Today in Bad Headlines | Blogh

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today in Bad Headlines

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Continuing in my series of PR nightmares for UPMC, the P-G had a story today about how the hospital giant won't accept health insurance coverage provided by Tricare, which covers American servicepeople.

Here's the kind of thing you don't want to see on the front page of the daily newspaper:

Jean Rohal, 40, said it's shameful that University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals and medical centers turn away active-duty service members from all branches, including the National Guard and reservists, especially in a time of war and economic distress.

The thankless task of responding falls to Frank Raczkiewicz, whose quote doesn't appear until after the jump, when the damage is already done:

"As demand grows for this, we're addressing the issue," Mr. Raczkiewicz said. "We are going to get into discussions with Tricare so we can expand the coverage system-wide."

Ye-e-e-e-e-ah, that's probably a good idea. Somebody maybe should have had it sooner, though. Like perhaps five years ago, when Tricare spokesperson Molly Tuttle says they first tried to get UPMC to join the program.

Tuttle notes that UPMC is under no obligation to accept Tricare, but then delivers this (unintentional, I'm sure) coup de grace:

"They are a business," Ms. Tuttle said.



Who else had a bad PR day? 

Our illustrious district attorney, Stephen Zappala, made the P-G twice today. In one story, Zappala cleared -- in a less-than-totally-exculpatory sort of way -- a local police commander of allegations that she interfered with an auto accident involving her friend. The incident involving RaShall Brackney took place in March 2007 -- nearly two years ago. Brackney, you may recall, played an interesting part in allegations relating to Dennis Regan, who was accused of exerting some improper influence of his own in the early days of the Ravenstahl administration.

It took less time to get rid of Regan, though, then it did for Zappala to decide not to press charges ... and he's still not satisfied. "It was a troubling situation," he says. "I have a problem with it." 

Speaking of troubling situations, there's that second story in today's paper. Turns out that Zappala's brother runs a Butler County juvenile-detention facility an audit says misspent money on things like a "swordfishing trip" and a $3,500 suit

Mark this down in your calendar: Today may be the first time Steve Zappala has ever wished he'd been born to a different set of parents.


You knew it was only a matter of time before this story broke. PNC Bank, after accepting billions in taxpayer money to help digest National City, confirms that CEO Jim Rohr took clients to the Super Bowl in a private jet.

How long before the Tribune-Review begins pilloring Rohr in its editorial page to "give the money back"? Get your bets in now. 

In the meantime, a piece of advice, Mr. Rohr: If they call you before a Congressional subcommitte, fly coach.  In disguise.


Finally, in the "Johnstown Boy makes good" department, we have this editorial from today's New York Times:

Consider the recent raids by federal agents on the offices of a lobbyist and a Pentagon contractor, both with lucrative ties to Representative John Murtha, the powerful Democratic defense appropriator from Pennsylvania...

One raid was at PMA Group of Arlington, Va., a lobbying firm founded by the former top staff aide on the defense appropriations subcommittee chaired by Mr. Murtha. (The gilded career path for ranking staffers who market their Inner Sanctum entree.) The lawmakers, meanwhile, earmarked more than $100 million in defense spending for PMA clients in the appropriations bills for 2008, according to a study by Taxpayers for Common Sense, which tracks earmarks.

Mr. Murtha received $1.3 million in donations from PMA’s clients in the last two election cycles.

Murtha should call for an investigation -- to be carried out by Steve Zappala. By the time it wraps up, Murtha will be retired. 


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