Thursday, May 29, 2014

Veteran Blues? ~ by Legal Pub

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is facing a great deal of scrutiny.  Shinseki recently published an open statement reaffirming his commitment to restoring integrity to a department plagued with allegation of death resulting from delayed treatments at veterans hospitals. USA Today.  Did the letter offer solutions or simply restate the problem?  The retired U.S. Army four-star general, Shinseki, merely acknowledged the obvious when he said that delayed treatments -- up to 115 days on average at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona -- are "reprehensible." In the spirit of fairness, General Shinseki also said that he is taking action to "implement recommendations" from the inspector general report.
But is that enough?  Merely challenging the leadership to do better seems like an oversimplication of a complex issue.   General, can you be more specific by outlining your proposed action plan?  Either come up with a plan or take Sens. Al Franken (Minn.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and John Walsh (Mont.) recommendation to resign.  It is a legitimate option that injured and sick vets didn't have during the term of their service or now that they are in need of medical care.
President Barack Obama appeared troubled by the OIG report but failed to suggest any recommended course to General Shinseki.  So, Mr. President, do have a suggested action plan? While the general is committed to doing his duty, it is becoming increasingly clear that no one seems to understand what the job requires.  In sum, it requires an action plan and then execution of the plan.  Certainly the general's 38 year Army career required him to outline a battle plan before he had his soldiers charge into enemy fire. So come on, Sir, let's hear your action plan and see your implementation before another of our countries heroes unnecessarily  dies.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Abuse by Unlicensed Professional? ~by Legal Pub

Did an unlicensed professional, lead people to believe he was a medical doctor?   Did this same man run a facility for adolescents with mental illness and drug abuse problems for decades despite complaints to state regulators alleging abuse?  These questions are now being asked about an inpatient treatment center that operated in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, for almost 30 years.
15 civil suits and over 20 complaints to state regulators have been alleged against Adolescent and Family Institute of Colorado (a.k.a. AFIC.) Allegations range from verbal to physical and sexual abuse.  In some cases, fraud has also been alleged against AFIC's president and founder, Alexander Panio Jr.  Apparently, Alexander was not a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist in Colorado. (Panio got a doctorate in psychology in 1979 from a distance-learning school. Its accreditation at the time was not government-approved and it no longer offers PhDs in psychology. Panio did work as a faculty member at Northwestern University from 1972 to 1978.) 
In one civil suit, parents claim their daughter Jessica Palmer "was repeatedly told by AFIC staff that she was a 'bitch,' 'dumb,' and a [expletive]. She was told that her parents didn't love her and that she was the source of all their problems."
The Palmers' lawsuit claims that  "As a result of her experience at AFIC, Jessica Palmer became more depressed, suicidal and filled with self-loathing," Jessica Palmer took her own life in 2012 after leaving AFIC.
Other patient lawsuits allege abuse include sexual misconduct during physical exams.  , such as fondling and measuring genitalia. Complaints of verbal abuse were made to the Colorado Department of Human Services from 1990 through 2012.  Another lawsuit alleges that a patients medication was inappropriately  abruptly terminated without tapering. It is alleged that the abuse of this patient also included "... being told that he's basically, no good, just the scum of the earth, that he's just a liar and a manipulator and he's really not sick."
The Colorado Board of Registered Psychotherapists issued Panio a cease-and-desist order in March of 2013. Panio appealed. The state Department of Regulatory Agencies is waiting for a ruling by the administrative law judge. The state never shut down AFIC. The facility voluntarily closed on July 1, 2013, Many of the employees are licensed to continue working. No criminal charges have been filed involving AFIC. 
AFIC, Panio and staff members, deny all of the allegations in the civil complaints. It is the plaintiffs who have the burden to prove their contentions. The defendants have no burden to disprove the allegations. (Panio is represented by attorney Katherine Fritz.) 

Monday, May 5, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Supports Prayer ~by Legal Pub

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings.   Prayers are okay as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts according to the court's 5-4 decision in Greece v. .
The decision seems to follow a 1983 decision in which the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature.  Justice Anthony Kennedy said that forcing clergy to scrub the prayers of references to Jesus Christ and other sectarian religious figures would turn officials into censors. Instead, Justice Kennedy suggested that prayers should be seen as ceremonial and consistent with traditions. "The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Justice Kennedy said. 
A federal appeals court in New York had previously ruled that Greece violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting with prayers that focused on Christianity.  Similarly, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that even with the high court's 1983 ruling, the practice of having one Christian prayer after another amounted to the town's endorsement of Christianity.
Justice Elena Kagan, led the dissent. Kagan was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is Canada Too Much Like the USA? ~by Legal Pub

Canadians speak English as well as French.  Canadians believe in a free society.  Healthcare in the US and Canada have become very similar since the Affordable Care Act.  So why should it really surprise anyone that US political embarrassments have migrated up north?  Case in point is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Toronto's mayor will be taking an extended leave of absence while he seeks help for substance abuse.  alcohol, Ford made the announcement after rumors circulated that a second video of the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine was about to be released.
Ford has a re-election coming up in October.  Just how might his leave of absence affect the campaign? If his leave of absence is unpaid, can Ford claim his is a cost efficient alternative to his challenger this fall? Can he borrow themes from former U.S. President Abe Lincoln and proclaim honesty is the best policy, "I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time... So please vote for me."   Or should Ford take the road traveled by former President Clinton and simply explain that "I did not inhale."

The Globe and Mail newspaper claim a second video exists that shows Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. Ford allegedly takes a drag from a pipe. Of course, the maker of the video reportedly wants to sell the footage. Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, said Ford has accepted that he has a problem. Clearly that is true.  But of course, every contested election is a problem.Will last year of denials by Ford that he smoked crack in a "drunken stupor" harm his campaign?  Well, President Clinton denied "... having sex with that woman" and things worked out fine for him as he was reelected. Furthermore Ford has something going in his favor.  The Toronto Sun allegedly has an audio recording of Ford making offensive remarks about other politicians at a bar.  This would be consistent with Ford accepting responsibility for now "telling the truth."
While Toronto's city council has stripped Ford of most of his powers, at least there appears to be no photos of him stripping or exposing his private parts like Anthony WienerFord may run for reelection on the platform of the American Dream of second chances.  John Tory, who is running against Ford in the election, wants Mayor Ford to resign. But how would that look to the democratic process if Tory wins an uncontested election?
Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, has tweeted sincere messages wishing Ford a successful rehab. Tweets are nice, but campaign contributions likely be appreciated more. Should Ford lose this fall, perhaps he can run for office in Vancouver where they have crack pipe vending machines.  LINK.