Messy Divorce of Rick Scott and David DiPietro

This week, a judge struck down Florida Governor Rick Scott’s suspension of David DiPietro & Darrell Wright and in an ironic twist – the Judge was right. (Scott Wrong to Boot Appointee for Malfeasance-Judge Rules – Miami Herald, Judge-To-Scott-Reinstate-Suspended-Broward-Health-Chairman – Local 10, Di-Pietro-Reinstated – Sun Sentinel)  While any reader of the blog this past year would find ample grounds to not only suspend but even remove Mr. David DiPietro and Mr. Darrell Wright for improper conduct as board members, the singular stated reasons for the Governor’s actions were remarkably off the mark.   It’s like missing the fish in a barrel without water.

'They're nice, but do you really expect me to drink my imported Merlot from domestic Merlot glasses?'The hypocrisy is palatable, the irony is distasteful, and the lesson is dangerously evident.  Based on the Judge’s order, Broward Health appears to be an organization that is run by an incompetent board of political hacks, accountable to no one – not the public, not the voters, not the taxpayers, not its customers, not the 8,000 plus employees, not even the Governor.   The irony is that I was hoping for the Governor to win, knowing full well that in this case only – I felt the Governor’s actions were somewhat precipitous and not well thought out. See my article “David DiPietro’s Raw Deal”.  I was hoping that, at the very least – the Board would be accountable to someone – even if it were only the Governor.

Even more infuriating, is the “vindication” DiPietro claimed in the judge’s order.

“I am pleased and gratified at the judge’s ruling,” Di Pietro said in a statement. “The order is vindication of my service at Broward Health … I am proud of my record of fighting corruption at Broward Health, and with my reinstatement, I intend to continue to champion multiple transparency and accountability reforms.”  David DiPietro  4/11/16 Sun Sentinel  

Shhhh its a secretNotwithstanding the fact that DiPietro was correct to object to the most recent secret meeting on the dual issues of the performance of their corporate counsel and well-known corruption investigator Mr. Wayne Black’s allegation of administrative obstruction, David has been a willing participant in many secret  meetings at Broward HealthThese secret  meetings include among others, the highly controversial meetings on the Zimmerman Advertising proposals wherein David had no objection and was reportedly a strong proponent.  In his report, Even Mr. Berger (the attorney hired by the Board to do a limited internal investigation on behalf of the Board’s Audit committee), concluded that the Zimmerman meeting should not have been held behind closed doors in secret.  It appears that Mr. DiPietro only objects when his personal/political agenda dictates and not, as he would have us believe, when the public interests are at issue.

NotASecretAnymoreNot only has DiPietro not fought corruption, nor championed either transparency or accountability from his position as Chair of the Board – his orchestration of some of the most incompetent Board decisions has made his board and his tenure one of the worst, incompetent if not corrupt Boards in Broward Health’s sordid history.   And that is saying something!  It is not accidental nor an overstatement to hold him personally responsible for much of the dire straits in which Broward Health now finds itself.  I have spent a great many words on this and related topics in this blog, and I will not repeat them here.  Please see a short list of my past articles (“Dan Lewis’ Original Posts“– found on the lower right of the home page.)

Politics

David-Di-PietroI have to admit that I like David DiPietro, and I think he is a good attorney – but I hate the job he is doing as a Broward Health Board Member, particularly as its chair.  So it is appropriate to look at the politics of the matter which are really quite interesting.

Govenor ScottFrom the time of his original appointment to the Board by Governor Rick Scott in 2011 until mid-2014 when Governor Scott appointed additional board members to support DiPietro, David generally was on the short end of a 5-2 vote.  Governor Scott made his new appointments primarily on the recommendation of a rather small group of insider Broward republicans – including, of course, one of DiPietro’s best friend Broward County Commissioner Chip LeMarca who quite coincidentally later was able to parlay a failed construction background into a high paying community relations position with – wait for it … Zimmerman Advertising.

Notably in light of his strong recent support of the Zimmerman Advertising contract, one of DiPietro’s past 5-2 lost votes was to oppose the advertising expenditure for the re-branding of the systems individual hospitals in favor of a unified brand “Broward Health” hospital.   At that time, he did not feel that Broward Health money should be spent in advertising.

Back then, this same group of insider Broward republicans together with David helped to orchestrate the appointment of David’s wife, Nina to Florida’s Medical Board currently chaired by none other than Dr. Nabil El SanadiSmall world!

It was now clear in Broward’s hushed circles of political power that David DiPietro was the go-to person for any appointments by Governor Rick Scott in Broward including; the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 17th Judicial Circuit (JNC) and the Broward Health Board.

And so, three new Broward Health Board appointments gave DiPietro a majority (Rodriquez, Nieland and Wright).  

Go Back We Fucked Everything UpWith the help of the three new Scott appointments to the Board handpicked by David DiPietro, he now had a majority.  In short order, David was elected chair and with the threat of his new majority, ousted not only past CEO Frank Nask, but also corporate counsel Sam Goren and the marketing department headed by Sara Howley (which would pave the way for the Zimmerman contract that had already been approved by new CEO Dr. El Sanadi). (See my articles: Innovative CEO NASK Forced Out, Politics Wins – We Loose!,    Board of Commissioners Rubber Stamp Shady Deals at Meeting – Very Tacky).  After all, Dr. El Sanadi could be relied upon to play ball in return for a sweetheart contract (please see my previous posts “The Best Broward Health CEO contract politics can buy!”, and “Has the Office of Inspector General seen Dr. El Sanadi’s CEO Contract with Broward Health?”).

And so, new appointments on the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), now chaired by the son of a prominent cardiac surgeon and significant Republican contributor and fundraiser, Dr. Zachariah Zachariah.  During this time frame,  Dr. El Sanadiin secret, purchased Dr. Zachariah’s medical practice on behalf of Broward Health in a multi-million-dollar deal currently under some intense regulatory review.  This deal could not have been done without the approval of DiPietro.  Coincidentally, the very same JNC chaired by the young Zachariah and other DiPietro recommended appointments, sent Nina DiPietro, David’s wife, name to the Governor for a judicial appointment!

In what had been panned as Florida’s most inexperienced judicial appointment ever, once again, as he had done so often before, the Governor accommodated David DiPietro with his wife’s appointment to the Broward County Bench.

MoneyMoneyJudge Nina DiPietro now has to stand for election in Broward on August 30th, 2016, a republican Scott appointee in a democratic Broward County.  It would take money, and lots of it.  No problem for David DiPietro.  As of today, she is currently running unopposed and has raised more money than any other Broward judicial candidate through mid-March with $267,000.

A quarter of her donations through January came from health care-related sources.  Zimmerman and his collection of companies gave Nina’s campaign approximately $50,000.  Broward Health vendors and physician contractors ponied up another $100,000.   Then David made up another $100,000 in loans made possible by the explosive growth of his law practice during his Broward Health tenure – and they say this position does not pay!

Judge Nina DiPietro, however, was not always running unopposed.  For a brief time, she had an opponent – then, inexplicitly, her opponent switched to a different judicial race and according to people he apparently told, Zimmerman was helping design his campaign material.  Wow, small world.

All this success for David DiPietro primarily due to the Governor’s largess makes his lawsuit and his public statements against his benefactor baffling.

vvGZZguIf David had asked me, and he did not, I would have advised him to tell the governor that because of the Governor’s commitment to serve the public; his actions were understandable but miss-informed.  David should have said that he stands ready to serve as soon as the Governor can confirm he was misinformed and re-instates him.  Instead, in a very public way – David called the Governor out, embarrassed his office and went to court with an action that now serves to undermine the Governor’s office, authority and reputation.  As a lifelong Democrat, politically – I am delighted.  However, right, wrong or indifferent – it was the wrong political move.  Loyalty is an important part of politics and I would have advised David to stand by his Governor, his benefactor.  If I were in David’s position, that is what I would have done, even as a Democrat.

The Governor must be thinking a lot about the word “ingrate”;  n. “ungrateful person,” 1670s, from earlier adjective meaning “unfriendly”(late 14c.) also “ungrateful, unthankful,” from Latin ingratus “unpleasant,” also “ungrateful,” from in- “not” (see in- (1)) + gratus “pleasing, beloved, dear, agreeable” (see grace ). The noun meaning “ungrateful person” dates from 1670s.

It’s fair to say that David’s relationship with the Governor’s office has been irreparably broken as has is close circle of friends.  As a vocal Trump supporter, now David can only dream of a Trump presidency.

Governor Scott’s Board Appointed Incompetent Political Hacks Killing Broward Health!

Govenor ScottGovernor Scott’s Board appointed incompetent political hacks are killing Broward Health through corrupt and incompetent improper interference with the management of Broward Health.  It was the root cause of the disastrous ouster of previous CEO Frank Nask, the hurried crowning of Dr. Nabil El Sanadi (perhaps the worst Broward Health CEO in its sordid history), the ouster of an exceptional governmental attorney Sam Goren, and the furious replacement of senior staff competency with remarkable mediocrity.   Over the last year and a half, senior staff competency has either been fired, or “retired”, or “work force reduced” and replaced with inexperience and incompetency.

Broward Health today is a textbook case in how an incompetent Board with dubious “agendas” can transform a thriving, growing and remarkable organization into a morass in 13 easy months.  250px-Brain_DrainWhile Broward Health’s leadership vacuum continues (no CEO, no COO, no CFO, and a general counsel that apparently hasn’t a clue) the “peter principle” established a trio of mid-level staffers (Donna Lewis, Doris Peek and Deon Wong Dr. El Sanadi’s “brain trust”) as those in charge in the back room of Broward Health’s retaliatory system of incompetence.  Doctors and professional staff leaving in droves as a result.

Amid literally too many specific examples of corruption and incompetence in the Broward Health leadership, Florida’s Inspector General Miguel deadpans, “There are also suspicions about pressure being applied by certain Board members on staff of Broward Health to steer contracts to various entities”.   Really?  Wow!  It’s almost like she has read any one of my original posts on the blog dating back to late 2014, or spoken to literally anyone at Broward Health.  Inspector General Miguel’s investigation is important, and I encourage anyone with specific information to contact her office privately and confidentially.  (You should not contact anyone at Broward Health until the Board adopts the federal whistleblower protections, a formal and very public policy against retaliatory employment and purchasing practices and there is an independent, secure and private method at Broward Health to make reports.  Until then, contact Wayne Black at 305-372-3748 with confidence who will continue to investigate corruption at Broward Health.)

David-Di-PietroThe man most responsible for this mess is David DiPietro, chair of the Broward Health Board, and by extension Governor Scott who accommodated DiPietro by providing Board appointments so DiPietro would control a majority of the Board in an acrid nougat of good intentions and greed, dipped in a creamy candy coating of rationalized “principles” and incompetence.

At last, on March 18th – the Governor correctly suspended DiPietro and his board political shadow Darryl WrightThe Governor did not go far enough and should have removed them both replacing them with better appointments.  Neither DiPietro nor Wright have any requisite experience to be serving as fiduciaries of the Broward Health system and both have conducted themselves in corrupt and/or incompetent ways that will continue to embarrass the Governor as events unfold.

A quick review:

Broward Health

BH_2CRecall that Broward Health is much more than simply a “last resort” health care system for Broward’s indigent population.  It is a 8,000 employee economic juggernaut for the county producing an impact of billions of dollars.  It is a vast training facility for our future doctors, nurses, medical technicians, healthcare administrators, and a multitude of other career paths.  It was started by inspired past leaders of Broward County using public properties, public monies and public treasure.  It was then and is now an investment in Broward’s future that small-minded appointed political hacks want to steal from our children’s future through privatization strategies and by characterizing Broward Health as a “private hospital system”, that does some public charity.  In fact, Broward Health is a public hospital system through and through.   See some of my past articles Broward Health – It’s Our Hospital and It’s none of your business! Really?,   for more on this topic.

CEO

A little over a year ago, DiPietro successfully orchestrated the ouster of then CEO Frank Nask and replaced him with his friend and surrogate Dr. El Sanadi, a republican political player with a history of significant contributions to the republican party and Governor Scott.  Not co-incidentally, David DiPitro’s wife – before being recently appointed judge by this Governor, was appointed to Florida’s Medical Board chaired by, you guessed it, Dr. El Sanadi.  Some, more cynical than me, thought that David DiPietro’s wife’s appointment to Florida’s Medical Board was to enhance David DiPietro’s growing medical legal practice enabling him to more easily continue and grow his ability as a reliable republican political fundraiser.    See some of my past articles Innovative CEO NASK Forced Out, Politics Wins – We Loose!, and The Best Broward Health CEO contract politics can buy!, and  Has the Office of Inspector General seen Dr. El Sanadi’s CEO Contract with Broward Health? and OMG – Nabil El Sanadi’s First 5 Months! for more on this topic.

Simon & Garfunkel captured the essence of Dr. El Sanadi’s tenure at Broward Health perfectly in their prophetic song “Richard Cory”Listen to it:

They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town, With political connections to spread his wealth around. Born into society, a banker’s only child,
He had everything a man could want: power, grace, and style.

The papers print his picture almost everywhere he goes:
Richard Cory at the opera, Richard Cory at a show.
And the rumor of his parties and the orgies on his yacht!
Oh, he surely must be happy with everything he’s got.

He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch,
And they were grateful for his patronage and thanked him very much, So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read: “Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head.”

Frank Nask

NaskAccording to sources, Board Chair David DiPietro replaced CEO Frank Nask as Broward Health’s CEO simply because Nask refused to allow Board interference in Broward Health’s administration.   This did not sit well with DiPietro who, coincidentally has built a considerable health care legal practice since appointed on to Broward Health’s Board.

And why not replace Nask as CEO of Broward Health with someone who had no experience managing a hospital let alone one of the largest health care systems in the country?  After all, before coming to Broward Health, Nask was only a nationally respected health care consultant specializing in saving and managing troubled health care systems.

Not only was Frank Nask CEO at Broward Health during an unprecedented period of stability where the tax rate reduced from 2.5 to 1.6 mills and cash increased from 350 to 800 million dollars, but during one of our nation’s worst recessions – Broward Health actually increased staff with no system wide layoffs.  With the Governor’s emphasis on employment, one would think Frank Nask’s experience would be helpful increasing jobs in Broward!  Notably, during Nask’s tenure, capital spending increased to maintain plant and equipment while maintaining Broward Health’s bond ratings and covenants.

Frank Nask’s emphasis on Broward Health as a teaching hospital was realized through careful relationships with Nova Southeastern University, the University of Miami, and others.  Relationships that have been intentionally severely damaged in favor of a singular relationship with Florida International University over, among other more seedy financial issues, the pyric debate between MD’s and DO’s.  Again, David DiPietro is at the root of this disaster and the status of Broward Health as a teaching institution is now at risk and hanging by a thread.

Here’s the truth.  I imagine that 50 bad actors are embarrassing the remaining 7,950 Broward Health Employees.   There is another group of Broward Health employees that perhaps take the lead from these bad actors thinking “if they can do it, why can’t I”.  The vast majority of Broward Health employees come to work every day dedicated to both their profession and the public they serve.   It is important that we put the problems at Broward Health in perspective and take a collective deep breath.  As in any organization of Broward Health’s size and complexity – there is bound to be some discoverable criminality.  In these cases, Broward Health and the public are the victim.  Then there is non-criminal corruption.  A wink, a nod, a smile and someone benefits unfairly over the organization or colleague, patient or vendor.   Then there is incompetence.  The greatest threat to Broward Health today is the Board and management’s incompetence as Broward Health navigates through complex public and health care challenges.

MoneySuckIt’s simple – without a competent Broward Health Board, Broward Health’s problems and the talent & Brain drain will continue to grow geometrically to the certain embarrassment of the Governor.