McKay No Longer Supports Urgency

John McKay, represented by tax payer funded attorney Billy Guice, asked the courts to stop him from having to testify in the Singing River pension case. McKay’s request was granted by special master Britt Singletary. The timing is significant as Mr. McKay avoids having to answer questions under oath before elections.

With no money currently being contributed to the plan, each day that passes is one that costs the retirees.There was a time when McKay was in support of urgency in resolving this matter. It appears that is no longer the case.

urgency is needed

 

Mysterious Group Behind Hotel Tax Campaign

Before there was ever mention of a special election, members of a group called “OneCoast for Jackson County Committee” began making media appearances to support the new 2% hotel tax. Donna Brown appeared on WLOX in March. At the time, the committee wasn’t mentioned. Brown simply talked about how the new tax would benefit her hotel, increasing revenue and profits.

The tax revenue would go to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB.) The CVB was re-organized adding Jackson County by passage of a state law in 2013. The new law gave the county three votes on the board and two years to come up with a plan to fund their “fair share.” The JCBOS rejected a similar proposal (brought on a motion by John McKay) in May of 2012. Continue reading

A Political Hatchling

For you Sunday morning early birds, have some good old muck raking while the Sunday Long Read bakes.

Josh Eldridge, candidate for Chancery Clerk, has a new campaign commercial out that has some local observers asking questions. The commercial was shot entirely inside Jackson County’s recently built administration building. Eldridge is currently comptroller for, and employee of, Jackson County. If elected, Eldridge would be trustee of the SRHS pension plan. The voice over states: Continue reading

Troy Ross Finally Submits Disclosures

District 4 Supervisor Troy Ross finally submitted his Statement of Economic Interest yesterday.  The filings covered 2011-2013, with the 2011 filing coming over four years late.

The filings are not currently available until the Mississippi Ethics Commission reviews them and releases them to the public. The process usually takes a few business days.

Cisco Aguilar Responds to Guice’s Claims of Impossibility

Editor’s Note: Retiree Cisco Aguilar has been a thoughtful and reasoned observer and critic of the Singing River Health System pension debacle. Mr. Aguilar shares his thoughts on the most recent developments between SRHS and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

In a July 7th press release and again during the July 20th Board of Supervisors meeting, Billy Guice, special counsel for the Board on SRHS matters, boldly proclaimed that 100% funding of the SRHS defined benefit pension plan is an “impossible” task. As proof for his claim he has allowed publication of calculations performed by LaPorte, an accounting and business consulting firm, based on what he considers eminently reasonable assumptions.

This frontal attack on the pension members’ expectations was followed by a daring publicity stunt in the form of a proverbial carrot-and-stick offer to SRHS coupled with a public rebuke to the Supervisors’ archenemy, the Sun Herald.

Aside from the obvious fact that this staged series of performances has been orchestrated with a view to the August 4th election, the Supervisors are nonetheless confronting us with some substantial food for thought. Here I will dwell exclusively on the pension funding question.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Guice has not revealed yet his solution to the pension issue under the cover that it is now up to the judicial system. This is most likely on purpose to keep the uncertainty alive as a way to avoid potentially detrimental publicity before the upcoming election. Continue reading

Do Members of JCBOS Hold Chevron Stock?

One of the unique benefits of Chevron’s retirement programs is a very generous retirement savings matching plan. If an employee contributes 1% of his pay, Chevron will kick in 4% of his pay to match. If he contributes 2%, Chevron will kick in 8% of his pay. The interesting thing about Chevron’s plan is that they make this matching contribution not in cash, but with Chevron stock.

It is not uncommon for someone who makes a career at Chevron to retire with several hundred thousand dollars worth of Chevron stock. Twenty years of contributions, a couple of stock splits, and increasing oil/stock prices make this very feasible.  It is nigh on impossible to walk out with a gold watch and not have at least $5,000 worth of stock. Continue reading

Never Stop Because You Are Afraid

331px-Fridtjof_Nansen_LOC_03377u-3“Never stop because you are afraid – you are never so likely to be wrong.”

“Never keep a line of retreat […] it is a wretched invention.”

“The difficult is what takes a little time. The impossible is what takes a little longer.”

“The history of the human race is a continual struggle from darkness into light. It is, therefore, to no purpose to discuss the use of knowledge; man wants to know, and when he ceases to do so, is no longer a man.”

 Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian explorer, writer

Is This OK?

Are elected officials allowed to use county owned fax machines and e-mail addresses for partisan campaign activities?

Of note:  the Mississippi Ethics Commission website still shows no Statements of Economic Interest filed for Ross from 2011-2013.  The 2014 report has not been updated to add deficient information.

While the JCBOS is Dogging The Sun Herald…

The JCBOS and various supervisors have made statements regarding the veracity of The Sun Herald’s reporting, attacking the paper for having a bias aginst the board, and claiming that The Mississippi Press is the only media outlet that can report the facts correctly.

SRHS Watch has long observed the sporadic nature of which The Mississippi Press publishes reports on board meetings. For months after the Singing River crisis cropped up, the paper never bothered to send a reporter. When a reporter did show up, the articles appeared to be cut and pasted from the press release with little balance. There was such a dearth of balance that Singing River executives and board members spoke out.

April Havens is the only reporter on the beat for The Mississippi Press. Rather than ascribe any particular motive to Ms. Havens, your correspondent attributed any reporting irregularities to editorial pressures from superiors. That was up until this weekend when Slabbed  tweeted out an interesting Facebook post. Continue reading