Saturday, March 23, 2019

Melson & Greer Have Wielded Undue Influence?

Friday, March 22, 2019 was a red-letter day in Florence, Alabama. On this day the Lauderdale Luminary enjoyed the high honor and distinct privilege of basking in an aura of greatness as the Lauderdale County Ag Center Authority Board convened to pontificate about its raison d'ĂȘtre, the unneeded and widely unwanted Ag Center. The greatness in the magnitude of unmitigated presumption, indifference, and ineptitude on brazen display was truly awe inspiring as the Board Chairman gaveled the meeting of this august body to order ten minutes late, piously announcing that the Board would not be taking questions from the public at this particular meeting because the purpose of the meeting was simply to inform the public of the Authority's future plans and to reiterate that the Board was still developing procedural policies. Wow! Seems like the cart comes perpetually before the horse with this group. To extend this equine metaphor, the Board then trotted out its architect to present a multi-media dog and pony show extolling the virtues and glamour of this glittering monument to political hubris.

Ironically, although the Board would take no questions, one of its members gave a report at the outset of the meeting that indirectly answered one question foremost in the Lauderdale Luminary's mind. The member reported that he was in discussions with a local accounting firm being considered to provide auditing services and to manage payrolls when the Authority begins to hire staff. The logical inference then is that the operations of the Authority and its governing board WILL NOT be subject to routine annual audits by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts (ALDEPA) as so many local agencies and boards are. This gives the clear appearance that the two state legislators who sit on this board have wielded undue influence to gain this exemption from ALDEPA audits. Furthermore, any accounting firm that observes the rules of the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy (ASBPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) would know that any licensed CPA firm is barred from providing services such as accounting for payrolls and then engaging in an audit that includes those same records for that same entity, as the board member's report seemed to suggest.

Insofar as ALDEPA is under the control of the Alabama State Legislature, the Alabama State Ethics Commission, an entity that seems to function more as a political weapon than as a guardian of public trust, ought to take an interest in the operations of this Board and whether two of its members who are also state legislators are wielding undue influence in order to avoid public scrutiny. Even so, it would seem that the die is cast. Even if Melson and Greer are voted out of office, it will come too late. This boondoggle project is a fait accompli that will provide the Shoals with yet another white elephant for its trophy case. It will be a far bigger tax money pit than the ill conceived Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Just sit back and enjoy being robbed, raped, and ignored. And if you voted for these clowns, don't have the audacity to complain when your child's school is consolidated because of the funds this Board and these legislators have siphoned from school district revenues to fund this "Authority"!

Humbly submitted for your consideration by...

Friday, March 22, 2019

Does Charles (Charlie) Smith Work for Populous or Not?

The latest Ag Authority Board meeting is over; we've posted a video of the proceedings to our Facebook page for those who are long-suffering. For those who may not have the patience to watch the entire meeting, we'll be touching on one issue today.

In October of last year, Charlie Smith was introduced as the event center architect and as an employee of Populous Architecture, a very large global firm. Mr. Smith's LinkedIn page also shows him as still affiliated with the firm's Knoxville office. What does the firm say?

The last reference to Mr. Smith on Populous' website is from 2014. At that time, Smith was called a senior participant of the company. The current website lists 104 senior participants, but Mr. Smith is not one of them.

So does Charles Smith work for Populous or not? Did he perhaps work for the company as recently as last October, but leave? Is the board incurring any undue financial obligations to anyone in this matter?

In closing, one final thought:

On Standby if Needed (Why Not? Everyone Else Has Gotten Into the Act)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Meanwhile...Back in Sheffield

From one of our regular bloggers:

NS had a mess today on the West End. When I got back into Sheffield Montgomery was blocked, but at least Atlanta was opened. Trains were waiting all over, well beyond Corinth.

Did John Elkington have any idea of the train situation when he first considered Sheffield for Inspiration Landing?

And from another of our regular bloggers:

Pigs are flying in Sheffield! Over the course of this past week, and apparently under the cover of darkness, the Sheffield Street Dept. has managed to fill almost every pothole on Hatch Blvd.

Sheffield residents should probably write Mr. Elkington a thank you note for that!

It seems someone has been speculating on the identity of the Midnight Rider. That someone is mistaken, but as for the person wrongly identified, we would be happy to have him send us some guest blogs. After all, we have discerning tastes...

Most Talked About Character in Sheffield and He Doesn't Even Live There!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

New Location for Friday Ag Board Meeting

In case you've missed the notices:

Agency Name: Agriculture Authority of Lauderdale County
Meeting Date & Time: 3/22/2019 10:00 AM
Meeting Location: 200 S. Court Street, Florence, AL 35630
Meeting Type: regular
Submission Date & Time: 3/21/2019 12:26:08 PM

In other words, instead of the meeting being held at the Florence-Lauderdale Government Building, it is now scheduled to be held at the Lauderdale County Court House. Are they expecting a bigger crowd? Or just hiding? Let's hope there's a major turnout.

Does the Ag Board always follow the open meeting laws? We received this today:

They "shall use a reasonable method of notice that is convenient to the public" and "any change of the location or method of posting notices shall not take effect until the change has been approved at an open meeting..." The Ag Authority Board has posted all meetings on the Secretary of State website. A person would need to check this page daily or request to receive email notifications about the meeting to be informed. In my opinion, this method is not reasonable. The meeting last Friday was NOT posted on the website as required by law. Their friends at the Lauderdale County Commission notified the Times Daily about the five minute meeting. The Ag Authority used the newspaper to seek a positive story and a photo op.

It's our opinion that most groups/committees/boards become more and more complacent about flouting rules as time goes by. If the Ag Board is this new and this cavalier about the required legalities now, what will it be in five years?

Help! I've Been Kidnapped by Seven Demented Dwarfs!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Greer Businesses/LifeWay Going

We've had a reader request to enumerate the businesses of Ag Board members, possibly with a view to cross-referencing them. Starting with Rep. B. Lynn Greer:

Shoals Retail:

LifeWay owns one store in the Shoals, but it will soon be a thing of the past. The Christian resource company is closing all its brick and mortar facilities by the end of 2019.

Cox Creek Parkway circa 2025

Monday, March 18, 2019

TD Socks it to Tammy Irons

Let's just cut to the chase. In January, the Ag Authority Board went into executive session and did not re-convene. Was it all done according to generally accepted rules and regulations, aka Roberts' Rules of Order?

1. Tammy Irons says everything was just hunky dunky. No story here. Listen to her as attorney for the board. Would she lie to you?

Hmmmm. See this little blog: Just Tell the Truth

2. The TimesDaily states that Irons is wrong. The following steps were needed to make everything on the up and up:

1) A quorum of governmental body must first convene a meeting …
2) A majority of the members of the governmental body present must adopt, by recorded vote, a motion calling for executive session and setting out the purpose of the executive session ...
3) The vote of each member shall be recorded in the minutes.
Assuming the TD is correct, either Irons doesn't know her stuff or she's hoping the general public doesn't know theirs. Silly us, we thought the purpose of a board's attorney was to make sure the body didn't make a legal misstep...not to cover it up when it did.

You Know It's Bad When the TD Feels the Need to Report It.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

This Friday Only: The Melson the Magnificent Magic Review

Coming this Friday to the Florence-Lauderdale Government Building, it's Melson the Magnificent! See the uncanny wizard make millions in taxpayer dollars disappear before your very eyes!

Assisting Melson will be Lynn Larson E. Greer. Also on the bill is comic Phil "Pumpkinhead" Pettus; he's a real trooper! 

Seating is limited, so be sure to arrive early for the 2:00 p.m. performance. Critics have raved: No one in the state can match Melson and Greer when it comes to the disappearing dollars routine!