This week saw a media barrage from the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and their hired gun, Attorney Billy Guice of Ocean Springs. After weeks of not commenting or releasing only vague and nebulous statements, Guice came out swinging on Monday, attacking everyone involved in the pension plan failure, excepting the JCBOS. In an earlier post, SRHS Watch suggested that Guice was hired not to find resolution, but to defend the JCBOS. Having run out of defensive maneuvers, Guice has now resorted to offensive ones.
This week Guice, as attorney for the JCBOS, has attacked:
- The Sun Herald
- SRHS CEO Kevin Holland
- Former SRHS CEO Chris Anderson
- Singing River Health System Trustees
- Singing River Health System Retirement Trust trustees
- Former CFO Mike Crews
- Pension fund investment managers
- Retirees’ attorneys suing SRHS and the county
- A new law designed to increase hospital transparency
- Sen. Brice Wiggins who authored the law
Guice skillfully stopped short of District 5 supervisor John McKay and didn’t attack any retirees. All of the SRHS parties have some culpability in the failure and attempted termination of the plan, as do the board of supervisors. Guice presents to the public and retirees the face of a impartial arbiter, that of a liaison between the county and SRHS. When pressed by WLOX’s Doug Walker for a comment on the culpability of the JCBOS, Guice demurred stating, “they’re my clients.”
Breaking Down Dialogue
Earlier in the week District 2 supervisor Melton Harris invited Sen. Brice Wiggins to attend the JCBOS meeting on June 29. Wiggins accepted, but later cancelled based on Guice’s incendiary statements about Wiggins to The Sun Herald. Guice, according to the SRHS Board of Trustees, SRHS, and now Brice Wiggins, is working only to interfere with the resolution of the plan and improvement of governance at SRHS. If the JCBOS can’t sit down and have dialogue with our state representatives, how can we expect them to negotiate with Singing River or plaintiffs’ attorneys?
We have also heard about how SRHS CEO Kevin Holland sought to speak publicly at the supervisors meeting, only to be told he wasn’t welcome. This is more evidence that despite their words, supervisors are actively working against retirees and those who are seeking resolution and progress.
As a matter of record keeping, Guice had effusive praise for:
- Jackson County Board of Supervisors
- The Mississippi Press
- SRHS CFO Lee Bond
Mr. Guice has made much of profitability and sustainability studies he commissioned. He delivered the report to SRHS only after running SRHS executives and trustees through the mud. It also took him six months to deliver this report. The retirees of Singing River Health System do not have time to waste while obstructionist attorneys hem and haw with recommendations. If Guice and the JCBOS are trying to achieve any meaningful form of resolution, the report would have been completed and delivered months ago. The delivery of such should not have been preceded by the denigration of those expected to adhere to it. The maxim about catching more flies with honey than vinegar applies.
It’s time for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to move forward without Mr. Guice. Firing Mr. Guice and replacing him with a trusted problem solver should be the first step. His enormous fees and investigations have yielded little in the way of results that benefit Jackson County. He has lost the trust and goodwill of any and all involved stakeholders. It is difficult to see how Mr. Guice can continue to represent the JCBOS in negotiations with SRHS, plaintiffs, or the media when all have lost faith in his ability to forthrightly articulate a problem and propose any reasonable solution to same.
Mr. Guice stated to the media that he has spent much of his time putting out fires. Indeed, we find that Mr. Guice has started many of those fires which he seeks to extinguish. There is one fire he has left burning and that is the one incinerating tax payer dollars in the form of legal fees. It’s time to snuff it out.