Yes. But, behind them I suspect is the Emperor.
Paul Atreides, in “Dune.”
More than a year ago I wrote about the capture of the academic process by the Kentucky Governor’s Office where some unnamed individual with clout became “pissed-off” when Dental Professor Dr. Raynor Mullins exercised both his faculty and first-amendment rights to suggest that cutting back on dental and vision services to Medicaid beneficiaries was a bad idea. Everyone involved seemed to know who in Frankfort held the power to intimidate the leadership of our “Flagship University,” but the Governor’s office denied any involvement in the matter. (We have encountered that scenario before, right here in River City!) The University rolled over and dismissed Dr. Mullins.
In response, and to both hold the University accountable and presumably to shine a bright light on what actually appended, Dr. Mullins filed a lawsuit against the persons of the Vice President for Administrative and External Affairs and the Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. In my earlier commentary, I opined that perhaps under oath that the truthfulness of the allegations would come out– or not! It is not clear to me that any such disclosure happened. The University requested of Federal Judge Robert Wier a summary judgement (dismissal) of the case against it which was denied. As I understand it, before the case was to go to a jury trial, a private settlement was reached without any admission of guilt. I do not know how much pre-trial discovery was done. Today’s reports in the Lexington Herald and Courier-Journal do not refer to any information from depositions taken under oath. Often such settlements include clauses of confidentiality that hide embarrassing findings from public view. Is it conceivable that court records might be sealed? Is it possible that we may never know to whom the UK officials caved?
What is just as disturbing as not ever knowing the identity of the bully is the claim that communication within the University and with the Governor’s office in this matter was conducted using personal e-mails. The use of personal electronic devises and emails to skirt open-meeting and open-record laws is an emerging threat to the ability of the public to hold its government accountable.
The University of Kentucky does not come off looking good in this matter. It seemingly admits no guilt at all, but some UK entity now has a 6-figure settlement to pay with legal fees to boot. Dr. Mullins is taken back in to the faculty. Transparency disappears. No one is held accountable. Dr. Mullins may not have achieved all his goals, but in my view, he stood up to the state agency that is the University of Kentucky and won!
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine,
University of Louisville
Dec 10, 2018
[If anyone has public court documents or other information that might shed light on this sad affair– or for that matter correct any misunderstanding of mine– I hope they will communicate with me confidentially or with the email link found in the side-bar of this website.]
Here is a copy of Judge Wier’s opinion of 9-28-18
Much will be written following the death of Sen. John S. McCain, the vast bulk of it of with sincere admiration for his personal courage and service to his country. I am among those admirers. His life was undeniably colorful– he was very much human. Equally undeniable was the magnitude of his service to his nation. He knew where his duty lay, and he gave palpably more than any critic to honor that obligation. He knew the difference between patriotism and nationalism or partisanism. Compared to his legislative peers, it is fair to say that few or none have displayed greater loyalty to the common good of our nation as opposed to any political party. In any world– but certainly in today’s political climate– he was a lion among sheep.
What Are CRS Reports?
I interacted with his Senate office one time in 1998 during my Congressional Fellowship and service to the Senate Finance Committee. Senator McCain filed a typically bi-partisan bill that would make most of the reports and issue-briefs prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) available to the public. At the time, I had never heard of these. CRS reports are among those prepared by the Library of Congress, often in response to requests by federal legislators for background information about current or potential legislation. I had hundreds of these available to me at my networked desk in a Senate office building. The resources of the Library are stunning. The academician in me recognized these reports and issue briefs as extraordinarily useful. They are well researched, and clearly written in language that can be understood by non-technical people. Best of all, these reports are as balanced and nonpartisan as anything can possibly be on Capitol Hill. (The worst service a legislative aid can give their member is not to include all sides of an argument in their briefing.) I downloaded and read as many reports related to healthcare matters as I could find, constantly regretting that I had not had them available earlier as I began a second career in health policy research. Continue reading “Honoring Sen. John McCain’s Service by Making CRS Reports Used by Lawmakers Available to the Public”
Revenge of the Aztecs- Part II
Lessons and challenges from the outbreak of Zika virus.
Although it was discovered 69 years ago in the Zika Forest of Uganda, even as a physician I had not previously known of the Zika virus. I first read about it a month ago in the daily two-page news brief on a cruise ship as it left the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico – one of the very places we were now warned by pubic health authorities to avoid! Additional concern was generated by the fact that our cruise itinerary included two other islands in the Caribbean where the disease was breaking out.
The Zika virus belongs to the flavivirus family which includes Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus, and Dengue – serious players. It did not help matters that I had lost a friend to hemorrhagic Dengue fever on the Caribbean island of St. Croix a few years earlier. Like its sister viruses, Zika appeared to be transmitted primarily by mosquitoes carrying blood from one bitten person to another – the usual mechanism of arthropod vector transmission.
Where did it come from?
Although the primary infection itself may be asymptomatic, Zika’s usual symptoms are relatively mild and include fever, headache, joint pains, and conjunctivitis (red-eye). The first well documented epidemic of Zika in humans occurred on the Pacific island of Yap in 2007, and then in French Polynesia in 2013. Impressive was the high proportion of individuals infected. On the French islands, a possible connection was made to an increased incidence of the reactive and probably auto-immune Guillain-Barré syndrome which can cause life-threatening paralysis by attacking the nervous system . In 2015, some traveler, perhaps attending a world cup soccer match, probably brought the virus to South America where it exploded to infect over a million individuals so far. Additional millions are expected to become ill as the epidemic runs its course. Public anxiety and my own was amplified by the fact that so little is known about the disease and its natural history. Continue reading “A Herd of Humans – A Murder of Mosquitoes.”
The process of nominating and appointing members of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees has broken down, and– as seems to be the case for some other Kentucky universities– has been out of compliance with Kentucky law for some time. A system designed to prevent politicization of our Board and to foster gender and minority diversity has produced nothing of the kind. A major reassessment of the entire process is in order but it cannot be done behind closed doors in either Frankfort or Louisville.
When it rains on our parade, it pours.
On the same day I wrote about the statutorily impermissible imbalance of membership on the University of Louisville Board of Trustees with regard to sex and race, James McNair of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism published an extensively researched article documenting the major tilt towards registered Democrats on the Boards of UofL, the University of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS). In a state with 53% registered Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 8% independents or other, the breakdown of appointees at the state’s three largest institutions of higher education are currently as follows:
Dem Rep Other
UofL 12 3 2
UK 12 4 ?
KCTCS 7 1 –
Continue reading “Nomination and Board Appointment Process At UofL Is Broken.”