Monday, June 27, 2005

Money Money Money…

It’s big money and bad idea time again. County and medical center budget time. The good news is the medical center is in decent financial shape; the bad news is Cambio Healthcare Solutions wrote the budget. They froze the hiring of caregivers again, so we’ll be using overtime and travelers in the many short-staffed departments. They need to keep cash available so they can hire more friends into fat executive positions and for legal fees.

Cambio got the medical center into what looks like a very long, very expensive legal battle with the psychiatrists and their union. The private contractor who wants the contract, the shrinks, and many of our temporary executives will all be deposing each other, meeting and conferring and generally building up more bad feelings and legal fees. Meanwhile, back at John George Psychiatric Pavilion, patients continue to back up in the psychiatric emergency area to dangerous levels and we don’t have enough permanent or temporary staff to care for them. Way to go Cambio!

So, this budget undoubtedly hides more than it reveals and the more eyes on it and our trusty trustees the better.

So the big budget meeting’s Tuesday, June 28th in Classroom A, Highland Hospital. They won’t tell us the time yet, but I’m sure the Sheriff knows. Just give the Sheriff a call or show up around 5:30 and wait with the rest of us.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Jolly Jury and The Sweet Smell of Snark

Here we go again. The Grand Jury is putting out its final report on the medical center this week. Will they correct all the factual errors? Will they tone down the anti-union rhetoric? And will they give Sheriff Plummer the credit he deserves for doing most of the thinking for the jury?

No, I doubt it, you see most people don’t get to be grand jurors; these are rich people, political players. These are insiders in the Alameda County Democratic machine. They hire lots of non-union workers to take care of their kids, their kitchens and their cats, and then they complain about the poor quality of hired help. They support civil rights, workers rights and a service or two for the poor, but in tough economic times their inner Republican comes out. They want to close the hospitals, beef up the prisons and grease the right palms. So, expect more of the same, sloppy thinking, right wing ideological rant, and pointless prose.

Imperial Cheese

This is the most embarrassing use of public funds that I’ll ever seen. Did they get Carmela Soprano to design this website? Be sure you have the sound on your computer turned on, you need the music to get the full effect.

Click here to see you tax dollars at work:
Imperial Cheese

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Dirt Stands Corrected

County Supervisor Nate Miley’s charming staff pointed out that their violence prevention program will not be overseen by the Sheriff and that it is a sincere attempt to consolidate and coordinate these services in order to make them more accessible to county residents. The Sheriff just gave his enthusiastic and heartfelt support, he won’t be gaining turf or influence through this proposal. In fairness, Supervisor Miley has strongly supported the medical center since he came into office. He championed Measure “A”, he appointed Dr. Floyd Huen to the Authority Board (Dr. Huen and Dr. Rose are often the lone voices of reason) and he visits the medical center and talks to patients and staff.

Historically Supervisor Carson has been the main supporter of coordinated and compassionate healthcare on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Carson’s leadership helped get the new clinic and critical care building funded and built. Supervisor Haggerty, the only Republican on the Board, has also supported sane and sensible healthcare policy in Alameda County. He remains one of the most reasonable, honest and balanced voices on the Board.

The super chicks, Alice Lai-Bitker and Gail Steele have been the worst. Gail Steele because of her tireless passion for punishment. Gail promotes herself as a child advocate, she just, sniff sniff, wants to do something for our kids. That’s why she’s fought tirelessly and ferociously for a bigger better juvenile prison. It’s her legacy, a huge kiddy-jail, way to go Gail! I know my children are excited about it. The Supes are so invested in prisons they even have a web cam so you can check the prison construction progress at any time day or night:

If we could only get the Supes as excited about libraries, schools or hospitals. As for Alice well, who knows, does she care about anything? Is she an empty power suit, nylons and pumps? And when Alice and Gail get together to discuss healthcare what do they talk about, pedicures?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mr. Scambio: A Poem

Mister Cambio? He’s a Scambio!

He came here 18 months ago,
But little did we know,
That Mr. Cambio was a Scambio!

He came to help us ‘turn around’,
But put us deeper in the ground!
That Mister Cambio, what a Scambio!

They said he was a real smart dude,
But it just seems we’re getting screwed
By that Scambio, Mr. Cambio!

Like a used car salesman he smiles,
Racking up the frequent-flyer miles!
That traveling Scambio, Mr. Cambio!

He stole our money and he lied,
Now he’s going to run and hide!
What a Scambio, Mr. Cambio!

He’s runnin’ back to Tennessee,
Fooled nobody but the B-O-T!
That sneaky Scambio, Mr. Cambio!

If our Sheriff’s worth the tax we pay,
He’d arrest Mr. Cambio and lock him away!
No bail for Scambios, Mr. Cambio!

And after all is said and done,
We’ll be right back where we started from!
So where’s the ‘Cambio’, Mr. Scambio?

An SEIU UHW member.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Follow the Money

I’m talking here about the County money, not the Measure A money. It’s Alameda County budget time; get ready for some fancy footwork, excuses, hand wringing, charts, huge stacks of unreadable reports and self-important bureaucrats acting officious.

So get involved, its gonna be fun, you got to keep your eye on these guys or they’ll close all the schools, hospitals and libraries and build huge multi-use prisons. They don’t call it prisons, courts and cops; they call it “public safety” it’s great spin. Investing heavily in crime and punishment does not make us safer.

Shoot, Supervisor Miley’s pushing to put the Sheriff in charge of violence prevention. Yeah, why pay experts who work for lean focused non-profits, when you can pay prison guards. If current trends continue all county services will be offered out of Santa Rita Prison. Prisons have the infrastructure, the money and the political support.

Don’t give up, politicians are wimps, weenies and whiners, they’ll do the right thing if you make them.

So here’s the link to a site with a budget overview, and stay tuned, low-budget lobbying is my specialty.

Everybody’s a Winner

Who is Alameda County’s number one public health enemy, do you think you know? Have a good idea? Now’s your chance, the Dirt is currently accepting nominations for the Alameda County Enemies of Public Health Competition. All companies, boards, juries, persons, and politicians working in Alameda County are eligible, locals only. State and federal officials are being omitted, the Dirt recognizes that the Governor’s a public health menace and that State Senator Perata is probably dirtier than Delay, but this contest will focus locally on Alameda County and highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. Get your nominations in now!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Help Wanted – (Part II of Our Continuing Report on the Grand Jury, the DA, the Sheriff and other Snark)

“The medical center is not an employment agency for SEIU (healthcare unions).”
-Sheriff Charles Chainsaw Plummer

The Sheriff did most of the thinking for the Grand Jury report that slams the medical center. Chainsaw Charlie and Deputy DA Stark, use union bashing as sort of a literary theme to hold the report together. The report concludes that the medical center should fire hundreds of lazy union workers, give millions back to the county and thus “save healthcare.”

Chainsaw Charlie and DA Tom Orloff want that Measure " A" money; they feel they’ve earned it. Chainsaw endorsed Measure “A” and Orloff was the Treasurer. That much cash doesn’t come to the county without Tom and Chuck taking a piece. They’ve already cut a deal with the Supes; any cash they squeeze out of other county agencies goes right to them, for “public safety.” This has made libraries; schools and hospitals feel decidedly “unsafe.”

Besides, union bashing, the Grand Jury’s report is remarkable for its uncritical praise for Cambio Healthcare Solutions; in fact the Grand Jury and the Sheriff are the only people in Alameda County who haven’t declared the Cambio consulting deal a complete and expensive failure.

Suppose the hospital implemented the huge service cuts recommended by the Grand Jury, who stands to benefit from the cuts and closures at the medical center: Cambio Healthcare Solutions, the Sheriff and the District Attorney. What’s the common denominator here, clout: they all have so much political clout; they don’t have to worry about facts or public opinion.

The Sheriff has 1,500 employees most of them armed; an ex-sheriff is the Chief of Police for Oakland and the Foreman of the Grand Jury. Retired Deputy Boyer, Grand Jury Foreman is a friend of Deputy DA Stark’s daddy congressman “Pete” Stark.

What about the consultants, well, Cambio’s the ERON of Tennessee. Cambio’s Susan Crutchfield CEO for a second of the medical center sure looks like she’s related to Tennessee’s Senator Crutchfield (he’s getting a lot of attention from the FBI lately).

District Attorney Orloff’s real job is preserving his job; he’s a professional career preservationist. The DA hired Congressman Stark’s son and daughter-in-law, Attorney General Lockyer’s daughter, Congressman Leon Panetta’s kin and many of the sons and daughters of judges in his courts. He’s got so much political capital he’ll be dead and buried and still holding that office.

This is politics after all, its not what you know; its who you know or more precisely, who you hire. The Sheriff is right if the medical center continues to hire people based on their qualifications rather than their “relations” they’re sunk. That’s why the medical center has to begin an aggressive recruitment effort to hire close friends and relatives of important politicians. They need a Senator’s kid or better. If the medical center can bag a Rockefeller or a Kennedy, money might actually flow out of the prisons and into healthcare.