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Editorial Results (free)

1. FedEx Founder Highlights Economic Club Fall Slate -

FedEx founder Fred Smith will make a rare public speaking appearance in Memphis Nov. 6, as part of the fall 2014 lineup of speakers planned for the Economic Club of Memphis.

2. Sullivan Branding Adds Quartet of Hires -

Sullivan Branding has made four hires in its digital, creative and media planning departments, adding a digital analyst, art director, graphic designer and media coordinator.

Daniela Vander Zwiep is Sullivan’s new digital analyst at Sullivan Branding. She will manage measurement of Sullivan clients’ digital campaigns and make recommendations for improvement and optimal return on investment. She has spent more than six years in the digital analysis side of advertising and has experience with web analytics, paid search, search engine marketing, budget management and multi-channel analytics.

3. Investment Firm Gets All Clear From SEC -

Despite getting a formal alert from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2009 that the federal agency might bring a civil enforcement action against the firm, Memphis-based investment firm Consulting Services Group has now been told by an SEC regional office that no such action will be coming.

4. Memphis Investment Firm Gets All-Clear From SEC -

Despite getting a formal alert from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2009 that the federal agency might bring a civil enforcement action against the firm, Memphis-based investment firm Consulting Services Group has now been told by an SEC regional office that no such action will be forthcoming.

5. Paris Trade Pact Comes As Conference Begins -

The Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition begins its three-day run Monday at The Peabody with Memphis and Paris leaders signing a trade pact.

The economic development part of the agreement links businesses around Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport to businesses around Memphis International Airport now and in the future.

6. How to Build a Government in 71 days -

The idea of consolidation is a political perennial in Memphis, but the details of merging Memphis and Shelby County governments are much more elusive.

The Metro Charter Commission’s formation last year represented the most meaningful move toward consolidation in almost 40 years.

7. Consolidated Gov’t to Include New Divisions -

The list of new departments for a consolidated Memphis-Shelby County government continues to grow as the Metro Charter Commission moves a step closer to writing a consolidation charter.

But much debate is to come on the size of the proposed merger government.

8. CSG Sues Over RMK Losses -

A new participant has stepped into the long-running legal fray over why six Morgan Keegan bond funds lost $2 billion between March 2007 and March 2008.

Memphis-based Consulting Services Group, a firm that provides investment advice to Shelby County’s retirement board and other clients, has filed a lawsuit against Memphis-based investment and brokerage firm Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. The asset management arm of Morgan Keegan ran the six funds in question.

9. Fire Protection Latest Issue For Charter Commission -

The Metro Charter Commission has a “project manager” to help meet its tight deadline for a consolidation charter proposal.

The concept is a new one to government undertakings. But at its Thursday meeting, the group agreed to make Lou Etta Burkins, a project manager at FedEx Express, its project manager. The move was suggested by commission Chair Julie Ellis and adopted by the group with no objections.

10. Metro Charter Commission to Choose Chair -

The first order of business today will be selecting a leader. It’s become a familiar note in political daily planners these days.

The Metro Charter Commission holds its first meeting today on the third floor of the Shelby County Courthouse.

11. CSG Still County’s Pension Adviser – for Now -

Undaunted by possible regulatory action against its investment adviser, Shelby County’s retirement board rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have replaced Memphis-based Consulting Services Group as the county’s pension fund adviser.

12. Shelby County Pension Fund Firms In SEC Crosshairs -

Shelby County’s pension fund does business with two Memphis companies that over the past few weeks have come under fire from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC has filed a federal complaint against one of the companies for misleading investors. The SEC has put the other company on notice it intends to begin enforcement action in the near future.

13. SEC Could Bring Enforcement Proceedings to CSG -

At this week’s Shelby County retirement board meeting, board members didn’t appear likely to support any changes to the county’s arrangement with Memphis-based Consulting Services Group, the investment adviser to the county’s pension fund.

It remains to be seen what the effect will be of news about CSG reported by Bloomberg the day after Tuesday’s meeting. CSG was told about a month ago by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission the agency is poised to bring civil charges against the Memphis firm, according to the Bloomberg report.

The SEC sent CSG a Wells Notice, which is a formal alert the federal agency soon will bring a civil enforcement action. Upon receiving the Wells Notice, a firm like CSG would still have a chance to convince representatives of the SEC there’s not enough evidence to bring a case in court.

CSG told the county’s chief administrative officer – who was at this week’s pension board meeting – about the Wells Notice, according to Shelby County mayor A C Wharton Jr. Both Wharton and county CAO Jim Huntzicker knew about the Wells Notice, but neither they nor CSG representatives said anything about it at the meeting.

When asked by one pension board member to elaborate in general on any pending legal action against the firm, CSG co-founder Fred Hodges was blunt.

“We haven’t been charged with anything,” he said.

Hodges added that the company has “never paid as much as a pack of gum to buy an account” and that the company has had three problems with regulators. He did not include the Wells Notice in that list.

Recent critical press coverage of CSG has followed several high profile episodes of late involving the company, including its link to the outer edges of the so-called “pay to play” pension consulting scandal unfolding in New York.

A complaint filed in March by the SEC against two political figures in New York says CSG was approached to pay “what amounted to a kickback demand” to get additional business from New York’s retirement fund.

“I get very emotional about this,” Hodges told the county’s pension board. “The relationship we’ve got down here is very important. How were we to know the New York trustee might be a crook? Or that the chief investment officer might be on the take?”

The day before Bloomberg reported news about the Wells Notice, the county pension board expressed satisfaction with the company and criticized the recent media scrutiny, including an article in the June issue of Forbes magazine titled “Tainted Pension Fund Advice.” That article noted a litany of supposed red flags surrounding CSG’s arrangement with the county.

The general consensus around the table in the mayor’s eighth floor conference room in the County Administration Building was that CSG has served the county well, helped the county’s pension fund perform successfully and that should be what mattered most.

Wharton told the board the group nevertheless will be voting on several items at its August meeting to clear up some lingering questions.

“I still feel there’s a need for the board to have access to a greater level of independent expertise,” Wharton told The Daily News. “I want to go on record on this: performance is not the only indicator. If performance had been the only important barometer, then Bernie Madoff should not be in jail. His investments were performing.”

 

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14. Wharton Sounds Cautionary Note For CSG Pension Management -

• Board says company has performed well

Shelby County’s retirement board doesn’t appear likely to support any changes to the county’s arrangement with Memphis-based Consulting Services Group, the investment adviser to the county’s pension fund.