OPINION: Vestiges of Corruption Cancer Remain, Must Be Removed

A lot of the players who were either complicit, confederates, or otherwise conniving in the corruption surrounding Singing River Health System and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors are now gone. Retirement saw the departure of Nebo Carter and Mike Crews. A higher paying refuge in Jackson beckoned to Chris Anderson. Downsizing and out of state moves took out Stephanie Taylor and Celeste Oglesby.

Elections shed John McKay and Mike Mangum, which resulted in the firing of Paula Yancey. A path to settlement saw the SRHS Board of Trustees overturned. You have racked up quite a score, but are still on the path to losing.

Jackson County suffers from a cancer of corruption. You the voters have applied pressure and removed several of the nodes to which the cancer has spread, but the tumors still remain: the lawyers. Continue reading

Cumbest Has Bigger Ethics Problem Than Lake George

While all of Jackson County has been paying close attention to the fact that Barry Cumbest has been using elected office to lobby for projects that touch upon lands owned by him and his family, there is another conflict of interest that has been overlooked: he is a member of the putative class in the lawsuit against Singing River Hospital.

The class description defines members as:

[A]ll current and former employees of Singing River Health System who participated in the Singing River Health System Employees’ Retirement Plan and Trust, including their spouses, alternate payees, death beneficiaries, or any other person to whom a plan benefit may be owed.

Barry Cumbest meets this definition due to the fact that his wife, until last year, was employed at Singing River Hospital.  As such, she was a participant in the pension plan and Cumbest would be her beneficiary. Continue reading

Melton Harris Again Disrespects Jackson County Citizens

With the departure of John McKay, Melton Harris appears to have contracted the foot-in-mouth disease that McKay so often suffered from. Harris recently appointed Barbara Dumas-Marshall to the SRHS Board of Trustees, a job she immediately walked away from. Harris incredibly admits to Karen Nelson at the Sun Herald that he made bad choice on purpose, just so he could start a fight and get the lawyers involved.

How much was he advocating the county to spend on the likes of Dogan & Wilkinson or Billy Guice taking another battle to the Supreme Court?

Since when do county supervisors set out to purposefully create situations to engage in expensive litigation?

You have to wonder who has his ear.  It certainly sounds like some influence from an attorney who stands to profit from the whole situation. Continue reading

SRHS Searching for New General Counsel

With the impending departure of Celeste Reep Oglesby to Tennessee, Singing River is on the hunt for a replacement. Recently Oglesby circulated the below e-mail to local law firms and attorneys.

We are told that most of the attorneys being contacted are under the age of 45, the implication being that SRHS is looking for a patsy who won’t stand up to Brett Williams, Dogan & Wilkinson, Kevin Holland or anyone else seeking to preserve the status quo. Holland is said to be conducting interviews and plans to only recommend one “choice” to the Board of Trustees. Multiple sources have informed SRHS Watch that the new trustees are asking questions and are getting a lot of push-back from both Williams and Holland.

Two other c-suiters are expected to resign in the coming weeks.


 

From: Celeste Oglesby
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 11:18 AM
To: Celeste Oglesby
Subject: General Counsel Position at SRHS

Friends, Continue reading

Dogan & Wilkinson Now Advocating Transparency, Just Not at SRHS

Local and social media has been abuzz recently with talk about transparency of the Jackson County Utility Authority.  Several city leaders are going to the mattresses against the JCUA claiming that the board has no oversight, no transparency, no accountability,  and no way to be reined in.  Much of the language and arguments being used are the same ones that have been said about Singing River.  Here is a sample from the City of Gautier’s Facebook page:

Did You Know?
Your wastewater treatment costs are decided by a non-elected government board, who pass operating costs onto you, via your city bill? Did you know there is no oversight by a state agency? Jackson County and its 4 cities have created the JCUA Taskforce to look into this issue due to its impacts on homebuilders and citizens.

 

It all sounds very distressing. Nearly the entire Jackson County delegation is on board in implementing changes. Michael Watson (formerly of Dogan & Wilkinson) has mentioned that the JCUA has an “unregistered lobby” in Jackson.

What’s interesting is that the cities are not alone in this crusade. They have recruited their attorneys into this fight and since Dogan & Wilkinson represents Ocean Springs, Moss Point, and formerly Gautier, they are in the mix.  (Two Dogan & Wilkinson partners split to form their own firm, Bordis & Danos. Josh Danos continues to represent the City of Gautier.)

What is ironic is that at the center of the cities’ push for openness and transparency at the JCUA is the same firm that has fought it and profited from it at Singing River: Dogan & Wilkinson.

 

 

 

Swiss Cheese Chronicles: Nailing Down a Sequence of Events

With all of the responses in to the Mississippi Supreme Court, it’s time to start sorting out what exactly happened.  The responses are lacking, but we endeavor to distill truth and fact from what has been presented to the Court.  They have a tremendous undertaking before them.

We first wish to understand the sequence of events at the meeting.  There are two different versions of this.  Judge Hilburn’s story follows the pattern A – B – C while almost everyone else follows the pattern A – C – B.  The below statements are verbatim excerpts from each response; we have only removed sentences or phrases that were not pertinent to the sequence of events.

Judge Hilburn:

  • A – I immediately told them there would be no discussion of any state court matters.
  • B – I inquired as to the status of the federal court litigation;
  • C – I told those present they would not need to appear at the Jackson County Courthouse the next day, that I had prepared an email temporarily staying the state court litigation and canceling the hearing scheduled at 9:00 the next day.

Sessoms & Williams:

  • A – Judge Hilburn subsequently arrived, and again it was mentioned that there would be no discussion about the Chancery Court cases.
  • B – Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Jim Reeves, who represents clients in the Jones litigation, but not in the Almond litigation […] discussed the Jones Federal Court litigation.
  • C -Judge Hilburn announced he was staying all proceedings pending the Federal Court litigation. He also said that he was cancelling the hearing set for 9:00 AM the next day.

Incredibly, Sessoms & Williams response differs from their earlier response to the Court on behalf of SRHS.  In that version, Judge Hilburn announced the stay at the beginning of the meeting and not at the end.  It appears Sessoms & Williams sequence of events changed after having the benefit of  Judge Hilburn’s statement. See below. Continue reading

Swiss Cheese Chronicles: Sua Sponte or on Motion of the Parties?

In reading the responses to the Miss. Supreme Court, the phrase “missing the forest for the trees” springs to mind.  It seems that all parties involved have become so focused on the competing federal and chancery cases, they forget the underlying and undeniable facts.  Subsequent to the ex parte hearing, six separate orders were entered in the Almond and Lay cases.  These are orders that were a result of action taken at the January 12 meeting.

  1. Order Granting Motion to Intervene by Special Fiduciary
  2. Order Authorizing Special Fiduciary Trustee to Enter into Settlement and Release
  3. Order Authorizing Payment of Special Fiduciary Fees
  4. Order Approving Invoice for Payment by Parties
  5. Order Approving Fees and Expenses of Charles J. Mikhail
  6. E-mail order staying all cases and cancelling hearings

These are facts that are not in dispute. Some lawyers are now making claims which fly in the face of facts and the record of the court. Continue reading

Supremes to Hilburn: Explain Your Stay

The Mississippi Supreme Court today ordered Judge Breland Hilburn to explain his reasoning for entering a stay in the Almond case.  Judge Hilburn has until noon Wednesday to file his response.

Filing responses today were former SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor, SRHS attorneys Kelly Sessoms and Brett Williams, and Jackson County attorney Billy Guice.

The responses of Special Master Britt Singletary, Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson, along with plaintiffs’ attorneys Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer are due tomorrow.

Order to Judge Hilburn
Response of Billy Guice
Response of Sessoms & Williams
Response of Scott Taylor

Timeline of Ex Parte Meeting

Billy Guice entered Singletary’s office at 2:26 p.m. Guice is alone with Singletary for 52 minutes until 3:18 p.m. when Scott Taylor arrives.

  • 2:26  Billy Guice arrives
  • 3:18  Scott Taylor arrives
  • 3:24  Jim Reeves & Matt Mestayer arrive
  • 3:27  Kelly Sessoms & Brett Williams arrive
  • 3:28  Breland Hilburn arrives
  • 3:37  Steve Simpson arrives
  • 4:04  Everyone begins to leave
  1. Billy Guice represents a non-party to the Lay case
  2. Billy Guice represents a defendant in the Almond case
  3. Singletary is Special Master in the Almond Case
  4. Billy Guice was in Singletary’s office 52 minutes before the next party, Scott Taylor, arrived
  5. Scott Taylor sits on the board of SRHS, also a defendant in the Almond case

If counsel for non-parties to Lay were invited to this conference, surely counsel for KPMG would have been as well. Maybe someone at Brunini or Sutherland can inform us.