Friday, June 10, 2022

Flashback Friday

 Once upon a time, a certain columnist in Starkpatch was actually funny.....

Just the good ole boys, never meanin' no harm,

Beats all you've ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born ...

The Mississippi Department of Transportation uses $530,000 it wasn't using to pave roads, repair bridges, patch potholes or for other credible purposes to buy a helicopter from the state Bureau of Narcotics.

MDOT needed the helicopter so badly that after it began to make payments on it on Sept. 15, 2004, the helicopter sat in a hangar eight months in Meridian without being operated until May 9, 2005.

Once MDOT decided to use its new toy, the primary use for the snazzy Eurocopter was what?

"Fuel tax evasion surveillance" is what MDOT executive director Larry "Butch" Brown told me last week. He said MDOT's helicopter is searching for fuel tax dodgers who are supposedly smuggling fuel in a 3,000-ton tanker along the banks of the Mississippi River and offloading the bootleg fuel into a truck that would then transport the untaxed fuel to a convenience store near you.

Reminds me of a bad Dukes of Hazzard episode. Boss Hogg sends Rosco P. Coltrane and Enos up in a helicopter trying to catch the Duke boys and Cooter running moonshine ethyl. YEE-HAW!

Ahoy, mateys, yo, ho, ho

My, my, that's real cloak-and-dagger stuff. And how many times in the past, pray tell, has a mysterious pirate fuel barge actually been nabbed bootlegging untaxed fuel into Mississippi?

MDOT enforcement director Willie Huff told The Clarion-Ledger this week that the agency "has not confirmed thatit (fuel smuggling) is being done."

In English, that means that while the MDOT helicopter has been up in the air for some "surveillance" flights, there have been no arrests of anyone involved in such clandestine activities. According to the State Tax Commission, only four people in the entire state are under indictment for fuel tax evasion and none has been involved in rogue fuel barge-to-truck transfers on the river banks.

But here's a tip for the MDOT pilot.

Seems a fuel barge can haul about 850,000 gallons of fuel and an 18-wheeler can offload about 3,000 gallons of fuel. So, when you guys are out cruising the river, look for a barge that has about 283 18-wheelers lined up offloading fuel and you might hit paydirt.

Look for really long lines

Or, better yet, just look for convenience stores with really low gas prices and the corresponding long lines of customers trying to buy gas and let the MDOT officers down on the ground ask the retailers for their paperwork on the fuel they're selling.

That's not as sexy as having the MDOT helicopter up in the air, but it would likely be at least as effective.

Or better yet, why not just turn that bad boy loose on some real crime-busting activities. Loan the helicopter to O.J. Simpson in his never-ending search for the "real killers."

For those keeping score, MDOT has rather pristine state audits. The work the agency does is important and there are hundreds of dedicated MDOT employees doing a good job daily.

Brown is an able administrator. State audits confirm his honesty with public funds.

But what does appear as obvious as a helicopter of dubious necessity is that at a time of great austerity in state government, the almost $1 billion bureaucratic beast that is MDOT is engaging in some empire-building activities that ought to be a wake-up call for legislators.

Here's hoping if that rogue untaxed fuel barge really is out there, the MDOT copter catches it and collects that fuel tax. But folks, I'm not holding my breath. Are you, Uncle Jesse? Cooter? Anyone?

 Kingfish note: Reading this column almost reminds one of Sting.



Anonymous said...

Perhaps these shenanigans are why MDOT no longer has a Law Enforcement division.

Anonymous said...

"Brown is an able administrator."

What in the cornbread hell?

Anonymous said...

MDOT, no longer has a law enforcement division??? Is this true???

Anonymous said...

Years ago, didn't Butch Brown get arrested at a Coast casino for being passed out at a slot machine?

Anonymous said...

If MDOT no longer has a law enforcement function, there's a bunch of guys in new pickups and SUVs needin' to be arrested for impersonating officers.

Anonymous said...

You are probably one if the uninformed geniuses who like to reference “tinfoil” on JJ.
MDOT Law Enforcement became an agency of DPS and the Mississippi Highway Patrol at same time that the State Capitol Police did.
You simply have poor observation skills. Perhaps you shouldn’t read JJ while driving.

Anonymous said...

A Bob truck holds 3,000 gallons. An 18 wheeler holds between 8,500 to 11,000 gallons depending on what liquid. I had heard rumors of this a few years ago so it all isn’t a bogus piece shit. There were people actually doing this and laughing all the way to the bank. But for the most part, they weren’t selling to stores. They had contacts and were selling/ pumping off directly from the Bob trucks. A Bib truck can pump on and pump off. An 18 wheeler can only pump off with gravity.

Anonymous said...

So, 7:32 - because you had "heared rumors" of this, it isn't a bogus piece of shit?

If the 'rumors' you heard fit with the 'facts' you state, then instead of having 203 eighteen wheelers lined up along the shore of the Mississippi, then there would have been over 600 Bob trucks lined up. Pretty big convoy that I believe most anybody could spot even without a helicoptor.

So, just as it was shown to have all been a piece of shit set of rumors so that the "able administrator Butch Brown" (now that combination of words is actually a piece of shit, but...) could help his buddy out and offload the helicoptor he had bought without authorization. Butch, because as an "able administrator", he had his own funds that weren't subject to the legislature's control and bought himself a helicoptor that MDOT never used. But started the rumors to give a justificaiton.

Anonymous said...

8:39, here is a thought. I personally knew of someone who bought “said” fuel but if you think about it, the smart thing to do would not have more than 1 or 2 trucks being the “mules” for this type of activity. There are many places along the river to get access. You just have to know where to go. A smart person wouldn’t line that many trucks up because you can’t find that many fuel tankers to do that in the first place.

The old home pickem keep on trucking cafe said...

I no longer keep up with it, but if it's true that the law enforcement division of MDOT has been absorbed by the Department of Public Safety, it has taken them long enough. It was 18 years ago in 2004 when the Highway Patrol first made its move for that to happen.

I come to find out later that the Federal Government was the one that initiated that move. It seems that the feds wanted the commercial trucking enforcement placed under conventional state law enforcement. With the commercial enforcement under the Department of Revenue, any violations were not applied as penalties on commercial licenses. Needless to say, the feds objected and threatened the with holding of funds.

The Department of revenue, raised hell about what would have been a large part of their budget, at that time, and was having none of it. I see the feds won out, it just took awhile.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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