Alan, first of all, thank for the kind words. I have been reading the blogs on your website and I’m impressed. Whether I agree or disagree with any of them is not the point. The point is, these are the citizens I talk about on the air who “resolve to get involve”. They are the movers, shakers and playmakers who will shape our future. Regardless of each individual’s viewpoint, they are to be commended for taking the time to voice their opinion-on the air or in print.

SB 2718 from the 2006 Legislative Session has gotten the main focus of the Program’s attention in the last couple of days. It’s most interesting to note that around 48 state senators .

Returning to the MHA issue, we are awaiting the official audit through the Freedom of Information Request. As per your request for comment, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to revisit the issue once the audit is delivered.

For the record, some of the key dates and data is posted below from my notes:

1/11/01-SB 2424 was introduced (Sen. Ross was present)
2/21/01-Amend 2424-changed “may” to “shall” (Senator Ross voted “Yea”)
2/27/01-message from Govenor-approved 2424 (Senator Ross present)

SCR 559 in 2000-(Presented by Senator Charlie Ross)
2/21/00-Introduction 559-Died in Committee. Failed to make it to floor for a vote.

SCR 504 in 2001-(Presented by Senator Charlie Ross)
1/3/01-Introduction to 504-Died in Committee. Failed to make it to floor for a vote.

SCR 502 in 2002 -(Presented by Senator Charlie Ross)
1/8-02-Introduction to 502-Died in Committee. Failed to make it to floor for a vote.

Please also note when researching the timeline that The Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) issued Report #431 stating , “In the most egregious case, DOM pays $5 million to the Mississippi Hospital Association annually for a service that neighboring states perform in-house for less than $100,000.00.

In reference to the Opinion that Senator Ross provided me, (Opinion ID: 95-049-E) from the MS Ethics Commission, please note the word “negotiating”. .

1. A shareholder in a law firm elected to the state legislature and/or the firm may represent a private company in negotiating a contract on behalf of the private company with the state or any agency of the state when the firm’s fee arrangement is not contingent upon the success of negotiating the contract or the terms of the contract. I was informed this was a 1995 Opinion.

I mentioned other Opinions issued by the MS Ethics Commission that raise additional questions such as the following that was a recent as February 2, 2007.

Opinion No. 07-007-E
No public servant may use his position in government to benefit himself or any “business with which he is associated,” as proscribed in Section 25-4-105(1), Miss. Code of 1972. As the requestor points out, public servants are sometimes obliged to recuse themselves in compliance with this restriction. Therefore, the requestor, if elected, will be required to recuse himself from any matter coming before the Legislature, whether before an entire chamber or in committee, which would benefit his firm or any of its clients. Furthermore, he must also recuse himself from any bond related matter, which might benefit his firm at that time or in the future, whether the measure is before an entire chamber or in committee.

A total and complete recusal requires that the legislator not only avoid debating, discussing or taking action on the subject during official sessions, meetings or deliberations, but also avoid discussing the subject matter with legislative staff or any other person. This includes casual comments, as well as detailed discussions, made in person, by telephone or by any other means. An abstention or vote of “present” is considered a vote with the majority and is not a recusal. Furthermore, the record of the action or minutes of the meeting should state the recusing member left the chamber or room before the matter came before the public body and did not return until after the vote or was absent for the vote on that matter.” This Opinion was issued by Tom Hood, Ex. Director and Chief Counsel.

I do hope this provides some clarification in an otherwise complicated story to cover. As journalist, we should note lose the big picture that a state’s legislature passed a law that required the taxpayers pay MHA $5 million dollars the first year for a job that (PEER Report) other states were doing for less than $100,000.)

Editor’s Note – Paul Gallo was invited to respond in writing to his accusations against State Senator and Lt. Governor Candidate Charlie Ross. This article was printed unedited and in its entirety. Links were added for ease of use.