As citizens were ordered to vacate citizen’s council quarters for a closed door executive session, Hattiesburg native Gia Croom fell out in the floor in what became a prolonged fainting spell, delaying the proceedings. First responders arrived, carting her off in an ambulance. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Deborah Delgado raced at breakneck speed from Washington D.C. to attend the meeting and prevent an override of Johnny Dupree's veto of sewer rate increases.
A veto override requires a 66% majority. A 3 to 2 vote is a 60% majority and a 3 to 1 vote is a 75% majority. According to Delgado, she was in D.C lobbying for funding to help her beleaguered community's “Twin Forks Rising” revitalization project.
Gia Croom has two Facebook pages. One identifies Croom as a resident of Hattiesburg and being employed at the Hattiesburg Public School District, while another identified Croom as a resident of Jackson with her hometown being Hattiesburg. Croom can be seen on video with the Hattiesburg American talking about the city government. It is not clear why she fainted at today's meeting, but some suggest on social media that she may suffer from "fainting goat syndrome."
Timing is of the essence in putting forth a waste-water treatment solution. Hattiesburg is under a court's order of agreement related to a lawsuit by the Gulf Restoration Network. Hattiesburg has to solve the issues which has resulted in over 5000 EPA violations from the city's dumping of polluted waste in the Leaf River. The council passed sewage rate increases, thereby allowing revenue bonds to be issued for the purpose of funding Oral Surgeon and Developer Bennett York’s “Groundworx” land application project. York stands to profit handsomely from the 30 year $600,000,000 Hattiesburg sewage project.
With an unforeseen delay such as this, York's options could expire leaving him with a $2,000,000 pile of worthless land options; not to mention cause for legal actions against the city / taxpayers. York is said to be "all in" with $1.2 million in cash and obligations to pay another $800,000. For Hattiesburg taxpayers, at stake are many millions of dollars in potential fines and litigation costs if the city fails to meet the court's order in our agreement with the Gulf Restoration Network. The stakes are truly high for such political games.
Sources have told the Hattiesburg Patriot that County Supervisor Rod Woullard contacted York and foretold that rate increases would be vetoed unless Hattiesburg Police Chief Frazier Bolton is reappointed by council. The facts do point to more Dupree shenanigans. Dupree has had over two years to bring up an objection to sewer rate increases and offer an alternate method for funding. In the two years of hearings, Dupree never mentioned a 1% sales tax increase, until this month. It has become clear that Chief Bolton is not likely going to get reappointed in the wake of the Municipal Court bribery scandal, evidence locker theft by officers, and a dwindling police department. It is also clear that Hattiesburg taxpayers are suffering from the inability of city leadership to do what is best for the city.