Two council members say Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has enlisted a Louisiana company to do rogue debris removal work in the city. "These guys were on the street all over the city this morning," said Council President Leslie McLemore. "They have not been authorized by the council to do this work. The council has already selected a private contractor for that work." McLemore said he believed Nungesser Industries, of Pearl River, La., is doing unauthorized work, at the behest of Melton.
The company did not return calls.
It is allegedly the same company Melton attempted to hand the city's $3 million debris removal contract to on Tuesday. Council members informed Melton at the time that he was ducking city ordinance requirments regarding contract work in attempting to unilaterally hand the contract to the company. Potential contractors must submit bid proposals for the city council to pick through.
"When I heard about this, I called Sarah O'Reilly-Evans, and she told me that she talked to Frank yesterday for a couple of hours after the council meeting, talked to him last night and told him that ‘you can't do that,' and she thought he understood. Then first thing this morning he has these guys out on the street doing debris removal," McLemore explained.
Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler said the contract work would be impossible to work out.
"We don't know how much debris they've already picked up. We have no way of knowing. All I can say is I will stand up on a table and fight the administration if they try to pay them for this work. This is not the way it's done. These guys do not have a contract," Crisler said.
The city awarded the contract to local contractor Socrates Garrett of Garrett Enterprises, for $15 per cubic yard of debris removed. Melton has previously opposed city contracts with Garrett, who helped campaign for his opponent, Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Garrett said Melton had admitted that he would "fire him if he had his choice," but had little to say regarding the rogue work, after reporting it to council members.
"I told them about it. Beyond that, it's between them and the mayor," Garrett said.
McLemore said Melton would have to pay the company out of his own pocket if the compay was to be paid at all.
"The mayor's going to have to pay them with a personal check, because they're not going to be able to get their money out of the coffers of the city of Jackson," McLemore said, adding that he had requested O'Relly-Evans write an order for the company to stop its work.
Neither Melton nor O'Reilly-Evans could be reached for comment.
Well, not so fast McLemore...
it's not as easy as saying "we didn't authorize it, you don't get paid."
If the contractors believed melton had the inherent or implied authority to hire them, then the city might be making a payment. also, since the "rogue" contractors have already performed services, if they aren't paid, the city will be unjustly enriched by getting services they aren't paying for.
So, now let's add Sarah O'Reilly-Evans to the list of people Melton doesn't listen to. We know he didn't listen to Judge Tomie Green and Jim Hood.
- golden eagle
If the council authorizes the city to pay for services without following state bid laws and procedures, the council (not the mayor) will be personally responsible to repay any funds disbursed from city coffers.
If the city pays for services without following federal purchasing requirements (taking competetive bids), the city will not be re-imbursed by FEMA.
If the LA contractor has a Misissippi Contractor's license they will be hard pressed to successfully plead ignorance or claim that the mayor had the inherent or implied athority to hire them because licensed conractors are told, take a test to verify that they understand and sign a statement that they are aware of the MS bid laws during the licensing process.
In my opinion, the council should refuse to pay the LA contrator and file a lawsuit against Frank Melton in state court seeking a writ of mandamus. The writ would be the court instruction that Melton follow state laws. The council in Hattiesurg MS did just that last year with their mayor. The city coucil are the only citizens of Jackson who can sue the mayor for this writ, as the coucil people are personally repsonsible for the illegal governmental actions of the mayor, because thay must approve all of his official actions.
I am not a lawyer so I mght have stated some of the jargon and legal concepts incorrectly..so would one or more our legal bloggers correct me and fill in the blanks?
CO, I'm not a lawyer but everything you stated in the first 3 paragraphs is dead-on accurate. I'm only vaguely familiar with the Hattiesburg case so I can't offer an opinion there.
- Jeff Lucas