FUBAR: A Jackson County Political Tradition

More than anything else the events of this week revealed exactly why the Jackson County Board of Supervisors hired Billy Guice. Campaign season can no longer be put on hold for incumbent Supervisors, who hired Guice to run interference for them, ultimately using Guice to throw their own political appointees under the bus in one last effort to save their jobs. The cost to the taxpayers for this political expenditure is $345,000 and counting. I’m fairly certain the retirees that are fixing to get screwed are not very happy with Guice’s recounting of the obvious for the Sups, which has been covered in detail on both these pages as well as the Sun Herald for the past 7 plus months.

Let’s start with the Sun Herald, which was excluded from Bronco Billy Guice’s Wild West Show, a fact they were clearly unhappy about:

Jackson County has spent $345,000 on SRHS probe ~ Anita Lee

Jackson County taxpayers should have saved their money ~ Sun Herald Editorial Board

A short snippet is in order but the entire Op-Ed is fine reading:

Looks as though the Jackson County Board of Supervisors brokered a deal for the taxpayers to buy a wheelbarrow full of fool’s gold for the low, low price of $345,000.

A subscription to the Sun Herald would have saved the taxpayers a ton of money — we don’t see anything in the report about the investigation into the Singing River Health System pension fund that hasn’t been covered in the paper.

Even better Jackson County taxpayers could have saved the S/H subscription and read up on things right here on Slabbed. 😉

Moving right along WLOX got in on the show with the following report which uncritically parrots Guice’s press release that ran in the Mississippi Press, which coincidentally is also a public relations prelude to screwing the SRHS retirees in my opinion:

Attorney Billy Guice gets on bad side of both SRHS executives and retirees ~ Mike Lacy

Poor Billy Guice had no clue he needed firefighting training before taking on this $345,000 no-bid CONsulting job with Jackson County as we turn our attention next to the Jackson County press release disguised as a trio of new reports which ran yesterday in Pravda, err, I mean the Mississippi Alabama Press:

Finally it would not be Jackson County politics without some political incest:

SRHS response: Some of Jackson County’s pension claims ‘unsupported, misleading’ ~ April Havens

So let’s review. The County Supervisors were asleep at the switch when their political appointees at Singing River Hospital pursued an ill advised business strategy of pouring millions of dollars into brick and mortar projects that was funded in part by taxpayer guaranteed debt and in part off the backs of the participants in the pension plan.  Worth noting is the fact that Billy Guice appears to be talking out of both sides of his mouth when he terms the assertion that SRHS was required to make annual contributions to the pension plan “a misconception”.  Here is a snippet via Guice and April Havens lined above:

Based on the pension agreement that established the plan, SRHS was only required to contribute when actuarial calculations showed it was necessary.

No contributions were made from 2002-2005, yet the fund remained funded at more than 90 percent.

So at what point did a contribution to the plan become actuarially necessary? Let’s again quote Billy Guice and April Havens:

By 2008, however, the pension was funded at only 73.9 percent — partially due to the market losses — and the liability catapulted to $44.4 million. That year, SRHS put in another $2.6 million.

By 2009, the pension was funded even less at 72.3 percent, and the unfunded liability had grown to nearly $47 million.

At the time that huge funding gap was discovered, Guice said SRHS was already running tight on money in operations, so leaders decided to make a partial payment of only $2 million in 2009.

Guice said when it became apparent that the health system could never catch up, he believes they gave up.

Seems to me management made an election to short the plan that does not exist per Guice and his clear-up of the funding misconception. Remember it was OK to short the plan from 2000 to 2005 because it was funded at over 90%. So exactly what is the unfunded liability threshold that would require contributions? 80%? 70%? 40%? You folks get the idea. Even better was Guice by implication throwing former trustee Morris Strickland under the bus by saying the plan did fine in its conservative investments until the time the decision was made to steer the plan into riskier investments back in 2007.

Finally are we noticing a trend with political corruption scandals and other politically made disasters?  I am seeing a trend to use the opportunity presented by said disaster to stuff big money into the pockets of politically connected consultants.  We saw it at DMR with the Horne CPA contract and we’re seeing it again in Jackson County in my opinion thus the taxpayers get raped twice instead of just once. And the military slang acronym used in the post title sums it up.

Worse, by setting sail on a course that runs again the prevailing headwind of hospital system consolidation brought on by the Affordable Care Act, made worse by Gov. Phil Bryant’s refusal to accept funding to expand medicaid to cover the working poor, the Sups and management at SRHS may well be insuring that whatever value is left in the Singing River community hospital system will be destroyed longer term.  The potential here for retirees to lose a portion of their pension followed by the Jackson County taxpayers being stuck with the bill for all the legacy liabilities associated with the bad financial decision making is very real.

Luckily for the folks in Jackson County the primary election is 39 days away. In the meantime while the Sups are telling the hospital to cut to the bone they should take some of their own advice and start with their own consultants.

29 thoughts on “FUBAR: A Jackson County Political Tradition”

  1. Great summary of what is currently known about the Sinking River Hospital System. Looks to me like Guice could have found out what he has released in one day from his office. His final total will easily be a million dollars based on what he stated about how much more was left to investigate. He has become more of a campaign consultant advising the various board members on how to proceed towards re-election.One question I would also like an answer to is at what point was the hospital obligated to contribute to the pension fund.This obligation was triggered by the some set percentage of the total needed based on the estimate provided by who? Guice said they never had an obligation and could stop anytime.I do not believe that.

    1. Guice did not say there was no funding requirement. He said payments to the plan could be skipped if it met certain overall funding percentages. This makes sense because the appreciation of the assets held in trust for the payment of future benefits can be used offset employer contributions. Of course Guice did not share the percentage that would require a contribution so the information he imparted is part spin and part excuse making for Chris Anderson. Here is the salient verbiage:

      In 2007, the pension was funded at 97.8 percent and the unfunded liability was $3.4 million. SRHS contributed $2.6 million to the plan that year.

      By 2008, however, the pension was funded at only 73.9 percent — partially due to the market losses — and the liability catapulted to $44.4 million. That year, SRHS put in another $2.6 million.

      By 2009, the pension was funded even less at 72.3 percent, and the unfunded liability had grown to nearly $47 million.

      At the time that huge funding gap was discovered, Guice said SRHS was already running tight on money in operations, so leaders decided to make a partial payment of only $2 million in 2009.

      When was the funding gap discovered? It was very well known in the summer and fall of 2008 that the stock market cratered along with the real estate market. How long did it take Chris Anderson and the gang to understand the extent of the harm to the pension fund? Anderson is a CPA and not a country bumpkin as far as I can tell.

      The stench is overpowering.

  2. WLOX is reporting that the grand jury in Jackson County is saying no crime in the SRHS pension case. Maybe we will learn again that lying to people that work all of there lives to retire with an amount they were promised is perfectly legal and acceptable. Chris Anderson can now go on some expensive vacation without fear of being arraigned.

    1. This result does not surprise me. Only the Feds have the resources to bring a prosecution on something like this. Which one of the GOP good ol’ boys is going to push for that?

  3. This is another fiasco for the ‘great state of Mississippi’! So like DMR, the ‘big cheese’ come out smelling like a rose while the retirees have to suffer. How can people like Anderson, Holland, JCBOS, SRHS Trustees and many others sleep at night?

    What was the REAL purpose of hiring Guice except to cover the butts of JCBOS? We already knew what had transpired and mostly by whom. Even though the Grand Jury claims to have found no fraud or whatever, what about all the crony deals that have been common knowledge including contracts to friends and family? What about the fraudulent claims to retirees that all was OK over the last few years?

    It appears that unless someone is killed in our ‘great state’ one can steal, lie and commit fraud; that is great and there is no penalty.

    What say Tony Lawrence? What say Pickering?

    1. Mr. Rodgers,

      I have not read every piece of information available but I wonder what was presented to the Grand Jury for decision making purposes.

      To indict or not to indict is dependent on the facts and evidence presented.

  4. http://www.mysrhs.com/employee-retirement.html If you read what the SRHS has online about the money that is to be paid into the pension it states they are required to pay into the pension as a percentage match of what employees pay. I assume based on this they are not required to do this every month. I would think now Roy Williams owes Tony Lawrence a dinner or two. That old phrase “You can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich” now needs to be modified to include “or not”.

  5. You can put lipstick on a pug but it’s still a pig.

    Holland with the superpowers of Heidleburg and yes, Roy Williams was able to make this all magically go their way. Especially with Holland bragging how he and Tony Lawrence are BEST FRIENDs and how he has Tony on speed dial

    Tony did exactly what the powers to be told him to do. Son, you go through the motions. You don’t question anyone who really knows what happen too long ou get them in and out without doing any damage on the witness stand against SRHS AND JCBOS. We will never know what soft questions were asked. Nor will we ever know just how aggressive or laid back the questioning was. I’m thinking it was just easy breezy.

    The DA (which I have an appropriate name for but can’t say) is one of the good ole boys

    And riddle me this blazing BATMAN, how can one have a through and just grand jury trial with Chris Anderson hiding in jackson?

    This whole mess was known since that fatal fridsy night feb 2014 Roy told Chris then that when you leave in 2 1/2 weeks, you take your Hoe’g azz to jackson and dobt you dare come back to the Coast. if you want protection you’ll do as I say

    And boys and girls that is exactly what he did. Left his beloved world class healthcare system and never looked back to be held accountable for one thing Heidleburg and Willuams conducted that nationwide search that was only posted on the Srhs he site for 3 days to give holland the job of ceo that he was promised and groomed for the last 15 years. They knew no outsider could datre be put in place for fear of finding out the truth

    There is something so big they are hiding till it is scary. If they were all so innocent then why the need for so many attorneys and why the need to meet in secret

    Vote them All OUT!!!! Get all new hospital bs of directors and the Bond Company needs to sweep on down here and bring their own Mngt team in to rid us of holland and the gang

  6. We know all the individuals that are guilty as hell in regards to the pension debacle at SRHS but so like DMR, the Feds will not do anything that amounts to a hill of beans. And not the first elected politician speaks up for the retirees except Senator Brice Wiggins and he can only do so much with no assistance from his fellow Repubs.

  7. My Fellow Americans

    Since Stacey Pickerings name has been mentioned a few times in comments this past week I figured It would be appropriate to send this link:

    https://m.facebook.com/pages/Audit-the-Auditor/638471626283442?ref=notif&notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite

    Please join the fight to keep this madman from assuming the office of the auditor. The people of Mississippi deserve a real auditor rather than a Republican political crony who’s major profession seems to be a publicity hound.

    Remember. He is very fond of his “friends”

  8. JCBOS hire a lawyer who will do and say what they want. And we taxpayers are in hock to him for over $350 thousand so far.

    Then, Supervisor District 1 Melton Harris invites Senator Brice Wiggins to come before the JCBOS Monday morning and explain the details of the recently passed ‘open government’ bill concerning SRHS that Senator Wiggins was responsible for passing.

    Before he can attend, Lawyer Guice spouts off his rendition of the bill apparently attempting to put Senator Wiggins in his place.

    Senator Wiggins choses to rescind his acceptance to attend the JCBOS Meeting. Can you blame him?

    Tonight, ‘Wiley Coyote’ Ross was on WLOX explaining the details of the subject that made no sense whatsoever. But for a ‘Yes Man’ such as Ross, who in their right mind would believe anything he and any other supervisor blows to the public?

    Another reason, not to vote for JCBOS incumbents – they can’t keep their stories straight.

  9. Looks like since the end of last week the JCBOS, the SRHS, the SRHS BOTs, the Ms.Senate, the Ms. House of Reps. and other related parties have reached an agreement to form a circular firing squad. They then immediately started firing at one another on the advice of a dark angel,attorney Billy Guice. Time for a new post or ten to cover all of the players and political jousting going on over here, which includes some who have been Slabbed before.

  10. And just when I thought that a certain ethics lawyer in NOLA could polish a skunk of a turd to a higher brilliance then any other attorney polisher in the history of the American Bar of Bullsh*t …

    Ripley’s TRUE or FALSE: Guice has a complete CD library of the entire OJ trial from which he honed his anti-investigational skills/arguments to perfection, including his memorized motto mantra of “…..if you make it not fit, then you must acquit..”?

    1. RFP,

      That’s an interesting question. A basic Google search turns up a multitude of results. If you look at the LLC online you will see that James A Norris III is the registered agent who appears to be a lawyer when you search the registered address listed on his LLC.

      As far as Gulf Coast Services goes, when you google it, nothing really comes up.

      1. Every day or two repeat that google search for Gulf Coast Services, LLC in OS (or Mississippi or 3827 BIENVILLE BLVD SUITE 10
        OCEAN SPRINGS, MS*).

        Restrict the search returns to the last week or month. I think there may be more for google to find going forward.

        *google also informs that at least one other entity (Certus Laboratories, LLC) is listed online with that same 3827 BIENVILLE BLVD SUITE 10 OCEAN SPRINGS, MS address.

        This is an official rfp marker placed on an obscure corporate entity

        1. Bay St Louis tried that line of saying an independent contractor was an employee as a BS excuse to go into executive session. These Attorneys on the coast working for government that dispense bad advice is very disturbing. Again the crickets are chirping at Scott Taylor’s blog when asked about Certus.

              1. That’s the exact document I linked to.

                Curiously that link worked for me when posted and just now again when retried it.

              2. I just tried the link again and it worked. May be the browser. In any event the document is hosted here on Slabbed for posterity sake.

  11. Can any of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors tell the truth? If one reads SRHS Hopes blog and listens to the videos, you will know the answer is NO! They are attempting to save their job at any cost.

    What was the purpose of the 2 women employees speaking on how great the hospital is being run at the JCBOS Meeting? There is no doubt employees give patients great care. That has never been the problem – not funding the pension plan, by whose orders, the auditing and secret crony contracts, etc. that has put the hospital in the red are the more important items of solving.

    With all the statements given by JCBOS, it appears they are trying to conceal their part in this fiasco. Why not help SRHS retirees and employees for a change?

  12. Holy Hot Lips Batman:

    Me thinks it bout time we should commission agent Hot Lips and send her under cover of night to find out all the dirty laundry of the SRHS from the Supervisors to the Trustees, from the GOP lawnmower fumes in Gotham City down to the automated Guice machine.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMbyoJZBjzA

    There’s nothing more productive than hot breathless, sex to open the mouths of tight lipped political operatives.

  13. John Rodgers you say Brice Wiggins speaks up for the retirees, well he only speaks for a few of them, not nearly all, and he sure doesn’t give a DAMN about the little people that are STILL WORKING, all he cares about is trying to make himself look cool with “I authored this, and I authored that” and making sure people picket to scare away the patients, he stands out there with them, thereby screwing over the hundreds of people who are busting their ass, saving lives. If he had any selflessness, even one ounce, he would ask them to picket the lawyers offices and the houses of the bastards who ABANDONDED the ship they wrecked, and STOP crippling the hospital employees who have a retirement one day too. But no, he stands against them on the back of pickup trucks, accepting accolades from the loud minority, driving patients away. Oh but wait he IS a lawyer. So no wonder he stands out there with them, mocking the workers, doing what is best for HIM, not the workers, and his lips are moving but no matter what he says the sound of the action is “be champions and picket the HOSPITAL, and sue sue sue” and drive it right into bankruptcy. If they don’t have any patients well guess what, there ain’t no money coming in. All he talks about over and over is open meetings that aren’t going to solve nothing, but maybe it will make a few people vote for him. That is all they want, is “favor” and notoriety for future elections. Well the silent majority will vote next time somebody runs against him, and it will NOT be for him. Mr Wiggins has a new name inside the halls of the hospitals: THE JOB KILLER

  14. Why hit on Senator Brice Wiggins? He may not be looking out for the employees or retirees in your book. And if implying he and the retirees are running off customers at SRHS, do you want the retirees to sit back and do nothing? They are doing more than most people would even think of doing and I admire them for their peaceful protesting attempting to let the public know what has happened to them and could happen to other organizations. What else can they do? It appears they are not getting much help out of the DA, most elected officials including Stacey Pickering.

    I would think you would knock Lawrence, Pickering and others for their seemingly hands-off approach to the SRHS pension problem before Wiggins. At least Wiggins has done SOMETHING. Can you state the same about other politicians?

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