It was on the front page, but I don't think the Sun-Sentinel even knows how significant the news that's coming from the North Broward Hospital District today really is. Buddy Nevins reports that new CEO Alan Levine, who I am starting to love in a deep and meaningful way, has admitted to the board that the district has been using tax dollars to cover up huge deficits in its private ventures. It basically confirms that the district -- while it was under that mess of a man, Wil Trower, and the conniving general counsel Bill Scherer -- was a sham, a machine that profited a select group of doctors, lawyers, lobbyists, and district executives while it bled taxpayers dry.
I wrote about this two years ago in a series, including an article called "The Big Lie," which asked the question: "Is the North Broward Hospital District playing a shell game with tax dollars?" The answer, of course, is yes. And I have to give props to Jeb Bush. Yes, Jeb Bush. He responded to the series by turning the district upside down, firing those bad executives, dropping the bad board members, and hiring Levine. And then there's Dr. Michael Reilly, who went after the district for its waste like a bulldog. And there was John DeGroot, who dug more deeply into NBHD finances than anyone alive, I believe. At the risk of publicly forming a gushing and somewhat unseemly mutual admiration society, here's what DeGroot wrote this morning:
Where Credit Is Due
The front page of today's Sun-Sentinel carries a story by former political writer Buddy Nevins detailing the stunning fact that the North Broward Hospital District used some $1.3 billion of our property taxes to offset mega operating losses incurred by the hospital system's grossly incompetent management.
Fact is: Broward taxpayers would never have known about this outrageous abuse of their tax dollars if it were not for The News Times and Bob Norman, the author-editor of this blog.
Fact also is: Florida Govenor Jeb Bush virtually rebuilt the entire District Hospital Commission in embarrassed response to Bob Norman's investigative series detailing the shameful and politically-driven policies at the tax-funded hospital system,
And finally: It was this new District Board of Commissioners — including Bob Bernstein (possibly the first and only board member with the background and knowledge needed to aggressively seek out the tax dollar truth) —that led to (a) the removal of Wil Trower, the district's previous CEO and (b) the hiring of Allan Levine, the district's new CEO who yesterday blew the whistle on Trower's deceitful management practices and tax dollar abuse.
Which is The New Times is deserving of a huge THANK-YOU from hundreds of thousands of taxpaying Broward property owners.
Which begs a vexing question:
Like where in hell was The Sun-Sentinel in revealing the historic and egregious shameful and shoddy leadership at one of the nation's largest tax-funded health care systems?
Out to lunch on trendy Las Olas.
Or busy creating a two-fisted Help Team charged with telling us that:
"Broken Glass Not Good to Eat" and "Gasoline and Matches = Danger!" and "Razor Blades Bad Toys for Tots."
But when it came to covering the historic stupid-animal-trick brand of management at Broward's largest "safety net" health care system for the county's poor and indigent.....?
Well, the folks at The Sun-Sentinel chose to let the scruffy "alternative" journalists at The New Times deal with that kind of "boring number" stuff.
Trouble is, it's hard to find anything journalistically "boring" about hospital administrators blowing some $1.3 billion of our tax dollars over a seven year period — while cooking their books to cover it up.
Time now for a prediction.
No way will The Sun-Sentinel follow this story of health care lies and tax dollar abuse by daring to compare the stunningly diverse management styles and tax dollar use at Broward's two tax-funded health care systems which are:
The North Broward Hospital District, which provides tax-funded health care to residents north of Dania. The South Broward Hospital District, covering residents to the south.
Which is how and why the people of Broward County can only hope and pray The New Times will continue to do what The Sun-Sentinel does not — while thanking Bob Norman and God for the way those in charge are finally telling the truth while trying to fix things at the North Broward Hospital District.