The Shrill Whistle-blower

The war between a state agency and a self-appointed watchdog degenerates into accusations of racism, revenge and name-calling--and your tax dollars pay for it

Still, he trusts Kahlstorf to carry on. "I think Greg's pretty credible," he says. "He's not perfect . . . but he's not a bad person . . . they're [AHCCCS] rotten."

AHCCCS officials concede that not much has been out of bounds in their fight with AHCCCSWatch. Charlie Adornetto, head of AHCCCS' Office of Grievance and Appeals, says that's because Kahlstorf made it that way, and that AHCCCS employees are the real victims.

Despite his roly-poly exterior, Adornetto, a former attorney at Johnston's firm, isn't at all jolly, especially when talking about Kahlstorf.

Adornetto says Greg Kahlstorf is AHCCCSWatch, and dealing with him--his requests for information, his attempts to interview AHCCCS administrators and the media interest he generates--has cost the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I'd say we're at least in the six figures," he estimates. "There have been weeks where I have done nothing but respond to demands . . . from Mr. Kahlstorf."

Adornetto charges Kahlstorf with a long list of offenses, including: calling AHCCCS personnel at home, threatening employees with investigations, pretending to be a reporter, faxing AHCCCSWatch publications all over the agency, demanding private information, demanding to attend private meetings and making allegations to AHCCCS contractors.

"Like any agency, we take allegations of fraud seriously," Adornetto says. "To have to repeatedly investigate allegations of fraud which have repeatedly been shown to be without merit, has wasted . . . time and resources which should be used doing our mission, providing health care to the indigent of Arizona."

But AHCCCS isn't above taking cheap shots at Kahlstorf.
In a fax to New Times, Logan Johnston says any animosity is all Kahlstorf's. "As to how things got so bitter and personal between Kahlstorf on one side and AHCCCS and me on the other, the vendetta is Kahlstorf's; everyone else would just as soon forget him."

Johnston's fax goes on: "[Kahlstorf]'s an unfortunate example of the new breed of paper terrorists who use, and hide behind, the media to make other people's lives difficult. This is not just my opinion; it is the opinion of many good people who get up every day and do their jobs as best they can only to be harassed by this unemployed person whose only assets are a glib tongue, obsession, and a fax machine."

Johnston didn't sound as detached when he taunted Kahlstorf in a letter about a personnel-board hearing which ruled against Jan Schoonover. Kahlstorf, who had been acting as a lay representative for Schoonover, didn't show for the hearing.

"The Personnel Board was impressed by your failure to appear," Johnston writes. "I'm sure Ms. Schoonover looks back in wonder at how you led her down the primrose path to waste her time, money and health being your sacrificial lamb. . . . P.S.: Knowledgeable insiders have offered the following headline for consideration by AHCCCSWatch: 'Paydirt eludes cyberblob in latest gutless performance as process servers close in.'"

AHCCCS says Johnston didn't bill the state for his rant at Kahlstorf; he just threw it in for free.

Also apparently pro bono was Johnston's assistance to a process server hired by Carmen Santamaria-Urso.

When one process server couldn't find Kahlstorf to deliver the restraining order, AHCCCS' lawyer pitched in to help, she says. "We had to serve him by way of an attorney giving us the date of a court hearing that he was going to be at," Urso recalls. "We spoke to the attorney representing AHCCCS, and he told him [the process server] . . . 'I will show you personally, I will point him out to you.'"

Johnston has since filed for a restraining order against Kahlstorf, but hasn't served him yet.

Charlie Adornetto's job at AHCCCS might officially be to deal with grievances, but he also made it a part of his job to keep a chronology of Kahlstorf's activities.

Adornetto also addressed a long letter to Kahlstorf, dated April 15, 1996, in which he insists that Kahlstorf have no further contact with anyone but him, in writing.

"You have amply demonstrated that your discredited, self-indulgent writings are intended only to exact personal revenge, and your repeated phone calls and faxes are a nuisance," Adornetto writes.

For Adornetto, it's simple; Kahlstorf is the bad guy, and he deserves whatever he gets.

"Nothing can vindicate what Mr. Kahlstorf has done," he says. "There is nothing that can justify the disgusting manner in which Mr. Kahlstorf has conducted himself."

Frank Lopez admits the correspondence doesn't always sound like the work of grown-ups. But he says Kahlstorf just pushes people to the edge. He doesn't exempt himself, either; Lopez refused to talk to Bill Straus, a host on KTAR-AM 620, when Straus wanted to discuss Kahlstorf's charges.

"Ordinarily, I never would have handled Bill Straus the way I did," Lopez says. "But to me, it sounded like he was taking Kahlstorf's side. I might have handled it differently if not for the frustration . . . and I think that's an aberration you're going to see after people have been through two and a half years of this kind of harassment."

Still, blowing off steam at Kahlstorf can backfire.
The NAACP's Reverend Oscar Tillman says he was prepared to accept Logan Johnston's explanation for his use of a racial slur 24 years ago until he saw the "cyberblob" comment.

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