Instead of a fist-pounding corpulent senator, we now have our own State of California dancing to the tune played by Hollywood moguls while they ask “How high?” to commands of “Jump.”
The stigma of McCarthyism that wreaked havoc and in some cases destroyed the lives of motion picture and television industry workers is still alive. As a throwback to the '40s and '50s, we are still dealing with the strong-arm, back-room power politics that seek to justify a campaign of servitude and compliance to an ideology based not on an allegiance to right wing American principals — but instead based on the idolatrous worship of studio kings and their agendas.
It's McCarthyism in reverse, and it is happening under our collective noses. Instead of a fist-pounding corpulent senator whose reckless accusations of treason without proper regard for evidence caused many good Americans to knuckle under and pledge an empty allegiance out of fear, we now have our own State of California government dancing to the tune played by Hollywood moguls while they ask "How high?" to commands of "Jump."
As we approach the second anniversary of receiving "the letter" that announced the impending closure of the Motion Picture Home's Long Term Care facility, I'm reminded of my own conversation that followed almost immediately with Eric Stone, who at that time was a supervisor at the California Dept. of Health Facilities Inspection Division.
With the letter in hand, I noted to Mr. Stone that there was no facility described in the letter that advised the residents and their families on how to lodge a protest of the decision. Mr. Stone agreed that "the MPTF was deficient in its notice,” but resigned himself to the fact that he was allowing the closure to proceed as they had “met other requirements.”
Thankfully, there were family members and members of the industry who would not resign themselves as did Mr. Stone, and mounted a campaign that has, to this day, kept the nursing home doors open. As our protest not only took to the street, but to the halls of the Screen Actors Guild and the Teamsters, we became aware that this was not the only instance where the celebrity and millionaire-heavy MPTF board room seemed to have played power politics with the State of California.
I attended a meeting of resident families and the head of the State of California's Dept. of Health Facilities Inspection Division, Dr. James L. Lawson, who claimed in no uncertain terms that his department had blinders on when it came to the likes of the star power of the MPTF board, and only worked on behalf of the betterment of services to the elderly. He enthused vociferously on the departmentt's commitment to the elderly and invited us to communicate directly with him if necessary.
True to his word, a quick reply by Dr. Lawson to an April 24, 2010, e-mail that I sent kicked into gear an investigation into two specific complaints of mine regarding the religious persecution and denial of rights to worship of the LTC residents (they were denied a proper Passover seder), and the denial of easy return access to the LTC because of over-the-top security restrictions on weekends (like a bizarro world Roach Motel, you could “check out but you couldn't check back in”).
Although the State of California substantiated my complaint regarding the denial of rights to worship (imagine a facility that is home to a Torah donated by Steven Spielberg, as well as a street with his name on it — having a substantiated complaint of denial of worship for Jewish LTC residents), it refused to provide anything other than a telephone confirmation and a substantiated complaint number to me.
It was explained to me that the complaint was indeed substantiated, yet they had no rules on the books to cover religious persecution, therefore they couldn't issue anything more than a number. I asked to have the complaint substantiation e-mailed, mailed or faxed to me, which is my right. My phone calls went unanswered, my messages ignored, and my rights violated.
Kinda sucks being the only one who knows that Spielberg's Motion Picture Home denied rights to an elderly Jew, and not having the paperwork to back it up. "But Senator McCarthy, honest sir … I'm not a communist!"
I'm not the only one who knows it now. Read on blogee — for what comes next smacks of an evil that would even raise the hackles on Joe McCarthy's back fat:
Within days of my own complaints being leveled at the MPTF, a complaint made by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform was leveled at the MPTF regarding the violation of the rights of dozens of nursing home residents. In a letter dated May 27 to our friend Eric Stone, CANHR detailed those rights that at least 40 residents were denied in their transfer to other facilities.
It took months for the investigation to be completed (from the end of May until mid August), and the results to be published. We applauded the fearlessness of the State of California's Health Facilities Inspection Decision for citing the fund for "Illegal Transfers'." We finally felt that the words of Dr. Lawson rang true: They were not only immune to the glare of stardom, but they did indeed represent the interests of the elderly, at all levels.
We were then gobsmacked like a fly being hit by a windshield on a freeway.
It was only days after the fund was served with the citation that the Dept. of Health reversed their decision. The timing of the reversal was as suspicious, the quickness impossible … and oddly enough, the reversal came gift-wrapped and delivered only days before the MPTF's Night Before fundraising event.
The decision that took months to work its way through fact checking, communications between case workers and Sacramento, and maneuvering through political red tape was reversed almost immediately. No discussion, no re-checking of facts, no conference with CANHR.A waterboarding session where dates and locations are sputtered through clenched teeth could not have delivered the reversal any faster. The State caved and having deflated its earlier ruling sang like a canary to the tune of “There's No Business Like Show Business.”
And … where is Dr. Lawson in this? The steadfast and stalwart head of the division that checks on nursing homes, was to my knowledge, mute regarding this reversal of misfortune.
We don't have to wonder what happened. It's obvious. How many Dept. of Health higher-ups who take their marching orders from the likes of Schwarzenegger and "friends'" have knuckled under as if they were screenwriters called to the Senate floor to rat on their associates? I wait expectantly for Eric Stone's walk on role in the next DreamWorks movie.
I will not blink during the credits of the next Spielberg masterpiece in the hopes of reading: Medical Consultant: Dr. James L. Lawson, Ph.D., RN.