For the past eight years our county has been “led” by a county executive named Jack Johnson. Before he was elected as county executive, he was the State’s Attorney for a period of time. So, as you can see, he earned his Juris Doctorate many years ago and spent time in the legitimate legal world. However, I had a lower opinion of him than most people. For some reason, I disliked his politics and didn’t trust him. I couldn’t believe when he was elected to a 2nd two year term by the citizens in our county. All through his tenure there were rumors of his involvement in suspicious activities.
Flash forward to 2010, November to be exact. As I was walking into work one morning, there were “breaking news” alerts on the TV. Mr. Johnson had been arrested following an investigation into his activities by the FBI. His house had been raided and, in one of the more comical aspects of this case, he was on the phone with his wife (who had recently be elected to serve on our local county council) telling her to stuff close to $80,000 in cash into her underwear as the FBI agents were knocking at her front door (this exchange was reported as the result of Mr. Johnson’s wiretapped phone). His wife was also taken into custody.
In the spring of 2011, their trials were taking place and both were found guilty, with sentencing to be scheduled in the early fall. In the theater of the absurd, his wife continued to do her work on the county council until July when she finally stepped down from office. Fall 2011 came and their sentencing was postponed until December.
The week of Thanksgiving there were some newspaper articles referencing to the sentencing memorandum for Mr. Johnson. Since this debacle had captured my attention for the better part of the last year, I was curious to see what was in this memorandum and searched through court documents and eventually was able to locate said document. What I read has made me furious and disgusted with the healthcare system where I work. It appears that Mr. Johnson (who prior to being arrested was limited by term limits to 2 terms in office) had worked out a plan for our healthcare system to hire someone he had appointed as chairman to a special hospital authority commission which had been created to try to find a buyer for our hospital system. This person would become the president and chief executive officer for our organization. The former chairman of our corporate board of directors was, in essence, forced to arrange the hiring of this appointee in order secure a $20,000,000 grant to be released to our system to keep our organization afloat. The next part of this scheme assured that once Mr. Johnson had left office, he would obtain a $10,000 - $15,000 per month consulting fee from the hospital system so that he would make a six figure salary without having to work. In his own words, “I don’t want no job.” All of this was worked out many months before this commission had ended its term.
In my seventeen years at this healthcare system, I don’t think I have ever felt so betrayed, disgusted, and disappointed. The morale at our organization was already at an all-time low (prior to the release of this sentencing document). As more employees read this document, the morale has dropped to a level I have never experienced. Mind you, the current CEO is not named in the document, as this is still under investigation, with more indictments to follow. Many conversations and meetings were wiretapped and make no mistake, the “hospital official” named in this document is our current CEO.
To make matters worse, this CEO has appointed a significant number of people to positions within the organization for which they have no skill set. In turn, these people, feeling they have the complete support of this CEO, have played havoc with employee’s livelihoods – forcing people to transfer from one job to another (these people didn’t want to transfer – they were forced to transfer). Several people have been “fired” (long term employees – 20 and 11 years respectively) just because the vice president they reported to had issues with them (i.e., disliked them). I think these people could file hostile work environment cases against this vice president. It remains to be seen if they will do that.
My plan was to work for another four years before retiring, but now I’m trying to decide if I want to work for an organization that is so corrupt at the top. My hope is that our board of directors will take a stand and put an end to this madness.
How sad that our healthcare system has become so deeply involved with the political ramifications of the downfall of this county executive. What a shame that our employees have to work with leaders who only seem to care about themselves and can’t see the harm they are doing to our system. We have struggled financially for years, providing uncompensated care to patients in our area. We have been on the brink of closing on several occasions. Now we have to endure a potential scandal of unbelievable proportions, all because of the greed of a few people. To be caught up in something like this is something most of us would never imagine