Supervisors Can Gain Immediate Control, If They Want It



Editor’s Note: Last week SRHS Watch broke down several pieces of fiction being propogated by the Board of Supervisors. This Monday brings us yet more fiction. Not wanting to be questioned on the contrivances, the BoS will be telling their story to only one media outlet, one they hope will serve as a mouthpiece: The Mississippi Press. (The above image is the masthead for the former Soviet propaganda newspaper Pravda, or “Truth”.)

The latest statement from the BoS is wide ranging and full of topics which require distillation and rebuttal. This week has already seen that from Sen. Brice Wiggins and SRHS trustee Scott Taylor. Over the coming days we will go point-by-point through the statment, today we address it generally.

The Board of Supervisors’ chorus is getting tiresome: “We have no control, we have no control, we have no control.”

There are at least three distinct areas where the Board of Supervisors exercises control over Singing River.

  1. Annual approval of the system’s budget
  2. Appointment of the Board of Trustees
  3. Co-signing the credit line or the power of the purse
Budget Approval

The hospital is required by statue to submit a budget and receive approval from the BoS. The BoS has not approved a budget for Singing River for several years.  John McKay has admitted that the supervisors have failed in this duty. He pleaded ignorance and that he “is not an attorney.” McKay is not, but he is sitting on the dais with one every week. In the corporate world, any attorney who allowed an organization to be out of compliance for such an interval would be shown the door.

Trustee Appointments

The BoS also has the responsibility to appoint Trustees to oversee the hospital. This is probably the most important aspect where the BoS can influence and exert control of how SRHS is managed and governed. The trustees hire and fire administrators, doctors, execute contracts, and set expectations for hospital administration.

As a supervisor, you would want your appointee to be someone who could not only have a firm grasp on all aspects of the hospital’s operations, but also appreciate the relationship between the BoS and the BoT. You would want your appointee to be responsive and available to answer your concerns about how the hospital’s issues would affect the county and citizens. The appointee should be someone with whom the BoS should be able to easily negotiate with.

According to the release, the Board of Trustees are none of these things. The release states the trustees have taken the ball and gone home, refusing to cooperate with county. The supervisors now seek to file an ethics complaint against trustee Michael Tolleson, who was appointed and confimed by the supervisors. (This issue will be covered in more detail in a later post.)

Have relations between the trustees and supervisors soured to the point that no progress can be made?  Is this more fiction from the BoS? We get a clue from trustee Scott Taylor’s blog:

Because we are owned by Jackson County, we sought to work with the BOS in coming up with this resolution.  We sought their approval and endorsement.  There were numerous meetings with supervisors and their lawyers.  We were in constant contact with them advising of our progress and what we were considering.  We asked for their input.  Time after time we presented proposals to the BOS only to receive word from Mr. Guice that the county would not be on board, without any explanation or alternatives suggested.  Months ago, Kevin Holland asked to attend a BOS meeting in open session to give a progress report and share information.  He was told  not to attend, and if he did, not to say anything.  At that point it was pretty clear to me that our efforts to work with the BOS were futile.  Early on I was hopeful that Mr. Guice and the accounting firm he hired would offer something useful.  They did not.

[…T]he BOS could have been helpful in this process, but instead it repeatedly put up roadblocks.  There were threats of ethics complaints and refusal to approve our budget if we did not commit to fund the plan at the lower level.

We now see that the BoS has followed through on threats of ethics complaints. The trustees and supervisors are at loggerheads and the loser will be the retirees.

Power of the Purse

The third area where the supervisors can exert control is the power of the purse. The BoS has co-signed several bond issues by Singing River in the last few years and at no time scrutinized the system’s financial health or debt service sustainability. At the same time, the BoS signed up (some of) the taxpayers of Jackson County for a five mill tax increase should Singing River default to Wall Street.

It was at points like these the BoS could have inserted some provisions for more access and control. A child asking his parents to finance a new bicycle might be met with certain stipulations: take out the garbage, keep up your grades, and we will help you buy the bike.  The Board of Supervisors could have done much the same.

The opportunity presents itself again.  Singing River could greatly benefit from a cash infusion and the BoS desires increased access and oversight. The two could enter into an agreement whereby the supervisors agree to provide a certain annual funding and Singing River agrees to submit to more BoS control. The pension plan could be fully restored, Singing River would not be at risk for bankruptcy, and the Board of Supervisors would immediately have the control it desires.



4 thoughts on “Supervisors Can Gain Immediate Control, If They Want It”

  1. Coast Ombudsman

    I agree with all you say, until the very end. I have no dog in this fight, other than I am a JC resident/taxpayer. I would oppose any millage increase unless there has been a complete overhaul of the BOS, BOT, SRHS management and its attorneys/consultants. The taxpayers should not participate in any rescue operation of the people who started or contributed to the mess SRHS finds itself in today.

    1. It doesn’t have to come in the form of a tax increase. The county could move money around in the budget to make SRHS a priority. Any tax increase should be predicated on a change in SRHS governance. Much more to come on this topic.

  2. Good report, SRHS WATCH. Looking forward to your subsequent analyses.

    I have two immediate reactions:

    One. Looks like Atty Guice was hired as a defense attorney for the supervisors. Not apparent he has contributed anything to solving SRHS problems. I asked for a copy of his contract but was told “…there is no “contract” with Special Counsel Mr. William Guice. Mr. Guice was hired through approval of the Board of Supervisors on its minutes. “ My guess is the supervisors have paid him around a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money thus far, and they need to tell us why.

    Two. Looks like trustee Scott Taylor (no relationship) is his own man and has begun to tell it like it is. What he is telling us is quite different from what we have heard from the BOS. As SRHS Watch reports above, Taylor says: “[…T]he BOS could have been helpful in this process, but instead it repeatedly put up roadblocks. There were threats of ethics complaints and refusal to approve our budget if we did not commit to fund the plan at the lower level.” That clearly says the BOS has not and does not support 100% restoration of pensions!

    I am a candidate for District 3 Supervisor. If elected, you have my word I will be an advocate for open, transparent government, including solving the SRHS issues.

    Ken Taylor

  3. Let’s ponder this too.. JCBOS has another power over Srhs that they have chosen not to exert

    The BOND issue. The thing thst got us in the pickle we’re in. Someone please correct me but isn’t it true that the JCBOS (having backed the bond for SRHS) can request said Bond Company to come forthwith and replace all Srhs Mngt with their own mngt team to get things straighten out financially ASAP?

    If my memory serves me this was one of 2 of current Mr CEOs concerns shortly after taking over the reign as almighty King. He was afraid if Srhs sudbt quickly make strides in the right direction that said Bond Company could sweep in at any time and replace mngt from the top down

    Instead SRHS CEO chose to rid Srhs of over 100 smaller paying jobs. He let a few mngt go but the fat that needed to be trimmed is still there!

    Let’s not forget those double dippers who from 2004 until 2012 got paid doubled. During this sane time frame call pay for physicians was well over $100,000 a month !

    There’s still lots of house cleaning that needs to be done at SRHS

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