Saturday, October 1, 2022

Harvey Hides the Truth

Former  Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson hides the truth yet again.  The Online Journal of Rural & Urban Research published a an article by Mr. Johnson in the spring edition that focused on Jackson's 2021 water crisis, a worthy topic for an academic publication.  

The former mayor used a great deal of facts and figures as he blamed everything under the sun for the water crisis except for one little item: the Siemens project. Yup.  It's as if he never heard of the project that blew up Jackson's water/sewer billing system, starving it of tens of millions of dollars.  The abstract shows the coverup to come: 

 One of the fundamental responsibilities of local government is the provision of safe drinking water. Although a fairly simple mandate, there are a number of challenges that make achieving that mandate difficult. This article examines some of those challenges in the context of “The 2021 Jackson Water Crisis”. It also recounts the sizable financial investment in the City of Jackson’s water system from 1997 to 2013. This period covered the three terms of Jackson’s first African American mayor, whose diverse administration had to overcome certain challenges in addressing system deficiencies in a much different political environment than his predecessors. Those challenges included: (1) the historic disparity in the provision of municipal services to local residents; (2) a decreasing population and dwindling tax base; (3) an increasing rate of poverty among the water system user base; and (4) adverse intergovernmental policies that placed the burden of financing improvements on local government and rate payers. Major conclusions identified in this article include Jackson expended or obligated nearly $150 million from 1997 to 2013 for water and sewer related projects; Jackson’s high rate of poverty is the most enduring challenge local officials face in attempts to correct the conditions in the system that contributed to the 2021 crisis; and adequate preparedness for events such as the winter storm of 2021 will require cooperation and resources from multiple levels of government. Recommendations for addressing the challenges discussed include Jackson adopting a “game plan” using the Water Master Plan as a guide; local officials making a long-term (20-year) commitment to implementing that plan; Jackson aggressively soliciting intergovernmental assistance; and Jackson pursuing changes in existing resource distribution policies.

Mr. Johnson was never good at taking responsibility and this article is no exception.  Perhaps it's time to refresh his memory as well as that of the local media. 

Mayor Harvey Johnson conjured up the $90 million Siemens project in 2012.  Siemens promised to replace Jackson's water meters with new-fangled models that would yield $123 million in savings through more accurate billing.  Dazzled by the nine-figure savings, Election Man conned the City Council into issuing a no-bid contract to Siemens at the end of 2012, six months before he left office.   

Unfortunately, the Siemens deal turned into a Predators Ball of sorts for Jackson.  The Mayor's financial consultant roped Jackson along into this bad bond deal as he walked out with a $182,000 fee.  He recently pleaded guilty to fraud on a bond deal while the SEC permanently revoked his license.  As bond pimps raked in fees, the Mayor forced his "contractor" buddies down Siemens' throat under the guise of minority participation.  Unqualified contractors were added to the project, driving up costs while lowering the quality of the work.  As is too often the case in Mississippi, quality is ignored when pockets are stuffed and the Siemens project was no exception. 

Indeed, Mayor Lumumba of all people called out the "sham" minority contractors when Jackson sued Siemens: 

18. As a further inducement for the City to enter into a contract with Siemens, Siemens also misrepresented its commitment to hire qualified, minority-owned subcontractors under an Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) plan....  As part of its pitch to secure a contract with the City, Siemens represented that it would utilize minority-owned businesses to carry out 58% (more than $52 million) of the $90 million project cost. However, Siemens never intended to hire qualified EBO subcontractors to actually perform the work. Instead, Siemens conspired with its co-defendants and used a pass­ through scheme in which it hired sham subcontractors and middlemen to inflate its EBO numbers and deceive the City's residents. Focused only on generating a multi-million dollar project for itself,  Siemens drove up the cost of the project by using unqualified pass-through entities selected on the basis of their political connections and influence rather than their qualifications, thereby depriving qualified and competent EBO contractors the opportunity to perform the work in accordance with the law and the representations made by Siemens.

There was much more Siemens dirt in the lawsuit: 

*  More than half of the 60,000 water meters were installed incorrectly.

* The water meters caused a "financial disaster" for Jackson.  The city loses $2 million in revenue per month and more than $20 million last year.  The new system didn't cover the cost of operations and maintenance.

* The city must pay $7 million in bond payments per year.  Thank you, Porter Bingham.

* Jackson wants more than $150 million to cover the costs of the deal and $75 million for lost revenue and damage to the city's bond rating.

* Siemens audited the water system in 2012 and estimated the water meters were only 86% to 94% accurate.  The accuracy would decrease to 79% to 87% over the next fifteen years.  The new meters would allegedly raise the accuracy rate to 98.5% , thus generating more revenue for Jackson.  Jackson would also save money since it would no longer need "meter readers."  Siemens estimated the savings and increased revenue would be $120 million.  

*  Siemens would install 60,000 water meters with remote transmitters, 4,700 back-up water meters, 60 data hub collectors, and 900 network repeaters. The company would also install software for a new billing system.

* Siemens is charging $4.5 million per year to measure Siemens' performance.

* Siemens hired U.S. Consolidated for water meter supply.  Former state legislator and lobbyist Tom Wallace owns the company.  Jackson alleges USC bought the water meters from the manufacturer and resold them to Siemens at a higher price.  The complaint says USC was only used as a pass-through to generate more profits for Siemens while claiming to use minority sub-contractors.  Siemens paid USC $19.5 million for the water meters.

*  Remember Marcus Wallace and M.A.C. Construction?  Who could forget Marcus Wallace standing on the steps of City Hall, surrounded by Jackson politicians and community activists, as he feigned outrage in announcing he was suing Siemens? It was all an act.  

The complaint alleges  Siemens said it hired M.A.C. to install water meters and make line repairs.  Hemphill Construction and Pedal Valve actually performed the work for M.A.C. because the minority subcontractor "was not qualified to perform the work assigned to it on paper as part of Siemen's EBO scheme..."

* Next up in the complaint is Jackson businessman James Covington.  Jackson paid his company, Ivision IT Consultants, $11 million to implement the new billing system.  "Another company ended up performing the work."  The complaint calls Ivision a "pass-through."

* Last but not least is Garrett Enterprises, the well-known company owned by local power broker Socrates Garrett.  He has played the DBE game like a fiddle for years.  Jackson charges he received $4.6 million for "construction management and quality control services."  Jackson called him a "sham" contractor and said it could not determine what services or benefit it received from his company.

* The project has been plagued by bugs and flaws.  Many of the meters read water usage in gallons instead of cubic-feet, thus shocking customers with sky-high water bills.   Many customers received no bills for long periods while others were overbilled.

The complaint charges Siemens lied to the city and that it was hiring phony minority contractors so it could manipulate the DBE requirements. 

Even worse, the new meters were incompatible with the upgraded billing software.  

The Siemens project may have promised more money but it instead delivered chaos, breaking the billing system.  Thousands of customers stopped received bills while thousands more received "crazy bills" as their bills jumped to thousands of dollars.  Frustrated customers sought help in vain as phone calls to customer service often went unanswered.  The billing debacle turned into a volcano that blew up the water/sewer when it erupted and erupted it did. 

The numbers tell the story.  Accounts receivables skyrocketed form $25 million in 2013 when meter installation began to $55 million in 2018.  Water sales plunged from $70 million in 2014 5o $48 million in 2020. Cash on hand disappeared as it fell from $13 million in 2014 to $0.0 in 2017 where it remained until it received a $14 million infusion from the Siemens settlement.  The result was a water/sewer system went from making up to $7 million per year to losing $10-20 million per year, effectively crippling system finances.  No money means no new employees, no parts, no maintenance.  

The Siemens project was more fraud than it was real work but the project garners nary a mention in his "scholarly" article.  It's much easier to blame everyone else, including you know who, and that, my friends, is the bottom line. 


Siemen's Contract & Fees (Read them) 

Jackson stops replacement of water meters.  

Siemen's contract review by consultant

JJ analysis: Siemens contract assumed & gauranteed much, verified little.  

Same Siemens, same complaints in Arkansas? 

MAC sues Siemens   

MAC: Stop Siemens. Siemens: We paid MAC $18 million.  

Siemens and MAC settle. 

Mayor: City to pay Siemens $7 million a year til '41

Jackson sues Siemens & minority "sham" contractors. 

Food Fight: Siemens edition

City announces Siemens settlement.  

Priester breaks down Siemen's settlement and how funds are used.  

Siemens fires back at Mayor. 

Mayor & WLBT spar over spending of Siemens settlement proceeds 


Kingfish note: Oh, and the publisher of a former alternative weekly magazine gets mad when billing  problems are blamed for Jackson's water woes.  Just remember, that person was Harvey Johnson's biggest cheerleader and is complicit in Mr. Johnson's coverup.  


Anonymous said...

"That my friends is the bottom line" makes you sound like Frank Melton, KF.

Anonymous said...

NEVER let inconvenient facts get in your way when politicing.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

I am only addressing one comment in tis report. The repost says that customers arer frustrated when some meters reported gallone of water usage when the actual amount was cubic meters, thereby raising their bill b thousands of dollars.

One cubic meter is 164.172 gallons. Any software developer who knows the language of the city's software program could write a correction to divide the bad usage figures into cubic meters from the gallon figures that were recorted and fix the problem. Such a correction would take maybe one afternoon to write and verify.

There are many software programers, who work for the state and not the city, who could easily write the siftware changes to survay all bills, determin which numbers are inflated by a usage that increased the bill by the resulting 164X factor and then correct the bills. Then every month, the program would automatically fix the bad meter readings.

Sadly to say. The proper fix isn't even rocket science. It is only a very simple software modification.

Thanks for reading this.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think iany mayor of Jackson could ever be worse than Harvey- Boy was I wrong.
Thank you KF for continuing to bring this false story line to light that the democRATS continue to spew!

Anonymous said...

"Conned the City Council": the City Council didn't do due diligence.
Might be fun to get the record of the meeting.
And, better still to look for a functional city council and county organizational chart in a county that is successful in the US. Pick one...any one!

Woodstein said...

Kf, It’s funny how you mention the subcontractors by name but not the sales team members from Siemens and their local area connections. and how they left Siemens with their commission and started their own new ESCO firm that went around the state selling the EXACT same water meter type projects to numerous cities. And eventually they went out of business as they were sued by several coast cities for millions for same the elements of the Jackson lawsuit. Another thing of interest, that firm was the area distributor for the water meter that was used in all their projects including Jackson…which they never disclosed to the customers. Essentially they bought meters from themselves. Double padding their bank accounts while not disclosing the conflict of interest to their victims.

All this is facts…just read the complaints filed by Moss Point and Gautier.

eLive said...

@12:32 PM
Well, he needs to write the City Council directly [allllllllllum] and have them call the FBI agents.

Can't be having the city council being conned

Thank you, Sir.

Anonymous said...

All the Mayors after Kane Ditto can be referred to as a "Confederacy of Dunces".

Woodstein said...

To follow up on my earlier post, the main story is not the Jackson fiasco but the overall scheme that was orchestrated by the certain folks who used that same playbook all over Mississippi.

Blaming Doyle Lonnegan for betting on Lucky Dan and being conned by Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker isn’t the story. It’s how the con was created, staged and continued by who all over the state.

Krusatyr said...

For most MS politician-weasels, including Haley Barbour, Harvey Johnson and Lumumba, intentionally engineered obfuscation is the cloud of confusion used to conceal their graft.

The above factual chronology, through no fault of KF, is, by design of perpetrators, difficult to digest and comprehend, hence a challenge to find in time to stop it before Jackson and MS are raped yet again.

Kingfish said...

Oh really? The main story is the failure of the Jackson water system and why.

The statewide "scheme" is a whole different matter. Two separate issues.

As for sales team members and the rest of that post, why don't I write about them? Don't know who they are nor are they mentioned in the lawsuits or other official documents.

You can blame salesmen and women all you want but its up to the city to do its due diligence and vet such things.

Woodstein said...

Kingfish, you obviously don’t know how to read a complaint. The main Siemens sales rep was personally named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. Chris McNeil. Complete lie or incompetence on your end. Once again, go read the complaint and at the top his name is listed along with all the other named defendants.

Anonymous said...

Lumumba was successful in making Harvey look good...not that's any accomplishment at all!

Kingfish said...

Actually no, I consider he and Siemens to be the same for purposes of this discussion. I said Siemens made several extravagant promises that were bogus. I had someone breakdown the contract for readers that showed it was a lopsided deal in Siemens favor.

Anonymous said...

October 1, 2022 at 12:32 PM, you say it's funny, are you implying that Kingfish is protecting someone. If so, who, and why?

Anonymous said...

A politician with a credibility gap...who knew?

Anonymous said...

Looks the KF had a smackdown for the Kane Ditto worshiper in

but thanks for participating and bless your heart for trying to tote his water.

Anonymous said...

McNeil was definitely the lead with Siemens in dealing with the city. I attended the city council meetings. Stamps was the only one that I recall asking why the price per meter was so much higher than other cities. McNeil promised things that were not delivered, hence the lawsuit and settlement.

Anonymous said...

Salesmen, frontmen, and the procurers of contracts are really cut from a different cloth than the company they represent, like Siemens. Siemens does good work all around the world, but they must first use whatever means available to their salesmen to get the contract. Once they get it, their workmen do what they do best but they are still subject to the contract terms. However these so called Mississippi "minority contractors" were something else. They are ONLY frontmen, no real workers are involved. They are still waiting at the door ready to put their names on any project they cannot perform and take their cut without concern for the quality of their work because that was never a requirement in the first place. Until real accountability for expertise is required, Jackson will continue to pay the price for contracting with these hustlers. The false premise was that a city where the vast majority of the citizens are black should do a large percentage of their contract work with black contractors. That sounds good for Atlanta, Chicago, or Houston where qualified minority companies set up headquarters, but in Jackson it's a recipe for a few connected hustlers to skim money as pass-through sham companies until a legitimate minority contractor comes along (don't hold your breath). Jackson does not place an absolute premium on actual performance and until it does it will continue to fail and shrink. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in public works dept knew about water system heading for a crash before Frank Melton took office. This deal has been a patchwork of temporary fixes and metaphorical duct tape for quite some time.

Anonymous said...

Jackson water has been failing for years from lack of maintenance, inadequate resources, water theft, etc. and long before Siemens contract, floods or the Public Works Directors being targeted. This recent talk is just more of the blame everyone else ploy that we have seen for years.

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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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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

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.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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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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