The Jackson Public School District has no records or invoices for professional services that were provided during the $118 million refinancing of bonds that took place in 2015. The District paid $1.2 million in fees to lawyers, financial advisers, and other parties to conduct the transaction. The same issue only generated nearly $550,000 in fees when it was sold back in 2007. JJ tried to obtain the invoices for the professional service fees through a public records request. However, JPS claimed it had no copies of invoices or other records for such services. Earlier post.
These professional services fees were associated with the refinancing:
Jackson Public Schools 2015 General Obligation Bonds refinance: $118,070,000
Mississippi Development Bank (Issuer): $42,500
Balch & Bingham (Issuer Counsel): $30,000
Malachi Financial Products (Financial Adviser): $328,500
Trustmark (Trustee): $9,250
Chambers & Gaylor (Bond Counsel): $295,750
S&P (Ratings Agency): $63,000
Arbitrage Group (Verification): $6,000
Hunton & Williams (Special Tax Counsel, ATL): $197,500
Betty Mallet (Co-underwriter counsel): $112,500
Baker Donelson (Co-underwriter counsel): $142,140
Image Master (POS fees): $6,684
TOTAL FEES: $1,233,824
$114,000 General Obligation Bonds for JPS (2008)
Mississippi Development Bank (Issuer): $70,000
Dorian Turner (Bond Counsel): $243,813
Balch & Bingham (Issuer Counsel): $25,000
Trustmark (Trustee): $3,604
Baker Donelson (Co-underwriter counsel): $75,320
Community Capital (Financial Adviser): $65,800
Image master (POS, printing): $3,448
Moody's (Ratings): $22,230
Spence Flatguard (state bond attorney): $1,000
Jones Financial Services (Financial Adviser): $28,200
TOTAL FEES: $538,416
Remember these fees the next time the school board wants to raise your taxes but back to the invoices.
JJ submitted a public records request on January 19 to JPS attorney Joanne Sheperd Nelson for copies of the professional services invoices, cash flow, and other projections for the same bond issue. JJ never received the records.
Ms. Nelson said in two emails when questioned about the status:
Hi Kingfish. Please be advised that the District does not have the complete records in its possession to answer your request. However, it has requested final records from its Financial Advisor, Porter Bingham, regarding this transaction and they are expected soon. Thank you. (January 26)
I sent another email to Ms. Nelson on March 2:
It is now well past the statutory deadline for the public records I requested. Although I am sure Mr. Bingham is in possession of some documents, there are still documents in the possession of JPS such as invoices for professional services on the school bond refinance. I've attached a recent Ethics Commission opinion about JSU's use of similar delay tactics to provide the records.Please let me know what records are in your possession and available. Please notify me at this email address what the applicable fees are as well.
Ms. Nelson replied:
It is my understanding that we don't have any invoices. They were handled by the FA and turned over to the paying agent. We are not trying to delay; we don't have the requested records. When we get them, we will give them to you as I have said several times. Thanks.
In other words, the Jackson Public School District refinances $118 million in bonds and pays out $1.2 MILLION in fees to its cronies yet has no records of their invoices or payments. Dereliction of duty, anyone? The paying agent and financial adviser seem to think they are above the public records laws. JJ was able to obtain from JPS such invoices on earlier bond deals but for some reason the District does not have the invoices for this particular transaction. Can't imagine why. Stay tuned, this fight is not over.