Monday, March 14, 2011

County Commission Gal Explains Fort Worth's MHMR-GATE SCANDAL In Detail

County Commission Gal's explanation of the MHMR-Gate Scandal involving the Paradise Center first appeared on the Durango Texas blog on March 4. We are re-publishing what County Commission Gal had to say below for the scandalous enlightenment of those who don't know about the Paradise Center Scandal.....

A few days ago in response to a blogging about the Paradise Center Scandal, which I had renamed the MHMR-Gate Scandal, someone Anonymous hoped that I knew what I was talking about. And that the public needed and deserved to know about this "so-called scandal."

Wikipedia's definition of "Scandal"....

A scandal is a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages (or tries to damage) the reputation of an institution, individual or creed. A scandal may be based on true or false allegations or a mixture of both. From the Greek σκάνδαλον, a trap or stumbling-block. The metaphor is that wrong conduct can impede or "trip" people's trust or faith. Some scandals are broken by whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoing within organizations or groups.  Sometimes an attempt to cover up a possible scandal ignites a greater scandal when the cover-up fails.

This afternoon I heard from someone calling herself County Commission Gal. Read what County Commission Gal has to say about the MHMR-Gate Scandal and you will easily see that the MHMR Tarrant County shenanigans clearly are a scandal. And those shenanigans are scandalous.

From County Commissioner Gal...

I don't want to risk losing my job, especially as retirement nears, so I won't use my real name.  I heard talk last week around the county administration offices about Paradise Center and like many people wanting to know more about this interesting but disturbing story I was forced to use a search engine to find some kind of reporting.  I was rather shocked to see only the brief piece in the FW Weekly about the protest. And the posts on your blog. 

Again I don't want to have problems with my job as a County employee, with extensive experience in government operations and analytical work.  But I want to honor my brother's shortened life and memory by sharing with the only information dissemination source about this scandal--yes, from all my years of experience and from reading the evidence presented to the County Executive and the Commissioners, it looks like a pretty major and costly scandal.

I am using my own computer and time to share with the public what appears to be the hard truths about disturbing issues surrounding this scandal, which is so ugly that it appears even the County government is trying to dismiss it and hoping that it just goes away.  Because these courageous Paradise Center folks are weak and powerless in almost every way. Their main powers are their resolve to demand that they not be exploited and treated as second or third class citizens. Their hope of holding on to their hard earned resolve and rights as citizens rests in the truth getting out (hello, media/journalists) and the public raising a chorus of questions and protests until the wrongdoers are held accountable.

Because I am convinced that this is so very important for our friends and neighbors suffering from severe mental illness and that it serves the public interest, I will share some selected facts I know about this scandal.  Based on written material I've seen and from discussions I've heard (plus some of my own research of publicly available information, the essence of this scandal is that MHMR Trustees approved of the CEO and his executive team's scheme to bring in needed "revenue" (vs. funding, which are from grants or government budgets) by cleverly exploiting the well established community center operated by the "consumer-run" non-profit organization Paradise Center Inc. in the following main ways:

-- MHMR signed a contract with the private profit-driven HMO group called Bravo Health  to begin enlisting MHMR clients who qualify for Medicaid. 

--Medicaid pays pretty good for services that help people with severe and persistent mental illness recover from their disabling illness and to reintegrate back into society (e.g. classes or training groups to learn how to take care of their hygiene needs, paying their bills so they won't lose their housing and end back up on the streets as homeless people, managing their medical and pharmaceutical needs such as making and keeping appointments and getting prescriptions filled and organizaing their many medications in pill boxes to ensure that they follow the psychiatrist's treatment plan and control the negative symptoms of their mental illness, how to budget their limited income, buy groceries and eating healthy meals, making friends and a support network like most people have and take for granted, etc.).   

--Bravo and MHMR would "share" employees and infrastructures in order to maximize profit for the company and revenue for the taxpayer-funded government agency.

--The executives told their "bosses" the Board of Trustees, who are appointed by the Commissioners Court to be their surrogates in overseeing a governmental agency under the "sponsorship" (see their websites) of Tarrant County government, in meetings last summer that this business agreement/contract "is projected to bring over $600,000 of revenue in the first year".  That's not small change any way you look at it, especially if MHMR doesn't have to provide the costly outlays to set up such a state-approved "program" to help their very sickest/debilitated clients increase their likelihood of staying in their own place in the community instead of on the streets, in shelters, or the most costly inpatient hospitalizations or in the criminal justice system.

--The reason that MHMR could expect to gain such a large "revenue" and not really having to do much of the work was the assumption that the extremely low overhead would continue by using the 8,000 man hours of volunteer work by the Paradise Center team to operate a well-known and well-loved community center for the people with chronic and severe mental illness. 

--The "foundational grant" that MHMR had signed contracts to provide for the most basic operational needs of Paradise Center the organization and its community center is a shockingly low $150,000 per year, which covers the paltry salary package of the well-educated (two masters degrees from the world's largest and most influential seminary) and extremely competent professional staff whose decades of unblemished record working with the sickest of the sick (i.e. the psych hospital or "ward") made her 9 and 1/2 year work a success that produced significant and very positive results for many people who participate in the array of services, programs, and opportunities offered by Paradise Center.

--Apparently due to her personal and professional ethics, Teresa Davis resisted 5 months of harsh and really shameful pressure tactics by the MHMR executive team, including holding toilet paper and other products for the Center's four bathrooms that serve the 80 or so average unique people who attend the tiny community center as ransom to force her to attend another two hour long meeting where 3 or more MHMR executives would gang up on her using verbal and emotional assaults to break down her will and ethical stance,  to go along with their false representation (to Bravo Health and the state agency that oversees Medicaid/HMO) that "Paradise Center is just another one of our many programs" and that she was just another one of their 1,300 employees subject to their complete control and domination.

--MHMR knew that it was critical for this influential person to go along with this falsehood since the contract, and the detailed proposal to the state for approving their partnership to provide Medicaid billable services with the profit-driven HMO, had stated that everything about Paradise Center and its operations (i.e. legal status as an independent 501/c/3 non-profit organization, it's Charter and By-laws which vests the authority for its operations and other important issues in the all-volunteer Board of Directors) was under the direct control of MHMR.  

--Contract law experts could see the problems easily: we have three separate legal entities/organizations here and two of them had entered into a contractual business partnership but intentionally not letting the other, smaller and weaker, legal entity Paradise Center Inc. know about their deal. Very serious legal and financial consequences would jump out, to all three parties and the state agency overseeing Medicaid/HMO, when the Bravo Health team comes in and takes over most of the internal operations of the community center operated by Paradise Center Inc. with the complete assurance that it is "a program of MHMR" their business partner.

--Paradise Center Inc. leadership team and their 500+ official members would surely raise objections and whip out their legal documents and contracts that would expose the lie concocted by MHMR's leadership team and Trustees.  Bravo Health, a major HMO who is new to this market, would then likely ask MHMR's team to do some serious explaining, privately and/or in the courts since lawyers with knowledge of this scheme said it would be a basic fraud case.

--Paradise Center and its well-loved community center is crucial to the calculation of the projected profit and revenue by the two business partners because most of the people with mental illness do not like to attend required meetings, classes, or training sessions because they remind them of their time locked up in restricted institutions like psych hospitals/wards and even prison where "the mental patients" or "inmates" were under complete control of those in power over them.  

--A major factor in Paradise Center's success and "popularity" (80 people choosing to walk for miles or take tedious 1-2 hour long bus rides in all kinds of weather  to come be around friends and participate in fun and helpful activities daily is extraordinary) is the warm atmosphere and "culture of acceptance and support" that Teresa Davis had worked over her 9 and 1/2 years to promote and inculcate, which had become an expected characteristic as new people come asking to join and participate based on recommendations by friends, family, and various professionals.  THIS IS A KEY PART OF THE SCHEME: unwitting people who come to their community center were seen as "fish in the barrel" for the Medicaid-billable rehab services as "the authority" pulls those qualified for such financially profitable activities in to nearby meeting rooms for 30-minutes or longer rehab services.

--This is a clear case of arrogance, bullying, as well as deceptive and exploitive behavior.

--For MHMR's leadership team, the expected easy money and the potential consequences of the legal issues just described, made it imperative that Ms. Davis be gotten out of the way, whatever it took. The community center and organization operating successfully out of 505 S. Jennings had to be successfully passed off as completely MHMR's by a date certain, knowing that the already delayed enrolling period was quickly approaching on 05/01/11. If they could convince the state agency that everything is kosher and thus their business enterprise was now "operationally ready" to start doing business and billing Medicaid.

--Thus Ms. Davis's resiliency and principled stance had to be overcome somehow: the shockingly devastating and extremely foolish act by MHMR's Trustees, CEO, executive team, and legal counsel in "terminating your employment immediately" on 02/17/11.  

--The very next morning the MHMR-Bravo team took over the community center and busily walked around looking at their design plans for the facility, discussing how to keep people coming in such large numbers (bought pizzas and gave out free drinks all days to the 30 or so unknowing people who showed up), and more importantly trying to figure out how to find people to replace the exiled Paradise Center Inc. leadership team and their 8,000+ hours of volunteer work to make THEIR community center and organization the "jewel of the community" and an "easy" prey for their scheme to exploit the name/reputation, "warmth"/culture, and free labor of the people with serious mental illness in order to maximize the HMO's profit margin and to empower and enrich the executives of MHMR. Trustees praise and give them raises for such a "creative" business solution, especially in this budget-reducing era.

--They don't get or don't care about the cruel irony of their willfull actions and motivations: exploiting and abusing the very people that they righteously declare to the public and taxpayers they are committed to helping "improving quality of life" and dedicated to prevent them from being abused, neglected, or exploited by those with more power and sophistication.

 Tell the truth and the whole truth, Mr. Durango.  Please help me protect my anonymity.

To protect County Commission Gal's anonymity I edited out her detailing of her personal reason that motivated her to look into the MHMR-Gate Scandal. I thought those details would make her identifiable. Suffice to say, she has a relative who died who would have benefited had he been able to access the type of help provided by the Paradise Center before MHMR destroyed it.


CEO Must GO said...
It sounds like a scandal, smells like a scandal, and looks like a scandal.

Start packing MHMR big shots cuz the people will throw you out like those corrupt autocrats overseas.
MARCH 4, 2011 5:53 PM

 Anonymous said...
Dear Mr. Durango,

I'm a retired MHMR clinical worker and I am writing because I have gotten calls and emails from former colleagues in the agency about this shocking scandal.

First, I want to say that I knew and had great respect for Teresa because she was a humble but very dedicated professional whose only ambition was to serve and help those people. Often using diplomacy and clinical skills to quietly help clients who had missed appointments or lost their meds or scripts by personally and respectfully asking me and some other client-focused staff to get whatever meds the client needed because she knew that even missing a few days of these powerful and helpful meds could land the people in the expensive psych ER or could be the first step in their relapse or "decompensation".

In other words, Comm. Gal is right on when she describes the stellar professionalism and strong personal and professional ethics of Paradise Center's director. Teresa's and other agency employees' hard work and dedication are usually not recognized and rewarded because the top leadership have a totally different focus and values. They have lost focus on the individual client and their needs as PEOPLE. Instead they focus on numbers, head count, money, and political favors and their status and power inside and outside the agency.

So the information and analysis from Comm. Gal is very incisive and consistent with what I had observed and experienced in my long service in the agency.

The biggest part of the MHMR scandal for me is the fact that these executives knew what would happen when Teresa was "killed off" suddenly like that: those hundreds of vulnerable people respect, trust, and love her. Living on a farm now, I view that as amazingly unprofessional and unethical and like killing off the mama of a brood of young chicks, who are now left scattered, confused, and very vulnerable to predators and other natural elements putting their health and safety and even lives at risk. I am not exaggerating because this how deadly serious it is.

This is not the first time these people at MHMR make foolish decisions and hurt the very people that they're paid to help and to protect. It just looks like they've picked on someone with strong morals and who has the LOVE of so many people whose lives she has touched(or the lives of their family, friends, or like me their patients/clients).

I pray for Teresa and her supportive husband and daughter whose willingness to get to know the people helped them feel like they are part of a real family. Something most do not have but is critical in their continued recovery and feeling "normal"--what's more normal and human than to have a mother figure, a brother figure, and a little girl who "takes the place" of the niece or child that most of these people don't have.

Paradise Center was like a safe home with an emotionally healthy family (rare for even many people) structure. That's why people are upset, confused, and acting out in negative ways. Their "mother and family" had just been "murdered" and their "home" taken over by good friends of the people who did the dastardly deed.

Scandalous. Immoral. Shameful. And possibly criminal what they did and caused.

Thank you, Retired Nurse
MARCH 5, 2011 5:21 AM

 Susanna said...
Clear explanations and transparency better be coming soon from the MHMR leadership. S-O-O-n because these are very reasonable allegations backed by what appears to be solid research and evidence. And some deadly serious affects on people's lives.

Who else besides these elected County Commissioners could play a positive role? Maybe these Commissioners need to be scrutinized and come election know how democracy works.
MARCH 5, 2011 7:38 PM  

 Anonymous said...
MHMR and their leaders are the most caring, professional, and ethical people in the world.

You, that criminal Teresa--why else would they kick her sorry A$%^ out so quickly--and the handfull of your elks need to apologize to Dr. McDermott and his compassionate team. And shut up and move back to Washington if you don't like the Fort Worth Way.
MARCH 6, 2011 8:40 AM

 Utilization Manager said...
Speaking of "criminal", Anonymous. Do a quick search of "the Citadel and Medicaid fraud" and see what you think. I used to work for Tarrant county MHMR and I was impressed by how the CEO and his political allies managed to keep MHMR and his name from being connected to the Citadel Medicaid story.

MHMR was involved in a similar business partnership that was projected to be as profitable as this one with Bravo health. I worked for a while in the department that was working closely with the Citadel people to make sure that no laws are broken or skirted.

Well, see for yourself. I don't think the CEO and MHMR can escape from this scandal. Let's hope so for the people and the taxpayers' sake.
MARCH 6, 2011 2:04 PM

 CatsPaw said...
"... handful of your elks"? The only native elk in Texas have been extinct for a hundred years and surely you don't mean the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks because I think they're busy partying and doing a little community good.

Certainly this matter seems to have a fishy odor about it and inquiring minds would like to know what the hell is going on. If the actions of MHMR are on the up-and-up, a little transparency will only serve them well.

Perhaps you meant "handful of your ILK"?

I don't know any of the players in this drama personally, but I am of that ilk. And questioning the "Fort Worth Way" can help keep things on the up-and-up, too.
MARCH 6, 2011 2:06 PM

 KerrieAnnCutie said...
This all seems so silly. Aren't there people that supervise the MHMR people? Whose in charge over there? Maybe Durango could just ask them and report here what they say. And what about Ms. Davis. How come we're not hearing from her? Has she been able to explain to her clients that she seems to be close to what has happened? That seems like the decent thing for MHMR to do.
I don't know if this is a scandal or just a lack of information available. My guess is that MHMR doesn't even know about this blog. I found it through a friend telling me. She works at MHMR and says that her co-workers assume Ms. Davis did something wrong to get fired, but everyone has been ordered not to contact her in any way. Also, everyone has been reminded by email that they are not to talk to media in any way. That doesn't pass the smell test. Durango, put on your Clark Kent glasses and go see what you can find out. Inquiring minds want to know!
MARCH 6, 2011 10:02 PM

 Scandal Listener said...
Got friends working inside Hulen Tower and they say something is definitely going down. The executives are meeting constantly together and racking up tons of legal bills calling MHMr's high dollar lawyer all the time.

The CEO has avoided being seen, comes in early or slipping in quickly and quietly. Some say it looks like he's undergone drastic physical changes, maybe from stress or lack of sleep AND taking something to help cope. Definitely less smug and more nervous, so talking less due to increased stuttering problem.

Women executives ("my gals ") roll their eyes and make faces whenever his name comes up. They're visibly antsy and distracted as well.

Friends say they hope these big shots, but not that sharp as executives go, leave soon because they're more secretive and are causing unnecessary tensions and distractions.
MARCH 7, 2011 6:45 PM

 Clinic staff said...
Don't expect much discussion since theMcDermott regime has clamped down on employees' participation in any free speech type activity without MHMR's propaganda department's screening and approval.

Wish MHMR would leave Libya and relocate to America.
MARCH 7, 2011 10:00 PM

 FW sucks said...
Any details about the good Samaritan who is donating some space for the homeless Paradise Center folks?

Murmurs around the clubs on Jennings was that the owners of the Rainbow Lounge and nearby properties were the good and decent American in question. Not churches, church members, NAMI of Tarrant county, county commissioners court, or even JPS/tsp. Not even Otis Thornton and the city's homeless coalition.

Which all make sense, in the FW Way kind of way. Those groups either are scared of the powerful MHMR CEO or can't wait to get more business from the fallout of the MHMR coup Doeung yet (and. stronger argument to ensure more fund$ for themselves).

The glbt people and the Rainbow Lounge know what it feels like to be treated as outcasts, third class citizens, and even to be bullied and abused by governmental agencies and individuals.

So, what gives? Or rather WHO gives a damn besides you, Durango?
MARCH 8, 2011 1:54 PM

 Anonymous said...
Dr. McDermott has so many political connections and money at his disposal that this scandal will just fade away, like other ones during his twenty something years as the top dog.

Like the powerful Col.Kadafi in Libya, Jim McDermott will get his political allies to crush these loony birds and that hard headed woman many seem to see as a saintly figure. P-l-e-e-z. She can't hold a candle to the awesome women in charge now Lynn and Ellen.

You all go get a life. Or a job, like that whiney Teresa "bohoo" Davis.

BTW, it's not any kind of suppression of freedom by MHMR, it's just that they have more important things to do than answer questions from you little nobodies.

Especially the damn yankee owner of this pathetic news source. If the Star-Telegram doesn't report it, it ain't worth the time. Period.
MARCH 9, 2011 1:04 PM

 Anonymous said...
I agree with the short tv report on WFAA two weeks ago that a disgruntled employee and a few followers was picketing outside Paradise Center. Anon I agree that Fort Worth Star Telegram does not find this news worth reporting. The clients are not suffering. Ther are having fun with new staff and new peer leadership. Sebrina and Dale are back from Teresas little group. Paul is back and back to ordering supplies. Lynn has condensed alot of the paperwork to a smoother running center. Two of the male clients volunteered to keep the four bathrooms clean on a daily basis. Time to move on like the clients have.
MARCH 13, 2011 4:14 PM


Taxpayer with DVR said...

Whoa there a minute MHMR spinsmeister(-ess?). Up front, I ain't got no dog in this fight except that its my tax dollarS and the government agency it supports in the spotlight here, okay.

I had the news on my DVR and just watched it again. There was nothing about "a disgruntled employee" said or even any such idea suggested. The exact words were that many members of this community center were "upset by the sudden firing of a popular employee".

There was nothing about "followers" either, buddy (-ette?). The people demonstrating (not "picketing") outside their community center were the rightful leaders of an independent non-profit organization who were demanding that they at least be allowed to get their belongings since they had been pretty much thrown out by a governmental agency.

And THAT'S the disturbing part for me as a citizen and taxpayer, okay. What legal and moral right does MHMR and their leaders have to invade these poor people's little place and just take over?

If any of these MHMR folks or any government agency tried to do that with my little business or home, they would get more than civil disobedience and protest signs from this NRA member. If you get my point.

Oh, the so called executives shown looked like people guilty of something and trying to keep the public from knowing. Scurrying around like burglars and speaking through the crack in the door--not the behavior of people doing something proper.

And why the refusal to explain what happened to get these typically docile people (MI does that)so riled up that they would demonstrate so publicly and forcefully? Some wearing oxygen machines and enduring obvious physical problems and heat...waiting out in the hot sidewalk with the WFAA crew.

Whatcha hiding MHMR burglar-crats?? Really, because this taxpayer and probably a bunch others want to know. IT'S OUR MONEY THAT PAID FOR THAT BUILDING AND YOUR DANG SALARIES.

X-mhmr therapist said...

MHMR-TC leaders have a value system that has little regard for the truth and the WHOLE truth, as seen with their dishonest commenter twisting the TV news. Tragically, this warped morality had infected and abscessed the whole agency. Those of us who couldn't tolerate such a corporate culture were forced to leave, sometimes by our own initiative.

It's extremely disturbing that this C(reepy) EO has also managed to infect even reputable organizations like NAMI. But a person in power over twenty something years with so much tax funded budgets can do and get away with a lot. Especially when there's little oversight or public scrutiny. Just recall what happened with his predecessor and what just happened with El Paso's MHMR and its Trustees and CEO last month.

The man really gave a lot of employees, past and current, the creeps. Of couorse, he can put on the charm for short periods and when certain situations call for such Academy worthy shows.

I SAW YOU said...

>Anonymous 1: Like the powerful Col.Kadafi in Libya, Jim McDermott will get his political allies to crush these loony birds and that hard headed woman many seem to see as a saintly figure. P-l-e-e-z. She can't hold a candle to the awesome women in charge now Lynn and Ellen.<

Wow, Kadafi! That is some kind of hero worship!

Anonymous 2: "I agree that Fort Worth Star Telegram does not find this news worth reporting...Paul is back and back to ordering supplies. Lynn has condensed alot of the paperwork to a smoother running center. Two of the male clients volunteered to keep the four bathrooms clean on a daily basis. Time to move on like the clients have."

Spoken like a true afficianado of the tastiness of shoe polish. Tell me, do brown and black have the same flavor?

(Oops -- I guess that was rude!)

BTW -- county politics are tight. Startlegram woun't step in unless the lid blows. The newsboys aren't going to light the fuse. But if or when it blows, all bets are off.

(Man! Kadafi of all people!)

Anonymous said...

County Commission Gal's comments was deceptive and malicious against her Company! You better be glad they don't know who you are because you probably would be the next person "FIRED".

Well, I really have no respect for you. You may be a County Commission Gal but, you have very poor work ethics. You are a disgrace to your job profession or lack there of !

Well, as I have said in other bloggings that it's time for the other side to no longer blog.
It's non productive and this has been going on over a month now. Time to move on to more important things.

Wishing you well, and hoping you can find the needed help you need.

Glenn W. said...

MHMR Con, we've noticed that you've been a busy bee this morning, trolling all the blog postings and taking a cowardly potshot as you hightail it out of the circling citizenry.

Tell your little soon-to-be-former ceo that you did as you were told like a good little servant.

Your first paragraph is VERY REVEALING: that's the thuggish attitude and bullying abuse of authority that underlies this whole scandal. Thanks for revealing how MHMR & its leadership do things. That pretty explains how Ms. Davis was bullied, abused, and retaliated against for standing up for the truth.

She refused to lie as your Creepy Executive Officer and his "gals" had tried to force her, so she was terminated "for missing a meeting", which was Con-verted to "insubordination" in your gang's petty fight to punish her some more when she applied for temporary employment.

From the emails posted here and other background information we citizens have before us, Ms. Davis had communicated to your Con-spirators that what they were doing and coercing her to do were illegal and unethical. What did your gang do? WE ALL KNOW NOW.

Where are you going to set up your palm reading shop after little jimmy's regime gets thrown out like yesterday's garbage? Because from you second paragraph, you have psychic powers. And you're projecting your own feelings about your personal ethics and professional competence.

Yes, it's time for you to move on and find that stall at the flea market for your tarrot card and palm reading services.

But you already knew that. You're Psychic!!

The "side" that's PRO truth, justice, and accountability will still be here...and other places you might not be psychic enough to know about. You run along and Congregate among your "side" for needed security and the angry villagers are closing in on the robbers and abusers they'd caught red-handed.

Anonymous said...

Bah-bye, MHMR-TC bullycrats. Try to stay on the dark "$ide", would ya please.