Sunday, May 17, 2015

Board of Managers meeting report: Refusals, Threats, and Amatures at best?

I got a call from Greg M who told me about his recent trip to Traverse City and attending the board of managers meeting there.

Michigan Veterans Home, Board of Managers Meeting, March 14, 2015 held at the American Legion post 35, Traverse City, Michigan at 1pm Eastern Standard Daylight savings time.

Greg rode up with Kim O. a well known volunteer at the home and one other person named Catherine. After talking with Greg, I contacted both and heard about their views of the meeting as well.

Greg has family in T.C. and rode along with Kim and Catherine, because "it got me out of the house for a day, and I know the area well".  Apparently before and after the meeting they drove around TC and stopped in a few of the areas unique shops and had lunch at a place called Ham Bonz.

Greg said he went to the meeting to find out more about how the home operates from an administrative point of view. "Ive been to a few of these meetings now, and the more I go, the more I find myself standing up for the administration of the home, when talking to the vets who constantly complain to me about the situation at the home. The administration is limited as to what it can do, and the biggest part of this is funding from Lansing and the almost asinine hoops they  (the home) has to jump through to get funding for needed projects. Projects that will bring the home into the 21st century as I call it. Michigans vets home is way way behind other states. And they are trying to catch up. But when various departments in Michigan government are stalling making decisions, needed projects at the home are not getting done. Sara (Dunne, the head administrator) said that some of the funding has time limits to it. And if the various agencies of Michigan government do not make up their minds in time, the home can no longer access the funds because the time to do so expires.  In other words, they (the home) has to deal with endless bureaucracy also. I think the guys at the home need to hear this. They need to know why the home can't get anything done, (because of Lansing). You know the lack of leadership at the home is amazing - they could get these guys to write letters to their congressman asking, for help for the veterans home.

Greg also told me about another interesting thing that was brought up at the meeting.  The road bridge over the duck pond linking the cemetery to the main grounds. That bridge is in poor condition and needs to be rebuilt. (We knew this.) But because its on home property it is not a public road and therefore the responsibility of the home. This may seem kind of stupid to most people; as the state is responsible for the home and most pubic roads that are not federal. It can be repaired and used as a foot bridge but to allow cars to go over it will require rebuilding.

"Someone said that 35k was donated so that every veteran there can have a wall mounted TV. "  Mmm. Haven't we had that donation before? Time and time again providing TV's to veterans? Where did all that money really go? And why is the 4th floor STILL unfinished???

"They talked about Michigan still struggles with veterans who have mental issues, because the Fed says its the VA's responsibility, not the States. Yet the Home is supposed to have a licensed Psychiatrist or someone psychologist on staff, if I remember correctly. I know there wasn't one when I lived there. I could have used some counseling, but even the one I had, didn't do squat.

"Kim O. got them talking about recent claims about missing Absentee ballots, the usual mail problems were brought up again. Sara said if they came in the mail the guys got them. She also said a lot of the guys go down to the voting place at the Boat and Canoe club.  Sara had no idea that the polling place which used to be at the boat and canoe club, located at the NW corner of  North Park and Monroe, had been changed to a local elementary school a few years ago.

 "Again a mail room idea was brought up, and again she said they had no room.. But they found room for a small NicNack store, and they found room for a barbershop. Yet no room for a mail room?!  I see this as just another excuse or a refusal to deal with the situation. 
"At one time they talked about the cafeteria problem and I get the feeling that the home is NOT going to get the license so that they can sell meals to visitors in the main dining hall."

LOL, Well of course that is going to anger a lot of family members come holiday time at the end of the year, but thats ok..we need angered family members, so that they will call for the removal of this administration.  -ED
"The homes problem with meals has been an on going issue for over 5 years. With some Nursing unit guys eating 3 times per meal. Then the staff complains about it to the residents, but does nothing about it nor implements any of the suggestions made by residents.  Thats one of the things that just angered the heck out of us in Dom unit, when I was there. The staff would complain to us, but would not listen to any of our solutions. So we got tired of hearing them bitch all the time at the meetings so we just stopped going to them.

"At one time the Chairman mentioned that he had something for me, the boards decision from my March appearance, where I asked to be able to go and visit guys during regular hours; basically for a 2nd chance.. I did NOT want to apply to live at the home. I never will ever again.   I asked what I needed to do to make this happen. Well, the board made its decision, and said NO, that I would only be welcomed (allowed) to go to Guitars 4 Veterans), and never addressed anything else.  When I asked the chairman why, he could not give me an answer.

"The board also discussed its 25 and 35 year mission statements.. Did I hear that right, 25 and 30 or 35 year? Do they even HAVE a mission statement? If so what is the current mission of the DORM unit? And the home for that matter seeing how things are changing so dead slow at the home.

"They said they are looking at other veterans homes in other states. If so they should feel ashamed by what they see. Most states vets homes are way better than this place,

"The new chairman says the board needs to have more meetings and be a "do something" board and not just meet once a month.. Thats good talk, but getting it done is another thing..

"Meanwhile Earnest Meyers claimed the driveway area needed fixing and is demanding it be done soon.

"Then the board chairman did a round about asking for final comments for the meeting. I wasn't going to speak up but I did asking why the decision to keep me off campus? He said he had no idea.and could not give me an answer. " ( More on this at next post). I didn't go to this meeting to address my issue. I had forgotten about it to be truthful. I came because I was interested in what they were going to say about the so called missing absentee ballots and the cafeteria issue. "

"Then there was the incident with Lino Pretto, the goatee wearing member of the board. 

"When Pretto saw Cathrine sitting and waiting for the meeting to start, he walked up to her and in a voice that was not nice said he had to have a talk with her after the meeting.

"Apparently Cartherine sent a letter to someone, and since she did not know Pretto personally described him as a man claiming to be a veteran, and purple heart winner or something like that.  Which is my understanding that he is a Nam vet, wounded in battle, and has a purple heart. But she did not know that for sure.

"Well, it seems Pretto got a bit angry about it, and took it the wrong way. He accusing her of claiming that he was steeling valor or some stupid stuff like that, which she did not do in her letter, so she told me.

"Pretto walked up to her after the meeting with 3 cards showing his status as a Nam Vet, and Purple heart winner, and in an angry voice threatened her stating that if she ever questioned his status again, they would have more words and indicated they would be a lot worse than the ones he used there.

"This was totally unprofessional. Pretto is earning a reputation of being a hot headed asshole to many people. Several vets at the home have talked with him since he became a board member and they tell me hes too hot headed and they do not want to talk to him ever again.

"Personally I think Pretto owes Cathrine an apology.

"Shortly after that, we left and went mushroom hunting on the way home.

"On the way home we discussed many issues. We talked about my issue and I will be giving you guys (the editors of this blog) a written article for you to publish soon, I need time to get it together.

"Cathrine who worked in advertising and went to many meetings and board meetings, said the managers for the vets home looked and acted like amateurs and doubts any of them really know what they are doing.  She said that she thinks the current chairman is a business man, maybe an owner, that is trying to make the managers group more productive but she is going to wait and see if its even possible.

"The board is still 2 new people shy, I think..

"Kim talked about the mail issues, the cafeteria issues and how that is going to effect staff, visitors, family members and volunteers like herself and her hubby John, both of whom put a lot of hours into that place. 

It was a good trip overall. Didn't find any mushrooms, we just missed them.. oh well. Maybe next year.

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