The resolution passed Monday by the JCBOS set a number of balls into motion, one of which could be worth over $3 million for Billy Guice. Supervisors and their counsel assured the press and public last week that no vote would take place at today’s meeting. Everybody knows that was a lie.
Recall that in June the JCBOS retained Billy Guice to sue KPMG. Guice negotiated a contingency fee of 20% of any money KPMG paid to the county. Six months later, no such lawsuit has been filed. One goal of today’s resolution was to create an economic loss for which the county can claim as damages against KPMG – in the amount of $13.6 million. If the fees of the turnaround firm are to be included, this figure could be much higher. This would put Guice’s estimated fee at around $3 million. The reader will recall that Guice scoffed at the possibility of certain plaintiffs’ attorneys receiving $6 million in fees, but apparently feels he is entitled to half that amount for work on a smaller and less complex case.
SRHS has already retained the nation’s top litigation firm (Susman Godfrey) in its suit against KPMG. Much of the heavy lifting has been and will be completed by the hospital’s attorneys. Guice hopes to ride the coattails of Susman Godfrey on the way to a windfall. This is reflected in today’s agreement that calls for Singing River to share all information it has from KPMG and Horne so that Jackson County may expedite its suit against KPMG.
Today’s agreement is a settlement of a lawsuit that was never filed against the county. Let’s repeat: Jackson County is spending money to settle a lawsuit where it is not a party. The language in the agreement is designed to obfuscate several issues, the main one being the reasons for the agreement. Guice and the BOS would have you believe that this money is to prevent bond default and prop up hospital financials. They say this over and over again. These issues will exist whether or not there is a settlement, yet the hospital will not receive any money until a settlement is reached. Everything hinges upon settlement. This is a settlement agreement by any other name.
Attorney Fee Shell Game
We will leave the accounting specifics to Slabbed, but the language about escrow accounts and auditing to prevent the payment of attorneys’ fees is smoke and mirrors. Signing River will receive $4 million from the county upon settlement. Guice claims that the proposed federal settlement is the same one on which this publication and others reported two months ago. Despite his comments to the press, Guice has now enabled that settlement to go forward. Does anyone truly believe a lawyer would give up the fight so easily unless he were to receive a massive payout?
As attorney Harvey Barton pointed out, the hospital has no money. Any excess funds that come from the county to pay bonds will free up cash for attorneys’ fees.
The bottom line here is that the supervisors assured the public that this vote would not happen and went back on their word just days later. The supervisors have become so adept at misleading the public, they can easily find themselves believing their own deception. Maybe those delusions will help them rest easy over this Christmas holiday, as many employees and retirees will not.
At the same time the JCBOS came to order this morning, 30 miles down Highway 90 another story in the SRHS scandal was unfolding. Gentry Williams was giving his deposition as part of SRHS’ lawsuit against Williams’ company Jackson County Outsource Group. Singing River alleges that Williams over-billed the hospital by $175,000. Williams has counter-sued saying he is owed $60,000 more.
Over the next few weeks, Williams will have a chance to get answer from Singing River’s former CFO Mike Crews and former director of financial services Wayne Smith. Others who have been identified as having knowledge of the contracts are CFO Lee Bond, former head queen of legal services Stephanie Barnes Taylor, Kim Monson, Linda Robinson, Mark LaFontaine, and even Chris Anderson.
What a strange picture. You have one set of justice for retirees, who managed to get only two depositions from Mike Crews and Morris Strickland, and another for Roy Williams’ son who got a sweetheart contract with the hospital.
Folks, Roy Williams’ son is going to get more accountability over the $60,000 he says he is owed than you will get the $150 million you are owed.
These are truly wicked weeks in Jackson County.
Of note: this case caused a recusal of Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson because her husband is a part-time employee of Singing River’s security staff. It is now before Circuit Judge Dale Harkey, who has before found himself having conflicts with Williams and Singing River. See: Dodson v. Singing River.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved [exposed,convicted]. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Gospel of John 3:20-21
Despite their denials, it is widely speculated that on Monday the Jackson County Board of Supervisors will vote on a settlement agreement regarding the Singing River Health System pension plan. None of the details are known, including who else might owe the plan money, and what impact any settlement by the county might have on Jackson County tax payers. Just last week the supervisors voted to give Chevron a $10 million per year tax break with no public discussion. Just a few days before, the county’s credit rating was lowered and is currently under investigation to be lowered again. Continue reading →
If you’ve ever watched Shrek or been to an open mic night, you’ve heard the poetry of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
We hope that opening verses Cohen’s Everybody Knows don’t become a memorial to the fight of honest, hard-working people in Jackson County.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Cohen summarizes nicely: you all received signed letters from the captain showing the contributions to your pension plan, yet not one court will call on him to explain his signature at the bottom of those glossy pages. Yet you will be expected to bear the burden with absolutely no answers. The perpetrators won’t even have to face a single tough question.
The next days and weeks will prove to be the most important and definitive of the struggle for truth and justice. It is time to man the watchtowers. It is time sound the clarion call and ring the bells.
The hue and cry, an ancient and long-abandoned protocol, has been revived in the internet age. We ask that you use all available methods: Facebook, e-mail, telephone calls, text messages, postcards, carrier pigeons, smoke signals and drum beats to get out the word. Do not relent, do not fear, for truth is on your side. Keep it up until the perpetrators are apprehended and called to account.
Did you report something to Singing River’s compliance hotline that never resulted in a change? Did that matter later become a problem? If that problem had been addressed at the time you reported it to compliance would the trouble have been averted? Is that problem now the center of any controversy at SRHS?
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