On March 1 Bob Prentice, one of two deputy administrators in the city Health Department and a leading advocate of health care initiatives in the African-American community, was sacked. Health Department Director Mitch Katz, M.D., admitted to Prentice that his performance as head of community health programs was exemplary. But Katz told Prentice he was being fired anyway, because he, well, disagreed with Katz a little too often.
I've been told that Prentice's firing is just the most recent example of Katz's increasingly autocratic rule in the Health Department. Seems that Katz makes high-level decisions without consulting the appropriate administrators. Some might call this decisive leadership. But in several cases, Katz's propensity for one-man rule has been embarrassing.
For example, Katz went before the Health Commission month before last and proposed a way of addressing the deficit at San Francisco General Hospital: cap the number of emergency room patients the hospital could see each day. A remarkably callous solution, yes. And when it was proposed, the head of emergency services at the hospital got up and reminded Katz that it was also illegal under state law. Gee, wouldn't it have been better had Katz actually called the head of emergency services at S.F. General before issuing such a radical policy prescription? I hear administrators at the hospital are considering signing a letter of no confidence in Katz.
Any letter would likely fall on deaf ears. Willie Brown apparently just loves Katz's leadership style.
No surprise there.
Prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney Bill Fazio may still be undecided about whether he wants a rematch with Terence Hallinan in this year's district attorney's race. But when I talked to him the other week, he appeared to be crafting campaign themes. And they are pointed, to say the least.
"The progressive community ought to be disgusted with this guy," he said. "Man of the people? He lived in a 22-room home in Ross [a tony Marin County enclave]. That personally gets to me. I started working when I was 16, selling crab cocktails in front of Alioto's. I was an apprentice pressman. I went to night school at University of San Francisco to get my law degree. My life was a real blue-collar mix. I was not some brat who used to cop Sundays [sucker punches] on people living a privileged lifestyle in Marin, and then having my famous daddy bailing me out. My father was a pressman. My mother was a homemaker."