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Friday, July 25, 2008

More Questions for UAB's President

We noted in a previous post that UAB President Carol Garrison, apparently receiving heat from the public, had issued a statement that my termination was based solely on work performance.

Like many "official statements," the one from Garrison raised a number of questions but provided almost no answers. So we started a list of questions for UAB's chief executive, a list we will continue here.

If you would like to pose these or other questions to Dr. Garrison or her trusty PR guy Gary Mans, I'm sure they would be delighted to hear from you. They can be reached at:

Carol Garrison: cgarrison@uab.edu; (205) 934-4636

Gary Mans: gmans@uab.edu; (205) 934-3884

Let's continue with our questions for Dr. Garrison:

* You seemed anxious to issue a written statement regarding my termination once you started receiving questions from the public about it. But when Lindsay Beyerstein of Raw Story was working on her recent investigative piece about my firing, she gave you and other UAB officials numerous opportunities to answer questions for publications. But you and others chose not to respond. Some of your underlings would not even confirm the spellings of their names or their job titles. Why is that? Your approach seems similar to the way former White House strategist Karl Rove is handling his subpoena from Congress. Mr. Rove is happy to provide "answers" in writing, but he refuses to be questioned about his role in the apparent political prosecutions of a number of public officials, including former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Do you model your management style after that of Karl Rove? Is he a public figure you seek to emulate?

* Dale Turnbough, your associate vice president for public relations and marketing, did tell Raw Story that I was not terminated because of my personal blog, but she said she could not comment further on a personnel matter. And yet you, through Gary Mans, proceeded to comment further on a personnel matter. Are the "left hand" and the "right hand" at UAB acquainted?

* During your tenure at UAB, can you cite another case where a 19-year employee (or an employee of any tenure, for that matter) has been terminated without warning, without any form of progressive discipline, as called for in the You & UAB Handbook, particularly for alleged offenses that didn't even come close to calling for immediate discharge?

* During your tenure at UAB, can you cite another case where an employee has been fired roughly three weeks after having filed a grievance against his supervisor? UAB policy says that an employee is to use the grievance process without fear of reprisal or penalty. Does that apply in all cases or only in some cases? Who makes that call?

* You state that my termination had nothing to do with "politics" or a "conspiracy" and that you have not been contacted by any public officials or representatives of public officials regarding my termination. Would you be willing to make your personal and professional e-mail and phone records available as a way of supporting that statement? What about members of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees or representatives of the University of Alabama System Office? They certainly could act as a go-between for any public official who was unhappy about the coverage of public events on my blog. Have you discussed my termination with any board members or system office personnel?

* UAB receives more than $400 million a year in federal research, and my understanding is that part of every grant application is a commitment that the recipient will abide by federal law and act in a nondiscriminatory way. Has UAB lived up to that commitment with its handling of my case?

* For years, UAB has touted the caring, "high touch" nature of its health care. One ad campaign stated "At the center is you." On a personal level, you have training as a nurse, a profession known for sensitivity and compassion. How does UAB's ad campaigns and your personal background square with your actions in my case. Let me share with you the human side of wrongfully terminating a 19-year employee--one whom your own grievance committee said should never have been fired, one whom evidence at a grievance hearing showed should not have been disciplined at all. My wife and I have received all of our health care at UAB throughout the 19 years I've worked there. Dr. Edward Childs at The Kirklin Clinic has been our primary-care physician, and we consider him to be both a superb clinician and a friend. Both my wife and I have been poked and probed, cut on and comforted, cared for and listened to--all at UAB. But someone in a place of power chose to complain because I was writing uncomfortable truths on my blog (on my own time, with my own resources). As a result, I'm out of a job and my wife and I have joined the millions of Americans who are without health insurance. We are fortunate to enjoy pretty good health, but we still have health-care needs--and it has been delightful to know that UAB has both cheated me out of a job and cheated my family out of health-care coverage. When I was forced to leave UAB, your benefits representative told me my coverage through VIVA Health (a company UAB started) would extend through August 1. Last week, my wife went to the pharmacy to get some medicine and was told our coverage had elapsed. We had to pay more than $300 for just a handful of prescriptions. Are there any other ways that UAB can screw this situation up? If I had done something to merit termination, that would be one thing. Losing your health insurance when you've behaved in an incompetent or stupid way on the job, is just part of the deal. But your own grievance committee found my termination was not based in fact. Which raises this question: Does UAB really care about its patients or is that just a clever slogan?

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