Review of October 7, 2014 Board Meeting: You Knew I Had to Blog About This Edition

I posted videos of the board meeting but since they were not posted in order, I still needed to post a review of the board meeting. Alderman Jay McGraw was not present for this meeting. Ms. Tess Smith addressed the board first. she wanted to let everyone know she was up for re-election as the Lamar County Superintendent and she wanted everyone to support her election bid. I will be interviewing Tess later and will have a blog of our interview. Bro. W. McRaney addressed the board about his Round Up for Jesus Ministry. He wanted local churches to give back to the community. He said that when he was Chief Investigator for Treasure Hunt/Hudson's, he recommended the closing of Lumberton's Dirt Cheap but he said he's willing to work to try and get one back in the City of Lumberton. There was an order to discuss and vote to allow the city clerk to put an ad in the newspaper regarding the Flood Plan Notice as recommended by Jason Hicks, grant writer. Mayor Winston wanted to vote to have police vehicles listed as surplus; despite objections from Chief Elsie Cowart. As the chief explained, the City of Lumberton just purchased the vehicles Mayor Winston want to have scrapped. She said the vehicles are in need of parts and she would rather have them on had in case they can be repaired instead of just scrapping them for $200-350. Keep in mind, the City of Lumberton paid $8,000 for the cars and now Winston wants to sell them for $350. You do the math. Winston also wanted to transfer a 2005 Ford F15 from the police department to the public works department without the chief's consent. It seems that the truck is also in need of repair but Winston was willing to approve having it repaired for public works but not if it stayed with the police department. Here's the thing, the board is supposed to have control of the board meeting. Somehow, this board has turned over all control to Winston. Winston will say, after 15 minutes of brow beating board members into voting in his favor, that all it takes is three votes. Yes, it takes three votes but it's not necessary for you to try to bully the board members into voting for something you want every time an agenda item is discussed. It's time for the board members to grow a pair and resume their duties as alderpersons in a code charter municipality. But the fact that they allow Ben Winston to act like a bull in a china shop shows that they're going along with his antics because they were promised something; otherwise, they would uphold the laws and stop him from holding a pep rally everytime he wants something passed.

There was an order to discuss and approve the regular call meeting minutes for September 2, 2014, special call meeting on September 8, 2014, September 15, 2014 and September 23, 2014. There was also a vote to refund water deposits for Adrian Duckworth ($24.20), Falon Joshua ($77.30) and T & D Bar-B-Que ($150). Unfortunately, Tommy Dukes didn't know that he had to recuse himself for this vote until he was informed by Quincy Rogers. That still had me and others in the audience wondering where did he have a physical business that would require him to pay and receive a water deposit refund. I guess that will forever remain a mystery. The board voted to allow the city clerk to attend a certification program on October 31, 2014 in Hattiesburg, MS and to pay registration/mileage for a total cost of $296.74. Well, that's more money down the drain.

The department heads gave their reports. Chief Cowart explained that they were not able to collect the fines or process warrants because the court clerk had her hours cut to 20 hours per week. In order to get a grip on the paperwork, the court clerk would need to be able to work a full week. The board turned a deaf ear to the resolution of the collection problem while continuing to complain that not enough money is being collected via fines/warrants. I guess you truly cannot fix stupid at least not for another three years. Merlene Wall gave a water bill report. She never gives a report on the finances of the city. We never know how much is in the bank or what was spent from each account. Instead, we get a monthly report on the number of water bills collected. I guess she has yet to learn how to use the BBI software program and this $22,000 software program is going to be her saving grace. Now imagine the irony of that decision or the stupidity. The board will not restore the court clerk to a full work week, despite the elimination of the other clerk position, but in order for Merlene Wall to determine how much money is in the accounts, they are willing to spend $22,000 on a software program that we already have. If someone can explain the logic in that decision, please call, text or email me your views. Danny Davis gave a report but he didn't say anything of importance. Besides, I have a lot to say about him regarding his actions in executive session. The fire chief was not present. I'm not sure we have a fire department any more. Have you been over to the fire house, it looks deserted. It would make a good spot for a haunted house this Halloween season because it seems vacant. I have sent a letter to the Mississippi Fire Personnel Minimum Standards and Certification Board about the fact that most of the fire hydrants in Lumberton, Mississippi are inoperable and they're refusing to repair or mark them in an effort to keep a favorable fire rating. Once I hear from them, I will post their response to my request for them to come investigate the fire hydrants. Ben Winston addressed the board. I really wish I could give a report of what he said but during the entire process, I felt like I was in an episode of Charlie Brown and the teacher's mouth was moving but all I heard was wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. There was an order to approve the unpaid claims for the month of September, 2013: $99,239.74 unpaid claims, $134,737.68 paid claims and $35,250.37 for payroll. The board voted to allow Halloween activity during the hours of 5:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.mm. on Friday, October, 31, 2014. The board then voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

After coming from executive session, Winston advised the city clerk to read what actions were taken in executive session. Merlene Wall stated that the board voted to terminate Stanley Calloway, Perry McLemore and Arthur Patton but they will keep Roy Easley, Jimmy Holder, and retired part-time worker, Albert Georgia, Jr. Melene Wall made a point to leave out the fact that, at the recommendation of Daniel Davis, they hired seasonal woker, Michael Tymes. Now, Winston said they had to make cuts, but they decided to terminate the employment of an employee that has been with the department over 18 years in order to hire an employee that was hired as a seasonal worker just a few months ago. But just last month, I said this was going to happen. This is one of the reasons why I loathe Danny Davis. While people are always talking about how he cares for this city and he wants what's best for this city, he's still nothing more than a redneck, looking out for other rednecks. Danny knows that Roy Easley is planning on retiring next year and his good old boy blood couldn't deal with the fact that a black man could be in line to get the keys to one of the take home trucks. So, instead of doing the right thing, he decided to do the white thing and get rid of all the black workers that would be in line for the vacant position and recommend hiring the white worker that was specifically hired to cut grass but never cut grass. But I can't put all the blame on Danny "Daniel" Davis, he had to have the support of the board in order to pull this off. So, we know Crider was more than willing to support this move but he also had the help of Tommy "I Wish He Had a Brain" Dukes and Cora "I Wish She Would Use Her Brain" Rogers. I had to wait until after the meeting to find out that Michael Tims was hired. The fact that Merlene tried to leave it out of the announcement of actions taken, shows they knew their actions were underhanded.

After executive session, Winston wanted to give some praise to Cora Rogers for her work on a sewer grant that was approved. His gloating was as full of ish as those new sewer lines will soon be. Winston wanted to say that there was a lot of hard work put into this grant but those of us with a good memory know this grant was submitted during the last administration by Quincy Rogers. As a matter of fact, the grant was ear marked to be used in Ward 4, Ben Winston's community, but the grant fell through because when Mrs. Charlotte Edwards and Mrs. Bonnie Young were out getting letters of support for the grant, Winston, allegedly, told his congregation not to sign the letters because they didn't know what they there signing; so the grant failed for lack of community support. Now, fast forward a year, Winston did not want the grant used in Ward 4 (his community) or for the grant to be used to provide sewer services for those that were annexed into the city without sewer services. Instead, Winston insisted the grant be used on Lower Airport Road. The letters were submitted and the same paperwork that was completed by Glen Powell, was used for this grant and it was approved because Winston did not oppose the grant when it was submitted per his request and specifications. There were several comments from the citizens (the details are in the videos posted on the Lumberton Informer Facebook page) but before the meeting was adjourned, Cora Rogers made a statement that every city is suffering financially; just like Lumberton. Well, I beg to differ.

Lumberton is suffering financially because we have a clerk that does not know her job. She's paying claims/bills that she was not authorized to pay. She don't know which account to use and as a result, she's been paying everything from the general fund. No matter what software program they pay to install, it will not be able to fix a system that's being ran by a liar. Again, there was talk that the previous board left the board in poor financial standing and that is not true. As a matter of fact, there's a loan that delinquent in the amount of $150,000. They monthly payment for this loan is $15,000. Now, I don't need common core to realize that this loan is 10 months behind in payments; this board has been in office over 12 months. Therefore, it is reasonable to surmise that for the last 10 months, this loan has not been paid. During the meeting, there was representative from the insurance company that said the employee's insurance coverage lapsed due to non-payment. Merlene bobbled her head, saying that was not true but she was a few feet from her office. If someone came to my arena and accused me of not paying a bill, I would have politely put up the Baptist finger, grabbed my keys, went into my office and print out a copy of payments made to your firm to clear my name but the fact that she sat there like she was stuck in an episode of Hootersville, spoke volumes. The truth is its own defense. No way someone would call me a liar and I just sit there, with access to information that can prove my innocence and I just sit there like I'm waiting for Arnold the Pig to come eat his viddles. It's just not going to happen; unless my accuser was telling the truth. As I stated, her actions or shall I say, inaction, spoke volumes.

Now, back to this claim made my Cora Rogers that all cities are struggling financially. Well, that's not true. The City of Lumberton has a dwindling tax base and they have been robbing Peter to pay Paul. They borrowed all this money from WSOM and they have to repay the tax anticipation loan on February 13, 2015. Winston has been saying over and over again, if we can make it until February. Well, the fact that they're $150,000 behind on a loan payment means they cannot borrow any money and more than likely, the taxes they're anticipating in February is going to be taken because of non payment of loans. So, what's that going to do for tax anticipation loan that's due in February of 2015? The City of Lumberton had the wherewithal to raise to water and sewer rates to maintain WSOM but since Winton and his two biggest supporters own most of the land in Lumberton, Winston persuaded the board NOT to have a millege rate increase; despite the fact that one is needed. Cora Rogers said all cities are struggling. Well, let's deal with those in our area. The City of Hattiesburg has a surplus in their budget and they're giving their police officers a $5,000 raise, without a millege rate increase. The City of Petal did not have a millege rate and they're giving their police officers a $2,000 raise. The City of Purvis was not able to give their officers a raise, but they allotted $66,000 for first responder equipment; not for a software program. The City of Sumrall didn't have enough in their budget to cover their expenses but their board had enough sense to raise the millage to have enough funding to pay for the projects they have in place for 2015. Also, in the City of Collins, they raised the millege rate to cover shortfalls in their budget. Please keep in mind, none of the cities mentioned, make any cuts to their police departments. As a matter of fact, public safety is of upmost importance in every city, except the City of Lumberton. Every city mentioned are looking for more police officers and funding for police cars and equipment. Everybody knows that the mere presence of a full police department is a deterrent to crime. Well, everyone except the idiots serving as elected officials in Lumberton. They had the means to raise the necessary revenue to keep a full police department, have a full time court clerk and purchase police cars and equipment but they chose not to do so because Winston the Wizard has them under his spell. At some point, they're going to have to realize that they're not traveling on the Yellow Brick Road and they shouldn't need Glenda to Good Witch to remind them that there's no place like home. As the citizens stated, this board has made one poor decision after another and it looks like they're not on the path to correcting those errors. Before the meeting was adjourned, Winston said if anyone think they can do a better job than him, they should step up and submit their letter and signatures and he will gladly resign. Hopefully, the office will be full of letters requesting his resignation. I don't know who will accept the challenge but one thing is for certain, the next mayor couldn't possibly be any worse.

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