Sunday, June 21, 2009

why Bill West doesn't belong on BHPC LC 10

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KUNM-FM Mail Rogi Riverstone

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Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Upon my return from the National Rural Mental Health Conference yesterday, I spoke with 2 friends in town about this past LC 10 meeting. They told me Jesse Chavez specifically suggested inviting Bill West, manager of Citizens' Bank of Clovis, Fort Sumner Branch, to our meetings.

I HIGHLY advise against this. Mr. West has a long history, both as a bank manager and a rental property owner in this town, of abusing and exploiting people with behavioral health challenges and their families. He has a long track record of treating our elders, our disabled and our economically disadvantaged citizens in Fort Sumner (in other words: the majority of us) with contempt and hatred. His banking practices, with economically vulnerable consumers, are predatory: he exploits us for his gain.

Rather than being humbled by and grateful for his fortunate position in town, he sees himself as superior to the rest of us. Despite the "Jesus" fish on his office wall, he has, apparently, never read the red parts of the Bible in which Jesus admonishes, "Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, that you do also unto Me." I call it, "selective christianity," which I refuse to capitalize, as it's no reflection of Christ-like morals, ethics or ECONOMICS (remember the tables of the money-changers in Jeruselum?). In fact, I usually spell it, "selective xianity." Jesus is no where in it.

In one incident, he came to some one's home with his assistant, whom he had knock on the front door while he ran around back, so the person inside could not, presumably, escape. I will not tell you whose family this was without permission, which I have not yet solicited.

They'd come to collect a MODEST debt. They wanted to do it before the terminally-ill person had a chance to die (the person died within two weeks of this incident). They humiliated and threatened the person and several family members -- INCLUDING THE DYING PERSON'S MOTHER -- to get the money. They suggested that this person pitch HAY to earn the money, although this person was dying of liver disease and cancer, was yellow in color and could barely move, due to severe edema all over the body. They tried to cajole a family member into paying off the debt for the dying person. THEY TRAUMATIZED THE ENTIRE FAMILY, who STILL talks about the incident with grief and pent-up rage, to this day, although the incident happened quite a few years ago. The mother struggles with chronic depression and this traumatic memory was, in her estimation, a contributing factor.

Recently, my account became overdrawn. Mr. West treated me with contempt and impatience over an $18.00 overdraft. When I explained that I have difficulty with the non-chronological bank statements, when I said the typeface was too small and faded to read without magnification, when I pointed out that the online statements were just as bad, Mr. West shrugged it off as my problem.

It would take me hours, every month, to write out all my transactions and balances in chronological order, in order to comprehend them!

When I explained that I don't comprehend numbers as others do, that I could use a bit of assistance with understanding my check book balancing, he said, "We're not a bookkeeping company; we don't provide that service." My banking needs are extremely modest; I don't require formal bookkeeping. I just need a teller to double-check my figuring a couple of times per month for, maybe, five minutes each. Other banks have done this for me for years. I've seen Citizens' do it for other customers!

Turns out, the overdraft was NOT my fault. It was a BOOKKEEPING ERROR ON THEIR END. It was not the first. I've banked at Citizens' Bank of Clovis for less than a year now. This was the SECOND TIME they paid a check I'd written twice. They've also credited one deposit twice.

I've had bank accounts all over the country, in at least a dozen banks, since I was 17 years old. I've had a savings account since I was three, and made deposits myself. I'm 53 now; that's 50 years. I've never had ONE incident like this, let alone THREE, in all that time until I began banking at Mr. West's branch of Citizens'. I was patient and understanding, all three times, even when 2 of those times got me overdraft charges I had to wait to have the bank reverse, tying up my money! I never looked at Citizens' employees or Mr. West the way Mr. West looked at me that day I was overdrawn; pure contempt and smug arrogance exuded from his eyes. It was humiliating. And he refused to acknowledge that I need reasonable accommodation of my disabilities in order to bank safely with Citizens'.

I sent him the attached email. I received no reply:

I've received no apology, either. And my bank statements are still incomprehensible to me.

I will have to close my account at Citizens' in Fort Sumner, in order to protect my finances and reputation from further damage.

I get paid for freelance work: checks that are mailed to me from all over the country, not automatically deposited into my New Mexico Bank & Trust account. I am economically vulnerable and, frequently, need those monies immediately.

The nearest branch of NMBT is in Melrose, 80 miles, round trip or $20 gas. I opened an account at Citizens' here just for the purpose of depositing or cashing freelance checks. For months, I had no vehicle with which I could have made the trip to Melrose. If I close my Citizens' account, it will cause me a great deal of inconvenience. But it will preserve my dignity, my reputation, my finances and my peace of mind. My economic vulnerability has, frequently, left me traumatized and desperate; I don't need Citizens' and Mr. West to exascerbate that!

I'm just so grateful I did not have my Social Security Disability Insurance check direct deposited to Mr. West's bank, but kept it at NMBT! It is the major source of my monthly income and I do not want Mr. West's bank playing fast and loose with that!

Bill West is a MAJOR contributor to this community's behavioral health disabilities! Until and unless he approaches LC 10 with humility and inquisitiveness about behavioral health issues and offers to contribute positively to healing them -- AT HIS OWN BANK and ON HIS OWN RENTAL PROPERTIES -- I see NO benefit to allowing the fox into the henhouse! Consumers and family members will feel resentful, intimidated, alienated, SILENCED and unwelcome! This includes nearly ever consumer and family member currently involved in LC10! We don't need him; we don't want him. Some of us will quit LC 10 if he gets involved!

For Mr. Chavez to have suggested Mr. West to LC 10 -- without ever considering the man's impact on behavioral health in Fort Sumner -- is beyond insensitive.

Rogi Riverstone

we need a drop in ASAP

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Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 8:15 AM


As I drove home from the Rural Mental Health Conference yesterday, I felt a profound sense of hope and purpose. Federal agencies begged us to take their money in forms of grants. Other rural activists were doing phenonenal things with limited resources. Consumers were advocating for dignity, quality of life and progressive changes.

I went to Clora's house before I checked my place or put away my groceries.

Clora and Kathy, both very active in BHPC LC10, infomred me of the "doings" at the last meeting, of which I could not be a part, as I was in Albq. at the conference.

Lo and behold, Jesse Chaves (our BHC state rep), Lisa Walraven (our admin. staff) and Emory Crawford (our LC chair) had been "back channeling" among themselves with their own agenda.

They want to reduce the number of meetings over the next, 3 months by eliminating individual counties' meetings. They want to do away with $25 stipends to community members who participate in meetings. They want to invite certain community members (BY NAME) who have truly abused consumers in De Baca County's group (One is our bank mgr., who treats us like GARBAGE if we're not middle class and has caused real trauma to some of us). They are considering handing out walmart gift cards rather than stipends.

To this last, I replied with an email last night, detailing some of walmart's contributions to behavioral health crises on a global scale. I also pointed out that OptumHealth is in bed with walmart on a pilot project re: generic psychotropics in the state of New Mexico!

In another email, I have demanded not only minutes from the last meeting, but the tape recording as well. I demanded this and last years' budgets. Some things don't appear on the budget. These include everything from office supplies to snacks for meetings, and I can't guess what else. I also want to know decision-making procedures and laws, regulations, etc., as well as voting procedures.

People have QUIT our local collaborative over the issues at last week's meeting. The agenda was stuffed at the last possible moment, when they KNEW I'd be out of town and unable to attend. Consumers refused to vote until and unless I could participate in discussions, and that was ignored.

I don't remember names well, so forgive this. I met a woman at the conference who lives in Taos. She's very active in Community/peer organizing. She wants me trained as a consumer/peer advoate or whatever ASAP. I think she said trainings happen in Los Cruses and Albuquerque.

Well, Kathy wants training, too. She's so mad and frustrated, she can't see straight.

Clora is devistated and depressed.

When I explained it would be OUR drop-in center, run and staffed by us, with access to resources from all over, that it doesn't need to be open 24-7 and that it won't take away Social Security benefits from any of us in order to operate, even shy, beaten-down Clora offered to staff it a couple of hours a week. Her depression shifted to outrage and her outrage shifted to motivated activism in less than an hour. I didn't influence it; she did it on her own.

When I explained that government agencies came and begged us to apply for grants, and gave specific instructions and contact information to individuals, they both understood that the laziness, apathy, bean counting and paper-pushing of Emory, Lisa and Jesse is NOT NECESSARY for us.

I'm not going to wait for another BHPC meeting to schedule you to come speak to us. You let me know when we fit into your schedule, and I'll find a place we can meet, even if it's my house.
Rogi Riverstone

Is Wal*mart good for Behavioral Health?

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Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 10:22 PM

I encourage ALL of us who care about healing behavioral health challenges to watch "Frontline: Is Wal*mart Good For America," an investigative journalism report on PBS, which aired in 2005.*mart&hl=en&client=firefox-a

Wal*mart should not be associated with State of New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council Local Collaboratives in any way. It causes rampant poverty, suffering, injury, distress and insecurity to workers, children, families, communities and the environment.

Wal*mart is, globally, the largest contributor to behavioral health disorders in human experience.

If BHPC LC10 gives out Wal*mart "gift" cards to participants in its meetings, we are endorsing and encouraging our own destruction as consumers and family members.

Wal*mart's side effects will, however keep practitioners in the medical industrial complex well employed.

If an individual chooses to shop at Wal*mart, she probably does so because the following information isn't available to her OR Wal*mart has already so devistated her local economy, she thinks she has no other options. While I will encourage her to explore options she may not have considered, I do not hold her at fault for an uninformed decision in an age where news is corporately sponsored and commercials dominate the public discussion of values. I DO, however, hold BHPC LCs accountable for promoting a TAXPAYER SUBSIDIZED multinational corporation that makes people, communities, countries and the planet sick for profit. WE should KNOW better!

Discriminates against women
OptumHealth in bed with Wal*Mart:
BHSD Medication Fund
The BHSD Medication Fund has been available to consumers since July 2007. A total of $920,000 per year is available to use to pay for medication for those meeting the fund criteria. There was low utilization in FY08, but dramatically increased awareness and use of the fund caused a depletion of the fund before the end of FY09. OptumHealth New Mexico would like to present the following plan for the Medication Fund in FY10. This plan will maximize the number of consumers that have access to the fund while allowing for predictable use of fund dollars throughout the entire fiscal year.
This plan has 2 parts. The first part, or the Medication Fund, will serve approximately 870 consumers in one year. The plan will have limitations as outlined below to maximize the number of consumers that benefit from the fund and to assist with fund management throughout the entire fiscal year. The second part, or the Low Cost Generic Plan, will be a pilot project utilizing the WalMart low cost generic program. $50,000 will be set aside for this pilot project although this amount could be adjusted depending on overall utilization. Approximately 1000 prescriptions per month could be filled using this plan. Specifics of both plans are outlined below.
Wal*mart abandons its operations as quickly as it puts them up:

Susan Leonardi, who’s worked at the center for 14 years, said she feels wronged by her employer and that a “very wealthy conglomerate” such as Wal-Mart could have afforded to expand here.

“They’re going with a third party because it’s cheaper labor and they don’t have to pay benefits. ... This old dilapidated building we were in couldn’t hold it, but you can’t tell me there wasn’t land available so that Wal-Mart couldn’t keep their Wal-Mart associates working,” Leonardi said.

“I know business is business and it’s not supposed to be personal, but don’t tell me it’s not personal when I’m out of a job.”



A Substantial Number of Wal-Mart Associates earn far below the poverty line
Wal-Mart Associates don't earn enough to support a family
Wal-Mart forces employees to work off-the-clock
Wal-Mart's Health Care Plan Fails to Cover Over 775,000 Employees
All of Wal-Mart's Health Plans Are Too Costly for Its Workers to Use

Wal-Mart Admits Public Health Care is a "Better Value"

  • President and CEO Lee Scott said in 2005, "In some of our states, the public program may actually be a better value - with relatively high income limits to qualify, and low premiums." [Transcript Lee Scott Speech 4/5/05
Wal-Mart Increased Advertising More Than Health Care

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

  • The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]
  • One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:
    • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
    • $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
    • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
    • $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
    • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
    • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.

      [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

The Cost of Wal-Mart's entry into a community can be significant

  • According to a 2003 estimate, the influx of big-box stores into San Diego would result in an annual decline in wages and benefits which could cost the area up to $221 million [San Diego Taxpayers Association (SDCTA), 2003]
Wal-Mart hurts other businesses when it comes to town.
In towns without Wal-Marts that are close to towns with Wal-Marts, sales in general merchandise declined immediately after Wal-Mart stores opened. After ten years, sales declined by a cumulative 34%. [Kenneth Stone at Iowa State University, "Impact of the Wal-Mart Phenomenon on Rural Communities," 1997]

Wal-Mart destroys the environment

  • Between 2003 and 2005, state and federal environmental agencies fined Wal-Mart $5 million.
Wal-Mart's empty stores are blighting communities

  • Wal-Mart's rapid expansion of Supercenters and Sam's Clubs has contributed to hundreds of vacant stores across the country. ["Wal Mart site: Use as is or rebuild?", Dallas Morning News, 2/20/02]
  • When Wal-Mart decides to convert a discount store into a larger Supercenter, it is often cheaper or easier simply to relocate entirely. David Brennan, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn, noted that Wal-Mart stores relocate so regularly that, "it is not uncommon to relocate right across the street." ["Home Depot to Move from Old to New Store Next Door," Providence News-Journal, 8/17/03]

Wal-Mart and Imports
  • 70% of the commodities sold in Wal-Mart are made in China. [China Business Weekly, November 29, 2004]
  • Just because Wal-Mart bought goods from suppliers based in the United States does not mean that they were actually manufactured in the United States. In fact, Ray Bracy, Wal-Mart's vice president for federal and international public affairs, was asked, "Do you have any idea what percentage [of non-grocery, domestic sales] comes from overseas?" He responded, "What we don't know is the numbers of products that come from distributors or from manufacturers that they [sic] decide where to manufacture." Wal-Mart fails to track where their products are manufactured. [Frontline, 11/16/2004]

Wal-Mart's Chinese factory workers are treated poorly

  • Workers making clothing for Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, China filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart in September 2005 claiming that they were not paid the legal minimum wage, not permitted to take holidays off and were forced to work overtime. They said their employer had withheld the first three months of all workers' pay, almost making them indentured servants because the company refused to pay the money if they quit. [New York Times, September 14, 2005]
  • Workers making toys for Wal-Mart in China's Guangdong Province reported that they would have to meet a quota of painting 8,900 toy pieces in an eight hour shift in order to earn the stated wage of $3.45 a day. If they failed to meet that quota, the factory would only pay them $1.23 for a day's work. [China Labor Watch, December 21, 2005]

Elsewhere workers producing goods for Wal-Mart also face appalling conditions, despite Wal-Mart's factory inspection program

  • Workers from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Swaziland brought a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart in September 2005 asserting that the company's codes of conduct were violated in dozens of ways. They said they were often paid less than the legal minimum wage and did not receive mandated time-and-a-half for overtime, and some said they were beaten by managers and were locked in their factories. [New York Times, September 14, 2005]
  • A female apparel worker in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said she was locked into the factory and did not have a day off in her first six months. She said she was told if she refused to work the required overtime, she would be fired. Another worker said her supervisor attacked her "by slapping her face so hard that her nose began bleeding simply because she was unable to meet" her "high quota." [New York Times, September 14, 2005]
  • In 2004, only 8 percent of Wal-Mart inspectors' visits to factories were unannounced, giving supervisors the chance to coach workers what to say and hide violations. Wal-Mart claimed it planned to double unannounced visits by its inspectors but that would still leave 80 percent of inspections announced. [CFO Magazine, August 2005]
A former Wal-Mart executive James Lynn has sued the company claiming he was fired because he warned the company that an inspection manager was intimidating underlings into passing Central American suppliers. Lynn documented forced pregnancy tests, 24-hour work shifts, extreme heat, pat-down searches, locked exits, and other violations of the labor laws of these Central American countries. [New York Times, July 1, 2005 and James Lynn to Odair Violim, April 28, 2002,

Wal-Mart takes a combative approach to workers' compensation claims

  • Arkansas Business in 2001 described Wal-Mart as "the state's most aggressive" when it comes to challenging worker's compensation claims. The company "stands far above any other self-insurer in challenges to employee claims." [Arkansas Business, 1/8/01]

Wal-Mart shifts retirement costs onto communities

  • When employees retire without adequate savings and benefits, they are less able to pay for health care, housing, and food. Communities and taxpayers ultimately bear the costs
Wal-Mart violates Child Labor Laws

Rogi Riverstone

Need BHPC LC 10 minutes

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KUNM-FM Mail Rogi Riverstone

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Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 9:25 PM

Having heard of the monumental decisions discussed at the last BHPC meeting in my absence, I demand not only minutes of the meeting, but the entire taped recording of events.

I want them as early this week as possible, preferably by Tuesday.

I also want contact email addresses for all BHPC LCs in the state of New Mexico -- PARTICULARLY those of consumers or family members that are available to other BHPC participants. I also require contact email information for State BHPC officials; I will need to ask them some specific and serious questions about BHPC operations and decision-making procedures.

I need a copy of any rules, regulations, laws, bylaws, protocols, voting procedures, meeting procedures the constitution of quorums and or majority voting requirements, decision-making methods and any other types of legal activities that constitute decision making for BHPC LCs. If I have inadvertently excluded a more appropriate word, term, definition or concept in my request, it is to be inferred that I want those included for me to study, as well.

In addition, I want a copy of this and last years' budgets, INCLUDING costs for: postage and shipping, meals and snacks, serving supplies, office supplies, pagers, cell phones, land lines, long distance telephony, internet, fax, and any other forms of communications, wages and any other miscellaneous expenses. If BHPC LC 10 spent its budget on it, I want to know what it was, how much was spent and why.

I want to know the names Jesse Chaves mentioned that "should" be invited to our meetings, how he -- as an outsider to our community -- got those particular names and WHY HE MENTIONED THOSE IN PARTICULAR. I want to know why Jesse Chaves is recommending a particular gas station and a particular retail outlet, and the logic behind these.

I have a right to this information as an active participant in BHPC LC10, and I have a right to receive this information in a timely fashion.