I’d give a report about last night’s Bay City Council meeting…..

But I could not find a video of a dog with firecrackers going off behind it. With that set up, despite prior assurances the City would be able to pay off the loan the City took last November to pay past due bills, the Administration informed the Council last night the City would need additional time to pay off the remaining balance, pegged by City Clerk Kolf at approximately $200,000.

In other news, proposals to conduct the 2013-2014 fiscal year audit were opened and tabled. Two of the three firms on the State Auditor’s list of approved firms here on the coast submitted proposals. The lack of more proposals means Winner’s curse is not a factor thus the effective hourly rates implied in the pricing are very good (from a CPAs point of view).

Finally if you got an agenda from Miss Jane and did not see advertising for bids for a major construction project or declaring as surplus several pieces of City property it because those items were not on it. Those official actions did make most of the assembled crowd happy though and that gets back to the dog and firecracker thing. The bottom line is do not count on the agendas you get from the Council Clerk in advance of the meeting because they are not worth the paper they are printed upon when it comes to the business the council actually considers.

Finally since I am a turf and grass aficionado:

Here is the weed in question.

Here is what kills it and here is where you can buy it.

More transparency issues with the Hancock Board of Sups

My personal opinion is the local government with the most transparency issues is the Bay Waveland School Board but the new Hancock County beat guy with the Sun Herald documents more transparency issues involving the Supervisors including an unwarranted executive session. This type problem extends across the coast:

Magnum scores a TKO in the War by the Shore! (Part 1)

Any U. S. Magistrate from South Texas to the Southern District of Alabama could have written this exact same Order and Opinion in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and then Ike but discovery abuses were tolerated in the Fifth Circuit by and large. Cases were kneecapped out of the gate on the theory that money cases should settle and in the process bad faith claims handling was institutionalized under the law. Magistrate Gary Brown from the Eastern District of New York took a look at the case from a different angle and he came to a far different conclusion. Here is the salient verbiage:

The context remains important: according to the City of Long Beach, the losses here totaled approximately $205,000, while the testimony at trial suggested that the insurer has already paid out about $80,000. Pl’s Ex. 1. Thus, based on these rough figures, the most that could be at issue here amounted to approximately $125,000 and, based on the coverage limits of $250,000, no more than about $170,000 could be at stake. To a government-backed insurer, these are trifling figures, and in the world of federal cases, such figures are unimpressive, particularly when compared to the exorbitant costs of litigation. On the other hand, to individual homeowners, these are staggeringly large sums.

Before I present the 27 page Judicial beatdown of the National Flood Insurance Program and it’s lawyers over at Gerald Nielsen’s law firm, I’ll opine that what we have here is the tail wagging the dog. Magnum and his people over at Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams certainly expended a fortune to uncover the unsavory claims practices including the bullshit revised engineering reports insurers relied upon to deny coverage after Superstorm Sandy (and here on the coast after Hurricane Katrina) and they deserve props for the time, money and effort. Click the pic to nab the 27 page pdf:

In Re Hurricane Sandy (Raimey) 14-mc-41 Doc 655 In Re Hurricane Sandy (Raimey) 14-mc-41 Doc 655

You know the season is down the tubes when……

The biggest story line coming out of a disappointing loss is a Saints fan taking liberty with Jimmy Graham’s ass followed by the same fan apologizing the next week (during a disappointing loss) for groping Graham’s ass the week before:

And of course through it all the fans in the Dome (don’t get me started on that stupid train whistle) are keeping it classy by throwing elbows to the chin of a female Bengals fan (who has evidently never been to Mardi Gras):

Yes it is true the secondary has been decimated due to injury but there is a bigger problem at play with the Saints defense. When Rob Ryan showed up the Saints were supposed to swap over to Ryan’s version of the 3-4. Victor Butler was signed as a free agent joining Will Smith and Junior Gallett at outside linebacker. Butler and Smith both ended up hurt, Ryan adapted to his personnel moving Gallett back to D-End and swapping schemes to a 4-2-5 featuring 3 safeties. The Saints experienced some success last season in that scheme. Not so this year as the Saints zone coverage has been easily shredded. The secondary is not the biggest problem here as the lack of a consistent pass rush from the front 4 leaves the back end of the defense exposed. Continue reading

Jefferson Parish’s 53 million dollar problem with conprofits laid bare by IG David McClintock

Yesterday Ben Myers broke the news of Jefferson Parish Inspector General David McClintock’s first report since he founded the Jefferson Parish Inspector General’s Office and man is that report a doozie. I chucked at George Amato’s comment to Ben’s story, which I completely concur.

The bottom line is the report is so bad my suggestion is that the taxpaying public would be better served if the Parish Council simply eliminated the various Parish departments and employees that hand out these taxpayer funded grants that are subsequently looted, take the $53.5MM of tax money they are determined to squander and simply put it on a silver platter at the intersection of Veterans and Causeway so the general public can at least get a shot at taking some of the bounty. Not only is such a more democratic method of squandering tax money the squandering can be done without the accompanying overhead. In any event here are the low lights from IG McClintock’s first report:

OIG Audit Finding Louisiana Community & Family Services, Inc.

OIG Audit Finding Louisiana Community & Family Services, Inc.

But it gets better because the gang Louisiana Community & Family Services took the money from the Parish, converted it to cash and then supposedly paid their expenses with that cash without any further documentation. For those of you that actually believe that, Chermaine Kelly has some waterfront in the Gobi desert for sale: Continue reading

A few keys to understanding Singing River Hospital disaster: Part 1

I’ve followed the unfolding Singing River Hospital financial disaster from afar and thus far have managed to not look at a single audit or financial report as I’m currently neck deep in paying work.  That said I have seen woeful misinformation spread about Defined Benefit Pension Plans during the course of the reporting.   Defined Benfit plans, if properly run, can still be an excellent and cost effective employee benefit and it is there we begin because many have been looted out and then dumped on the taxpayers:

Looting the Pension Funds ~ Matt Taibbi

‘Retirement Heist': How Firms Trimmed Pensions ~ Interview with former WSJ Reporter Ellen Schultz, WTEST

At Singing River Hospital, the pension fund was not looted. Instead it was simply not funded by the hospital to the point now where management now claims that the plan is actuarially unsound. The implications of not funding a qualified defined benefit plan, which likely had mandated minimum funding requirements, are legion.

For instance, when most people think of qualified pension plans they think IRS, because it is the IRS that writes the regulations for plan qualification and actually approves the plans both when they are established and terminated. However it is not the IRS that Singing River Hospital needs to worry about in this instance as it is the Department of Labor, specifically the Employee Benefits Security Administration that would handle the potential ERISA violations associated with the media disclosures involving the Singing River defined benefit plan and that is the bad news because while the IRS “audits”, the DOL “Investigates”.  Having handled a DOL Investigation once or twice in my time practicing public accounting, I can say first hand it is far better to have the IRS show up than the DOL when it comes to this subject matter.

All that said the Singing River financial debacle could keep an enterprising business writer busy for weeks as the ramifications of seeing yet another defined benefit pension plan crash and burn are literally legion.  Here are a few things that come to mind: Continue reading