Dum Roma deliberat, Saguntum perit
After nearly ten months the JCBOS has finally decided to bring transparency to the board room. Sadly what is most transparent is their desperation.
After McKay and Mangum’s defeat and with Ross and Cumbest facing run offs, a shock wave went through the good old boys club. No surprise that meeting following elections, the board decided to finally take action. Billy Guice has become persona non grata and the board, who squelched public comment months ago, was again interested in talking to retirees.
It is the opinion of your correspondent that the discussions that took place at Monday’s meeting were nothing more than an orchestrated attempt between SRHS, their counsel, and the JCBOS to serve political ambitions and settle the situation in a shroud of secrecy.
JCBOS Gets a Permission Slip?
Recall that SRHS and the JCBOS have in place a mutual defense agreement. This means that SRHS and the county are saying that they have similar interests in defending the retirees claims. This is the mechanism that allowed Singing River to release documents to the county without fear of those documents becoming part of the public record.
Troy Ross and John McKay both alluded to the fact that now they fear no lawsuit from disclosing the information supplied by SRHS. Could it be that SRHS and Dogan & Wilkinson have given a waiver to the supervisors to allow them discuss those topics that might save their hides?
Recall that Paula Stennett Yancey’s failed campaign was headed up by Robert Wilkinson and Amy St. Pe, both of whom are partners in the firm representing SRHS. Do you think Stennett Yancey would be fool enough to discuss and disclose privileged information without permission from
the folks her friends at D&W?
After Yancey finished her presentation, McKay noted that she didn’t say anything new. At least McKay admits that new information wasn’t released, just the presentation format — this is little more than Razzle Dazzle.
Again, this has the look and feel of orchestrated attempt at an end-run around certain counsel for plaintiffs in these suits. You need only look at one recent filing in federal court wherein SRHS claims:
[they are] not a lawyer and has the right to communicate with the class and even make settlement offers directly to class members pre and post certification.
There are two reasons behind this recent clamoring for closure:
- Singing River is out of money
- The pension failure is threatening a new political landscape in Jackson County
Singing River Out of Money
Singing River has an insurance policy which covered the executives and BOT for up to $5 million. The coverage limit for pension plan related matters is only up to $1 million. With SRHS spending $80,000 each month on lawyers, they have nearly (or already) exhausted the $1 million limit. The insurance company has filed suit in federal court for a ruling against SRHS that the policy limit for pensions is $1 million and not the $5 million SRHS claims.
Additionally, filings in federal court used language that Singing River is now spending money on lawyers that could better be spent on patient care and employees. That points to the fact that lawyers are no longer being paid by the insurance company, but by Singing River itself.
Indeed, many of the recent filings in court have come from Dogan & Wilkinson, and not the destructively dough draining, document dumping, doyennes of discovery delay at Dentons.
The extent to which Singing River has wasted limited resources on litigation tactics will be discussed in an upcoming post.
New Political Landscape Threatened
Barry Cumbest made mention of Jerry St. Pe’s comments after last week’s meeting. Essentially St. Pe suggested that the lawyers should get out of the way and get the decision makers in a room.
You have to wonder if that was discussed at Sunday dinner by St. Pe with his daughter-in-law Amy, (partner at D&W) or with his son Laurin (executive at SRHS). Might he have made mention of this to his business partner Robert Wilkinson? (Laurin is also a partner in that venture.)
Jerry St. Pe wasn’t the only corporate sponsor at last week’s meeting, Dogan & Wilkinson client Jim Estabrook was also there.
Recall that Barry Cumbest isn’t willing to raise taxes to help the hospital. He is willing to cut taxes for Jim Estabrook’s car dealership. Cumbest voted for those tax breaks the same day he voted for another Dogan & Wilkinson client to get a tax break, Gentry Williams’ Mississippi Laundry Services. The same Gentry Williams being sued by SRHS for fraudulent billing practices. The same Gentry Williams who is the brother SRHS Board Attorney Brett Williams.
A lot of this information is repetitive; it is reproduced here to show the extent to which these supervisors are entangled in the hinky dealings of Jackson County.
A new board of supervisors could overturn the feeding trough and bump a whole lot of noses. A future post will deal with the extent to which the current JCBOS is entangled and subservient to business interests.