Blast 'em

This Blast 'em blog is going to shine a much needed bright light on legislative shanigans. We will provide details of the wrong doing, give names of the doer, and describe the ramifications to the public. Initially we will focus primarily on consumer issues.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rep. Bob "the villain" Herkes

Representative Bob Herkes, Chair of the Consumer Rejection and Commerce Committee. In a prior posting we saw Rep. Herkes amending a Bill after the Bill was heard in his committee with only industry insiders being privy to the wording of the amendment and the public being ignored. Today’s posting will discuss more antics of our favorite (at the moment) villain. We all thought we could smell HMSA’s tracks all over the amendment because HMSA will make more millions from this trick. Remember, the CEO of the HMSA Foundation is an intern in Herkes office.

Forgetting the Monica Lewinsky jokes for the moment, an intern is usually a college student working part-time at the legislature to learn the process and possibly earn a few course credits. In Herkes case we have a CEO, earning his full corporate salary, working as a volunteer in the office of the committee chair that oversees legislation that directly affects his employer. See why I call it the Consumer Rejection Committee? Our villain, Bob is surely not protecting consumers. Not now, and not ever! The only thing he protects is corporate interests. I cannot wait to see the Campaign Spending Reports when they come out this spring. Bob held a fund-raiser during the session and in and advertisement clearly stated the name of the committee he chairs. To me it looked like a statement saying “STORES OPEN everything we have is on sale”! Now that we are all up to speed on Bob the villain, let’s get on with the next chapter in the ongoing antics of Bob the villain.

As I walked around the Capitol Building yesterday I had a few tidbits of information whispered in my widely open ears: Mark Foreman, the intern in Bob’s office, denied having anything to do with the amendment while Chris Pablo, lobbyist for Kaiser Permanente (second largest heath insurer behind HMSA) stepped up and took credit for writing the amendment. This all happened on Monday. Yesterday, Kaiser denied having anything to do with the amendment leaving their lobbyist to swing in the wind. What we’re left with is an amendment that no-one wrote. Meanwhile HMSA and Kaiser will profit handsomely from it and Chair Herkes has been quoted in print as saying he doesn’t know what’s in the Bill. Perfect! Like I said in a prior posting, I can’t make this stuff up; it is too outlandish, too far beyond belief to be true. Unfortunately for consumers, it is true!

I said in yesterday’s posting that today I would come out and claim title to this Bog. The reason I didn’t right from the start is that I thought a little mystery might bring greater exposure. Whether it did or not, who knows. Now for the sake of credibility, it’s time. Drum roll please. My name is George Fox; I’ve been a consumer advocate for the past ten years. I testify on a number of Bills each session. It is frustrating work because we are always fighting highly paid industry lobbyists with large staffs, money for research and more importantly, campaign contributions. While on our side of every issue we are self funded with no staff. It hardly seems a fair fight except we have truth, time, and we testify from the heart while lobbyist rarely testify. I serve as an officer and/or board member on five nonprofit organizations, always as a volunteer (more on this in a future posting). This is it for today, I have a few errands to run and I need to get over to the capitol for the Gas Cap Conference Committee Hearing. In tomorrow’s posting I will have links to some other Blogs that you may find interesting but as this requires some technical learning on my part it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Before I go and just so you don’t get the idea that all I do is attack, I want to salute two of the good guys at the legislature (I grew up in New York so “guys” is a generic term for both females and males). My “Good Guys” are and Representative Bev Harbin and Senator Les Ihara, Jr. The reason I choose them will be covered in a future posting.

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