Tuesday, May 26, 2020

DHS Pays Millions for a Lease It Doesn't Use


The Mississippi Department of Human Services pays rent on its former home even though it no longer occupies the building on North State Street.  DHS moved into the old Skytel buildings on Lamar Street in June 2018.  However, DHS has paid $3.8 million to the landlord in monthly rent since the move.  The lease does not expire until 2027.  DHS thus pays double rent.  JJ obtained a list of the payments through a public records request. 

A DHS official said there are no DHS functions or employees assigned to the North State Street building.  The agency is paying nearly $173,000 per month for office space it does not use thanks to the actions of its former executive director, John Davis.


DHS signed an emergency no-bid contract with Hertz to lease the old Skytel buildings on 200 S. Lamar Street in June 2018.  DHS agreed to pay $15 per square foot.  The lease is $170,288 per month ( more than $2.0 million per year.).  Hertz is responsible for all utilities except for telecommunications services.  The lease has a term of one year but has been renewed.

The agency called the old Sheraton Hotel on 750 North State Street home for many years.  DHS paid a monthly lease of $162,087 to Madated, LLC until December 2017 when the rent jumped to $172,849.  DHS still pays rent for the building.  Madated and DHS executed the lease in 2007 and amended it in 2014. DHS agreed to pay $1.945 million per year until 2018, when it jumped to $2.1 million where it will remain until 2024.  The lease expires at the end of 2027.  DFA's website states the contract amount is $47 million.



DHS attempted to break the lease when it moved but the landlord sued on June 1, 2018.  DHS filed a motion to dismiss but the lawsuit was dismissed on June 21, 2018 per the request of both parties.

The Mississippi Community Education Center took up residence in the building last fall but is no longer in the building.  It is not known if there was a sublease. 
















63 comments:

Anonymous said...

All the empty buildings DFA owns that DHS could occupy for free

Anonymous said...

Does the Legislature have to approve DHS' budget? Where is the budgetary oversight?

Anonymous said...

Conservative? I think not!

Anonymous said...

Who cares? They are just spending federal dollars that liberals in California and New York earned with their failing economies.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the “good ole boy” network is still alive and well! Next year DHS is going to demand more $ “because of the corona virus”. Why not move the to that old gym on Lakeland which is now owned by UMMC.

Anonymous said...

Fraud at a state agency due to incompetence? Shocking!

Anonymous said...

Your tax dollars at work.

Anonymous said...

what in the hell? why are we paying that much money for something we are not using?? isn't this the Nicholas family? bet this is a good ole boy deal!!
Where is Shad on this?

Anonymous said...

CPS is currently occupying the old space. I highly doubt that they have it filled, though.

Anonymous said...

We vote for this bullsh*t and stupidity every election cycle without fail. This has to stop. This is not incompetence, this is blatant stupidity and disregard for taxpayer money. At least the state should be trying to sublet this space to reduce its cost, if possible. We know damn well that won't happen though. $173,000/month that could be used anywhere else but this situation. I would rather have given Tate his private road to Dogwood than this. At least that road would be used by someone.

This is why I told my kids to leave the state upon graduation. The powers that be do not give a single iota about the residents of MS.

Anonymous said...

Check writing privileges should be taken away from DHS!

Anonymous said...

This is why i just smh when racists repeat that citizens of Jackson "have the government they voted for"

Really? So the "majority" in Mississippi voted for the New/DiBiase/DHS scandal?

Anonymous said...

LEASE? WHAT LEASE?
EMPTY BUILDING? WHAT EMPTY BUILDING?
i got news for you, no government worker will ever got to jail for this.
no government worker will ever be fired for this.
no government worker will ever be demoted for this.
no government worker will ever be reprimanded for this.
this is why everybody wants to work for the government.
no matter how bad you screw something up , you will never , in any way, be held responsible for the screw up.

Anonymous said...

I thought CPS moved back from the new space and is in the old DHS State Street building.

Anonymous said...

So now you know why J L Holloway moved to Nashville....and who is his best buddy who happened to own this particular piece of real estate? A VERY well known but disliked General Contractor from Philadelphia, MS. Let’s play ball! But what does it matter if you ain’t spending your money?!!!

Anonymous said...

These are some BIG numbers. Not just some clerk stealing a few hundred thousand.

Congrats to KF for this info. Now, what do we do with it?

Anonymous said...

Since DHS was unable to successfully break the lease at 750 North State Street as John Davis hoped, the $173,000 was still due. It is my understanding that a deal was made for CPS to occupy some of the Office space while DHS paid the lease. John Davis was too embarrassed to return to the building after abruptly moving to the old Skytel bldg so he convinced then CPS Commissioner Dickinson to move all of CPS Central Office staff to occupy some of the Office space at 750 North State Street.

Anonymous said...

At this point, the fiscal republican conservatives in this State have lost the right to criticize anyone about bad economic policies, financial mismanagement, or inept leadership. The fact that this amount of rent was paid on an unused building is beyond absurd. But our legislature makes bills about who can shoot if you are robbed on someone’s property while the Government is robbing its working citizens blind everyday. But if you listen to the narrative that’s replayed over and over in this state, Nancy Pelosi, illegal immigrants, and the judges in JACKSON are the problem and Trump is the solution.

Kingfish said...

CPS is not part of DHS.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the heading Kingfish uses, the building at 750 N. State Street is not empty. There is a very LARGE agency -- about 2,000 employees -- known as the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services (i.e., CPS) which occupies that building. While DHS pays the rent on the building, rumor has it that CPS is the one getting the free ride -- in that CPS pays no rent.

Anonymous said...

Such a terrible waste of money that could be re-allocated to something that the state of Mississippi sorely needs to address - the mental health crisis that has continued to largely go unaddressed by the Legislature and funding for several years now.

$173,000/year ain't nothin' to sneeze at!

Anonymous said...

While CPS may not be a "part of DHS" as you say, they share a number of administrative functions and CPS still receives $30 million per year in TANF funds from DHS -- and CPS still pays no rent for 750 N. State Street from its separate state budget.

Anonymous said...

This is why property available for lease has a legally binding agreement.

So, the tenants cannot exercise the "I changed my mind" clause that they all want to use.

Anonymous said...

At least a state agency is in control. It's not like this stuff is being handled by the incompetents at the city of Jackson. I can't wait until we have a complete state takeover of JPS and the City of Jackson so things can be run efficiently for a change.

Anonymous said...

DHS needs to move into a State owned building and stop paying rent! Also DOR needs to move out of the WorldCom building and move into a State owned building!

Anonymous said...

4:09

It's $173,000 a MONTH, not per year.

Anonymous said...

Take a 5 minute drive around downtown Jackson and look at all of the buildings that have been constructed by the state over the last 20 years and get ready to have your mind boggled. And then consider how many other huge buildings we are also renting.

Small government? Reducing government? Naw. Mississippi government has grown steadily for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused.

Which scandal is this ripoff a part of?


Or it it another new scandal?

Also what do the budgets show? Did they budget to account for paying double rent and only single occupancy? Or did they have to amend the budget and request additional funds midyear?

Kingfish said...

Playing the flip side. When the state buys a building, it goes off the tax rolls. Also, the state is notorious for deferring maintenance and upkeep where as such expenses can be built into the lease.

Anonymous said...

I heard Phil Bryant pressured DHS to continue this outrageous lease--is he friends with the owner or mortgage holder?

Anonymous said...

What about the old Wright and Ferguson funeral home on High St? According to my sources, the total cost of renovations will be around $11 Millsaps dollars! DFA wants to put a couple of state agencies in the funeral home. What a waste of our tax dollars! Can your Representative and Senator and tell them go stop this waste!

Anonymous said...

What about the old Wright and Ferguson funeral home on High St?

Don't blame that one on DFA nor Republicans.

Anonymous said...

To 4:00 PM
THANK YOU !

Anonymous said...

I,m shocked I tell you to find out there is corruption at DHS.

Anonymous said...

"What about the old Wright and Ferguson funeral home on High St?"


That was part of Jackson history.

I don't know or care who owns that building now, but the simple fact is many folks are adamant about not being buried in Jackson or Hinds County.

Only stating facts.

Anonymous said...

Who should we blame it on then oh anonymous poster. Please don’t let posting any details get in your way.

Anonymous said...

County tried to buy the old Sears building where the main library is (which also happens to house the county EOC). State told them to forget it, the state wants to buy it and tear it down so the view is better from their new museum. So much for republicans shrinking the size of state government.

Anonymous said...

2:38 - there is a lot to bitch about in this post, but your comment misses the target.

Please list for us all those "buildings that DFA owns that are empty, that could be used."

I'm not totally up to date on all the properties that are owned by the state, but I can't think of a one (or a combination of a couple) that could provide the amount of square footage required by DHS.

So, please enlighten us as to where all these owned buildings are. (And, you can't count the Sun & Sand - they have to be able to be occupied to count.)

Anonymous said...

As has been noted above, the state is not leasing this space while it remains empty.

Child Protective Services - CPS - occupies a large part of the building, as it did prior to it becoming a separate agency (thanks to the infamous Olivia Y lawsuit settlement).

CPS was previously a division of DHS, and after it was separated and into an agency of its own, it still shares most all of its administrative functions with DHS. And it also shares many of its overhead expenses through the federal programs that it operates.

I'll bet when push comes to shove, the amount of 'wasted dollars' on this rental deal won't be nearly as bad as it looks on its face.

But the real travesty here is that DHS moved in the first place because Mr. Davis wanted nicer digs. He was tired of the old remodeled hotel and saw the shiny black glass building downtown. Just like now AG Fitch when she wanted to move out of the state owned building that wasn't very 'plush' and spent the moving dollars to go to the old Deposit Guaranty Building.

And don't go looking to the legislature for control over this game - looks at who's in charge of "Public Property" Committees - at least one member who has been promoting the leasing of all these empty downtown buildings so that his real estate business can escalate.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi’s propaganda is so similar to N. Korea’s... Our state government is big to hide our horrible private sector economy... gotta employ these folks somehow

Anonymous said...

I have had several contracts with the State over the years and all of them had a 30 day out clause in favor of the State. This included real estate and service contracts.

When did the State stop putting this 30 day out clause in its contracts?

I don't have any contracts at this time.

Anonymous said...

CPS is an independent sub-agency (whatever that means) of DHS and they share some administrative functions.

Anonymous said...

Did Mandated, LLC properly file its paperwork with the Secretary of State? If so, who are the owners? I don't see it on the SOS website.

Anonymous said...

7:04 Well, put it out there... who is?

Anonymous said...

DHS should not have entered into a new lease until it was determined that the old one could be cancelled. I think there is an office in DFA that has oversight on all state buildings and leases. They should have stopped it. Perhaps someone said look the other way or else.

Anonymous said...

to 4:27...''at least a state agency is in control ''..........................you got to be kidding. you say that as if it's a good thing.
permit me to give you a short lesson on ''control'' by state agencies:
1987, sam waggnor, MDOT, millions stolen;
2003 ms development authority beef plant , millions stolen,
2013, ms dept of marine resources, dr. walker, millions stolen;
2016 ms dept of corrections, chris epps ,millions stolen;
2020, ms dept of human services, millions stolen;
tell me, how's that for ''control''?

this list is by no means complete and comprehensive. feel free to add any that i overlooked or couldn't recollect .

Anonymous said...

5:58 / then who’s to blame???????

Bennett Holland Oversite Committee said...

What's all this bitching about 'crime', 'impropriety', 'get Shad involved', etc?

When an agency director has the autonomous authority to enter into such arrangements, this is what happens. Nothing illegal about it, so 'crime, impropriety and Shad' have no place in the conversation.

We have only seen the iceberg's tip as relates to John Davis' behavior, decisions, maneuvers and shenanigans. And please never forget the name of the man who appointed him.

Anonymous said...

David Blount.

Anonymous said...

Keep peeling back the layers of the onion, KF. John Davis was throwing around money left and right for years, and Gov. Bryant was either directing his actions or he was asleep at the wheel. Keep following the money and this entire DHS “scandal” leads all the way back to Bryant. The real guilty parties need to be exposed soon.

And also don’t forget the Madison landfill situation, one in which Bryant and members of his family are rumored to have finger prints all over.

Anonymous said...

How much did Phil Gunn pay for the DOR to go into the Worldcom building? $42,000,000.

He could have bought a building on Capital St. (Skytel) for only $7,000,000.

Good move, Phil.

Anonymous said...

No shock here. Davis and his Deputies committed the $5m to Southern Miss for the up front lease agreement. Davis committed hundreds of thousands of dollars for a lease agreement with Hertz at the Centre City building for a virtual reality “lab”. Davis directed his brother in law to receive an up front sum of DHS money for renovating property in Brookhaven. Davis directed up front money to Paul Lacoste. Christian books and concert series all received DHS funding directed and committed by John Davis. I’ve thought all along there is a hell of a lot more to this DHS “sprawling conspiracy” story than what is in the public and it appears some truth is finally coming to light.

Anonymous said...

654 - You need to check the details and the facts of your claim. You are close, but wrong in where you cast 'blame'.

The State leadership doesn't want to buy the Eudora Library Bldg (old Sears) - but the head of the MS Archives and History - Katie Blount - wants the state to buy it
You are correct about her reasoning - she wants the view from the front of her two museums to be on a open green space looking at the Capitol.

And of course she has a connection in position in the legislature that is pushing this idea - but he same sure isn't part of the Republican leadership of the state.

Same connection to the (claimed) historic Wright and Ferguson building. DFA, nor the Republicans wanted to purchase and retain this building - but the same connection got it included in a bond bill with language that it could not be torn down without the 'approval' of the same MS Dept of Archives and History.

Not all stupid decisions can be blamed on Republicans, try as you might. But I guess in some ways the Republican could be touched with these deals - too many of them voted for the Senator, and he was put in charge of the committee with oversight of these deals.

Anonymous said...

Deppity Pheel still busy doin whatever he's been doin?

Anonymous said...

Are there any accounting issues with respect to DHS using federal dollars to pay for this lease?

That could cause more DHS problems if things aren't handled in the way that Uncle Sugar wants them to be.



Anonymous said...

You are correct about her reasoning - she wants the view from the front of her two museums to be on a open green space looking at the Capitol.

If you clear out the Eudora Library space and make into a green field......it only gives you a clear view of the Old Capitol Inn. Right?

Peel The Onion said...

It's difficult to be conspiratorial, incompetent and a stealth actor all at the same time, but, Phil Bryant and his lawyer-daughter have ascended to that plateau.

Anonymous said...

This year Senator Joseph "Mike" Seymour (R) introduced Senate Bill #2151 that would have taken the language out of the original bill that gave the Department of Archives and History the authority to veto any changes made to the building. Senate Bill 2151 never made it out of the public property committee.

In 2015, Senate Bill #2685 was passed giving DFA the authority to purchase the Wright and Ferguson property. The two Senators that authored the bill were Senator David Blount and Giles Ward. So DFA continues to pour millions into this project having to get permission from the Department of Archives & History. In the end, about 11 million down the drain! By the way, the Board of Archives and History appoint themselves to the Board. Yet, they spend YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

Anonymous said...

FAKE NEWS.... DHS pays the rent for CPS to occupy the building. No double up.

Anonymous said...

DFA Director Laura Jackson told us point blank that the state would acquire Eudora Welty and it be torn down. Who exactly did the DFA Director report to? Not some museum lady, that’s for sure.

Anonymous said...

"Just like now AG Fitch when she wanted to move out of the state owned building that wasn't very 'plush' "

So true.
That's kind of her trademark.

That was also the first thing she did at Employment Security almost 20 years ago, (whine about furniture).

It takes that agency three plus months to issue an unemployment check, but they bought Lynn a brand new "executive" office in less than a week.

Steelcase Desk said...

And, 6:47, in her brief tenure there, she never even knew the agency's mission.

Anonymous said...

Hey 9:03, no one has checked out the dept of revenue yet........wonder how much the people that collect and handle our money have stolen? How about that plush building they are in? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to sell it to a private firm and keep it on the tax rolls? Naaaaaaaa. We need a plush office. Hell, I work out of my truck as do a lot of people. Some work out of their vehicles and we don’t need a plush office.

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