I am a former employee of Singing River Health System that is vested in the pension plan. Three thousand plus pension plan enrollees and I need help. Why you may ask? Because the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi, Jim Hood, is allowing our employer and holder of our retirement fund to rob us of our retirement and the cover up of the missing $150 million dollars that should have been deposited into the pension trust fund between 2009 – 2014.
Now we are all losing our retirement. The hospital is county owned and the second largest employer in the Jackson County Mississippi. SRHS has “flipped” an attorney with 17 plan participates into forcing a class action suit on us that has the effect of giving the people who spent or took our retirement a get out of jail free card, to never be charged for any wrong doing. This is the crime! The hospital administrator and the County have called all their favors in and apparently, the Attorney General owed someone a favor. This is dirty politics at its best.
Let me explain the “flipped”. A law firm representing 17 clients was chosen by Singing River Health System and various judges in the county to be the law firm to represent all pension participants even though one group of us, 261 strong, have our own attorneys who have actively fought for us in State Court, unlike the chosen firm. We are not being properly represented by this ‘chosen’ firm. The ‘chosen’ firm sold out the retirees in exchange for a promised $6.5 million attorney fee from Singing River Hospital System approved by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.
This scandal began long ago, in the early 1980s when Singing River Health System (the Jackson County owned hospital) opted out of PERS and began their own pension plan. Employees funded the plan at 3% of their paycheck and after vesting (10 years of full-time employment) they were guaranteed a pension for life. Upon their death, they could elect to have a spousal beneficiary should they decide to only take 80% at the time of their retirement, and many did in order to protect their spouses.
Singing River Health System was supposed to contribute to the Plan “from time to time” in an amount determined by the actuaries as to what was needed to keep the Plan solvent. In 2009, Singing River Health System quit funding the Plan altogether. To hide that fact, they mailed each participant an individualized beautiful printed glossy pamphlet each year showing in what great shape their Plan was and how much the hospital “contributed for that year”. These so called account statements were nothing but a pack of lies. Continue reading “Other Voices | Windy Taylor: Singing River Health System Retirees Need Your Help”
Tuesday a week ago Slabbed was leaked that Singing River CEO Kevin Holland would either be resigning or be fired at the following day’s Board of Trustee meeting. Slabbed put out a tweet on the subject which we were asked to subsequently delete – you had to be there to win. Sure enough Karen Nelson would break the news on Thursday that Holland was leaving and that gets me back to the head-scratcher on being asked to delete the Tweet that Holland would be leaving because the fact that segments of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors were unhappy with Holland’s job performance has been very well reported in both the newspapers serving the area. Looking back at the events of last week there was something else going though which a perusal of Mississippi Electronic Courts revealed:
Singing River Health System dropped from a Level 2 to a Level 3 trauma rating when it cut back on neurological services, and the hospital system is no longer majority owner of its two outpatient surgical centers.
But Chief Financial Officer Brian Argo told Jackson County elected officials on Monday that the health system is cutting costs and is continuing toward financial recovery with a profitable year.
Argo went over the annual independent audit, this year by Dixon Hughes Goodman, which confirms the county hospital system ended the fiscal year on Sept. 30 with a positive bottom line of $5.1 million.
The part the appellate panel at the 5th Circuit didn’t like involved how the attorney fees were paid out in relation to the financial risk assumed by the Singing River Pension retirees among other things. It goes back to Judge Guirola’s Courtroom per below:
This is one of those circumstances where it is again good to have a variety of viewpoints on a news item because one could watch the Tee Vee news here on the Coast1 and come away thinking the Singing River Retirees have been made 100% whole but unfortunately this is wishful thinking. Shearing the flock has to be done in stages and now the stage shifts from the Federal Courthouse in Gulfport back to Chancery Court in Jackson County where the actual haircuts will occur.
The certainty in that statement lies in the dollars and cents currently in the plan’s trust account and the fact that the early payment schedule provided for in the settlement does not provide much immediate help to improve the overall financial condition of the trust. The only immediate benefit is non-monetary benefit in the finality and closure provided by the settlement itself.
From a larger standpoint and viewed through the lens of time the Singing River Pension Debacle is just the latest in a long line ‘incidents’ where the ordinary people in the community get sheared for the benefit of portions of the Jackson County political oligarchy. Slabbed has documented several of these incidents including one of the most recent on these pages. The financial results of these ‘incidents’ are on display for everyone around Jackson County to see at locales such as 435 East Beach in Ocean Springs. For the folks in Jackson County, the regularity of these ‘incidents’ paid for by the public, or in this instance by both the public and the Singing River Retirees, represent the worse kind of tax imaginable because it is a hidden tax paid to the benefit of the few.
In the case of the Singing River Health System, the most galling aspect of this whole saga for the retirees is that a large portion of the very people that brought the County and the SRHS retirees this pension disaster remain firmly attached to the Health System, ostensibly skipping away as if nothing happened. For the new SRHS trustees, I frankly can’t fathom on what basis they have to actually trust the advice they are being given to support their decision making. You gotta think based on what has occurred that in the next disaster they’ll be tossed aside as easily as their predecessors. Continue reading “Fanfare for the common man: The only people getting 100% on the dollar in the Singing River Pension Debacle are the Lawyers”
So I sent a few inquiries. What I found out I was asked not to disclose. Maybe SRHS Watch will return one day. Maybe not. Regardless it was additive to the discussion and for that reason it will be missed.
Just thinking out loud, but with all the talk of Federal class action suits vs. Jackson County Chancery Court, I wonder if any currently uninvolved attorney(s) are considering taking clients from the class consisting of Jackson County taxpayers in actions against Jackson County, the supervisors, the various SRHS entities and members of those entities, the multitude of attorneys, trustees, etc., and all of their insurance/bond providers, for the millions of dollars of fees paid/received, as well as any further damages that might be collectable, in the retirement suits?
Some lawyer looking for clients might come to believe that once county – taxpayer – money got spent (and more will be spent), it may have created standing and a cause of action for any of those taxpayers. Some cases that anyone interested might start with are Canton Farm Equipment, Inc. v. Richardson, 501 So.2d 1098 (Miss. 1987) and City of Picayune v. Southern Regional Corp., 916 So. 2d 510 (Miss. 2005). Something like that might give some of these folks a whole new perspective about their own back door. Getting clawed-back out while getting something else shoved up the back door sounds mighty unpleasant. And expensive.
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:
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.
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.