by Calvin Ishee
In a strange turn of events, The Gazebo Gazette recently received a phone call from a well known resident, stating that a 4th story had been left out of last week’s article titled, “A Tale of Three and the Water Department”. The citizen, who chose to remain anonymous, alleged that the fourth story involved the selection of the new Pass Christian Water Billing Department, Jennifer Lizana by her “friend”, City Clerk Marian Governor. The implication being that the selection was based on friendship instead of merit.
Due to the seriousness of the allegation, The Gazebo Gazette immediately contacted both Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott as well as City Clerk Marion Governor to request an interview for their version. At the interview, both denied that favoritism nor “friendship” played a part in neither the selection of Lizana nor the decision to bring the Water Billing Department back “in-house”.
Governor calmly denied the allegation and went on to provide documents and information which clearly refuted the “fake news” report by the anonymous source. She provided a document from WPSCO dated October 15, 2019 notifying the City that they had “elected to withdraw our Billing and Collections Request for Proposal, submitted January 11, 2019.
WPSCO will work with the City during the transition, which is to be completed by December 31, 2019.” This substantiates the City’s claim that WPSCO’s withdrawal precipitated their recommendation to the Board of Alderman to bring this function back under the City.
Additionally, Governor provided a document that with a comparison between contractor operated and a City operated Water Billing Department cost estimates, which demonstrated an annual estimated savings of over thirty one thousand dollars by having the City run this department.
Furthermore, due to Lizana’s twelve years of experience with the Gulfport Water Department as well as her overwhelming success with turning around the Pass Christian’s Harbor billing and collection function, she became the logical choice to run this new endeavor.
This allows the City to split Lizana’s salary between the Harbor and Water Billing Department preventing the need to have two full time employees.
The Mayor also added that before any decision was officially made on this matter, it was presented to and approved by the Pass Christian Board of Alderman.
The Gazebo Gazette takes all allegations of potential impropriety seriously and investigates them throughly.
As you can see, there are always two sides to every story and in this particular case, no evidence was found to substantiate the anonymous source’s allegations.