Category Archives: Corporate Accountability

Thomas Hartmann: The Crash of 2016

Could the United States face another economic collapse? Writer and broadcaster Thom Hartmann looks back at past financial crises and comes to a startling conclusion. “As long as you don’t look too closely at our nation, things seem under control — the United States looks whole … but when you go around to the ‘dark back side’ of the nation, you see the shocking truth. There you see a nation whose core fundamentals have been hollowed out,” writes Hartmann in his new book, “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

N.J., Christie Sued Over Law that Allows Just Three Paramedic Providers Statewide

Virtua says the law gives Cooper exclusive control of emergency medical services in Camden.

Virtua has sued the state of New Jersey and Gov. Chris Christie in an effort to stop a new law that gives Cooper University Hospital exclusive control of emergency medical services in Camden.

On July 6, Christie signed legislation making three hospitals (Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and University Hospital in Newark) exclusive providers of advanced life support services and mobile intensive care unit services in the regions where they are located.

But Virtua President and CEO Richard P. Miller argues that it’s been providing paramedic services to Camden for 38 years and has been “a standard bearer of quality for the state, with faster response times for the City of Camden residents than recommended through New Jersey Department of Health’s EMS Blue Ribbon Panel.”

He also said “Virtua paramedics are the only provider in the state approved to administer medications to assist with intubation in the field without a physician’s order, a reflection of their skill and expertise.”

Capital Health System is also a plaintiff in the suit and is suing the state because Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has been granted the same permission in Hamilton, N.J.

Filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Law Division in Mercer County, the lawsuit alleges that the new law would “result in the piecemeal and inefficient delivery” of advanced life support services and disrupt Virtua’s and Capital Health’s long-standing relationship with the communities.

“Simply put, the Act will not create better coordination of services, contain the costs of [advanced life support] and [basic life support] services, or increase the quality of these services,” the lawsuit alleges.

A Cooper spokesperson declined to comment. Philip Lebowitz, an attorney for Virtua, did not return a request for comment.

 

Original Source: http://www.phillymag.com/business/2015/07/29/virtua-cooper-lawsuit/#Z4XmTosLhDHxt8sj.99

Camden School Closings Illegal, NJEA Asserts

Hespe urged to rescind approval of Renaissance Schools

Published on Monday, April 20, 2015

NJEA attorneys today filed a motion imploring State Education Commissioner David Hespe to rescind his approval of the corporate takeover of four public schools in Camden and reopening them this fall as Renaissance Schools.

NJEA believes that the closures of Bonsall Elementary School, Molina Elementary School, McGraw Elementary School, and East Camden Middle School violate the Urban Hope Act and the state’s No Child Left Behind Act waiver.  Under the Urban Hope Act, Renaissance Schools may only open in newly constructed buildings or substantially renovated facilities.

“The school district is attempting to circumvent the terms and spirit of the Urban Hope Act to allow the corporate takeover of Camden Public Schools,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.  “The district is merely waiting until the end of the school year to do superficial renovations, at which time it will simply call these schools Renaissance Schools so they can be turned over to private management companies.”

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The Urban Hope Act, which originally passed in 2012 but was twice amended, allowed Camden, Trenton, and Newark the opportunity to open up to four “Renaissance Schools” in newly constructed or substantially renovated facilities.  Camden is the only one that proceeded.  Unlike charter schools, Renaissance Schools are approved by the local Board of Education and must enroll students from the local neighborhood.  Renaissance schools also receive 95 percent of district  per pupil funding, five percent more than charter schools.

In addition to violating the Urban Hope Act, NJEA argues that the closures of these schools also violate the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver application. The waiver requires schools to address performance issues through the Regional Achievement Center (RAC).  Further, the closures violate the state’s turnaround regulations, which call for a three-year turnaround period and do not allow for the schools to be handed over to charter school operators during that time frame.

NJEA believes that the closures and transfers of these schools to corporate entities were done improperly and without the input of stakeholders.

“Parents deserve to have a say before their children are transferred to a Renaissance School, and students and teachers have the right to be treated with fairness and dignity,” added Steinhauer.  “All of the people who are directly impacted by these decisions were left out of the conversation. Meanwhile the school district is handing property owned by the taxpayers over to a corporate entity. These actions must be stopped.”

Business Owner Pleads: Thomas J. Damadio Said He Helped Cooper Hospital Executives Launder Stolen Money

POSTED: January 18, 1997

 

The owner of a Philadelphia check-cashing service admitted yesterday in federal court in Camden that he helped launder up to $600,000 that had been stolen from Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center by corrupt executives.

Thomas J. Damadio, 47, the owner of B & K Check Cashing in the 4200 block of Frankford Avenue in the northeast section of the city, said he took part in currency transactions exceeding $10,000 with the executives and did not file the required federal reports.

Since the 1980s, financial institutions have been required to report large currency transactions, as the government sought to crack down on drug-dealing and money-laundering.

Damadio told U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez that he cashed large checks for Cooper executives John M. Sullivan and John H. Crispo Jr. in 1991 and 1992 and did not submit the written documents.

He also pleaded guilty to filing false income-tax returns in 1991 and 1992 and avoiding taxes on money the Cooper executives paid him to give them cash for hospital checks in their embezzlement scheme.

Damadio, who lives in Medford in Burlington County, was released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond. He is to be sentenced on April 18.

Sullivan and Crispo and five associates, so far, were accused of stealing $4 million from the hospital.

Crispo has since died. Sullivan, 47, who was executive vice president of finance, is serving 55 months in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Zoubek said Sullivan and Crispo would send batches of checks to the cashing service.

The checks would be drawn on Cooper Hospital accounts and be made out to bogus collection agencies and fabricated vending companies.

Damadio said in court yesterday that at times he personally delivered large amounts of cash to Sullivan’s $700,000 mansion in Moorestown and to Crispo’s sprawling horse farm in Vineland.

Listing Cooper’s Board Deals Companies Associated With The Hospital’s Trustees Have Gotten Some Of Its Largest Contracts

POSTED: June 15, 1997

 

Cooper Hospital paid a total of $8.2 million in 1993-1996 to private businesses in which two of its board members had a financial interest. The contracts were approved by a 27-member board, 17 of whose members or their businesses or relatives were listed by the hospital as having business affiliations with Cooper in 1996.

According to Cooper Hospital’s income-tax returns – which are public record because of the hospital’s nonprofit status – the firms of the chairman of the board of trustees and the former chairman of the hospital’s foundation board have been among the highest-paid professional contractors doing business with the hospital. Both board members’ law firms had business relationships with the hospital decades before the two men went on the board.

Cooper board chairman Peter Driscoll is a senior partner in the Haddonfield law firm of Archer & Greiner. The hospital’s tax records show that Cooper paid Archer & Greiner a total of $2.1 million in legal fees for 1993, 1995 and 1996. Archer & Greiner’s fees for 1994 were not available.

Driscoll declined requests for an interview. Peggy Leone, a hospital spokeswoman, said Driscoll recuses himself on issues involving his firm.

Cooper board member George Weinroth – who also chaired Cooper’s foundation board, its fund-raising arm – had a major interest in two businesses that were paid $6.1 million by the hospital from 1993 through 1996 for collecting money to pay for medical services. Also, Weinroth’s wife is employed as a billing specialist in the hospital’s department of pediatrics. Her salary was unavailable.

Cooper officials and Weinroth have said in interviews that the contracts were proper. Weinroth said his businesses did the work for which they were paid. He said he always recuses himself “even from any conversations” regarding his businesses.

The Camden hospital, which is formally known as Cooper Hospital- University Medical Center, paid various board members or their businesses for legal work, bill collections, banking, architectural and other services. Some board members work in salaried positions at the hospital; others have relatives employed by the institution, according to the tax returns.

It is not uncommon or illegal for board members at teaching hospitals to do business with their own hospitals, or their relatives or companies to do so.

The Cooper board met on June 2 and discussed the financial ties of board members to the hospital. In interviews, two current and two former board members said they were troubled by the issues raised in the board’s dealings.

Hospital officials said the board members’ businesses provided services needed by the hospital and the charges were fair.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that a nonprofit hospital disclose in its tax returns each year the names of board members who have business affiliations with the hospital. Before 1994, Cooper did not make such disclosures in its tax returns. Kevin Halpern, president and CEO of Cooper Hospital, has said the information had been left off in error, and he blamed the hospital’s former accountants for the mistake. Since 1994, the hospital has provided the information to the IRS.

Cooper officials also supplied lists concerning board members’ business affiliations for 1993 and 1996 to The Inquirer, although Cooper’s 1996 tax returns have not yet been filed.

Hospital officials have not provided a total dollar figure for the amount of money paid to the businesses of its board members or their relatives. Under law, the hospital need only reveal how much was paid to its five highest-paid contractors for professional services. The Archer & Greiner law firm was put in that category in 1993 and 1995. Weinroth’s law firm – Greenberg, Schmerelson & Weinroth – was among the top five for all three years. Another company in which Weinroth was a part-owner and CEO, C-Care, was listed in 1994 and 1995.

In an interview, hospital board member Weinroth described his contract work with Cooper.

“I am an entrepreneur,” he said, describing how he formed C-Care. He said that in the early 1990s New Jersey was revising its reporting requirements for hospitals providing charity care to the working poor. Under New Jersey’s charity care laws, people otherwise ineligible for Medicaid could receive some medical benefits from the state if they met certain criteria. Weinroth, with seven others, saw an opportunity for a new business, he said.

C-Care, located in the 500 block of Cooper Street in Camden, was designed to identify those patients and fill out the paperwork necessary to obtain state reimbursement to the hospital for their care. Weinroth said C-Care was paid between 3.5 and 8.5 percent of what it collected for Cooper.

According to hospital records, Cooper Hospital paid C-Care $1,170,703 in 1994; $531,858 for 1995; $456,080 for 1996.

C-Care has employed as many 16 people, Weinroth said, most of them retired police officers.

He said he believed the C-Care contracts with the hospital were not put out for public bid. Few companies do the type of work that C-Care does, he said, and his firm received the contract after presenting a proposal to the hospital. He said he began C-Care with five clients other than Cooper.

Weinroth said he sold C-Care last year. He still works for the company under an employment contract.

Weinroth also said his law firm collects unpaid hospital bills.

In 1993, Cooper Hospital paid the firm $1,175,355 for billing collection services; in 1994, $1,600,135; in 1995, $628,757; and in 1996, $591,500. Weinroth’s law firm began providing services for the hospital in the mid-1970s. Weinroth joined the hospital foundation board in 1992, and joined the board of trustees in 1995.

Cooper president Halpern has said Cooper contracts out bill collection work so that it can compare the success rate of different services.

According to the income-tax reports, Archer & Greiner, the law firm in which board chairman Driscoll is a partner, received these fees from Cooper Hospital: $584,395 in 1993; $803,071 in 1995; and $742,015 in 1996. According to the income tax reports and information supplied by the hospital, “members of the law firm, other than Mr. Driscoll, provide legal services to Cooper Hospital.”

According to Cooper Hospital officials, Archer & Greiner has been doing the hospital’s legal work for more than 40 years. Driscoll has been chairman of the hospital board since 1986.

Cooper’s records show that Cooper president Halpern serves on the board of directors for CoreStates/NJ National Bank. The records also show that Thomas Bracken, a market president of CoreStates/NJ National Bank, is a board member at Cooper Hospital. CoreStates/NJ National Bank provided banking services for Cooper in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

Halpern was paid $417,718 in 1995 as a salary from Cooper, and is currently paid a fee of $15,000 a year and $500 per meeting by CoreStates to serve on CoreStates board, according to a spokeswoman for the bank. Halpern declined requests for an interview.

In an interview, Bracken said CoreStates had served Cooper since well before he became a board member. In addition, he said, he recuses himself from any board discussions of banking business at both the hospital and at the bank.

George E. Norcross 3d, former chairman of the Camden County Democratic Party and chief executive officer of Keystone National Insurance Co. Inc., serves on the Cooper Hospital board of directors. In 1993, 1994 and 1995, his business was paid by Cooper for providing insurance-brokerage services to the hospital during those three years. In an interview, Norcross said he received only a “minimal” amount of money. He would not say how much he earned in commissions or fees from the hospital. Norcross, who is still a board member, did no business with the hospital in 1996.

Of the 27 Cooper board members in 1996, 17 were listed by Cooper as having business affiliations with the hospital or relatives or businesses that do. In addition to Driscoll, Weinroth, Halpern and Bracken, the hospital also lists:

* Joseph Tarquini of Tarquini Associates, an architectural firm that provided architectural services to Cooper for the years 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, according to the forms. Tarquini did not return several calls requesting an interview.

* Edward D. Viner, a full-time physician at Cooper. His daughter also is an employee, according to the tax returns. In a statement released through his office, Viner said his daughter works part-time doing secretarial work for Cooper.

* Michael Cresci, a trustee of H.A. DeHart, a trucking company in Thorofare that provided services to Cooper. Cresci did not respond to requests for an interview.

* Jeannine LaRue, whose niece is employed in Cooper’s Human Resources Department. LaRue said in an interview that her niece works at the hospital part-time.

* Mark Pello, medical staff president at Cooper. His wife is a part-time employee in the department of surgery. In an interview, Pello said the information supplied by Cooper was correct, and he declined to comment further.

* Barbara Schraeder, whose husband is a full-time employee of Cooper. Schraeder’s term on the board expired in March 1996. In a statement, she said the information supplied by Cooper was correct, and she declined further comment.

* Patrick Abiuso, a full-time physician at Cooper. His wife is a part-time employee in the Department of Medicine. In an interview, Abiuso said that the medical staff of the hospital voted him as the medical representative to serve on the board in 1993, when he was in private practice. After that, he said, he and his wife were hired as employees.

* Miller Biddle, a full-time physician at Cooper. His term expired in March 1996. His wife is the hospital’s assistant vice president of marketing. The Biddles did not return phone calls requesting interviews.

* Dr. Steven Levine, a former partner in a company that owned an office building that Cooper Hospital purchased. In an interview, Levine said he also receives a salary for performing part-time medical services for the hospital. His term on the board expired in September 1996.

* Carolyn Brann, president of the Women’s Board, which runs three small retail businesses whose funds go to Cooper. Brann’s husband is an employee of Johnson & Johnson, which sells pharmaceuticals and medical products to Cooper. In an interview, Brann said that neither she nor her husband had made any money as a result of her role on the board. She said she worked for the hospital as a volunteer.

* Joan Davis, chairperson of CamCare, an entity related to Cooper Hospital that provides health services to Camden residents, with fees on a sliding-scale basis. She did not return phone requests for an interview.

* Dr. Harold Paz, dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School which has an institutional affiliation with Cooper.

* Gary Lamson, vice president of mental health services of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and acting president and CEO of University Healthcare Corp.

In a statement released by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stuart Goldstein said that Cooper Hospital bylaws require that two board members come from UMDNJ. Paz and Lamson are those designees, the statement said. They are not paid for serving on the board.

Human Resources (2010)

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century, explores the complex interaction between mechanical philosophy, behaviorism, and capitalism which seeks to modify human behavior to maximize modern production. The film examines the development of scientific management – social engineering and hierarchical control mechanisms which developed through corporate funded Eugenics research which classifies individuals by race, ethnicity and desirable genetic traits.

The film discusses the broad social aspects of large scale attempts to manipulate employee behavior. The initial desire to increase  workplace efficiency and reduce worker rebellion has led to adverse social effects such as increased anxiety, neurosis and dysfunctional social relationships. The emphasis on individual competition has increased hostilities by pitting individuals against one another.

The frustration-aggression hypothesis suggests that an individual’s feelings of aggression increase in direct proportion with the perceived frustration of their desired goals. When the source of the frustration cannot be challenged, aggression is displaced onto an innocent target leading to scapegoating and heightened cultural violence. These responses are in turn, manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to deflect attention away from systematic and institutional controls to maintain the status quo.

The filmmaker’s propose that the solution to resolving much of our social conflict is through allowing individuals greater participation in their economic outcomes through employee ownership and workplace democracy. The heightened perception of fairness and equity results in increased creativity, collaboration and heightened personal fulfillment, leading to a less aggressive and higher functioning society.

The Corporation (2004)

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, the Corporation is today’s dominant institution. In this complex, exhaustive and highly entertaining documentary, Mark Achbar, co-director of the influential and inventive Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, teams up with co-director Jennifer Abbott and writer Joel Bakan to examine the far-reaching repercussions of the Corporation’s increasing preeminence.

Based on Bakan’s book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, the film is a timely, critical inquiry that invites CEOs, whistle-blowers, brokers, gurus, spies, players, pawns and pundits on a graphic and engaging quest to reveal the Corporation’s inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures. Corporation (2004) is a satisfyingly dense, thought-provoking rebuttal to some of capitalism’s central arguments.

Inside Job (2010)

From Academy Award nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, comes “Inside Job,” the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, “Inside Job” traces the rise of a rogue financial industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

The Yes Men: How to Become a Yes Man

The Yes Men are a group who use any means necessary to agree their way into the fortified compounds of commerce, and then smuggle out the stories of their undercover escapades to provide a public glimpse at the behind-the-scenes world of big business. The stories are often both shocking and hilarious. They have been called “the Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation” by author Naomi Klein. The Yes Men have impersonated World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical Corporation, and Bush administration spokesmen on TV and at business conferences around the world. They do this (a) in order to demonstrate some of the mechanisms that keep bad people and ideas in power, and (b) because it’s absurdly fun. Their main goal is to focus attention on the dangers of economic policies that place the rights of capital before the needs of people and the environment.