The story of kickback schemes targeting hospitals at the mercy of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board has been told over and over throughout the prosecutions of participants, with ongoing speculation that then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich had a hand in the crime. The disgraceful tale was given new life with Blagojevichs arrest, seemingly never-ending string of interviews, impeachment, indictment and finally his request for permission from the court to star in the reality TV show Im a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (denied).
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Such was the setting when Blagojevichs successor, Gov. Pat Quinn, announced the new chairman of the planning board would be his longtime friend Quentin Young, a widely respected Chicago physician and healthcare advocate, whom Quinn promised would bring needed integrity to the job.
Last week, four days after his appointment was made official, Young was supposed to preside over his first meeting. Instead acting Chairwoman Susana Lopatka, without explanation, opened the proceedings by declaring Young had withdrawn. Young, 85, was disqualified because the private practice he retired from last year, in which he retains an ownership interest, leases space to the states largest hospital system, Advocate Health Care, Oak Brook, according to Quinns office.
Attendees strained to hear Lopatka in the packed college classroom, and workers were busy removing desks and adding chairs. It was suggested, in seriousness, that Lopatka use a bullhorn because the college failed to provide a sound system, though she likely was glad for the lack of amplification when she spilled water on her paperwork and let fly an expletive.
David Carvalho, deputy director of the Public Health Department, captured the moment when he read aloud corrections to the previous meetings minutes. Change shouting to schadenfreude, Carvalho said, spelling the word for the record. A German word for taking delight in other peoples misfortune.
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