Contact Us


Concerned Citizens of
Franklin County, Inc.
PO Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida32328
(850) 653-5571

CCFC-Somebody’s Got to Say It

on Monday, 14 September 2020.

Good Morning Friends:

Quality local government leadership and opportunities for participation have never been as challenged as they are today.

We want to be very specific in our comments and avoid politics. We have terrible problems with our schools that predate the current COVID crisis and are reflected in some of the highest spending per pupil in the state and have the worst results. Our ABC School is excluded from this criticism. It’s a fact that cannot be glossed over. Undertake all the excuse making you can, the results are in the grades and financial numbers. The worst numbers are those of young people that lost opportunities through school neglect and/or lack of parental support. We need quality, child centered leaders.

Our county government has completely failed us on economic development, honesty in government, transparency and our pet favorite… access to our commissioners. Ask your Commissioner this simple question: Why is the County Government budget being raised by $4 million this year? Bet you won’t get an easy to understand, straight forward answer to your question. The criticism we have also extends to some Constitutional Offices that received way too much funding. But I don’t blame them as much as the Commissioners since the Florida Constitution charges Commissioners with determining the correctness of submitted budgets. They don’t.

The Attorney General of Florida determined that citizens have a Constitutional Right to access and address, to have two-way discussions with our leaders. Yet, in 2018 Commissioners changed the existing Policy of allowing citizens to talk to their leaders at the beginning of each Meeting and Workshop and to again address Commissioners in a dialogue before each and every vote is taken. The best way to understand what existed then and what does not exist today is that we had participatory government through 2018 before existing commissioners decided to ask the County Attorney to craft a new policy to limit citizen participation to the strictest legal interpretation possible. Why? The CCFC provided leaders with the policies of all counties neighboring us and beyond, who by and large continue to this day the ability of citizens to participate in government. We give Franklin County Government an F in openness.

The lack of professionalism in how decisions are made, the dearth of citizen input, important polices waived whenever commissioners like and the chutzpah of individual Commissioners has led to:

  • Unfair labor policies that reward people not for the work they do, but whether they are Constitutional employees or work for the Commissioners who have let the gap in pay become unconscionable.
  • Running a hospital that loses money each and every month over available subsidies and can be a death trap for those brought there inappropriately. Ask why Weems is not allowed to admit COVID patients after receiving over $3 million in Cares Act Funding but wants you to believe it’s in the fight.
  • An investment community in North Florida that shuns our county for inconsistent and detrimental county leadership decisions.
  • Nepotism at every level of government. Some of those very same relatives convicted of crimes in their old county jobs and then rehired to another position.
  • A basic disregard for how something looks. Hiring the wife of a Commissioner into the Election Office while running for his seat again. It just looks bad, or worse.
  • The oh so collegial Board of County Commissioners who recently allowed spot paving projects in Commissioners Districts that were up for election this year. There is a policy of saving up Gas Tax money for several years to have countywide projects and bidding them for best value. Not this year.
  • Interference in Zoning decisions that have resulted in multiple ongoing lawsuits costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars so far and potentially millions more to come. Reducing the number of citizens on P & Z Boards has the effect of reducing citizen input. And has the potential to allow one aspect of membership to influence or dictate county policies, with little or no regard for existing carefully constructed historical land use regulations.
  • An utter and complete lack of creating and acting on Vision statements that could lift Franklin County citizens out of poverty.
  • Paying lip service to the drug problem here in Franklin County and fighting anything that would really address the issue or offer a hand up to its victims. Think drug rehab.
  • Paying homage to the wild caught seafood industry while writing letters trying to have the State of Florida cease issuing leases to the rapidly growing Aquaculture industry here and all around us that could create jobs and real, permanent incomes for our citizens.
  • Another over the top nod to inappropriate election behavior was one Commissioner up for election who broke a red line rule. Individuals on a private road are getting help from the Road Department for the first time ever. The County has steadfastly denied every other request for the last 20 years that we know of. The vote was 5-0 in favor of helping their fellow Commissioner gain an advantage. Let’s see what happens after the election when the next person(s) ask for the same treatment.
  • We’ve heard from several people on the Tourist Development Board that they feel either intimidated or restricted by a rigid system of Management that silences them and they question the need to double the Tourist Development Tax when there are essentially no other beds to sell and limited area amenities are busy.Just another multi-million-dollar pot of money for some to divvy up?

Fellow Franklin County Citizens. We have an election in just a few short weeks. Our local election is just as important as the national elections and will be pivotal as to the road we take going forward. Remember, ultimately all elections are local, this is your only opportunity to make your voice count.

The CCFC believes it’s time to start over. There is systemic corruption in Franklin County. Ask the FBI, Justice Department or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who have had Franklin County on their radar for years. No one who is elected to government should think they own that seat. For a lot of reasons, people are silent too much of the time. Maybe because Commissioners won’t have evening meetings or have ended the occasional one in Carrabelle so they might participate.

Whatever the reason, we encourage you to go vote in person and vote your conscience and elect individuals that are smart, active, humble and forward looking. The county is changing. Has been changing for at least 30 years. It’s time to look at that change and make it work for each and every Franklin County citizen. It’s money in your pocket or out of it. You decide who to vote for that most closely fits your thoughts on county and school government.

As always, if you have any questions, or, want deeper or supportive information or just want to talk, we are here. We are your Concerned Citizens of Franklin County and we look out for your best interests Financially and Ethically

Stay tuned for an announcement as to the CCFC’s annual meeting!

God bless America and all of you!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

Franklin County Tax Increase—CCFC Guidance

on Friday, 31 July 2020.

Good Morning Friends:

This Morning at 9:00 a.m. in a closed courtroom, Franklin County Commissioners will hold their annual Budget Workshop once again. It will be devoid of contrary voices and Commissioners expect to blast through the budgeting process without the constraints of public scrutiny.

We are not happy. That very same courtroom is open for business for everything except County Commission business. This is a further demonstration of the low regard your Commissioners hold you to.

We have submitted the following comments both on process and budget substance and have made them available to Commissioners and Staff. We also are asking for a 3% reduction in the taxes you will be forced to pay this year. We hope you read our comments and thinking below. If you are in agreement that it’s time to make a change, you have the chance to vote starting next week. In addition, you can reach out to your Commissioner and let him know, you demand a 3% reduction, even if it means no bonuses or some other minor belt tightening.

Go to this link https://www.franklincountyflorida.com/county-government/board-of-commissioners/ and contact your Commissioner. Only if they hear from you will there be any chance of a rate reduction instead of an almost baked in increase.


2020/2021 Franklin County Budget

Franklin County should strive to provide necessary services at the lowest cost to citizens. Franklin County Leadership consistently fails to meet that standard. The 2020 -2021 Franklin County budget is 400-plus pages long. We have reviewed each page and category. I fear that the Commissioners, who are in charge of spending your monies, have not done the same.

Long before a Budget Workshop deadline, staff should employ Strategic Thinking for their budgets. Rigorous oversight of constantly changing priorities, intra-year funding and unexpected changes should be factored in, but are not. Public workshops often ignore or dismiss public input, and too often reflect the status quo without challenging staff to do more with less.

A $1,200 bonus is proposed for all employees! But County employees enjoy full employment. Some receive substantial overtime or even raises in the proposed budget while also receiving stimulus checks from the Federal Government. A bonus is unnecessary and a bit tone deaf.

The continuing divide between county employees and Constitutional Officers widens further: County employees receive an average salary of $32,000 while the salary of Constitutional employees is 19% higher, averaging $40,000 What justifies that? When will we take this disparity in earnings seriously? Why not forego the proposed bonus for Constitutionals this year, thus allowing salaries of Department Employees to close the earnings gap?

We believe such inconsistencies demonstrate the failure of conscientious budget oversight by Commissioners.

Here are some additional budget specifics I ask you to review:

  1. Per capita, Franklin’s budget exceeds that of most counties in the State. This would be the fifth consecutive year of net tax increases. Proposed Budget dismisses the lower rollback rate proposing a 1.48 percent increase in taxes. The proposed budget is a 7% budget increase from $58 million to $62 million.
  2. Franklin County has received millions in grants for Hurricane Michael and COVID-19, yet monies disbursed to different departments were not factored in to this budget.
  3. Budget preparation follows the “We’ve Always Done It This Way” pattern. But with careful analysis, programs could obtain substantial cost reductions without service reductions. New spending initiatives like hiring a Code Enforcement Officer or Economic Development professional can’t find the financial Oxygen without creative thinking.
  4. Without appropriate financial oversight, budgets inflated for specific purposes one year often automatically include that same amount the next year. Commence zero-based budget protocols to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
  5. Limit fourth quarter spending. Unspent monies at the end of the year are creatively spent rat than turning the excess back in. Create a County policy to address this failure of leadership
  6. Sheriff’s Budget shows a slight decrease; average pay rises to $37,777. Operating Expense shows a large decline from $1.667 million to $1.408 million but contractual Services shows a major increase from 237k to $360k. Why?
  7. Property Appraiser’s budget has a much higher cost per parcel than neighboring counties. Eight employees receive the highest average pay in the county; proposed salaries are increased from $42,353 to $44,503.
  8. Tax Collector’s budget is flat. Average pay is $37,966.
  9. Road Departments budget is flat. Average employee makes $33,211.
  10. There has been a substantial increase in Capital Equipment purchases in the last two years with this year being the most numerous in memory. Proposed Capital Spending approaches $2 1/2 million for new tractors, excavator, multiple road vehicles, knuckle boom truck and a very expensive ($892,500) Tub Grinder. I saw no competitive pricing estimates nor any added fuel or maintenance costs to support the 1,000 H.P. Tub.
  11. Solid Waste shows no budget increase with an average salary of $33,943. I believe Solid Waste costs could be greatly reduced with County-Wide garbage pickup. Single payer could reduce service costs and savings could be returned to the public
  12. Parks and Recreation proposes a 2.01% increase and has an average salary of $29,551. Increased spending on Youth Sports and Property Insurance bears scrutiny. What happened to the money budgeted this year for sports that never happened due to Covid?
  13. No information was given on Weems raises, whether awarded or not. This demonstrates poor accountability and transparency.
  14. TDC budget continues to expand – bed tax likely to be raised to 4% after vote to schedule a Public Workshop. With long-term occupancy high and many public accommodations closed, why the need for an increase? Because they can?
  15. Health Insurance costs and better rates need to be investigated. A 10% rate increase was budgeted, although final rates are not available. With Health Insurance costs of $1.7 million, such a huge increase needs justification. Cost sharing is done by other businesses and governments to help reduce health care costs. Finance should research this and admit we have been overly generous.
  16. The county normally receives approximately $5 million in fee and sales tax revenue. Is there planning for the negative impact expected from Covid-19?
  17. Unbudgeted, and unanticipated revenue, often totaling hundreds of thousands, even millions may be received. How is that folded into budget planning so as not to raise taxes unnecessarily?
  18. The County has almost $14 million Cash Carried Forward dollars. Better management of this money could positively impact taxpayers.
  19. The County holds more than $2 million in contingency money in multiple accounts.
  20. Fine and Forfeiture Funds contains large amounts of unspent cash including a phantom $600,000 reserve. Why?

These are YOUR monies in this budget. Please pay attention! County Leadership has a Constitutional Responsibility to do a better job than they have in the past. Ask your Commissioner a question on the budget; they’ll likely not know the history, need or future of this or that specific topic. If we can read and analyze the proposed budget, shouldn’t you expect your Commissioner to do the same? They must do more than give lip service to this most important duty of their office.

Let your Commissioner know you want reductions, not increase in your taxes. Always remember, we get the government we deserve.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

Weems Audit-CCFC Letter to Membership

on Thursday, 11 June 2020.

Lies and Damn Lies and the Scoundrels in Our Midst

Hello Friends:

Our County is reopening, but you wouldn’t know it if you tried to come to attend a County Commission meeting to address your Commissioners. The doors are still locked and frankly, I think they like it that way. Two years ago, Commissioners greatly restricted access by the public by creating a written policy severing your ability to actually speak and get a reply from your Commissioners at public meetings. Now, they can hide behind Covid-19 restrictions that they put on to exclude the public. Now, every utterance goes unchallenged, no matter how wrong the statement. We now have our very own Star Chamber in Franklin County.

If you know me, you know I stew about a lot of things I feel are unjust or misleading. At a recent BOCC meeting the CPA that just conducted the Hospital Audit appeared to give a glowing report on Weems. Naturally, none of the Commissioners read it or they would have certainly asked questions that would have revealed the lack of forthrightness. Taken from the actual report, I give you the truth. We have uploaded the report to our web site. You can view the actual statements at:

http://abetterfranklin.com/images/PDFs/WeemsAuditorsStatement-2019.pdf

Read for yourself how you often can’t trust what’s said by your Commissioners:

Page 2—Prior Period Restatement was massive

Page 2—In Other Matters, Management elected to not have the required Management Discussion. This is a big deal…Why?

Page 3—Patient accounts receivables is severely written down from internal financial provided to the public throughout the year.

Page 3—Current Assets down quite a bit. That is cash and cash equivalents.

Page 3—Note the Construction in Progress of $2,575,437—that’s how much they have spent on studies, architects and other things to build a new hospital they can’t afford.

Page 3—Accounts Payable rose to $908k

Page 3—Total Liabilities decreased only slightly in spite of a nearly $700k write off of a loan forgiven by the current Board of Commissioners. Net affect was nearly a wash

Page 4—Total Operating Expenses up 10% after being up a similar amount the Page 5—Cash and Cash Equivalents dropped by ½ million Dollars as mentioned earlier previous year

Page 5—Cash and Cash Equivalents dropped by ½ million Dollars as mentioned earlier

Page 7—Prior Period Restatements totaling $1.25 million has little explanation but was a negative change to the statement. This alone should be reason to fire the CFO, but wait, there is more.

Page 18—Medicare patients dropped from 40% to 38% which is especially troublesome since only Medicare receives the Critical Care Access subsidy, not any other form of payment like Medicaid or self-pay. More worrisome is that Medicaid grew by 3% which the hospital loses money on every time.

Page 23—Medical Malpractice Insurance notes that Weems is not accruing liability like it should which would affect the bottom line in a negative manner. In addition, it was unreported that Weems is significantly underinsured, relying on the financial strength of the County to pay claims exceeding the liability limits of its woefully low insurance limit of about $250,000.

Page 27—Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting continue to be weak.

Page 29—Accrual Basis Accounting is done ineffectively requiring many adjustments or reclassifications. This is a Repeat Item. The effect as stated is that there is “Material misstatement of the financial statements.” This is your big reason for firing the CFO.

Page 30—Accounting and Finance Staffing is called out again this year and the report clearly states that “Processes and controls in place in fiscal 2019 were not sufficient to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting which resulted in the other findings described within this schedule.” CFO issue again.

Page 31—Account Receivable is overstated. “Reducing net AR by a material amount.”

Page32—Recording of Audit Adjustments were not properly performed from the previous year’s audit.

This cursory reading of the Audit Reports should set off alarm bells all over the county in a normal situation. Commissioners and Hospital Management have been clearly warned of the issues at Weems. Watch that $3.2 million Corona Virus “gift” disappear over the next two years if things continue the way they are with current losses of a quarter million dollars a month. Any independent professional would have to view the repeated issues with financial controls and reports as likely/potentially deliberate and designed to allow Hospital Management and the Board to make claims of progress that are just not true. A copy of this email and the report should be sent to the Auditor General for further review.

Let’s not forget that we had the largest Nonprofit Health System offer us millions of dollars and a virtual end to risk until last month when the BOCC decided to continue Lockley’s Folly. $23 million in taxes collected so far and counting!

God bless America and all of you!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

A Message of Hope and Action

on Monday, 06 April 2020.

A Crazy World

Hello Friends:

In the last six days, Franklin County counted its first two Coronavirus infections with one at Alligator Point and one (thought to be) on ST. George Island. The one in Alligator Point is a renter from New York. The one on SGI had recently traveled overseas, we’ve been told.

Scary? Yes and No. Let me explain. I am a statistician and a businessman. We have collected and analyzed both business starts and construction starts for about 25 years and we’ve seen many ups and downs and the interpretations made with this move or that. We don’t claim to have superior knowledge. But what we do know is that projections are worth what you pay for them; or maybe not. Projections often turn out to be more wrong than right.

The Coronavirus is a clear and present danger to our way of life either due to the Coronavirus and/or government actions. I won’t argue with the political decision. But I will state there is a tendency to underrate Unintended Consequences of your actions. Like in physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The calculus to break the back of this disease was made by others. We don’t have to agree, it’s the law and its policy. If you disagree, vote your leaders out at the next election. But, even then, be careful, that might be exactly what the political types are doing…playing the long game. I can’t speak for national leadership or how the scientists came to the conclusions that they did. Here’s what we all need to do to get back our lives.

  1. Embrace and don’t fight the leadership that has mandated many different changes in our behavior. The sooner its over, the sooner we get our lives back.
  2. Be vigilant both internally and externally. Not only do you have to do what’s necessary to keep you and yours safe. You have to worry about those that fight everything and do stupid things that endanger us all. Commissioners are you listening? The transmission path so far has been overwhelming willful and/or unthinking, not caring for others. If you are sick, stay away and God be with you. If everyone followed that advice, the virus would burn itself out quickly.
  3. Protect the elderly and those that are compromised. Not only because we love them, but also for the risk it puts others to when we have to take care of them because someone was not thinking!
  4. Just like Terrorism; if you see something, say something. Social shaming needs to be a part of the way we ward off new infections and contain those that are shopping in our stores and moving about in defiance of the law.
  5. Ask why the Health Departments statewide are not legally quarantining those with the virus? If everyone knew who had Coronavirus we and they would not be cavalierly coming here and otherwise spreading the infection. We would be arresting those breaking quarantine.
  6. Sooner, rather than later we will start to get back our lives. The vast majority of people who get the virus will have zero to moderate symptoms. Our medical care system will not get overwhelmed. We need to begin focusing on how we will reopen our businesses now, even as we wait for the actual date to do so.

Please consider working together as we have not done for at least 60 years. Only a nihilist or unthinking person will see things differently. America is the greatest nation on earth. Freedom and the independence that comes along with it are not free. We sometimes forget the terrible price current and former Soldiers, Deputies, Medical personnel and even Politicians have sometimes paid for what we have. Our future is not a given. The best among us will lead us back to prosperity. Applaud them, don’t throw roadblocks in front of them as they reinvent our country as this virus slowly fades.

One more thing. Now, more than ever everyone needs to respond to their Census Information Request. Go to my2020census.gov. This site permits you to use your street address to respond to the census. It's very easy to do at that point, even for couples or small families using iPhones and Androids. The telephone number is 1-844-330-2020 for English. For Spanish call 1-844-468-2020. It is best to call very early or very late to shorten the wait time. Act Now while you are thing about it. You’ll be participating in a vital national priority. Afterwards, you will know we are all united by our Americanism.

I’d love your feedback, good or bad.

God bless America and all of you!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

A Changed World-CCFC

on Tuesday, 24 March 2020.

A Changed World

Hello Friends:
In the blink of an eye, we live in a changed world. Two months ago, nobody heard of the Covid-19 Virus and today, it’s all we talk about. Yesterday, the County took the first step in protecting the citizens of Franklin County from an obvious exposure vector. Also, yesterday, there was a group of 40 people in Carrabelle from children to senior citizens partying in tight conjunction right along 98. Crazy.

Does everybody remember the Peter Benchley book “Jaws?” Jaws is a 1974 novel by American writer Peter Benchley. It tells the story of a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town and the voyage of three men trying to kill it.

My how similar the Town Fathers of Amityville and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners appear. It’s very simple. The BOCC is making the calculus that the number of infections and deaths we get by not banning visitors from the county is worth the economic gain. There is another thing that they aren’t considering.... the longer this goes on, the more economic hardship. Therefore, the decision should be easy; whatever shortens the exposure period is the way to go. Less exposures means less transmission which means less death and a shorter period of economic recovery.

I write for our Company and here’s part of the message we are sending out today on what we project economically:
  1. That the Virus peaks in April and begins to abate. It is our opinion that this will allow for a sharp rebound as all the fundamentals will still be in place as the stimulus of the government is going to be massive. Also, it is a Presidential election year and historically, those years are good economically. This is the vaunted deep V recovery you may have heard about.
  2. The Virus does not peak until May or June. We would expect a recession lasting between three months and a year as a consequence. However, the recession will be uneven as some areas of the country will have been affected less than others and the government will have to be innovative to find longer term economic tools to spark the economy. Tools that will be in short supply as they are being used to a large extent now.
  3. The Virus does not peak until later and has caused widespread destruction of economic and social structures. This scenario would likely lead to a worldwide depression and all bets would be off.
There’s a saying that “Wishing is not enough.” All of us wish we knew with certainty that the first scenario is what will actually transpire. While none of us can predict the future with certainty, we must act as if we can. Let me explain that a bit. The concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy is very real. If many people believe positively, then they take actions consistent with that belief. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Good outcomes are statistically more likely to occur when people believe and prepare for good outcomes.

The trick is we also want to protect ourselves from the downside. You can prepare for an expected good outcome while being mindful of serious negative outcomes also being possible. In essence, plan and expect the Deep V while acknowledging and preparing to the extent possible for something worse.

If I had any message for our Commissioners it would be that they embrace the concept of isolation that the rest of the country is slowing coming around to. Precious days are being wasted as we incrementally do the things that will eventually stop the spread of this pathogen. Please take this seriously. It will pass and there will be a tomorrow. We will survive. But, particularly in a small county with limited resources and not high on anyone’s priority list save our own; we must come together and treat this as the war it really is. Lives are at stake and your contribution to the cause will make a difference in the only currency that really matters…lives.

Lastly, we are ending our 2020 Membership Campaign. Please, please consider joining and send us your dues payment today, while you are still thinking about it. Remember to add your email address with your check to the address below. Your numbers and financial support are vital to the CCFC continuing being your county watchdog. Dues are not tax deductible.

The very best to you all!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 519-4966
Commissioner Smokey Parrish <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 653-8790
Commissioner Ricky Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 653-8861
Chairman Noah Lockley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 653-4452
Commissioner William Massey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!
 

A Wounded Animal

on Tuesday, 28 January 2020.

Hello Friends:

Several months ago, I wrote to you about the County determining it was not moving forward with the construction of a new hospital but instead would receive proposals from other companies and/or hospital systems that would potentially lead to the County exiting the healthcare business. This put the spinmeisters supporting the status quo in overdrive. They immediately got together and began a process to confuse and confound the issue and make staying in the hospital business appear to be the correct choice. Over the last four months, the Weems Board and Management has done the following:

  1. Cooked the books, using a spreadsheet with adjusted numbers vs. a financial accounting system to deliver consistent numbers. Taken a $690,000 forgiveness of loan debt and changed it into fake Income, changed the reserve for bad debt from historically accurate numbers to numbers that immediately added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Income side erroneously and used Grant Money to beef up income all without comment, footnotes or restatements as required under mandated CPA standards. Made claims about being profitable when they are not.
  2. Applied for and received a technical assistance Agreement from Texas A & M that runs for a year and is designed to buy them time from a mandate for an early decision to select another operator. To receive this help, you must be one of five lucky winners in desperate shape. Yes, we have that distinction. This was done without County Commission Approval and involves no funds to Weems. Their help is limited to telephone assistance with one on-site wrap-up visit in December.
  3. Weems Hospital Board, on its own contracted for a study that says great things about Weems local economic impact on the community. This was not a freebie, they spent thousands on this defensive move. No Commissioner involvement! Also disingenuously included EMS with their 40 plus employees who are not even under threat and will be remaining regardless, in an attempt to make their point.
  4. Not met with Sacred Heart again or in any way worked with them to understand and improve their initial stellar proposal with skin in the game.
  5. Management has sought ways to portray conditions as improving without demonstrated initiatives by fudging financial constants that favor Weems.
  6. Refused to answer questions unless they are readily available in existing documents. This means they have gone into Turtle mode in an attempt to keep us from uncovering even more damaging information.
  7. Is quietly, but secretly, continuing to get construction drawings ready for a breakout. Yes, they have been spending money not approved by the Franklin County Commission since they were told to stand down.
  8. Is the subject of a serious ACHA allegation.

The Weems Hospital Board and leadership are afraid the more you know, the worse it is for them. They have become a wounded animal fighting for their survival. What about your own survival? In the application to Texas A & M Weems stated occupancy at .93 per night. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s bad enough, and is consistent with the CCFC stating less than one body in bed per night. Don’t let anyone fool you that somehow Weems magically turned a corner last year; they did not.

Please read the attached Letter to the Editor in the current Apalachicola Times we wrote and demand your own answers from your elected officials.

Lastly, we are ending our 2020 Membership Campaign. Please, please consider joining and send us your dues payment today, while you are still thinking about it. Remember to add your email address with your check to the address below. Your numbers and financial support are vital to the CCFC continuing being your county watchdog. Dues are not tax deductible.

The very best to you all!

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!



I Have Seen the Future of Healthcare in Franklin County

Things used to be more cut and dried than they are today. We didn’t always agree, but we got along better, avoiding rank partisanship. Unfortunately, we have entered an Orwellian age. Two plus two will always equal four no matter what your political or social proclivity. A decision not to select Sacred Heart as the replacement for county-led healthcare meets this kind of 2 plus 2 logic.

Last week, I needed to take my wife for urgent medical care; fortunately, she’ll be fine. In the past we’d drive to Tallahassee and go to Capital Regional’s Emergency Room for really concerning events. This time we decided to try their new ER standalone clinic that just opened up in Southwood as we were not concerned about imminent death, and it was closer. This is the future of healthcare. Everyone in Franklin County needs to visit a standalone Emergency Room. The experience was fantastic and would be very similar to the experience you could expect if we partnered with Sacred Heart and the county builds one in Franklin County. First, we were seen and triaged immediately, no tedious check-in, that came later when the immediate medical concerns were taken care of. Two highly trained RN’s inserted an IV line. Next, a portable X-Ray machine was wheeled into our spotless room. Then, various vitals, history and other issues were assessed and then the Doctor came in not only with a smile, but also with Board Certification in Emergency Medicine, not so at Weems. After looking at the XRay which was read within 10 minutes and blood work shortly thereafter, he felt the need for a CAT Scan and my wife went right down the hall to their new, million dollar plus CAT Scan machine. In contrast, Weems has an antiquated CAT Scan which is not able to reveal myriad diagnostic issues. Which would you want for your loved one? Finally, it was time for the admin stuff. An aide wheels in a cart with an iPad on it and as if by magic, a woman video chats with my wife, takes pictures of ID and Insurance information and poof! It was finished. Shortly thereafter, we are ready to go home barely two and a half hours from walking in. Color us impressed! ER’s like this one are an extension of their parent hospital, therefore had there been a need to go to Capital Regional, the transfer would have been seamless with no additional checkin or potential delays.

Folks, close to 95% of issues seen by Weems can be seen at a standalone walk-in clinic like we went to. The other 5% don’t need a clinic and they won’t be appropriately seen at Weems because it lacks the services for those severely injured, very sick or requiring specialized services Weems simply does not have. We are endangering people’s lives by sending them to a hospital (Weems) that lacks the services and staff to treat the minimal 5%. The problem is, we think we have a hospital with Weems but really have an Emergency Room with beds that are by and large…empty. This will not change in the proposed “Stay the Course” path, unless and until you want to spend a zillion dollars to enlarge, equip and start hiring specialized doctors, nurses and other people that support those specialized services. Weems does not belong to a network hospital system which delays critical care too often.

Small town interests of the few is a legitimate issue. Political interests, hospital employee interests and even those that live around Weems are used to the status quo. Are we thinking what’s best for the county as a whole or for our own special interests? Let me say something unpopular but necessary. Keeping the status quo will lead to more people dying unnecessarily or receiving delayed or substandard care. Some people want their perks, inflated CEO pay ($125,000 a year), power, patronage and perceived convenience ahead of what is good for Eastpoint, Carrabelle, St. George Island and frankly, most of Apalachicola.

Alliant Healthcare has publicly promised the current CEO his job will continue under them. Too many self-interested people support a continuation of more of the same even though Weems is hemorrhaging money, and does not have a viable conception of what’s next and continues to blindly plunge forward to build a new, unnecessary hospital. It will not end well. The self-interests of too many people in Apalachicola are driving us off the cliff. Many of you have called and written to your Commissioners and yet, our Commission has allowed Weems to bring in yet another consultant to help “turn the hospital around and teach best practices.” Shouldn’t a pending near-term decision on which direction healthcare in Franklin County should take come first? Instead, Weems Hospital Board is forging ahead - without the approval of the commission - on their own assumption that a new facility is forthcoming. How is that even possible?

The constant drumbeat of political chaos has affected all of us, even right here in Franklin County. We throw up our hands at our individual inability to change things. You know that the Franklin County Commission staying in the healthcare business is a train wreck in progress. Most of us want the madness to stop and see Commissioners do what they are paid to do and lead the way out of this long term, expensive, unproductive $20 million and counting losses mess. I call on everyone in Franklin County to hammer their representatives who are playing with your very life, and demand the county get out of the healthcare business and turn it over to QUALIFIED EXPERTS. The obvious and best candidate…Sacred Heart. Sooner or later there will be a tragedy, regret and a reckoning. Don’t wait until we are well and truly staring down the barrel of a gun of some financial crisis or avoidable tragedy


Attention Frankling County Propery Owners!

on Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

A Special Message to Franklin County Property Owners:

2019 has again been extremely active for the CCFC and Franklin County government. Commissioners modestly raised taxes this year, with the school Board lowering the millage rate. Taxes grew a little bit based on increased values that varied by where you live. We bring analyses and information to budget hearings and to those putting budgets together behind-the-scenes to spotlight areas that could be better managed to avoid increases, on you, the taxpayer. Both the school system and Franklin County experienced a flood of money as a consequence of Hurricane Michael. Millions of unanticipated dollars plussed up many accounts without matching expenditures. We have never seen the county as Flush with the budget rising from $51 million to $59 million. Factoid; Wakulla County with approximately triple the population takes in only $9 million in ad valorem vs. Franklin’s $12 million!

The CCFC represents those without a voice on matters of financial propriety, and seeks to secure transparency, efficiency and eliminate public corruption in Franklin County. Felt that you were powerless to affect change? That’s where we come in. We work with Commissioners, Hospital Board and other elected officials throughout the year. We hold elected officials to account and raise our voices to influence their deliberations and outcomes.

What the CCFC is not, is a champion of any kind of social justice or politics that some would like us to make part of our message. We are non-partisan and stand solely on the side of the taxpayer who wants to understand and have confidence in the numbers and objectives of their local government as well as, ensure public officials are looking out for the best interests of ALL Franklin County citizens.

Please feel free to share this letter with your friends; encourage them to learn more about the work of the Concerned Citizens and to join the CCFC as new members. It is only through strength of numbers that we will achieve the kind of respect that we need to influence the debate.

Let me share with you some of this year’s CCFC efforts on behalf of best practices to achieve and guarantee transparency and a fiscally responsible, fair and accountable government for Franklin County.

  1. We have attended almost all County Commission Meetings in 2019. When appropriate and possible UNDER THE SEVERELY RESTRICTIVE PUBLIC COMMENT RULES) we speak up with facts, concerns and alternatives which may be accepted later in deliberations.
  2. After years of work on Healthcare in Franklin County, the CCFC has brought a landmark option for the Commission and to the County as a whole. There are four choices that will be decided on in the near future:
  1. Accept the Sacred Heart proposal which ends risk and expense going forward and achieves a state-of-the-art facility, management, staffing and equipage with Sacred Heart by becoming part of their extensive healthcare system. Estimated one time cost to Franklin County $7.5 million based on its proposal and then the county exits the healthcare business.
  2. Accept the Alliant proposal to manage the Healthcare system for a fee and have them guide us as to what to build and when. Add and pay for new services along with that financial risk. Note: Alliant has stated that a new facility will have to be built (an economic necessity) but it can’t be a standalone ER according to state regulations.
  3. Do Nothing and Continue to operate the Healthcare System as is with the existing Hospital Board and County Commission oversight and then build a new $14-$17-million facility run by the county with 100% risk acceptance, both financial and liability.
  4. The County closes Weems and exits the healthcare business completely or continues to maintain its clinics.
  1. The Association frequently attends Hospital Board Meetings to primarily listen to reports and budget facts as presented. We will ask questions while pushing for accountability and logic in the expenditures for Weems Hospital operations. We hope Commissioners will finally take the CCFC’s suggestion to enter into a more sensible and successful risk-sharing partnership with Sacred Heart Hospital. This can end the county’s liability and provide a long-promised new facility, supported by the existing hospital tax, and which may be more centrally located for all residents of Franklin County. Our Association was instrumental in seeking to have the then current CEO resign after various improprieties and practices were disclosed and made available to county leaders.
  2. The CCFC constantly researches best ideas and business practices, sharing them with County Departments and Constitutional Officers.
  3. We have been very involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Our county’s small voting size precludes us from securing some resources that bigger counties achieve. As CCFC President, I have personally spoken to Federal, State and local leaders to further smart solutions and to find funding to carry out same.
  4. We expect (sadly not always successfully) that public meetings be held with decorum and respect toward the citizenry. We ask that the public be heard before a vote is held on each agenda item as was the rule as recently as 2017. (The county currently enforces a three minute limit for each spokesperson’s public comment and only at the beginning of each meeting.) We continually drive this point home as it is essential to public confidence.
  5. We reach out through emails such as these and contribute Letters to the Editor and Guest Columns to the Apalachicola Times on a frequent basis. We receive and appreciate taxpayer feedback from many people who call, write or just spread our words on behalf of good government when taxpayer voices need to be heard.
  6. The CCFC continues to work with law enforcement on issues of suspected public corruption. We work with the Property Appraiser on issues of questionable assessments and exemptions. We work with Constitutional Officers to continually present positive, alternative, good-business methods and alternatives.
  7. We engage professionals (lawyers, investigators, additional accountants) to further our mission of good, honest, representative government for Franklin County.
  8. CCFC built, maintains and operates an independent website (www.ABetterFranklin.com). We incur substantial mailing and other expenses to help bring taxpayers the news, behavior, decisions and actions of Franklin County Commissioners, elected Constitutional officers and other leadership.

Annually, we reach out to the community for help in meeting the financial challenges of continuing our work.

Many members support us with dues payment of $100 or more to ensure our continued success. But we will successfully and carefully put into action whatever you can contribute (perhaps $25, $50, $75) which will allow our year-round work to continue. We need your financial help to ensure that good government in Franklin County can and will become a reality.

Please support our important work efforts made on your behalf by putting your membership dues contribution in the mail today! While it is top-of-mind please act now and make your check payable to the CCFC and mail it to P.O. Box 990, Eastpoint Florida 32328. (Dues are not tax deductible)

Thank you for your generous support.

Sincerely,
Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

The Emotional or Logical Case for Weems

on Friday, 22 November 2019.

Can anyone believe that accepting Sacred Heart’s proposal will result in people dying in the streets as some have stated? Apparently some people do. That’s crazy talk. The value alone in surrendering legal liability and future financial losses alone should trump any baseless arguments based on bad information. Let’s be clear on this important issue. Sacred Heart is taking away the financial risk of running a healthcare system and putting $3 million of their own money into the deal. No one, not TMH and not Alliant is offering any kind of promise, guarantee or skin in the game except for Sacred Heart.

Sentimental arguments about walking to Weems for healthcare completely obscures the fact that we are a county roughly 60 x 30 miles. All of us would like to walk to a Doctor. Is that something that should influence the debate for the entire county that is paying the 1% sales tax?

It is imperative that people not be lied to with false themes like the “The people voted for it and we have to build it in Apalachicola.” Read the ballot language carefully, it’s not there. Second, the small number of people who voted for a new hospital were shown an approximate 31,000 square foot, two story hospital with a complete list of services that were never going to happen. If you are going to say “We promised the people” we also need to deliver what we promised. We should revisit that history as well; don’t you agree?

Weems has had a long run and its various stakeholders have much to be proud of. Weems continues to be an Apalachicola resource. And, that’s the point. Franklin County needs a County Wide solution to fundamental changes in how healthcare is delivered.

Weems is an older, less sophisticated version of what has been proposed by Sacred Heart, but straddled with high operating costs and an inability to bring on additional services and Doctors. 12 years and 7 CEO’s later bear that out. It is an indisputable fact that most of the money slated by the Healthcare Trust Fund Tax to build a new hospital have been siphoned off to support Operations and to stem losses over 12 years of mismanagement.

Weems today is licensed as a Hospital but is really just an ER. Recuperative in-patient care is virtually non-existent at Weems averaging under one patient a night in the last fiscal year.

How many reasonable people could disagree with the central premise that the decision on what’s next should be a business decision rather than the political decision it is with nepotism by county Commissioners reflected in hiring and ongoing interference with collection attempts by the Hospital for services rendered? It’s time for a change.

The Hospital Board is not happy with either of the two proposals in light of a belief that Weems is doing better financially, wants to go it alone. Weems is reporting a profit for the last fiscal year of $750,559. Two adjustments totaling $1.6 Million for Forgiveness of Debt and a change in Reserves for Bad Debt, changes that number to a loss of $207,000 on top of subsidies of $2 million. Both adjustments are misleading, if not outright sleight of hand.

Errors like these make us question oversight by the Hospital Board. In the many meetings of the full Hospital Board we have attended, there is virtually no discussion of detailed finances. We question whether the Board is aware of the continuing losses.

We have spent considerable time and resources analyzing Weems proposed construction of a rehabbed Weems. After years of planning and after spending over $1 ½ million on design and other studies, still, no one knows what it will cost. We do know it will be much more than the original $10 million promised publicly. The Weems Architects have projected under different scenarios an additional $12.5 to $17 million. However, in the end, that “Renovation plus addition will still be without the additional services, equipment, Doctors and much, much more that are in the Sacred Heart Proposal.

Much has been said about the importance of Critical Access designation. No one knows what the value to Weems is for its CA designation. More importantly, it is financially transparent to patients and is the red herring that is frequently ballyhooed about with little understanding of its effect on the 25% of patients that are eligible for financial enhancement.

Keep in mind as we move forward, that the only reason Franklin County should be in the healthcare business is not as a jobs program, but to provide the best quality care possible for its citizens. You have only to look at Sacred Heart, Bay Medical, TMH and Capital Regional, all providing more healthcare for Franklin County citizens (both paying and indigent) than by Weems. This Hospital Board is a prime example of why, for more than 13 years since the last hospital operator turned in his keys that neither revenue, services or patient volumes have climbed and in fact, have moved in the opposite direction.

Time to pass the Baton!

Allan J. Feifer

President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

Healthcare Townhall In Eastpoint

on Tuesday, 15 October 2019.

Healthcare-Next Step

on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

The Dog Caught the Car... Now What?

Hello Friends:

For those of you who don’t already know, Franklin County Commissioners voted to suspend spending on a Weems replacement and look to three area Healthcare Systems to partner with. The CCFC has worked tirelessly to see this day come. For all the reasons we have espoused in the past, economics and demographics spelled the end of the current system. But, as Ross Perot famously said in his unsuccessful run as a third party Presidential candidate. “That giant sucking sound you heard”, was the emptiness of ideas for what’s next. It is the CCFC’s opinion that there is no one in our county government that can lead us forward. The issues are complex, partisan and beg for entirely new thinking.

The CCFC is going to push forward with creating a roundtable meeting in October for invited individuals to discuss the way forward. The meeting will be open to the public and public officials. We see our role as kicking off the discussion in a carefully considered manner to ensure that a Vision Statement is well thought out, vetted and eventually implemented. We will be contacting individuals that have either expressed an interest in “what’s next” or that have shown an interest in the past to implement something better than we have at present. If you, or someone you know would like to be considered please reach out to me; I’d love to speak with you.

The following is our current thinking and is just a beginning. I hope you see a lot of what you like and understand at least one sound direction we can go:

Assumptions and Goals:

  1. Franklin County wants the best possible healthcare for its citizens.
  2. The Franklin County Commission acknowledges that Carrabelle was originally promised a 24x7 urgent care facility.
  3. Franklin County currently collects a 1% Healthcare Trust Fund Tax to be divided equally between Weems Operations and Capital requirements. This was agreed to through and by Inter-local Agreement with Apalachicola and Carrabelle, although with specific local requirements embodied in each agreement.
  4. Weems Hospital as currently configured and operated is not a successful or viable continuing option. Averaging about one inpatient per night and losing far more than the generous subsidies it receives cannot go on forever.
  5. It is estimated that up to 85% of healthcare services for Franklin County citizens is presently performed outside the county.
  6. As a stand-alone hospital, Weems is not affiliated with any geographically close major health system.
  7. Franklin County’s population is aging and generally static. There are many unmet needs, particularly for the young and elderly, for those with ongoing health challenges and for those with inadequate or no health insurance.
  8. A major objective is to deliver a greater percentage of healthcare within the county and to make local access desirable and readily available to all.
  9. There are three pillars upon which success in the county depends; successful educational institutions, broad based economic development and strong access to excellent healthcare. This will bring business opportunities, retirees and vacationers in greater numbers helping to boost our local economy and create jobs
  10. To reduce the number of ambulance runs and response times; reducing runs through a combination of geographic centralization leading to shorter miles per run and less runs because of the availability of high quality locally available healthcare.
  11. Permanently change the form of governance to a qualified Health Trust Board on one FCBOCC Commissioner shall have a permanent seat and the Partner Healthcare System (PHS) one seat. Medical, Faith, local leaders and business individuals will fill out the balance of an eleven member Health Trust Board (HTB) to be chaired by a member they select.
  12. Franklin County’s financial liability will be strictly limited per agreement vs. the unlimited liability it has today.
  13. The PHS with which Franklin County partners will be the primary financial partner. The PHS shall own/lease and maintain all capital equipment and real estate.

Request for Proposal:

  1. Modify as necessary and assume responsibility for Carrabelle Weems Clinic so as to be able to provide a 24x7 Urgent Care facility. Ownership of the facility will remain with Franklin County which will lease the facility for $1 a year for 15 years with one additional lease term of 15 years available. Lease shall be triple net, meaning no cost to the county. The FCHD clinic shall be closed and combined into one Carrabelle service facility.
  2. Build, equip and maintain a free-standing Emergency Room Facility including four observation beds in a physical location agreed to by all parties, preferably in Eastpoint, Florida.
  3. Provide a plan to provide and bring in specialists on a regular rotating basis to either or both facilities.
  4. Provide outreach, training incentives and support to hire and/or retain the largest number of local Franklin County citizens possible. All employees shall be credentialed, trained and provided with normal benefits of the contracted PHS.
  5. Provide a system of emergency care access including aeromedical evacuation to ensure that Franklin county citizens can receive care in the critical “Golden Hour” where possible for major trauma/sickness.
  6. Develop a RFQ for proposed PHS applicants including a response document to ensure “apples to apples” responses.
  7. The Partner Healthcare System will share in the initial Capital Costs of reorganizing and refurbishing of the Carrabelle Clinic as well as those of the new free standing Emergency Department on a 50-50 basis subject to agreed up maximums for both sides.
  8. Franklin County will contribute 50% of the ongoing existing Healthcare Trust Fund Tax as a subsidy to the selected PHS and will no longer individually subsidize clinics out of the General Fund
  9. The Health Trust Board will retain the other half of the Healthcare Trust Fund and use it to spark and incentivize other healthcare services in the county including but not limited to; dentistry, mental health, the special needs community, challenges unmet by other programs and targeted programs to improve healthcare within the county and such other needs that the Board deems appropriate and reasonable that extend life and viability of Franklin County citizens.

All facilities would be operational within 24 months of execution of an Agreement.

That’s it ladies and gentlemen. As always, I’d love to hear your comments. We must move fast. Nature abhors a vacuum and we have one at the moment.

The very best to you all!


Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

CCFC-Weems CEO Resigns

on Monday, 12 August 2019.

What’s next for Weems and our County’s Healthcare Future?

Hello Friends:

As a result of a strong vote of no confidence by County Commissioners on Tuesday the 13th, H.D. Cannington resigned as the sixth CEO hired over the last 12 years for Weems Hospital. Mr. Cannington’s proposal to hire a Doctor at a first year cost of approximately $300,000 including salary, incentives, head hunter fees and Malpractice insurance was not accepted. The Commissioners finally demonstrated their real concern for the reality of the Weems financial situation. But, sadly, I am not sure the real lesson of this situation has been understood by the Commissioners who must represent and act on behalf of the public they serve. Please read on….

An Open Letter to the Commissioners of Franklin County

Community Healthcare Crisis
hat Now?

More than $18 million dollars of tax funds have been spent over the last 12 years, and still the county struggles without a successful and safe health care facility of which we can all be proud.

Commissioner Boldt, local resident Gail Riegelmayer and Allan Feifer of the CCFC met with Weems CEO Cannington May 14th to request answers to questions concerning Weems’ current and future financial health. He was unable to provide answers to most of our questions. Now, the Commission is finally aware that Weems has been borrowing from both operational and capital portions of the sales tax revenue, and has been consuming nearly 100% of the Healthcare Trust Fund Tax for their Operations.

The Commission has now also been made aware of a lapse in coverage at Weems for Workers Compensation Insurance after they were dropped (with notice) by their previous carrier. Weems is now in the dreaded State Pool and faces significant financial penalties if they self-report as is required by law. There was a significant injury during the lapsed period. A recent and very worrisome onsite inspection and subsequent report by ACHA (the State agency that monitors and inspects hospitals.) deflected by CEO Cannington, assured the commission that the infractions were “of little concern” although they included failures in required sterilization procedures and reporting multiple failures of administrative leadership and other specific infractions that ultimately required a 24 hour a day “Fire Watch” by the FCSO.

Additionally, significant concerns have now been brought to light about the handling of insurance for major Weems roof repairs and replacement. Commissioners learned that the vitally important re-roofing job at Weems is months behind schedule and has not even commenced. In addition, significant personnel issues have come to light, including claims of a hostile work environment and whistle blower status for some employees.

We at CCFC fear this overall situation and other failures may all get worse the closer Commissioners look.

So, what’s next? Do we go looking for the 7th CEO? I sure hope not. The CCFC believes that Mr. Cannington’s departure allows for a necessary pause in this healthcare services process. While there will be some short-term need for interim leadership at the hospital, that person would serve as a placeholder while we work together to sort out healthcare needs and wants for Franklin county healthcare.

We also urge a freeze on last month’s decision to spend an additional $221,000 more (In addition to nearly $1.5 million spent on the project so far) in the hopeful search that an affordable Guaranteed Maximum Price can be found to build the proposed addition and to remodel Weems. Instead, let us look at some more practical alternatives to service the 1550 people who voted twelve years ago for a pie-in-the-sky hospital as promoted back then which is/was neither practical nor realistic today.

Best practices demonstrate that our county cannot afford a full service, well equipped and fully staffed hospital to meet the standards expected and even required for today. We cannot afford fully equipped operating rooms and specialized staff, nor dialysis equipment and staff, nor cath labs, nor full time rehab and the myriad other expensive services and multi-million dollar equipment considered “standard” in hospitals of today.

Weems has primarily been a “pack’em and ship’em” operation. Patients are frequently sent elsewhere for real treatment and further evaluation. In general, only minor injuries and short term illnesses are handled locally.

CCFC believes we can raise up our local healthcare game! Public citizens, please consider these possibilities:

  1. Centralize any new facility in Eastpoint where it can serve a larger base and better attract and serve individuals from SGI and further East. Yes we can!
  2. Rightsizing for a 24 hour a day Emergency Room with observation beds and the latest Emergency Care technology. (Most people don’t realize that the “new” Weems will only have their existing dated equipment and technology. New, updated modern equipment is a must for satisfactory patient care today! We can build a new facility with access to real doctors and the best equipment. It can save lives. We CAN do well with a new, smaller, modern facility to serve today’s local patients. Yes we can!
  3. We must realistically live within our means. Weems projects that it will lose a staggering $2.3 million this fiscal year before subsidies leaving a net cash loss of approximately $944,000 after all subsidies this year alone. Where will all the necessary operational cash come from now? NO, we cannot let this money drain continue to happen!
  4. We can and must partner with a healthcare system that will put ‘skin in the game’ and instead of borrowing possibly upwards of $15 million, more or less! We must figure out how to avoid borrowing to excess and, in the process, we can get a better facility. Yes we can!
  5. As we build, staff and operate this new facility, we will bring local pride, jobs, better outcomes and sanity back to Franklin County Healthcare. Yes we can!
  6. We suggest that a permanent Healthcare Task Force be created to incentivize best practices, create more community involvement and otherwise oversee a new healthcare partnership. This carefully chosen group would replace the existing management and oversight structure and better represent our consumers. Individuals on this task force would include local and other healthcare professionals in addition to appropriate consumers and successful business people, all of whom would report monthly to the Commission. Yes, we can!

Commissioners; please start with this first step. Speak to the citizens of Franklin County. We have experts, both retired and active, community organizers, healthcare professionals and others that would like to talk, and actually be heard by their Commissioners on behalf of better healthcare outcomes in Franklin County. We need such a dialogue, currently impossible since the written policy of “Non Engagement” was enacted a couple of years ago. We ask you to please, open your minds and your hearts to opinions that may seem different from your own but in the end, we believe that all of us want the same thing you do…the best healthcare that we can deliver and afford. Yes, we can!

What do you say Commissioners? Can the people be allowed, and even encouraged to publicly revisit this locally important health care issue? More than $18 million has been spent over the last 12 years, and still the county struggles without a successful and safe health care facility of which we can all be proud. (By the way, Commissioners, by your own admission, you told us that none of you go to Weems for your own care.) Can you admit we need better? It’s always been up to you Commissioners.

”What do you say?” Can you and will you agree that it is well beyond time for a positive change for all of us?


Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

CCFC-County Summertime Happenings

on Monday, 05 August 2019.

Summertime Flying By

Hello Friends:

It was a very busy July for the CCFC. The twin battles of the yearly Budget Workshop and the next phase of the Weems saga consumed the month. We can bring you some good news on the county budget front and some disheartening news on the Weems front.

There was a determination this year to hold the line on costs. Whether the CCFC helped fan the flames of conservatism or not, there was a distinct desire to reign in any additional spending. While we could always argue that taxes could be lowered, we’ll take the win and move on. In spite of a visit by a category 4-5 hurricane, property values increased the most that they have in over 10 years, up 7.42 percent. Last year’s millage rate was 6.2679 with the rollback rate of 5.9040. The actual adopted rate was 5.9494 very close to that rolled back rate. We could take potshots at the current year’s increase having been unnecessary, but we will leave it alone. We’ll hit it again next year and try to keep the county from leasing new dump trucks every year as a tremendous fiscal waste and we will try to work even earlier on rationalizing a county budget that is only available for scrutiny three or four days before the hearing. The millage rate will be on your TRIM statement coming out shortly. Depending on where you live in the county, expect your tax bill to remain close to last year’s. There are very big differences in assessed values between Alligator Point and Carrabelle for example with Alligator Point being hit with significant increases that will reflect in higher net taxes. Have the Property Appraisers number on quick dial for your appeal.

If there were a hospital for hospitals, Weems would be in its Intensive Care Ward. What I am about to tell you is unbelievable but totally true. I am using numbers generated by Weems or from other county records. The latest financial numbers available are from June. Weems lost $276,731 before subsidies in June and $82,871 after subsidies. That is to say a net cash loss. So far this fiscal year Weems has lost $2,249,620 before all the assistance they are given and $683,097 afterwards. By the end of September, by their own projections they will have lost $944,297. To put this in perspective, they will have consumed nearly the entire Healthcare Trust Fund Tax for Operations with nothing left over for the many other capital needs, or for building any new or remodeled facility. The total number of “Inpatient Days” for June was 7. That’s not a misprint…seven. That means for the majority of the month, the facility beds were empty of patients. Don’t allow hospital management to gloss over this stark reality with tales of four hour observations being counted as “stays”. The hospital owes $1.6 million in current accounts and its cash is being depleted daily. Look for Weems to be asking for county financial support soon as it has in the past.

Now, to the real tragedy. The push to build a new/remodeled facility continues in spite of an inability to even understand how much it will cost or where the money will come to make the notes for the next 40 years. In December, the hospital CEO, HD Cannington, famous for the number of hospitals that have failed under his leadership, asked for$50,000 in December to get a best and final number to allow Commissioners to make a once and for all decision to move forward or not. At a Workshop on Friday the 26th July, I spoke to the Commissioners and advised them that roughly $1.5 million had been spent to date (noted on county ledger as “Work in Progress”) and we were still a long way from knowing what the project will cost. Unbelievably, the County voted 4-1 to spend another $221,000 to get a final number and a GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) to essentially replace Weems with an updated version of today’s Weems. No new services, no Doctors, no specialists. Place your bets on what the final price will be. $12 million, $14 million or as high as $17 million? No one knows today. We witnessed the CEO and the Architect previously arguing about what was going to be required with the architect warning of much greater requirements/cost than Mr. Cannington.

While we are apparently getting our licks in Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer, let me let you in on something the County Chairman will explode about. Right now, Mr. Cannington is negotiating with the next prospective Doctor to consider coming to Weems. Salary of $225,000, sign on bonus, moving expenses, living support for a while. Well, where is Weems going to get the money to make this happen? I understand their planning to come to the County Commission for more help! Remember your Oliver Twist? “The assistants were paralyzed with wonder; the boys with fear. “What!" said the master at length, in a faint voice? "Please, sir," replied Oliver, "I want some more." And so it goes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please let your Commissioners know that you support dumping Weems as was promised last year by every single commissioner. Can this really go on much longer?

Wait for the next shoe to drop in August…it’s a doozy.


Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
ABetterFranklin.com

Still haven’t paid your 2019 Dues? We really need your support to continue on with the work we undertake for you. Thank you for past and continued support. Send us a check today (please write your email address on the check) at the address below while you are still thinking about us. Not a member? No problem, click on… http://www.abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc to join today. We depend on your support! Membership dues are not tax deductible.

Thank you for your current and past support!


Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!

Weems on the Edge

on Monday, 03 June 2019.

Franklin County Happenings

Hello Friends:

Everyone needs to know what’s happening at Weems. It’s reached the point of being hard to believe, but it’s all true. The Hospital Board is all for the Town Hall Meetings we proposed, but after they sign for the loan, not before! Now, with the current stumbles you will read about below, it’s possible that the Commission will pause and take another look before jumping off the bridge. Read below, contact your Commissioner and let him know what you think. We are just about to launch this year’s budget cycle, but Weems is the budgets worst nightmare, threatening to gobble up General Tax Revenues in excess of the Health Care Trust Fund Money (sales tax) that they consume today in addition to many other subsidies. Did you know that Weems own records show they average less than one patient in the hospital a night for the last year? Read on….


An Open Letter to the Commissioners of Franklin County Community Healthcare Crisis
Is there a successful financial future for Weems Hospital?

Weems Hospital is in freefall. What has happened in just the last 30 days? Commissioner Boldt, local residents Gail Riegelmayer and Allan Feifer of the CCFC met with Weems CEO HD Cannington on May 14th to uncover facts concerning Weems’ current and future financial health. We asked about the financial feasibility of building a new hospital, what it will cost the taxpayers, what services will be offered, how a future Weems will compete with Sacred Heart and other medical services companies in Franklin County. We asked what the plan is if the one-cent sales tax cannot cover the costs for building and out-fitting a new hospital. A total of 32 financial health questions were asked

We asked Mr. Cannington for a copy of Weems Vision Statement and Income Projections and Balance Sheet for Weems projected new construction. We asked for Pro Forma projections that would have been required by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Franklin County’s application for the pending $10.2 million dollar loan. We asked if hospital designs had been finalized and what the new facility will cost based on those projected configurations. We asked if there will be any additional new services after the project is completed. We asked, what are the funding plans to bridge the gap from construction to any expected ramp-up in revenues to cover interim losses? Also asked for was a competitive analysis taking Weems competitors into account for market share purposes. We asked if Weems could realistically expect to repay the USDA note and how will Weems fund a Physician Recruitment Plan costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in addition to construction and equipment costs. We asked if Weems’ design been approved by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA.)

The answer to all of the above was either “No,” “I don’t know.” or “We don’t have it.” We were dumbfounded by that lack of financial projections, fiscal understanding and planning for a realistic county health care future.

Especially worrisome about those incomplete answers was that the Weems’ Hospital Board was to vote in two days on construction of a new hospital! Then, on May 21st, the projected construction was scheduled to be voted on by the County Commission. But, due to an acknowledged lack of available information, the Weems Hospital Board meeting was canceled; thus, the matter never was discussed at the subsequent County Commission Meeting.

Last Thursday, May 30th, the Hospital Board met and among the items discussed at the meeting was that our third CFO in the last two years was missing in action…no one knew where he was nor when he would return. In addition, April financial statements were not available.

We also became aware that in a surprise inspection, serious deficiencies were discovered by AHCA last week, and an emergency action was needed in order that the hospital would not be closed for Life Safety issues! (Just one of those problems is that sprinkler heads had been painted over.) The emergency action taken was that a Sheriff’s Deputy was hired for a 24/7 Fire Watch, requiring that the Deputy walk the hospital every 15 minutes at a cost of time and a half salary

Later in that same May 30th Hospital Board meeting, the subject of the new Weems Construction was brought up. As you may remember, Commissioners gave Mr. Cannington yet another $50,000 last December to update the cost to build a new hospital. Now, six months later, there is still no “hard pricing” for the construction project. Instead, there is an architect’s unsigned letter guesstimating a new cost of possibly $17 million! But even this projection is not firm since the architect points out a “Partial List of Exclusions” which could indeed cost millions more.

Now we come to the issue of lawsuits and lack of insurance coverage to handle them. Discussed briefly at last week’s Hospital Board is a lawsuit by a former Doctor who was paid a signing bonus of $10-$25 thousand dollars, who worked three days and was then fired, but who kept his bonus. In addition, there are other lawsuits likely to occur as a result of a botched background check on an Emergency Medical Technician who is accused of multiple sexual crimes and is now sitting in jail. Weems only did an FDLE background check which typically only picks up warrants and crimes in Florida. The more rigorous FBI background check was not pursued. According to an article in the Apalachicola Times, this same EMT was accused of a similar crime in Michigan. Insurance coverage that the hospital had at that time these events occurred was limited to $100,000 per incident with $250,000 per occurrence. Only recently, the County raised its insurance limits at the hospital but it is our opinion that amount it is still insufficient. And, there is another pending litigation with a former EMT still out there.

Commissioners, it is time to reevaluate and change our thinking around the idea of building a new hospital. Circumstances in the healthcare industry and laws have greatly changed. The costs to build and compete with a new hospital have significantly increased since the 1-cent sales tax was voted on by the public back in 2007. Indeed, the healthcare industry changes and increased costs are all out of your direct control. But we must accept these facts as our reality now, and we develop a different path forward to bring quality healthcare to Franklin County.

The people of Franklin County would be better served, both financially and through improved healthcare, if this Board built a standalone, first-class Emergency Department with beds like other rural communities around the country have successfully done. Weems cannot adequately or successfully compete with other better funded facilities which have a broader range of services. It’s time to hear from your constituents and find out what they think and need TODAY. We request that you follow through on the Weems Hospital Board’s recommendation to hold Public Workshops around the county to hear from the community to determine the best path forward for quality healthcare in Franklin County. The CCFC stands willing and ready to help the County to ensure a strong turnout for these Workshops.

We understand that the wording of the ballot of the 1-cent sales tax referendum was to build a new hospital. We are sensitive to the pressure you must feel to honor this promise. However, the referendum was not specific as to how big, what kind of hospital or where it would be located. In today’s healthcare environment and overwhelming costs, please make your decisions based on current facts and realities, and not the hopes and dreams from 2007 and the failures of leadership.

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
ABetterFranklin.com

Still haven’t paid your 2019 Dues? We really need your support to continue on with the work we undertake for you. Thank you for past and continued support. Send us a check today (please write your email address on the check) at the address below while you are still thinking about us. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://www.abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc to join today. We depend on your support! Membership dues are not tax deductible.

Thank you for your current and past support!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Weem’s Ad 02-19 1 of 2

on Thursday, 07 February 2019.

Big Gamble

When it comes to health care, there is one thing everyone in Franklin County agrees on: Everyone who lives here, full time or part-time, and everyone who comes to visit should expect to receive top-quality health care available here, for themselves and their family and friends. Living here should not amount to gambling with your health.

There is no argument, no disagreement, and no difference of opinion on this fundamental issue. To help accomplish this, county residents voted in 2007, by a strong margin, a 1 percent sales tax, earmarked entirely for health care, and it was implemented beginning in 2008. That first year brought in $1.2 million, and while it fluctuated over the next decade,it has now climbed to more than $2.1 million annually in sales tax receipts. County residents need to pat themselves on the back for having the foresight, and the insight,to institute this sales tax, a significant portion of which is funded by out-of-county visitors.

Since first instituted, sales tax proceeds have topped more than $18.5 million, a tidy sum that most any community in the United States would love to have for its health care needs.

Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, doctors - all those dedicated health care professionals on the front lines of providing health care have been supported by these tax dollars. About $3.5 million remains in the fund, considered a critically important chunk of dollars slated to renovate and expand Weems Memorial Hospital on its current site in Apalachicola.

The question is: Is that the best way to spend this money?

Consider this.

Of the monies raised so far by the tax, about $4 million has been spent largely on capital expenditures, mainly for the hospital site, including hundreds of thousands of dollars towards consultants, advisors and other non-health care professionals who have profited from the slow-moving planning for a new hospital. Underutilized Weems East was also built with about a million dollars of HCTF Capital funds.

Of the remaining roughly $11 million, nearly all of it has gone to prop up the operating costs of Weems. Operation of the Clinics and Ambulance Services being funded separately from General Ad Valorem Revenues. Weems has increasingly lost ground to an aggressively expanding Sacred Heart health care system, already well-established in Apalachicola and now expanding to Eastpoint.

The Franklin County School District, secured millions of dollars in Triumph funds, from the Deep water Horizon oil spill of 2010, for vocational education, and topping their agenda for spending these monies is expanding, for students and adults alike, a program enabling them to take their first steps towards a career as a health care professional. The district is seeking partners to enable these graduates to secure job opportunities in the area, and where are they turning? To Sacred Heart, among others.

The issue remains, in this rapidly evolving world of local health care, does it continue to make sense to spend this entire treasure chest of precious health care dollars entirely on Weems, where it sits in Apalachicola, to be spent on construction companies and other non-health care professionals?

There is no question that renovating and expanding Weems will cost millions of dollars, and will create permanent debt for the County for the first time.It will also raise costs of operations with uncertain revenues to support new debt and new costs. And what will a new facility accomplish, given the increasing competition from Sacred Heart? Will more specialists come to Apalachicola? Will the inpatient rooms be filled? Keep in mind that Weems today average sonly one or two in patients a night at present, sometimes none.

Consider this:

A new hospital will draw only on county residents, a population base that has not grown much in 15 years. The hospital will serve Apalachicola and Eastpoint primarily; the eastern end increasingly prefers Tallahassee for its health care.

When complete, Weems will still have no operating rooms, no kidney dialysis, no advanced radiology, no cardiac catheterization, no cancer treatment, no pulmonology, no rehab facility, no Board Certified Specialists, and still an emergency room limited in its ability to treat heart attacks, strokes and other serious injuries or illnesses that have be taken elsewhere right away or the patient may not survive.

None of these service swill be there, at least not at the outset, and it is questionable Weems will ever have the resources to add these offerings except on a visiting basis. This is a gamble with a huge potential downside.

County officials believe that “if you build it, they will come,” but what evidence is there this is true? Weems hospital CEOs have for years promised to expand offerings at Weems, and yet little or nothing has been accomplished in this regard. If you need an elective procedure, and it can be done at Sacred Heart or Bay Medical, you'll head west.If Tallahassee Memorial or Capital Regional is where you'll prefer, you'll head north.

The likelihood is that it will be difficult to expand offerings at Weems,and the hospital will remain in need of huge long-term subsidies from the county, hopefully not continuing to have to borrow additional monies above even that to meet payrolls as has happened repeatedly in the past. And to complicate matters, even with the Critical Access Hospital designation, which helps stem losses, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates are on the decline and the Critical Care Access program is under attack at the Federal level.

In the absence of the hospital’s Critical Access Hospital designation, which boosts the amount of Medicare dollars it receives, Weems would have been forced to shut its doors long ago. But even that designation has its limits. It has not eliminated the need for the hospital to consume about $15 million over the last decade,in valuable health care dollars, just to stay afloat.

We think there are better ideas than simply going into debt, based on the wishful thinking that services will greatly expand, without evidence that will happen.

We think the county’s health care tax dollars have to be carefully targeted, so that they serve as the economic driver they are designed to be, and not to further line the pockets of out-of-county consultants and construction companies,or a handful of highly paid administrators.

We think they need to go towards boosting the bottom line of the front-line health care workers, the doctors and the nurses, the EMTs and the paramedics, who make the difference.

We believe the county needs to take a broader look at the whole picture, at what type of facility it needs and where it ought to be located. We need to talk about health care outcomes and trackable metrics instead of necessarily building edifices with a bronze plaque at the entrance.

weems memorial

There are lots of options out there, for using revenue strategically and effectively. Let’s start looking at them before we invest heavily at what could likely become a losing proposition, in a rapidly-changing world of health care. 12 years ago citizens originally voted for a rendering portraying a 31,000 square foot Greenfield hospital. No one is even dreaming of that anymore. What remains is a hollow shell of what was promised to citizens. The promise then was a poorly thought out fantasy. Let’s get serious with what will save lives now. Let’s stop gambling.

Next week, we will continue this series and offer options to consider.

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County,Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, FL 32328
www.ABetterFranklin.com

What the CCFC Did in 2018

on Tuesday, 18 December 2018.

Hello Friends:

We are midway through our 2019 Fundraising Campaign and wanted you to know what we have been involved with throughout the year. We hope you agree the following list is a good reason for your continued support of Concerned Citizens:

  1. We have attended almost all County Commission Meetings in 2018. When appropriate we speak up with facts, concerns and frequently accepted alternatives to the current conversation.
  2. The Association frequently attends Hospital Board Meetings and while listening primarily, frequently asks the tough questions and pushes for accountability and logic in the conversation.We are currently advocating a permanent solution to health care in Franklin County with a proposal on the table from Sacred Heart Health Systems to build and manage a state-of-the-art Medical Mall and a real Emergency Room, plus run and update the two clinics and manage our current EMS system, finally getting the County out of the Health care business that has lost tens of millions of dollars since the County took it over.
  3. The CCFC constantly researches best practices and shares those with County Departments and Constitutional Officers.
  4. The CCFC listens to concerns from County and Hospital employees and citizens at large. We provide advice, information and sometimes get involved in specific issues.
  5. We have demanded (sometimes not successfully) that public meetings be held with decorum and actually listen to the public, be they large or small.
  6. We have visited with the Sheriff, understand his priorities and try to balance all the competing priorities. We have recommended and the Sheriff and County have implemented alternative budget mechanisms.
  7. At budget time, we are there early and often, sometimes incurring the ire of a few Commissioners who don’t like the introspection. Workshops, Adoption Hearings, we are there.
  8. We constantly strive to talk directly to the people, both in person and through these emails and several guest columns or letters to the editor. One of our Board Members disseminates our messages through other routes as well.
  9. We talk with Federal and State representatives who sometimes take our message back to the county through a different path. We have worked with a bevy of State and Federal officials and have had a Special Master appointed at Alligator Point for its hurricane recovery for Alligator Drive.
  10. We built and maintain a website “ABetterFranklin.com” that posts information of interest to the general public including comparisons, notices and other information of value. We also have an active Facebook account.
  11. We reach out through emails such as these on a frequent basis and enjoy receiving feedback from the many people who call, write or spread the word.

There is much more we do over any given year. We were disappointed this year that taxes went up unnecessarily. In 2019, the political winds have changed with the election of Bert Boldt as Commissioner which begins a more balanced Eastern looking vision. We continue to foresee increases in the County Tax Digest going forward. The CCFC is that bulwark against excessive or unwarranted spending.

That brings me down to our pitch. Once a year we go to our members and fellow Franklin County citizens to ask for your financial support. We do a lot with a little but still need your help. Won’t you please help support our efforts in 2019? Without your support, both in numbers and dollars, we are constrained in what we can do and the impact we can make. Please send us whatever you can and know that we will put your dollars to good use.

Thank you for past and continued support. Send us a check today (please write your email address on the check) at the address below while you are still thinking about us. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://www.abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc2 Join today. We depend on your support! Membership dues are not tax deductible.

Thank you for your support and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a great New Year’s to all!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

[12  >>