Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You've Been Robbed!

How many of you work past the mandated by law 40 hour work week? How many of you have skipped a break, a lunch or worked over closing time to get stuff done? Ever taken a post it note or pen?

Everyone has and yet you could be violating the law. And yet why you every now and then hear of the employees charged for crimes against the business, you rarely hear of a company being charged with the same offense when it comes to encouraging or expecting one to do so.

When you are not paid for work done you are being robbed. It is called wage theft when one works off the clock and is not compensated for the work done.

The article below by Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post discusses the issue. But there are many many more articles about how businesses often circumvent laws with regards to this issue. Thought it was just for interns, no many full time employees are often placed into independent contract arrangements as ways to avoid taxes, unemployment insurance, OSHA and of course sick leave and vacation time.

With the current economy we are finding that the bulk of the jobs are in fact service jobs and those dominated by the fast food industry. An industry that is under fire for the need of a higher minimum wage, unionizing and of course wage theft. But this includes retail jobs and other service oriented work, such as home health care worker or child care.

A report from the National Employment Law Project found:

New Report: The Low-Wage Recovery: Industry Employment and Wages Four Years into the Recovery (April 2014)

This report updates NELP’s previous industry-based analyses of job loss and job growth trends during and after the Great Recession. The report shows that low-wage job creation was not simply a characteristic of the early recovery, but rather a pattern that has persisted for more than four years now.

We find that during the labor market downturn (measured from January 2008 to February 2010), employment losses occurred throughout the economy, but were concentrated in mid-wage and higher-wage industries. By contrast, during the recovery (measured from February 2010 to February 2014), employment gains have been concentrated in lower-wage industries. Specifically:

•Lower-wage industries constituted 22 percent of recession losses, but 44 percent of recovery growth.
•Mid-wage industries constituted 37 percent of recession losses, but only 26 percent of recovery growth.
•Higher-wage industries constituted 41 percent of recession losses, and 30 percent of recovery growth.

Today, there are nearly two million fewer jobs in mid- and higher-wage industries than there were before the recession took hold, while there are 1.85 million more jobs in lower-wage industries.

Service-providing industries such as food services and drinking places, administrative and support services, and retail trade have led private sector job growth during the recovery. These industries, which pay relatively low wages, accounted for 39 percent of the private sector employment increase over the past four years.

So while there is growth it is very linear growth. And despite all the hoopla about STEM jobs and their supposed great growth, much of this is also becoming disconcercting as thier is sudden stagnation with the tech sector and the bloom is beginning to fall from the rose of the valley. This boom and bust will be a small bubble and affect largely the rich. Too bad so sad but as in all trickle down economics the rich love to tout they will spread those faded blooms as compost on an already busting pile of rot or as I call us the "poors."

Annie Lowery in the New York Times Magazine in the article, "If a Bubble Bursts in Palo Alto does it Make a Sound" hypothesizes what appears to be bouncing along the horizon.

So the real people who serve, clean, garden and nanny them will be the ones most hit. And there is nowhere to go but down and out in the Valley. Already out of reach of many average Americans, formerly known as the middle class, the workign poor may find themselves in another bankrupt California city fighting for survival. Maybe that is the plan the real life hunger games.

Catherine Rampell
Opinion Writer Washington Post

Treat wage theft as a criminal offense

Forget raising the minimum wage. How about enforcing the meager minimum already on the books?

Over the past year, low-wage workers and their supporters have protested, struck and polemicized for a raise of some kind, a proposition that has support from the White House and most Americans, if not Republican politicians. But low-wage workers face an even more upsetting affliction that both parties should feel comfortable condemning: Employers are stealing from their employees, often with impunity.

“Wage theft” is an old problem. It can take many forms, including paying less than the minimum hourly wage, working employees off the clock, not paying required overtime rates and shifting hours into the next pay period so that overtime isn’t incurred. Unfortunately, reliable data on the magnitude of the problem are scarce. Workers can be afraid to report the theft for fear of losing their jobs altogether, especially in today’s terrible economy, and many don’t know their rights. Often workers don’t even realize their pay is being skimmed.

Take Ashley Cathey, 25, a six-year McDonald’s employee who participated in a national one-day strike last December. A couple of months later, she got a 25-cent raise, to $8 an hour from $7.75. But something about her next paycheck looked fishy: Her pay seemed short given her raise and new, longer hours. She usually works overnight, and in recent months her shifts have frequently stretched to 12 or 14 hours because her Memphis restaurant has been short-staffed. (Perhaps because its wages are still too low to retain enough employees.)

She asked a friend who is a manager to print out her time sheet and noticed that someone had clocked her out for breaks she never took. Other co-workers spotted hours shaved from their time sheets, too. When employees brought this to the attention of a more senior boss, they were told the wrongly subtracted hours would appear in their next paychecks. Meanwhile, the helpful manager who had printed out the time sheets was reprimanded for sharing official time records with workers and told that he’d be fired if he did it again, Cathey said. Now Cathey keeps a personal record of the hours she clocks in and out.

“I never paid attention before,” she told me in a phone interview. She suspects that someone has been doctoring her hours for years, but she doesn’t want to endanger her manager friend’s job by asking for help obtaining proof. Even without proof she is convinced: “They’re hiding something, obviously,” she said.

This is not a one-off accusation. In the past few weeks, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman extracted settlements from dozens of McDonald’s and Domino’s locations around the state for off-the-clock work. Last month, workers in California, Michigan and New York filed class-action lawsuits against McDonald’s alleging multiple charges of wage theft. These suits have upped the ante by implicating the McDonald’s corporation, not just individual franchisees, in bad behavior. The plaintiffs allege that McDonald’s corporate office exerts so much control over franchisees — including by monitoring their hourly labor costs through a corporate computer system — that it had to have known what was going on.

“It doesn’t take a company dictating the specific method for violating the law in order to obtain those violations,” Michael Rubin, an attorney with Altshuler Berzon LLP who filed the California suits, told me. “If you keep coming with this directive that labor costs must be lowered, there are only a finite number of ways that can be done, most of which are unlawful. The lawful ways get exhausted quickly.” (McDonald’s said in a statement that it is “undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations.”)

These cases aside, wage theft mostly goes unreported. Workers who do report the stolen wages to authorities — lately, at the urging of national labor campaigns such as Good Jobs Nation — can wait months before an investigation is resolved, even though they probably need the missing money to pay their next electricity bill. (This has been the case with fast-food workers employed by government contractors at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, who filed a wage-theft complaint with the Labor Department last summer.) The consequences for wage theft are rare, small and not particularly deterring. Even when government investigators pursue these complaints, for example, criminal charges are rarely filed.

Harsher penalties, including prison time, should be on the table more often when willful wrongdoing is proved. Thieves caught stealing thousands of dollars from someone’s home can go to jail; the same should be true for thieves caught stealing thousands of dollars from someone’s paycheck.

Rule of Three

Since I am taking a break discussing the medical profession and its hijinks's in culpability that they deny and do the the whole "personal responsibility" bullshit meaning you did it to yourself asshole, we just helped you finish the job concept of comparative negligence that Lawyers refer to it as.

And on that note of accidents. First up comes the Police officer who assaulted a man whose car he just hit. Well this is Florida, this is stand your ground and when you just hit someone jump out of your car to blame them for you hitting them what do you expect? Flowers?

And then I found this gem about the cop who was taking "prescription drugs" at work affecting his job performance. I bet it was and I bet he had no problems however issuing DUI's and other arrests for drugs while doing so. Is that any oxymoron or hypocrisy or well just law enforcement?

Or that the firefighters who beat up the homeless man will be still on the disability payroll. Try that one tonight and see how that works out for you.

And on that note we have the study done with regards to false convictions. They believe it is a conservative underestimate.

Rate of false conviction of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death
Samuel R. Grossa,1, Barbara O’Brienb, Chen Huc, and Edward H. Kennedyd
Author Affiliations

aUniversity of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI 49109; bMichigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI 48824; cAmerican College of Radiology Clinical Research Center, Philadelphia, PA 19103; and dDepartment of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Edited* by Lee D. Ross, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and approved March 25, 2014 (received for review April 5, 2013)

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. There is no systematic method to determine the accuracy of a criminal conviction; if there were, these errors would not occur in the first place. As a result, very few false convictions are ever discovered, and those that are discovered are not representative of the group as a whole. In the United States, however, a high proportion of false convictions that do come to light and produce exonerations are concentrated among the tiny minority of cases in which defendants are sentenced to death. This makes it possible to use data on death row exonerations to estimate the overall rate of false conviction among death sentences. The high rate of exoneration among death-sentenced defendants appears to be driven by the threat of execution, but most death-sentenced defendants are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment, after which the likelihood of exoneration drops sharply. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.

And this goes in line with a Federal Judge's recent comment about the "thousands of innocents" behind bars. Shocking, I know!

And then we have a Judge who as a Prosecutor committed misconduct. Sure why not everyone is doing it. Guess that Judge Prosecutor Indian Chief didn't get that memo.

Do you honestly think that the Robe suddenly changes those spots on the leopard? No all it does is cover them.

It is also why I wonder why any Attorney would advertise themselves as a "former" Prosecutor. Uh really, so you will lie to me but at least this time I will have firm knowledge and explanation as to why. And yes that tribe lies, it is their nature and their profession regardless. And yes there are exceptions. I know of one. One. I said one and I have a rule of three when I ask for substantiation. I failed my own test.

And on the last note, the Supreme Court is hearing a case about searching one's cell phone without a warrant. Well you can solve that one, just use if to make anonymous 911 calls.

The Rule of Three should be Cop/Prosecutor/Judge they decide your guilt long before they hear the evidence about the case and there is no evidence to change that rule of three and innocence has nothing to do with it.

Got Cancer?

Well no you don't or maybe you do. But how would you know?  Remember those people you trust to actually help you and give a damn?  Well they don't.

I literally have run out of words to describe my anger with regards to this.  I don't take any pleasure anymore exposing the depth of fraud and idiocy demonstrated by the Medical "profession" its becoming too distressing to read another story of heartbreak.

Former Ga. technician falsified mammogram reports

In this April 15, 2014 photo, Rachael Michelle Rapraeger, center, sits with her attorney, Floyd Buford, after Sharon Holmes, left, read her statement to a Houston County Superior Court, in Perry, Ga., during a sentencing hearing.

PERRY, Ga. (AP) — Sharon Holmes found a lump in her left breast quite by accident. At work one day as a high school custodian, her hand brushed up against her chest and she felt a knot sticking out. She was perplexed. After all, just three months earlier, she had been given an all-clear sign from her doctor after a mammogram.
A new mammogram in February 2010 showed she in fact had an aggressive stage 2 breast cancer. The horror of the discovery was compounded by the reason: The earlier test results she had gotten weren't just read incorrectly. They were falsified.
She wasn't alone in facing this news. The lead radiological technologist at Perry Hospital in Perry, a small community about 100 miles south of Atlanta, had for about 18 months been signing off on mammograms and spitting out reports showing nearly 1,300 women were clear of any signs of breast cancer or abnormalities.
Except that she was wrong. Holmes and nine other women were later shown to have lumps or cancerous tumors growing inside them.
Falsified mammograms: Sharon HolmesAP Photo: The Macon Telegraph, Beau Cabell
Sharon Holmes.
Holmes said the discovery was horrific enough. With a son in his 20s and another in high school at the time, she trembled at the thought of leaving them without a mother. "To me, that meant a death sentence," she said. She underwent successful surgery the month after the cancer was discovered to remove the lump from her breast and followed that with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Her breast has been cancer-free for four years and subsequent cancers found elsewhere, in her lymph nodes and thyroid, have been successfully treated. Now she just prays it doesn't come back.
But to find out later that she had been deceived made it even worse. "I'm thinking I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, getting my tests done, and then I find out someone else isn't doing their job," Holmes told The Associated Press.
The tech, Rachael Rapraeger, pleaded guilty earlier this month to 10 misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and one felony charge of computer forgery. She was sentenced to serve up to six months in a detention center, to serve 10 years on probation during which she can't work in the health care field and to pay a $12,500 fine.
The reasons she gave were vague. She told police she had personal issues that caused her to stop caring about her job, that she had fallen behind processing the piles of mammogram films that stacked up. So she went into the hospital's computer system, assumed the identities of physicians, and gave each patient a clear reading, an investigative report says. That allowed her to avoid the time-consuming paperwork required before the films are brought to a reading room for radiologists to examine, her lawyer Floyd Buford told the AP.
Her actions were uncovered in April 2010 after a patient who'd received a negative report had another mammogram three months later at another hospital that revealed she had breast cancer. As hospital staff began to investigate, it was determined that the doctor whose name was on the faulty report had not been at the hospital the day the report was filed. Rapraeger quickly confessed to her supervisor that she was responsible and was fired from her job about a week later, according to an investigator's report.
Rapraeger told police she knew what she was doing wasn't right, but that she didn't consider the consequences until she realized a patient with cancer had been told her scan was clear.
She didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Her attorney said she feels great remorse about any pain that she caused.
Cary Martin, CEO of Houston Healthcare, which operates Perry Hospital, released a statement saying he is "pleased this component of Ms. Rapraeger's unfortunate action is concluded" and declined to comment further.
Sara Bailey also received a false-negative report. By the time it was discovered, her breast cancer progressed to the point that doctors had to remove her entire breast rather than just going in and removing a lump, she said.
The surgery was successful and the cancer hasn't returned, but Bailey carries a bitterness inside her that surfaces when she talks about her experience.
"I'm not hurting and I don't think I have cancer, but I'm not a woman anymore," the 80-year-old said, her eyes welling with tears and her voice catching as she talked about the loss of her breast.
Falsified mammograms: Sara BaileyAP Photo: Kate Brumback
Sara Bailey.
The emotional wound was opened again this month when Rapraeger received a sentence that Bailey saw as a slap on the wrist.
"I feel like we were thrown under the bus, and there will be an election day," Bailey said, explaining that she plans to organize an effort to get Houston Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Hartwig voted out of office.
Hartwig said he understands how Bailey feels and knows some people think Rapraeger got off easy, but he said his office weighed the evidence in the case very carefully and concluded the plea was a fair outcome. Even though Rapraeger did make statements and admissions to police, they were too general to prove specific instances of wrongdoing, he said.
"Given the entirety of the case and the issues that were there, I really feel like we did the best we could do to get a measure of justice for these women," he said, adding that it would have been even more disappointing if the case had gone to trial and she'd been found not guilty and walked out of there with no penalty.
For her part, Holmes, 49, has tried to move on, and testifying at Rapraeger's sentencing helped with that.
"I wanted her to know I'm a person, not just a name on a paper," she said.
But she's still angry because lingering effects from her chemotherapy and radiation — treatments she said her doctors told her might not have been necessary if the cancer had been caught by the original mammogram — have kept her from returning to work as a high school janitor.
Like Bailey, she thought Rapraeger's sentence was too light, and she was disappointed that Rapraeger didn't speak in court, instead letting her attorney read a statement for her.
"If she had gotten up and at least said, 'I'm sorry for what I did. I'm sorry these women had to go through this,' that, to me, would have meant that she was truly sorry for what we went through," Holmes said.
Mary Brown had a mammogram in August 2009. She was contacted by the hospital in May 2010 and told to come back for another. That one came back positive, and she had a mastectomy to remove her right breast. She considers herself lucky that she apparently had a slow-growing cancer and didn't need to have chemotherapy or radiation.
Brown, a 78-year-old Jehovah's Witness, credits her strong faith in God with helping her get through the ordeal and with helping her forgive Rapraeger.
"I don't have any hard feelings about her. Whatever she did, she brought it on herself," Brown said, though she conceded her relative good fortune might also be coloring her reaction. "Maybe if I had been dying sick from it I would feel different."

A Matter of Trust

When you are poor expect the worst but when you are rich, insured, or informed you assume that those entrusted to care for you will regardless. Well regardless is the caveat.

When you enter a hospital it is akin to entering a casino and you may come out ahead, even or in the worst possible case scenario - down and out. The latter is for 60% of Americans the fact when it comes to debt and bankruptcy. Then there are the 100K or so of admissions that end up fatal.

The story below is about families who hoped for the best and found out the worst. The hospital entrusted, yes the word trust is present there, with the care for their children failed to meet that trust.

If you believe that there is a need for transparency, regulation and in turn investigation into our medical system then you will find that if any one thing that has come out of this Obamacare is the sudden microscope now being turned on the providers.

We are finding out about the absurd medicare billings that many are charging for their services. Just yesterday there was another article about a Physical Therapist who bills the Government over 4 Million for his work. Laughable as we come to the pinata that Medicare has become in the last few years. It appears that the theft and fraud are actually the reasons the costs are out of control and putting this legacy program at risk. Old people, not so much.

And then we had another article about how those in poorer communities receive less care. Wow SHOCKING, I know!

There is no oversight with regards to the medical profession and its related industries. There are licensing requirements and internal demands that are of course "self regulating." Funny but being a Teacher requires constant licensing and accreditation requirements than the Medical or in fact legal profession. Clearly the AMA and the ABA manage to let their Practitioners remain stagnant when it comes to continuing education. Really? Law and medicine never changes over time? Really? Better unions clearly.

So no, the answer to the question: Will this article, will a lawsuit change the practices and policies of the hospital in question. No it won't. But what will change is the affect that this hospital has on these families for their lives. I am also sure they received a bill for their loss as the hospital is the house and the house never loses.

Children's Hospital in New Orleans is accused of breaking faith with the community. Credit Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

A Deadly Fungus and Questions at a Hospital

April 28, 2014

NEW ORLEANS — The first victim was a premature boy in the intensive care unit whose mother noticed a mysterious irritation in his groin; it grew into an open wound burrowing into the baby’s abdomen. The last patient to die was a 10-year-old girl, whose face was ravaged.

Three other patients at Children’s Hospital here were also stricken, including a 13-year-old boy who his parents said endured over 20 surgical procedures in 54 days in a futile effort to save him.

Like the others, Zachary Malik Tyler, the 13-year-old, arrived at Children’s Hospital battling a serious illness before being overwhelmed by an infection. “What haunts me more than anything is thinking about what he suffered,” said Stephen Tyler, his father.

The children died of various causes between August 2008 and July 2009 during an outbreak of a flesh-eating fungal infection, mucormycosis, most likely spread by bed linens, towels or gowns, according to a medical journal. The disclosure this month caused new pain for the families of the children and raised troubling questions about how the infections came about, why doctors did not connect the cases until more than 10 months after the first death, and what obligation the hospital had to inform parents — and the community — of the outbreak.

Cassandra Gee's son, Tyrel, was another of the children who contracted the deadly fungal infection.

Those questions take on greater urgency, experts say, because deadly fungal infections, while still rare, appear to be on the rise nationwide.

That may be because of changes in the environment and a larger pool of vulnerable people with suppressed immune systems because patients are living longer with serious illnesses.

An estimated 75,000 patients with infections picked up in health care facilities die in hospitals each year, according to figures released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The outbreak may have spread unchecked, at least in part, because of lapses in the hospital’s infection controls and sloppy handling of contaminated linens, according to a review of emails, patient records, legal testimony from hospital and laundry staff, and interviews with doctors, lawyers, federal health officials, hospital administrators and patients’ families.

Workers unloaded clean linens on the same dock where medical waste was removed, moved clean and soiled linens on the same carts, and stored linens in hospital hallways covered in dust from a nearby construction site, court records indicated.

C.D.C. investigators did not fault the hospital for failing to move more quickly to detect the outbreak, noting that the infections occurred weeks or months apart in different areas of the hospital. Still, there were problems, records and interviews showed. With one of the five children, a doctor allegedly agreed to biopsy an infected spot only after a nurse and the parents insisted. And the hospital’s infection investigators did not become involved for months because their threshold for reviewing cases excluded some of the five deaths.

In a city where so many institutions had failed its citizens — a former mayor convicted of bribery, a police department tainted by charges of brutality, schools where student performance was historically abysmal — Children’s Hospital was well respected. It cared for New Orleans’s sickest young patients, from those living in the poorest precincts like the Lower Ninth Ward to those from the hospital’s genteel neighborhood uptown

But now, Children’s Hospital is accused of breaking faith with the community. Much of the anger has focused on what a local newspaper, The Times-Picayune, charged in an editorial was an “appalling” failure to alert the public and a “lack of urgency” that slowed the discovery of the outbreak.

Hospital officials first suspected they had a problem in late June 2009, and in the weeks after alerted state and federal health officials, but few others. They contacted the children’s families only after the journal article “Mucormycosis Outbreak Associated With Hospital Linens” appeared in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. (The article did not identify the hospital, but a local television station, WVUE, disclosed it based on a tip from a local doctor, Brobson Lutz.)

“We failed to do what we should have done, pure and simple,” Dr. John F. Heaton, the hospital’s associate medical director, said during a news conference this month, in which he acknowledged that the infections most likely contributed to the children’s deaths.="Children's Hospital in New Orleans is accused of breaking faith with the community."

Children's Hospital in New Orleans is accused of breaking faith with the community.

In response to several unrelated outbreaks in recent years, the C.D.C. started an initiative to help hospitals and health departments communicate with the public about medical errors and infections acquired in health care facilities. Abbigail Tumpey, who leads the effort, said that while it is important to avoid scaring away patients, hospitals that are open about problems and the steps taken to remedy them have built public trust.

Children’s Hospital is trying to be more transparent, but for some, it is too late. Dolly Malik, Zachary’s mother said, “We clearly felt silence back then.

Tyrel Cayden Gee, born prematurely at 26 weeks, would eventually be identified by investigators as Case No. 1. But because the infant had been critically ill before contracting mucormycosis — in its severe form the fatality rate tops 90 percent, and it primarily afflicts patients with compromised immune systems — it was not considered a primary cause in his August 2008 death. Even though Children’s Hospital had not had a single incident of hospital-acquired mucormycosis for at least 15 years, Tyrel’s case did not raise alarms or become labeled a sentinel event, which would have set off an inquiry.

Dr. Rodolfo Esteban Bégué, who headed the hospital’s infection control committee, said later in a deposition that he was not aware of the case. Even though mucormycosis had caused rare hospital outbreaks elsewhere, his committee had not included it in its quarterly reviews of hospital infections, and it was not among the diseases hospitals must report to the government.

When Zachary Malik Tyler came to the emergency room six months later, with a recurrence of a cancerlike condition that causes widespread tissue damage, his parents still expected he would return home to his siblings, his book collection and his chess sets. By March 2009, though, his immune system was suppressed by chemotherapy, his health precarious. Zachary’s empathy had still shown through during his hospitalization. When he saw his brother Crawford’s plans for an underwater car, Zachary said, “It just might work.”

That month, Zachary’s mother noticed a small black spot in his armpit. In operations, sometimes just a day apart, doctors chased the infection — cutting underneath Zachary’s arm and into a second site in his lower back. To repair the defects, they moved skin and muscle from his chest and thigh and operated on his belly, performing a colostomy. “After his skin graft, his pain was quite intensified,” doctors noted. He died of multiple causes on May 17, 2009.
Dr. Bégué helped treat Zachary and asked for a review of infection control procedures regarding his treatment, but did not consider opening a wider inquiry, he said later.

While Zachary had been struggling, another premature baby received a diagnosis of mucormycosis and died in a different part of the hospital, but Dr. Bégué did not learn of the case. In late June, Tierica Jackson, 10, admitted for heart surgery, also fell victim to the infection. Hospital personnel began swabbing various surfaces to determine the source, which struck one more patient, an 11-year-old girl, who died the day after her diagnosis. One of the doctors decided to test the linens.

The parents of Zachary Tyler said they hoped their son’s death would inspire hospitals and health care facilities to be more vigilant about controlling the spread of deadly infections.< Fungi thrive in moist environments, and the 40,000-square-foot washing warehouse owned by the hospital’s off-site launderer, TLC Linen Services, was just that. The laundry sits several blocks from Lake Pontchartrain on a dirt road in the city’s Ninth Ward. The owners, who declined interview requests, replaced drywall and flooring after the levee failures caused by Hurricane Katrina brought in water. But he never tested to verify that the plant was free of mold, records showed.

The company, which was not accredited by the main voluntary group that inspects health care laundries, also lacked proper filters on ventilation fans to block spores and dust from the street, records showed. There was also reason to suspect that the outbreak was due to myriad problems with the way hospital workers handled linens, court documents showed. (Three patients’ families have filed lawsuits; one was settled.)

In the rare instances when linens have been associated with transmitting illnesses, the problem is usually caused by improper transportation or storage, said Lisa Waldowski, an infection control specialist with the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits most American hospitals. Hospitals typically do not sterilize linens, except those used in operating rooms. Hospital bedsheets and towels typically are washed and bleached to reach the same standard of cleanliness as hotel laundry. One key difference is that medical linens are supposed to be wrapped in bags or cellophane for transport.

Starting in 2007, TLC managers complained in meetings and emails about how Children’s Hospital housekeepers were handling the linens. Washcloths were being used as “cleaning rags” to wipe down bathrooms, TLC said. Laundry workers had to fish bags of dirty towels and sheets out of hospital trash bins. Trash was being put in linen carts and linens in trash carts.

Especially frustrating, TLC managers said in a deposition, was that, in violation of industry and federal guidelines, the head of housekeeping, Glenn Cobb, told them in 2007 to stop delivering the clean linens in sealed bags.

“I didn’t agree with it,” Charles LeBourgeois, a co-owner of TLC, said in the deposition. The plastic bags were cumbersome for the housekeeping staff and getting caught in cart wheels, he recalled being told by Mr. Cobb, who did not respond to interview requests. It was only after dust from nearby construction sullied linens that the hospital agreed to allow TLC to cover the carts

Mr. LeBourgeois testified that he had discovered workers at the hospital washing bed linens in a machine there after the outbreak — using a method intended for cleaning floor mops. He said he had explained that the chemicals were too weak and the water temperatures too low to be hygienic. “Oh, my god,” he recalled Mr. Cobb saying. “So, we are not getting them clean?”

In recent weeks, hospital officials have emphasized the protective measures that they have taken, like resterilizing key areas of the hospital, including where linens were stored, and changing the site where they were delivered. The hospital now uses sterile linens for sick infants, cancer patients and other highly vulnerable patients. It also now wraps linens for transport.

Dr. Heaton also pledged that the hospital would fully disclose any adverse event or hospital-acquired condition that affects any of its patients.

Mr. Tyler, Zachary’s father, said such measures might have saved his son and other patients. “Perhaps it will inspire other institutions to be more vigilant.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Charity Begins...

At home right?  I understand wholeheartedly the idea that we should think globally but act locally.  However what we do have is a world in chaos and sitting at home with our Ipods, Netflix, and smug superiority it does seem that doing something to help those in crisis is not just necessary it is imperative.

I used to think that until I realized that the crisis that I was reading and watching about were actually outside my door.   There was the third shooting in a month just a few blocks away, my neighbors are largely poor, immigrants, and I work in the public schools.  Enough said?

Yesterday coming home I saw the end of a rally for the $15 minimum wage and across the street my favorite was a group called "Sustainable Seattle" who were opposed to the idea of this wage increase.  I  have said many times words and the meaning of them are very dependent upon the individual using them.

It is why I have changed the theme and tone of this blog over the last few years.  Sustainability has a much wider impact than just building and design which is where it began.  To say the word "environmental" means just that - environment.  And what is an environment?  Well again that is a big word for a big world.  Act locally, think globally.

And when I opened the New York Times yesterday it appeared to have a theme as well - Philanthropy.

The first article was about Walmart's move into funding Charter schools and education reform.  Despite my own involvement as in "employment" in the schools I stay largely out of this highly charged debate.  

What I do have is an issue with the endless politicizing about ostensibly children.  And while professing to discuss what is best for children and future generations is laudable effort, doing so with any mention of profit margins is not only distressing its disturbing.  And that is all I have to say on the subject.

But what I found interesting about the article, which is here, is there is little actual discussion about the curriculum, a quote that 1/3 of the staff is Teach for America, well what about the remaining 2/3? Who are they and what do they think about this school.  And these test scores?  What are they and to what do they compare? What tests are administered and how often?

The article was really about politics and the influence of money and not education nor truly trying to help what all those are about, you know, the children.

And then the next article was about former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his role now as a Philanthropist.    No comment there but again it is about the influence of money and politics, not charity.

And another article from Ron Lieber about his efforts to donate money to the new charity, the middle man.  This is third party which the wealthy gives their monies to in an effort to pass off the research, obligation and in turn efforts to an organization who of course takes its cut while checking out the many duplicate and redundant foundations, charities and other non profits that disburse funds to whomever whatever is the of  the moment charity need.

What the article does show is that the trail of money reflects the trail of tears, once dry no one recalls or cares about the reason they began.  To hold a charity to the standards of a business then means it is a business and should have the clear expectations and measurements of performance, so then they are no longer a non profit and in turn no longer exempt from taxes.   Think of hospitals in your community and schools in the same way and then in turn if you are going to turn them into that, they are then accountable in every sense of every way public companies are.  Yes?

And if charities are businesses then the foundations that run them are and are also required to pay taxes, be transparent with their business and in turn accountable.  Yes?

And there is this article about Comcast and their role in what is their idea of philanthropy.  Interesting how that works.  One hand washes the other in the forms of checks and lobbying.  Wonder why net neutrality is back on the table? Well the table is never cleared until the check is paid.

And then there was this article about how a mogul used the charity as his personal ATM.  Was it about charity or about politics.  You decide.

And this article that truly demonstrates the collusion, whoops I mean collision, when it comes to charity and politics.

And aren't all donations really political?

Much is made of the giving pledge.  Well that is about giving when they are dead. How about when alive.  At least Bloomberg is planning to do his giving while alive and on that I concur.  See and meet those whose lives you affect.  If you don't care about who or what or where the money goes to then sure wait until you are dead.

But walk outside your door and ask yourself is this all about giving money or giving and in turn getting more.

I was impressed with the concept behind the rally about increasing the wages here but last week I saw the transit bill die faster than a picked flower.   If there is anything I know about Seattle is the inertia that it has when it comes to the heavy lifting.  Many of those who would most benefit from the wage hike don't vote, many who would be affected by that same hike weren't there.  Who was there well intended white older people and their younger equivalent.

Across the street was a Hispanic laborer working on sheet rock in a empty house soon I am sure to be turned for our ever increasing gentrifying neighborhood.   Just don't tell the new occupants about all the shootings a 1/4 mile away.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Minimum for the Maxium

The battle for Seattle has taken on a new theme - the Minimum wage. 

The recent special election for additional car and sales taxes to support public transit failed.  Not surprising, here in this liberal bastion, we have a regressive taxing system that does nothing to fund anything public in a rational and equitable manner.  All parks, schools and of course public buildings, aka "stadiums"  and public housing are funded by voters who elect to pass levy's in which to do so.

This is a great site that explains the bizarre levy funding process that we enter each election cycle and it is always tied to property taxes.  We have no income tax so we have no way to generate added funds unless we assign a "special" tax which of course burdens most of it on home and land owners.  And people wonder why I have no car or own a home here.  

As for our sales tax it is one of the highest in the nation and had that special tax passed it would have put us at 10%.   And on that note I buy little here either.   If I need something like towels and sheets I shop online and look for the best deal, no tax, free shipping and of course costs.  Sometimes you can offset the cost by adding the taxes and buy something better in the long run.  So until that changes federally, I plan on keeping as little money out of the hands of Seattle and the State of Washington.  I have no love lost here in this state.

And it does not surprise me that despite our "election" of a Socialist to the City Council that the minimum wage plan is falling flatter than a pancake from a high rise. This is a city of young, mostly transplants and confused people who move here in search of "tech" money or the fallout from it.

I had a fabulous conversation with a gentleman - not an idiot - who moved here from Texas - land of the idiots. We agreed that much of the same problems that exist here do anywhere.  The immense urbanization and in turn gentrification of cities to attract the "new money" and since that is mostly young, who have little idea of managing money and their indentured servitude to debt in the form of a college diploma, they are looking to live and work in cities to burn their youth off, pay off the debt, then marry and immediately go back to the suburbs to procreate.  Anyone who thinks you don't repeat the sins of the parents, needs to read some books. Oh wait that would require reading.

The only thing we did disagree on was the idea of stupid vs ignorant.  They are ultimately the same thing I am afraid and in turn arrogance is the mark of both - a deadly combination.  And they don't vote. So while they professed support of public transport and the "greenness" of it, they also have no voter's card in which to make their voices heard.  They talk a lot but they do little the millennial when it comes to the interests of others.  But as opposed to their grandparents, the greatest generation - they are at least not voting against their own interests.  So some things do change.

The minimum wage rise will go the way of the bus tax - in the toilet.  And given our streets and the sad cases that live here, that is what they have also become. 

How to Kill the Minimum Wage Movement

Timothy Egan
April 24, 2014

A surprising debate in Seattle: "is $15 an hour too much, too soon?"
 On a visit to the capital a few weeks ago, I was struck by how politically inert the place was. Not just empty, lifeless, devoid of activity in the chambers where great politicians once roamed. Not just a do-nothing Congress living up to its pledge to do even less this year than last. Not just the usual government-by-corporate lobbyists. At the moment, Washington is a dead town.
Not true of the other Washington, across the country. Seattle officials are trying to decide whether an entire city can raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour without killing a robust economy, the social service agencies, and the numerous immigrant and family businesses that pump new blood into old places.
All the evidence shows that, yes, they can — but only if they do it right, and do it gradually over many years. If they rush into it, as the zealots favor, they could hurt the burgeoning raise-the-minimum-wage movement around the country and deprive Democrats of a great voter stimulant for the midterm elections.
Government by sloganeering rarely works. Think: No New Taxes. Every elected Republican would sooner push Grandma over a cliff than break that vow. Yet, a minor tax increase on the rich last year is one big reason the federal budget gap now is far lower than the experts predicted. The deficit for March was the lowest since 2000.
Now think: 15 Now. That’s the slogan of a group of far-left activists who are pushing Seattle to force a 61 percent wage increase — yes, that’s the kind of shock to the system it would be — on everyone next year but a select group of small businesses and nonprofits.
If Seattle’s publicly owned electric utility suddenly announced a 61 percent rate increase on every household, people would be marching in the streets. In recent months, a host of restaurateurs, servers, nonprofit groups — self-professed progressives all — have come out against the rush into a blanket $15 wage. In a state that already has the nation’s highest minimum wage, at $9.32 an hour, these people favor giving the lowest workers a raise, just not the blunt application of the $15 figure.
Immigrants would be the first to lose their jobs under such a mandate, and many family restaurants would be forced to close, Asian and Latino business owners wrote in a recent letter to Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle. “As small business owners within the immigrant community, we act as job, language and social training centers for many new immigrants,” the group’s letter stated. “We forgo our own pay to make payroll.” One consequence of a $15 mandate could be the relocation of entire immigrant communities to neighboring cities.
Without question, bottom-wage workers are long overdue for a raise. A majority of the country feels that way, poll after poll shows. In the 15 months since President Obama called for an increase of the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, seven states and the District of Columbia have bumped their minimum, and another eight states are likely to have ballot measures on the question.
Seattle is a prosperous city, with the right environment for new companies and new ideas. But there is a big undercurrent of anger from those who aren’t part of the ride. Boeing just forced its machinists to downsize their pensions, even as the company posted eye-popping profits. Walmart, with its stores at the city’s edge, makes the rest of us subsidize their low-wage workers, through food stamps and the like. Nationwide, the average Walmart worker makes $8.81 an hour, according to one independent analysis. That’s an insult.
You can raise the minimum wage gradually — as Washington has long done, as has San Francisco, with its current $10.74 an hour, highest among the nation’s big cities — without a lot of collateral damage. Studies of nine cities and 21 states that upped their minimum over the last decade found almost no effect on employment. Businesses had less turnover and higher worker productivity, while restaurant prices went up only 2 to 3 percent.
But a $15 wage base is new territory. The Seattle mayor’s advisory committee is still trying to reach a consensus. The issue will go before the City Council, or to voters in the fall.
It sounds mushy, and never pleases shrill voices on the left or the right, but compromise is the essence of democratic rule. When some of the very workers who are supposed to benefit most by a $15 minimum wage — restaurant servers — or the nonprofits that espouse social justice call for a go-slow approach, it tells you that something more than bumper-sticker simplicity is needed.

Seattle wants to be a model for the rest of the nation. It can be. Or the city could end up a cautionary tale, used in scare ads by the forces of regression.

Ending the Affirmative

As in action when it comes to College admissions.  Well another State manages to work the end run around the legacy of Civil Rights now in its 50 year mark.  At this rate we can probably half that time to fully end it so that our current generation will learn first hand what their families experienced in their own lifetime.  So much history is in the past that having actual living legacies really brings it to fruition!

Washington State has never had Affirmative Action when it comes to College Admissions and why? They don't need it as they actively seek Asian immigrants and out of state Asians to compensate for largely being a white school.  Of course Athletics compensates for the rest of the supposed color blindness in admissions.   What they neglect is to actually provide the data on who graduates, when they do, if they do and the nature of indebtedness in which they do.   Details, details, details!

And we have the entire Piketty argument coming to a nasty head with name calling, accusations and of course dueling op ed pieces- Krugman and Brooks -  in the New York Times about the nasty truth - America is becoming an increasingly oligarchic nation.  The idea of Meritocracy will be something for the textbooks in which the College students can study in their Ivory towers; ivory being white and all.

So by ending the idea that at times there are those in need of Education that may not have had the same advantages growing up so in order to have those in adulthood in our society of equal opportunity, giving them a slight head start should not be a problem right?  Well apparently it is.  The problem right there is the term head start, meaning the dreaded pre school that is another highly "leaden" phrase, lead as in the material, heavy and weighted down; sadly not lead as in to follow.

So why not end the 1% equivalent to be fair and equal - the legacy preferences.  The editorial below discusses that very issue.

Well that wouldn't be fair would it?

End College Legacy Preferences

APRIL 24, 2014

SOMEONE reading about the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action — and by extension similar measures passed by voters in California, Texas, Florida and Washington — might develop the misimpression that affirmative action is on the wane. In fact, it’s alive and well: Public and private colleges routinely give preferential treatment to children of alumni.

If you have kids, or plan on having them someday, you know that acceptance rates at elite colleges are at historic lows. Stanford led the stingy pack, admitting but 5 percent of applicants, with Harvard and Yale trailing close behind at 5.9 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.
For “legacies,” the picture isn’t nearly so bleak. Reviewing admission data from 30 top colleges in the Economics of Education Review, the researcher Michael Hurwitz concluded that children of alumni had a 45 percent greater chance of admission. A Princeton team found the advantage to be worth the equivalent of 160 additional points on an applicant’s SAT, nearly as much as being a star athlete or African-American or Hispanic.
At Harvard, my alma mater, the legacy acceptance rate is 30 percent, which is not an unusual number at elite colleges. That’s roughly five times the overall rate.
The disparity is so great it makes the most sense to conceptualize college applications to elite colleges as two separate competitions: one for children whose parents are legacies, the other for children whose parents aren’t.
Admissions officers will hasten to tell you that in a meritocracy many legacies would get in anyway. Let’s pause to consider the usefulness of the term “meritocracy” in a system where the deck is stacked at every level in favor of rich, white students before conceding the premise. It’s surely true that many children of alumni are brilliant, hard-working and deserving of a seat at a top college. That’s quite different from saying the system is fair. In 2003, Harvard’s admissions dean said that the SAT scores of legacy admits were “just two points below the school’s overall average.” These are students who have enjoyed a lifetime of advantage. We’d expect them to have outperformed nonlegacies, at least by a bit, and yet they’ve done slightly worse.
Reasonable minds can differ on the morality and wisdom of race-based affirmative action. Where I teach, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is about as egalitarian as institutions come, I’ve seen firsthand what the data show: College is a ticket out of poverty, and exposing young men and women to diverse classmates and role models raises the ceiling on what they believe is possible for themselves. That said, I acknowledge the desire for a colorblind, meritocratic society as an honorable position. But how can anyone defend making an exception for children of alumni?
One needn’t have a dog in this hunt to be troubled by legacy. It’s disastrous public policy. Because of legacy admissions, elite colleges look almost nothing like America. Consider these facts: To be a 1 percenter, a family needs an annual income of approximately $390,000. When the Harvard Crimson surveyed this year’s freshman class, 14 percent of respondents reported annual family income above $500,000. Another 15 percent came from families making more than $250,000 per year. Only 20 percent reported incomes less than $65,000. This is the amount below which Harvard will allow a student to go free of charge. It’s also just above the national median family income. So, at least as many Harvard students come from families in the top 1 percent as the bottom 50 percent. Of course this says nothing of middle-class families, for whom private college is now essentially unaffordable.

There are only two ways this gets better. One is a huge reformation of the tax structure. The other is improved access to higher education. Few investments yield a greater return than a college degree. Education has great potential to combat inequality, but progress simply isn’t possible if legacy persists.

To justify this practice there would need to be, in lawyer language, a compelling justification. There is none. Elite colleges defend legacy as necessary to fund-raising. It isn’t. Neither Oxford nor Cambridge nor M.I.T. considers legacy. Their prestige is intact, they attract great students, and they have ample endowments. Moreover, technology has transformed fund-raising. Presidential candidates raise money through grass-roots campaigns; colleges can, too.
Legacy evolved largely as a doctrine to legitimize the exclusion of Jews from elite schools. It endures today as a mechanism for reinforcing inequality, with particularly harsh consequences for Asians, and fundamentally contradicts the rhetoric of access in which elite colleges routinely engage.
Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton and Columbia collectively have endowments of about $100 billion. They have the means to end this abhorrent practice with a stroke of a pen and the financial resources to endure whatever uncertainty ensues. Just a hunch, but I think the economically diverse students admitted to these great colleges would be successful and generous to their alma maters, not in the hope of securing their child a place in a class, but out of genuine appreciation of a legacy of equal access.