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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  April 13, 2015 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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will hold people accountable. >> so let me ask you this. why is it that a determination that a whistleblower was not giving accurate information is a much easier determination to make than retaliation against a whistleblower. you answer that question, because what i'm hearing from the three whistleblowers here is, you guys have no problem saying this whistleblower was wrong. but you have no ability to hold a wrongdoer accountable. explain that. >> with all due respect that's not really how the process works. >> no, no, no, no. i have to stop you because i have very limited time. this is a very simple question. why is it that you are able to come to the conclusion that whistleblowers have made allegations that were not based on fact, and you can do that pretty expeditiously, it seems to me. and you can't do as expeditious
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an investigation when it comes to holding a retaliater against a whistleblower accountable. because guess what the numbers support what i'm saying. you can give whatever explanation you want. but i'm telling you right now, the level of disrespect that you are showing to the veterans who by the way if -- and we know allegations are true in terms of treatment, mistreatment of patients, the lists, the laundry lists of stuff that is going on. everyone knows that it's there. you're telling me you're spending all this time to try to hold someone accountable. forget about what's happening about actually fixing the problem where veterans are not getting the services that they need. that is another disturbing thing to me. that's almost an afterthought to you. so i can't hear an explanation that includes some kind of, with el, and believe me i'm a
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lawyer so i get the whole there's an ongoing investigation so i can't answer. it's a very convenient way of getting out of answering a question that you don't want to answer. so i know that. and i apologize. my blood is boiling. and this is a disgrace. so please give me an answer, and then i will end. why it's easier for you to come to the determination that whistleblowers are wrong before you can come to -- in a faster way you can say the retalia thetors are wrong. and i firing them. >> i understand it has to do with the burden of proof. when we do fire an employee, we have to show the preponderance of the evidence supports the action. >> i get the whole burden thing. that's why you should have more people working on that to do it even faster. this system is not going to get fixed. and you can talk about oh we
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changed the culture here. we did this. we set up that. oh, it's all so much better. if retaliators aren't being held accountable, that's the bottom line, and i don't see that. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you, miss rice. >> dr. roe you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. i guess the direction i want to go is with dr. head and mr. tremaine. when you make an allegation obviously you're not a team player right there. so what is it to lead me to believe that you're just not an incompetent employee. you're just a troublemaker. you don't want to work with a team. we've all been on the team before. and when you're looking, what's to make me -- because i've seen this happen before. where you -- how do i know dr.
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head is really a very good doctor? he just might not be very good so we move you out of the clinic and put you in a closet somewhere and essentially move you out of clinical care just to get you out of the way. and it's very hard to protect your reputation if you have two or three or four senior people ahead of you making the allegations. to follow up on miss rice's statements, how do you do that? hoe do i know how do i know you're not? >> well, my reputation speaks for itself. and my education clinical expertise and track record speaks for itself. a lawsuit has never been filed gns me. i never had a -- what's called a level three complaint filed against me until after i testified in congress. >> i'm being facetious doctor. >> i understand. but i think the whole world needs to understand this. i am a team player because i
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have followed every complaint i've made. every allegation. the problems with the wait times. suggesting perhaps medical staff should we view the consults rather than non-medical expertise. rather than students. it's common, though, to as i said before, what's the first thing they do? they take the whistle blower and isolate them. second, they defame them. third, they push them out. once they have them isolated, defamed, then they go and try to rewrite history. suggesting perhaps something they have done to cause the action against them, and they send out their surrogates. usually not trained professionals, without the institution, to suggest perhaps that person is a bad person. not a good doctor. but you know something, my strength comes from my patients
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actually. and i often tell them i get much many r out of seeing you than i give you. and i do my best every day of the week. to make sure that i give them the best care possible. and the mistake i made initially during this process was allow them to push me out of care. but i'm stronger now only because i've insisted and i fight to see as many veterans as possible. >> i think the problem is when you stick your head up. >> yeah. >> it's easier to keep your head down. if you speak up and stick your head out you get a lot of errors. people shooting arrows don't seem to have any back coming their way. here you come into a new shop. you're working in there. you see some issues: you point them out and what happens is, you then become the problem. >> yes, sir. and with 24 and a half years of v.a. experience at eight different facilities and never anything less than an
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outstanding rate inging in those 24 years, after arriving in central alabama, really quickly we discovered, and i discovered and then simultaneously, the assistant director, we started kind of comparing notes a little bit, and we both realized we were team players, and we would have done anything on the team that was going to fix things. we're not going to be on the tem that disrespects or harms veterans. i'm a veteran myself. i come from a family of veterans. i have my son here who would most likely be an in the air force. if he wants to go serve, i'll support him 100%. when he gets out, i want to make sure he walks into a v.a. any v.a. in the nation. the minute he crosses the threshold, he should be treated with respect and dignity.
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it shouldn't be a matter of which team are you going to be on. there's only one team. we both realized the rong team was in place, and we tried our best to help that tome to re-energize that team but that team didn't want to be helped. they team wanted to protect themselves and not help us. >> well, i thank the three of you for being here and speaking out. i think it will help other people, mr. chairman, around the country, to have the courage to stick their head up and letting things that go by that could potentially harm veterans. i yield back. >> thank you, dr. roe. >> thank you chairman. and thank you all for being here. the v.a. can achieve its mission if we have a culture of fear or a culture where the
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practitioners aren't able to do what they do. i know i'm somewhat biased. the issue of culture is never far from us. and we've talked about it. it's difficult. we're out in toma a week or so ago on a field hearing on this very issue issue of over prescription of opiates, and a whistleblower, if you will christopher kirkpatrick is one of the people who brought this to our attention. he was backed up by this. and chris ifer is not a dad. we have another whistle blower out there, a veteran was looked into with the clear warm of trying to is discredit them, is which is so despicable on so many levels. the very stigmas we're trying to overcome is being used against the people who are talking about it. so this is a cancer. and i know the attempts to try, and i'm grateful that we start to bring it to light, but in so
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many of these cases the difficult issue to overcome, and i thing miss rice was hitting on this, the preupon dance of the evidence. we understand that you have to make a case and you can't just accuse people and you have things that make sense. they are there to protect. which i'll come back to. thank you goodness for providing democracy in the workplace but with that being said this issue seems to me and i know this runs deeper than all of you at the table. i just looked up in the wester's direction nar, looked up whistleblower. ch betrayer fake, performer, narc, rat, does that say something about a culture that runs deep? that's why what you two are doing becomes more important to ensure us that the integrity is there. and i'm going to hit on this. i went through the list.
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i'm grateful it appears that we're starting to get justice. but that's one piece of this. the accountability piece you talked about the thing that troubles me most in the the nine cases you listed. it appears only charles johnson actually led to changes in how business was done in a hydration practice that was wrong. my concern on this, and this is three-fold. justice for the whistleblower accountability for the perpetrator, and improved quality of care to stop that, because really, when you adjudicated these things all you gave them back is what they should have had in the first place. you don't get a pat on the back for doing the right thing. that's what it appears that we're asking for. we paid them back the money, because you fired them incorrectly in the first place. i don't know maybe we're is talking to to wrong people for implementation of these changes. but are we seeing true change in your mind, or are we just going through the motions and paying people backpay that they
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should have never been taking anyway? and by the way it's not the v.a. who settles, it's the taxpayer who settles when we do this wrong. >> absolutely. we are seeing changes. not as quickly, and noz at profoundly as we should we'll get there. we are seeing changes. the office of the medical inspector in particular when they go out to investigate a disclosure that comes to us through miss lerner's office, if it's a disclosure with patient care, their recommendations include, not just -- if there's a whistleblower who is named not just protection for that individual, but substantive change around whar the whob is that was disclosed. and the department has an obligation to provide the information about what it's going to do and provide updates, so absolutely that is fundamental, that's really what the patrol process is about. >> just to add a couple of things. i think culture change requires
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many elements. this is not a prop that just dropped overnight. it's been around a long time. it's not going to get solved overnight. here's the things we see that make a difference. number one you have to have a message from the top. the deeder ship has to be very strong. meeting with them sends a great message. >> this troubles me though, if i can could interrupt you. was secretary shinsekle -- >> i think a lot of the problem under secretary shinseki's term was that the office of medical inspector was doing nothing when they found a problem. so when there was a disclosure what the office of medical inspector would do do is say, yeah, it's an isolated innocent but it's not really problem. >> and that's different now?
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>> that's very different now. after our report almost a year ago, the office of medical inspector was changed around. the person who was heading it left. we are seeing a change as a i mentioned in my testimony, of the types of investigations that they're doing, including disciplinary action. >> my time is up. when we come back around, i would like to have the other three address that. i think this is fundamental if it has made a significant difference. that's an important piece. i yield back. >> you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you holding this hearing. i wish it were not in es.necessary. i wish we had seen the time of changes -- we wouldn't be here if we were comfortable with what happened. i want to follow up on one thing just mentioned. miss lerner mentioned the travel by secretary and other top v.a. leaders. and this would be a question for miss flanz. visiting with whistleblowers,
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has the current secretary visited the l.a. facility where dr. head works? >> yes he has. >> did he meet with dr. head at that time? >> i honestly don't know. dr. head would know. >> okay. mr. head. >> yes. i was prevented from meeting with the secretary. i was told that my i.d. badge -- that there was a problem with my badge. i went to human resources. >> say that again? something wrong with your badge? >> i was told you have to have an updated cord on your badge that mine had expired and that i would not be allowed to see the secretary, and so -- >> did that expire when you were before the congressional committee, by any chance? >> there's a possibility it could have expired. >> i appreciate it. i want to go back to miss flanz. >> i was instructed to get that taken care of. i went to human resources. when i was in human resources trying to resolve the issue, which was resolved. they instructed me a block was
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placed on my i.d. and they had a problem with the block. and i was called saying you can meet with the secretary now. dr. norman has said that it is not necessary to have the updated card. the problem is the secretary had just finished his presentation. >> very troubling. miss flanz any response to that? i mean you made that claim that -- i mean this is very publish, whistleblower, dr. head put his reputation on the line, and i think a very courageous move very public. >> i was not consulted. if i had been, i sure would have wanted to try to intervene, the secretary does make a point to model the behavior he wants to see in all supervisors. i'm very sorry dr. head was not able to meet with him, because i know that conversation would
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have been of use to both of them. >> you made the statement that he would like to meet with whistleblowers, any others that he skip that had you know of? how many times has he met with whistleblowers? >> it's my understanding he seeks them out every time he goes to a v.a. facility. >> except for dr. head's situation, i guess. >> this is the first that i'm hearing that dr. head was unable to meet with him. >> i would appreciate that when you make statements for the record. >> and we've lacked a lot of certainty, this is a pretty certain statement that we're really working on hard. if i understand correctly no supervisors have been fired for retaliation against the whistleblowers? >> that is not correct. >> so how many have been fired? >> the ones that i know of fall within the jurisdiction of my office, which only looks at senior managers. so i can't speak to the folks below that level. we have been involveded in recommendations termination for three individuals, whose charges included whistleblower retaliation.
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so they have been terminated? >> yes. >> second question will follow up on the issue of whistleblower medical records, and, may we have the names of those who were terminated? >> not in this public forum but i would be happy to provide them. >> follow up then on whistleblower medical records. you made a reference to that later in your wherein testimony that perhaps supervisors or others have accessed illegally medical records of whistleblowers in order to discredit them. can you describe that? that's shocking and astonishing that would be occurring in the v.a. >> i mean, we've raised -- sorry. we've raised some of these concerns directly with the v.a. and with the i.g. what we're seeing is a pattern of not just accessing medical records, but investigations opened after someone comes the forward for things like hiipa
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violations. and it's really problematic from a lot of perspectives. one is that obviously the disclosure isn't being looked at but it has a very chilling effect on other whistleblowers. >> but it's by the va retaliating against the whistleblowers. >> well, it's both. it's all of those things. >> my question is about medical records of whistleblowers being accessed. so that actually has occurred? do you have any idea roughly how many times? >> i don't know the number. i can find out for you. i know we have cases that involve access -- improper access to the whistleblowers' medical records. obviously because a lot of people work at the v.a. get
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their care at the v.a. and so their medical records are there. >> government agencies exempt from hipaa, is that correct? >> there's a range of penalties, and in each case, we have to look to see whether in fact, the individual who accessed the record had a business reason to do so. i am also deeply troubled by this. we do see it far more often than you would expect. i don't know whether that is because so many of our employees are veterans who received their care at v.a. facilities. it's a deeply troubling phenomenon. >> i would say my idea for penalty for that woibuld be immediate dismissal. >> thank you. miss roby, you are now recognized for five minutes. >> first, thank you to the chairman for the invitation to join you today.
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many of you know i don't sit on your committee, but i do sit on the appropriations sub committee, and mr. tremaimene is my constituent, and i'm very glad to have you here today. first two huge understatements. first to say the people coming forward shows that there are issues that still need some attention as well as this saying that we hear over and over again that you can't change a culture overnight.qj%(ñ well, it's been a year. it's been almostú50 year since mr. tremaine and i had our first conversation. so we're tired of hearing you can't change this culture overnight. it hasn't been overnight. it's been a year. so here we are. and i was traveling up here today, and i was thinking about us being in this room together today and how significant that is. and i just want to thank you for being willing to tell me the truth, when no one else was, for
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you and dr. neis to step forward, to reveal the horrible circumstances in montgomery and it just says a lot about who you are. and i thanked you many times for this, but i want to thank the opportunity today publicly to thank mr. tremaine and the other whistleblower who is are here, who i don't know, but i appreciate your courage as well. thanks to mr. tremaine, we uncovered layers of scandal at the central alabama v.a. thousands of missing x-rays. manipulated medical records. the v.a. employee who took a recovering veteran to a crack house, and only took a year and a half even though the administration knew that this had happened, it took a year and a half for the individual to be fired. this is the culture that we're talking about, and here, a year
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later, we're taking a step backwards when the a.p. article you saw at the end of last week showed that the two hospitals that mr. tre jmaine worked at were number one and two for the worst in the country. because there's a new scam now. it's let's schedule the appointment within the time frame required. we'll cancel it 30 minutes before the appointment and reschedule it so on the books once again it looks like the v.a. is doing what they're supposed to do. and by the way, if they come in, i learned this last week and you probably already know this. if a mental health patient comes in and asks to be seen as a walk-in they only get reimbursed for half the traveling expenses. this is the kind of stuff we're
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hearing directly from veterans. and i have to tell you, nothing has improved. we have taken steps backwards. so mr. tremaine, thank you for being here. and to that point i want to ask you, because i've asked nicely for a year and all apologies to those who race me but i'm a little over being nice at this point. how often, mr. tremaine in the last six months, did a professional staff member from the secretary of the v.a.'s office here in washington sit in your regularly scheduled staff meetings? >> zero. right, zero. so senator shelby from alabama and myself sent a letter when all of this information was revealed that had we wanted washington v.a. to come down and directly oversee what was happening at central alabama v.a. over the last six months has there been any presence from the national v.a. in central alabama, direct link to the secretary's office here in
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washington to oversee what's happening in the last six months? okay. and so in your view, has the secretary and other top leadership here in washington shown a direct sustained interest in investment in correcting the problems? so would you say that washington followed through with its promise to directly oversee the overall, or was the work staffed out to mr. sepich and mr. jackson, who by the way mr. sepich was the visiting director, and mr. jackson is now the acting director after mr. talton was removed. >> yes he was placed there by mr. sepich. he was the deputy network director. and when mr. talton was fired, robin jackson came in as the director. i think i pointed out he was
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woefully. >> and i'm a visitor here, so i have to be careful not to violate your rules of five minutes. but if i can just point out one other thing, mrs. flanz was in the room with me when i asked mr. sepich to be included in the same investigation that mr. tremaine was subject to intense interrogation. mr. sepich was the boss of the first senior manager fired for mismanagement under the law this congress passed last august. mr. sepich quietly retired one week ago. thank you for letting me be here, chairman, and ranking member. thank you to mr. tremaine and dr. head and i just can't tell you how much i appreciate your encouragement and your willingness to help us get this right. >> thank you. and i think your passion speaks for itself. and i think when i mentioned being on the right ñteam there's no question that our
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representative has been an advocate for veterans that we haven't seen the likes of. so thank you so much for that, ma'am. >> thank you very much. just a brief follow-up among the lines of representative rice, and i want to ask miss lerner this is sort of procedural, but i think it will get at an important point. you talked about the office of medical inspector now doing a more proactive or interactive follow-up to the recommendations, and you mentioned including disciplinary action, and that seems to be what's hanging in the room over this hearing. our disappointment that it sounds as though it's a more rigorous investigation of the whistleblowers, than of those that have been standing behind retaliation. and to me, and i think this is
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what representative rice is getting at. if you want to actually change culture, you've got to change the view not just the first step that will take care of the whistleblowers and treat them fairly, but that something will actually happen to those that retaliated against. and i'm an attorney as well. i understand the burden of proof and all of that. but can you follow up with this role? maybe we don't have the right witness here in terms of the office of medical inspector. what times of disciplinary action can we ask for any data that may be available as the disciplinary action that has been taken. >> sure. i think there are two different processes here. the office of medical inspector investigates once we get a disclosure that we refer for investigation. that process is separate. and one of the things we look at when we decide whether the report is adequate and before we
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report to the president and the congress is have they taken appropriate corrective action, where they have found a problem has someone been disciplined? has relief been provided? and that's not what they do dst not really retaliation investigations. where we're seeing the problem with retaliatory investigations is with the i.g. and with the regional council. the problem really is someone comes forward with a dislow sure, then an investigation is often opened up into their behavior. >> right. >> and so about 80% of the time people come toçó us with a disclosure, they experience retaliation. we can protect them from retaliation if they come guard. but they are really just looking at the underlying disclosure. so who -- then there's a procedure that's missing.p, because my colleague mr. walls talked about you need to deal with protecting the whistleblower. you need to deal with making the long-term changes that have -- for the health and well being of the veterans but i want to get
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at the matter. who is investigating the retaliatory action and what is the disciplinary procedurejgn for that person? do you follow me? >> sure. >> this is the forest for the trees here. >> when someone makes a disclosure and experience retaliation, they have a number of options. they can go to accountability and review. they can go to the i.g. they can come to osc. they can come to congress. if they experience retaliation, we can open up an investigation, where we can use the expedited review process to try to get relief very quickly for themselves. >> you're still talking about relief to protect them. i want to follow -- keep going on the track. what is the procedure for disciplinary proceeding to set the example? i mean look, that's halfçó of what criminal justice system is á
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cf1 o all about. it's part of what an employee justice system is about. to set this example. here we're modeling the behavior of this collaborative approach. over here, we don't want this to happen. sending somebody to an office with a hole in the floor. sending somebody else to an office with no windows.p0 these are things not tolerable. and we're going to demonstrate that to all the other employees by saying, oh that person was let go. they didn't uphold a standard of core operative collaborative spirit that we hold dear in our workplace. >> disciplinary action is really key. there's no question about it. in terms of changing a culture, you have to hold people accountable. it deters future violations as well. our primary focus is on making
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the whistleblower hold and putting the whistleblower back. we have 130 employees for the agency and we have to prioritize with we put our efforts. what we do do, is where we identify a case where we think disciplinary action is appropriate. where someone has beenr retaliated against. we work with the office of accountability review and we try to get the the agency to take disciplinary action. and we have several cases in the pipeline that will involve disciplinary action. we are trying to pivot and focus more and more on disciplinary action as an agency. but the first priority has been getting people back to work when someone has been fired we want them back to work. when someone has been moved to the basement, we want to get them back, and we have been very successful in doing that. >> well, my type is up. but i think i just want to make the point that the sooner you can get to the disciplinary action forthe the retaliatory behavior, the shorter the list of cases you're going to be piling through for years on end
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of examples such as these. so you need to set an example. but thank you, and i apologize for going over. >> you are now recognized for five minutes. >> dr. head, you still don't have an office basically because you were put in this bad office? >> um it's shameful. and it's kind of -- >> is that true that you still basically -- >> well i have that office that they would like me to. >> mr. flanz, why hand he gotten his regular office back? >> i don't know. but i will find out. >> i think that's a pretty good question to ask. obviously he's here in good faith, and i would like to get an answer to that question. and dr. head, is the guy your supervisor, that's the same supervisor you had all right along for this whole ordeal? >> no. on paper it's dr. norman g. he's the chief of staff at long beach. really it's dr. dean norman who
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has been responsible. >> that's the same person that's been there all along? >> yes. >> miss flanz apparently v.a. employees often confidential provide patient information necessary to substantiate allegations of improper care to this sub committee. and this is not a hipaa violation. spo why are employees sometimes accused of violation. >> i think it's a function of confusion on the the part of supervisors. v.a. is appropriately very protective of protected patient care information, and not all supervisors are aware of the right of employees to provide that information to this committee and to other oversight bodies. >> miss lerner what changes have occurred in the office of special counsel since last year's hearing? is there anything that substantially changed in the office? >> well we have many more cases to investigate in the last year. we've been able to do a little
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bit of hiring. we have been able to hire someone to work full time on v.a. cases and the expedited review system and hire additional staff to work the cases. i mean, our process works. we've been getting relief for whistleblowers. we are getting people back to work. we are getting them stays of adverse personnel actions. you know people you know i think feel more comfortable and know about us so we're getting more cases. >> all right. thank you. >> i want to give you a chance to speak. i don't know you've been heard from enough. tell me what your response is today to the testimony of miss flanz and miss lerner? >> well, i can tell you by illustrating that we had a whistleblower who reported an inappropriate practice of giving medication to help people who have addiction problems.c and you're really technically not supposed to continue giving
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that medication if someone has abnormal urine drug screen. so repettive positive urine drug screens should be a cause for not giving that medication anymore. we had a clinical nurse specialist who reported that practice going on and rather than investigate, they investigated that nurse. he has been sitting in a clinical clerical position, even though he's a nurse specialist. he's essentially doing no functions. he's a windowless office, reporting to clerks who need, you know something moved or carried around. when he has a masters degree and is going for his ph.d. and he is on active duty, just this past weekend, in the reserves. they have now proposed on friday, he did contact the office of special councilkouncounsel, back in august when he was first detailed. and they did propose discipline
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on friday on something that occurred in 2013. and a couple of other things that they alleged occurred in 2014. >> i don't mean to interrupt you a minute, because i've heard of this before from the other members, other physicians saying they get a peer review gig. something they can put against you without a reference saying the thing that you brought up. >> right. >> is that your experience as well? >> yes my personal experience when i have been in the limelight for reporting things. i only had one time when i was called to a peer review committee, and i've worked for the v.a. over 26 years. in this particular instance, there was no peer in the room or on a telephone to be my peer. there was a dietitian in the room. and there were you know, o few other occupational therapists in addition to a smattering of physicians. but there was no true peer for me to address my concern to. that was number one.
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number two is that the -- >> the peer review process is flawed at your facility it sounds like. >> yes, for incertain circumstances, very flawed. because people they want to, you know in a sense harass, i had another colleague, well, several colleagues who had no true peer in the room when they went before the peer review committee. then we have people in the sinner circle who are the team players, who don't get per review cases when they should be and other get peer review cases that really should not be peer reviewed. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> miss rice, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. miss flanz. i just want to go back to the conversation we were having where you were talking about the burden of proof or retaliators. what is the burden of proof you apply when looking at allegations of whistleblowers? >> in any case it depends on the
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tribunal who might hear an action. >> say it's you. >> i'm not a tribunal. >> say it's you making a recommendation to a d.a.'s office or who? >> no most cases employee discipline is going to be subject to appeal to the merit system's protection board. the merit system protection board in almost all cases applies a preponderance of evidence. >> is that true for retaliators and whistleblowers? >> if an action is going to be taken against an employee if it's subject to appeal, most actions, now there are differences if we're talking about title 38 doctors and nurses who have their own disciplinary process. but if we're talking about a government employee under title 5, if the allegation is that person did something wrong and should be disciplined and the appeal goes to mspb, in moes
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cases, the preponderance of the evidence would apply. >> and in terms of any disciplinary action, that is meant to be taken against a re retaliator or a whistleblower they both have protections in the law. whether by the union representation or whomever. no? there's none? >> not for peer title 38. that's a glitch in the system pertaining to section 7422 of title 38. the secretary veteran affairs control, our clinical practice, our clinical competence. so what the secretary says goes, and that's typically delegated to a chief of staff locally who can be very very, very retaliatory to physicians who do not play according to the party line. or who are not team players. >> that's int mr. chairman, i would -- obviously, maybe that's
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something we as a committee should look into trying to fix. so in my prior life as a prosecutor there was aé@ saying that is november 2014. building trust. at that time you did note there were over 100 investigations currently being overtaken. do you have a rough figure of
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what those numbers are today? >> i believe he was speaking to the i.g.'s ongoing investigations into alleged misuse of scheduling enwait list systems. the ig was at its most active point, active at 98 sites. they have completed their work at several of them. just to make sure i have the right data here -- they've completed their work at 43 of those sites. they have substantiated some scheduling and propriety at 14 of the 43. they found no particular impropriety at 29, and their investigations are ongoing at the balance. >> so that's at the 100 from november still haven't got to the second half of those. are my numbers correct? >> the ig has not delivered to the department its reports in the others. yes. >> okay, so five months later
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from this report to the public by the seak tear and half these zsh i mean, these investigations have yet to be completed or we don't know the status of those? >> you have to ask the i.g. >> this comes for the secretary. can you ask them for me? this is from the secretary that says working diligently to cooperate with investigations by the inspector general, the justice department and the office of special counselkouncouncil. so this is all those together. do you know roughly a comparable figure today more or less? but if i understand correctly, half of these have yet to be completed or start the investigation. >> i believe the i.g. has started them all and probably finished quite a few but probably not yet delivered their reports. >> and this would be presumably where three individuals have been fired out of 100 investigations. is that what we're looking at here? >> the question that you posed before about individuals to
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which i gave to you the answer three had to do with whistleblower retaliation. the i.g. is looking at something different. and, so that would be a different number. >> okay. what is that number then? >> i'm here today to talk about whistleblower retaliation, and i apologize. i don't have the number of actions taken as a result of the i.g. findings. >> well, one thing i'll ask about your testimony and before the sub committee in the last month. i'm just curious, when you put together this testimony, you visit with above you declare this testimony. do you visit with the secretary himself and the deputy secretary and they clear this testimony before the committee? >> there is a process that includes our leadership, yes. >> so they approve everything in your testimony? >> the front office approves all testimony, yes. >> so nobody in the the front office knew mr. head did not have the opportunity to visit with the secretary. even though reading this, i
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would suggest you assume that he -- you're suggesting everyone was talked to. somebody looked at this and let you say that a visit might have been made. am i understanding that correct? >> my testimony is that the secretary makes a point of meeting with whistleblowers as he travels throughout the system. my testimony didn't specifically speak to any meeting with dr. head. >> what about the other two individuals? >> when the secretary veteran affairs came to our facility, he did not meet with any whistleblowers, per se. we asked for a private meeting with him because we had sent a letter in november about a number of people under investigation that we felt were inappropriate administrative investigation boards that appeared to be a sham investigation board. he had a strict schedule. we were allowed to go with another union for 15 minutes together jointly. i was unable to go because i had patient care duties so my colleagues in the union went.
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>> dr. tremaine. >> the the secretary didn't visit our facilities. the deputy secretary did, but he did not meet with any of us. >> i'm just about out of time. if i might ask of miss flanz. of the 15 corrective actions that were identified from the office of special council, i would like to know how many of those actually have visits with senior v.a. officials? >> i don't know. >> would you please find out and report to the committee? >> yes. >> i yield back mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. walsh, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, and i'm going to venture out on a limb. i bet you get a call from the secretary now. miss flanz might back me on that, i would bet. it goes to something bigger for me. i would argue and go back to the issues with secretary shinseki and others i this many times they're let down by others around them. it takes us back to the core issue of delegation and authority.
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and in an organization that big, this has to happen. so how are we going to change it? how are we going to make it better? i would bet everybody in this room at one time another has gone gone through some form of professional training. whether it's on a friday afternoon or a retreat or something like that. i bet in our professional careers, you can count and tell the ones that were highly effective and those that were forgettable. this is an important issue. ft have any of the three of you, dr. head, dr. hooker and dr. tremaine, have any of you received osc whistleblower certification training? >> no, i have not. >> i have not. >> no. >> don't you wish those three would have got it? >> can i speak to that? >> yes i think what the certification training is it's not a specific training. there are five steps that agencies have to take to become certified. one of them is -- i mean a lot of it is a training component.
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but it means putting posters at facilities. providing information to employers about retaliation and their rights. providing information to current employees. >> is there any confusion on that? >> i'm sorry. >> is there confusion on that in the v.a. that if someone tells you about a practice, isn't it widely known that you don't move them from their office without due process or anything? and again, yes, facetiously, but i'm fit to be tired here. do you believe this is going to work? >> you noknow, i think the problem is that it has to filter down to the regions. i think the message is good coming down to headquarters. but the folk who is are inchactually implementing it need more training. >> dr. head, is this going to work? >> i think the current practices need a big change. >> so there's a step in the right direction. i always think about this. training folks is on technique and content. development focuses on people. in these positions, i would argue, and this is what always
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pains me is lo the vast majority in the hears are very different to me. there's a bunch of employees out there dif viing and sacrificing and doing great service, and their morale is hurting wen we do this. the problem is it tends to be folks in the management chain that do that. my question to the three soft you is what would be the most effective thing that we can do? i don't want to belittle the training part of it. i should go on record and be clear. it's good to get a refresher course on what's legal and all of that. so i'm going all of that. it seems to be a central focus on what we're going to do to this change that. i would ask the three of you what should we be doing more of? >> i think the definition, when you use the wester's definition of a whistleblower, that in itself is really derogatory. and you know i don't think that in itself just ills a lot of people. when they think whistleblower,
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they think negative. you have to embrace the whistleblower and acknowledge that. and acknowledge that there are problems, and you have to resolve those problems. i think acknowledgment and that openness, the transparency is important. we have the retaliation, that seems to be the first step on any time a whistleblower comes forward. >> why not wanting to be better and wanting to hear that? you can take everything with a grain of salt. each one of us in our personal lives when you get positive feedback, especially those you trust, those around you why that resistance to hearing the truth? >> i don't know. i think you hit the nail on the head when you said there's many v.a. employees. the majority of the v.a. employees, 99.9% are going to work every day and love taking care of veterans and doing the right thing. you have the small minority that feel that they can utilize
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taxpayer money to do whatever they want and retaliate and call -- >> do you think there just needs to be some teeth in this thing? that folks need to know it's not going to be tolerated? i don't want to step on anybody's due process rights, but you hear the frustration that nobody is ever held accountable. it's not a juvenile desire to see punishment for the sake of punishment. it's about making sure good people are served. >> for professionals, we don't have due process rights in the traditional sense. so it prevents us from having that due process right. in the community i would be held to the standards o of my peers. in the v.a.s the secretary tells me what i do and how i do it. so i can't argue. i don't have the collegial oversight. i have clerks tells me how to practice medicine. if i call the office of special
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counsel and report -- >> that's a big problem. >> i did come across evidence that another veteran employee reported two years ago before i discovered it through a termination of another employee who brought up some issues. she had two masters degrees and a counselling degree. but where i'm going with this is when i reported to the employees when the office of special counsel, i went to the inspector general. the report basically goes back to the v.a. i did call the osc on all the nine people i currently have sitting home getting paid at a high professional salary levels for not doing their job when they aren't -- they don't know why they are home. i have an ophthalmologist who was just threatened. so when we do report to these
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outside agencies, they turn it over to the v.a. for investigation. i'm not a farmer, but i would have trouble asking the fox how many hens are left in the coop when the feathers are sticking out of the fox's mouth. >> most of it boggles my mind, but the thing that. keeps coming back to me is what's the deal with this office thing and moving people to the basement? it just boggles my mind. that's an intimidation, that's your definition of violence in the workplace. >> it's unacceptable. >> i went over the time. i don't no i if the chairman wants to follow up. >> one quick final point. there has to be accountability. move me to a storage bin makes many me feel bad. but they are trying to send the message not only to me, they are trying to send the message to everyone there saying he wouldn't testify in front of congress. they say they are going to protect him. but you know something on my
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v.a. no, they listen to e me. congress can't do a thing about it. they are trying to intimidate all the other potential -- i would label these patriots. they are trying to suppress their willingness to try to make a better life for these veterans. it's just shameful. >> let me just say also that the retaliation simply isn't limited to employees of the v.a., but also patients of the v.a. who step forward. in colorado we had a case last year where a patient gave a statement to an investigative reporter and the reporter then called the v.a. and talked to the public affairs individual for that particular visit and the public affairs individual said that you really don't want to talk to this person. he's a patient undergoing psychiatric care. i sent a letter to the secretary of the veterans affairs.
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have never gotten a response to this date. our thanks to the witnesses. you are now excused. today we have had a chance to hear about problems that exist within the department of veterans affairs with regard to writes l blower retaliation. from the testimony provided and questions asked today, i am dismayed at the failure of the department to adequately protect our employees who seek to improve services provided to our veterans. as such this hearing was necessary to accomplish a number of items to, number one allow v.a. to highlight what efforts it's made to improve whistleblower protection practices and processes. two, address where improvements either have not been made or where insufficient attempts give way to continued retaliation experience by whistleblowers, and three, assess next steps to
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be taken both by v.a. and by this committee to ensure that those employees who seek to to correct problems within the department are adequately protected. i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to extend the remarks and include instrainous material. without objection, so order eded. i would like to once again thank all of our witnesses and audience members for joining us at today's hearing. with that, this hearing is adjourned.
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you can watch this hearing in its entirety online at c-span.org and we'll air it it again tonight on c-span. more live hearings this week on c-span 3. the head of immigration and customs enforcement goes before the house judiciary committee to testify on enforcement of immigration laws and treatment of undocumented immigrants. that's tomorrow live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. later senate foreign relations committee chair bob corker is sponsoring a bill to have congress review an iranian nuclear deal. that starts at 2:15 p.m. eastern
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live right here on c-span 3. it's reported that earlier today marco rubio told donors he was planning on running for president. we're going to take you florida, the home state of senator rubio. he's about to publically announce his 2016 presidential bid.
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ladies and gentlemen, marco rubio. >> marco! marco! >> thank you, thank you. that is a lot of cell phones, thank you. thank you for being here. after months of deliberation and prayer about the future of our country, i have come here
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tonight to make an announcement on how i believe i can best serve here. i chose to make this announcement at the freedom tower because it is truly a symbol of our nation's identity a a land of opportunity. and i am more confident than ever that despite our troubles we have it within our power to make our time another american century. in this very room, five decades ago, tens of thousands of cuban exiles began their new lives in america. their story is part of the larger story of the american miracle. how united by a common faith and their god-given right to go as far as their talent and work would take them. a collection of immigrants and exiles, a former slaves and refugees, together built the freest and most prosperous nation ever.
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for almost all of human history power and wealth belonged only to a select few. most people who have ever lived were trap edped by the circumstances of their birth. destined to live the life their parents had. but america is different. because here we are the children and the grandchildren of people who refused to accept this.
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future was destined to be defined by their past. so in 1956 they came here to america, to the one place on earth where the aspirations of people like them could be more than just dreams. here in america my father became a bar tender. my mother a cashier, a maid a kmart stock clerk. they never made it big but they were successful. two immigrants with little money or education found stable jobs, owned a home, retired with security and gave all four of their children a life better than their own. my parents achieved what came to be known as the american dream. the problem is now too many americans are starting to doubt whether achieving that dream is still possible. hard working families that are living paycheck to paycheck, one unexpected expense away from
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disaster. young americans, unable to start a career or a business or a family because they owe thousands of dollars in student loans for degrees that did not even lead to jobs. and small business owners who are left to struggle under the weight of more taxes, more regulation, and more government. why is this happening in a a country that for over two centuries has been defined by equality of opportunity? it's because while our people and our economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and ideas are stuck in the 20th century. they are busy looking backwards, so they do not see how jobs and prosperity e today depend on the ability to compete in a global
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economy economy. and so our lewders put us at a disadvantage by taxing and borrowing and regulating like it was 1999. they look r for solutions in yesterday, so they do not see the good paying modern jobs require different skills and more education than the past so they blindly support an outdated higher education system that is too expensive and too inaccessible to those who need it most. and they have forgotten, they have forgotten that when america fails to lead chaos inevidently follows. and so they appease our enemies, they betray our allies and weaken our military.
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the turn of the 19th century, a generation of americans harness the power of the industrial age and transformed this country into the ed looing economy in the world and it became the american century. well now the time has come for our generation to lead the way towards a new american century. if reform our tax code and control spending and modernize our immigration laws if we do these things, if we do these things, if we do these things, the american people will create millions of better paying modern jobs. if we create a 21st century
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system of higher education that provides working americans the chance to acquire the skills they need that no longer graduate students with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to jobs and that graduates more students from high school ready to work, then our people will be prepared to seize their opportunities in this new economy. if we remember that the family not the government is the most important institution in our society. if we remember that all human life deserves protection of our laws laws, and if we remember that
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all parents deserve to choose the education that's right for their children, then we will have a strong people and a strong nation. and if america once again accepts the mantle of global leadership by abandoning this administration dangerous concessions to iran and its hostility to israel. by reverse inging the hollowing out of our military, by giving our men and women in uniform the resources, the care and the gratitude that they deserve. by no longer being passive in the face of chinese and russian
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aggression and by ending the near total disregard for the erosion of democracy and human rights around the world especially cuba venz away la and nicaragua. then if we did these things, then our nation would be safer, our world more stable and our people more prosperous pop. these are the things that we must do. but this election is not just about what laws we're going to pass. this election is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be. now just yesterday a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday.
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yesterday is over. and we're never going back. you see we americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future and before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of america, but we can't do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. e we must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them. and so that is why tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, but inspired by the promise of our future, i
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announce my candidacy for president of the united states. [ applause ] >> thank you. now look, i know my candidacy might seem improbable to some watching from abroad. many countries the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and the powerful. but i live in an exceptional country, i live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can havertãthe sameg i live in an exceptional country
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where the son of a bar tender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege. i recognize, i recognize the challenges of this campaign and i recognize the demands of this office that i seek. but in this endeavor, as in all things, i find comfort in the ancient command, be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed for the lord your god is with you wherever you go. i have heard some suggest that i should step aside and wait my turn. but i cannot because i believe
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our very identity is an exceptional nation is at stake and i can make a difference as president. . i'm humbled by the realization that america doesn't owe me anything. but i have a debt to america i must try to repay. this isn't just a country where i was born. . america is literally the place that changed my family's history. i regret that my father did not live to see this it day in person. he used to tell us all the time -- [ speaking in foreign language ] that means in which country you
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will achieve all the things we never could. now on the days when i'm tire ued or discouraged, i remember the sounds of his keys jingling at the front door of his home well past midnight as he returned from another long day at work. when i was younger, i didn't fully appreciate all he did for us. but now as my own children grow. older, i more fully understand. my father was grateful for the work he had, but that was not the life he wanted for his children. he wanted all the dreams he once had for himself to come true for us. he wanted all the doors that closed for him to open for me. and so my father stood behind a small portable bar in the back of a room for all those years so that tonight i could stand behind this podium in front of this room and this nation.
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that journey from behind that bar o to behind this podium, that's the essence of the american dream. whether we remain a special country will depend on whether that journey is still possible for those trying to make it right now. the single mother who works long hours for little pay so her children don't have to struggle the way she has to. the young student who takes two buss before dawn to attend a better school halfway across town. the workers in our hotel kitchens, the landscaping crews in our neighborhoods the late night janitorial staff that clean our offices, and even the bartenders who tonight are stand standing in the back of a room somewhere in america. if their american dreams become impossible, we will have just
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become another country. but if they succeed this 21st century will also be an american century. this will be the message of my campaign and the purpose of my presidency and to succeed obn this journey i will need your prayers, your support and ultimately your vote. and so tonight i'm asking you to take that first step with me by joining us at our website marcorubio.com. my wife and my four children are here tonight.
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the next 19 months will take me far away from home. i'll miss watching amanda run track and daniela play volleyball and anthony play football and dominic play soccer. but i have chosen this course because this election is about them. theirs is the most important generation in america. and i'll tell you why. because if we can capture the promise of this new century they will be the most freest and prosperous americans that have ever lived. but if we fail they will be the first generations of americans to have a country worse off than the one left by their parents. the final verdict will be written by american who is have not yet been born. let us make sure they record that we made the right choice, that in the early years of this century faced with a rapidly
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changing and uncertain world our generation rose to face the great challenges of our time. and because we did, because we did, there was still one place in the world where who you come from does not determine how far you go. because we did the american miracle lived on. because we did our children and theirs lived in a new american century. thank you, god bless you, god bless the united states, thank you.s'9
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>> you can watch senator rubio's announcement online at c-span c-span.org and we'll a air it again tonight on c-span. >> tonight on the communicators, policy director for alliance science and technology on the importance of the last. >> the last two administrations have both written presidential memorandum on spectrum. when i first started back in 1979 i came out of the marine core after being artillery
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officer, i didn't know anything about spectrum. most people that i met and even those often times i work with didn't understand much but now as everybody realizes it's part of our daily devices. our ability to communication and often do our jobs or stay in touch with our family. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span 2. - with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2, here on c-span 3 we compliment that coverage by e showing you the most relevant hearings and public affairs events. then on weekends c-span 3 is the home to "american history tv" with programs that tell our nation's story including six unique series. the 150th anniversary visiting bat. l fields and key events. american artifacts, history book
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shelf with the best known writers, the presidency, looking at policies and legacies of the commanders in chief, lectures in history with top college professors delving into america's past, and reel america featuring films from the 1930s through the '70s. c-span 3, created by the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. the l.a. times reported in march california will run out of water in one year. governor brown recently announced mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history. next, remarks from a canadian author and water advocate who was a key player in helping the u.n. declare water as a basic human right. food and water watch chair recently a recently addressed xavier university in cincinnati about what she calls the global water
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crisis and how to solve it. this is an hour and o 20 minutes. >> mad barlow is the water rights activist. in fact, if you goog the phrase water rights activist, she's the first and only person specifically named in the results. she chairs the board for as or is a member of the council of canadians food and water watch, the international forum on globalization and the world future council. she holds 12 honorary dock rats and has received numerous awards for her work on water rights, most recently the earth care award, the highest international honor of the sierra club. she's highly published and her latest is "blue future." we are honored to have her here at xavier, please help me and
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welcome her. [ applause ] >> wow, thank you very much. i'm absolutely delighted to be here, thank you, mark for your beautiful words. i'm quite embarrassed that that's true. thank you so much to nancy and ann dougherty and elizabeth for the sustainable committee. thank you so much james buck can for your words and work. and i just a shout out to edward, the founder. i just want to say it's a true pleasure speaking at a university where your stated goals have to be with peace and justice and that's actually up front who you are. it's not that common, actually so it's just really a treat to
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be here. i'm going to talk a little bit about the global water crisis and welcome, by the way, it to the high school students 37 we're really happy you guys came here. it's really special that you're here. and then i'm going to talk a little bit about what we can do and what we are doing. i want to say to you that i hate it when people my age come to talk to younger people and say it's doom and gloom and just forget a about it there's nothing you can do. actually, there's lots we can do about the crisis that i'm going to talk to you about. i do believe that hope is a moral imperative. if i share with you some of the bad news, it's because i'm going to then share with you had thatwhat i think e we need to do a about. i think we need to face the actual dimension of the crisis. we have seen an enormous increase in the amount of water that we are using as a human species in the last couple decades. a 50% increase in withdrawals in
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a very short time. we are seeing what some of us are calling running dry. we're seeing massive pollution of our surface water and even massive pollution of our ground water. i don't know if you know but in the united states, it is legal to dump toxic waste into the ground, water sources and massive amounts are being dumped. out of sight, out of mind, i guess, is the thought. i was sharing today with others that they found an aquifer under mexico city and mexico city is in real trouble water wise. they have taken out all the water, but they did find another aquifer. when had they pulled the first cup of this fresh water up the engineer said and said it's delicious and said this is why you don't destroy your ground water because some day you're going to need it. we're also damming rivers and i call it ground water mining way
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fast faster than these ground water sources can be replenished. we're damming rivers so that most of the major rivers in the world no longer reach the ocean. where the fresh water meets salt water is one of the important spawning grounds for aquatic life. we're doing this for many reasons, but the most urgent demand on water is for food production for the global market economy. it's really important for us to start off with a knowledge of something called virtual water. virtual water is the water that's embedded in the things that we eat or the clothes we wear or computers or whatever. and up until not long ago, the united states was saying that each person on earth using x amount of water and now we understand that that's probably about one tenth of the water that we really use. nine tenths of the water we use is not something that we see or touch.
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it's embed edded in our dinners and so on. if you sit down as a family of four to a a small steak each, you're consuming the equivalent of an olympic size swimming pool with that steak. we're beginning now to bring this into the equation and understand what this means. and what's happening is kind of like a bathtub. it's a bunch of us sitting around, a great big bathtub with a lot of water and we have blindfolds and straws and drinking up that water really fast and we think it's fine because there's lots of water and there's lots of water for everybody everybody. then all of a sudden there's no water for anyone. it's called exponential use so you can't see it coming. it's the extopoto enshl use of something that's finite. there was a forum held in switzerland, what always is. and always every year they do
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research ahead of time on what are the major issues and they talked to 900 experts around the world and to a person they said it's the coming water crisis, it's here in terms of impact. another meeting with u.n. of the secretary general brought 500 scientists together and said what we're doing now is what they call planetary transformation, as great a change to the world and planet as the melting of the ice age. and they also in a separate different study, this one done through the world bank, the statistic that stunned the world at the time was two years ago was that by 2030 the demand in our world for water will outstrip u supply by 40%. this is almost impossible to try to understand. and of course, you stop and think about who is going to do without, it's going to be the poor, the marginalized, the people around the edges, the
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people in slums, the mass of slums or the people in poor communities here in north america. it's also going to be the animals, it's going to be the species that can't survive easily without water. so i just want to give you a few examples of what we're talking about. india is in terrible trouble. 60% of all of their water for farming comes from irrigation so they are dam ingming their rivers really seriously. depleting water in some places by five feet a year and literally in some of the states beginning to run dry. china, 75% of all their service water is polluted. here's a stunning new report that since 1990 half of the rivers in china have disappeared. what do you mean disappeared? they are gone, disappeared. that's partly from hydroelectric coal mining for hydroelectric
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power, but it's also because they are using their water and air and soil to produce so much of the stuff that gets sent around to the rest of the world. two lakes in the soviet union so big a lake it was called a sea. the other is lake chad. once the fourth largest and sixth largest lakes in the world now almost nothing both of them just down to a bare trickle. in each case it wasn't climate change, as we have come to understand it. it was absolute overextraction. the story that most disturbs me right now is brazil. brazil has been, until recently, considered the country with the most water. they never had droughts tons of water, they have the aquifer, the rain forest they have a massive area between the rain forest that holds a tremendous amount of water. but suddenly the second biggest city in brazil with about 20
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million people living there has gone dry. when i tell you in the last two years there was no probably two years ago, it's going dry incredibly fast and there's been massive drought for the last few years right across brazil. it turns out because they are cutting down the amazon. what we now know is when you cut down rain forest or vegetation it changes the hydrologic pattern. these rain forests give off massive amounts of humidity and vapors and they form flying rivers. you have to try to think of it as a river in the sky being held up by air, by air currents, but then it can travel thousands of miles and delivers rain to other places. they are cutting down that amazon and the rain forest because they are growing massive amounts of sugar cane and soy beans to make ethanol to put in cars not only in brazil but around the world so much of this is for export.
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so not only cutting down the e trees, but taking up massive amounts of water and basically sending this it water away. the great. lakes a very big issue for those of us -- you live about as far away as i do, i live in ottawa, canada. the great lakes are in very serious trouble. we have invasive species, but we also have overpumping of the water system itself. i won't give too many studies, but one other study said if the great lakes are being pumped as mercilessly as ground water around the world, the great lakes could be dead dry, bone dry in 80 years. if you have stood on the bank of the big lake superior and michigan and so on, you can't imagine, but that's why i told you about the sea. it's possible to take a massive amount of water and destroy it.
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we're also dealing with future kaigs, which is the blue-green algae. they are expecting it may come back this summer. this comes from industrial farming where we do not have proper regulations and the nutrients are running off into our water systems. there are 67,000 square mile. s of agriculture around the great lakes basin. it is poisoning them. the patch that we thought e we got rid of in lake erie is back and it is a very serious issue. you probably know that r your own ohio river has been named the most polluted body of water in the united states for seven years running. there's a tremendous amount of work being done in cincinnati and in the state on renewable energy and on this being a kind of very exciting area for high-tech solutions to our water problems, but we are not
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stopping the water pollution at its source and we need to understand this. there's 23 million pounds of chemicals were dumped into the ohio river last year. we have to find a way to stop this. martin luther king said many wonderful thing, but one he said was that legislation may not change the heart but it will restrain the heartless. sometimes i see people doing wonderful things but their government still will not stop the people doing bad things from doing those bad things. you can't catch up because you can't keep up with the destruction taking place. so e we absolutely need to regulate and say nobody is going to be allowed to do that to these lakes. and the recent concern that i have is that the great lakes are increasingly being used as a carbon corridor to move the dirtiest energy on earth by train, by pipeline around and under the great lakes and most recently being shipped on barges and in ships on the great lakes.
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this is from alberta, because this is an oily, thick substance and the only way to get it through pipelines is to lace it with chemicals. when they spill they make massive dead zones and terrible pollution. and now the coast guard and the united states has given the okay to ship on ships on american waterways waste water from fracking, which is amongst the most volatile substances we can. . when we know about the water situation, how we can do this continues to be just stunning to me. colorado, the colorado basin lake meade, which is the reservoir that was created when the hoover dam was built. there's a new study that says they have taken down ground water out of the colorado basin
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to provide all the water that's needed for all american households for eight years. we just put these bore wells down and we drink this stuff up. there are 200,000 bore wells in the ogalala aquifer building mass. ive industrial farms for corn for corn ethanol and pumping up the ground. water with pumps that weren't designed until the late 1950s. so before that they had no ability to pull up the ground water. it's only in 70 years, or whatever, that we have been able to green the desert in that way. but there's a terrible price and the price is the department of agriculture said that the aquifer will be gone in our lifetime. and you try to say that to people who farm there or who live there and it's going to be gone, and people say, i don't
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know what you mean. yesterday the los angeles times if this isn't a headline that won't get to you, but it was their major headline their major editorial said california has one year left of water. are we ready to ration yet? look it up, don't believe me, look it up. how can we get up every morning and say it's business as usual? i go back to the people where i visited some communities and they get their water now, this is from water rich area three years ago, they have water from 5:00 to 6:00 in the morning, just a trickle and then it's turned off. they have water from 10:00 to 11:00 at night. you better do what you need to do because that's the water that you get. but you don't have to go that far away. i have been working with the people in detroit, michigan, who have had their water cut off. we got a moratorium we got the
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u.n. involved and brought experts to look at what's happening. but this is an area where a lot of money left the inner city, most of the people left behind are poor. most of the african-american older people or single mothers, very high unemployment they don't have the funds and so the city near bankruptcy then now in bankruptcy doubled the price of water. people cannot afford it so they are coming in and go house to house and turn the water off and try raising kids, try looking after somebody ill with no water. it's not just happening far away, it's happening in the so-called rich parts of our world, north america as well. now these are real issues and again, just the last of these stats, another nasa report that just came out last month reported that there is an unprecedented mega drought coming in the midwest and the
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united states and parts of canada. the great plains and southwest over the next few decades. and they say it will last decades, it will be unlike anything in living memory. here's a prediction i have for you. you have a presidential election coming up. i predict that this issue will not be on the table. i predict that they will not speak about it and they will not write about it and not be asked about it in debates. now why is this. i have four thoughts on why this might be. the first is what i call the myth of abundance. we all learned back in grade six that there's this finite amount of water, it can never be destroyed. it's not only the same amount of water, but the same water that was here at the beginning of the planet and it goes around and around and we all had this kind of diagram in our heads so it's like a big river around the earth. so we learned that we couldn't run out.
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and i also think in the global north or the west or whatever you want to call it, we tend to think there will had always be a technology that will fix it. that myth is deep and rooted and really hard to get rid of. secondly, we tend to see water as a resource for our pleasure and profit and convenience. we don't see water as the element necessary for life. we don't respect water. we don't think about it. it exists to serve us, period full stop. one of the advisers to president hoover when they were build. ing the hoover dam said america will be great when she learns to conquer her rivers. so the whole notion that river is here to be conquered for our economic model is really a powerful one. i also think that we have misdiagnosed the water crisis. if you talk to any environmental environmentalists or people involved in climate change, they will say that water is a victim
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of climate change that's been induced by greenhouse gas e emissions. and that's true. the melting ice packs is true. but what they don't say and what's missing from the diagnosis, is that when we take water from water retentive landscapes, when we move it to where we want it, that's the entire story in california, they have enough water. they are moving it all over the place so they can produce 85% of all the almonds for the entire world in a state running out of water. so as they say water runs uphill to money. so we have a situation where mis misdiagnosing what the situation is. it's one of the major causes of climate change and it's very very much past time that we started putting this in the mix and that we started talking about water and the way we treat water and how we could undo what
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we have done as one of the answers to climate change. and finally i would have to say to you in terms of reasons for our politicians not talking about this, ours don't either i'm not suggesting it's only here in the united states. but it's the dominant model of economic development when says more growth, unlimited growth. we could just keep going forever, more trade, more stuff, more market economy i want my strawberries in january and i don't care where they come from or who it costs. so we have this notion that we can have all things at all times. we have created a global economy, which is basically i would argue not only creating enormous wealth gaps between rich and poor. in the year 2000 there were 111 billionaires in the world.
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there are over 2,500 billionaires in the world. 15 years, what does that tell you about policies of the 1% for the 1% and by the 1%. so i would argue that the way we a way of like putting a huge pipe into our water systems and sucking that water up and taking it away. and remember, when you grow food -- when you water to grow food, you're consuming that water. that water does not get returned to the watershed. so what do we need? well, i call for a new water ethic. and a new water ethic would say that water is not just a resource. and as i say for our pleasure and profit and convenience. but it is the essential element that gives us life. and it is to be respected and revered and we need to come up with a new relationship with water. we also -- and if i were queen of the world and could make every leader in the world do as
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i say and save the world's water, all policy, and this has to happen at all levels -- municipal, state, federal, international -- all policy has to ask the question, what's the impact on water? our energy, using fossil fuels is not only bad for air. everybody knows that. it's terrible for water. fracking uses, destroys, abuses huge amounts of water. growing corn for ethanol, it takes 1700 gallons of water to make one gallon of corn ethanol. so yes, okay, maybe that's a better use for your car, but the water footprint it's leaving is not worth it. i would argue that ethanol is worse than fossil fuels because of the way it's treating water. we mustn't set up this air versus water kind of reality. what would it look like if we asked the question about the impact on water of food production? well, i'll tell you what it would look like.
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we would have to stop using chemicals. we wouldn't have anymore, you know, toledo green water if we stopped having those factory farms. if we stopped putting all those pesticides and narcotics of every kind into animal feed and so on. if we went back to the way we know how to grow food, more local, more sustainable, family farms, organic. and food for local consumption, we could take -- we could cut the water consumption of the world in half. so what would be the -- what would be the question, then, is always what is the impact on water of these trade policies? what if we took into account, okay, all trade maybe isn't the same. say i've got a white shirt coming from this country and a white shirt -- excuse me, coming from this country and they both took the exact same amount of water to produce, but the water -- but the water in this country is almost gone and so that shirt
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is coming at the price of the local people's water rights. in this country, they still have water so it's not quite the same. so we don't ask that question. we never ask the question in these trade agreements, are we protecting our natural resources? are we protecting our people? we also have to declare water to be a public trust. public trust is a very old concept in the united states. very deeply entrenched, particularly in the northeastern states, less so in the southwestern states, where they have more of a first to come here, got the rights to water sort of thing. public trust basically says that water is a commons. it belongs to all of us, and governments must protect it in the name of the people for all and for future generations. that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. it's not a commons that you can say, well, i can abuse it because it doesn't belong to anybody.
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we're fiercely going to have to protect this commons and we're going to have to say what is the -- what is the -- what are our priorities for people having access to this water? because you just can't have it for anything anybody wants it for. i give you an example. vermont. i worked on this legislation, the state of vermont has beautiful water. lots of groundwater. but a few years ago, they had a whole bunch of bottled water companies coming in and setting up a plant and drinking the local water source until it was gone. they were really concerned. so they brought in legislation that their groundwater is a public trust. they actually said, to protect it, we're going to give priority to water for people's daily needs, water for protection of the ecosystem and water for local food production, not for agribusiness to make money sending our water and food far away. they had that hierarchy of access and were just able to use their public trust doctrine because there was a nuclear
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facility that was leaking tritium into the local water source, and the local company, the nuclear power company, said, yes, but it's our water, we have water rights. then the state was able to say, no, the fact that we've made it a public trust trumps your private right to dump tritium into this water and so we're taking it back. so it's a very exciting concept that -- excuse me, we need to go back to. and i've been working a lot with the groups, people around the great lakes. we want to get the great lakes to be declared a commons, a public trust, and a protected bioregion so that we stop seeing it as your piece of it and this piece, but we see it as a whole watershed. we need common laws. we need common protections. we need common enforcement. you get enforcement totally different on different parts on the lakes. we need, together, to say, no more shipping of this extreme energy. we cannot put this water up at this kind of risk and it's a
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kind of new way of thinking in terms of watershed governance, which they're doing in europe. since 2000, all of their watersheds must be governed by committees and legislators from all of the countries that surround these waters sources. so it's not my water, i'm only going to try to get this amount. it's going to be our water collectively. at a global level i'm calling for what i'm now naming a marshall plan for water. the marshall plan was a plan led by the united states to rebuild europe after the second world war. europe was in tatters and everything from rescuing orphaned children to rebuilding schools and hospitals to putting an economy back together, it was an absolutely incredible endeavor. and we need a marshall plan for water. we need our leaders to come together and say, this is a crisis.
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when you read that california has one year left of water, i don't know what people in california think when they read that, but i think a lot of them are going to be moving here, i guess. we might see american refugees moving from one part of the country to the other. what do we think of when we read that? we have to take this very, very seriously. and the united nations needs to set up a separate process for water. right now, water is linked into and comes into the umbrella of climate change. if you go to those climate summits -- and i go to every one of them -- all they talk about are greenhouse gas emissions. which are very important. i'm not for a moment negating that. but they don't talk about water as anything but a victim. they don't hear the stories about how if you rebuild water-retentive landscapes, if you've created a desert, if you bring in the technologies and the techniques we know and if you put people to work rebuilding and refurbishing the watersheds, the rain comes back. it's absolutely miraculous.
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i mean, there are so many wonderful examples of where we've done this. the key components of this are absolutely at the heart of it. would be watershed protection, conservation and restoration. we have to stop destroying our water systems. we have to repair those that have been hurt. national and international projects to replenish water-retentive landscapes, i'm working with a wonderful scientists named michael in slovakia. he had a lot of land that had been destroyed by bad farming practices, by old, bad industrial dumping and so on. and he's -- he convinced many municipalities and their own federal government to allow a project where they put thousands of people to work rebuilding the kinds of small berms and dams, water retention, water collection, rainwater collection and so on. and they have greened an amazing amount of the land.
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same in india. there are many projects where a wonderful man they call "the rainmaker" has brought back water to just a massive amount of land. a wonderful engineer in southern australia that convinced his government to let him gather all the rainwater, the storm water, the sewage water, put it all through massive lagoons that were planted with the kind of plants that eat bacteria and the poison, they've got so much water they've greened the desert, the birds have come back. the animals have come back. it's a miracle. because we need to remember that nature will come back. if we stop hurting nature, nature loves us, wants to come back to us as soon as it can. we need food policies that promote local organics, sustainable agriculture. we have to move away from the form of agriculture we're now engaged in and has been supported by policy in all of our countries. and we've exported it. there's an area of land three
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times the size of great britain in africa alone where foreign interests, foreign investors, foreign corporations, foreign governments have come in and bought up massive amounts of land and water and they're using it to grow crops that they sell out of the community. and they're using all the same bore well technology that's ruining the ogalala aquifer here, they're using there and pumping this water up and destroying water there. we have to learn. people who have lived for millennia in communities in asia and africa and south america know how to live with the fluctuations of rain and then dry season and they know how to conserve and they know how to farm dry land. we come in with our technology and we're ruining it. energy sources that don't harm water have got to go and we're fighting the pipelines. you know, the keystone xl pipeline, which is still a very hot issue and is g

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