Mulch

Kaiser Gets Messed With ... in Texas
Kaiser Permanente, already under attack from regulators in the Bay Area, is waging another fierce battle in Texas. Dan Morales, attorney general of the Lone Star State, is threatening to run Oakland-based Kaiser out of Dodge for bad business practices.

State lawyers found that Kaiser had failed to meet "basic requirements," including physician peer review and medical quality assurance programs. That's not to mention the 20 wrongful-death lawsuits in Dallas County, where Kaiser has about 129,000 members, and problems with emergency care.

Sound familiar?
Back home in the Bay Area, federal and state agencies in March launched a review of wrongful-death complaints involving Kaiser patients -- most stem from Kaiser's closing hospitals to cut costs, which has forced patient transfers from Kaiser's Richmond hospital.

In Texas, Kaiser execs have called the allegations "absurd" and "unfounded" and fired back by winning a court order blocking the release of state reports highly critical of the company's business. They have also taken the unusual step of subpoenaing documents from state regulators to determine what contacts they might have had with journalists and state legislators.

Hey, why let the public's right to know get in the way of public relations?
-- L.D.

Lusty Teens Tangle in the Web
With the spread of the World Wide Web into so many childhood haunts, that old staple of youthful recreation, the crank telephone call, has just become a lot more fun: You find some unsuspecting Webizen's personal Website; leave a lewd message on the obligatory message page; and laugh with your friends about the likely look on recipients' faces when they open their e-mail.

Or so thought a group of randy boys at San Francisco Day School (http://www.sfds.pvt.k12.us), an Inner Richmond private primary school.

But that was before they sent a bunch of dirty e-mails to Elise Bauer, a no-guff network professional with her own elise.com personal Web page. The boys had entered "elise" as a search term, in honor of a favorite Day School eighth-grader.

After Bauer opened eight messages one day a few weeks ago and found phrases such as "My friend David here wants to feel you up. Here's his address and phone number," "Carl wants you too. His phone number is ...," and "Max=IN LOVE WITH YOU," she contacted San Francisco Day School Headmistress Sharon Maves.

Sensing a chance to bring her school's learning experience into the Al Gore Age of sensitive technophiles, Maves pulled the boys from their classes for an hourlong Modern Web Ethics session with Bauer, in the flesh.

"I needed to explain why what they did was bad," said Bauer, in an e-mail to SF Weekly. "First I talked to them about how although the net can seem anonymous, it really isn't. There is a person at the other end of an e-mail, a person most likely a lot like them, with good days and bad. And that just because they couldn't see the results of their actions, it didn't mean nothing happened."

Thus cowed, the boys apologized before Maves, who had threatened to revoke Internet privileges for the whole school unless the boys did penance. (She insisted they remain anonymous.)

"They learned that for every action, there is a reaction," Maves recalled. They also may have learned the sort of crank-caller discretion that is second nature to generations of Bart Simpsons.

"They gave out their addresses and phone numbers," Bauer said. "Now that was stupid."

-- Matt Smith

 
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