Thursday, December 15, 2011

The White House gives me a four-month runaround re: whether President Obama was "close" to tainted IL charity

This a belated follow-up to my July item, Was Senator Barack Obama "close" to a Chicago nonprofit that's now under state & federal investigations? I've asked the White House.

The idea was to try and verify a thin claim published by the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) and by the Huffington Post that, when he served as an IL state senator and as a member of the US Senate, President Obama was a supporter of SALF.

As Sidebar readers know, SALF was a high-flying, politically-connected Chicago-area nonprofit whose wings got clipped in November 2006, when ABC Chicago aired the first of four exposes by I-Team reporter Chuck Goudie. Since then, SALF has been the subject of dozens more critical media reports.

Per The Hill and other news outlets, SALF is being investigated by the IL Attorney General. Per my blog, an executive at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who moonlighted as SALF's Corporate Treasurer is under review by the CDC - and my congressman, Rob Woodall, is asking questions. There's about $9 million in IL state and federal dollars that may have gone bye-bye

Better yet, there's plenty of sordid human drama centering around SALF's founder/president, Carol J. Spizzirri, a special friend to plenty of politicos and, from the looks of this photo, a dear friend of my parents.

SALF's Carol J. Spizzirri, my father & my mother (sitting)

Back to President Obama, to my knowledge, here's the only published document that mentions him, a 2006 SALF press release:

Like I said, that's wafer-thin evidence, but I figured I'd toss a couple softball questions at the White House and see what happened. Even a denial would give me a cheap headline, à la:
"White House denies claims that President was 'close' to tainted nonprofit"
Truth be told, I assumed I'd simply be ignored. In hindsight, I think I'd have preferred that. 

White House Deputy Press Secretaries Jamie Smith and Josh Earnest (source:

Per the correspondence posted below, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jamie Smith wasted hours of my time - and hers - by leading me on a four-month wild goose chase of endless back & forth e-mails. 

Her challenge? To field this pair of slow-motion grounders I tossed at her:
1) Per a Huffington Post article, is it accurate to say that "Barack Obama was close to the Save-A-Life Foundation"? If not, please explain.
2) According to a February 27, 2006 press release:

Save A Life Foundation (SALF) President and Founder Carol Spizzirri recently spoke with U.S. Senator Barack Obama...regarding SALF’s future lifesaving efforts....While in the Illinois legislature together, Obama and current Illinois Senate President Emil Jones were always supportive of SALF’s efforts to train Illinois schoolchildren in life-sustaining skills for free.
Are any parts of the above sentences inaccurate? If so, please explain.
It started off great. White House Deputy Press Secretary Smith promptly agreed to answer my questions.

Cheap headline, here I come!

For the next couple of months, I politely sent follow-up nudges and she promptly sent follow-up replies assuring me that she was working on getting my answers. (Look, I'm aware that I'm a cloutless blogger so I was willing to be patient.)

Then she pulled this 180:
I regret to inform you that we will not be able to accommodate your request.
WTF? Did a White House Deputy Press Secretary just broke what I consider to be Rule Three for every media rep?
Don't make promises you can't keep. 
Based on this memo from her boss Jay Carney (via Lynn Sweet's Chicago Sun-Times column), I'd assumed I was dealing with a pro:
Jamie Smith will join the White House Communications team as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. In addition to serving as an on-the-record spokesperson for the White House, she will manage the day-to-day operations of our office. An experienced and well-regarded manager and communicator, Jamie is currently Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Before that, she was Communications Director for U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV when he was Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and then Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Smith also served as Traveling Press Director for the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, Communications Director for former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and The Albright Group, and Legislative Aide to Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.
Those sounded like high-class gigs and quite a few for such a young woman to have held, so I kept my cool and played this hand:
On my blog this week, I intend to report this (more or less) as "White House refuses to answer questions about President Obama's past ties to tainted Illinois nonprofit under federal and state investigations."

If you wish to dispute that characterization, would you please get back to me by the end of today?
Less than an hour later, to my surprise, she put the ball back in play!
Thanks for your reply back. If you can give me a few more days on this, I would appreciate it.
Will respond by week's end.
But those assurances led to - yeah, you guessed it - another two months of phony promises, a family sob story, and then White House Deputy Press Secretary Smith vanished.

I think I know why she's held so many jobs.

But just as bad as wasting my time, she broke Rule Two:
Protect the boss.
That is, now, thanks to her - along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin - that makes three prominent Democrats from Illinois who appear to hiding from questions about their relationships with SALF.

Which in my book constitutes a clear cut violation of Rule One:
Get in front of the problem.
Especially with election season just 'round the bend.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cincinnati charity for indigent Africans gives award to my father, who conducted medical atrocity experiments on African AIDS patients

NuWay Foundation founder/chair Evans Nwankwo and his wife Catherine present NuWay Foundation "International Bridge" award to my father; on the right is event emcee Liz Bonis

From the website of Cincinnati's NuWay Foundation, which aims to better the lives of underprivileged Nigerians:

Here's what caught my eye:


More about the honoree via a Sunday front page story in the February 16, 2003 Cincinnati Enquirer:
(Dr. Heimlich's) experiments - which seek to destroy HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, by inducing high malarial fevers- have been criticized by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration and condemned by other health professionals and human rights advocates as a medical "atrocity."
...For years, Dr. Heimlich has been criticized by state, federal and international health organizations over malariotherapy. Despite this, Heimlich proudly continues his work in China and says he wants to expand malariotherapy to Africa.
And expand it he did. From Radar Magazine, November 11, 2005
Mekbib Wondewossen is an Ethiopian immigrant who makes his living renting out cars in the San Francisco area, but in his spare time he works for Dr. Heimlich, doing everything from "recruiting the patients to working with the doctors here and there and everywhere," Wondewossen says. The two countries he names are Ethiopia and the small equatorial nation of Gabon, on Africa's west coast.

"The Heimlich Institute is part of the work there - the main people, actually, in the research," Wondewossen says. "They're the ones who consult with us on everything. They tell us what to do...We go to an epidemic area where there is a lot of malaria, and then we look for patients that have HIV too. We find commercial sex workers or people who play around in that area."

...Wondewossen say that the researchers involved in the study are not doctors. He refuses to name members of the research team, because he says it would get them into trouble with the local authorities. "The government over there is a bad government," he says. "They can make you disappear."

...He scoffs at the question of whether his team got approval to conduct this research from a local ethics review board. Bribery on that scale, he says, is much too expensive: "If you want the government to get involved there, you have to give them a few million - and then they don't care what you do."
Here's a clip about the "malariotherapy" experiments from the June 8, 2007 ABC 20/20 by Brian Ross, Is Dr. Heimlich really a savior?, featuring interviews with National Institutes of Health Director Anthony Fauci MD and my brother Phil, longtime second-in-command at Cincinnati's Heimlich Institute, which funded and oversaw the "malariotherapy" experiments:

Were Evans Nwonkwo and the other members of the NuWay Foundation board - some of Cincinnati's most prominent citizens - unaware of these and the many other media reports about the Heimlich atrocity experiments?

Were they were unaware that just a few years ago, when Victoria Wulsin ran for Congress, her work for my father and brother's Institute helped upend her campaign? In addition to media reports, including ABC News, Dr. Wulsin was hammered from the primary through the general election in these TV spots, perhaps the first time violative human subjects research was part of a political race.

Dangerous experiments: a cover-up- OH 2nd District campaign spot by Steve Black for Congress, Democratic primary, Spring 2008

Not exactly your good doctor - OH 2nd District campaign spot by Re-Elect Jean Schmidt to Congress, general election, Fall 2008

In an attempt to learn more, I sent these inquiries to Mr. Nwonkwo. I received a confirmation of receipt, but no response from him or any other representatives of his organization:

Finally, from the LinkedIn page of the emcee of the NuWay fundraiser:

My brother Phil Heimlich and NuWay Foundation Director Benjamin Nwankwo at the gala (source)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My interview on Dr. Joe Schwarcz's Montreal radio show, November 20, 2011

From his McGill bio:

Joe Schwarcz (PhD McGill 1973) is Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, a unique enterprise with a mandate of demystifying science for the public, the media and students..."Dr. Joe" has appeared hundreds of times on the Canadian Discovery Channel, TV Ontario, Global Television, CBC-TV, CTV-TV and various radio stations. He hosts the "Dr. Joe Show" on Montreal's CJAD every Sunday from 3-4 PM.

seg. 1: The disclosure of a family secret leads me into researching my father's career

seg. 2: Coming to grips with my father's dangerous medical claims; the "Patrick maneuver"

seg. 3: Failure of the medical profession to police itself; bogus drowning case reports involving the use of the Heimlich maneuver; my criticism of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

seg. 4: My decision to blow the whistle on my father's frauds; reactions of family members; my father won't defend his work

seg. 5: My father's 1976 firing by Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital; more PCRM critique; my father used beagles to develop the Heimlich maneuver

Monday, November 21, 2011

Westchester NY Health Commish & IL State Education Chief Gery Chico say Save-A-Life Foundation falsely listed them as board members, so I notified the Illinois Attorney General

SALF executives Rita Mullins (straw hat) & Carol Spizzirri (black pants suit) and US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (turquoise shirt), Punjabi Sports Festival, Chicago, July 15, 2007 (source)

From Possible Charity Scam by Sophia Beausoleil, WCIA News, Champaign, IL:
According to the Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, the Save a Life Foundation (SALF) closed it's doors Sept., 2009.  Whenever a non-profit shuts down, the state does an investigation, but over the summer the state received complaints and documents questioning the organizations handling of finances. A representative for the Attorney General's office said they are looking into the organizations charitable contributions and assets.
Here's more for the Attorney General to look into, a letter I e-mailed today (slightly revised for clarity).


November 21, 2011

Barry Goldberg
Assistant Illinois Attorney General
Charitable Trust Bureau
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Assistant Attorney General Goldberg:

This is to request that, in addition to the previous information I've provided to you, that you include the following information in your office’s investigation of the Save-A-Life Foundation Inc. (SALF).

According to a November 19, 2011 article by Theresa Juva-Brown published in the Westchester, NY, Journal News, New Westchester health chief Sherlita Amler brings experience from Arkansas to Putnam:
(Dr.) Amler graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, moved to New Orleans for a residency in pediatrics and eventually landed at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

...When she and her husband worked for federal health agencies, they had ties to the Save A Life Foundation, a charity in Illinois that taught first-aid skills to children. The foundation, which received millions in federal grant money, was discredited after a 2006 television news investigation revealed that its founder, Carol Spizzirri, lied about being a registered nurse, the circumstances of her daughter’s fatal car crash (the reason the foundation was created) and the number of children it had trained.

Amler said the CDC assigned her to advise the group on how to measure whether its teaching was effective. After she found out in 2008 that she was listed on SALF’s website as a board member, she called the organization to take off her name.

“I had nothing to do with their board,” she said.
The following is a screen capture from SALF's now-defunct website, still available via an online cache. According to that service, this information was posted on SALF's website from at least June 30, 2007 - May 11, 2008: 

Please also see these pages from SALF's Annual Corporate Reports which, based on the Journal News report, falsely claim that Dr. Amler served on the organization's Medical Advisory Board from 2005-08.

2005-08 Save-A-Life Foundation Annual Reports list Dr. Sherlita Amler as a board member

Further, you'll recall my letter of February 19, 2011 in which I brought to your attention another apparently problematic claim by SALF, that Gery J. Chico (now Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education) served as a member of the organization's National Board of Directors. As I informed you in that letter, Mr. Chico has denied that claim.

Per a November 10, 2011 article by reporter Emily Coleman and published in the Sauk Valley Telegraph, Mr. Chico reiterated his position that SALF falsely claimed he served on the organization's board. The article also includes:
“I think if there’s probable cause for wrongdoing, especially if it involves public money, there ought to be an investigation, sure,” Chico said.
The examples of Dr. Amler and Mr. Chico raise reasonable concerns about potential misrepresentations of other individuals SALF claimed as board members. Presumably such questions may be resolved by Rita Mullins, former mayor of Palatine, IL, for 20 years, who according to SALF's IRS tax returns served as the organization's Vice-Chairwoman and Corporate Secretary from 2004-08.
Rita Mullins listed as corporate officer on Save-A-Life Foundation's IRS tax returns, 1/1/04-6/30/08

Here's a screen capture from today via

Thank you for your ongoing attention to this matter.


Peter M. Heimlich
Ph: (208)474-7283


blog: The Sidebar


The Hon. Rob Woodall, United States House of Representatives
The Hon. Tim Bivins, IL State Senate
Gery J. Chico, Chairman, IL State Board of Education
Sherlita Amler MD, Health Commissioner, Westchester County, NY
Theresa Juva-Brown, Journal News
Emily K. Coleman, Sauk Valley Telegraph
Robyn Ziegler, Press Secretary, Office of the Illinois Attorney General

From now-defunct "Re-Elect Rita Mullins" website (2009)

Monday, November 14, 2011

While Arne Duncan & Dick Durbin hide, my congressman Rob Woodall is asking about million$ the CDC awarded to a tainted Illinois nonprofit whose Corporate Treasurer was - ouch! - a top executive at the Atlanta agency

Rep. Rob Woodall (holding copies of SALF documents I handed to him), Town Hall, Suwanee, GA, 11/5/11

A freshman Republican congressman from Georgia is asking questions about a developing Illinois scandal that involves two of the biggest players in the national Democratic party.

Sidebar regulars know that the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) was a high-flying nonprofit that, according to the Chicago Tribune, was awarded nearly $9 million in federal and state funds to provide first aid training classes to millions of students.

Among other problems, records of any training classes are hard to come by.

IL State Sen. Tim Bivins
Last week an Illinois daily reported that State Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) and State Board of Education chairman Gery Chico want "investigations and audits of (SALF)":
“Where’s our money going?” Bivins said. “Where’s our tax dollars going? Where did it go?... As taxpayers, we have a right to know where the money’s going.”
...Chico agreed.
"I think if there’s probable cause for wrongdoing, especially if it involves public money, there ought to be an investigation, sure,” Chico said.
That prospect doesn't seem to appeal to this pair of officials who helped SALF obtain big bucks: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. Click their names and you'll see what I mean.

Back in the day, both spared no praise or support for the organization and its founder/president, Carol J. Spizzirri. Duncan called her "one of my heroes." Durbin told a CNN reporter, "I would do everything I could to help her."

Spizzirri, reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter whose teenage daughter filed a protective order against her mother, is also prone to exaggeration. For instance, per this eye-popping 2006 I-Team report by ABC Chicago, she claimed nonexistent medical credentials, a bogus college degree, and even fabricated stories about her own child's death to gin up funds for her organization.

After dozens more media exposes, you'd think the elected officials who handed SALF millions of public dollars might want to assure taxpayers that their money didn't go down the you-know-where.

Think again. Despite his calls for oversight, Bivins wrote me, "There is little or no interest in pursuing an investigation of SALF in Illinois."

Such incuriousity may be attributable to SALF's connections to scores of public officials up and down the Prairie State's political food chain.

Click here for pages of photos of some of those worthies posing with SALF founder/president Carol Spizzirri and her second-in-command, Rita Mullins, former 20-year mayor of Palatine, IL.

Here are the gal pals of SALF enjoying themselves at a wedding shower last year for Spizzirri's daughter, Ciprina. Since then, Mama Spizzirri has reportedly relocated from Grayslake, IL, to a mobile home park in San Marcos, California.

Carol J. Spizzirri & Rita Mullins, Spring 2010
SALF's Carol J. Spizzirri & Rita Mullins

As Sen. Bivins wrote me, "It's going to take someone from outside Illinois to expose the SALF scandal."

That someone may turn out to be my congressman, Rob Woodall, (R-GA, 7th District).

This week, Rep. Woodall wrote me that since July he's been asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about $3.33 million that agency awarded to SALF.

According to sworn grant applications and financial reports SALF submitted to the CDC (which I obtained via FOIA), a good chunk of that dough was supposed to be used by SALF to provide first aid training classes for many thousands of students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other districts.

During most of those years, Arne Duncan was in charge of CPS and had a close relationship with Spizzirri and her operation. He even appeared as a cartoon character on SALF's website:

Here's one problem. In response to a federal court subpoena and public records requests, CPS can't locate any training records.

So where'd the CDC money go?

In addition to Duncan, one person who should know the answer to that question is Douglas Browne who, according to an October article in The Hill, "served as (SALF's) corporate treasurer from 2004 to 2009."

Per The Hill, during those same years Browne was also - can you say conflict of interest? - a Deputy Director at the CDC. From SALF's 2006-07 Annual Report:

Via The Hill:
(Congressional candidate Tim)Bagwell sent an 8-page letter to Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson on Monday requesting that the office "review and determine" whether $3.3 million awarded to the Save-A-Life Foundation were "properly administered."

...Bagwell also wants the inspector general to review the relationship between the nonprofit and CDC Deputy Director Douglas Browne, who served as the nonprofit's corporate treasurer from 2004 to 2009.
That resulted in this:

At the beginning of the summer, I spent a frustrating month trying to get answers from the CDC about the status of the IG's request "for further review and appropriate administrative action" about Browne's role.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD MPH

After being sandbagged by three CDC departments, including the office of Director Tom Frieden, I wrote congressman Woodall and requested his assistance.

Last Saturday Rep. Woodall hosted a local Town Hall meeting at which I took the opportunity to reiterate my concerns. A few days later, he sent me this. (To download a copy, click here.)

Per the congressman's letter, there's more to come, so keep reading The Sidebar for updates.

Rep. Rob Woodall

In the meantime, I encourage readers to write your own congressional representative, share a link to this item, and request that s/he send a letter of support to Rep. Woodall for his willingness to take a closer look at this rat's nest.

If you do, feel free to e-mail copies to me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Philly paper picks up my item about anti-gay political consultant's phantom clients: Campaign Solutions scrubs their website, PCRM isn't talking

left to right: unknown man, Karl Rove, Chris Margaronis, Anthony Bellotti

Campaign Solutions is a high-powered DC outfit that puts together big money political campaigns for anti-gay rights candidates and anti-gay rights ballot measures.

As I reported last month, although they're not keen on civil rights for gay people, Campaign Solutions staffer Anthony Bellotti claimed to represent these three nonprofits that promote the rights of animals: Animal Protection of New Mexico; the American Anti-Vivisection Society; and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Per my follow-up, the New Mexico group informed me they were never clients of Campaign Solutions.

Now the Anti-Vivisection organization has denied that they were ever a client.

A couple days ago, the Philadelphia Gay News picked up the story, moved the ball forward, and - thank you very much - gave yours truly some ink.

From Antigay consulting firm cites, withdraws animal-rights clients by PGN staff reporter Jen Colletta:
A staffer at a consulting firm known nationally for its work on behalf of a number of conservative, often antigay, politicians and initiatives, has purported to have a client list that includes a number of animal-advocacy groups, including one in the Philadelphia area - a connection the animal group denies and that has since been removed from the firm’s website.

Campaign Solutions has worked on campaigns for Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and the Virginia-based organization also helped promote Yes on 8, the successful California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

...Blogger Peter Heimlich wrote about the seeming disconnect between support for animal rights and for restricting LGBT rights on his blog, The Sidebar
“On their website, Campaign Solutions proudly claimed to represent organizations dedicated to improving the lives of our four-footed friends, meanwhile cooking up high-profile political campaigns to restrict the civil rights of human beings because they’re gay,” he said.

...“After I reported the story on my blog, client names and other information started vanishing from their website,” Heimlich said. “When I asked company president Becki Donatelli if she or Anthony Bellotti wanted to explain, she politely declined.”

Sue Leary, president of AAVS, told PGN her organization accepted free advice from a contributor, who works for Campaign Solutions, but said her agency is not currently and never was a client of Bellotti’s or Campaign Solutions.

Donatelli did not respond to a request for comment last week from PGN.

Last weekend, however, all mention of the animal-advocacy groups, as well as the antigay agencies, were removed from Bellotti’s profile.
In other words, one of the country's top political consulting shops appears to have falsely claimed that at least two organizations were clients.

Here's a screen shot taken on October 18, the day my first item ran:

Here's a shot of the same page today sans the animal rights clients and his "highly regarded" anti-gay rights campaigns:

Courtesy of, a free online tool that monitors web pages, this shot shows last weekend's alterations:

Hey, wait a minute. What about PCRM, unquestionably the highest-profile of the three animal rights groups? Are they now or have they ever been clients of Campaign Solutions? Does it matter?

Based on this e-mail I received from Pattrice Jones, a writer who advocates for animal rights and for civil rights for gay people, she sure seems to think it's important:
First, let me vouch for both AAVS (with which I have worked concerning genetic engineering of animals) and PCRM (with which I have worked concerning the globalization of unhealthy Western diets), as organizations staffed and managed by persons who are committed to social justice. I assume that they have been disgusted to learn that they have been doing business with a company that also fosters homophobia.
My guess is that both of these organizations would be willing to make a statement condemning homophobia and/or eventually divest themselves from association with that company.
Per the Philly Gay News, guess again:
PCRM did not respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My request to the IL Senate committee interviewing Gery Chico tomorrow about the Save-A-Life Foundation: Ask him if he supports an investigation by the Chicago Schools Inspector General

Gery Chico & Carol Spizzirri promote the Save-A-Life Foundation on Chicago TV (undated, likely 2003)

The Hon. Antonio Muñoz, Chairman
The Hon. Tim Bivins, Minority Spokesman
Illinois Senate Executive Appointments Committee

Dear Senators Muñoz and Bivins:

In June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported:
Former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico’s appointment as chairman of the state Board of Education hit a snag Wednesday amid GOP questions over his ties to a now-defunct non-profit organization.

Based on issues raised by a Texas blogger, Senate Republicans put the brakes on Quinn’s appointment, asking that Chico personally appear before a Senate panel to explain his relationship with Save A Life Foundation, a charity that is undergoing a probe within Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.
“To me, this is the biggest non-event there could be,” Chico said when asked about the wrinkle in his confirmation. “I’m happy to come down there and answer any questions.”
According to the senate website, Mr. Chico is appearing before your committee tomorrow morning. This is to request that today you review and share this information with your fellow committee members.

This is also to request that at tomorrow's hearing Mr. Chico be asked this question:
Do you think the Chicago Public Schools Inspector General should investigate whether $62,000 paid by the schools to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) was properly administered?
Here's why.

First, according to this April 24, 2003 press release, Sunny Chico (who's identified as "a member of SALF's Educational Advisory Board") stated: 
My husband Gery (former President, Chicago Board of Ed.) was instrumental in bringing SALF to the Chicago Public Schools....

According to a November 2006 ABC Chicago I-Team report by Chuck Goudie (emphasis added):
One of Illinois' highest profile charities teaches the Heimlich maneuver to children while maneuvering the truth to get money from government and big business.

It's called the Save-A-Life Foundation and is known across Illinois as an organization that teaches schoolchildren how to respond in emergencies. For the past few years, Save-A-Life has received millions of dollars in government funds and corporate donations. An ABC7 I-Team investigation has uncovered a series of misleading claims and deceptive credentials that raise doubts about Save-A-Life's integrity, funding and training. 

Save-A-Life officials say they have taught the Heimlich maneuver and other first aid techniques to more than 1 million schoolchildren since 1995. They claim to have taught nearly 70,000 children how to save a life in the Chicago Public Schools this year alone. 

..."It's free to the children. We bring this course to schools for free," Spizzirri said.
But it wasn't free to the Chicago Public Schools, where officials say Save-A-Life charged them $50,000 the past two years.
Schools CEO Arnie (sic) Duncan says it seems unlikely that Carol Spizzirri's organization could have taught the number of students they claim....
From the October 11, 2009 Chicago Tribune:  
(Carol) Spizzirri launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children emergency response techniques, raising at least $8.6 million in federal and state grants for her Save-A-Life Foundation. Firefighters and paramedics were recruited to offer instruction on how to apply CPR and stop bleeding and choking, said Spizzirri, who estimates 2 million children took the classes, many of them from the Chicago Public Schools.
From SALF's website, here's a list of hundreds of Chicago Schools where the organization claimed to have provided first aid training classes:

As any parent knows, every school activity generates paperwork. An extracurricular program of this nature using outside employees (firefighters and paramedics) would undoubtedly produce mountains of documents: student and teacher schedules, training materials, employee records, evaluations, and much more.

But in response to a federal court subpoena (filed by my attorney in Save-A-Life Foundation v. Baratz) and public records requests, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have failed to produce records for any training classes.

The only records CPS produced are a handful of SALF press releases and these 22 invoices showing that from 2000-2007, CPS paid SALF about $62,000:

Chicago Schools Inspector General James M. Sullivan informed me that his office had no statute of limitations re: investigating potential vendor fraud, so in January I submitted this request asking that he determine whether the $62,000 was properly administered:

Per the above information and the documentation below my signature, Mr. Chico (and his wife) were associated with and promoted SALF both during and after his years on the Chicago School Board. In my opinion, it should be him, not me, asking IG Sullivan to investigate SALF. If he's unwilling to assume that minimal degree of responsibility, it's unclear why your committee would entrust him to head the State Board of Education.

Therefore, to reiterate, at your hearing tomorrow I hope you'll take the opportunity to ask Mr. Chico this question: 
Do you think the Chicago Public Schools Inspector General should investigate whether $62,000 paid by the schools to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) was properly administered?
Finally, records indicate members of your committee were associated with SALF. I'm unfamiliar with your protocol, but it may be appropriate to disclose the details at tomorrow's hearing. 

Thanks for your time and consideration. If you have any questions or would like additional supporting documentation, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Peter M. Heimlich
website: MedFraud
blog: The Sidebar

Meeting at which Gery Chico and other members of the Chicago Board of Education invited SALF into the schools (undated, probably late 1999):

(1:00) Spizzirri credits IL Sen. Walter Dudcyz for arranging a $600,000 Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) grant "to bring this program to the schools of Chicago." Click here for a copy of the grant.

(1:20) Spizzirri: "We've trained over 5000 children since October in schools throughout the city. We have an additional one to 43,000 children to train by the end of June."

(4:30) Gery Chico indicates he's impressed with her claims.

(5:45) Spizzirri: "(My daughter) bled to death before the paramedics arrived." From Chuck Goudie's 2006 ABC7 report: 
But even that isn't true, according to police and hospital reports and an inquest by the Lake County coroner. The official record states that 18-year-old Christina Spizzirri was legally drunk at the time of the accident; and that after hosting a drinking party while her mother was vacationing in Florida, the teenager got behind the wheel and flipped her own car.
Police records show there was no hit-and-run, and even though the local police didn't know emergency first aid, the teenager did not die at the scene as Carol Spizzirri contends. Medical records state that Christina died 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
(8:30) Former SALF board member Carlos Azcoitia PhD appears. Recently when asked if SALF should be investigated, Dr. Azcoitia, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Northeastern Illinois University wrote, " I agree that if there is any suspicion of financial impropriety, it should be investigated thoroughly." Click here for a copy of his e-mail.

(9:00) Chico: "I don't think we can afford to do anything but do this (SALF program).

May 26, 1999 Chicago School Board Resolution signed by Gery Chico & Paul Vallas claiming SALF had trained many thousands of CPS students:

In 2002, Chico was listed as a member of a SALF committee that produced a Pre-EMS White Paper:

The next year:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

PCRM "research expert" denounces use of animals in any medical research as "a fraud" - but he and his organization praise the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver and "Heimlich operation," both developed using dogs

From today's South End, the student newspaper of Wayne State University in Detroit:
Dr. John Pippin, director of academic affairs for PCRM (the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), said the group’s interest is scientifically and medically based.
...PCRM is opposed to and seeks to ban the use of animals in medical research in all forms, Pippin said, because such research is “a fraud.”
From A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation by John J. Pippin MD FACC et al, published in 2006 by the Medical Research Modernization Committee:

"Relied exclusively on human clinical investigation"?

PCRM's research expert apparently didn't do his research.

From Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary by Henry J. Heimlich MD, Emergency Medicine, June 1974, the first published article about what came to be called "the Heimlich maneuver":
The procedure is adapted from experimental work with four 38-pound beagles...After being given an intravenous anesthetic, each dog was "strangled" with a size 32 cuffed endotracheal tube inserted into the larynx and capped. After the cuff was distended to create total obstruction of the trachea, the animal went into immediate respiratory distress as evidenced by spasmodic, paradoxical respiratory movement of the chest and diaphragm. At this point, with a sudden thrust, I pressed my hand deeply and firmly into the abdomen of the animal a short distance below the rib cage, thereby pushing upward on the disphragm. The endotracheal tube popped out of the trachea and, after several labored respirations, the animal began to breath normally.

...We repeated the experiment more than 20 times on each animal with the same excellent results When a bolus of raw hamburger was substituted for the endotracheal tube, it, too, was ejected by the same procedure, always after one or two compressions.
From The Use of a Gastric Tube to Replace of By-pass the Esophagus by Henry J. Heimlich MD and James M. Winfield MD, Surgery, April 1955:
Eight adult mongrel dogs were used...The dogs were given nothing by mouth for twenty-four hours before operation....The abdomen and chest were shaved.

...Dog No. 1 (Operation Dec. 7, 1953). - This operation was performed through separate abdominal and chest incisions. Ten centimeters of esophagus was resected and the gastric tube brought through the esophageal hiatus. The dog survived three weeks on gradually increasing amounts of food. It was eating adequate amounts of soft solids by the end of the second week. On Dec. 26, 1953, it was noted to have a white froth around the mouth. On Dec. 28, 1953, it was found dead in its cage.
...Dog No. 2 (Operation Jan. 11, 1954). - The possibility of the gastric tube surviving nourished only by its intrinsic blood supply was considered. The operation was performed with ligation of the left gastroepiploic vessels and no splenectomy. The animal gradually deteriorated and died on Jan. 14, 1954, three days postoperatively. 

...Dog No. 3 (Operation Jan. 18, 1954). - The esophagus was divided and not resected. Its lower end was closed...For two days the animal vomited gastric juice. It appeared well on the third day. On the fourth day postoperatively, small amounts of fluids were taken. Approximately 200 c.c. was swallowed without difficulty, but vomiting occurred in thirty minutes. On the fifth day it was found dead.

...Dog No. 4 (Operation Jan. 25; 1954). - The dog died on the operating table during the procedure.

Dog No. 5...The dog did well for two days, taking fluids on the second day. On the third day it had a convulsion and died. 

...Dog. No. 8 (Operation March 4, 1954). - The procedure, as described in the text, was performed through separate abdominal and chest incisions....(Two months after the operation) the animal was obviously healthy and eating as a normal dog. It was therefore sacrificed.
From April 7, 2005 press release, National Medical Group Creates Award In Honor of Henry Heimlich,
“Dr. Henry Heimlich’s vision and incredible creativity are responsible for medical advances that have saved tens of thousands of lives,” said PCRM president and founder Neal Barnard, M.D. “He is the embodiment of innovation, compassion, and getting the job done. His work has inspired researchers and medical students to break convention, think creatively, and focus on what counts: saving lives.”

PCRM's Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Today the Canadian Red Cross made a major update in their choking rescue guidelines. Why are they acting like they're trying to keep it a secret from the media and the public?

Over the past couple of decades, if you came upon a choking child or adult, the Canadian Red Cross recommended that you perform a series of abdominal thrusts (aka the Heimlich maneuver).

As I reported in August (and today it became official), the CRC has updated its first aid training guidelines. They now recommend first performing a series of back blows. If that fails to remove the obstruction, rescuers are instructed to proceed with abdominal thrusts.

This information might make the difference between life and death or help prevent a choking victim from suffering brain damage.

But don't expect to read about it in the press or see the story on TV. The CRC wrote me that they have no intention of sending out a press release.

Here's another question. Five years ago, the American Red Cross made the same update. What took the CRC so long to catch up?

I've sent multiple inquiries to CRC officials, including  Conrad Sauvé, who heads the organization. I can't get him or anyone else to answer those questions. (See below for the correspondence.)

So at the moment, it appears the only way the public is able to obtain this potentially lifesaving information is by paying for a CRC training class - $160 according to this website - or by reading The Sidebar.

This item has been slightly updated for clarity.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Caught fibbing, top anti-gay campaign consultant scrubs NewMex animal rights "client" from their site; meanwhile DC & PA pro-animal clients seem to be playing ostrich

The item was about Campaign Solutions, a company that puts together big money political campaigns for anti-gay rights candidates like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and anti-gay rights ballot measures including California's Yes on Prop. 8.

As I reported, although they're apparently not keen on civil rights for gay people, Campaign Solutions claimed to represent three organizations that promote the rights of animals.

Oops. Make that two organizations.

The day after my item ran, in search of reaction comments, I e-mailed the three groups: Animal Protection of New Mexico, the American Anti-Vivisection Society of Jenkintown, PA, and the DC-area Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

So far I've only gotten one reply, but it was same-day pronto:

According to an e-mail I received later that day from Ms. Jennings, "I will be contacting (Campaign Solutions) and asking them to correct their site."

Looks like they did.

Campaign Solutions boy wonder Anthony Bellotti proudly puts together some of the company's highest profile campaigns to limit civil rights for gay Americans. Here's his web page before my item ran:

The day after I received Elisabeth Jennings's e-mail, her organization disappeared from boy wonder's web page:

I asked Rebecca "Becki" Donatelli, president of Campaign Solutions (and arguably one of the most influential voices in Republican politics), if she or boy wonder wanted to comment.

Rebecca Donatelli

Her reply:

What about her company's other animal rights clients, the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)?

Radio silence so far.

I did, however, receive an October 24 e-mail from Pattrice Jones, a writer who advocates for animal rights and for civil rights for gay people. She was one of five like-minded activists I copied on my inquiries to AAVS and PCRM.

Pattrice Jones (source)

She wrote:
First, let me vouch for both AAVS (with which I have worked concerning genetic engineering of animals) and PCRM (with which I have worked concerning the globalization of unhealthy Western diets), as organizations staffed and managed by persons who are committed to social justice. I assume that they have been disgusted to learn that they have been doing business with a company that also fosters homophobia.
My guess is that both of these organizations would be willing to make a statement condemning homophobia and/or eventually divest themselves from association with that company. However, I also understand that they may need some lead time to make such a move.
Perhaps they should consider hiring Ms. Jennings of Animal Protection of New Mexico? Now there's someone who doesn't need much lead time to make a move.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whistleblower Annabel Melongo thanks bloggers (including me) who have reported about her case

Subject: Thanks
From: Annabel Melongo <>
Date: 10/24/2011 11:50 PM

Jason Haap, The Cincinnati Beacon
Lee Cary, The American Thinker
Peter M. Heimlich, The Sidebar
Stephen Lendman, The Stephen Lendman Blog

Dear Jason, Lee, Peter, and Stephen:

Last week I was released from Cook County Jail after Judge Steven J. Goebel granted my motion to be released under house arrest. I'm now living with a close friend and doing fine.

Under the provisions of Judge Goebel's order, I'm unable to discuss my case with representatives of the media, but I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for the articles you've written.


Annabel Melongo
Chicago, IL

SALF whistleblower’s atty: IL cop’s “fraud and perjury” led to her indictment!, Cincinnati Beacon, July 15, 2010

A Political Prisoner in Illinois? by Lee Cary, The American Thinker, September 20, 2010

Annabel Melongo: Victimized and Imprisoned by Stephen Lendman, January 5, 2011

After being held for 18 months in Cook County Jail for "eavesdropping," SALF whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest - and an Illinois senator wants to know what's been going on: "To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement" by me, The Sidebar, October 21, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

After being held for 18 months in Cook County Jail for "eavesdropping," SALF whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest - and an Illinois senator wants to know what's been going on: "To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement"

Annabel K. Melongo

A week after Circuit Court Judge Steven J. Goebel signed this court order, self-described fraud whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest from Cook County Jail after being held 18 months on a $300,000 bond.

The charges? Per the April 2010 grand jury indictment, under Illinois's controversial eavesdropping law, the state alleges that Melongo uploaded to her website recordings of routine phone conversations with a courthouse clerk.

Now an Illinois state senator with a background in law enforcement is asking serious questions about the case.

Melongo, who's been called a "political prisoner" by bloggers who've written about her case, is a former employee of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a one-time high-profile, politically-connected Chicago-area nonprofit.

According to this page from Melongo's now-defunct website - it went dark while she was imprisoned - Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has been "harassing" her since October 2006 in order to protect powerful politicians whom she alleges were involved with SALF.
In October 2006, Annabel was charged of destroying SALF's files, among them financial records. Those charges were entirely based on claims made by SALF's founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri of Grayslake, IL. According to multiple news reports, Spizzirri has a history of serious fabrications, including the false claim that she is a Registered Nurse; that she worked as a renal transplant nurse in a Milwaukee hospital; and that she earned a BSN degree from a Wisconsin college whose name she misspelled on her CV.
...Illinois taxpayers may wonder why the state's top law enforcement officer (Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose High Tech Crimes unit assisted in the state's case against Melongo) and Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez are expending so much time and public money to prosecute this trumped-up case against her rather than investigate what happened to the millions of tax dollars that went to the Save-A-Life Foundation.
Re: the above allegations against Spizzirri and more, see Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go?, a San Diego newsweekly article from last year.

In another twist, since last year SALF has reportedly been under investigation by Attorney General Madigan's Charitable Trust Bureau. (A November letter from the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services indicates a federal investigation is also underway.)

Now Sen. Tim Bivins, a Republican from the Northwestern part of the state, has publicly expressed his concerns about the Melongo case.

Winning office in 2008 after retiring from 20 years as a county sheriff, Bivins learned about Melongo's situation after he began asking questions about another chapter in the SALF history: Gery Chico's relationship with the now-tainted nonprofit.

Gery Chico accepts award from SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri (2003?)

A long-time Chicago power player who ran second to Rahm Emanuel in this year's mayoral race, Chico's appointment to head the State Board of Education was reportedly stalled in June by the Senate Executive Appointments Committee on which Bivins serves. To my knowledge, no date's been set, but Chico's slated to appear before the committee to answer questions about SALF.

Sen. Tim Bivins

In response to my inquiry about his interest in the Melongo case, Sen. Bivins e-mailed me this statement:
To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement.
Annabel Melongo has spent a year and a half in jail and her accuser is alleged to have a tainted past, which if true, would make her a witness and alleged victim without credibility.
Did Annabel Melongo with intent destroy SALF's records or was she a whistleblower who was set up by her former boss? Any reasonable person who looked at SALF and the Melongo case would walk away with more questions than answers.
According to a friend of hers, for the first time in 18 months, last night Annabel Melongo didn't sleep in a jail cell.

8/31/11 defense motion to mandate house arrest for Annabel Melongo