scam. Even if they shut the airport down, the land reverts back to the Fed govt.the city controls the airport, not the county.

Anonymous said...

What they SHOULD do is request a SOQ (Statement of Qualifications), this way there is no pricing required as mentioned above, but rather lets the governing entity see who is actually qualified.....
Which, means you are working under the premise that it's a legit scenario, which this is not. It's a set up for kickbacks.

Anonymous said...

if any of you enterprising trial lawyers out there are looking for fun, you should look into Section 17.5 of the board of engineers rules and regs...the national board actually lost a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court on this issue...but the MS board continues to defie the law and prohibit an engineer from givng a competative bid. sure wish in my business i could make folks engage me first, then let me name my price. it's totally unethical and they all know it but hide behind the board's "policy"

Anonymous said...

next time the county says they don't have money for you know where it went. This is a waist of tax dollars. The county has NO SAY in the airport. Now or ever.

Anonymous said...

Serious question: What does Ronny Lott do for a living?

Anonymous said...

I believe engineering services can be bid out competitively if at first a registered PE prepares the scope/specifications of work to be performed. Of course a conflict of interest between the individual/firm that did such preparation and the firms bidding would need to be avoided.

Anonymous said...

Go look behind Rudy's office. There is a new fleet of pickups for his guys to drive. He's got to pay for those new trucks some how without getting in the plastic surgery fun.

With all the disgust and hate Queen Mother Mary has for the county, she would never, ever approve to let go of her little airport UNLESS it was moved to another site inside the city of Madison.

Warnock is a Banks and Griffin man. That means he's a Bell Crosby man. All Warnock needs is three. Steen is screwed and Lott is a blithering idiot that has no business in an elected office. The only reason we have Banks, Griffin and Lott is the BOS redrew the distric lines in order to keep Banks in. His didtrict has whitened up to the point it was a good chance he would not have gotten elected again. Griffin was safe wheather the lines were redrawn or not. We got Ronnie Lott because they didnt want Redd elected. If you look at how the lines were drawn the basically drew the lines around his neighborhood to him out.

Anonymous said...

locating an airport is not engineering; building an airport is engineering. Big difference..

Anonymous said...

JBC is toast. Banks and Griffin know it. That is why they are raiding the coffers.

Anonymous said...

This may not exactly meet the definition of engineering services. Probably this exact type of work is not typically done by an engineering firm as engineering work either.

Not that there is anything wrong with a local getting a secret contract for 1.2 Mil.

Anonymous said...

Gerald Steen raised our taxes to finance this. My family and friends won't be voting for him.

Anonymous said...

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy! Give the oxygen thief some credit, he's found a legal way to steal our money. If the BOS votes to pay him so be it.
When Stacey looked at his contracts, he found that the fees Rudy was charging was not out of line for design work. What Tim Johnson's close friend, Stacey, did not put in his report was that Rudy's design work for Madison County's road construction was less than complete to build a project. Therefore after the project went out for bid, the contractor could not build the job by Rudy's plans. Change order!! But it's not just the contractor who gets paid more. Now Rudy gets to get paid again to redesign what he should have designed in the first place. And this redesign is charged outside his regular county engineer contract! It's a win for Rudy, but the tax payers of Madison County take it up the rear. Ride down some of the new roads that have been built or rebuilt in the last five years. They are rough as @&$^! Now that's either because it was a poor design, Rudy's job, or the contractor did a poor job, Rudy has the job to inspect, or see that the work was done correctly. But here again Madison County tax payers did not get what they paid for!

County gravel is set up on a term bid. Which means the county will buy gravel at a set price, Per Ton, for one year. Rudy says where and how much gravel through out the year. A few years back this term bid was won by a company that was partly owned by one of Rudy's employees. The gravel pit this company was using did not have any scales (remember the county pays by the Ton) so they converted yards to tons. Otherwise they guessed. The county got a lot of gravel that year. I even saw county trucks running on Sundays. Now this has all changed now, but it was a deal while it lasted.

We'll just keep taking it up the rear until something changes at BOS. Rudy and the BOS are protected by the 3-2 vote.

Anonymous said...


Rudy is protected not only by that vote but by the laziness (or something more sinister) of our state auditor.

To Stacey Pickering: you will never be elected to a higher office. Stew on those few words for a moment. This will be your only opportunity to serve the voting public. Make use of it or we will find someone who will.

Your friendly neighborhood Rankin County Republican

Anonymous said...

If Federal funds are used, Engineering Contracts cannot be bid but have to be selected on qualifications. Even State or Local funded engineering contracts are selected this way usually.

Kingfish said...

Not true. Total opposite. Tell that to the West Rankin Utility Authority. Which I suspect you know.

Anonymous said...

Federal selection process is harder than state. Even without a bid there must be some type of formal system used to hire professionals. Plus Rudy does really poor work..

Anonymous said...

@ 8:41 am

Hate to burst your bubble, but converting construction materials from weight to volume and visversa has been standard and accepted practice for longer than we both have been alive. It is hardly "guessing". That being said, in the case of gravel, volume measurement can be a more accurate estimation of weight. If you have a bone dry pile gravel then you could get an accurate weight. But if that gravel has been sitting in the rain for 3 days and you buy it by weight, you just bought a bunch of rain water.

I don't have a dog in this hunt and don't mean to put you down but please get your engineering facts straight before rendering an engineering opinion.

Anonymous said...

Does Rudy have a flourescent work vest big enough for JBell Crosby?

He'll be needing it.

Anonymous said...

>>But if that gravel has been sitting in the rain for 3 days and you buy it by weight, you just bought a bunch of rain water.<<

Luckily for the taxpayer gravel pits never fill with water, therefore never need to be pumped out. Otherwise the gravel pit might have pumps hoses and water which needs to be pumped into the hoses. Also luckily for there is never a need to wet down material piles to prevent dust pollution.

Happily ever after, the end.

Anonymous said...


If the truck is loaded correctly and there is someone not on the take taking up tickets. Most scales time stamp each load. Conversion tickets are hand written. Don't need to be an engineer to be thief!

Keep ya dog on the porch so it won't get run over by a half loaded gravel truck?

Anonymous said...

What will it take to dethrone the Big Three? Those who voted for Gerald Steen need a brain transplant. He's as crooked as a Madison County Parkway!!

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