This letter will respond to certain inaccuracies and misstatements contained both in the Herald-Leader article regarding the HealthFirst Bluegrass, Inc. board meeting, as well as in the editorial. It is being submitted partly on behalf of Teddy Mims but also by me as a public citizen.
First and foremost, there is not and has never been any investigation of Mims. In connection with the Health Resources Service Administration audit, certain financial or other information was requested from HealthFirst, not directly from Mims. After those requests were made, the cooperation of Mims was sought by Jack Cornett or others at HealthFirst, and full and complete cooperation has been given.
Whatever documentation Mims had, including calendars, notes, or other documents, concerning the HealthFirst Clinic project, he provided to Cornett. Mims also assisted Cornett in formulating responses to certain questions raised by the HRSA auditors.
The Herald-Leader has been informed that there is not and has never been an investigation of Mims.
Despite such information being provided, article after article has appeared creating the inaccurate impression that something is amiss with Mims and that he is being investigated for wrongdoing — that simply is not and has never been the case.
Mims was hired as a consultant, made full disclosure of his minority interest in the ownership of the property leased to HealthFirst, and no one at HealthFirst or HRSA raised any questions about that contract. In short, full disclosure occurred.
Even more importantly, as to the work that has been and continues to be done by Mims, it is my understanding that everyone involved on the HealthFirst end has been very complimentary of his efforts.
I pointed out to the Herald-Leader that all those who have worked with Mims at HealthFirst have been complimentary and that someone should talk to those who were there before the Board of Health takeover. This has apparently not yet been done.
Your editorial quotes Jack Cornett as saying "It's impossible to determine how much Mims worked." The editorial does not recount what the article did note — namely that Cornett could not tell whether Mims worked 40 hours or 80 hours per week on the HealthFirst Clinic project.
I am sure Cornett will readily acknowledge that Mims is not obligated to recount hour by hour for his work. He was paid as a consultant to help manage the project, was paid a flat monthly fee and had no obligation to report specific hours. He pledged that he would devote at least 40 hours per week and he did so.
As to my comments about "rich, uppity white people," that was a comment by me as a member of the public, not a diversionary tactic, and was my personal reaction to the possible about-face of trashing the clinic project after this much work and effort has taken place when it is this close to coming to fruition.
The Herald-Leader should have reported the comments at the public meetings concerning the opposition to the location of the clinic in the Southland area.
Comments such as "We don't want this clinic because there will be busloads of 'those people' bused into the neighborhood" were actually made by certain members of the public.
To have reported on these kinds of reactions and comments would have involved full, complete, fair and accurate reporting. Unfortunately, these comments were never reported by the Herald-Leader.
Finally, as to the backhanded comment about the money paid to Mims and his partner, you should know that Mims comes from a hard-working blue-collar family that ran a family business in Lexington for years, that he is a self-made man who grew up in the Southland area, still lives in that area, and that he has done quite a lot to help with the commercial redevelopment and improvement of Southland.
As to the board and feds "asking the right questions," I can only say that perhaps someone ought to make sure that the Herald-Leader "asks the right questions," of Cornett or others so that the full picture is painted and not a stilted, inaccurate version of the truth.
I also hope that this clinic gets built in the Southland area. It is much needed in order to serve the needs of minorities and the public who cannot afford health insurance, who are dispersed widely throughout the city and who are not solely located in the north end where nobody sees them.
Dec. 10 Herald-Leader articles, "Federal review finds manager's hours on job undocumented" and "HealthFirst votes to renegotiate clinic deal;" Dec. 11 Herald-Leader editorial, "Get to bottom of clinic funding; Board, feds raise overdue questions"