When Cows Fly
Let me get one thing straight.
Assemblyman Devon Mathis doesn’t get to take thousands of dollars from Dr. Benny Benzeevi, ride around in his private plane, and now declare his support for Tulare’s now-closed hospital.
That ain’t gonna fly.
On January 31, Mr. Mathis posted pictures of himself and Trustees Kevin Northcraft and Michael Jamaica in Sacramento on Facebook with the caption:
“Celebrating a victory with the Tulare Local Health Care District! The Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved the audit of the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates and the Tulare Regional Medical Center. Hopefully soon we will get the hospital back up and running.”
He also posted a letter in support of the audit stating, “There has been a long history of questionable activities associated with the management of bond funds by the Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates,” said Mathis. “The recent shutdown of the hospital has greatly impacted the people of Tulare. It is time for the people of Tulare to get closure on this horrific mismanagement of funds.”
Those posts sound an awful lot like Mr. Mathis is taking partial credit for the audit. But after everything Tulare has been through, the hospital community is not going to easily forget how Mr. Mathis sat on his hands for the last three years.
Where was Mr. Mathis when hospital workers weren’t getting their pay checks?
Where was Mr. Mathis during the special election for Measure I?
Where was he during Dr. Kumar’s recall?
Former Trustee Linda Wilbourn, turned in the order to the county office for Mr. Kumar’s recall election on March 9, 2017. HCCA gave Mr. Mathis a $4,400 donation on March 17.
Does anyone believe that is a coincidence?
The following is a Facebook exchange between a member of Citizens for Accountability and Mr. Mathis.
Deanne Martin-Soares wrote, “Could have happened last year or even sooner if Mathis would have listened to constituents including myself that called his office in a plea to take on the issue. I guess election time makes a difference. No thank you!”
Mr. Mathis responds, “The hospital board is it’s own private entity. The state has no authority over the board. When the new board came to me asking for help, I reacted and helped to get this audit started. I’m not one to take local control away from elected boards.”
Ms. Martin-Soares, “It is actually a District, a public entity not a private entity. It serves many that can’t advocate for themselves. Think of the missing millions more because of your failure to act. We all know the reason why – campaign donations that ironically came from the revenue of a public entity. You can spin it anyway you want but the truth of the matter is you ignored it because it didn’t serve you well.”
Mr. Mathis responds, “So I lost the millions of dollars? I’m a firm believer in the need to bring solutions to the table, not just finger pointing. Glad I can be a part of this solution. Thank you for your comments and have a wonderful evening.”
If Mr. Mathis wants to be considered part of the Tulare Hospital community he needs to do a few things.
First, Mr. Mathis has to hand over every donation from Dr. Benzeevi, Dr. Kumar, Medflow, and HCCA to the Tulare Hospital Foundation. Mr. Mathis then needs to write a sincere letter of apology to his constituents about not asking for the JLAC audit and personally deliver his letter to the board during a regular meeting
Lastly, he needs to research every grant available to public hospitals and recruit all the state’s logistical help to get the hospital open.
Or to put it more simply – Mr. Mathis needs to start doing his job.
But will the hospital community ever be able to embrace Mr. Mathis?
As someone close to Mr. Mathis said, “I don’t know that I had ever been more angry or disappointed at anyone in my life.”
After our son passed away last year Dr. Benzeevi gave us a beautiful plant that seems to have the same mood swings as did our son, and took my husband out to lunch. They talked about books and the state of journalism and Dr. Benzeevi complimented our paper. He said our coverage was fair.
There is a lot of anger directed at Dr. Benzeevi, but we saw that there is a human behind the CEO of HCCA.
And there is a human behind the assemblyman who, though flawed, loves his kids, his wife, his country and who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Mr. Mathis won his first election in 2014 as an underdog and has been resented ever since by the Republican establishment.
And he has been fighting that establishment ever since he took office in January of 2015.
Mr. Mathis declared, “I feel this is political, and if they were serious about getting the doors open, I wouldn’t turn anyone away from helping.”
This isn’t political and it isn’t personal.
This is a matter of trust. And Mr. Mathis has spent his.
Double Mint Twins Part II
In my first installment of the Double Mint Twins, I predicted that Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones would soon jump the Mathis ship.
Many high profile Tulare County movers and shakers such as State Senator Andy Vidak, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, Tulare County Supervisors Kuyler Crocker, Mike Ennis and Steve Worthley, Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley in 2016 endorsed Assembly Member Devon Mathis. But for the 2018 election they have endorsed Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler for the 26 Assembly District, and I expected Mr. Jones to follow suit.
But I underestimated their bond, so I stand corrected.
Tarnishing their “double fresh double cool” persona, Mr. Jones has been posting incoherent and rambling comments on the Visalia Times-Delta’s Facebook. The Voice also pegged Jones for a string of lies regarding the paper’s coverage that he spun to KTIP hosts PK the Redhead and Kent Hopper.
On both platforms he gushes about his comrade, posting on Facebook “Assemblyman Devon Mathis is doing a great job for us in Sacramento.”
To which Mr. Mathis was his only “like.”
During radio interviews Mr. Jones repeats, “Our amazing assembly member Devon Mathis.”
Their relationship started during the 2014 Assembly race when Mr. Jones endorsed Mr. Mathis after he came in a surprise second during the June primary. (In true Carlton Jones form, he called the other winner of the Assembly District race, Rudy Mendoza, and endorsed him also.)
A Mathis campaign staffer said that even though Mr. Jones was still in the race for assembly during the primary, “Jones bought Mathis his first 5 campaign signs. It might have actually been what put Devon over the top and into the general.” The staffer added that Mr. Jones knew that he, as a Democrat, had no chance of making it through the primary and was quietly hedging his bets.
Both Mr. Mathis and Mr. Jones struggled over the next four years, with voting issues, accusations of infidelity, personal and campaign financial issues, and legal problems.
Nevertheless, Mr. Mathis went on to win two elections on a very questionable record in Sacramento, and Mr. Jones overcame the political fallout of an arrest for spousal abuse to win two more city council elections and is now mayor of Tulare.
What bonds them now is their mission to completely change the narrative surrounding the hospital, to obfuscate their support for Drs. Parmod Kumar and Benzeevi, and pretend they always only acted in the best interest of Tulare’s hospital.
So shhh, don’t tell anyone — because they are counting on your not remembering.
Or as Mr. Jones says, “Don’t be a hater.”
“Hater” or not, now that Drs. Benzeevi and Kumar are out of the picture, Mr. Jones has changed his tune from: “We have our own responsibilities here, as a council. If I wanted to run the hospital, I would have ran for the hospital board.”
To: “It’s going to take a united city to save the hospital. I can’t just say ‘good luck.’ I have to be willing to help,” and, “This council has a great relationship with our elected officials. It’s going to take that type of team work to save our hospital.”
Mr. Jones queried in a Facebook post, “If your [sic] not part of the solution, what is your purpose?”
Mr. Mathis and Mr. Jones say they are part of the solution.
The Tulare hospital community says they are hypocrites.
Everyone knows who is right, it’s just a matter of which side is going to win the public relations war.
Tulare County residents — or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb?
Don’t Pass Go, Don’t Collect $200
As all the news junkies know, the California State Legislature released on February 2 documents on sexual harassment cases covering more than 10 years. The investigations involved 18 elected officials or high-level capitol employees, such as district coordinators or chiefs of staff.
The complaints ranged from inappropriate touching to watching pornography on government computers. The disciplinary actions were mostly verbal warnings and requiring legislators and staff to attend sexual harassment training. But some were suspensions without pay and four staffers were immediately fired.
While news of a sexual harassment complaint against Candidate for Governor, Assembly Member Travis Allen, sent shock waves thought Sacramento, one person listed in the documents flew under the media’s radar, Assembly Member Devon Mathis’ Chief of Staff Sean Doherty.
When news broke last May that Mr. Doherty was fired as chief of staff there was no shortage of hypotheses why, but sexual harassment was at the bottom of the list.
Well it should have been at the top.
According to the documents, Mr. Doherty was fired by the Assembly Rules Committee on May 10 for sexually explicit comments and verbal abuse. Ninety percent of the document was blacked out but the few lines provided give you a good idea the work environment in Mr. Mathis’ office
The investigation recounts, “He asked her if she was sexually active with her boyfriend. He said if you weren’t such a f*cking whore you might be able to have a real boyfriend. Then he said he was kidding.” Later in the investigation it says, “He told her you would rather f*ck your boyfriend than come to work.”
It makes one wonder what was redacted.
The Assembly Rules Committee wrote Mr. Doherty at the end of its investigation,
“This letter serves as notification that your at-will employment with the California State Assembly will be terminated effective May 10, 2017. You are not permitted to return to the office after today.”
Mr. Doherty was hired as Mr. Mathis’ Chief of Staff in April of 2015 under a cloud of suspicion as to why Cole Azare had been thrown off the island. Mr. Azare ran Mr. Mathis’ successful underdog campaign and had served as Chief of Staff for four months. Mr. Azare was also a fellow Veteran and best man at Mr. Mathis’ wedding.
Before Sacramento’s document dump, it was hypothesized that Mr. Doherty was fired for lobbying while chief of staff, campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime, instructing Mr. Mathis to only listen to constituents who donate to his campaign, or all of the above.
Before taking on the position of chief of staff, Doherty was a lobbyist and had owned Wildhorse Consulting and Willow Grace Productions. To side-step Assembly Rules, he de-registered as a lobbyist and gave up his ownership interest in his Consulting firms to his wife, Thanne Doherty.
Since then the Doherty family practically made a living off of Mr. Mathis’ campaign donations, but that came to an abrupt end last year.
So, to get the timeline straight, Mr. Doherty was fired May 10, 2017 for sexual harassment by the Assembly Rules Committee–and it is suspected that Mathis was the person to initiate the investigation.
Then the Mathis campaign continued to pay Wildhorse Consulting for its services, even after Mr. Doherty was fired, to the tune of $50,000. But payments abruptly stopped on October 5, 2017.
Then, Mr. Mathis is accused on October 19, 2017 of sexual assault of a young female staffer — an assault that allegedly that happened in April of 2016. It is suspected that Mr. Doherty gave the story to blogger Joseph Turner of American Children First.
As I said in my last Political Fix, one constant theme that weaves through all the gossip was that Mr. Mathis and Mr. Doherty have so much dirt on each other it’s doubtful the truth will ever come out.
One thing is certain. Mr. Mathis needs to do some serious house cleaning.