JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core

A bit over eight years ago Slabbed appeared in the local cyber scene as a blog dedicated to covering the wind-water insurance court battles when a nice lady from central Mississippi the world would later know as Nowdy and I met at the Cracker Barrel in Hattiesburg and made common cause to tell the coast’s story from a local point of view. In the time since we witnessed the Scruggs prosecution and it’s use as a hammer against people who had lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. Nowdy would later describe the phenomenon as “JustUs” and it usually reared it ugly head in the Mississippi judicial system when massive amounts of money were at stake.

Yesterday, thanks to a bombshell legal filing at the Mississippi Supreme Court, JustUs again reared its ugly head here on the coast with news that the major players in the Chancery case Almond v Singing River et al, were holding a meeting in which the Plaintiff’s counsel in Almond were excluded. Less than three hours later an order staying Almond was entered by special Judge Breland Hilburn one day before motions on his recusal from the case were to be heard.

Ms. Almond and around two hundred other Singing River retirees have been deprived of their day in court thus far in favor of a forced settlement that saddled the scandal ridden pension plan with an unqualified trustee whose main qualifications appear to be his political connections.  To add to the Alice in Wonderland like quality we have Jackson County Board of Supervisors pretending they are not a full partner in the Singing River disaster yet the county is paying the legal fees of the politically connected lawyers that helped caused the Singing River disaster.

For the Singing River retirees that are being lined up like sheep before being herded to the financial chop shop, the events of the past month must be absolutely maddening.  Worse yet for morale is the punditry advocating for a settlement that sweeps possible illegal acts under the rug while the largest single group of retirees are cut out from access to the legal process all while a proposed compulsory settlement is allowed to advance before Judge Louis Guirola in US District Court.

But now the clients of local lawyers Earl Denham and Harvey Barton whose state court case has been stonewalled for months at least know the fix is in against them and they have no chance at receiving justice from Judge Hilburn and Special Master Singletary.  And despite Mr. Singletary’s protestations to the contrary, to the public this secret meeting between defense counsel and the Court reeks worse than a dead skunk in the August heat. And it’s not just the public that feels that way. Continue reading “JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core”

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”

So the assemblage is calling for Mugshots…..

After covering a couple three of these criminal investigation thingys my best advice is patience as there is certainly lots happening in the background. For instance political favors are certainly being called etc etc as these things are undeniably intertwined with the criminal justice process. These are reasons that folks like Ray Ray the Chocolate Guy in New Orleans are literally indicted on the eve of the expiration of the statute of limitations.  These things are largely outside the control of the unwashed masses.

But for those that may have forgotten Slabbed, along with the Sun Herald were early innovators on the topic of mugshots and the Walker clan.  In fairness to Slabbed, the Sun Herald didn’t use Scott Walker’s Mug Shot from his DUI arrest as their only Walker photo as we did here at Slabbed, but we operate on a shoestring budget,

There has been stuff happening though and but it takes some ciphern’ and deciphering to make sense of but luckily for everyone Cousin Cooter from Jackson has lent some assistance.  He tells me the authorities are evidently looking at far more than just DMR corruption and it is hard to tell if the various data points intersect.  I do not have all the answers but we cracked the Dampier Fishing trip and the connection to Hemphill as the community came through for RFP knows his chit.

This is what I can say as the following data points do correlate.  The investigative community is closely examining S. H. Anthony Construction (‘Gate take a bow) and when I think about that topic I think Harrison County Utility Authority. The Sun Herald has done some great work in exposing the insider perks Anthony showered on the previous executive director but the name I heard linked to Anthony had nothing to do with that, at least on the surface. That name is Continue reading “So the assemblage is calling for Mugshots…..”