Thursday, March 19, 2015

Singing River to public: Screw you.

One would think that the Singing River Board of Trustees might be a little bit more forthcoming after all of the problems and controversy that has plagued the health system over the last six month.  Such is not the case as the board said the public has no right to look at their financial records.  That's right.  The public has no right to look at the public records of a public hospital.  The Sun-Herald reported yesterday:

Singing River Health System refuses to release records that show how retirement plan funds have been invested, even though its own annual audit says the records are available to the public on request.

It is impossible to say how investments might have affected the retirement plan's health -- it is only about 48 percent funded, according to CEO Kevin Holland -- without access to plan financial statements.

The Sun Herald emailed a request March 9 to SRHS general counsel Celeste Oglesby and communications director Richard Lucas for retirement plan financial statements from 2006-2014, omitting the year 2010-2011 because the newspaper found that statement online.....
Her written response said SRHS has "no legal obligation to release such information to the Sun Herald" because the public records law exempts the documents from disclosure.

She also said SRHS, which is owned by Jackson County, could not release the records because they are the subject of litigation.

 Henry Laird, a Gulfport attorney who has represented the Sun Herald in public access cases, said:
"I disagree that the requested financial records are exempt under Mississippi's Public Records Act. The exemption the hospital relies upon to deny the public's learning what has happened to the retirement plan was amended to make the requested records 'public records'," Laird said.

"I also disagree with the hospital's position that the requested financial records are exempt under the act since they are now involved in litigation regarding the retirement plan. Records which were initially created by a public body in the ordinary course of its business do not morph into something other than "public records" if they happen to be subsequently used in litigation."

In a similar case, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources denied the Sun Herald access to business records, saying they were part of a criminal investigation. The records law exempts some investigative records from disclosure. The Sun Herald prevailed in a lawsuit, when Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel found that, despite the fact that investigators had examined the records, they remained records produced in the normal course of DMR's business and were public records.  Rest of article.

Kingfish note: Dear Singing River: Pulling this little stunt while the legislature is discussing the bill to open up your records is not exactly the brightest thing to do. 

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Anonymous said...

If nobody goes to jail down there, somebody blew it.

Anonymous said...

I guess they all subscribe to the notion that "the best defense is a good offense".

This might prove to be an unfortunate strategy during sentencing.

noel said...

Who do they think they are? Hillary? Obama? I don't think that strategy will fly for them.

Anonymous said...

Noel, they think they are Haley Barbour.

Anonymous said...

Noel, You just don't understand the "Gulf Coast" mindset. They are in a completely different world down there and think that the rules don't apply to them. The trouble is, many times they (the rules) don't.

Anonymous said...

9:56 -
I'm surprised the coast hasn't tried to form their own state.

Anonymous said...

The law is the law and no one gives out information not legally required to.The law should be changes or leave Singing River alone.

John Pittman Hey said...

I thought that under current law, records of hospitals are generally exempt from the Public Records Act.

Last time I checked, only the minutes of the Board of Trustees, and any records or reports delivered to the city or county owners, are non-exempt.

So I don't understand how this lawsuit got started.

I'm all for changing the law to make publicly-owned hospital records subject to the Public Records Act, but right now they are not.

Anonymous said...

And the same CEO that was in charge during that time is now sitting at the helm of Baptist Health Systems in Jackson. Why isn't he in deep shit?

Anonymous said...

Members of private defined benefit programs are entitled to examine all the records of the plan.

Is there such a thing as a "public" defined benefit program or do all fall under the same rules?

A member(either active or retired) of the plan could file a complaint with the US Labor Department. I suspect a copy of the financials would be forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

12:50 - fine Christian gentlemen protect other fine Christian gentlemen. One of the reasons this state bounces between 50th & 51st.

(In case anyone mistakes this for an anti-Christian comment, ponder whether Jesus or Paul could have ever been mistaken for "fine Christian gentlemen.")

Anonymous said...

5:24 Uh, Jesus was a Jew.

As that famed theologician, Yogi Berra, would put it: "You can look it up".

Anonymous said...

this statement, with regard to the pension plan, is in every Singing River Audit. It's their own words about the documents they now claim are not public:

"The plan issues a publicly available financial report that includes the applicable financial statements and required supplementary information. The report may be obtained at the Health System's offices."

Anonymous said...

@ 12:53

Mississippi #1 in corruption! Stop asking questions you aren't allowed to!

That statement is just there, that doesn't mean it is operative when the SHTF. Got a problem with sh*t they say but don't do?

Contact the SRHS Chief Compliance Officer.

Or contact the SRHS Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel.

Just don't engage in any "unbridled speculation fueled by bloggers and an uninformed public." (!)

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