The city has hired — for $60,000 — a consultant who worked on the mayor’s political campaign for office.
The company is Redshift Strategy. The $60,000 will be paid in increments of $10,000 a month for the next six months.
Redshift Strategy appears to be primarily run by Kirk Thompson.
Thompson’s company will work with the city on public relations and government affairs.
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Redshift Strategy is listed as a public relations agency with the Secretary of State’s office, effective Sept. 28.
The letter Kirk Thompson provides the city to outline his duties — considered his consulting contract in an “agreement of understanding” — is dated Oct. 11, and he was hired at the Pascagoula City Council on Oct. 17.
At that City Council meeting, what work he would do for the city did not come up in open discussion.
Hiring Redshift Strategy was on the consent agenda, where one vote takes care of a number of routine items to save time.
It was a unanimous vote. Maxwell and Colmer voted for hiring Kirk Thompson, and his first $10,000 paycheck was due to him today, Nov. 1.
Maxwell and Colmer were elected this summer.
Other campaigns listed are Donald Trump, Phil Bryant for governor, Tate Reeves for lieutenant governor, U.S. senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, Cheri Barry for mayor of Meridian and Mary Hawkins Butler for mayor of Madison. None have dates attached. As of Nov. 1, there was no way to explore further on the website.
In the city’s agreement of understanding that Kirk Thompson signed, he calls himself a consultant “public affairs relating to local, state and federal government” advocating for support and funding.
Essentially, he’s a lobbyist. The city used to have one years ago in the law firm of Adams & Reese, listed among the South’s top governmental affairs firms.
The agreement leaves Thompson independent and not restricted from working elsewhere, but he promises not to engage in any activity that would constitute a conflict of interest for Pascagoula.
For Pascagoula, Thompson will provide a detailed monthly report to the city.
If the city staff wants to get in touch with his company, they are to call him. He is their primary contact.
Mayor Maxwell acknowledged that Thompson worked on his campaign.
“That’s how I met him. I asked him to help me,” Maxwell said. That’s how he got to be a solid friend.”
He said that after Thompson worked on the campaigns for the mayors of Meridian and Madison, and he worked for those cities.
Maxwell said he was a staffer for both Butler in Madison and Berry in Meridian.
“He’s been involved in municipal events and legislative events, and he’s really sharp on the municipalities side,” Maxwell said.
“I’m a part-time mayor,” Maxwell said. “I’ve been lobbying on behalf of the city. Cochran and Wicker gave good recommendations. (Thompson’s) been helping me since I came into office, so we don’t mess up.
“We wanted him to go to work for us, advocating for Pascagoula,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said he personally has been working on a number of levels in government, trying for infrastructure funding for recent Hurricane Nate and unencumbered money from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He said there were Katrina funds that went unspent, “and other opportunities I’ve been chasing.”
“This form of government doesn’t allow me to do a lot of things. I have to go to the city manager for travel,” he said, for example. Pascagoula’s is the council-manager form of government.
Maxwell said Thompson will be able to “go out and do this and I can control what he does. He has a lot of contacts. He’s a lot like me. And he’s not entangled in the bureaucracy in this form of government, like me.”
He said Thompson would be able to travel quickly, “make decisions, apply for grants and get in the door.
“Plus the mayor only gets $14,000 a year,” Maxwell said.
He said Thompson will have enough money, in the agreed payments, to do what he needs to do.
As far as Redshift Strategy being a new company, Maxwell said, he believes Thompson worked with other cities “and then went out on his own.”
Maxwell said he believes Thompson has “some other guys working with him,” but he has worked only with Thompson.
“I haven’t worked with anyone else,” Maxwell said. “If I need him, I’ll call him.”
Thompson wants to start with a task list of everything Pascagoula needs, Maxwell said.
Maxwell said he’s never been to Thompson’s office.
Thompson lists a small house on Canty Street in Pascagoula as his address, a Post Office box and himself as the registered agent for Redshift Strategy.
When the Sun Herald called one of the numbers listed on the front of the website, which is under construction, there was no answer. The other number was answered by someone who said he was in Vicksburg. When a reporter asked if he works for Redshift or Thompson, he gave his name and said, “I’m a good friend of his” and offered to try and call him.