If you are an alcohol- or drug-addicted doctor, Sue Gerard is your salvation.
State Representative Gerard wants to ensure that derelict doctors and other health-care professionals are protected from public scrutiny. That's why she sponsored House Bill 2028, the "Drunk Doctor Bill." Gerard's pet bill would reverse current state law, which protects the public from drunken doctors. HB 2028 would instead protect the drunken doctors from the public by keeping records of those addictions secret.
What's more, under Gerard's bill, state regulatory boards won't have to investigate the public's complaints about, say, a doctor who operated on the wrong limb after consuming a quart of tequila--provided that doctor promises to go into a secret treatment program. This means the state probably won't punish a doctor for practicing bad medicine if the doctor was drunk or drugged at the time. And if a doctor has a bad track record that is drug- or alcohol-related, we won't be able to find out about it.
HB 2028 sailed through the House and Senate and has been sent to committee for a final rewrite. It is almost certain to become law unless we all phone our elected officials and protest en masse. To get numbers for your representatives and senators, call 542-4900.
What would possess a seemingly rational (by Arizona legislative standards) public servant like Gerard to conjure such an onerous bill?
The Flash has learned that the Phoenix Republican has a rather embarrassing addiction herself--to campaign contributions from health-care professionals who would benefit from her sleazy Drunk Doctor Bill.
Campaign records for 1996 indicate Gerard received about $27,600 from health-care organizations and professionals who would reap the rewards from the measure. Attorneys who represent doctors also contributed to Gerard's reelection campaign. All of Gerard's contributions for the year totaled $64,476.14.
Sue Gerard--they'll drink to her.
Fife's Light Reading
While Governor J. Fife Symington III professes never to read New Times, he apparently couldn't resist last week's issue, which chronicled his family's business and personal relationship with a suspected Mexican drug trafficker and money launderer ("Symington Family Partner Under Suspicion").
The Fifester told an entourage accompanying him on a tour of a Camelback Road office building last Thursday that he read the story soon after it hit the streets on Wednesday, March 19.
The story was the topic of discussion at the Symington home, where one of his sons was quite agitated over it.
"I talked about it with my son last night and he was very upset and I had to explain to him that they were attacking me and not him," the governor reportedly told a gathering at the Londen Center office complex at 44th Street and Camelback Road.
Symington made the comment after accosting an office worker who was holding a copy of the paper.
"I was waiting to light up my cigarette and just wishing they would go in, and he approached me and saw the New Times," the office worker, who asked not to be identified, says. "He stopped for a moment and then said, 'I see the National Enquirer is alive and well.'"
"I told him, 'Freedom of the press is alive and well.'
"Then he grabbed and shook my hand anyway. He shook my hand so hard that he jammed my ring into my finger and it left a big red mark. He definitely was a little bit nervous. The adrenaline was pumping," the worker says.
New Times awaits the governor's comment on his family's relationship with Culiacan produce mogul Alejandro Canelos Rodriguez.
For that matter, we're still waiting for the rest of Arizona's so-called "news" media to ask the governor one simple question:
Why is your family in business with a suspected drug trafficker who can't get a visa to enter the United States?
Fife Likes Suck-ups
But, hey, some of Fife's best friends are Mexican.
The latest issue of George--the shallow People magazine of politics--features a four-spread on the Fifester. Titled "The Trouble With Fife," the piece includes a scene in which Symington speaks to a Kiwanis club:
"Symington tells the Kiwanians that a few days earlier he was in Sonora for a meeting of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, where he'd had a fine time. 'They actually like me in Mexico,' he says to much laughter. 'I actually get treated like a governor when I'm in Sonora. They even suck up to you.'"
And if the New York Times is correct, getting treated like a governor in Sonora means treating oneself to drug payoffs. A Times story accuses Sonoran Governor Manlio Fabio Beltrones of as much.
The Fifester doesn't realize how wonderful he has it in Arizona, even if he is bankrupt and bound for prison. It's hard to imagine anyone--even Mexican Chamber of Commerce types--being bigger Symington suck-ups than, say, Arizona's GOP legislative leadership.