Friday Omnibus: Love them new 1095s like red beans and rice

Pro Insider tip: You know its gonna be a good fee generator when the bookkeeping staff becomes weepy worried about tax season deadlines.

The Department of the Treasury has concluded that some employers, insurers, and other providers of coverage need additional time to adapt and implement systems and gather, analyze, and report the information. Employers and coverage providers are encouraged to provide returns and statements as soon as they are able to do so.

The only hiccup I see is in the implications of the extended 1095 deadlines on the deadline for 1040 filers in particular.

How about a couple of stories we’ve been following. First up it appears the light bulb has finally turned on in an area of Hizzoner’s brain that was once thought to have been completely and irreversibly damaged:

Where’s the DOJ money? Bay council blocks mayor’s $88K transaction ~ Wes Muller

Caught in a trap…..

Ah hem, lest I digress we had a major federal court hearing in Gulfport on the Singing River Hospital Disaster. Of particular interest was the Singing River/Jackson County gang that can’t seem to shoot straight waxing both apologetically and indignantly attempting the play the different crowds in the different venues. What follows is the indignant: Continue reading “Friday Omnibus: Love them new 1095s like red beans and rice”

What we have here is an ol’ fashioned bar fight

And it’s the bar down here on the coast that is having the bare knuckle brawl folks and the shame of it is I haven’t had a chance to add some much needed commentary but that changes with this post, which I’ll update as I gain time through the day. The short story is this. In one corner there is what I’ll term “the settlement retirees”, their counsel along with the Jackson County political establishment (most of it anyway). In the other corner are the “we want to be made completely whole retirees” and their counsel. The money stakes here are huge which is why the fight is turning very nasty, again exposing some old rivalries that I first noticed back during the Scruggs prosecution.

For me the question is settling now a better deal than fleshing things out via litigation. I did notice that a concern raised here about the handling of attorney fees was addressed.

First things first, someone sent me “retirees that want to be made whole” attorney Harvey Barton’s 2009 judgment via anonymous email a while back and I can’t find it in my extensive email archive.  Nevertheless someone took the time to mail me a hard copy and I agree the time is right to explore the judgment and more importantly the legal concepts behind what Judge Persons found.

I’ve also seen and will post the second recusal motion of Special Judge Hilburn as it exposes some of the fault lines running under the Bar in greater detail.

Before I do any of that its worth pointing out that Slabbed began covering the Singing River Pension Meltdown because it was the exact type of story to which we were tailor made to cover and not because of the gruesome car crash quality to it all but because Slabbed could help get information out to help the retirees make informed decisions.  We’ve reached the inflection point. Updates will be posted beginning with the flying muck below the jump as time allows.

Update #1: Continue reading “What we have here is an ol’ fashioned bar fight”

Bad settlement first and Justice later?

I guess the root of my heartburn comes from the retirees ostensibly paying for all the legal fees in a breach of fiduciary duty case and folks, it was not the Singing River Retirees that did the breaching. The folks at SRHS Watch have some heartburn too:

Opinion: Reeves on the Hunt for Pension Plan’s “Real Killers” ~ SRHS Watch

Keep an eye peeled because they have some good stuff coming:

Forthcoming on SRHS Watch: Certus Labs, Ethics Laws

Let’s analyze the proposed SRHS settlement: The Trustee

Do we have a true settlement or a glorified cramdown on the SRHS pension crisis? Before I get to a few numbers and highlight the court case that I think ultimately controls the proper resolution of this disaster, we need to take a look at the person that Special Master Britt Singletary tasked about a month ago with overseeing the pension plan go forward, former Department of Public Safety Director Steve Simpson.

After nearly a year long fight to get the pension benefits they were promised, Tuesday a judge told Singing River Health System retirees they should sleep restfully from now on. Special Master Britt Singletary appointed an independent trustee, former Circuit Court Judge Steve Simpson, to oversee the pension. And he said an announcement of a settlement deal between the health system and retirees is close at hand.

“What we believe was the root of a lot of the problem was there was nobody on behalf of the pension holders or the pension members to look out for their interest alone,” said Jim Reeves, who represents some of the retirees. “Now we have that person in place who is a watchdog, so to speak, for the pension holders.”

April Havens gave us even more background on Simpson:

Simpson, a Gulfport attorney who focuses on civil litigation, defense, governmental affairs and lobbying, premises liability defense, personal injury defense and criminal defense, is also a former Mississippi Public Safety Commission member.

The decision to put Simpson at the helm of the pension plan was made Tuesday during a hearing before Special Master Britt Singletary in Pascagoula.

“Singing River Health System and certain plaintiff’s attorneys have agreed to an order governing the administration of the retirement plan and trust,” SRHS attorney Brett Williams said.

Between the two accounts, anyone that did not previously know Mr. Simpson now understand that his background is impressive:

  • A lawyer that “focuses on civil litigation, defense, governmental affairs and lobbying, premises liability defense, personal injury defense and criminal defense”
  • Appointed by former Governor Haley Barbour as head of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety
  • A former Harrison County Circuit Court Judge

I am just guessing but to the extent litigation and in particular agreed orders inherently involves a negotiating process there is a good chance Mr. Simpson was a compromise choice. The public may never know the answer to the how the parties settled on Simpson but to me the real question is whether or not he is qualified to be a pension trustee. My personal opinion is not and by implication I think it is more likely than not that once again the cost of the bad decision making will be borne down the line by the SRHS pension plan participants.

It would not be fair for me to leave it at that but before I lay out why I think Mr. Simpson is not the right choice, what do the folks over at SRHS Watch think? That interactive website is heavily trafficked by retirees so the commentary is going to reflect some of what the group as a whole is thinking. The analysis is brutal but I think it is also reflective of a growing frustration among the retirees that has reached the boiling point: Continue reading “Let’s analyze the proposed SRHS settlement: The Trustee”

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: Continue reading “FUBAR: A Jackson County Political Tradition”

“No one can serve two masters…” A SRHS Conflict of Interest Series Part 1

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Slabbed has gone biblical since our Singing River coverage became a hit over in Jackson County with the scripture quoting CEO set there. After all ancient wisdom is the best kind of wisdom thus the post title. All these months later the exact same glaring conflicts of interest still exist with the pension plan. After failing to secretly terminate the pension plan the political set in Jackson County is still searching for an ever elusive financial solution to the ailing finances of the Singing River Health System. Throughout the pension trust has been SRHS management’s captive.

I start today with the conflict of interest on display for all to see as I highlight new SRHS Board of Trustee member Scott Taylor’s first blog post. Taylor’s appointment to the hospital Board of Trustees puts him fundamentally in an interest conflicted position to the financial interest of the pension trust which the Trustees now control. The comments, especially those by Cisco Aguilar, are well worth reading.

In Part 2 Slabbed will examine the underlying litigation and some possible paths out of the financial quagmire.

The difference in managing by the numbers and being a slave to them

Once I advised a client that was planning their cash flow needs for the coming year that should the business achieve a DSO of under 30 days then it could reduce its Trade Receivables outstanding by over 40% in dollar terms. Because of the nature of the contracts and their terms, the subject business was able to reduce both its DSO and trade receivables thus the amount of cash required to finance “the turn” was greatly reduced.  This folks is called managing by the numbers and it not only works, but is typically the hallmark of the way best in class organizations are managed.

And by way of comparison we have this from the past weekend:

SRHS mess: Board minutes shed light on financial troubles, but meetings secret ~ Karen Nelson and Anita Lee

The hospital received a waiver from bond covenants and was able to finalize the audit June 21, according to the trustees’ minutes. The county did not receive the audit until July 9 — more than four months after the deadline. Crews told trustees he had negotiated a bond covenant allowing Singing River to have 55 days’ cash on hand, as opposed to 60, by Sept. 30. Crews reported to the board Sept. 25 that 56 days’ cash was on hand, but it was likely to decrease to 51 days when payroll was run later in the week.

So they would comply with bond covenants, Crews and Anderson suggested the board allow them to establish a line of credit for up to $5 million at Merchants & Marine Bank. Trustees unanimously approved the request. The Board of Supervisors also had to approve an increase in Singing River’s borrowing authority, according to a trustees’ resolution attached to the minutes.

This of course does not count the multiple refunding of bonds previously issued beginning in 2008 per my perusal of EMMA. So what was accomplished from a money standpoint by these gyrations? First off a local bank made some money because credit facilities are not free. So beyond paying a banker what did the financial engineering accomplish? Continue reading “The difference in managing by the numbers and being a slave to them”