Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Let's Do the Numbers (Again)

If you view this blog in the web version, you will find a survey on the lower right side of the page, right above the picture of the starving cat. It asks,

"A body is found at the base of a cliff. No witnesses. What should a Medical Examiner conclude?" The options: Accidental, Undetermined, Homicide, Suicide or Not the ME's Call.

There's no rush to beat the buzzer or anything, just notice the results, from an admittedly small sample. Most people would call it Undetermined. A good portion say Accident. A fraction believe Homicide; a larger fraction didn't think it was the ME's call.

Nobody says Suicide. Zero percent.

I ran several similar polls on Twitter last year, using the same scenario, but not including the option about the ME's call. Suicide registered a statistical blip is all, with the vast majority of respondents divided between Accidental and Undetermined.

I can tell (call it researcher's intuition) that this makes sense to you. NSA guys can actually see you, through your camera, nodding your head in agreement as you read it... We know this.

It should make sense to you because it is the result of thousands of family tragedies that are broken down into raw data every year. So let's confirm your gut feeling with some numbers - again.

Start with 100,000 people, all kids age 14 and younger. Almost enough to fill The Big House at a University of Michigan football game. Just one of them will intentionally kill himself or herself. That's 1/1,000th of 1%.

Two out of three times, that child is a female.

In half of those suicides, drugs were either contributory or causative.

Only one in four will use suffocation/strangulation as their method of suicide - and that is nearly universally done in a clandestine manner.

Minorities or kids in poor neighborhoods are more likely. The top of the age range in this group is 14 years, and the incident rates drop significantly by the year... All of this, we know.

Charlie was a White boy, barely 12, with no drugs in his system when he died in his front yard while playing on a years-old "Tarzan"-style rope. No witnesses to the act. No suicide note. None of the well-known societal red flags.

White. Boy. 12. No drugs. Out in the open.

The chances of his death being a suicide are less than 1/4 of 1/2 of 1/3 of 1/1000th of 1 percent. It's something that simply has never happened before, not here, or anywhere else you can find.

Another, more plausible, statistic: Accidents are the leading cause of death in all children 14 and younger... This, too, we know.

But here in Kalamazoo, why, the government tends to view these things in any way that suits their purposes. No matter who it harms. Their motto here: Ready, Fire, Aim.

It is hysterically obvious by now that ME Joyce deJong got it wrong. A far better pathologist than her explained carefully to my sister the official (read: Legal) manner used to determine cause of death: Scene investigation, which they botched, toxicology results, which they didn't get back until 3 weeks later (100% clean at that) and police reports which they didn't even bother to have mailed to them until May of the following year.

When called to account, they said they based their horrifyingly irresponsible bullshit also on letters from concerned citizens - which the ME apparently did not read - and from, well, my blog.

(Sigh.)

I sure do miss Charlie. I wonder sometimes what it might have been like, to grieve normally, instead of having to do this. My dirty job.

Someday, though, I believe I will see him again, and together we will look down at this cruel little place, and we'll laugh and laugh, until our tears fall like rain. My big belly guffaw will roll down as the thunder. And Charlie's delighted cackle will crackle with the lightning... This, above all else, we know.

pH 5.17.17

***

Monday, May 8, 2017

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Attend WMed


Does anybody else out there miss David Letterman? Many people do. It's not that Stephen Colbert (Dave's replacement) is an inferior comedic talent, or that his ears aren't lined up straight, or his propensity to be vulgar when talking about Donald Trump... For me, it was The Top Ten List that put Letterman over the top.

Here, then, are my Top Ten Reasons NOT to Choose WMed as Your Medical School:

10. Low Ratings. This stuff matters more now that we have a reality TV star running our country. If you can't be Number One, then you'd better be a close second... Last time I checked, WMed was ranked 147th in the United States. That's pretty unimpressive, if you think about it. Statistically speaking, that means that 49 other states each have 3 better medical schools than WMU's Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine.

9. High Tuition. Compared to other medical schools, $46,000 tuition is considered to be quite elevated, and you know these things only go up. Moreover, since it is a private school, I'm pretty sure no local students would be able to use the Kalamazoo Promise as financial assistance in getting a degree from WMed... Perhaps one of their 50-odd students could clarify that for us in the Comments section below.

8. Terrible Weather. That's no secret. Look, it's now the 2nd week in May. The overnight low last night was below freezing across the entire state... They don't just call this place The Big Mitten because it's easily recognizable on the map.

7. The Campus Seems to be Cursed. The private medical school, while technically a nonprofit (whose Dean makes $400,000 a year), sits on the campus at Western Michigan University here in Kalamazoo. Yes, the Broncos had a great football season last year, then the coach rowed his boat on over to the University of Minnesota (likely for favorable climate). But it's not just that. In 2014 and in 2015, teenage girls were found dead in WMU dorm rooms for no physically obvious reasons. Both were ruled "cardiac arrest".

6. The Faculty is Often in Court. The ongoing civil rights lawsuit brought by David Ferris II against WMed's Joyce deJong (among others) also embroils deputy ME Rudy Castellani, who also heads up WMed's Neuropath department. Dozens of defense motions have been filed, and hundreds of exhibits have been dumped on Judge Robert Jonker's desk, in a tired old bid to delay the trial into chronological oblivion.

5. Dean Hal Jenson is a Mormon (Probably). In fairness to myself, I'm not banging on his, or anyone's, faith. But if he tithes to his church, then a portion of your tuition money heads that way, too. Maybe that kind of thing matters to you, maybe it doesn't. I'm just covering all the bases, that's all.

4. Too Much on Their Plate. It's hard enough, one might think, just to effort along as the nation's 147th ranked medical school, but actually WMed has a lot going on. For instance, half of their M.E. staff is also on the board of MAME, the Michigan Association of Medical Examiners. Joyce deJong logs time as an expert witness from case to case. This county contractor also offers pediatric care, ironically enough. And they are under contract to provide forensic pathology services not only to Kalamazoo County, but almost every other county in West Michigan, and Elkhart County in Indiana as well.

3. WMed is Not LCME Accredited! Nope, not yet... When we filed our complaint against WMed with the LCME in my nephew Charlie's case, they seemed very interested in all those county contracts to perform forensic pathology services. If WMed's accreditation to be a medical school is hung up, they can blame us. We can take it.

2. High Turnover? Ask former Compliance Officer and Associate Dean of Finance Tom Zavitz about that - if you can find him.

1. Charlie Wolf. My sister's little boy, as delightful and happy a kid as I ever did see, died in a tragic accident while playing in his front yard in July of 2015. The psychotic gun-nut that WMed sent to our house that night, Kai Cronin, falsely ruled it a suicide. WMed's chief "investigator", Lyin' Jo Catania, tried to sweep it under the rug. Even though we've proven all of that, the heartless bastards refuse to make it right.

Go find a good medical school, aspiring pupil... For this one is so very far beneath you.

pH 5.o8.17

***

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Headlines and Deadlines

The following are the actual headlines from local news stories that chronicle the years of ham-handed dysfunction at the county level in Kalamazoo, Michigan... No wonder we can't get anywhere with them; they're just a hot mess.

(Clicking on the headline itself will take you to the article.)

In Kalamazoo County, complaints surface about timely delivery of absentee ballots 




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Sheriff's deputy gets $200,000 in breast pumping case 

***

Okay, that's probably enough. Clearly, better must be done by Kalamazoo County... The chances are you've never even heard of it before, so all you may know about it is this.

It is a nice place to live. The people here are good. But we suffer from terrible civil administration, which I suppose is logical, because we just can't attract that much blue-chip talent around here... Not like this.

So, look. I'm from here, but I haven't been here my whole life. I came up out of Maricopa County in Arizona. It covers over 9,000 square miles, home to the 5th largest city in the United States.

It used to make the national news more, back when Joe Arpaio was Sheriff. You know, Joe Arpaio, America's toughest lawman? Tent City, pink underwear, green bologna, women chain gangs, dead inmates, immigration sweeps, Obama's birth certificate. You remember.

Where's Sheriff Joe now? Things can change. They do change.

If you are just now discovering Kalamazoo County through this blog, then here is what I hope you take away from it:

Don't come here. Don't spend your money here. Don't go to school here. Don't look for a job here. Don't buy or rent a home here. Don't raise your kids here.

Until things change.

pH 5.o2.17

***

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Whatever. Nevermind.

No? Okay...

***

This is my favorite time of the year. It doesn't have much to do with the calendar, although Spring is always welcome after the rigors of a Michigan winter. It has to do with how high in the sky the sun is. The warm weather surely does make this old body feel better, looser, younger.

It just coincides with, y'know, baseball season. They always call the ballplayers "the Boys of Summer", but Opening Day is in early April, and they don't wrap up the World Series until sometime around Halloween.

Sometimes the tri-seasonal warmth stays around that long, too... Those hot, hazy days that can rise up even if there was frost that morning, even if it gets cold again when the street lights come on. They make you lazy, those days do. They make it hard to get much of anything done.

Baseball is timeless, not just in that sense but also because it is a game that does not abide by any timekeeper. It's a matter of innings, not quarters or halves or periods. (So is golf, technically, but golf involves a frustration level that is not often found in America's Game.)

The season is long, see. It wears down the players, the press, the fans, weighing on them all in humid languor, especially in the long haul when the buzzing cicadas compete for one's attention with the ballgame on the radio.

How long does the season last? Hey, it ain't over 'til it's over... When one team wins. If Game Seven of the Fall Classic is tied at the end of the ninth inning, they keep playing.

Yep. 'Til it's over. If your team wins the pennant, and then the championship, you're lucky. If they don't, you're just like everybody else.

Then, the smile finally slips a little, as you realize that the warm days are over, too. The cold nights will stop yielding the mercury to the daytime, and Spring Training seems like it's not just on the other side of the calendar, but on the other side of the world.

Something worse, something less desirable, than hibernation settles in. We go back to our indoor beehive lives. Whether we like them or not...

But everybody loves basebol.

Even if maybe you lose some of that warm, magical feeling when you stop being a kid... Even if some of us will never stop being kids.

pH 4.27.17

***

Monday, April 24, 2017

An Open Letter to the Kalamazoo County Corporate Counsel


Dear Sir,

I have read your proposal, which was emailed to Charlie's mom's attorney, offering to change the cause of death determination on his Death Certificate. His mom's attorney will let you know what she thinks about that, but my guess is that her son would not want her to trade away her Constitutional rights in exchange for "Indeterminate". Although such a swap would alleviate Kalamazoo County of their official indecency in this matter, it is hardly what I would consider a fair or reasonable offer.

I'm only sticking my big beak into this because you have grabbed ahold of it so firmly. Of course, I am talking about the part of your offer which includes me also giving up my right to free speech, representative government, etc... And also taking down this here blog.

In a much better world than this one, I'd be flattered. You want this thing? I know it's shiny, and it sure goes fast, but are you sure? I mean, it requires near-constant maintenance, and has awfully high mileage for being only a year old. I don't know.

My first response was to fish for estimates from Viking and Penguin, because what you're really doing is asking to purchase my publishing rights. I always thought it would be a hard sell, myself, as the subject matter is generally unhappy and besides that I've already given it away for free.

Anyway. I understand that Dr. deJong and the others on her island want it gone. Of course. I understand that Charlie's mom's attorney told you he doesn't represent me, and that I obviously wouldn't be too keen on your offer. Actually, I authorized him to make you a counter-offer.

I gave him the outline of a deal - basically, you'll have to sharpen your pencil. Here are my terms much more specifically. (I know that the usual office protocol would be to communicate this via back channels, but it's all part of my public inquiry, so I'll ask you to forgive me for that.)

I am willing to delete this blog and its fellow Paulie Leaks blog in exchange for a change to Accidental on Charlie's Death Certificate. That's it.

No other conditions. My right to seek redress of grievances in court, my right to speak freely, my right to contact my representative, my right to file complaints to regulatory boards and/or agencies... Those rights are not bargaining chips to be splayed out on a cold metal table under blue fluorescent lighting.

American soldiers are, to this day, fighting and dying for those rights to even exist. With the number of veterans in our family, I would never dishonor their bravery and their service, which is what I would be doing if I considered your cynical offer for even one second. So just as I asked you to forgive me for this public demonstration, I'll forgive you for passing along the County's insult.

My offer is, in plain Latin, quid pro quo... with no strings attached. If the Medical Examiner has committed no wrongdoing, as you so stridently assert, then there should be no concern about future litigation. In any event, since the taxpayers will be footing the bill for her defense, I'm not sure why you or she is worried about it. The same goes for filing regulatory complaints, or asking the County Commission (they already know) to have Dr. deJong removed, or really anything else the law allows.

Please accept my offer. It will bring peace to my family and to my soul and to my keyboard. I am glad to know that you people have finally learned to understand how it feels to want something so badly, and to not be able to get it, even though it could so effortlessly be given to you by the one who has it. Finally, we're on the same page.

If you turn me down, the Book of Charlie will come off the table and will never return to it again, ever; not ever. And, as you might well expect, I will turn it up to 11.

Rest assured that I really have taken it easy on the M.E.'s office so far in this space. I have had to take into account the sensitivities of my family members and friends who read it. That can change. For instance, if you don't think I'll publish autopsy photos, which are in our possession, to prove the point that a suspension/strangulation by ligature death in no way justifies a full postmortem autopsy - and all that it entails - you are horrifyingly mistaken.

But then that would hardly be new or different, would it?

You all think it over. You can have what you want. But what you desire has great value to me, to Joyce, and to the public in whose name this has all been done. My asking price is high, and is not negotiable.

As for non-disparagement and non-contact agreements on my part, sure, that's no problem, Thom. Write it up. Send it to Charlie's mom's attorney. Get it over with...

Or get ready for another long, hot summer.

pH 4.24.17

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NEXT WEEK: "Barbecue Kai Chicken"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More Random Notes from a Declared War

It has been suggested to me that I should take advantage of this amazing digital platform, this Internet, and monetize the story of my nephew Charlie. It would only take a few clicks to do it; Ma Google makes it easy.

And that is tempting.

But I don't want money.

***

David Ferris wants money. In that lawsuit, the honorable Judge Robert Jonker has seen enough of the paperwork dump. He responded to flurries of motions by setting a hearing date (May 25th) to put a stop to the Whack-a-Mole game being played by the defendants, M.E. Joyce deJong among them, in this important civil rights case.

***

The charity founded in memory of Charlie Wolf is thriving. We have connected with Random Acts of Flowers, Meals on Wheels, Meijer, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 98, 107.7 WRKR, Midwest Business Exchange, Domino's Pizza, River City Foods and so many others, some of whom we will never get to meet.

We are uplifted by the people of our community.

***

Charlie had a birthday party, literally, every year of his life. And he'll have another one this year, too, at the end of May. He would be turning 14. We'll have family over, some friends, some neighborhood kids. We'll do the same fun stuff the kid would want to be doing: Fireworks, lawn darts, target shooting with air guns. Water balloons. Running around, yelling, playing in the yard where he died.

Sorry. Too much? I agree. It was already more than bad enough, irreparably bad... Then my own County, embodied by the Medical Examiner's office and its employed denizens, came along and made it all the worse. They blackened the legacy of a harmless, helpless little child, convicted him of a crime with no thought to due process, humanity or anything else.

If you live in Kalamazoo County, you can expect to be treated in exactly the same fashion. That's the real Kalamazoo promise.

***

Still wondering why my nephew was left laying in the yard after 25 minutes of fruitless resuscitation attempts, with an ambulance sitting there, and an Emergency Room just five miles away, where a real doctor could have handled the matter.

Still wondering also why no KDPS detectives arrived until after 10:00 pm that night, two hours after the 911 call was placed - wondering, because a certain police captain, a particular police chief and an unnamed mayor won't tell us.

They actually had the temerity to say we were wrong about that, until a video was posted on YouTube of a dash-cam that picked up officers saying, "Where are they?" at 9:57 pm. Then they stopped saying anything.

But I'm sure WMed felt like they were being protected and served.

***

Oh, and a belated congratulatory nod to former compliance officer Tom Zavitz, who retired from WMed in mid-February... On to the next trough, I suppose. He is all done here.

pH 4.19.17

***


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Well?

***

Okay, you saw it, right?

I told you I wasn't lying, or even stretching the truth... Couldn't if I wanted to. Too many other people who were also here that night are reading it. They tell me if I'm off. And I defer to their judgment.

I'm not just a bitter uncle driven mad by grief or whatever else... I've also managed to stumble over something so awful and rotten that my initial reflex was to recoil and retch.

Right here in my hometown. After all the places I've been, all the things I've seen, this is truly the least believable, and the most alarming.

And I'm not letting it go.

After what has already been uncovered, I don't feel the least bit concerned about what people might think, or about how far I should go with these mere words, these paltry paragraphs. I'm not the one who worries about that now...

Because you know there's more.

pH 3.18.17

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mendacity 101

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The following letter to my sister was written on WMed stationery, but never sent, by Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner Dr. Joyce L. deJong. It is a living testimony to her naked dishonesty and her malicious intentions where my nephew's cause-of-death determination is concerned.

***

April 21, 2016


To Mrs. Heller:

The opinion of the Medical Examiner's office for the cause and manner of death in the case of Dennis Wolf will go unchanged. This decision is based on a complete evaluation of additional information, including numerous personal letters from various friends and family members of the decedent, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety police report and interviews conducted by Detective Goodell, a review of the Medical Examiner investigative report with the investigator, blogs provided by Paul Heller, emails and internet links provided by Mrs. Heller, and letters and emails provided by (our attorney).


Sincerely,

Joyce deJong, D.O.
Medical Examiner

***

Quickly, line by line:

"The opinion of the Medical Examiner's office for the cause and manner of death in the case of Dennis Wolf will go unchanged."

I bet you're wrong about that, since Michigan law (per Rules 7.119 and 7.123) does allow for an appeal to be presented to the Michigan Circuit Court; of course this letter will be introduced as well.

"This decision is based on a complete evaluation of additional information, including numerous personal letters from various friends and family members of the decedent..."

You're a damn fine liar, lady. We already know that you were still asking Lyin' Jo Catania if she had those letters in June of 2016, two months after you typed up this bag of liquid crap.

"... Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety police report and interviews conducted by Detective Goodell..."

Lie Number Two. We know through the MDIlog that your henchman, Lyin' Jo, did not even approve the mailing out of the police records until May 2, 2016, so you could not have even seen them yet. Keep going:

"... a review of the Medical Examiner investigative report with the investigator..."

That would be Kai Cronin, who you already knew had made up the suicide circumstances listed in his amateurish report, because our attorney sat across from Lyin' Jo and made her aware of it in person FIVE WEEKS before you bothered with this thoughtful, well-written note... His report is as false today as it was then, as false as it was on the day you sent him to my sister's house to steal her son's body. 

"... blogs provided by Paul Heller..."

It's not 'blogs'. It's a blog, singular, containing many blog posts. You're welcome. I'm the only male human being who has thought about you in recent history (unless you count David Ferris).

It'd be pointless to dignify such grotesque cynicism any further in this space - hers or mine. Joyce, you mendacious [REDACTED], you did the wrong thing. Like a narcissistic sociopath, you refuse to make it right, even in the face of the facts.

Even in the face of a grieving community. Which you were appointed to serve.

Please stop pretending to be a good person. You are not. Good people don't violate the public trust. They don't conspire to torment the citizens who pay for the autopsies they are so desperate to perform on the bodies of children. They don't weave these elaborate webs of obfuscation and then sit in the middle of all the strands pretending not to be a bloodsucking monster. 

Quit. Resign. Please pack up and move out of our town. Our county. Our state. Please do this post-haste. You, your perverse colleagues and Homer Stryker's farcical medical "school" are neither wanted nor needed in Kalamazoo any longer.

pH 3.14.17

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