Showbizreporting's Blog

November 12, 2009

The Wrap Article – STMPH

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:10 pm
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Dean Butler – one of the stalwart leaders of our crusade wrote this incredibly eloquent comment to the Wrap’s recent story on their tour of the Motion Picture Home, led by the fund’s spokeshole, Ken Scherer. While Ken was being lambasted unmercifully, this ray of clarity stood out in all the comments. Please leave your own at http://www.thewrap.com/article/tk-9840:

As the holidays approach its time for gratitude and peace, but its not Thanksgiving quite yet so there is still time for plain straight talk.

What a pathetic and revealing interview Mr. Scherer granted over the weekend to The Wrap. Why would the MPTF’s PR Crisis Manager allow it to happen? One could speculate that the force of events has begun to work against the MPTF’s draconian closure decision and now the tone of their words is shifting from arrogant certainty to verbal and body language hoping to evoke sympathy and pity from the community. Unfortunately he reveals his true agenda on the closure when he claims in The Wrap story that he can’t think about what to do with the buildings after the units close because he’s “too emotionally concerned with what ‘to do’ with the patients.” What “to do” with the patients? Scherer and his team don’t see their patients and residents as people to whom they made a promise of lifetime care, but rather as stuff they don’t want anymore.

At first the MPTF resolutely claimed they “had no choice” but to close. Now they’ve made “a few mistakes” and Mr. Scherer expresses concern that the organization’s reputation has been damaged by media and blogs that have publicly challenged the MPTF’s decisions since last January. Just in case you missed the story the MPTF is and has been the villain in this morality tale since the beginning. There is a right and wrong in this story and the MPTF is humanly, ethically, and morally wrong. They hide behind financial shortfalls that nobody believes exist.

Yes, Mr. Scherer, there have been mistakes — like making life changing decisions for residents in a vacuum, commissioning closure studies from consultants who were paid to provide pre-determined results, violating first amendment rights of family members, using social workers to mislead and frighten patients, having the in-house Rabbi comfort frightened residents by telling them “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”, placing security guards and studio police cars at entrances to intimidate visitors, banning family members from campus, restricting press access to residents who disagreed with the closure decision, and intentionally locking doors to inhibit the free movement of residents in their home. Now Mr. Scherer is trying to affably distance himself and his fellow managers from their own hardball tactics. Yes, there were many mistakes — now — because their tactics didn’t work. If residents and their families had compliantly moved to other LTC facilities months ago their tactics would be smugly celebrated from behind the closed doors of their elegant Saban Health Center offices.

For Mr. Scherer to blame the media and blogs, such as this one, for the MPTF’s troubles is both delusional and galling. Nobody is responsible for the MPTF’s sinking reputation but MPTF leadership. The MPTF created this issue by abandoning its historic mission of charity. Members of the management team and board may be lying awake at night trying to figure out how their miscalculations destroyed their reputations and the trust our community once had in the MPTF. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with the MPTF’s historic mission. The MPTF’s problems reside in the leadership agendas that abandoned the mission. But management issues can be solved by new faces or, as in the case of Ebenezer Scrooge (a holiday reference), an enlightened view of the future.

Mr. Scherer looked uncomfortable as he tried to find the right words to shift the MPTF’s role from villain to victim. Is this a change of heart or sober reflection on the potentially devastating impact of legal action if the MPTF proceeds on its original course? If MPTF leadership believed they were on solid legal ground, our often disheartening knowledge of them suggests LTC residents would have faced even more aggressive tactics as the October 31 closure deadline approached.

Even as the MPTF bobs and weaves looking for the moral high ground that has eluded them since the beginning of this crisis, our community, in ever growing numbers, continues to support LTC residents who are in jeopardy of loosing their homes. Sadly, they aren’t the only victims of this MPTF misfire. In fact, the residents of the MPTF’s Independent and Assisted Living communities face an equally frightening plight because they live each day knowing that their MPTF LTC safety net is, at present, gone. They are all only one unexpected incident away from loosing their homes and their life affirming contact with spouses, friends and caregivers — a fact that MPTF management has refused to acknowledge. Maybe they’ve just lost sight of what is so clear to the rest of us — eventually most every resident on the Wasserman Campus will need LTC. If they can’t get it at MPTF, Independent and Assisted Living residents will be forced to leave their home…maybe never to return. Is this the new “aging in place” mission in action?

And so the days pass and the perception of winners and losers is giving way to the necessity of survival—for all parties involved. Keep your eyes open everyone…we’re going to be subjected to some fantastic, if not particularly believable MPTF performances in the weeks ahead.

Mr. Scherer, Dr. Tillman, Nurse Ellis, Mr. Mancuso, Mr. Katzenberg, Mr. Koch and all the rest of them who have caused and supported this nightmare are now seeking to stave off their day of legal comeuppance and save their public lives. And frankly, all things considered, we hope they can. In the weeks ahead we’ll be hearing more and more language calculated to release the pressure that’s been building steadily against them…and maybe right around Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, as if by magic, they will find the solution that only geniuses like them could have found…and the home will be saved, the fundraising money will roll again, and all will be forgiven. And Hollywood will have another story of redemption and the community will have gotten what its wanted and demanded all along — a happy, principled resolution to a crisis.

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