Review of July 7, 2015 Board Meeting: The Ben Winston Wants to Be Praised Edition

The meeting itself was rather short, however, the board stayed in executive session for almost an hour allegedly discussing personnel issues or something. Let's be clear, Lumberton has roughly 10 employees, it don't taae an hour to accept a letter of resignation from Officer Carlus Paige or an hour to hire his replacement, Tony McSwain, but they said it was personnel issues and we belive them (insert sarcasm here). Pay close attention to the amount of money spent this month. According to my calculations, they approved $198,247.25 in payments at last night's meeting. That's a lot of money for a city that claims they can't afford police officers or a full time court clerk. I guess they support what they value. The first agenda item was to allow Ben Winston to sign the requisition form to pay Sample & Hicks $5,900 for construction contracts and to pay O'Neal-Bond $16,900 for final design for CDBG Project. There was an order to open a bank account for the Section 592 Project with the Army Corp of Engineers. I guess no one realized the importance of keeping the non-interest bearing account open and I'm almost certain there's no one in this administration that's aware of BBI's pay mode function. Moving right along. There was an order to allow the city clerk to drawn down monies (is than an official term) I guess they meant withdraw money from the General Fund from the parcels for the airport. Here's another problem, grant money should mot be placed in general fund because the general fund account is interest bearing. All grant monies should be held in a non-interest bearing account, otherwise, the city would be required to repay any interest earned while the grant money was in tne interest bearing account. Just a little something I learned from my years attending board meetings but let's pretend I'm Henny Penny, screaming the sky is falling. One would think a city would want such a knowledgeable person on their team but that's not the case here in Lumberton. According to Paul Ockmond, I'm evil because I dare to speak the truth. Back to the meeting. The minutes were approved from the June 2, 2015 regular meeting and the June 11 and June 16, 2015 special called meetings.

The department heads gave their reports. See video on Lumberton Informer Facebook page. Mayor Winston addressed the board. He said that he, along with Jay McGraw, Cora Rogers and Kathleen Bogle, traveled to Vicksburg, MS to sign paperwork for the Army Corp of Engineers Sewer Improvement Grant. He also said that he and Jay McGraw were able to secure a $600,000 CAP loan from the MDA (Mississippi Development Authority) but wait, I thought Winston said we were behind on a previous loan to this company ($150,000) and they approved another loan despite your difficulties paying a current loan (insert sarcasm here). Like I said before, Lumberton was never broke because they previous board left a cushion, as required by law but Ben Winston wanted to paint a grim picture so he can look like he came in and saved Lumberton from crashing in order to get you to vote for him in November. Ben said improving the sewer system is going to bring people to Lumberton. Well, that's sort of true. The grant is going to bring in contractors that will be paid from the contract and they will leave Lumberton with a load of money and spend it in their communities. I never heard anyone say they're moving because they have a good sewer system. The project is a good thing but guess what, we need jobs, a good school system and a well equipped police department; that's what people look at when deciding to stay or leave. Before closing his monthly address, Winston said that he know his prayers are working and that we should thank him. So when you see Ben Winston, thank him for praying in the marketplace because he literally wants an earthly reward. Oh yeah, here's another bothersom truth about that $600,000 CAP loan, aside from the fact that it was never mentioned in an open meeting before; what's the interest rate and how are they planning on repaying the loan. Just remember, the City of Lumberton is still repaying a similar loan from 1965. Just thought you needed to know that little known fact.

The board approved a payment of $50 to the Department of the Treasury in regards to the Affordable Care Act. The board approved unpaid claims in the month of June, 2015 in amount of $6,136.00 for general fund, $2,684.10 for WSOM and $946.91 for the fire department. Before moving on, let's talk about that fire department payment. Cora Rogers asked if they had a receipt and wanted to know why are we paying bills with no receipt. It was later revealed that $6,000 in expenses were paid on behalf of the fire department without most receipts. Before the question could be answered, Winston interrupted and said it didn't matter because the County has control of the fire department now. In other words, he don't care how $6,000 tax payer dollars were spent and this is the same person that want you to vote for him in November where he will be making decisions on millions of taxpayer dollars. Interesting. I think $6,000 would have went a long way in the police department but that just my warped way of thinking that safety should be a priority. There's churches in Lumberton getting armed security but Mayor Winston don't think public safety is a priority. Again, he wants to be a County Supervisor. In all fairness, he's really pushing the sewer improvement grant. I guess we should be pleased he's trying to keep some shit off our streets. Back to the agenda. The board approved paid claims for the month of June, 2015 in the amount of $41,973.06 for general fund and $36,029.01 for WSOM. Payroll for the month of June, 2015 was $39,798.17.

Sample and Hicks were selected as administrator for the grant. They're out of Flowood, MS. I Googled them just like I Googled the accounting firm of Wright, Ward, Hatten and Guel. I'll give you one guess who they're linked to. Time's up. Richard Rose. Yes, that bitter thorn keeps surfacing. Apparently, while preparing the budget, he recommended the firm he used when he was city manager in Diamondhead. It seems like Richard Rose gave them their whole schedule for the year. Since they're not budgeted for his services, they should just bring him on board since he's doing the work and he's been cleared of those pesky extortion charges. Did I forget to mention that Lumberton is getting a compilation audit for 2013 and 2014? That's why I Googled the accounting firm. One would think, or maybe it's just me, that since the city has recently acquired a $600,000 CAP loan and expecting $2.5 million dollars in grant money, they would want a complete audit of their finances to ensure that there's no misappropriation of funds. I guess that's not what Richard Rose suggested. There was a change order in the amount of $30,890.00 for the 2014 CDBG sewer improvement grant project. The board approved engineering estimate in the amount of $16,940.00 for the 2014 sewer improvement grant project.

O'Neal-Bond was selected as the engineering firm for the 2015 FAA-AIP grant project. The board authorized the Mayor to sign sponsor certifications for Lumberton's FY 2015 FAA-AIP grant application. There was an oeder to advertise for bids for the 2015 FAA-AIP hanger construction project. Cora Rogers said she hoped construction started soon so the trailers at the airport can be moved and she hoped that would prevent any more raw sewage issues. Tne board then voted to go into executive session and afterwards, the meeting was adjourned. I don't know about you but it seems that we have no representation on this board. Quincy Rogers will voice his objections but I think he don't go far enough. He knows the board is violating executive session rule and the open meetings act but a vote of no is no longer enough. It seems that letters and calls to to Jim Hood, Attorney Generl, and Stacy Pickering, Secretary of State, are not enough. It's time for an elected official to take a stand and contact these departments and file ethics complaints so they can know the seriousness of the problems in Lumberton. There are times when I think Cor Rogers is going to step out and be a leader but her quest for power is going to land her in a jail cell braiding hair for Newports. What she fail to realize is she don't have to follow the crowd to make an impact. If she ever take a stand for the right thing, she would be unstoppable. More active citizens are needed. Now is the time to start deciding who will fill those seats. Before I close, here's something else you may have missed. Last night they approved all these requisitions for the Mayor to sign and they were pertaining to grants. Well, where are the requisition forms for the $600,000 CAP loan? For legal purposes and for posterity, projects/loans need to be discussed in an open meeting and approved by the board. Where are the minutes and/or requisition forms approving Ben, Jay and Cora's trip to Vicksburg to sign paperwork? I was new to blogging when Mayor Holder was in office and I can't think of a time when she had to travel to sign grant papers. Something is not adding up or as the old folks used to say, something in the buttermilk ain't right. Ciao!

Comments

  1. Merlene wants to sue you? Her dumb ass should be paying you to train her. She's monitoring your blog but too dumb to take notes. The board is backing an ass while attacking the one that knows the laws. Welcome to Dumberton! Accepting all Louisiana trash.

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