Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. has been selected to advise the Jindal administration on privatizing a major health insurance plan for state employees and their dependents.
The Office of Group Benefits provides health plans for nearly a quarter million Louisiana residents. Morgan Keegan was the low bidder among three firms — Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital were also in the running. MK will earn $900,000 to help determine whether privatizing the PPO portion of OGB would be fiscally advantageous to the state. The OGB is running a half billion dollar surplus, one of the main reasons Jindal’s push to privatize the agency ran afoul of lawmakers during the recent legislative session. The plan has also run into stiff opposition from the Retired State Employees Association.
Capitol News Service’s Tom Aswell weighed in on the controversy, pointing out, among other things, the role two of the firms — Morgan Keegan and Goldman Sachs — had in the near collapse of the U.S. economy, and the twisted relationships among Morgan Keegan, it’s corporate parent, Regions Financial Corp., and Goldman Sachs. Regions, according to a Reuters report, is considering selling Morgan Keegan, and hired Goldman Sachs to explore “strategic opportunities of such a sale:
[W]hat we have is this incredibly incestuous tangle whereby the Jindal administration has hired Morgan Keegan to explore the possible sale of OGB even as Regions has retained Goldman Sachs to explore the possible sale of Morgan Keegan even though Goldman Sachs less than a year ago was fined $587 million over claims that the bank misled investors in collateralized debt obligations linked to subprime mortgages.
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DEC 20 The Robertson family is playing hardball in their dispute with A&E, the network that airs the wildly profitable "reality" show about their family, Duck Dynasty. Patriarch Phil Robertson was suspended by the network after GQ printed an interview with him that contained his (unedited) comments about gay and black folks. Here's a link to their statement, in which they say they can't imagine the show without papa and announcing that they are in negotiations with A&E about the future of the show.
DEC 20 Blogger Robert Mann (also a journalism prof at LSU and thus an authority on the First Amendment) says something in this post of which a lot of Fox News anchors and internet trolls should take heed: the Constitution says you have freedom of speech. It does not say you can't face consequences for what you say. He also takes a look at what our governor has to say -- and ole Bobby had to drag Miley Cyrus into it.
DEC 20 Blogger Tom Aswell says Governor Bobby Jindal has now had more to say about the comments a "reality" star made about gay and black people than he has had to say about the problems in his own voucher program or the sinkhole in Bayou Corne. In fact, Tom points out, Bobby's all over the Phil Robertson "issue" like "a duck on a June bug."
DEC 20 Here's an interesting post from blogger Katie East in DIG Magazine about celebrity passings. She understands why so many would be sad because of Mandela's passing -- he was an international figure, a political figure, an activist. But there is similar wailing following the passing of people who may not have had the same impact, she says -- like the guy who starred in the Fast and Furious movies. She wants to know: why is that?
DEC 20 Columnist James Gill writes about Louisiana's embattled voucher program in this post. Just because a child attends a private school does not mean he's going to get a good education, Gill writes. Gov. Jindal likes to say the program helps kids get a great education, but whether it does that is open to "considerable doubt," Gill writes.
DEC 20 Gambit's Clancy DuBos writes about the NOLA mayor's race in this post. For a while, it was assumed that it would be a quiet one, given the amount of money Mitch has in the bank. But at the last minute, a (possibly) formidable candidate threw his hat in the ring. The question is, Clancy says, why?
DEC 20 In Louisiana's education system, the state takes over a school that is designated as "failing." The assumption is, that's a good thing and will produce improvement. But is that the case? Blogger Mike Deshotels takes a look at how takeovers perform in one area of testing, the ACT.
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