State Gives August Deadline For AIDS Network To Fix Problems

After my post today on the AIDS Network, I offer this as follow up.

After a year-long formal review of the AIDS Network, state health officers said the nonprofit still has problems with how it operates and needs to fix everything by August.  

Clients and former clients contend services there could and should be much better.  

Local residents living with HIV or AIDS and their supporters picketed in front of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Tuesday.  

They allege the state has been too slow on its oversight of HIV/AIDS services and that services from the AIDS Network aren’t up to snuff.  

In fact, some said they have to drive to other cities for help.  

Bob Bowers used the AIDS Network for four years before quitting because he couldn’t get the services he wanted.  

“It’s important for folks to realize the fact that I have to drive to Milwaukee to access the same care and services I should be getting here in Madison, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be here in Madison,” Bowers said.  

Greg Milward resigned from the board of the AIDS Network a year and a half ago. He also said he has problems with the way services are delivered, compared to the other AIDS agency in the state that gets public financing.  

“There’s equitable funding. There are not equitable services,” Milward said.  

At issue is how the AIDS Network, which sponsors the big annual AIDS ride fundraiser, disperses and tracks services to its clients in a 13-county region in south-central Wisconsin, including Madison.  

“In very late 2007 it came to our attention that there were deficiencies,” said Seth Foldy, the state’s public health officer.  (WHO WAS SLEEPING ON THE JOB TO MISS THIS!)

Four on site state visits since June 2008 led to 38 directives for corrective action. But nearly a year later, almost a third of them have yet to be fully met, WISC-TV reported.  

Because of that, the state has granted the Network only “conditional” state and federal funding through September.  

But it could have been worse.  

“If we had not seen the rate of improvement that we did see on most of the items that we’ve been following, more drastic action would have been taken,” Foldy said. 

GOP U.S. Senator Ensign Admits Adultery With Campaign Aide Who Was Married To Another Ensign Staffer

Peyton Place, please move over.  We have a new contender.  This one is a real bunny hatch!

Will United States Senator John Ensign claim it as a youthful indiscretion, or perhaps was it that gay marriages across the country made his own relationship shaky? That is the talking point, isn’t it?  Just  how does a conservative pro-family Senator spin adultery?

cheater

In a statement released by his office, the Republican from Nevada says “I take full responsibility for my actions. I know that I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my staff and the people of Nevada who believed in me not just as a legislator but as a person. I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions.”

The senator’s office also released a statement from Ensign’s wife Darlene, saying “since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation. This has been difficult on both families. With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger. I love my husband.”

The other option for his wife was kicking Ensign’s behind out the door while keeping his nards in a glass bottle on the mantle.

Time To Hold President Obama Accountable On Gay Rights

First let me say I was wrong.

Over the past six months I have felt that with the many domestic and international concerns facing the Obama White House that there needed to be a little time given for the new team in Washington to make progress on the list of pressing concerns facing gay Americans.  As such, I felt it necessary to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt that he would do the right thing.  Part of my logic was that the headline eruptions over DOMA or DADT would undermine his other hopes on health care, and the needs of the economy and foreign policy.   But the drip, drip, drip of truly troubling news from various points in his administration concerning gay rights makes it time to turn the heat on.

I admit I was lured into silence over these months by what I thought to be a higher mission Obama would take on issues of equality.  I understand the President is under the same rigors and tugs of the political machine as others who held his office.  I still think him extremely bright, well-intentioned, and am darn proud he is my President.  But I also know he needs to feel the political heat from those who want the same rights as all others in the nation.

There was never a good time for some politicians in the 1850’s to get tough on the evil of slavery in the nation.  We know that was wrong.  There now seems to be a timidity among some politicians to face the need for extending equal rights to gay citizens in 2009.  That is equally wrong.

That must end.

The honeymoon is over.

Vote Caffeinated Politics As Madison’s Favorite Local Blog

I post about elections of one sort or another all the time.  Now it is time for me to ask  for your vote for Caffeinated Politics as Madison’s Favorite Local Blog.

The Isthmus is conducting their annual “Madison’s Favorites”, and you can make your selection on-line.  To make any selection count you will need to fill in 20 of the categories listed.  You need to fill out the form by June 18th at 5:00 P.M.

I work pretty hard to keep this blog active and fresh.  I do not have a team that works on this blog, it is just me.  I have fun with it, and hope you enjoy your time here.  If you feel it worthy of your vote, I say thanks.  If not, I still thank you for stopping by my little slice of cyberspace.

blog

This is my desk at home where it all happens.  I often think of those who first lived in this house in 1892, and wonder what they would say about the internet information super-highway.

Wisconsin State Legislature Needs To Focus On AIDS Network And Use Of Public Funds

When I worked in state government I made every effort to insure that our constituents were made aware of the mechanics of both the political process, and the way agencies promulgated rules and made decisions.  The more the citizenry knows about their government that they pay for, and expect services from, the better off we all are.  With the needed information taxpayers will feel that they are funding well-thought out ideas, recipients of services down the line will know they are being understood and respected, and the state workers who are the bridge between the two will benefit from knowing their work in justified.  

Over the past weeks many questions have surfaced about the internal management style of the AIDS Network, and the lack of oversight in a meaningful way from their Board of Directors.  That is a sad thing to understand given the role they should play throughout the 13 counties they purport to work in both to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, and also where they serve clients.  But when we hear about the lack of state directives and reporting requirements that have not been successfully followed through on by the agency, or the lack of services that the clients should receive, or the abysmal percentage of clients that have annual assessments and service plans one has to wonder what is happening at the AIDS Network.

But we also need to ask ourselves what is happening with the State of Wisconsin, and those responsible for the oversight of the money that has been provided to the AIDS Network.  The ones who set the rules and regulations at the Department of Health Services need to address the public’s questions and concerns about an agency that receives public funding, and especially since it should serve a very real public need.  The Wisconsin State Legislature also has to demand accountability from the executive branch as represented through the state agency which is to provide oversight of the AIDS Network, and thereby fulfill their role as steward of the taxes paid by the citizenry.

In addition Dane County, and the City Of Madison should also be mindful of the need for their oversight as they too have given public funds to this agency. 

It is disquieting to hear the response from Karen Dotson, the new Executive Director of the AIDS Network, as stated in the Isthmus about the list of troubling concerns.  She flippantly referred to those who had concerns about the issues as a “handful of embittered dissidents”.  Those who honestly ask questions of this nature should be respected, and not ridiculed or subjected to public humiliation.  Denigrating thoughtful citizens hoping to improve a troubled situation (agency) should rather be encouraged to form a citizens advisory board to help not only better the public image of the agency, but also address very real concerns.

If members of the State Legislature, and perhaps an intrepid reporter (who will step up?) started asking pertinent questions with a notepad and a barrel of ink in tow, I strongly suspect Dotson might change her tune, and  become more willing to address the issues.  Having worked in/and with the media as a broadcaster, and also as a legislative committee clerk I can assure Dotson that her tone-deaf statement made her no friends.

At a time when the taxpayers are feeling the economic pinch it is vital that every state dollar be wisely spent.  When there are as many legitimate questions and concerns about public funds, and their use as has been raised about the AIDS Network it is time for the State Legislature to step in and start asking questions.  They need to get answers.

I am hoping that Karen Dotson will not also view them as “embittered dissidents”.