He who ignores the doofusses is bound to become one
Expanded from the 8-5-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Reprinted in the 8-8-2001 Carson City Nevada Appeal
Updated 6-19-2006 and 9-21-2007
"Buy 'em the book and they chew on the corners," observes one of my wife's favorite sayings.
I'm going to send that quote to the Carson City supervisors who are currently committing the same catastrophes Sparks and Reno did 20 years ago.
Is there some law I don't know about which bars learning from the mistakes of the doofusses next door?
The capital city fathers just voted to privatize Carson-Tahoe Hospital. They had been whipped into a fearful frenzy by rumored incursions from Washoe Medical Center which recently bought a choice chunk of Carson real estate.
Had the Washoe County Commission not been so compliantly corrupt in 1985, neither county would be in its current fix.
Despite the warnings of the late Orland T. Outland (who formerly sat on the Nevada Health Systems Agency and wrote for this newspaper), Washoe County officials in 1985 voted to hand our county hospital over to its current ownership, an empire-building non-profit corporation.
PICKETING AGAINST THE PRINGLE WAY PIRATE SHIP (Reno, 6-23-2001) Striking nurses picket Washoe Medical Center. The hospital paid millions to bring in strikebreakers and union busters but locked out its own nursing staff.
The bandidos in charge pulled some slick maneuvers and made themselves very rich in the process. For about $3 million, they acquired assets worth up to $134 million in 1985 dollars.
They took advantage of a law intended to assist single-hospital rural communities keep their health services open. They perverted that statute to facilitate the giveaway of the venerable Reno facility.
Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves from the Pringle Way pirate ship argued that paying for the health care of the indigent would bankrupt the county.
The hospital had always made a profit but the fix was in, so that specious argument was used as "evidence" that something needed to be done.
As a specially empaneled grand jury found in 1995, by fast-tracking the process and tightly controlling information in the exclusive possession of the hospital administration, they were able to pull off their coup.
They originally said they would take responsibility for indigent care off the county's hands. You and I are still paying for it today.
Now-Washoe Justice Court Judge Ed Dannan, then a Washoe County deputy district attorney, personally intervened in the contract writing and took out the portions about indigent care. All of this is contained in the grand jury report which apparently has never found its way 30 miles south in six years.
Using the incursion of the Washoe Med behemoth as a bogey-man, Carson-Tahoe administrators got the Carson City supervisors to hand over the hospital. Indigent care was once again the issue and the sticking point.
From press reports, they may have made progress toward solving it. The new owners are apparently willing to pay for indigent care well into the future "as long as the hospital makes a modest profit." (Carson City Nevada Appeal, 7-20-2001)
"Isn't that an oxymoron for a non-profit?" Mayor Ray Masayko asked.
Not at all. Read on. But given the Dannan experience, Hizzoner would do well to remember that the devil is in the details and that you can't always trust your own lawyer.
One parallel has already come true. Almost immediately after the privatization decision, oh-poor-us Carson-Tahoe announced that it would be building palatial new quarters in which to operate at a substantial cost to ratepayers and taxpayers.
On KTVN TV-2 news last week, hospital administrator Ed Epperson questioned why Carson-Tahoe's rates should remain 40 percent below those of Washoe Med!
Déjà vu all over again: "The people of Washoe County were promised reduced patient costs, more efficient and effective health care delivery and deliverance from the financial doom that was predicted," the grand jury stated.
Instead, we got the behemoth conglomerate now known as Washoe Health System, a super-profitable non-profit empire, the sixth-largest employer in the county.
"It is clear to the Grand Jury that WHS's mission since the transfer in 1985 has been to utilize its tax-exempt status to accumulate and shelter great earnings and allow them to be poured back into various aspects of the WHS conglomerate being developed, rather than any concentration on reducing patient care costs as was represented to the public and the Nevada Legislature in 1985," the Grand Jury stated.
I printed a series in this paper in 1995 and made the Grand Jury report available at area copy centers. Hundreds were purchased.
I have posted a summary of these issues over the past several months at NevadaLabor.com/ (Editor's note: Use the search engine and see how many times "Washoe Med" comes up.)
The transfer of Washoe Med was discussed to some degree in Carson City, but apparently nothing sunk in.
Now, the Carson-Tahoe empire begins because capital city pols had the book but chose to chew on the corners. [UPDATE: Carson City responds to this column.]
CAPITAL INDIGESTION, PART DEUX. Sparks and Reno, like other growing Nevada cities, lust after increased sales tax revenue. They have no choice. The gambling industry has reached the point of diminishing returns.
As proved by a state study posted at NevadaLabor.com, the increasing creation of low-wage gambling jobs forces government to expand to take up the slack. (See the Barbwire of 9-19-99.)
Despite the casino-fostered myth of low taxation, Nevadans pay a laundry list of hidden taxes and fees on a par with much larger states. (Actually, part of the myth is true. Nevada casinos do enjoy low taxes, the lowest gross gaming tax in the world.)
Worried about losing Wal-Mart's $1 million in annual sales tax revenue to neighboring Douglas County, Carson supervisors are seriously considering sale of their fairgrounds and adjoining Fuji Park if a big box retailer is willing to come in. Wal-Mart recently announced that it may build a new store in east Carson anyway, perhaps making the issue moot. But the town fathers are moving ahead with plans to kill the open space.This comes despite a bond issue passed by the voters to avoid just such an occurrence.
Reno and Sparks have long pursued any sales-tax producing development, ignoring expert studies proving that shopping centers and big box stores take more in services than they pay in taxes. Once again, Carson City is refusing to learn from our mistakes.
Wonder if they like ketchup with their books?
GOT A WAL-MART CREDIT CARD? Several who do say when they call with account questions, they find they're dealing with phone representatives in India. Gotta give the blackguards credit for a whole new way to export American jobs.
Be well. Raise hell.
Smoking Guns: Toljaso Dept.The chickens may finally be coming home to roost stay tuned
IRS checking compliance by tax-exempt hospitals
New York Times 6-19-2006
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Carson Tahoe Regional to cut outpatient mental health service
An estimated 600 to 800 people must find new mental health care after Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare announced it is cutting its outpatient mental health service as part of a plan that will eliminate about 50 jobs.... Full Story
Reno Gazette-Journal 6-1-2006
Carson City Nevada Appeal's coverage of the above
The Appeal's absolutely woosy editorial: Hospital cuts mean it's time for community to come together (and admit the privatization was wrong? What?) "Carson City can focus forever on building its tax base, but a community that can't offer basic health care services will never rise above bush league."
Carson-Tahoe cuts more than 50 jobs
Carson City Nevada Appeal 5-31-2006
We don't need no stinking wages!
Nevada Supreme Court prevailing wage decision on Carson-Tahoe Hospital construction may backfire
BARBWIRE Special Internet Edition 3-4-2006
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Copyright © 1982-2005, 2006, 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/
Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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