As Homer Simpson would say “DoH”.

The ruling by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) regarding Gold Cross and Dixie Ambulance Service needs to be seriously investigated.

I have now read the ruling by Dr. Patton (UDOH director) twice.  My initial impression was that it is questionable.  The follow-up reading raises more questions.

I attempted to get information from UDOH.  I was assured of a response back the next week.  It did not come.  Rather it was referred to the Attorney General’s Office.  I have reported on this previously.

What concerns me is there appears to be a concerted effort to “sandbag” my requests.  By sandbag I mean efforts to dissuade my investigation/research.  Presumably there is no transcribed record of the public hearings.  It has been reiterated to me by the embattled AG’s office that such files do not exist.

After two decades of working directly with local, county, state, and federal agencies I cannot recall any incident of even moderate interest where digital copies of  audio files were not produced.  The Department of Health ruled to shutdown a private business, driving them into insolvency, in favor of another private business.  Yet, they have no transcription of the hearing that were held leading to that decision.  To me that is unacceptable administrative behavior, if not incompetence.

Now, according to the 65 page ruling, reached without benefit of hard copy of the hearing for reference, UDOH pretends to objectivity.  Says the ruling in its opening Finding Of Fact,

“The Findings of Fact and supporting analysis are based upon the formal hearing record, which encompasses: (1) recorded witness testimony given under oath at the formal hearing, held in St. George from December 3 through December 6, 2012; (2) the formal hearing exhibits 1­109, comprised of thousands of pages of documents that include expert witness reports,  statistical information, pleadings and briefs, local government letters and reports, and other related documents submitted at the formal hearing; and (3) deposition transcripts that were part of the formal hearing record.”

Further the ruling stipulates

“As submitted to the hearing officer, some St. George public officials have expressed support for neither candidate, but rather for UDOH approval of the best possible ambulance service for St. George as determined by a formal hearing and objective analysis of the formal hearing evidence.”  That is a most fascinating comment given that the ruling also says “However, the city’s discreet contacts with Gold Cross concerning Dixie Ambulance’s response times …” (emphasis added).

Say what?  The Department of Health can’t find the resources to transcribe a critical hearing, however, they can find an opportunity to use “discreet contacts” as a basis to justify economic upheaval.  Just to be clear “discreet conversations” in the realm of government agencies general mean “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”  Or, stated another way “I want my political views on this kept secret, to avoid accountability.”

It appears at every turn that the decision made by The Department of Health, and now supported by the beleaguered (with accusation of influence peddling) Attorney General’s office, made a decision and then went about seeking out evidence to defend it.

It is a popular theory among some professional politicians that the states are and should be laboratories for the federal government.  Given the abundant evidence of influence peddling, “discreet contacts”, and abuses by federal agencies let’s all hope that Utah State Agencies are not being used as the the laboratory for such behavior.

The truth behind the UDOH ruling cannot be reversed.  Hence, many people will be inclined to say “leave it alone”.  I am hopeful that the next official word is not a quote from Hillary Clinton “What does it matter?” 

Time should not be wasted.  A full independent investigation into this issue, along with the influence peddling allegations toward the AG’s Office, and specific State Senators  is needed…NOW!  The weakness of the ruling combined with the abusive behavior of those who believe they are above ethics should not be allowed to stand.  Both the Utah State House of Representatives and the Utah State Senate ought to commence an a joint investigation into abuse of authority and influence by its own members and by agencies of the State.

The ruling by UDOH appears to be unreasonable and unsound.  Yet, even worse its is extraordinarily untimely, in that the ruling was not an issue which suggested “time was of the essence”.  Yet, UDOH acted in a manner to cripple an existing business that had relied on a standing license.  A license that had been earned, properly utilized, and properly serving the community.  That rush to unsound judgment followed by a rush to be punitive drove a business to bankruptcy.

I seldom support legal activities that provide public remuneration in cases of private affairs.  In this case I make an exception.  UDOH directly and egregiously injured not simply a private business but the entire concept of free enterprise.  They did it under the false pretense, described in a faulty ruling, that the community was being better served.  Because of their rush to protect influence peddling, in this matter, The Utah Department of Health should reimburse the original license holder for the financial obligation that cannot now be met, as a result of that ruling.

Repeating, two actions are relevant at this time:  1) a detailed private investigation into the basis of the ruling, 2) reimbursement for the value of injury it created.

As Homer Simpson might say, “DOH!  That was a dumb ruling.”

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