Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Filed yesterday, Carol Spizzirri's response to plaintiff's complaint in Melongo v. Spizzirri et al

Click here for plaintiff Annabel Melongo's November 15, 2014 Second Amended Complaint and other key case documents.

Click here for media reports about the Melongo case.

Click here for media reports about Carol Spizzirri and the Save-A-Life Foundation.


Monday, August 10, 2015

NBC Today Show reports NYC doc's wrong, possibly dangerous medical recommendations -- and no one will clean up the mess


Please watch this clip from an NBC Today Show segment, How to save the life of someone who's choking by reporter Jeff Rossen and producer Jovanna Billington -- the web page says July 17, 2015, but it aired Tuesday July 14th:





Long story short, Dr. Holly Andersen's claim about back blows is contradicted by the recommendations of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

For years, along with most of the world's first aid organizations, the ARC and AHA have recommended back blows as an effective treatment for responding to a choking emergency.

Further, as widely reported, for about a decade the ARC has recommend back blows as the first treatment response:


As for her claim that rescuers should perform a Heimlich maneuver using one arm, I've been researching my father's career for over a decade and I've never heard of that.

I don't know where she came up with those recommendations, but since she provided medical information on national TV that was wrong and could conceivably harm kids and adults, I assumed Dr. Andersen and NBC would want to correct the errors.

So I shared the above information with New York Presbyterian Hospital's media department, and asked them to ask Dr. Andersen if she thought NBC should correct the errors.

Here's their reply:
From: Jacqueline Shutack
To: peter.heimlich@gmail.com
Subject: Re: [PR-NYP] blogger inquiry
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:44:01 +0000

Hi Peter.

Dr. Anderson is unavailable to comment.

Jackie

Jackie Shutack Wong
Media Associate
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Stephen J. Corwin MD (source)

I then sent a couple of courteous e-mails to Dr. Anderson and to Stephen J. Corwin MD, the hospital's CEO, asking if they wanted to comment.

I received multiple confirmations of receipt from both, but no other communications, so presumably their version of the Hippocratic Oath is, "First, admit no mistakes."


As for NBC, I sent self-described National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen multiple courteous, well-documented e-mails explaining that his report included false and questionable medical recommendations.

Although each time I received prompt confirmations of receipt -- here's the most recent -- I received no further communications from him.


source

Since Rossen was apparently hiding under his desk, I sent a courteous, well-documented e-mail to NBC News Division head Andrew Lack, asking him to jump in.

Page down to read that e-mail, but here are some pulls:
(If Dr. Andersen's) going to appear on national TV as an expert, it's her responsibility to know what she's talking about and it's apparent she failed to adequately prepare. So why give her a pass, meanwhile leaving your audience with incorrect information?
...Based on my experience, if good journalists make an error, they welcome publishing corrections for at least two reasons. One, they want to get it right because they have pride in the accuracy of their reporting. Two, they care about maintaining their audience's trust. Based on Mr. Rossen's silence, apparently none of that matters to him, hence this outreach.
I received this confirmation of receipt but no further communication.


source
But wait, there's more.

Rossen and Billington apparently weren't even paying attention to their own story.

If they had, shouldn't they have noticed this intro clip in the piece?

It shows an officer responding to a choking three-year-old and performing -- yep --a series of back blows, thereby, according to Rossen, "saving the boy's life."




Finally, this historical tie-in, a brief interview with retired Today Show weatherman Frank Field in which explains his crusade to promote the Heimlich maneuver shortly after my father introduced the treatment in 1974:

 




Monday, July 27, 2015

SALF/Melongo update: ABC Atlanta exposes $3m inside job at the CDC -- plus Carol "The Nurse" Spizzirri lawyers up in Chicago

FBI Director James B. Comey presents 2014 Director’s Community Leadership Award to WSB-TV investigative Jodie Fleischer "for her extraordinary contributions to preventing crime and violence in the Atlanta area and throughout the state of Georgia...Ms. Fleischer further demonstrated leadership by coordinating her investigative reporting with investigative efforts of law enforcement, to include the FBI." (source)

On July 15, WSB-TV (Atlanta's ABC affiliate) aired CDC gives millions of tax dollars to shady nonprofit by investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer, the latest chapter in the $9 million Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) scandal and the sweeping federal civil rights lawsuit filed by former SALF employee, Annabel Melongo.



Don't miss the video, but here's the takeaway:
The (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is refusing to answer Channel 2 Action News' questions about a high-ranking employee who served on the board of a now-defunct nonprofit that's been the subject of a series of scandals.

The Save A Life Foundation (SALF) also happened to receive more than $3 million in CDC funding, much of it while that same employee (Doug Browne of Doraville, GA) was serving as the nonprofit's treasurer.

"Save A Life was a fraud, it can't be described as anything but a total fraud," said attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who represents a whistleblower who used to work there.

The nonprofit was based in a Chicago suburb, and in its heyday, claimed to have helped teach more than a million school children various first aid techniques.

But beginning in 2006, a series of investigations by the ABC station in Chicago debunked the nonprofit's founder as a fraud.
Carol Spizzirri had claimed to be a registered nurse in her bio on the SALF website and on various grant applications; but she wasn't. She's also accused of lying about the circumstances of her daughter's tragic accident that was the motivating force behind the creation of SALF.

Screenshot from SALF's now-defunct website -- the correct spelling of Spizzirri's alleged alma mater -- also defunct -- is Mt. Senario College in Ladysmith, Wisconsin

Spizzirri was born Carol Jean Niemann and grew up in Milwaukee where in 1968, according to his 2009 affidavit, she met and married her first husband, the late Gordon T. Pratt, with whom she had three daughters and who divorced her in 1980. About seven years later, she moved to Grayslake, Illinois, with her second husband, David T. Spizzirri, who divorced her in 1993, the year she started SALF.


Around the time the IL Attorney General's investigation was made public, Spizzirri beat feat to San Marcos, California, where she and former SALF executive Scott Anderson co-own a property in a mobile home park at which Spizzirri is vice president of the residents association.

Re: the Melongo lawsuit, as I reported last month, Ms. Bonjean told me, "Carol Spizzirri has been served and I will be filing a motion for default judgement against her."

Here's proof of service from November:

  
Via SALF's year 2000 Annual Report:


Via the print edition of the San Diego Reader:


Click here for the June 16, 2015 motion of default filed against Spizzirri.

Donald J. Angelini, Jr. (source)

That apparently made Spizzirri snap to because about a month later, her Chicago attorney Donald J. Angelini, Jr. filed this motion on her behalf:



As it happens, her lawyer and I have something in common.

Both of our fathers worked the dark side of the street.

Via FBI: Mob boss on tape in McCormick Place case, an April 25, 2010 ABC7 Chicago story by investigative reporter Chuck Goudie who coincidentally (per the Atlanta CDC expose) was responsible for the "series of investigations by the ABC station in Chicago that) debunked (Spizzirri) as a fraud.":
The FBI recorded more than 50 conversations involving Chicago Outfit boss Rudy "The Chin" Fratto during an investigation of alleged bid-rigging at the city's McCormick Place.

...Fratto, 66, the leader of the Mob's Elmwood Park crew according to federal authorities, was indicted with another man last month on charges that he used inside information to score a forklift deal at McCormick Place.

...An attached affidavit from Donald Angelini, Jr., the attorney handling the sweetheart contract case, states that Fratto's defense would be "greatly hampered" if he was imprisoned and couldn't assist in the preparation.
...Angelini Jr. (is the) son of the late Mob bookmaker Don "the Wizard of Odds" Angelini....
Via Donald J. Angelini, Odds Wizard Who Ran Gambling For Chicago Mob by Cam Simpson, a December 8, 2000 obituary published by the Chicago Tribune:
Dubbed the "Wizard of Odds" in the Chicago Outfit, the name organized crime members for decades have given to the city's Mafia faction, (Donald Angelini Sr.) was viewed by authorities as one of the top money makers in Chicago crime syndicate history.

...Mr. Angelini (Sr.) pleaded guilty to federal gambling charges in 1989 and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Angelini (Sr.), along with the late Dominic Cortina, reigned as gambling czar over a $20 million per-year sports betting empire.

Mr. Angelini (Sr.) and his attorney scoffed at the government's figures, but government agents insisted their numbers may even have been conservative.
The Heimlich Institute's notorious "malariotherapy" experiments were the subject of three federal investigations (CDC, FDA, Justice Department), but my pa never did time.

However, via a 2003 Reuters story about vulnerable AIDS patients being infected with malaria, at least one expert thought he deserved to:
"If (Dr.) Heimlich is really doing this, he should be put in jail," said Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group, an AIDS research advocacy organization.
In any event, I don't know how Spizzirri came to choose the younger Angelini to represent her, but of course everyone's entitled to hire any lawyer willing to represent them, be they Rudy "The Chin" or Carol "The Nurse."

Monday, July 20, 2015

My requests to NJ Dept. Of Homeland Security and NJ AG re: Jersey Shore waterpark's cybersecurity breach

source

Via Bamboozled: Breakwater Beach security breach puts hundreds of employee documents online by Karin Price Mueller, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 9, 2015:
Hundreds of documents containing personal information of some employees at Jenkinson's Breakwater Beach Waterpark at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights have been available online to anyone who clicks in the right place, Bamboozled has learned.

The documents include copies of Social Security cards, driver's licenses, birth certificates, passports, student IDs, tax forms, seasonal work agreements, minor consent forms and employment eligibility forms from the Department of Homeland Security.

..."In a word, 'Wow,'" said Mitch Feather of Creative Associates, a Madison-based cybersecurity firm after reviewing the web site. "This is a case that everything is here for somebody to do an impersonation."

...Earlier this week, (Peter) Heimlich checked the Breakwater Beach site...(and) came across the personnel information.

"It couldn't have been easier (to find)" he said.

...We asked Feather, the cybersecurity expert, to take a look at the site before it was shut down.

"The site had exposed a treasure-trove of information," Feather said.

He said anyone could take the documentation and set up loans, health insurance and more, all in a victim's name.

Feather said cyber incidents like these should be reported to the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) at www.cyber.nj.gov/report, or you can email njccic@cyber.nj.gov.
Last week I sent the following identical requests to that agency and to the NJ Attorney General's Division of Consumer Affairs.




Friday, June 26, 2015

Cincinnati schadenfreude: Bad day for anti-gay activists Phil Heimlich (my bro) and his runnin' partners Chris Finney and Phil Burress

screen shot from today's Cincinnati Enquirer










Via Issue 3 was voters' right - City opens defense in gay-rights trial by Sharon Maloney, The Cincinnati Post,  June 23, 1994:
...Issue 3, a charter amendment that repealed the gay-rights section of the city's human-rights ordinance. Issue 3 also prohibited City Council, city boards and commissions from enacting or considering gay-rights legislation in the future.
...Chris Finney, a Greater Cincinnati attorney who wrote the language of Issue 3, said its main intent was "to take away from council the right to pass this (gay rights) kind of legislation and return the right to the people.". He said landlords and employers have the right not to rent to gays or employ gays if they object to their lifestyles.
Via The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War by Dan Gilgoff, 2008, St, Martins Griffin:
 
Via Gay Marriage Case Caps Cincinnati’s Shift From Conservative Past by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in yesterday's New York Times.

In 1992, Cincinnati, under Democratic leadership, adopted a law banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation. Phil Burress, a former union organizer who runs the advocacy group Citizens for Community Values, decided to put a stop to it. From his office in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, Mr. Burress, 73, has spent decades working to stamp out pornography, strip clubs and what he calls “the homosexual agenda.”

In 1993, he mobilized a successful voter initiative to amend the city charter that stated, “No special class status may be granted based upon sexual orientation, conduct or relationships.” It passed with 62 percent of the vote. Known as Article 12, the amendment barred Cincinnati from adopting any kind of law — such as hate crimes legislation or anti-discrimination bills — aimed explicitly at protecting gay people.

...In 2004, Cincinnati voters repealed Article 12, by 54 percent to 46 percent.
From an October 20, 2004 full-page Enquirer ad paid for by Focus on the Family:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My father decries anti-Semitism and touts the scientific method -- meanwhile the Heimlich Institute partners with high-profile "Christ-centered" scouting group that bars Jews from leadership positions and promotes Creationism

Via an item about AHG's annual convention this week in Anderson, Indiana, today through Saturday

Per my June 12 item, I filed a handful of complaints with government and private organizations against the Cincinnati-based American Heritage Girls, a self-described "Christ-centered" alternative to the Girl Scouts of America.

My gripe?

In association with Cincinnati's Heimlich Heroes first aid training program, AHG is apparently teaching thousands of girls around the country to perform abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver) to revive unconscious choking victims.

The treatment is reportedly is not approved by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association and apparently has never been researched.

In other words, Heimlich Heroes and AHG are apparently circulating an experimental medical treatment.

Why?

Dunno. I've sent multiple courteous inquiries to both organizations, but I've never gotten an answer to that question.

What happens if someone gets hurt as a result?

Dunno. Ask their attorneys.

But here's something I do know.

Follow the Heimlich Institute's activities and you're likely to turn up unexpected, often-newsworthy information.

For example, Heimlich's Maneuver's, my father's autobiography published last year by Prometheus Books, has a chapter called "Anti-Semitism" that includes:
(Our community experienced) prejudice that was common in the 1930s. Specifically, prejudice against Jews. In school, Jewish children were sidelined. The principal read Christian prayers during assembly. And in December, many school activities were given a Christmas theme. (We Jews quietly resisted, however. When the class sang Christmas carols, we substituted the name “Moses” for Christ and “Chanukah” for Christmas.)

When I was in my young teens, my mother asked if I would prefer to use a middle name other than Judah. I believe she was attempting to protect me from the harm that might have come from having a Jewish-sounding name. In those days, Jews were denied work and acceptance into college simply because of their faith. I followed my mother’s advice when I was in high school and changed my middle name to “Jay.” (About twenty years ago, I went back to my original name. Today I proudly call myself Henry Judah Heimlich.)

...(It) was rare when I spent time with non-Jews and was not made to feel self-conscious about my religion.
And via Four questions with Dr. Henry Heimlich by staff reporter Barrett Brunsman, Cincinnati Business Courier, February 11, 2014:
BB: Your book notes that you encountered anti-Semitism in college and during your career. Was it significant that the Cincinnati hospital was Jewish?

HJH: It was significant in that Jewish doctors were not taken into non-Jewish hospitals in those days. That's the only place I could possibly be -- in a Jewish hospital. Those days are gone forever, I'm pleased to say.
Discrimination against Jews may have diminished in the medical profession, but it's proudly practiced by the Heimlich Institute's partner organization -- yes -- the American Heritage Girls.

Based on their "statement of faith," any woman who doesn't fit this description is barred from holding leadership positions in the organization.

source

Dedication page of Heimlich's Maneuvers

That means my mother -- daughter of dance studio mogul Moses Teichman, better known as Arthur Murray -- and my aunt Cele would not have been permitted to lead an AHG troop.

source

Same goes for my sisters Elisabeth Heimlich of Cincinnati and Janet Heimlich of Austin, TX, who edited Heimlich's Maneuvers and authored a nonfiction book about religious extremism and founded a related nonprofit intended to prevent kids from being harmed by religious kooks.

But wait, there's more.

Arguably the most prestigious public recognition my father ever received was being awarded the Albert Lasker Award in 1984.

Via the Lasker website:
The Lasker Awards are among the most respected science prizes in the world. Since 1945, the Awards Program has recognized the contributions of scientists, physicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease. Lasker Awards often presage future recognition by the Nobel committee, so they have become popularly known as "America's Nobels." Eighty-six Lasker laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 44 in the last three decades.
Via Heimlich's Maneuvers:
Many people ask me how I came up with (the Heimlich maneuver)...I invented it just as I have all my other techniques and devices -- that is, through scientific research.
Via AHG's website, here's their approach to science:



Who's the knucklehead responsible for the Heimlich Institute's decision to partner with an organization that wouldn't permit members of Dr. Heimlich's own family to hold positions of authority and whose approach to science is based on the book of Genesis?

Dunno. Ask them.

Terri Huntington (who runs Heimlich Heroes) and my father at a book-signing event last year for his memoir, Heimlich's Maneuvers


FYI, I provided Terri Huntington of Heimlich Heroes and AHG founder/executive director Patti Garibay with the opportunity to comment for this item.

I haven't receive a reply from either, but if they or another representative of their organizations wish to submit a response, they can click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Melongo civil rights case update, Part II: Her attorney: "Carol Spizzirri has been served and I will be filing a motion for default judgement against her"

Once a self-described guardian of our nation, now governing a San Marcos, CA, mobile home park and a key defendant in the Melongo case, Carol J. Spizzirri was the subject of a blistering 2010 San Diego Reader expose by veteran reporter Don Bauder

In Part I, I reported that, in response to motions to dismiss filed by defendants (including IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Sheriff, and a Schiller Park cop), federal judge John Z. Lee issued a June 9 order allowing Annabel Melongo's wide-ranging civil rights case to move forward.

source

Here's what Ms. Melongo's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean (who practices in Illinois and New York), wrote me in a June 10 e-mail response to my request for a reaction comment:
We are very pleased with the court's order. The take away is that none of the defendants, including the prosecutors, have been released at this juncture. This means that all the named defendants have to participate in discovery which will allow us to determine how this travesty of justice happened and who is fundamentally responsible. Carol Spizzirri has been served and I will be filing a motion for default judgement against her.
Via Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute:
In civil actions in federal court, either party may make a pre-trial motion for summary judgment. To succeed in a motion for summary judgment, a movant must show 1) that there are no disputed material issues of fact, and 2) that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

When considering motions for summary judgment, judges view all evidence in the light most favorable to the movant's opponent. As used here, "material issues of fact" refers to any facts that could allow a fact-finder to decide against the movant. If the motion is granted, there will be no trial. The judge will immediately enter judgment for the movant.
Click here for my compilation of media reports about the Melongo case. See my previous item for Judge Lee's concise telling of what Bonjean called "this travesty of justice."

Click here for my compilation of media reports about Spizzirri and her tainted, now-defunct Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) first aid training nonprofit, reportedly the target of an ongoing investigation for the "possible $9 million misappropriation" of federal and state funds being conducted by -- wait for it -- the office of Spizzirri's co-defendant in the lawsuit, IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

FYI, for about a decade my father was SALF's "medical adviser" and he had an affectionate relationship with Spizzirri until her group reportedly canned him in 2007.

ONE LAST THRILL: Spizzirri and my then 84-year-old pa perhaps doing a demonstration of mouth-to-mouth CPR at the 2005 U.S. Conference of Mayors annual conference, Washington, D.C. (video here)