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Still no newspaper union at the San Diego Union-Tribune

$1.8 million in party expenses

Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year.
Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year.

Homeless tackled

A non-profit foundation tied to a controversial giant San Diego-based healthcare staffing outfit has come up with $75,000 for mayor Todd Gloria’s San Diegans Together Tackling Homelessness effort, according to a February 20 behesting disclosure filed by the mayor’s office. The gift-giver, the Torrey Coast Foundation, which has net assets of $303,352,893 per the group’s 2022 federal disclosure filing, was founded and run by Alan Braynin, the president and CEO of Aya Healthcare Inc.

The Torrey Coast Foundation was first known as the Braynin Family Foundation until its name was changed in January 2021. The bulk of the foundation’s cash hoard has been handed out to cancer research projects, including $4,500,000 to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer drive in 2022.

Alan Braynin’s outfit made a heathy donation to fight homelessness.

In recent years, Aya has been fending off class action cases brought by so-called travel nurses, who argue their pay was slashed abruptly in mid-contract as Covid waned. “To fill travel nursing roles, ‘healthcare facilities utilize intermediary staffing agencies to employ the travelers, negotiate pay rates, and schedule assignments,’” reads an April 27, 2023 opinion in the case by Federal Judge Roger Benitez.

Citing plaintiff’s brief, the opinion continues: “Hundreds if not thousands of nurses employed by Aya across the country have reported experiencing mid-contract pay reductions after starting an assignment with Aya, with many reporting that Aya reduced their pay multiple times within the same assignment or slashed their pay by more than 50% or more than originally promised.” Benitez dispatched the case to arbitration. An Aya spokesperson has called the allegations “demonstrably false,” according to a September, 2022 Newsweek account.

Regarding the destination of the Torrey Coast foundation’s $75,000 Gloria behest, the city’s website explains: “The City of San Diego does not have the resources to solve the homelessness crisis alone. It is a humanitarian crisis and a burden every San Diegan must share. It will take all of us doing something collectively to make a meaningful difference. The ultimate goal is that all 1.4M residents contribute something to assist every stakeholder group.”


Parting a sea of red ink

Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year. “Our review noted significant areas of non-compliance, which impact Exodus’ ability to ensure county funds are appropriately used to provide [mental health] program services and resulted in a significant amount of questioned costs,” according to a March 22, 2023 memo from Barrera to LA County Supervisors. The document reported that Exodus “charged $2,975,760 in inadequately supported expenditures, including $1,839,772 in inadequately supported related party expenditures,” and further, “did not provide adequate documentation to support the total salaries paid to the chief executive officer and chief operating officer recorded in the agency’s general ledger, and whether the salaries were accurate and reasonable.” The memo went on to say that “if Exodus does not immediately resolve the $2,975,760 in questioned costs and correct the significant non-compliance issues noted in this report, DMH should consider placing Exodus in the county’s Contractor Alert Reporting Database.”

Luke Bergmann hopes Exodus will stay.
Sponsored
Sponsored

In a February 15, 2023 response to the review, Exodus Recovery CEO Luana Murphy wrote, “Exodus both disagrees, agrees and partially disagrees with the recommendations made by the auditor-controller contained in the report and either has taken or will take corrective action to address the recommendations as detailed in the attached Agency Action Plan/Response. At the same time, however, Exodus believes it has been wrongly maligned by this process given Exodus’ exemplary record of service to the county when nobody else was willing or able to provide these services.”

Added the response: “The county, both before and after the time encompassed by the referenced audit, has repeatedly sought Exodus’ services because nobody else was able or willing. For this, Exodus was dragged through a tortuous multi-year audit that should have been simple and routine and not one that included assertions of wrongdoing based upon clearly inaccurate factual assumptions.”

San Diego behavioral health director Luke Bergmann told the Union-Tribune three weeks ago that his department “has worked with Exodus since 2008. Most recently, the county chose the provider to run its two community-based crisis stabilization centers in Vista and Oceanside.” Regarding the proposed $9.6 million San Diego County contract, Bergmann was quoted as saying, “To have a provider that has a long history of weaving community supports into their work, and that has a history of doing acute psychiatric care, feels promising.”


U-T union-less

Workers at the Union-Tribune aren’t among those at eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital who got a collective bargaining agreement last week. “Six years later, we finally have a contract with Alden Global Capital,” said Suburban Chicago Tribune Guild unit chair and member bargainer Wendy Fox Weber in statement released by the AFL-CIO. “The company fought us every step of the way, and everything in that contract is thanks to the work of a dedicated group of member bargainers. I am honored to have helped bring it to ratification.” Like the U-T, the Alden papers used to belong to Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, a former public company taken private by Alden in May 2021.

But the San Diego paper was bought by LA billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong in 2018; he sold it to Alden a year ago next month. Back in June 1998, the U-T’s then-editor Karin Winner urged workers to throw the newspaper union out of the plant, arguing that publisher Helen Copley would reward them with better salaries and a host of related benefits if they did. Winner’s promises proved empty, and instead, union-less, the U-T has careened from one out-of-town owner to another before reaching its nadir under cost-cutting Alden last year.

Orlando Sentinel workers have secured a union contract for the first time in the newspaper’s 148-year history, establishing two years of raises, protecting our retirement plans and overall setting the foundation to build a stronger newsroom,” Cristóbal Reyes, a member of the Orlando Sentinel Guild and joint bargaining committee, said in a statement after the two-year contracts at each of the Alden papers were announced, according to a June 5 report by the Orlando Business Journal.

“The agreement includes 6% across-the-board raises, maintenance of 401K matches for all employees currently participating, guaranteed severance pay if a reduction of force happened and a notice requirements for layoffs,” the account says. Meanwhile, back at the U-T, the paper’s website morphed into a version run by other Alden papers last week, apparently marking another break from the Los Angeles Times, which is still owned by Soon-Shiong.

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year.
Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year.

Homeless tackled

A non-profit foundation tied to a controversial giant San Diego-based healthcare staffing outfit has come up with $75,000 for mayor Todd Gloria’s San Diegans Together Tackling Homelessness effort, according to a February 20 behesting disclosure filed by the mayor’s office. The gift-giver, the Torrey Coast Foundation, which has net assets of $303,352,893 per the group’s 2022 federal disclosure filing, was founded and run by Alan Braynin, the president and CEO of Aya Healthcare Inc.

The Torrey Coast Foundation was first known as the Braynin Family Foundation until its name was changed in January 2021. The bulk of the foundation’s cash hoard has been handed out to cancer research projects, including $4,500,000 to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer drive in 2022.

Alan Braynin’s outfit made a heathy donation to fight homelessness.

In recent years, Aya has been fending off class action cases brought by so-called travel nurses, who argue their pay was slashed abruptly in mid-contract as Covid waned. “To fill travel nursing roles, ‘healthcare facilities utilize intermediary staffing agencies to employ the travelers, negotiate pay rates, and schedule assignments,’” reads an April 27, 2023 opinion in the case by Federal Judge Roger Benitez.

Citing plaintiff’s brief, the opinion continues: “Hundreds if not thousands of nurses employed by Aya across the country have reported experiencing mid-contract pay reductions after starting an assignment with Aya, with many reporting that Aya reduced their pay multiple times within the same assignment or slashed their pay by more than 50% or more than originally promised.” Benitez dispatched the case to arbitration. An Aya spokesperson has called the allegations “demonstrably false,” according to a September, 2022 Newsweek account.

Regarding the destination of the Torrey Coast foundation’s $75,000 Gloria behest, the city’s website explains: “The City of San Diego does not have the resources to solve the homelessness crisis alone. It is a humanitarian crisis and a burden every San Diegan must share. It will take all of us doing something collectively to make a meaningful difference. The ultimate goal is that all 1.4M residents contribute something to assist every stakeholder group.”


Parting a sea of red ink

Exodus Recovery, Inc., currently negotiating a single-source contract to operate a 16-bed psychiatric hospital at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside for San Diego County, received a negative Fiscal Compliance Review from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Arlene Barrera last year. “Our review noted significant areas of non-compliance, which impact Exodus’ ability to ensure county funds are appropriately used to provide [mental health] program services and resulted in a significant amount of questioned costs,” according to a March 22, 2023 memo from Barrera to LA County Supervisors. The document reported that Exodus “charged $2,975,760 in inadequately supported expenditures, including $1,839,772 in inadequately supported related party expenditures,” and further, “did not provide adequate documentation to support the total salaries paid to the chief executive officer and chief operating officer recorded in the agency’s general ledger, and whether the salaries were accurate and reasonable.” The memo went on to say that “if Exodus does not immediately resolve the $2,975,760 in questioned costs and correct the significant non-compliance issues noted in this report, DMH should consider placing Exodus in the county’s Contractor Alert Reporting Database.”

Luke Bergmann hopes Exodus will stay.
Sponsored
Sponsored

In a February 15, 2023 response to the review, Exodus Recovery CEO Luana Murphy wrote, “Exodus both disagrees, agrees and partially disagrees with the recommendations made by the auditor-controller contained in the report and either has taken or will take corrective action to address the recommendations as detailed in the attached Agency Action Plan/Response. At the same time, however, Exodus believes it has been wrongly maligned by this process given Exodus’ exemplary record of service to the county when nobody else was willing or able to provide these services.”

Added the response: “The county, both before and after the time encompassed by the referenced audit, has repeatedly sought Exodus’ services because nobody else was able or willing. For this, Exodus was dragged through a tortuous multi-year audit that should have been simple and routine and not one that included assertions of wrongdoing based upon clearly inaccurate factual assumptions.”

San Diego behavioral health director Luke Bergmann told the Union-Tribune three weeks ago that his department “has worked with Exodus since 2008. Most recently, the county chose the provider to run its two community-based crisis stabilization centers in Vista and Oceanside.” Regarding the proposed $9.6 million San Diego County contract, Bergmann was quoted as saying, “To have a provider that has a long history of weaving community supports into their work, and that has a history of doing acute psychiatric care, feels promising.”


U-T union-less

Workers at the Union-Tribune aren’t among those at eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital who got a collective bargaining agreement last week. “Six years later, we finally have a contract with Alden Global Capital,” said Suburban Chicago Tribune Guild unit chair and member bargainer Wendy Fox Weber in statement released by the AFL-CIO. “The company fought us every step of the way, and everything in that contract is thanks to the work of a dedicated group of member bargainers. I am honored to have helped bring it to ratification.” Like the U-T, the Alden papers used to belong to Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, a former public company taken private by Alden in May 2021.

But the San Diego paper was bought by LA billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong in 2018; he sold it to Alden a year ago next month. Back in June 1998, the U-T’s then-editor Karin Winner urged workers to throw the newspaper union out of the plant, arguing that publisher Helen Copley would reward them with better salaries and a host of related benefits if they did. Winner’s promises proved empty, and instead, union-less, the U-T has careened from one out-of-town owner to another before reaching its nadir under cost-cutting Alden last year.

Orlando Sentinel workers have secured a union contract for the first time in the newspaper’s 148-year history, establishing two years of raises, protecting our retirement plans and overall setting the foundation to build a stronger newsroom,” Cristóbal Reyes, a member of the Orlando Sentinel Guild and joint bargaining committee, said in a statement after the two-year contracts at each of the Alden papers were announced, according to a June 5 report by the Orlando Business Journal.

“The agreement includes 6% across-the-board raises, maintenance of 401K matches for all employees currently participating, guaranteed severance pay if a reduction of force happened and a notice requirements for layoffs,” the account says. Meanwhile, back at the U-T, the paper’s website morphed into a version run by other Alden papers last week, apparently marking another break from the Los Angeles Times, which is still owned by Soon-Shiong.

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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