Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cop Whistleblower Retaliation in Missouri

The problem that those entrusted with responsibility will fail to exercise the diligence they're paid to exercise, but will instead act in their own interest to do things that are more convenient to themselves personally, is so well-known that the management literature has developed a term of art to describe it:  the agency problem.  The agency problem confronts voters whose legislators enact undesirable laws at the behest of monied special interests just as it confronts citizens whose police decide to use their badges and guns for some purpose other than to protect and serve.

Or … choose simply to protect and serve only their buddies with badges and guns.  In one case, a Missouri police officer who answered honest questions about the in-custody death of a college student (accused of a misdemeanor) was effectively punished by his superiors for stepping out of line.  Allowing police to be held accountable to the public isn't in the interest of the self-interested police.  Read about the case here.

The problem isn't police only.  The problem is the agency problem and its solutions are applicable to shareholders who want Boards who protect shareholders instead of looting the firm to enrich themselves, to protect voters who want legislators to pass laws that comport with public concepts of justice and reason, and to protect members of the public who don't want to fear violence from police who are protected from the consequence of any misconduct they choose to commit.  The agency problem is the problem of business just as it is the problem of democracy.

Faithful agents mean the difference between justice and oppression, fair returns and fraud losses, free elections and a mislead public.

The agency problem matters.

No Trial Needed: How Mr. Browder Died

New York magazine offers an articulate look at how the criminal justice system's servants took the freedom, and ultimately the will to live, from a teen charged with a felony the government never bothered to bring to trial.  The story is called "How All New Yorkers Killed Kalief Browder" and it's worth your time.  If you don't live in New York, the bail statute is likely much more restrictive, increasing the probability that an accused will languish in jail for years. 

I had a civil client I met in a Montgomery County jail whom I discovered had been in custody more than a year without trial.  His last attorney had tried to get him a plea deal that the State liked, to improve his bid to obtain a job in the prosecutor's office.  Other appointed counsel hadn't done much on his case because they weren't paid to prepare it for trial, they were paid to show up for court settings.  Getting paid for something outside a scheduled setting took extra work, and was iffy.  Whether the client did it or not, we should provide the same due process we'd like to receive ourselves – because the rule is there to protect not criminals we expect should lose, but to protect US when we're broke and wrongly accused. 

If the law and its servants can't do that, they have failed.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Nanny State: Crime For Kids To Play In Own Yard

The headline says it all: "11-Year-Old Boy Played in His Yard. CPS Took Him, Felony Charge for Parents."

UPDATE: the mother, charged with a felony, now fears for her job.  Good going, cop-phoning neighbors.  You stick the kids in a stranger's house where they're fed nothing but cereal for days, impose a small fortune in Court-mandated therapy that prevents the family from enjoying its summer plans, and terrify the kids of their insane government while threatening their mother's job.  A+.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

FIFA Prosecutions: Good for Transparency in Sport

This article raises some interesting questions about FIFA.  If the organization is working to clean house like it says, prosecutions for corruption can only bolster the hand of FIFA officers urging compliance with the law.  But, did they push out an officer for making a joke about corrupt FIFA officials?  Are they not as committed to cleaning house as they claim?

There's a lot of money in worldwide sports, and lots of temptations.  The corruption scandals in the Olympics surely illuminate this, and the need to watchdog sporting organizations in order to prevent sporting events from excluding talented athletes merely because they haven't mastered the art of graft.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Retired Cop's Nonsense Explanation For Police Violence Explains A Lot

This video segment does a great job of showing how one retired cop explains away violence against unarmed peaceful protestors by saying that (a) there was violence someplace else, and (b) someone else shot police someplace else.  Therefore, he argues, we should understand police beatings and tear-gassings at peaceful protests by unarmed people.  You kind of have to see this to believe it.

The African American guest has it right:  the retired white cop can't connect any of his grievances against those involved in violence against police with the violence actually witnessed by the guest.  So he makes up explanations to get the conclusion he wants, which is that all the police violence is justified.

If the retired cop's view reflects that of active members of police forces around the country, it's no wonder there's escalating violence against civilians:  cops feel tit-for-tat violence (and killings) is justified.  No wonder people chant "No Justice, No Peace."  And no wonder it makes thugs like the retired cop nervous.  They intend violence and know they're the problem.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Unarmed Man Killed By Cop Who Just Got Off Suspension for Killing Unarmed Man

If you've been following the Jaded Consumer coverage of America's national epidemic of killings by police, you'll be unsurprised at what should be shocking news.  This time, a Walmart called the police on a woman who approached to ask what her son supposedly stole before he was murdered by the boys in blue.  She's been stonewalled – unsurprisingly – by the department who loosed its known killer on the civilian public despite knowing his history killing an unarmed civilian.

TSA: Not What We Hoped For

Apparently creating a new Federal agency to delay you on the way to your flight doesn't create genuine security in airports.  Surprise, surprise.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Doc's Financial Self-Interest Wasn't In Infants' Interest

It's well-known that certain procedures are riskier in hospitals that do few of them.  Such is the case with St. Mary's Medical Center, a Tenet Healthcare (Ticker:THC) hospital in Miami Beach, Florida.  Its Board-Certified pediatric surgeon Dr. Black (who's white, incidentally) told Mrs. Campbell he'd never lost a patient at St. Mary's before he killed her daughter – the fourth to die after he attempted a complex cardiac procedure on a newborn at St. Mary's.

So, why does a doc BS patients like this?  Running the pediatric surgery program at a hospital that aspires to make big bucks on highly-compensated procedures is a sweet gig.  The annual salary of a Board-Certified pediatric surgeon is bigger than most Americans' life savings, and running a program involves an especially big bunch of boodle.  And the doc's got to make the hospital enough money to justify the payments.  Apparently, Dr. Black didn't want to lose the sale.

Although state regulators didn't find problems with the hospital, the chairman of the Cardiac Technical Advisory Panel for Florida's Children's Medical Services (part of Florida's Department of Health) found problems.  St. Mary's extremely low case volume left it without the skills to meet the national average mortality for the complex cardiac procedures it managed to convince cardiologists to refer to the hospital.  Consequently, the hospital's mortality rate was calculated by CNN using Freedom of Information Act requests to Florida regulators and determined to be about three times the national average.  Tenet Healthcare claims that's untrue, but won't provide the true number.

Go figure.

UPDATE: Ninth infant died in connection with St. Mary's pediatric cardiac surgery program.

UPDATE: Florida regulators won't investigate complaint lodged by dead patient's mother.