Friday, May 30, 2008

headline of the week

The one and half inch headline on the front page of the Deseret News is the winner: "Texas can't hold'em" 'Em refers to the FLDS children, which Texas' Department of Family and Protective Services had taken away from their mothers (and fathers) because of one phone call from a woman in Colorado claiming she and her children had been abused by a man who was known to be out on warrants in Arizona. Oh and this woman was not only not FLDS, but she had previously been convicted for filing false reports with the police.

The 3rd Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas couldn't ferret away children as a group and put them in foster homes around the state without individual allegations of abuse by their parents (polygamist or not). To treat the children as endangered because they are raised in FLDS households in my view violates not only Due Process but the First Amendment.

If Texas has evidence that a particular man or woman in that community is abusing children or adults, get those victims out of that household and arrest the alleged abusers. But seizing the woman and children (and boxes of documents) while leaving the men makes absolutely no sense to me. Also, this victory on appeal for the FLDS makes it more likely that FLDS women and children will tell the truth about whatever abuse might be going on inside the YFZ Ranch. Trust in government authorities is necessary for the effective prosecution of crimes, whether it be in inner-city Detriot or miles outside of San Angelo, Texas.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

running a city like a business

After all of the heat Sandy's mayor Tom Dolan, along with his staff and members of the City Council are getting, they decided to change things up a bit.
Sandy's leaders revised the bonus policy after revelations surfaced about the city's top-heavy incentive program.
Under the new caps, employees will be eligible for up to a 1 percent bonus until they max out in their salary ranges. Then, they could score up to a 5 percent payout each year based on performance.
That means Chief Administrative Officer Byron Jorgenson, who pocketed $12,500 in bonuses this year, could take home no more than a $7,550 check on his $151,000 salary. A police officer whose pay has peaked at $53,000 could earn up to a $2,650 reward.
All workers also will be eligible for an additional 1 percent in "spot awards" for exceptional achievements.
In addition to the new caps, Mayor Tom Dolan has decided to drop his annual 1 percent incentive.
How magnanimous of him and the Council. So why do Dolan and his cronies deserve semi-secret bonuses on from taxpayers? Don't ask me.

But the rationale I would expect would contain some version of the trite phrase "government should be run like business." The trouble is, Sandy Corporation has been run like Tyco, Worldcomm, Adelphia, and Bear Stearns. The top management lavished on themselves without regard to what the shareholders wanted, instead, they just sucked up to their sycophantic board of directors. Sandy Corporation's shareholders are those who pay property, 911, sales, and other taxes and fees towards the city. Dolan et al tried to hide their bonuses from those shareholders, and their board of director--the city council--let Dolan get away with it for a while. And much like I despise the salaries, bonuses, and side compensation that the management of KCPW recieved while tanking their station, I despise what Dolan et al has done.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

DC bank bails out KCPW (and the Feulners)

While you were enjoying your new tote back at Wild Oats, KCPW execs were getting a loan to cover the millions of dollars they need to keep the station from going bankrupt and turning into a Christian radio station. And the loan is one that you should never get to buy a house.
The NCB financing is an interest-only loan. Sweeney said Wasatch Public Media will use $400,000 from the fundraising proceeds to pay down the loan. The group intends to repay the balance with proceeds from future fundraising campaigns during the loan's four-year duration.
I personally did not contribute a dime to KCPW, although I enjoy listening to public radio and their station in particular. Here are three reasons why:
  1. [KCPW's Manager Brain] Feulner was paid $140,000 under the terms of the new contract and a bonus of $39,815 (payable under the terms of the old contract) which is why Mr.Feulner’s total compensation [...] was $179,815.

  2. Blair and his wife, Susan, then the nonprofit station's co-manager and chief fundraiser, cleared $280,000 between them in 2003, the most recent tax records available.
    Susan ended her full-time employment a year ago and went on to collect $50,000 as a consultant to the station. Feulner remains as general manager and likely will make this year between $150,000 and $165,000, according to the president of KCPW's board, Tom Calder.
    But the spectacular reward for the Feulners' years of hard work came last year when the board sold a Coalville station license purchased for $18,800 thanks to Feulner's deal-making savvy. The license, purchased in the early 1990s, reaped $3.6 million.
    Susan and Blair Feulner's personal share of the windfall was $895,000. The amount was paid in cash, separate and apart from their salaries.

  3. Under manager Blair Feulner, KCPW borrowed $2.5 million to buy an AM license to allow the station to compete with the UofU's KUER statewide. But the bold gambit flopped and KCPW was being pulled under by the loan payments.
The Feulners should have contributed a few thousand dollars towards keeping their station afloat since they were the ones that capsized it, due to their own bad decisions and gross over compensation. I have no patience for rewarding greedy, incompetent managers, whether they work for for-profits like Enron and Countrywide, or non-profits like KCPW.

And really, does KCPW need to compete with KUER? I thought public radio wasn't about competition, but providing news and other programming that for-profit radio neglects.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mike Leavitt tried to screw Utah Hospitals

Here's a story that you might have missed this holiday weekend.
A federal judge ruled Friday that Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt failed to "outfox" Congress when he pushed through a Medicaid rule that would have wiped out more than $40 million in annual funding to Utah's teaching hospitals.
The Salt Lake Tribune notes that Leavitt's "rule would have deprived the University of Utah of $36 million in annual federal funding, and $3 million for Primary Children's Medical Center. Six rural hospitals, serving Monticello, Milford, Beaver, Gunnison, Kanab and Panguitch, also stood to lose $1.2 million."

So why stick to people in Salt Lake, Monticello, Milford, Beaver, Gunnison, Kanab, Panquich and lots of other places around the U.S.? To save a few bucks Medicaid, which provides health care for poor people.

Here's what happened. Leavitt proposed this rule that would make Medicaid reimbursement on a cost-to-provider basis. "It would have meant we couldn't use Medicaid dollars for anything other than providing care to Medicaid patients," said Kim Wirthlin, the U.'s vice president of government affairs. "Prior to that, we got additional [Medicaid] money that could be used to assist in funding medical education and [health care for] the uninsured." So Democrats in Congress slipped in language in a war funding bill that reversed this rule.

The same day passed, Leavitt rushed out a "'typo-ridden' final rule to the Office of the Federal Registrar for 'emergency display and publication,' thus making it final." Why the rush? Because President Bush had yet to sign the bill, which Leavitt knew he would. This way, Bush wouldn't have to veto another war funding bill, and he wouldn't have to try another one of those ridiculous signing statements to get what he wanted: the Iraq War to continue and to keep health care from going to the 47 million uninsured.

But a federal judge effectly said, "nice try"and vacated the rule as being violative of Congressional intent. So when you take the 1-year moritorium on such rule making that was in the war funding bill, combined with the 90-comment period, you get to the end of Bush's presidency.

"Then we'll have a new administration and we can look at this whole policy issue of whether or not Medicaid funds should be used to assist in supporting graduate medical education and care for the uninsured," Wirthlin said. "And that is an important policy debate that needs to happen."

And if Obama wins the election, that Leavitt rule will never see the light of day.