In this clip, Vlad starts out telling Math Hoffa that he’s declined interviews with people who are fighting cases, and he used Drakeo the Ruler as an example, adding that Drakeo came in after beating his case. Vlad then explained that if you did the time for a crime, you can legally speak about it in an interview. You can hear Math’s side of the discussion above.
The board for CalOptima, which provides publicly funded health coverage for nearly 900,000 needy Orange County residents, abruptly fired its entire in-house legal team of attorneys and support staff late last week. Some had been with the agency for more than 20 years, according to records.
The agency instead will rely on a contract with Sacramento firm Kennaday Leavitt for legal services.
The board approved a $1 million contract with that firm in November, for two outside attorneys to support CalOptima’s nine-member legal team, whose salaries totaled roughly $1.5 million. The agency said at the time that additional help was needed as demands for legal services increased. CalOptima now says the decision during a closed session meeting Thursday night to fire the in-house team was about “improved efficiency.”
The move comes amid increasing concerns about how the agency is operating under the direction of its board chair, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, with substantial turnover in key positions over the past two years while salary levels for newly created or replacement positions have jumped significantly.
The agency’s chief medical officer, executive director of quality initiatives, communications director and other key staff members all have left in recent months. The last chief executive officer stayed only a year, with an interim CEO in his place. And the salary for that job jumped in September from a minimum of $400,000 to at least $560,000.
Do could not be reached for comment Monday.
A CalOptima spokesperson didn’t respond to a request about these concerns or additional information on the legal team’s departure. She instead emailed a statement that said: “CalOptima has taken action to utilize external legal resources to improve efficiency of the agency in support of its mission and to better serve our members.”
CalOptima is the health care insurer for poor and disabled O.C. residents, a majority who qualify for Medi-Cal coverage. The agency has an annual budget of $3.7 billion and operates under the direction of an eight-member board of directors.
The board started discussing the idea of contracting for outside legal services in late 2020. Do led an ad hoc committee that formed Dec. 3, 2020, to consider getting help to “address the substantial and increasing demand for legal services.”
During its Sept. 2 meeting, the eight-member board unanimously voted to request proposals from outside law firms to “augment, and integrate with, the legal services currently provided by the agency’s employed and contracted lawyers,” according to a board report.
Two months later, at the Nov. 4 meeting, the board approved using up to $1.05 million in reserves to contract for a year with Kennaday Leavitt, which has attorneys specializing in health care law, for general counsel to “work with internal lawyers.” The contract includes two additional one-year extension options and covers two full-time attorneys at $70,000 per month plus up to $210,000 in business expenses.
When the request for proposals went out, it included a requirement that the firm must have its main office in the Southern California area. But that requirement was dropped when the committee came back to the board with a recommendation to contract with Kennaday Leavitt, with veteran healthcare attorney James Novello in the top post.
During the Dec. 20 meeting, the board met behind closed doors to discuss Kennaday Leavitt’s job performance. Then, on Thursday, Feb. 3, the agenda listed a closed-door session to discuss “public employee discipline/dismissal/release.” Following that meeting, a clerk reported the board had “approved the closed session item.” The Register learned all seven in-house attorneys plus a supporting paralegal and office staff member were let go.
Supervisor Doug Chaffee, who said he recently moved from alternate to full board member and has only attended a couple CalOptima meetings, said the process of changing the legal staff started before his tenure. But he said the current interim CEO, Michael Hunn, reviewed the situation “and concluded that it was not very efficient,” Chaffee said, so Hunn asked the board to “make an organizational change” to exclusively use the new outside counsel.
Chaffee said the dismissed legal staff will receive severance packages per the agency’s policy, but he didn’t have details on the amount. As to using a contracted firm instead of in-house staff for legal services, he said, “I think there is a cost savings; time will tell exactly how much.”
In recent years CalOptima has weathered its share of criticism. In 2013, the county’s Grand Jury raised flags about a wave of CalOptima staff departures and issues with leadership.
The agency seemed to have course-corrected, with little controversy for several years. But since Do took the helm of the agency, some local healthcare officials have started to criticize recent changes.
In December, a past chairman of CalOptima’s board raised concerns with the recent appointment of Do’s deputy chief of staff to a newly created position at the agency, pointing to the staffer’s lack of experience in the healthcare industry and starting salary of $282,000, the Voice of OC reported.
The month before that, the Hospital Association of Southern California expressed dismay that a majority of the OC Board of Supervisors ignored its recommendation on whom to appoint to a vacant CalOptima board seat, picking someone from Los Angeles County instead of someone with local experience, according to another Voice of OC story.
Source: OC Register
Target 8 takes you inside the investigation into a brutal 2019 double murder as the feds search for their killer, one of the 15 most wanted suspects in America. (Feb. 8, 2022)
When the church doors open, only white people will be allowed inside.
That’s the message the Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota, is sending after being granted a conditional use permit to open a church there and practice its pre-Christian religion that originated in northern Europe.
Despite a council vote officially approving the permit this month, residents are pushing back against the decision.
Opponents have collected about 50,000 signatures on an online petition to stop the all-white church from making its home in the farming town of 280 people.
“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident. “Racism is not welcome here.”
Many locals said they support the growing population of Latinos, who have moved to the area in the past decade because of job opportunities, over the church.
“Just because the council gave them a conditional permit does not mean that the town and people in the area surrounding will not be vigilant in watching and protecting our area,” Jean Lesteberg, who lives in the neighboring town of De Graff, wrote on the city’s Facebook page.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that couches “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.”
Many residents call them a white supremacist or white separatist group, but church members deny it.
“We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” said Allen Turnage, a folk assembly board member. “Just because we respect our own culture, that doesn’t mean we are denigrating someone else’s.”
The group, based in Brownsville, California, says teachings and membership are for those of strictly European bloodlines.
The church was looking for a new church in the eastern North Dakota region when they came across Murdock. It’s unknown how many members they have worldwide or how many people will attend the new church.
“We do not need salvation. All we need is freedom to face our destiny with courage and honor,” the group wrote on its website about their beliefs. “We honor the Gods under the names given to them by our Germanic/Norse ancestors.”
Their forefathers, according to the website, were “Angels and Saxons, Lombards and Heruli, Goths and Vikings, and, as sons and daughters of these people, they are united by ties of blood and culture undimmed by centuries.”
“We respect the ways our ancestors viewed the world and approached the universe a thousand years ago,” Turnage said.
Murdock council members said they do not support the church but were legally obligated to approve the permit, which they did in a 3-1 decision.
“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect the First Amendment rights,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said. “We knew that if this was going to be denied, we were going to have a legal battle on our hands that could be pretty expensive.”
City Attorney Don Wilcox said it came down to free speech and freedom of religion.
“I think there’s a great deal of sentiment in the town that they don’t want that group there,” he said. “You can’t just bar people from practicing whatever religion they want or saying anything they want as long as it doesn’t incite violence.”
The farming town about a 115-mile drive west of Minneapolis is known for producing corn and soybeans, which are shipped across the country. Latinos make up about 20 percent of Murdock’s small population. Many are day laborers from Mexico and Central America, city officials said.
“We’re a welcoming community,” Kennedy said, rejecting the Asatru Folk Assembly’s exclusionary beliefs. “That’s not at all what the people of Murdock feel. Nobody had a problem with the Hispanics here.”
The AFA purchased its building this year on property in a residential zone. Constructed as a Lutheran church before the zoning was changed, it was later converted to a private residence. The folk assembly needed the permit to convert the residence back to a church.
“It’s ironic the city council didn’t want to commit discrimination against the church, but the church is discriminating against Blacks,” said Abigail Suiter, 33, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “It’s very telling of where the priority is and whose lives matter.”
Prominent lawyers disagree on the council’s options heading into the vote. Some of the debate centered on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protects religious institutions and churches from unduly burdens and discriminatory land-use regulations.
Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said the council might have been able to prevent the private sale of the property, had it known about it, through laws focused on forbidding racial discrimination in property transactions.
“No institution that proposes to exclude people on account of race is allowed to run an operation in the state of Minnesota,” Tribe said.
Kavanagh said he stands by the council vote “for legal reasons only.”
“The biggest thing people don’t understand is, because we’ve approved this permit, all of a sudden everyone feels this town is racist, and that isn’t the case,” he said. “Just because we voted yes doesn’t mean we’re racist.”
Source: NBC News
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on April 24 by two plaintiffs, Maria Bromley and Pauta Kleber, who claim to have spent over $1,000 each on attending the event that was originally scheduled for March 12-20 in Austin. On March 6, organizers announced they were forced to cancel the annual festival due to a city order that prohibited large gatherings in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Following the cancellation, SXSW informed ticket and pass holders that they would not be receiving refunds. Instead, the independent festival offered pass holders free registration — equivalent to the amount they spent for the 2020 festival — that would be valid for SXSW in 2021, 2022 or 2023. They were also offered a 50% discount based on the amount they spent in 2020 for another one of those three years.
According to the lawsuit, both plaintiffs were informed that the offer expires on April 30, 2020. The complaint notes that these offers were put forth by the festival on March 12, which additionally stated that it “cannot be certain that future festivals will occur.”