“We don’t have a deal”

August 16, 2011

The Jefferson County Commission met last Friday to decide if they would accept a proposed settlement from creditors led by JP Morgan on their $3 billion of sewer debt. After many hours of meeting in executive session and in public, the Commission voted to reject the proposal, remove the court appointed receiver and directly negotiate with the creditors.

I watched the live webcast of the meeting and it was actually one of the most open and informed county commission meetings that I’ve ever seen. I give the Commissioners a lot of credit for their efforts to clean up a problem which they did not create. In the meeting there was a lot of indignation against JP Morgan and their role in burdening the county with several billion dollars of derivatives. Several Commissioners felt especially that there had been fraud in these transactions and were not willing to release their right to sue JP Morgan and other banks for these problems. There were also calls for increased transparency in the process. There was a lot of drama in the meeting.

The drama was only heightened when county commissioner, T. Joe Knight, saw a message on his mobile device in the middle of the meeting that said the Wall Street Journal was running a headline announcing that an agreement had been reached. You can see the video of Commissioner Knight above shouting, “We don’t have a deal”. When I clicked over to the WSJ.com the paper was running a story that quoted the state finance director and said that the Commission had accepted the proposal although the Commission had not yet voted. The Wall Street Journal eventually yanked the false story and replaced it with this account which makes their error seem less odious:

As Friday’s closed-door meeting was ending, an Alabama official sent out an email to a reporter saying that commissioners “appear to have a conceptual agreement in place for settlement.” After reading Wall Street Journal headlines about the announcement, commissioner Joe Knight threw down his mobile device, saying: “We don’t have a deal.”

Here is the Twitter thread:

Cate Long cate_long Cate Long

Source? RT @WSJ: Breaking: Jefferson County is expected to reach an agreement with creditors to avoid filing for bankruptcy.http://wsj.com
Cate Long Knight: “Wall Street Journal has already reported we have a deal, ” he shouts, “we don’t have a deal yet. We are going to represent people.”

Cate Long Mark this front page reporting –> WSJ: “The commission is expected to announce the agreement Friday afternoon.”on.wsj.com/IYK20

Cate Long WSJ yanks incorrect story. Replaces w/ –> Alabama County Rejects Creditor Plan but Delays Bankruptcy Decision on.wsj.com/oZgGxw #muniland



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Cate, I enjoy reading your blog each day. It helps me keep up with current issues in the municipal market.


Posted by AndySpeight | Report as abusive

Thanks Andy. That is very kind of you.

Posted by Cate Long | Report as abusive