No profit off service
Thanks for the Watchdog Report on the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board. I suspect that when the dust has cleared, we will see that the board followed the rules, more or less.
Still, there's no denying that the board's managers have enriched themselves at the public's expense. I don't condemn them for that. But we have to ask ourselves if we want it to continue.
Hiring private contractors to help the mentally ill was a bad idea, and we need to drop it. While it makes sense to contract out some government services — construction, for one — other services need to stay under the government roof, provided by civil servants.
Do we want privatized police forces and fire departments? Do we want for-profit prisons? Wait, we've already got the private prisons, and they're not working out so well.
Our fellow citizens with mental illness need help. That help should come from state employees — people who put public service above profit, and whose employment rules and wages are open to public scrutiny.
A writer of a June 13 letter upholds Bluegrass Regional Mental Health CEO Shannon Ware's annual salary and deferred compensation package of more than a quarter of a million dollars as befits talented corporate management.
In Ware's four-page justification and cry for parity between CEOs of medical health and behavioral health providing entities, the distinction between populations served is lost. While physical illness and ailment are common across all social strata, mental illness and ailment equalize all social strata to nil.
As parity presupposes a peer group, its humbling to reflect that Bluegrass' board peerage is in fact the other 13 regional mental health provider boards around Kentucky.
As a service provider to the "serious and persistent mentally ill," we frame our interventions upon principles drawn from traditional values such as reciprocity and an awareness that skills practice may be its own reward.
If Bluegrass board's upper echelon's remunerative self-endowment raises queries in the state auditor's office, it may likewise produce a blowback of "unbridled dispirit" among workers who engage with and treat "the least among us," whose own sense of self-worth may be likewise negatively impacted.
Ware's brandishing about the yardstick of "parity" is a measurement which can be commandeered.
Is Ware's compensation for her service really worth 81/2 times mine?
Bad for workers, clients
In regards to the Bluegrass MH/MR article, I am not concerned about the CEO's salary — that job does demand a big salary. What I object to, however, is the long-standing aggressive, non-transparent behavior of corporate Bluegrass MH/MR.
I also object to the fact that not long before they purchased the $295,000 home in Somerset for their "senior management team," they laid off 40 employees due to budget cuts. Don't believe it was cheaper that way.
Bluegrass has a very aggressive, punitive and non-forgiving reputation toward its employees.
The staff work hard and meet incentive criteria, but the supervisory staff are trained to find something else to knock them out of any bonuses or raises.
So Bluegrass may do good work on the front lines, but the corporate staff goes about crushing other agencies and the wills and reputations of their employees. This is not good for their consumers when the clinical staff is unhappy.
Thank you Gov. Steve Beshear, Commissioner Beth Mills and Mayor Jim Gray for not allowing them to bully you into giving them a grant they did not deserve.
What the Bluegrass Regional Health executives have done and how they have treated their employees should be considered criminal.
In this economy to withhold bonuses and raises from lower-level employees while they spent lavishly and received monies totaling in six-figure range is criminal. Also slighting those employees put at risk the clients. Because they know they were slighted, employees would be less likely to take as good of care of the clients.
The state should consider looking for another company to run Eastern State Hospital. Bluegrass is saying all the right things now, but they should have been doing right by the employees and clients all along.
Neil A. Worthy