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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quirk's Fundraising Lead Shrinks While PACs Seek To Replenish Campaign Coffers

Bill Quirk, Dr. Jennifer Ong
ELECTION’ 12//ASSEMBLY 20 | As their campaign coffers dwindle, both candidates in the 20th Assembly District are increasingly turning to statewide political committees to fortify fundraising in this surprisingly costly campaign for Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s term out seat in Hayward.

According to campaign finance reports released this week, former Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk’s once prodigious fundraising lead over his challenger for the 20th Assembly District Dr. Jennifer Ong has dwindled considerably, although, reinforcement appear to be on the way.

A large spending spree by Quirk’s campaign surrounding the June 5 primary lowered his total cash in hand to $33,358, according to the reports. Ong documented just $14,824 in remaining cash ending June 30. The disparity is significantly lower than the previous reporting period just before the primary showing Quirk with nearly five times as much cash as Ong.

During the period between May 17 and June 30, Ong edged Quirk in fundraising with $67,715 in contributions as opposed to Quirk’s $63,505. Quirk also greatly outspent her during the period with $136,254 in expenditures to just $13,524 for Ong. However, the difference was evened greatly by just under $200,000 in independent expenditures by two political action committees with health care interests In favor of Ong during the primary campaign’s final weeks. In the course of the campaign, a total of over $440,000 has been spent by either Ong or independent expenditures. The profligate spending makes it one of the largest single outlays for any office in the state.

Both PACs support physician’s rights to limit medical malpractice liability, according to their Web sites. Ong, herself, an optometrist who owns her a practice in Alameda, has drawn additional support from a large number of optometrists across the state, according to campaign finance reports. During the most recent reporting period, Ong received contributions from the California Optometric Fund PAC ($3,900; $7,800 overall), the Union of American Physicians and Dentists Medical Defense Fund ($3,800) and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians PAC ($2,000; $4,500 overall).

Quirk’s support among local labor unions, however, has proven to be a buffer to Ong’s wide support among medical professionals. One contributor, in particular, the Consumer Attorneys of California PAC, which donated $3,900 to Quirk’s campaign in June, appears to be a response to physicians attempting to limit the ability of trial lawyers to sue for large malpractice demands and potentially making the race in the 20th Assembly District somewhat of a proxy war for tort reform.
Meanwhile, the list of contributors to Quirk’s campaign during the period ending June 30 include heavy hitters in the labor movement, such as the Operating Engineers Local 3 PAC ($3,900; $7,800 overall), the State Buildings and Trades Council of California PAC ($2,500), California Labor Federation ($2,500), IBEW Local 1245 ($1,500) and the California Nurses Association ($3,200). Coincidentally, CNA contributed another $7,800 to Quirk’s campaign in a filing reported today, but not included in the most recent finance reports.

Although, large amounts of fundraising has been a hallmark of this race, so too, has the inclusion of large personal loans to each campaign. Quirk’s finance totals were buoyed last December by a $96,000 personal loan to his campaign that is still outstanding, according to reports. Ong, on the other hand, gave herself another $20,000 in a loan reported on June 20, which raises her personal debt to $61,100.

11 comments :

They need to be asked where they stand on the issue of Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia at the Hayward School Board.

Their response will tell us who they are. Who really deserves my money to support their campaign?


Is Ong and Quirk like -- Mary Hayashi, Greg Jones, Ana May, Nadia Lockyer, Jesus Armas, Maribel Herdeia?

Good post, where do they stand on health care reform, like Single Payer. I admit its a metaphysical like question since it ain't gonna happen any time soon I'm afraid.

Quirk supports Single Payer. It's one reason CNA are big donors and supporteers of his campaign. Ong is supported by doctors who don't believe they should be held liable. Ever. And optomotrists who want to expand their scope of practice.

Steven,

Your reporting elucidates the subterranean dynamics of this contest: Bill Quirk's campaign is supported by a coalition of labor and some business interests; Jennifer Ong is funded primarily or nearly exclusively by professional medical societies with specific state-wide agenda to which she is now beholden. Can you explain to me how Jennifer Ong, who has held neither elected nor executive office, merits such embarrassingly profligate spending? The real story here is the one to which you only allude.

The medical societies' unwavering support of Ong surely signals her assent to their legislative agenda, and yet I have not seen any detailed reporting or analysis of its consequences to our district. I hope you’ll permit me the space to present the results of my cursory research.

The first item is what a previous poster called “scope of practice,” by which optometrists with minimal medical training want to exercise the duties of opthalmologists, medical doctors who have 12 years of systematic medical and surgical training. Its proponents claim that, like the employment of nurse practitioners in primary care, this will reduce costs and improve availability. However, the analogy is false: nurse practitioners receive systematic graduate and postgraduate medical training, have a commensurate but limited right to practice in an environment where supervising physicians are at hand, and already deliver affordable primary care.

What these associations really want is to secure the right of their members to legally enter the lucrative market for cosmetic procedures. These include cosmetic dermatological procedures such as the injection of botox around the eye, a $2 billion market growing at 14%/year, and cosmetic refractive eye surgery (LASIK, PRK, RK), a $5 billion market growing at 12% year. Now, both procedures are already insufficiently regulated: in unpracticed hands, the injection of botox, a toxin derived from the same bacterium that causes botulism, has consequences like facial nerve paralysis; poor evaluation of a patient’s corneal health and topography before LASIK can result in permanent corneal damage requiring transplant. For purely economic reasons, these associations welcome a brave new world in which an optometrist, the very same who now measures you for eyeglasses, might also cut into your cornea with a surgical microkeratome to create a flap, about as thin as a human hair, then resurface the tissue beneath with an ultraviolet surgical laser, apply a bandage contact lens, and send you on your way. Seem like a good idea?

Their second issue, not coincidentally, is that of limiting the size and scope of malpractice lawsuits, euphemistically called “tort reform.” Now, I realize that most of us reflexively and categorically hate lawyers (specially your frequent commenter,
nom de plume “MW”), but we have to be objective about the size of the problem and the ability of our system of torts to address it. [Continued in Next Post]

[Continued from previous post]

According to the National Academy of Sciences, medical errors directly kill almost 100,000 people each year and contribute to 180,000 deaths. Preventable medical errors kill more Americans each year than guns and traffic accidents; only heart disease and cancer take a greater toll. A subset of these are due to negligence or systematic ignorance of medical best practices. How can we prevent preventable errors? If we examine something as cleanly logical as the adoption of checklists, an epiphany in medicine that was adopted without resistance by aviators in the 1930s, it’s quite clear that even mitigating procedures that cost no more than a piece of paper are widely adopted only in the aftermath of lawsuits or punitive fines from government agencies like Medicare. For example, Medicare now fines hospitals when its patients acquire preventable infections after a hospital stay. The result? Physicians wash their hands more frequently, and nurses use checklists to prevent catheter contamination; those hospitals dramatically reduce entirely preventable deaths from infection. Like it or not, even ethical and caring actors in a profit-centered healthcare system respond, in the aggregate, to economic incentives.

The question is: how large should the fine be? It should be large enough to be meaningful without being so large as to discourage the practice of the regulated activity altogether. Also, keep in mind that I am not speaking, for example, about the nurse who accidentally gives the wrong medication, a preventable error but not necessarily an example of negligence. Recent examples of negligence in Bay Area hospitals include things like the replacement of the wrong knee (left vs. right) by a surgeon; a visiting nurse who defeated four safety interlock devices and delivered liquid food into the blood stream; transplantation of an infected organ.

Now, the average uncomplicated terminal hospital stay in California costs about $10000/day and lasts 19 days, resulting in $190,0000 in revenue for the hospital. Surprisingly, the punitive liability for medical negligence has already been capped at $250,000 since 1975, when Brown signed MICRA into law. By consequence, the hospital can already not pay much more in punitive damages than its average revenue in caring for the patient. It’s akin to giving someone a $5 ticket for failing to pay $4 to park. Worse, doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums have actually gone up 30% since this law was passed, and there is absolutely no evidence that the fear of lawsuits contributes to escalating medical costs through the practice of so-called defensive medicine. The idea of reducing the liability cap further, or, god forbid, to zero, is one that benefits high revenue practices and insurance companies alone. Holding profitable hospitals to account for their preventable negligence will make us healthier and them better.

What does this have to do with our district? I don’t know. The sad lesson for me is that powerful interests playing in multibillion dollar markets can also adopt a kind of grassroots or bottom-up strategy, distorting the economics of a race that should be decided, at least mostly, on issues that actually face our district. The race is not only a proxy for tort reform; neither is it, as I’ve heard narrated, a struggle between young and old, nor one between opposing entrenched camps of incumbent endorsing politicians. We just don’t care about any of that. Fundamentally, it’s about the quality and autonomy of local representation. Do you want someone with depth, gravitas, local experience and knowledge, or someone who, though by all accounts a caring and skilled professional, would owe her election to two very specific interests groups with whom she has had a long relationship? Maybe I’m wrong. If so, Ong should clearly articulate her disagreement with their dangerous agenda.

Correction to previous post: "pain and suffering," not punitive.

Ong was bought and paid for by special interests how do you figure someone being so inarticulate and dumb making it to the top two. Her expenditures were close to $600K when you include the independent contributions. Special interest found the perfect stupid candidate.

7:46

Leave Greg and Anna out of this. They are great people that have done so much for Hayward.

Go Ong! Quirk is one of the worst Councilman in history, he has helped destroy the city, and will now destroy the district if given the chance.

Jennifer Ong, Bill Quirk, Greg Jones, Anna May, Jesus Armas, Maribel Heredia, Mary Hayashi, Nadia Lockyer.

The league of incompetent losers. The only thing that can get them elected is lots of money.

8:05 pm (aka Jennifer Ong), you are asking us to "leave Greg and Anna out of this"? How can you expect us to do that, when they are complete pieces of shit?

Get off this blog.

You (Ong) are a complete moron. You have no experience, and you can barely piece a sentence together. You should have never entered this race.

We are in hell with all these incompetent crooked politicians. Lisa Bruner, Jennifer Ong, Bill Quirk, Greg Jones, Anna May, Jesus Armas, Maribel Heredia, Mary Hayashi, Nadia Lockyer.

Let's send them away from Hayward ...

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