Author Archives: Douglas Handshoe

Comment Bump: Here’s more culture of corruption for ya Stacey. ;-)

I would argue that the audit approach of the Office of the State Auditor, Financial Audit and Compliance Division, County Audit Section with regards to non-compliance with GASB 61 is fundamentally flawed:

The Financial and Compliance Audit Division, the largest division in the agency, is divided into five sections: Education Audit Section, State Agency Audit Section, County Audit Section, Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Audit Section and Report Processing Section. This division is responsible for conducting and overseeing audits of public entities.

Facebook Photo | SRHS Queen Stephanie Barnes Taylor

Facebook Photo | SRHS Legal Services Queen and Chief Compliance Officer Stephanie Barnes Taylor

The audit and inherent risks contained in the County audit is at owned hospital component units for those counties that have them, as they are magnitudes larger financially than the primary government. They have also been allowed to operate in secret by law, which is a red flag in my opinion in terms of fraud risk assessment. As a matter of Governmental GAAP, this would be one of the basic reasons GASB 34 (now GASB 61) was promulgated as the overall financial risk would lie with the larger entity, oftentimes a “component unit” whose failure would cause far more financial carnage than the failure of the primary government. We’re seeing this play out over in Jackson County right now.

Currently in Mississippi, the Auditors office allows the counties to not consolidate their component unit hospitals, Forrest Co and Jackson Co being two examples, with the OSA or private county audit firm expressing adverse opinion on the component unit column of a multi-column financial presentation. The opinion is so complicated as to be next to worthless to all but the CPA practitioner community and lawyers.

To the extent the taxpayer backed financial guarantee related to their hospitals at the county level is material to the Primary government and unrecognized, County auditors are skating on very thin ice from a liability standpoint with such a presentation, which I would argue is fundamentally misleading. I would hope the gang up in Jackson would be having this discussion internally but based on an Anita Lee story from a few months back my guess would be no for reasons I will not elaborate upon. I’d be happy to be proven wrong there.

None of this is a comment bump folks but I needed Mr. Pickering’s attention. I’d like to point out all these cultures of corruption are happening on your charge and watch sir. From chat gres in comments:

Back to SRHS and the compliance department.

Stephanie Barnes Taylor was the Chief of Legal Services and the Compliance Officer for SRHS until 2014.

In 2010 SBT founded The Fruition Group LLC. Continue reading

Sunday Open

Local:

Critics take complaints over city clerk’s raise to Waveland aldermen ~ Geoff Belcher

Bay harbor commissioner resigns ~ Dwayne Bremer

Sports:

Rita Benson Leblanc???

Tom Benson has long harbored doubts about heir apparent Rita, friends say ~ Ramon Antonio Vargas

Business:

Chiquita-Charlotte divorce may cost up to $40 million ~ Jen Wilson

Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution ~ Michael Casey & Paul Vigna (Subscription required)

Heckuva job Barackie! Continue reading

Anyone else remember……

Sometime back when the SRHS pension plan fiasco first entered the news cycle, the gang at the Hospital had an early set of talking points that included yammering about how the plan was a public sector plan and that ERISA did not apply (Slabbed debunked those talking points here). Today of course the pension plan litigation is back in state court exactly where SRHS originally said it belonged in those early statements. Except now they do not like the Chancellor assigned to the case.

Quietly and behind the scenes Slabbed has been getting some sage legal analysis from the local legal community. As is often the case I can’t disclose any of what has been shared but what I can do is point to what we already know and maybe gain a few clues about the forces at play. In short this is not about the Health System as much as it is about the folks that control it and the scrappy group of retirees that aren’t going down without a fight. We start with the latest:

Who has a conflict? Certainly not the judge on SRHS cases, retirees argue ~ Anita Lee

The Sun Herald linked a copy of the recusal opposition from retiree Cynthia Almond to accompany the story and it is a must download and read. Retiree lawyers Harvey Barton and Earl Denham turn the Hospital recusal motion on its head, pointing out the glaring legal conflicts that exist between SRHS and its law firm, especially at the time the acts that are the subject of the litigation were perpetrated.

We covered all this, the rumored insider transactions involving then Board Attorney Roy Williams, SRHS and companies owned in part by Mr. Williams’ sons. One of those related party transactions is now incredibly the subject of litigation between SRHS and Team Williams.  Aside from that lawsuit however, SRHS has faithfully stood by their law firm’s side ostensibly even accepting Mr. Williams’ son as their new Board attorney, even after Slabbed placed the proverbial cherry on top with new potential conflicts. Continue reading

Jim Brown: For Bobby Jindal – First the Muslims, then the world

Thursday, January 22nd, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

FOR BOBBY JINDAL – FIRST THE MUSLIMS, THEN THE WORLD!

Louisiana’s feisty absentee Governor Bobby Jindal sure knows how some things that are not politically correct, so brace yourselves.” So naturally, I held onto my desk, took a deep breath, assumed the worst, and braced myself.

The Republican presidential wannabe was on the political warpath. He didn’t mince words in firmly stating: “Let’s be honest here. Islam has a problem.” He went on to elaborate that Muslims should reject terrorism and should strongly speak out saying “acts of terror in the name of Islam is in fact not practicing Islam at all. If they refuse to say this, they are condoning these acts of barbarism.”

So far, so good for Jindal. But he then muddied his message by claiming that Europe was full of “no-go” zones where Muslim communities are enforcing sharia law on residents, ignoring the laws of the country in which they are living. His speech was given in London, and the Times Picayune reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reaction was swift and blunt: “When I heard this, I frankly choked on my porridge and I thought it must be an April fools day.” Cameron and numerous other commentators rebuffed Jindal’s assertions, saying that no such “no-go” zones existed anywhere in Britain or Europe.

So Jindal stumbled on the “no-go” zone issue. But on the separate anxieties of rejecting terrorism among one’s cluster, the Louisiana Governor was right on. Most all of us would agree. Jindal’s problem is that he micro focuses on those who believe in Islam, and seems to conclude that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists seem to be Muslims. Is he right? Continue Reading……………

Looks like we have a family feud not seen on Slabbed since the Kern fiasco (Updated)

By now everyone has certainly heard of the Benson family feud and I’m not gonna rehash it much. I will say that through time, I’ve developed dossiers of sorts on the entire gang and indeed once invited ol’ Tom out to play on these pages. This type of institutional knowledge comes in handy when the fur begins to fly so this has potential.

I can attest first hand that Tom Benson and his lovely wife Gayle do adore the fairgrounds and the old guy has enough loot where he could pass gas and own the whole thing in a few seconds but NFL rules prohibit gambling related businesses so we’ll will give Mr. B and Mrs B. the benefit of the doubt on that one, especially since Benson’s staff of seasoned lawyers and CPAs keep him out of such mudholes.

If only the Saints front office could produce similar results in the NFL draft. In any event stories of Granddaughter Rita being a spoiled brat have been circulating since 2012 in the national media.

Finally I once again recommend the Grand Master for those seeking comedic relief via twitter:

As for the chances of success in this suit all I can say is if there is one thing Slabbed has seen time and again is the impact of star-power on civil litigation. Here is what Jimmy Graham had to say to NOLA.com:

Gayle Benson is one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met in my entire life. Every day she comes to practice and gives me a smile and a big hug. She emulates everything that Tom Benson has done with the franchise, and I’m excited for her.

Looks like we may need to purchase some popcorn futures on the Merk to insure against popcorn shortages as we follow this and other stories.

Updated for terrible editing.

Guest post: Bay Superintendent Responds to Bryant’s State of the State Address

Bay St. Louis Superintendent of Education, Rebecca Ladner responded to Governor Phil Bryant’s State of the State Address last night.

Two of the things she cited the Republicans for were underfunded schools and underpaid workers.

These two points are interesting coming from her when I reflect back on 2010 in her second year as Superintendent in the Bay-Waveland School District. There was a district wide pay cut for all certified employees, and while some long standing employees took as much as 12% to 16% pay cuts on salaries that never exceeded the $30,000 range, she took a 10% cut on her $110,000.00. I don’t remember her complaining about the sad state of her faithful employees then, and how that was going to affect their retirement. So, while she is familiar with underpaid employees, she makes sure administrators are never in that mix. In a community where 78% of the families live at poverty level, some in her administrative staff (including her) make more than some state level elected officials.

As far as underfunded schools, she seems to have lots of local tax dollars to spend in Bay St. Louis. She just doesn’t have any interest in spending it in the classrooms. While teachers have always dug into their own pockets to make sure their classrooms have what they need, Ms. Ladner did manage to find somewhere near a cool million dollars (no one can seem to obtain totals) to spend on field turf for the football stadium.

Yes, the Republicans leave a lot to be desired when it comes to producing an effective educational system in our state, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be corrected by Democrats like Rebecca Ladner.

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

Slabbed welcomes all points of view on the topics we cover. Our readers can submit guest columns to Slabbed New Media. While we allow anonymous comments on the blog, guest columnist must submit a verifiable name and contact information in order to be published.

Harborgate: Still never a dull moment here in the Bay (Updated)

Welp folks, as suspected the City of Bay St Louis is back to robbing Peter to pay Paul:

According to Mayor Fillingame, long time City Clerk Kolf does not know how to properly code the monthly installment of the City’s insurance policy, but nobody believes that as there has been no general fund docket to speak of for months.

Ward resigned from the seven-member Harbor Commission two weeks ago, firing off an email, obtained by the Sun Herald, to the council.

“I feel that eventually we will all be embarrassed in a public financial disaster that is not in our control,” the email said. “The administration has not and will not provide us with accurate and up to date information to make any type (of) decision or planning. (Mayor Les Fillingame) doesn’t provide it to the council and (the) council accepts it that way.”

On Monday, Ward told the Sun Herald he believes the city intentionally took the money out of the harbor fund to cover its own approaching insurance payment.

And this is why I think Mayor Fillingame and Councilperson McDonald’s attempts to plunge the City into the private trash business for the benefit of a few old town merchants is so fundamentally misguided because it is pretty clear a City that can’t get the basics of municipal bookkeeping right that can’t provide basic services to its citizens on a consistent basis has no business expanding into new areas.

Next up the Bay St Louis City Attorney evidently does not know how to contact an insurance agent: Continue reading

Litigation ain’t easy: A Heather Hilliard / SRHS v KPMG update

Ramon Antonio Vargas tells the story behind the story of a determined litigant in former Jefferson Parish CAO Heather Hilliard and her two and a half year journey to justice for the New Orleans Advocate that is good reading as another news story originally broke by Slabbed New Media (here and here) completes its cycle through the news. Looks like I’ll need to shake the tree to see what is happening these days up on 10 at Yenni.  ;-)

Moving right along in other litigation news, it does not appear KPMG is very scared of the lawsuit that Kevin Holland and company at SRHS filed against the audit firm late last week per April Havens.  I really don’t want to throw any wet blankets on this legal matter but based on the wording in the complaint, I think the only people that will make any money from the endeavor will be the lawyers.  I strongly suspect we’ll be seeing a 12(b)(6) motion asking for dismissal from KPMG and the reason such a motion stands a good chance is actually found in the 2013 Audit Report prepared by Horne CPAs in several places but I will highlight two places, the first on pdf page three of the report.

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements

Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America; this includes the design, implementation and maintenance of internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

You would assume someone that has been in a senior management role at SRHS for as long as CEO Kevin Holland would understand these things but my experience is when the shit hits the fan, the stuffed suits typically pretend they don’t know jack while trying to cover things up and this is indeed the route senior management at SRHS has been taking since last March. Preserving talking points seems to be the paramount concern at SRHS these days and the public money being thrown at the KPMG lawsuit endeavor will be both copious in amount and represent a good example of the wasting of assets, all while management at SRHS tries putting the screws to its own retirees.

Here is the second place that I mentioned and it is on the very last page of the audit: Continue reading