Three short videos alleged to have been made by a Mobile County Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority employee while on duty have been obtained by Lagniappe.
The videos, which evoke the kinds of inane pranks depicted in the “Jackass” films, were prominently mentioned in a partial audit of the water authority as an example of the lack of fiscal and professional oversight currently plaguing the public organization that serves most of the western and southern parts of Mobile County. The audit claims the videos were made by GIS Analyst Christopher Taylor while on duty.
In addition to his salary, Taylor was also having his tuition at the University of South Alabama paid for reasons that are not yet clear. There was no written policy for a college tuition program or a selection process and it is not clear why the water authority board chose to grant Taylor such a perk. There was also no agreement that Taylor would work for the authority after it paid for his education, the audit says.
A college speech written by Taylor called attention to the videos, the audit says. In the speech Taylor says he only works an hour a day and spends the rest of his seven-hour work day pulling pranks and making YouTube videos. Taylor had been fired at some point, but was rehired by the authority.
Two of the videos mentioned in the audit and provided to Lagniappe this week are titled “Angry Beard versus Taco’s Nuts,” while the third is titled “Slightly Less Angry Goatee versus Taco’s Nuts.” In the “Angry Beard” videos, Taylor is presumably behind the camera filming an authority employee named Scott, who others refer to as “Taco.” In both, another employee referred to as Josh quickly throws a football into Scott’s crotch when he isn’t expecting it, igniting laughter from his coworkers.
In the third video, Scott is seated in what appears to be a conference or meeting room and authority workers are lazily tossing a large beanbag back and forth. Scott is sitting in a chair looking at his cell phone when the cameraman, who is presumably Taylor, throws the beanbag into his crotch. Scott’s coworkers burst into laughter, and he gets up and walks out of the room.
The videos were all posted to YouTube according to the audit, but were removed prior to the audit being made public. The authority has not released the videos, but Lagniappe obtained them from another source.
While the videos may raise questions about management practices at the authority, questions regarding the payment of Taylor’s tuition and number of other troubling matters were raised in the audit. Among those were misuse of authority credit cards by office manager Sylvia Hutto and board member George Callahan, nepotism, misuse and destruction of an authority backhoe, violation of state ethics laws regarding the providing of cut-rate water to board members and employees, falsification of time and mileage sheets and unauthorized destruction of records.
District Attorney Ashley Rich told Lagniappe last week she would be looking into the audit to determine if any criminal charges were forthcoming, and County Commissioner Jerry Carl has said the authority and board need to be cleaned up. Carl has responsibility for appointment of the board members. Since his election last year he has replaced two members, but Callahan, White and others were appointments by former County Commissioner Mike Dean.
Dean’s efforts to get the authority to hire him as a lobbyist after he lost to Carl last year began what has been more than a year-long investigation into the MCWSFPA by Lagniappe. The Alabama Ethics Commission said hiring Dean would constitute a violation, so he was never hired.
Carl pushed for a forensic audit of the authority in March, and although it was limited in scope, the findings were troubling, he said.
“When I first suggested the forensic audit, I did it because I thought it would clear them of speculation. Now this has opened a whole new avenue,” he said.
So far the only result of the audit has been the firing of former Office Manager Sylvia Hutto and her husband, Mark, who was a contract worker. A new set of policies has also been set up, although as of last week it has not been finalized.