From all of the information, back and forth claims and accusations, rising tension and public uncertainty, we certainly want to see the situation at CPU to reach a conclusion quickly (and to know exactly what it is). This is especially so because of the rapidly rising legal costs to the citizens of Clarkdale (CPU legal costs alone amount to $675 an hour when all their counsel is engaged).
We’ve also seen that three professional CPU general managers in a row have had similar difficulties with the CPU Board and their Counsel, and that David Hunt, George Miller, The Victor Group in Starkville and Jim Hemphill are the only constants involved in all three past CPU administrations.
The article below found in the Clarion Ledger is about Canton Utilities Board members that were found personally liable by the Mississippi State Auditor for using public funds for personal use.
Amid all of the allegations being made by Mark Johnson about the CPU Board, and considering that the last two CPU manager’s are on record with past problems similar to some of Johnson’s allegations, this poses a question for us here in Clarksdale: is it possible that personal agenda is involved in the problem? Would the State Auditor find that spending public funds on a personal agenda to be similar to funds spent for personal use?
Is it possible that the State Auditor might find our CPU Board members liable for the vast amount of our funds being spent on CPU legal fees right now? We don’t know any answers to any of this, of course. We don’t know if the State Auditor will take a serious look at our situation at all, or if they would consider our matter to be legally similar to the situation in Canton (below). Our first thought is “we certainly hope not.”
But it is possible.
ClarksdaleNews for one does not want to see CPU Board members Davis, Humber, Hicks, Miller or Mitchell to be at risk of even the most remote possibility of being found personally liable for CPU attorney fees. But, attorney fees are at the heart of the Canton matter.
If it happened in Canton, we don’t want it to happen here.
Auditor Demands almost $100,000 from Canton Utility Board Members
From the CLARION LEDGER
by Sarah Fowler (March 8, 2018)
Board members on the Canton Municipal Utilities Board owe almost $100,000 to the state auditor’s office after using public funds for personal use.
According to a release issued by Auditor Stacey Pickering on Thursday, five board members used board funds to pay for an attorney when they were not members of the board.
Cleotha Williams, Charles Weems, L.C. Slaughter, Charles Morgan and Cleveland Anderson each received a bill for $19,192.77. The total, $95,963.85, includes principal, interest and investigative costs.
When reached Thursday, Williams, the chairman of the board, declined to comment.
The five were removed from the board in 2013 when a new administration took office. They filed lawsuits claiming the new administration did not have the authority to oust them but lost in court.
They were reappointed to the board in 2017 by a new mayor and council. Williams, Weems, Slaughter, Morgan and Anderson then voted to pay their personal legal fees with board funds, said Logan Reeves, media relations with the auditor’s office.
The five board members were represented by Turnage Law Office, Goliday Law Firm and Adrienne Hooper-Wooten. None of the attorneys was immediately available for comment.