Letter from Concerned Citizen re: MSB Emergency Services

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Date: September 17,2018

Copies sent to the following:

Major: Vern Halter

Borough Manager: John Moosey

Deputy Borough Manager: George Hays

MSB Assembly

Jim Sykes

Matthew Beck

George McKee

Ted Leonard

Dan Mayfield

Barbara Doty

Randall Kowalke

City of Palmer City Council 

Media: 

Frontiersman Editor

Current & former employee comments regarding the Leadership!   

The barriers to effective leadership was not knowing how to communicate with their people. Maybe the leader didn’t listen enough or they weren’t approachable or accessible. Or maybe they didn’t know how to articulate themselves or they were socially withdrawn. Having effective communication skills is vital when it comes to leadership. MSB EMS Responder.

Informal leaders who are attempting to share ideas are shot down. One of the barriers to effective leadership in the department, according to the responder, was that there is not enough freedom for free thinking leaders. Informal leaders are squashed and supervisory or positional leaders are very threatened by them. As a formal leader, don’t use your positional power to try to keep people in line. Use your positive influence, your vision, and your role model example. MSB EMS Responder. 

Regardless of their position, whether it was a EMT, Paramedic, Driver, Captain, or Command Staff, they weren’t free enough in the department to really put their ideas out there, or say what’s wrong, or what needs to be fixed because they’re afraid they’ll be retaliated against. People need to feel safe in coming forward with their ideas, suggestions, and input. And if you’re the one coming forward, you need to do it with respect and humility. MSB EMS Responder.                                 

I hope these introductory remarks seized your attention because I am writing to you in concerns to a grave and possible catastrophic situation that is occurring within the MSB emergency services under the Assembly’s and Directors watch.  I am speaking in concerns to the state of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to be specific.

I was employed with MSB EMS and have been involved with emergency services for over the past 15 years in various functions throughout the lower 48, and recently in Alaska. It is not until recently I have observed the magnitude of damages and destruction the MSB is currently on under the current management. Presently, EMS is in severe disarray and in danger of failing to deliver adequate services to the public. The MSB is suffering from severe staffing shortages and deficiencies with on-call and full-time employees resigning, quitting, or being terminated daily due to the hostile working conditions, and lack of support from management. Over the past 15 years I have seen employees come and go in varies agencies, however, this is the first time in my career that I have seen a mass exodus from one organization without anyone taking serious note of the public safety consequence this is creating. This disturbing rate of employee departures creates a public safety concern for the public and our communities due to the lack of EMS providers answering the calls for 911 emergency medical services.

Under the current management, rural areas such as Sutton, Butte, Talkeetna, Willow, and Trapper Creek have been decimated of their volunteer responders without a plan in place to provide sufficient service to the citizens. These on-call volunteers resigned, quit, or were terminated due to the hostile working environment, and lack of support under the current management. In Talkeetna EMS responders walked out over their disgust with managements performance. This continues to happen across the MSB without anyone taking notice.

Core areas such as Wasilla, Palmer, and West Lakes are simply hanging on by a strand with possible disruptions of emergency medical services due low staffing shortages. The public is oblivious that at any given time of the day when they call 911 for emergency medical services they may, or may not get an ambulance, or first responders depending on the day and the current staffing deficiencies.  EMS repeatedly runs out of ambulances or does not have units available to provide medical services to the communities we are accountable for serving. The hostile working conditions are appalling, and the lack of support is causing responders to quit, and seek opportunities away from the MSB.

Other significant issues that are plaguing EMS, and creating a public safety hazards is that responders are not able to operate at their highest level of medical certification or licensure due to the poor organizational policies, and the current Medical Director tyranny temperament. For example, we have multiple EMTs that are trained as fully functional Paramedics; however, they are not allowed to operate as Paramedics based on organizational policies, and the Medical Director’s tyranny temperament. As well as Paramedics being demoted, hassled, chastened, and demeaned over insignificant transgressions of policies and procedures creating constant aggressive working conditions.

Recently EMT 3’s an ALS/ ACLS an advanced care provider had most of their advanced skills and abilities removed from them since the Training & Logistical Chief, as well as the Medical Director did not like the scope of practice that has been provided to theses responders, and stripped these providers of all their advanced skill level of practice. This move to strip EMT 3’s of their scope of practice was catastrophic to many of the rural communities. Many of these communities rely on EMT 3’s as their only source of an advanced prehospital medical care. Many of these communities do not have Paramedic level care, and Paramedic level care could be hours away when requested in the event of a significant emergency.

The Medical Director a contract employee that has been permitted to operate unrestricted and has been involved in employee disciplinary activities without due process to the employee through human resources or union representation per the collective bargaining agreement.  The Medical Director has been engaged in employee intimidation, coercion, and other aggressive behaviors against employees while management sits backs and supports his actions. Recently the Medical Director coerced a Paramedic Supervisor employee not to seek union representation, or file a grievance when they had been wrongfully punished by the management. The Medical Director threated to pull his medical sponsorship from the employee if the employee progressed with the union process. However, he stated that he would continue to sponsor the employee as long as the employee did not seek union representation, and or proper progressive employee disciplinary procedures. This is only one example of intimidation and coercion, that goes unreported and hidden daily. The Medical Director is extremely involved in daily operations exceeding his contract terms and conditions creating operational vulnerabilities based on his lack of operational experiences within EMS services only creating a substantial public safety risk.

Under the current management, the MSB face a severe nepotism issue with two management level employees being in positions of authority directly underneath one another in the Chain of Command chart. The Chief of EMS is married to the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief. Both having the authority to discipline employees and create policies and procedures without the proper checks and balances. Upon the new Chief of EMS assuming control of our department, it was advised that her husband the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief was going to answer directly to the Director of EMS (Director 3). However, all employees full time and part-time employed by EMS must answer to the Chief of EMS creating a significant conflict of interest due to nepotism. Recently the Chief of EMS, and the Training and Logistics Assistant Chief son was recently hired as a part-time EMT creating yet another conflict of interest under the nepotism policy. There are rules and procedures within the MSB addressing issues such as nepotism that have been designed for this very exact reason that are often ignored, or manipulated to suit those we desire to place in these positions as we desire.

The unpredictability of the EMS Chief position has an average career span of about year and half before they call it quits, or are terminated for again varies infractions that are never to be made public due to employee confidentiality concerns. How can you expect a department to function professionally when the department head is continuously changing under turmoil at an alarming rate?

The morale under the current management is at an all-time low. Employees both full-time and part-time feel unappreciated, and devalued. Employees are often walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid displeasing management in attempts to avoid being harassed or retaliated against under our current authoritarian management system for minor infractions, or at the whim of the Medical Director’s temperament.

Current fulltime employees are not seeking promotional opportunities such as EMT moving up to Paramedic, and Paramedics not moving up to Paramedic Supervisor. Employees are simply not applying for the current positions, and have no aspirations to seek additional responsibilities under the current oppressive management due to the hostile working environment, and lack of support. Fulltime, as well as on-call employees are often fearful to voice their concern, or disagreement over concerns or topics with management. They often feel if they voice their concerns, they become a target only to be forced out for not conforming to the managements every desire, or demands. Employees are demoralized, fed up, and beat down under the current management system. These factors affect public safety, and patient care directly.

Many of the EMS employees are hopeful that the lawsuit filed by our former EMS Director will bring attention to the problems that are plaguing EMS, and the hostile working environment under our current management.  Multiple other employees present, and former have reached out to the attorney that is handling the lawsuit on behalf of our former EMS Director hoping to provide information to the legal team to only build a stronger case against the borough. Employees are very optimistic that this lawsuit cleans house again as it did about five years ago under similar circumstances.

There are a few options that you can consider after reading this letter, You can ignore the problem and act as if it is not happening and hope for the best. By neglecting the situations and current conditions that are occurring the problem will only continue to grow simply creating more of a public safety concern until we have complete catastrophic failure of services with no ambulances or providers answering medical calls. Possibly more lawsuits, and complaints being brought forth by current and former employees for hostile working conditions. Ongoing retention of quality employees will only continue to worsen, and recruiting will be impacted. You have the option to thoroughly investigate the issues and concerns plaguing EMS and make changes that will eliminate such problems in the future. This option will allow EMS to grow and provide emergency medical services to the citizens of our communities and provide public safety to the communities that we all serve.  In conclusion, you have a few options to consider. Time and actions will determine your course of action in regards to the current working conditions and public safety concerns.

Very Respectfully,

Concerned Citizen

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Highlights of MSB School District Admin Expenses from 2014 – 2017

The very first post on this blog was this one:

https://matsumuckraker.com/2017/06/02/matsu-borough-school-district-admin-office-expenditures-2014-2017/

At the time, this blog was being used as a place to post raw public records so that the public could review them.  Citizens would then comment on the public records on the Mat-Su Valley News Facebook page.  However, specific records were not highlighted on this blog – only on the news group.

Anchorage Superintendent Deena Bishop (formerly Paramo) is currently in hot water over the Anchorage School District’s decision to hire an expensive PR firm to handle publicity re: the Dimond High football hazing incident.

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/education/2018/09/13/at-cost-of-12000-a-month-a-pr-firm-is-providing-crisis-communication-work-for-asd-in-wake-of-the-dimond-high-investigation/

Ms. Bishop was the superintendent of the Mat-Su Borough School District for several years until the summer of 2016 when she was hired to run the Anchorage School District.

Thus, she was the person in charge of the MSBSD during most of the time period covered by the public records in the first blog post.

Ms. Paramo/Bishop has a history of spending taxpayers’ money on questionable items.

So, this new post will highlight some specific records to show the wasteful spending.  These highlights come from the Mat-Su Valley News Facebook group discussion.

FY 2014 (which ran from July 1st 2013 to July 1st 2014)

FY 2014 “Office of the Supt.” Expenses starting at p. 286 – lots of expensed meals: Matsu Family; Restaurant; Bagels Alaska; Arby’s; In and Out Deli; Valley Hotel; Palmer Downtown Deli; Turkey Red; Windbreak; Pizza Hut; Evangelos; the Grill; Pizza Athena; House of Bread; Denali Family Restaurant; North Star Bakery, Donut King; Piccolino’s. (With their high salaries, why can’t our school admins pay for their own lunches?)

Also – flowers were purchased as well as items from the very nice gift shop NonEssentials:

FY 2014 – p. 163 – $1,845.00 for a “Legislative Thank you Video” prepared by “DVD Technology” – a privately held company based in Palmer and owned by Larry Bottgen. dvdtech.us.  Was this really necessary???

FY 2014 p. 169 – “Glacier Brewhouse” $296.00 P. 170 “Glacier Brewhouse” $51.75.

FY 2014 – p. 287 – Three items from “Providence Gift” (This must be the Providence Hospital Gift shop) – two for $50 and one for $122.91.

FY 2014 – p. 287 Knik Tribal Council “$100”

FY 2014 – p. 289 $1500 contribution for “cost of a gun” to the Alaska SCTP – the Alaska Youth Clay Target Shooting group.

FY 2015 (July 1st 2014 – July 1st 2015)

FY 2015 p. 169 – Flippen Group Contract $300,000 and $15,000.

FY 2015 – Key Note Speakers Opening Day – Clayton Morgan and Barbara Morgan – $10,050 and $5,599.51

FY 2015 p. 181 – There are three big payments for rental and catering associated with the very, very expensive Capturing Kids’ Hearts program (the Flippen group contract) – $6,921.20 to Evangelos for food and rental space; $9,240 to Loco Mamas for catering; and $7,719.30 to Best Western Hotel for food and rental.

FY 2015 – more big catering/food items – p. 182 – $9,011.30 to “Alaska Events” and $5,940.00 to the Red Beet; and $6,885 to “The Grill.”

FY 2015 p. 188 – two different sets of funeral flowers $106.90 and $109.61

Here are some items in FY2015 listed under “Superintendent’s Office Supplies”: P. 316 – a charge of $462.00 at the nice gift/kitchen store in downtown Palmer – “Non Essentials” 10/14/14; p. 316 $114.32 – Flowers by Louise for “Condolence flowers for Dr. Paramo” (nice; she is sending herself flowers); and p. 319 – a charge of $543.64 to Josten’s Inc. for “Doctoral Official Cap and Gown.”

Comments: “Um, why are we paying for this? I certainly hope “Dr. P” did not take this item with her to the Anchorage School District as it is the property of the MSBSD. Why do the kids have to pay for their gowns and a person who makes more than $100k has the district pay for theirs?”

 

FY 2016 (July 1st 2015 – July 1st 2016)

FY 2016 – p. 303 $217.00 Lunch or Dinner at Settler’s Bay Lodge ($$$$) to “debrief from Flip Flippen” Why are we paying Admin officials to have a meal at a fancy restaurant to discuss the Flip Flippen program? Why did they think this was okay to expense?

FY 2016 p. 304 Supt. Lunch meeting with Senator Mike Dunleavy $67.26 at Red Robin. Supt Breakfast Meeting with MatSu Health Foundation – Windbreak – $119.64 (Why are we taxpayers buying the MSHF breakfast? They have about $120 MILLION in the bank.)

FY 2016 p. 304 — $350 worth of “punch cards” for MSBSD for Wasilla Chamber lunches. Why are the taxpayers paying for MSBSD staffers to attend Chamber lunches?

FY 2016 – p. 314 – $140.42 “Networking Lunch with cohorts – Deena Paramo” – at nice San Diego restaurant “Lou & Mickey’s”

Taxi from hotel to Cheesecake factory – $26.30 – p. 314 FY 2016. Also on this page – the hotel cost was $2,211.13 !!!!

FY 2016 – $100 to Valley Recycling for “Ocean’s Lunch.” Why are we paying for Admin staff to attend this? Also, if we are supporting the recycling center – why is the MSBSD paying for tons and tons of bottled water each year?! There are so many expenses for bottled water in these expenditures. We really need to encourage people to bring their own reusable water bottles and/or get water from the drinking fountains. so much plastic! so expensive!

 

FY 2017 (July 1st 2016 – July 1st 2017)

FY 2017 – p. 143 – $49 for “Flowers/Decor for Principal Meeting.”

“Red Robin – $88.16” meal 8/20/16 for Gene Stone (who took over as Supt from summer 2016 to spring of 2017) and Monica Goyette (current Supt). Why can’t these folks have a meeting in their OFFICE and/or if they go out to lunch, why can’t they pay for it themselves????

“Quite a few entries for items to decorate Spargo’s and Ainsworth’s offices. Why are taxpayers paying $70 for wall art or $36 for a picture frame? These people are making big money, go buy your own stuff like the rest of us.”

SD 5

FY 2017 – p. 144 – 145 – Ipads for Opening Day Drawing ($1199.96); Apple Watches for Opening Day Drawing ($674.98); and mini ipads for opening day drawing ($505.80) – does anyone know who received these prizes and why they were given out?

They were given at the big inservice day at the Menard Sports Center. They used them as incentive to get people to ride buses to the center instead of driving themselves.

Probably a door prize from the first mandatory meeting of the year.They have a speaker,food and door prizes.Usually a day long event.

$240.00 to Alaska Artisan Coffee for coffee beans 10/13/16. Why are we paying for coffee for the admin staff? When I have worked at various jobs (fed gov’t; state gov’t, non profits, private sector) – people who want office coffee chip in and pay for the office coffee supplies.

FY2017 – p. 145 Matsu Business Alliance lunch for 4 – $100 – why are taxpayers paying for a networking lunch?  The MSBSD Admins were frequent attendees at the MatSu Bus Alliance lunches as there are quite a few notations of these lunch expenses throughout these public records. The taxpayers also pay for lots of lunches at the Wasilla and Palmer Chamber of Commerce meetings.

 

$815 to Intuit Inc. (FY 2017 – p. 147 – 12/20/2016) “Christmas Gifts for Principals.” why are we giving principals gifts? They are already gifted big salaries!

FY 2017 – P. 133 Opening Day Keynote Speaker – Jaime Casap $5,000 plus Hotel Captain Cook and flights. [For some reason, two charges of $3,469.40 were added and then subtracted – the notes indicate these charges were for airfare for jaime and his wife…so not sure if this was actually charged – but seriously, what type of flight costs over 3K and why was the MSBSD paying for flights for this speaker AND his wife and why were we buying what appears to be First Class tickets??]

FY 2017 – p. 186 – $11.20 “Ladies’ bathroom supplies” (why can’t grown adults purchase their own personal hygiene products?); p. 186 – $237.02 Office Decor – fred Meyer; $12.83 Frames for Dr. goyette’s office (Why are we paying for office decor?); $10.29 – Potting soil for office plants. (Everywhere I have worked – people who like plants pay for their own plants.)

FY 2017 – Alaska’s Best Water p. 216 – $1700 for Water coolers for Biz Services office. We pay Alaska’s Best Water TONS of $ for water coolers and water refills each year. WHY??? What a waste of money! All the schools and the admin building have WATER FOUNTAINS.

FY 2017 – pp. 251 – 252 – lot of food and flowers under Superintendent’s office expenses including $87.71 Flowers by Louise – Condolences to the Knik Tribal (????) and $49.37 Carrs Flowers to Academy Charter Principal. Why did the Academy Charter Principal need flowers?

FY 2017 – p. 252 $150 to Center Tix for two tickets to the Anchorage YWCA Women of Achievement Awards dinner. (Deena Paramo – former MSBSD supt and Eliz Ripley of MSHF – were 2 of the “winners.”) Why are taxpayers paying for this? If Admin officials want to attend an event like this, THEY SHOULD USE THEIR OWN MONEY – from their substantial salaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MSB Attorney’s lack of transparency at Assembly meetings

The Mat-Su Borough’s Attorney is given time at each Assembly meeting to give a report. (The Manager and Clerk also have regular time slots to give reports at each meeting.) These reports are not just for the Assembly members; they are for the public.

However, the Attorney often fails to announce important information at the Assembly meetings.

For example, former MSB Deputy Director of EMS Lisa Behrens filed a lawsuit against the MSB on May 22, 2018.

I listened to all of the Attorney’s reports (and end of meeting comments) for the following Assembly meetings: May 1st, May 15th, June 5th, June 12th, June 19th, and July 17th, and the attorney did not mention the Behrens lawsuit at all.

At the June 5th Assembly meeting, which took place just after the Behrens lawsuit was filed and which was the logical meeting for him to announce this new lawsuit, the Attorney mentioned that the MSB had filed some new lawsuits re: code violations but he never said a word about the (far more important) Behrens lawsuit.  And with the code violation cases, he did not give out any details, such as case names and numbers, but instead told the Assembly members that if they wanted more information or if they had questions, they could come see him in his office.

The public deserves to have basic information about lawsuits involving the MSB.  We have the right to know when a case is filed (with case name, case number, and court) and when a case is closed (and explanation of why case has been closed…did we prevail; did we lose; did we settle? etc. )

For example, with the Lisa Behrens lawsuit, the MSB attorney should have announced in a timely manner: The MSB (and the Director of EMS and the Manager) have been sued by former MSB employee Lisa Behrens. The lawsuit is case 3PA-18-1703 CI. The MSB has hired Perkins Coie to represent us. We estimate this may cost us 100K in legal fees etc. Obviously, the MSB attorney is not expected to comment on the merits of the case – but the public certainly deserves to know the basic facts.

The MSB should not hide this type of basic information.

Better yet, the MSB attorney needs to file online written reports on a regular basis so the public can track the cases.

MSB Lawsuits

The MSB needs to pass an ordinance similar to the one in place in San Diego.  There, the City Attorney’s office is required to file a WEEKLY report (“litigation log”) with a list of all new cases and all closed cases with details.  And San Diego spells out exactly what information needs to be disclosed for executive sessions. (The MSB also fails miserably in following AK’s Open Meetings Act re: Executive Session, which primarily involve legal matters.)

Here is what San Diego posts on their website:

I challenge an Assembly member to take up this issue and propose the exact same ordinance for the MSB.  Here are San Diego’s rules re: executive sessions and the litigation log.

Former MSB Deputy Director of Emergency Services files lawsuit against the MSB

Lisa A. Behrens, the former Deputy Director of Emergency Services for the Mat-Su Borough, has filed a lawsuit against the Borough, Paul “Otto” Feather, the Director of Emergency Services for the MSB, and John Moosey, the Manager for the MSB.

Ms. Behrens’ complaint, which was filed on May 22, 2018, in Palmer Superior Court, alleges seventeen claims for relief, including wrongful termination, libel/slander, and discrimination.  She has retained attorney Ronald Offret of Aglietti, Offret and Woofter of Anchorage.

Ms. Behrens alleges that she was not permitted to receive PERS retirement benefits; that she was terminated from her employment without just cause; that the defendants intentionally and/or negligently libeled, slandered, and defamed her by fabricating allegations against her personal and professional reputations; that the defendants intentionally and/or negligently inflicted emotional distress upon her; that they illegally retaliated against her by terminating her employment after she communicated to the MSB Assembly within the lawful performance of her duties; that she was discriminated against because she is a woman; that she endured a hostile work environment; and that she was denied a meaningful investigation into her complaints.

The Mat-Su Borough has denied all of the allegations.  The MSB has retained attorneys Danielle Ryman and Jared Gardner of Perkins Coie, LLP.

A pretrial conference was held yesterday – August 2, 2018 – in front of the Judge assigned to the case – Honorable Kari Kristiansen.

The trial, which may take three weeks, was scheduled for September 2, 2019. A further pre-trial conference is scheduled for June 10, 2019.  In the interim, the parties will be conducting discovery (depositions; interrogatories, etc.)

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Ms. Behrens’ complaint is set forth below:

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The Mat-Su Borough’s Answer to Complaint is set forth below:

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More Background:

Drone Racing Park Update

I sent an email to the Parks and Recs Board members and the MSB Parks and Recs staff person (Hugh Leslie) on May 21st asking a lot of questions about the proposed Drone Racing Park and proposed Management agreement.  However, I did not get any response.

MSB Drone Park email May 21 2018

Here are some of the Facebook screen shots referred to in my email.  (Mr. Colligan has since deleted his comments.)

 

The Drone Racing Park issue was discussed at the May 21st Parks and Recs meeting but the discussion was continued to their next meeting which was held this week.

Here is the agenda for the Parks and Recs Board’s June 25th meeting:

MSB PRTAB agenda

When I saw the agenda for the latest PRTAB meeting, I sent another email (to the same group) asking for more information – including a copy of the proposed management agreement:

MSB PRTAB email 2

The MSB staff person did not respond.  There are a LOT of unanswered questions about this proposed Drone Racing Park.

How can the public and the Parks and Recs board evaluate a proposal if we can’t actually review the proposal – i..e the proposed management agreement and site plans ??

A member of the Board did reply and suggested that I just attend the meeting. I explained that I was unable to do so because I had another activity to attend.  The next day she reported back about what happened at the meeting: No action was taken on the Drone Racing Park issue and there were no additional documents provided.  The Board requested more information and it will probably be online for the next meeting – July.

Then I noticed that there is also a meeting this week of the MSB Aviation Advisory Board and that the Drone Racing Park is also an item on that agenda.  (This is the Aviation board’s first meeting since February. It is odd that this agenda says “Drone Racing League Application UPDATE” as I didn’t see the Drone item on their February meeting agenda.)

MSB Aviation Board agenda

In the Aviation Advisory Board meeting packet, there is information from the Drone League:

MSB Aviation Board packet June 26 2018

Here are two highlighted pages from the Drone League’s documents:

 

My analysis:  The Drone League wants complete control of 50 acres. Also they seem to say – oh, we’ll agree to some joint use of our acreage – but it has to be “scheduled” joint use – i.e., no one can use this area unless they get permission ahead of time.  That is baloney.

I see a fuzzy picture of an airport.  Are they planning to build an airport?  The Drone League also mentions control of a “shared” parking lot.  What parking lot is this? Are they planning to build (or have the MSB build) a new parking lot near their new aiport or are they talking about a parking lot already at Jim Creek?

The Drone League seems to want the MSB to go in with them to obtain funding opportunities.  Of course they do.

This proposed project and the way the MSB has handled it stinks to high heaven.  The Drone League needs to buy their own land and build their own infrastructure.

Why should the MSB be pushed into assisting with this pet project of (former Assembly member) Steve Colligan’s??? Especially when his private business interests intersect so completely with his drone hobby.  What is the percentage of people in the MSB who are into drone racing? It is very small.  Who does this proposed Drone Racing Park really benefit??

Analysis of the MSHF’s 2016 tax return

This is the most recent tax return for the Mat-Su Health Foundation.

MSHF 2016 tax return

Let’s analyze this return.  How did the MSHF spend our community’s money?

In 2016, the MSHF had total revenues of $34 million.  ($1.1 million from contributions/grants; $25 million from the hospital – i.e. the community paying for medical care; and $8.6 million from investment income.)

The MSHF gave out $4.3 million in grants.  (However, how the MSHF characterizes “grants” is analyzed further below.) It spent $1.388 million on salaries and benefits.  And it had $1.75 million in expenses.

So, to give out grants of $4.3 million, the MSHF spent $3.14 million on itself.

Note: This tax return is for 2016 which is PRIOR to MSHF incurring the major expenses of building their huge new building.  The MSHF moved into their new building located at 777 Crusey Street, Wasilla, in the Spring of 2018.  We will have to wait until the 2017 and 2018 tax returns are released to see how much the MSHF spent on the new building.

Yes, the MSHF is going to argue that some of their expenses are “Program Services” expenses – i.e., they provide services, too, and don’t just give out grants.  But, this ratio is NOT good.  And the MSHF doesn’t really provide much in the way of services.  (Yes, I know all about R.O.C.K. Mat-Su.) In my opinion, non profits trump up “program services” as a way to justify spending $$$ on themselves.

MSHF tax 1

The highest salaries are the Executive Director and the Financial Officer.

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Here is the listing for the MSHF’s share of the profits from the hospital.  The MSHF (legal name is Valley Hospital Association) owns 34% of the for-profit hospital.  So, if the MSHF’s share was almost $25 million in 2016, then the hospital made approx. $72 million in profits.

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Here is the page which details the MSHF’s expenses.  This organization, which had only approximately 12 employees in 2016, spent $51K on travel and $52K on conferences.

They also paid 770K in interest – what is this for?  And 72K in advocacy expenses. Is this the cost of their lobbyist/s?

They had almost 50K in “Board of Director” expenses. Note: the MSHF’s board meetings are CLOSED to the public.  So, except for the annual tax return, the public is only allowed access to information that the MSHF decides that it will disclose.

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The MSHF does list out grants in their tax return.  They gave 88 people money for scholarships. $386,477 divided by 88 is an average of $4,391 each student.

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Here are other selected grants:

The MSHF gave 7K to the Special Santa program.

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The MSHF had several listings for “cash grants” to the Foraker Group.  The Foraker Group is the “non profit non profit” in Anchorage that provides training and expertise to other non profits.  Elizabeth Ripley is the President of the Board of Directors at Foraker.

My analysis of these “grants” to Foraker is – these grants are self-interested.  They don’t really help the Mat-Su Valley community with health and wellness per se; they help the non profit “industry.” And it is an “industry.”

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There are also six grants listed for Kennedy and Associates for a total of $57,438.  These amounts seem to be payments made for people (likely MSHF staffers or employees of affiliated non profits) to attend this (for profit) consulting company’s non profit leadership program.  Why is the MSHF listing these amounts as “grants” given out when this is really just conferences/workshops that staffers/employees are attending?

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MSHF Kennedy grant 3

 

 

Here is another grant to a foundation that simply supports the Non Profit Industry.  10K to the Rasmuson Foundation for the “Grantmakers” tour.

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The MSHF gave out a “grant” to the State Dept. of Health and Human Services in order to obtain Medicaid data for the McDowell group (a consulting group.)  Now – the Mat-Su Health Foundation has used McDowell’s services for numerous studies.  So, to me – this “grant” is self-serving.  It also should be characterized as an EXPENSE not a grant.  (I also think that the MSHF’s lobbying efforts supporting expanded Medicaid were also self-serving.  The MSHF and its for profit partner – the MSRMC – benefit from more people being able to obtain and pay for medical services with Medicaid. But, the American taxpayers are footing the bills.)

MSHF grant DHSS

And here is a “Grant” to the Anchorage Law firm “Davis, Wright, Tremaine” for Professional services related to the Mat-Su Trails and Parks organization.  The Mat-Su Trails and Parks group was set up by the MSHF and it is almost entirely supported by the MSHF.  I think the trails group had a few issues in 2016 – hence these attorney costs.

MSHF tax atty

NOTE: In my opinion, all of the “grants” listed to Foraker, Kennedy and Associates, Rasmuson, DHSS, and the Anchorage law firm should have been listed in EXPENSES on this tax return. I think that the MSHF was trying to list more items in “grants” instead of expenses so that it looks like they gave out more $ in grants versus spending so much on expenses for themselves.

The MSHF gave money to both the “Heart Reach Pregnancy” Center (which is pro-life; they built a new building around 2016) and “Planned Parenthood” (which is pro-choice.)

 

The MSHF gave out several other larger grants – to the Palmer Senior Center; the Sunshine Health Clinic, the Children’s Place, and Ptarmigan Pediatrics.

 

Giving out the larger grants is fine – and fairly simple to do.  Seriously, how difficult is it to make a decision to give a few hundred thousand to established social services non profits like the Palmer Senior Center or the Sunshine Health Clinic?

I don’t understand why the MSHF needs to spend so much money on themselves to give out grants.

COMPARISON TO PREVIOUS YEARS:

The MSHF in 2016 gave out LESS money in grants than in the two previous years – 2014 and 2015 – and yet, they had much more revenue!

Here is their 2015 tax return, which show that they gave out $6,091.871 in grants in 2014 and $5,333,336 in 2015.  The MSHF gave out only $4,308,005 in 2016.  This amount should be getting larger each year NOT smaller!!!

MSHF comparision grants

 

Federal Tax Liens

This post explains how to look up federal tax liens.

Sometimes it is helpful to know whether or not a business entity or individual has any current tax liens against them.

What is a federal tax lien?  This is from the Internal Revenue Service’s website:

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How to look up on federal tax liens on the Alaska Recorder’s Office website:

Go to the State of Alaska website.  Find the section for the Department of Natural Resources.  DNR contains the statewide recorders’ office.  You can do a search of all filings by name.  This will bring up all sorts of recorded documents – mostly pertaining to property – but it also brings up various types of liens and other UCC filings.

 

You can search for a specific person.  For an example, I searched for Dr. Larry Lawson, the local oncologist who owns Midnight Sun Oncology, who has been in the news lately for his tax troubles.  Here is the IRS tax lien from 2011 and also the release of the lien a few months later (i.e., he paid the IRS and they released the lien.) (FYI – if you are doing a search of liens, be aware that oftentimes a lien is released and is no longer current.)

 

OR, you can use “Internal Revenue Service” as the name.   This is a way to bring up all IRS liens without having to enter a specific name.

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This will bring up thousands of results for all Recording Districts starting with liens filed in the 1970s in District 101.

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However, you can narrow your search to a single Recording District and a single year.  Just highlight and change the District and Year to the specifics you want to find.

District 311 is Palmer.  I think 301 is Anchorage.  So, here are some results for the Palmer District for 2018.

Note: I won’t share any names, but if you do this search, you will find some interesting results.

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