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News from downtown: The Flash's sources say we can expect the Phoenix Downtown Partnership to sharpen its identity and spiff up its image by dubbing its area of influence the "Copper Square." The partnership is dedicated to boosting business, development and redevelopment in the downtown core.

And, of course, keeping rabble off the streets.

Fifty-one percent of the Downtown Partnership's funding comes from the city; the balance comes from assessments levied on property owners inside the area bounded by Seventh Avenue, the railroad right of way and Fillmore and Seventh streets.

The Flash speculates that the Copper Square moniker springs in part from the pending construction of a new Phelps Dodge tower downtown.

In a related matter, look for the neighborhood south of the railroad tracks to be renamed the Toxic Trapezoid.

It's Great to Be Emulated

Regular Flashophiles know that this Burst of Light loves to slam the Millennial Arizona Republic whenever the chance arises. But the Flash can dish as well as dis, so here's a grudging well-done to David Parrish and Jodie Snyder for the now-playing series on the state Board of Medical Examiners and its lassitude toward bad doctors.

In a commendable effort to shed light on the shoddy practices of some doctors -- info that BOMEX itself prefers to hide -- the reporters compiled their own database of thousands of complaints culled from the BOMEX files. Their analysis showed that the board, composed mostly of doctors -- most of whom have complaints against them, too -- dismisses the vast majority of complaints filed against their brethren. And what passes for discipline is usually nothing more than a so-called censure, a letter to the doctor that puts nary a dent in the doc's business or reputation.

The Republic also has made its new database available online so potential patients can plug in a doc's name and see how many complaints have been filed and what their status is, a true public information service.

So while the Flash is aglow about this very subject, here's a past-due pat on the back to the Arizona Daily Star and reporter Enric Volante, who did the very same story in much the same way -- last year. He also compiled a database of BOMEX complaints, analyzed it and found the same thing -- BOMEX does virtually nothing to discipline the doctors in this state who are hurting and killing patients. The Star also made its database available online so the public could get information about a specific doctor.

Those projects both followed the blueprint of a New Times special project in 1998. Staff writer Chris Farnsworth was actually the first to pry computerized complaint information out of the state medical board, compile a database, analyze it and put it online for access by the public. New Times' effort came before BOMEX decided to put a lid on what information it released; our database actually includes such details as what the complaint was for (malpractice, fee disputes, sexual harassment, for instance), data that apparently were not released to the Republic or the Daily Star.

In fact, it was New Times' story that led Senator Chris Cummiskey to introduce legislation that forced BOMEX to put its own records online. Unfortunately, the board didn't put its entire file online, just the basic info that shows if a complaint is still pending or if it's been dismissed. And it only goes back a few years.

So now that the state's largest news organization has at last weighed in on the dicey issue of who is overseeing the state's doctors and why they're still being allowed to commit egregious medical atrocities despite several scathing state auditor's reports, newspaper blowouts and legislative questioning, the Flash is wondering when Governor Jane Hull and the political powers that be will finally step up to the task of revamping the board.

Melanoma Melodrama

The Flash joins other upstanding Americans in wishing our senior U.S. Senator, John McCain, a speedy and full recovery from his August 19 surgery to remove melanoma from his temple and arm.

The Flash was amused that Humble John's skin corrosion relegated Al Gore's nomination to a second-tier news story on local broadcast stations. This Burst of Light would not be so jaundiced as to suggest that the timing of the Snowy Haired Senator's medical crisis had anything to do with the theft of thunder from the Democrats' coronation in La-La Land. That's a shade of jade unattainable even for this Pulsating Strobe.

If you're like me, you've been following the senator's progress on his Web site, http://www.straighttalkamerica.com.

The site is indeed "talking straight" about the medical drama. Take, for example, this colorful passage from the August 19 posting: "Two temporary surgical drains were routinely placed to prevent fluid buildup in the wound."

There are trivial details as well. From August 20: "Senator John McCain had an uneventful night and is experiencing surprising little discomfort. This morning he drank a full quart of orange juice before eating breakfast."

Hey, wait a minute -- isn't O.J. "bottled sunshine"?

Yet the Flash is not surprised that the senator experienced little discomfort, because wife Cindy spent the night at the hospital, and we all know she's always got good painkillers. (Special note to McCain lawyer John Dowd: Save your breath. That was a cheap joke, not an assertion of fact. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.)

The site is brimming with other feel-good news as well, such as Cindy's plea for our help in wishing the senator a happy 64th birthday on August 29. He wants to hear from you, and your checkbook, on his birthday. An excerpt from her pitch:

"Thinking back, I remember how touched John was last year when he received the personal birthday wishes from friends like you all across the country.

"He was so moved by the kind and thoughtful messages of support that were sent that I thought it would be a splendid gift to give him again for his birthday on August 29th.

". . . the fact is without your support he would not have had the platform to push for reform.

"That is why, I hope you will consider making a contribution to Straight Talk America to help John as he continues in his fight to reform government.

"Quite honestly a personal message from you along with the support John needs to help get his reform agenda passed is the best birthday gift we could give him . . .

"P.S. I know John draws great strength from his friends. That is why I want you to be part of his Birthday celebration. Please send your special Birthday contribution to Straight Talk America. Thank you."

Wonder if Connie Stevens will jump out of the birthday cake.


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