Update, 3:15 p.m., Wednesday:
The Jefferson Parish Council approved rehiring the outside consultant who helped them secure a deal to lease a parish-owned hospital in Marrero to a private operator — while openly butting heads with some Parish Council members along the way.
Joshua Nemzoff will be guaranteed $275,000 for seven months of work, helping the parish complete a checklist of administrative tasks that had to be finished after the nearly $600 million deal for New Orleans’ LCMC Health to lease West Jefferson Medical Center closed Oct. 1. The parish has the option of retaining Nemzoff for another three months for $75,000.
While some of the council members who clashed with Nemzoff balked at the $1 million in fees he charged Jefferson before the hospital deal closed, others praised the consultant for getting the parish more than a half-billion dollars of value from the financially ailing West Jefferson.
Jefferson Parish officials may soon renew their relationship with an outside consultant who helped them secure a nearly $600 million deal to lease a parish-owned hospital in Marrero to a private operator — and repeatedly clashed with some Parish Council members in the process.
Joshua Nemzoff submitted the lone response after the parish announced it was seeking someone to help it with a checklist of administrative tasks that had to be completed after the deal for New Orleans’ LCMC Health to lease West Jefferson Medical Center closed Oct. 1.
An evaluation committee met briefly Monday to review Nemzoff’s statement of qualifications and then voted to find him qualified to perform the work. The Parish Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to endorse that decision.
If the council votes to hire Nemzoff, he would be guaranteed $275,000 for seven months of work. The parish would have the option of retaining him for another three months for $75,000.
Although the deal to lease West Jefferson — in return for $200 million in rental fees, $340 million in capital improvements and as much as $50 million in other payments — closed in the fall, many issues remain unresolved.
They include employee benefits issues, adjustments to various dollar figures associated with the deal and payment to the parish for patients who were in the hospital when the agreement closed.
Nemzoff, Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee and Deputy Parish Attorney Edward Rapier all were deeply involved in the complex lease negotiations. None, though, is around anymore.
Nemzoff’s contract expired hours before the lease deal officially closed. Foshee and Rapier left parish government after Mike Yenni succeeded John Young as parish president in January.
As a result, the parish was left without an expert on the deal, said Councilman Paul Johnston, whose district includes the hospital. Johnston therefore proposed seeking outside experts to help, and the council approved the idea last month.
Judging from the measure’s language, though, no more than a handful of companies nationwide could meet the minimum requirements for the work.
To be considered, applicants needed to have seven years of experience negotiating hospital sales and leases and to have “performed as lead in at least three merger and acquisitions transactions of hospitals including oversight of post-closing management, with at least one ... being valued in excess of $100 million,” the measure said.
In his response, Nemzoff said he has almost 40 years of experience in his field and has run his own company since 1993. That company had been involved with 250 hospital mergers and acquisitions totaling more than $13 billion, he said.
“You may think that your situation is unique,” Nemzoff wrote in his response. “But there is nothing that is happening in relation to this situation that we have not seen many times before.”
Johnston said he was thrilled Nemzoff was interested in working with the parish again.
“We got a good deal for the hospital because of his assistance,” Johnston said. “Who is better to do this?”
But councilmen Chris Roberts and Elton Lagasse — who has since left office — balked at the $1 million in fees Nemzoff charged the parish for his work, and they questioned whether his invoices were detailed enough to justify his billings.
Things deteriorated so much that Roberts blocked Nemzoff from emailing him, saying he didn’t want emails he received from the consultant to be billable to the parish.
Nemzoff, meanwhile, purchased a newspaper ad alleging that decisions by the hospital’s CEO, Roberts and Lagasse had cost the taxpayers money.
Roberts said Monday that he would push for whatever consultant is hired to be subject to rigid billing guidelines and a clear command structure.
Nemzoff declined to comment Monday. But he pointed out last year that he initially proposed a flat fee that was almost $400,000 cheaper than his final bill under the hourly rate the parish put him on after parish Inspector General David McClintock criticized the flat-fee arrangement.