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...Issue 3, a charter amendment that repealed the gay-rights section of the city's human-rights ordinance.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...In 2004, Cincinnati voters repealed Article 12, by 54 percent to 46 percent.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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

Friday, June 12, 2015

My complaints to the IRS, Ohio Attorney General, others re: "Christ-centered alternative to Girl Scouts" group that may be circulating experimental medical treatment to thousands of girls


Via American Heritage Girls Forms National Cooperative Venture with Heimlich Heroes, a March 17, 2014 press release issued by the American Heritage Girls Inc.:
Cincinnati-based American Heritage Girls (AHG), an international faith-based character-development program for girls ages 5 through 18, has joined with Heimlich Heroes to teach its members how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver when a person chokes on food or a small object. The training will be available free to all AHG troops nationwide.
Here's my concern.

Via Heimlich maneuver on unconscious persons causes controversy by Nick Kammerer, Rambler Newspapers (Irvine, TX), November 24, 2014
(The) American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, do not recommend using the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious patients...Heimlich Heroes, a Cincinnati-based first aid program developed partly by Henry Heimlich, is teaching students to perform the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious choking victims. This means that school children are being taught a medical practice that is not recommended by the American Heart Association or Red Cross, two highly credible public health organizations.
Via a January 6, 2015 e-mail to me from Eric Perez MD, an emergency medicine expert in New York City who reviews medical treatment information for the National Institutes of Health:
To my knowledge, there is no definitive evidence for or against performing abdominal thrusts (on an) unconscious patient.
Further, apparently the "unconscious Heimlich" protocol has never been the subject of any published research, therefore it's experimental.

Public health and/or liability risk if someone gets hurt?

Since the announcement of the Heimlich Heroes/American Heritage Girls partnership last year, I've made multiple attempts -- most recently last week after seeing the above Facebook post -- in order to obtain a position statement and comment from AHG representatives if they're teaching their members to "Heimlich" unconscious choking victims.

If they are, AHG is using unwitting kids and troop leaders to circulate an unapproved, experimental medical treatment.

I've never received a response from AHG (why not?), so I just filed complaints against the organization with the IRS (posted below), the Ohio Attorney General's Charitable Law Section, and two organizations that accredit AHG -- the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

I'll report the results in a future item.

If any parents of AHG kids or AHG troop members want to jump in, I'd encourage you to ask National Executive Director and Founder Patti Garibay for answers.

If you do and want me to consider publishing the results on The Sidebar, click here to e-mail me.

UPDATE, 6/16/15: According to their website, the AHG is endorsed by a number of religious organizations, so yesterday I sent similar letters of concern to two of them, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO and the Lutheran Synod of Missouri.

This item has been slightly revised.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Melongo civil rights case update, Part I: Federal judge allows case to move forward, writes elegant summary

Judge Lee (source)

In a 13-page order, yesterday U.S. District Court Judge John Z. Lee "(granted) in part and (denied) in part Defendants’ motions (to dismiss)." In other words, Annabel Melongo's wide-ranging civil rights lawsuit is moving forward.

Page down to view the motion. Click here to download a copy from, the website tracking Annabel Melongo's 8-1/2 year struggle for justice against former Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) president Carol J. Spizzirri and her political cronies.

Click here for my compilation of media reports about the Melongo case. Click here for my compilation of media reports about SALF and Spizzirri. Click here for photos of Spizzirri and some of her cronies.

In a subsequent item, I'll report about Judge Lee's findings, but his summary of the complicated, circuitous history is so elegant and concise, I'm copying it below. (For clarity, I've left out the citations.)

Factual Background

The allegations contained in Melongo’s complaint stem from a long chain of events set in motion in Spring 2006 when hundreds of financial records at the Save-A-Life Foundation (“SALF”) were mysteriously deleted. Carol Spizziri founded SALF, a now defunct non-profit organization, after her daughter’s life was claimed in a car accident. A savvy fundraiser, she “cultivated relationships with prominent politicians” and raised more than $9 million for the organization. Questions about how SALF actually used that $9 million, however, began to surface in 2006; an investigation into the organization’s finances was underway. Spizziri, anticipating increased scrutiny, destroyed SALF’s financial records. She then fabricated a story by which Melongo—a former SALF employee still bitter over her recent termination—remotely accessed the organization’s servers and deleted those records. To further paint Melongo as the perpetrator, Spizziri forwarded emails from her own account to that of Melongo.

Spizziri followed up her accusation by exerting pressure on then-Cook County State’s Attorney, Dick Devine, whom she knew personally, to prosecute Melongo for computer tampering. Devine in turn directed Investigator Randy Roberts, Assistant Attorney General Kyle French, and Detective William Martin to go through with an investigation of Melongo. Roberts, French, and Martin proceeded to search Melongo’s apartment. A subsequent examination of Melongo’s computer revealed no evidence that she destroyed the financial records; nevertheless, the State charged her with three counts of computer tampering on January, 17, 2007.

A hearing on those charges occurred on June 18, 2008. Melongo claims to have not been present at the hearing but noticed the transcript listed her as having been in court and speaking on the record. She contacted the court reporter several times in an attempt to have the record corrected. Pamela Taylor, supervisor of the Official Court Reporters office, eventually informed Melongo that any future questions should be directed to her. When Melongo called Taylor to speak with her on December 15, 2008, and

December 16, 2008, Melongo secretly recorded the phone conversations in an effort to prove that she was not present at the hearing and that the court reporter falsified the record. Melongo posted these conversations on her website. That website would soon become the subject of an investigation by French and the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

On March 3, 2010, French, along with Assistant State’s Attorneys Podlasek and Gunnigle, moved to have Melongo psychologically examined to determine her fitness to stand trial and represent herself. In response, Melongo posted on her website that she “has a big surprise in store for the court in its attempt to push her out of the case by pretending that she is psychologically unbalanced. The surprise will be known on April 14, 2010.”

Melongo submitted to a psychological exam conducted by Dr. Matthew Markos on April 13, 2010. Podlasek and Gunnigle, now aware of the “surprise” message posted on Melongo’s website, instructed Investigator James Dillon to interrupt the exam and arrest Melongo. Cook County Correctional officers arrived thereafter and spoke with Dr. Markos privately. After Dr. Markos returned, he “attempted to elicit incriminating responses from [Melongo] . . . about her website.” Melongo explained that the “surprise” was newly hired counsel. As Melongo left the exam, Investigators Dillon, Rubino, and Lesiak arrested, detained, and interrogated her for threatening a public official. The charges were not pursued.

The State did, however, pursue charges against Melongo for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act and filed a complaint against Melongo on April 13, 2010 for recording her conversations with Taylor. Melongo maintains that, specifically, Assistant State’s Attorneys Podlasek and Gunnigle, Assistant Attorney General French, and Inspectors Rubino, Lesiak, Dillon, and O’Hara “singled out” Melongo and instituted these charges “purely out of vindictiveness and retaliation.”

Melongo’s bond was initially set to $30,000, then raised to $500,000, before ultimately being lowered to $300,000. Because Melongo could not afford to post bond, she remained incarcerated in Cook County Jail or under electronic monitoring for more than twenty months. After several attempts to have the charges dismissed, Melongo was eventually released on July 26, 2012, two months after the Seventh Circuit held the Illinois Eavesdropping Act unconstitutional.

On July 28, 2014, the State dropped two of the three counts of computer tampering—nearly eight years after the charges were initially brought. A trial commenced on the remaining charge for unlawfully accessing Spizziri’s email account. After a computer forensic analyst testified during the State’s case-in-chief that no forensic evidence showed Melongo accessed Spizziri’s email or SALF’s servers, the trial judge granted defense counsel’s motion for a directed verdict of not guilty.

Part II, June 14, 2015: Melongo's attorney: "Carol Spizzirri has been served and I will be filing a motion for default judgement against her"

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cincinnati "character training" group offers "Success Through Integrity" seminar based on teachings of the Duggars' thoroughly-disgraced spiritual mentor


Via the "About Us" page of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky:
The Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2000. The Council is devoted to promoting good character in order to improve the lives of our residents and enrich the spirit of our community.

...The Council joins organizations in more than 200 cities, in association with Character First!, that have pledged to encourage good character. Local businessman and entrepreneur, Michael P. Daly, is Founder of our Character Council. Football Hall of Famer, Anthony Muñoz, is our Character Council's spokesperson. Mary Andres Russell is our highly-aclaimed [sic] Character Trainer and Coach.

Via The Cult of Character by Silja J.A. Talvi, a January 9, 2006 In These Times cover story:
Each of the 49 Character Qualities in CTI's secular materials have their exact counterpart in (evangelist Bill Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles) materials. In books like Gothard's Power of Kingdom Living and The Sevenfold Power of First-Century Churches and Homes, they are typically referred to as "The Laws of the Kingdom."

The IBLP's "blue book," formally titled The Power for True Success, is carried around by many of the IACC officials. It explains the imperative for learning the 49 character qualities this way: "Character reveals the Lord Jesus Christ, since He is the full personification of all good character qualities." It continues, "understanding character explains why things happen to us, because all things work together for good to conform us to the character of Christ."

...In the blue book and other IBLP materials, the 49 character qualities take on a more strident and extremist tone. "Obedience" is defined as the "freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authorities. All legitimate authority comes from God. He is the One who sets up rulers and takes them down. ... God ordained government to carry out his will in matters of justice."

"Those who violate God's laws are like citizens who commit crimes," Gothard explains in Sevenfold Power. "They are still citizens, but they lose certain rights and privileges that they otherwise would have enjoyed."
Presumably Gothard himself lost certain rights and privileges last March when he abruptly resigned as head of his deep-pockets IBLP ministry in the wake of sexual harassment allegations made by over 30 female followers.

Back to In These Times:
(The IBLP blue book) is now in the hands of most of the 1,200-strong Cincinnati police force, courtesy of a life insurance salesman and CTI cheerleader named Mike Daly who, along with Phil Heimlich, helped turn Cincinnati into a City of Character. The two worked hand-in-hand to implement the CTI training into nearly all facets of government and secondary education. During one of his trainings, Daly gifted curious officers with the religious books while telling them to become "apostles for character."
Click here for the year 2000 resolution declaring Cincinnati a "City of Character," introduced by my brother Phil Heimlich* (a self-described "Bible thumping Christian") when he was a city councilman.

Via the Cincinnati/NoKY Character Council's site:

Via the website of Gothard's ex-ministry:

Along with Gothard, his "Character Cities" program appears to have fallen from grace, perhaps the result of media exposes, the 2006 conviction of a former Arizona State Treasurer for accepting commissions to push the program, and the dubious premise that studying "character qualities" and attending "character training" seminars will make you a better person.

Despite the scandals, the apparently irony-challenged Queen City chapter soldiers on, presenting an upcoming seminar entitled...

* My brother's most recent venture, Hard Truths, consists of minute-long paid opinion radio spots. Among other topics, he criticized the anti-abortion movement, accused U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of political cowardice, and praised Ed Snowden's courage for leaking NSA documents.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Just in time for "National Heimlich Maneuver Day," The Hollywood Reporter's expose about my father fleecing celebrities gets nominated for a journalism award

Today via

Meanwhile, via a press release just issued by The Hollywood Reporter:
The Hollywood Reporter has been honored with 48 nominations — more than any other news organization -- for its original reporting by the Los Angeles Press Club's 57th Southern California Journalism Awards.

...Seth Abramovitch, senior writer, earned a feature, magazine nomination (over 1,000 words) for How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure."
(The awards) will be handed out at a gala ceremony on Sunday, June 28, at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Seth Abramovitch (source)

Via Seth's August 14, 2014 THR article (based on documents my wife Karen and I obtained from the Henry J. Heimlich Archival Collection, donated by my father to a University of Cincinnati library):
At the height of the crisis, the inventor of the famous anti-choking technique claimed HIV could be cured by injecting patients with malaria. New documents reveal how stars like Jack Nicholson and Ron Howard gave thousands to his cause.

...As his fundraising machinery hummed along, Dr. Heimlich drew up a new version of his institute letterhead, which now boasted its star-studded "Hollywood Support Committee." Alongside the names of (Bruce) Davison, (Jon) Voight and (Amy) Irving were those of Ed Begley Jr., Ted Danson, Anjelica Huston, Muhammad Ali and Bette Midler, none of whom would comment for this story. Richard Dreyfuss, also listed as a committee member, tells THR that he never met Heimlich nor did he ever support his malariotherapy efforts. But Asner, whose name also appears as a backer, does recall Heimlich with fondness: "I respected him as a worthwhile scientist," says Asner.
Paul K. Bronston MD (source)
 ...Hopeful that an effective AIDS treatment was within reach, all the guests (at Joanne Carson's fundraising event) buzzed, except for one: Dr. Paul Bronston, an ER doctor and chair of a medical ethics board who had tagged along with his friend, actor Bruce Davison, an Oscar nominee for the 1989 AIDS drama Longtime Companion. Bronston says he went to Carson's house that night with the intention of meeting the legendary man behind the Heimlich maneuver, knowing only that the topic was vaguely AIDS-related. But as the guest of honor spoke and video cameras captured every word -- Heimlich had commissioned a documentary about himself, according to correspondence with director Lisa Pelikan in 1993 -- Bronston couldn't believe what he was hearing. (Pelikan declined to comment.)
"I just f--ing hit the ceiling," Bronston, 63, tells THR. "I went f--ing crazy. It was dangerous, it was total bullshit. His proposal was giving malaria-infected blood to people who had AIDS. It doesn't take a genius to know that you don't give an infectious disease to somebody who has a suppressed immune system."
Jeanie Pyun (source)

Big congratulations to Seth and to THR editor Jeanie Pyun, who, when I first contacted her, immediately grasped the importance of the information and then shepherded the story through publication. Keep up the great work and good luck at the awards gala!