Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

A Sign of Courage or Weakness? Tyree's Reprimand Cuts Sharp Division

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

A Sign of Courage or Weakness? Tyree's Reprimand Cuts Sharp Division

Article excerpt

Though Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin says the State Insurance Fund's reprimand of Commissioner Terry Tyree had "a lot of backbone," lone dissenter Harry Rosengrants charges the move lacked moxie.

"I've lost confidence in the commissioner's ability to run the agency the way it should be run," Rosengrants said Wednesday.

In a late executive session Tuesday, the SIF board voted 7-1 to issue a confidential letter of reprimand against Tyree, whose agency has been embroiled in a 14-month scandal involving the reorganization of the $747 million workers compensation insurance provider. "The letter of reprimand wasn't commensurate" with Tyree's performance, Rosengrants said. But Fallin, who has served on the board since 1995, said the board acted courageously in evaluating Tyree. "The board itself had a lot of backbone in taking the action it took over the last month," Fallin said. "It took a lot of backbone not to cave in to pressure from the public, pressure from the media and innuendo." Questions regarding Tyree's performance emerged amid the scandal surrounding the SIF's controversial reorganization, which resulted in Tyree's firing of about 140 employees, including 20 in-house attorneys. As part of the reorganization, third-party administrators, or TPAs, were hired to handle thousands of files for the SIF -- a quasi- state agency providing workers compensation insurance to about 23,000 employers in Oklahoma. Board members, in calling for the commissioner's job review, claimed Tyree had not fully apprised them of costs for outsourcing of files. Fallin said board members believed outstanding bills for those files equaled $7,000 when they instead totaled $2.6 million. "There have been some mistakes made as far as judgment and management," Fallin said. In October, a multicounty grand jury issued a 17-count indictment against a consultant in the reorganization, John Yoder, for allegedly taking nearly $150,000 in bribes and false claims. Yoder's job was to distribute claimants' files to TPAs. Seven executives from TPAs also were indicted after the yearlong grand jury proceeding. But charges against one executive with Lindsey Morden Claims Management were dismissed last month after an Oklahoma County district judge ruled SIF funds are not public funds. …

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