The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Editorial, 3/24/9

The obviously intentional and anonymous release via e-mail and on the Internet of confidential information from Tupelo city government’s ethics report – whose findings are under investigation by the Mississippi state auditor’s office – continues the sloppy, careless handling of a document prepared by a contract consultant.

The material in the leaked information, at least some of which did not prove accurate when the Daily Journal checked city records, was taken out of a public-release version of the report. The City Council, knowing that a full investigation of the findings was beyond its reach and resources, turned over all information to the office of state Auditor Stacey Pickering. The city’s attorneys also expressed concerns about legal liability and lawsuits should unproven allegations involving possible criminality and violations of civil law be proven not true.

Consultant Cindy Brown, whose strange behavior during and after compilation of the report included claims of wiretapping and covert surveillance, has refused to return to Tupelo for a face-to-face presentation of the report to the council, which hired her and so far has not paid her last invoice.

Brown, rather than using standard procedure in presenting bound, printed copies in person to the City Council, first transmitted the document indirectly to Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis. Davis did not directly receive the e-mailed document; it was sent to an e-mail address in a nearby residence.

The leaked information involves claims of violating vendor bid procedures, directing city employees to work illegally on private property, and favoritism toward a department head.