Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's a Good Circuit Clerk Anyway?

I know some of you thought I would have written about this before now, but I've been wrapped up in the proposed Natchez Development Code. Everyone is talking about Binkey, and no one is paying attention to the new Code, so I felt like my efforts belonged there. But I couldn't let such a good story go forever without commenting.

As you all undoubtedly know, our esteemed Circuit Clerk, Binkey Vines, was indicted on 13 counts of embezzlement of $228,760 of taxpayer money. That's not small potatoes! Then on Friday, May 4, he pled guilty, but through some bizarre ruling by a judge in another county, he basically got off with a slap on the wrist. He can still serve and run for reelection! For details, see the initial story in the Natchez Democrat.

This is my favorite Binkey quote:

"I’m a good circuit clerk, and I’m a bad bookkeeper.”

This leads me to the title of this article - what's a good circuit clerk anyway? According to the Mississippi Official & Statistical Register, the Circuit Clerk is the chief officer of the Circuit Clerk and the chief elections officer. Basically, the Circuit Clerk is an administrator of two very important functions of county government. So what is a good administrator? According to the dictionary, it's someone who manages or has a talent for managing.

So are you a good manager if you:
  1. Misplace almost $230,000 - especially when that amount is about equal to the annual gross income of your office? Think of your annual salary, and then try to imagine misplacing that amount of money.
  2. Fail to file annual reports with the State that are required by law for several years running? Try to imagine not filing your income tax returns for one year, never mind several years.
  3. Still have not filed the latest report? If only Uncle Sam was so lenient.
  4. Blame an employee who was out sick for all your problems? Was she sick for three years?
  5. Refuse to accept any responsibility for misdeeds? He is totally innocent, since this is all a sinister political plot by his enemies.
  6. Consistently get "findings" (bad reports) in your annual financial audit and don't even bother to respond? Sort of like getting failing grades on your report card and totally ignoring them.

I'm sorry, but this man is not only a bad bookkeeper, but a bad Circuit Clerk. Actually, "bad" is not a strong enough word - I prefer abhorrent, appalling, atrocious, awful, beastly, dangerous, desperate, dire, disastrous, disturbing, dreadful, extreme, fearful, frightful, ghastly, gruesome, harrowing, hateful, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrid, horrifying, loathsome, monstrous, obnoxious, odious, offensive, petrifying, repulsive, revolting, rotten, serious, severe, shocking, terrible, unnerving, unpleasant, unwelcome, vile. Oooh, I like that last word - Vile Vines!!

Do you really want Vile Vines in charge of your elections? Do you want Vile Vines managing your courts of law? YUCK - NO!! Anyone who still votes for this man is either missing a few brain cells or is not in contact with reality.

ADDENDUM: How could I have forgotten? Are you a good manager if you keep bouncing checks to repay loans? And how does he solve this problem? By cutting staff, of course! I wonder if that poor sick bookkeeper is one of them. (See article and editorial in Democrat.)


Anonymous said...

Or receiving some of the misplaced money.

Anonymous said...

Funny. This guy sounds like our Attorney General. Especially Item 4. Gonzalez, Wolfowitz...... Vines. Hey, it's the new Age of Non-Accountability!

Anonymous said...

thank you, my thoughts completely.
what can we do to change what is happening....vile vines must pay!

Anonymous said...

State law allows for a citizen to file papers requesting that he be removed from office. I think it is called a duo mandamus or something like that.

Casey, can you look into this? I am sure someone in town will file it.

Anonymous said...

Why dont you submit this little article to the Democrat as a letter to the editor? They would probably run it.

Casey Ann said...

This is in response to the comment about a state law allowing a citizen to file papers to remove him from office.

The only provision that I can find says that citizens may file a petition requesting the governor remove him from office. This would require the signatures of over 6000 registered voters - a very difficult chore. I think it will be easier to just vote him out of office on August 7.

Anonymous said...

In my neighborhood I would pass 10 of his signs to get to my house. Now there are only 8. Still too many.

Anonymous said...

if I wrote a bad check to the Adams County Tax Collector for my
property tax I would recieve a 30 day demand letter to make the check good or they would turn it over to the district attorney's felony bad check unit. Also, my property could be seized for non payment of taxes......would you or I get the same break as "slinky" Binky?????

Anonymous said...

Slinky Binky ain't the only clown act in the upcoming elections.

How bout Jerry Lyles for Tax Assessor, arrested for Voter Fraud (a felony) after the past elections and "forgiven" by another one of our idiotic judges without even a slap on the wrist.

Anonymous said...

Did you say "Jerry, 39 counts of voter fraud, Lyles?

Ask Judge Forrest Johnson why he dropped the Felony charges and EXPUNGED it from the records after Lyles pled guilty to three (3).

Our city will do well with "Slinky" and "Fraud" in office and they probably will be. BUTTTT, they won't get there on my vote.......Neither will Forrest Johnson

oracle said...

Jerry Lyles,,,yeah, owns no property, pays no taxes, knows nothing whatsoever about the position he's seeking.

He will make a good Assessor allright.

Former criminal charges is a feather in his cap, for the dumb vote that will put him and Dinky in office. They should be sharing the same cell.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but feel that Binky fell in the Ntz trap of living large, living about his means.
Not smart.

Apparently bad checks are okayed once they are paid off. Isn't that how one of the alderman is
still in good standing?

Poor financial skills, poor money management and breaking the law is not a negative for Ntz public office. It is no longer about qualifications or the greater good, but power and influence. Since the precedence that bad checks, voter fraud,and theft are acceptable and apparently in vogue, some of our public officials, with the blessing and urging of their public, are following suit. There is a distorted mentality that says it is okay to grab everything that you can, believing you have a right to it. What a great lesson for all of our children.

In addition, it apprears acceptable if an attorney represents Ntz on both sides of the negotiation table. When I was in school that was referred to as a conflict of interest. Hmmm, I wonder who is paying the attorney. Both parties?
Yeah, conflict there!

Yes folks, there is money to be made in Ntz. Who says our public officials are not creating high paying jobs. I especially appreciate they are creating job opportunities for the average felon.

Come one, come all,welcome to Ntz where the good ole boy network (of both races) is alive and well. Sad but true.

Victoria Johnson Hoggatt, Attorney at Law said...

For all of you who are outraged, incensed, and thoroughly put out about Bink, you are hereby invited to participate in the Current Constitutional Appplications Project,Welcome 2 Texas!

Some people think that the reason one Mississippi Circuit Clerk got off, and the other is is in hot water, is that Vines was asked to serve as a federal witness against the Attorney General's office right before his 'plea bargain' was struck. Vines held the whip hand over the AG.
You can do the investigative reporting to determine if the real plea bargain was "If I get off, I won't testify that Circuit Judge Forrest Johnson got me off secretly when an attorney filed interference with service of process and witness intimidation criminal charges against me", when Vines threatened the young sexual assault victim of Andrew Allbritton, an AMW alum, and her mother, or, "I (Vines)won't testify that the Attorney General's office advised Ashely Junkin to not attend a hearing she was subpoened to, or would have been, had not Vines intentionally committed obstruction of justice, extortion under color official right, and lots of other nasty stuff,during the same period that Vines was indicted (2003).
You can post your video as a response to the Vines videos on It took seven years of citizen and student action to apprehend, convict the sex offender. It will take a while for Bink, but he may well get there.

If your reporting succeeds in getting the AG indicted, you could win a Pulitzer!


Anonymous said...

We have allowed so much corruption to take place in our communities and it was okay when we would mistreat people of color without realizing that mistreatment would bleed over into our own.

Mistreatment and corruption is the same in all communities regardless of who it is done to. In our neighboring county, Franklin, the circuit clerk is known to have bought votes. Many are still reeling from disbelief and others, who received payments, are thrilled.

There is not a stable enough system in place to hold these people accountable. The money embezzled or misappropriated is used to pay off others in positions of support. We can’t go on believing that we can mistreat one group of people and maintain support from the other group, without it all at some point closing in on us.

We have to support Franklin County as well as ridding our own county of its sleaze.

Current Constitutional Applications said...

You can watch the indicted but nary incarcerated Adams
County Circuit Clerk Binky Vines commit criminal obstruction of justice in concert with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Franklin Parish Sheriff Steve Pylant, and some FBI agents on youtube, if you want to know why Vines is not in jail. Search either M.L. Vines or Jim Hood.