The Lying King and the Burglary Ring

Every year at the beginning of fall, I think about the biblical quote in the Book of Jeremiah, "The harvest is past. The summer is ended. And we are not saved." (Jer. 8:20) What is it going to take to save the City of Lumberton? The aspect of blogging has become daunting because I have grown weary of pointing out violation of laws over and over again. There are board members that want more done about those that are allowed to walk free despite their continual violation of the law. Well, I feel if it's good enough for the goose, it's good enough for the gander. Why are city officials allowed to walk around freely despite breaking the laws at almost every meeting? If you're not upset about one, then you shouldn't be ruffling your feathers about the other. How many more times must I scream about the misappropriation of funds, lack of moral fiber, disregard of the statutes governing a code charter municipality, lack of accountability, a misguided city clerk, and lack of police protection before Lumberton wakes up and begin to take these problems seriously? Each month brings new heartbreak and a reality that this city is broken and the ones that are in charge of mending it's parts is trying to use a band-aid on something that requires surgery; possibly amputation. But where is the outrage and action from those in the community? I can't keep preaching to the choir. So many of us have that I'll just sit back and see mentality. We can't continue to allow injustice to take place right before our eyes. We don't show up at the voting booths for elections and we don't show up to city hall to hold our elected officials accountable. I try to make access to the meetings as convenient as possible; I actually video parts of the meetings. The video has a two fold purpose; one is to verify that I am not "twisting their words" as one alderwoman proclaimed and the other is to allow those confined to their homes or those that no longer live in Lumberton to have access to the meetings. Now, it was my hope that those, within Lumberton, that viewed the videos, would be just as outraged as I was at what was taking place and want to do something about it, but it has just become another form of social media entertainment and hashtag activism. #ThatsAShame. But it's time to get out of our comfort zones and call a thing a thing. We wait until after something is implemented and then we become outraged. For instance, our State legislators talked about implement Common Core for over a year before voting on the matter. Keep in mind, they are given extra money from the federal government by implementing common core state wide. But parents sat a home and did nothing. Also keep in mind, most parents were taught via the rote method. Common core wasn't an issue, it wasn't worth going to Jackson to state your objections, writing your legislature citing your objections, etc. Common core became a problem when Sally came home from third grade with a problem like this: "Jeff wants to find the difference of 125-113. He has subtracted the hundreds and tens so far. What is the sum of the two numbers he has subtracted? How much does he still need to subtract?" That's how many feel, after an election. We see the results, we see the low voter turn out and once we come to the realization that we're stuck with a set of idiots for another four years, people start asking, how much longer they have in office? I know attending meetings will not guarantee elected officials will do the "right" thing but they will have to look you in the eye when they tell you a lie about their vote. We can no longer sit back and just let cuts be made to vital parts of our budget without any valid explanation. I have tried to be open minded when it comes to Mayor Ben Winston, but when a person lies so effortless, it makes me wonder what else is he willing to violate in order to get his way. Also, it helps to have other perspectives at the meeting. This is Tommy Dukes and Cora Rogers first time serving as elected officials, and there's going to be trails and errors. But the remainder of the board members have served before and it makes me question their voting patterns. For instance, the votes should be McGraw, Crider, Q.Rogers when votes are dealing with legal/ethical matters and the swing votes should be with Dukes and C.Rogers. There should never be an instance where Q.Rogers is the lone, dissenting vote; especially in matters concerning budgets, payments, etc. Unfortunately, there's some hidden agenda and Crider and McGraw are along for the ride.

One of the great philosophers of our time, Judge Judith Sheindlin, always says, "if you tell the truth, you don't need a good memory." Either our mayor has a problem with the truth or a bad memory. The other week, in the Hattiesburg American, there was an article about Budget Plans In Place for Lamar Cities in 2014-2015. The article outlined the budgets for Lumberton, Purvis and Sumrall and there were quotes from each mayor about the budget process, the raises that were given (non were given in Lumberton), the improvements that were planned for each city (not are planned for Lumberton), and the millege rate (Sumrall is the only city that had a millage rate increase but that increase will allow the City of Sumrall to make some needed improvements and give cost of living raises to their employees). It seems that the City of Lumberton is continuing to make cuts. The board does not seem to have any interest in finding a way to generate revenue. It amazes me that the board listed to a consultant that said the water and sewer rates needed to be increased so the WSOM department could sustain itself but the board did not think it was necessary to raise the millage rate to sustain police protection; despite the peak in the number of break ins in the city limits. But since the majority of Winston's supporters own the majority of the property in Lumberton, I could see why he would be against a millage rate increase. Keep in mind, the City of Lumberton does not have a revenue base and the board is being very closed lip about their increase in pay and insurance coverage. I wonder why they're trying to keep that under the rug. We're in a budget crunch, but somehow, the city has enough money to pay for more insurance coverage and a pay raise for the mayor. Intersting! And let's not forget about his plans to swander $22,000 on a software program to help the bumbling idiot we call the city clerk. This new software program is not capable of doing anything the current BBI program can do. It's just a matter of having a person in place with the wherewithal to enter the information into the correct areas. We have a shortage of police officers, an increase in break ins and the city wants to spend $22,000 on a software program. Please note, the City of Lumberton is still under contract with BBI, and will have to continue to pay the $7,000/yearly maintenance fee until they are released from the contract with BBI or buy out the contract they currently have with BBI. In other words, they will have to pay more money. So, I wonder where did this grand idea for getting a new software program come from? Could it have been one of the recommendations of embattled, former city manager of Diamondhead, Richard Rose?

Richard Rose was secretly brought in by Winston and McGraw to look over the books, make a new budget for the city and he was supposed to do this for $1,200. Well, in the recent article in the Hattiesburg American, Mayor Winston referred to Rose as an "unpaid consultant." Heaven's to Betsy! We have a minister/mayor that's lying, on record. Lord Have Mercy! What's that's scripture about a liar and a thief. There was this shroud of secrecy about the hiring of Rose. He was never put on the agenda. As a matter of fact, his name was never mentioned until after he completed the budget because I am sure McGraw knew I would Google him and find out about his troubles in Diamondhead. So, for about a month or two, he was referred to as a "good friend." At one meeting, they were discussing the payment to Rose and Jay was about to lie and say Rose did that work for free when Mayor Winston interrupted him and said he did the work for $1,600 and a motorcycle. The auditor made the City of Lumberton retrieve the motorcycle because it was purchased with grant money and cities cannot donate items; it's a violation of the law. I don't know about you, but a payment of $1,600 would void any claims that Rose is working as an unpaid consultant. Keep in mind, the mayor of a code charter municipality has the ability to authorize payments without the approval of the board; this is within their discretion. However, in the City of Lumberton, the maximum amount that can be paid by a mayor is $1,500; anything over that amount has to be approved by the board. I looked over all my agendas and I haven't spotted an item requesting the hiring of Richard Rose or the payment of Richard Rose. Now, Winston, McGraw, Crider, Dukes and C. Rogers may have had discussions about this matter behind closed doors but it was never put on an agenda and that's why it's a violation of the law. There are those that say Winston has plans on running for District 2, Supervisor. I can't see why he would think he's qualified for that position. He's not looking out for the best interest of his hometown, what makes him think he would serve well at the county level? If he was doing such a good job when he held that position, he would still be in office. IJS.

Tomorrow the board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting for the month of October. I know a lot of what I said will probably go in one ear and out the other but hopefully, citizens will show up and hold their governing body accountable. The City of responsible for the safety of its citizens and Lumberton is failing at this job. One of the clerk's positions was vacated, they still have the court clerk working part time and they're looking to waste $22,000 on a software program that is no different than the one they currently have but they're constantly crying "we're broke." Use that money you're trying to earmark for a software program and the money from the vacated clerk's position and make sure we have adequate police protection. Another lie that's being told over and over again is that the city is in it's current condition because of the previous board. That's is noting but a bold face lie. Mayor Holder constantly reminded the board of the cushion they had to have in place for the new board. As a result of her instruction and attention to details, the board stopped all unnecessary purchases to make sure the new board had ample funding to attend training, to have police protection, and funding to receive a salary. The current board had the funding and any shortages that arose during this administration was the result of this board not the previous board. The board meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. Hope to see you there.

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