August 17, 2020

USA: CA Public Health Director Tenders Late-Night Resignation After “Glitch” Delays 300,000 Test Results. CA Pension Exec’s “Resignation” Came After Board Referred Violations To Ethical Watchdog

RedState News
written by Jennifer Van Laar
Monday August 10, 2020

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell announced her resignation, effective immediately, around 10 PM Pacific time Sunday night – the second high-ranking state official to resign in that manner in a week. She did not give a reason, but the revelation that a “glitch” resulted in a backlog of 300,000 test results and the complete breakdown of the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) might have something to do with it.
Angell had been in the post for less than a year.

One week ago the Department of Public Health came under massive fire when it was revealed that the state had a backlog of about 300,000 test results due to “technical issues” in reporting results to CalREDIE – and that Gov. Gavin Newsom and Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly had been kept in the dark about the extent of the problem. Local news outlets chose to describe the utter failure as a “glitch,” but reading further into the story it’s apparent that the only glitch was having incompetent people in charge of things:
In describing the problem, Ghaly said a July 25 server outage created a delay in records coming into the state’s lab reporting system. The state implemented what he described as “technical changes that allowed the records to flow into the system more quickly.” The changes were supposed to be temporary, Ghaly said, but the state did not disable them, “causing further delays in our reporting of lab data and creating an extensive backlog.”

“Simultaneously, we discovered that we were not receiving data from one of our largest commercial labs for a period of five days,” Ghaly said. “This was due to a certificate that the state neglected to renew timely. This resulted in data not being able to transmit to the state.”

Ghaly identified the lab as Quest Diagnostics and said the company had been unable to send test results to the state from July 31 through Aug. 4.

Ghaly had declined to offer details about the extent of the issue or what may have skewed the data earlier this week and pledged to share a full accounting of the problem as soon as the state fully understood it.
In other words, Ghaly admitted that the state screwed up and didn’t prioritize getting that certificate to Quest Diagnostics in the middle of a pandemic or ensuring that the IT needs of CalREDIE were met. County health department officials aren’t even trying to hide their frustration anymore:
“CalREDIE has broken,” said Peter Beilenson, director of Sacramento County’s Department of Health Services. “The bottom line is we don’t know the real caseload. … We don’t know if we are missing 250 cases [a day] or 50 cases,” he said of his local numbers. “We have no idea.”
It’s unclear whether Angell is responsible for these screwups or if she’s just the fall girl. Still, her boss, Ghaly, had kind words about her service and was sure to point out her focus on health equity:
“I am grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Ghaly said in a written statement Sunday night. “She has worked tirelessly for all Californians, always keeping health equity in mind. Her leadership was instrumental as Californians flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”
Newsom similarly praised her focus on health equity:
Meanwhile, Californians are expected to just “listen to the science” and trust that Newsom and his brain-dead minions are making “data-driven decisions” about keeping schools and businesses closed. We’re supposed to sit back and allow our children who have learning disabilities to be harmed by missing vital services and watch businesses we’ve spent decades building be destroyed based on this faulty data? I don’t think so.
RedState News
written by Jennifer Van Laar
Monday August 10, 2020

The saga of Yu “Ben” Meng, former Chief Investment Officer of the country’s largest public employee pension program (CalPERS) and possible Chinese Communist Party plant, is getting curiouser and curiouser.

As we reported last week, Meng hastily resigned late in the evening of August 4 after a blogger exposed his numerous personal investments in Chinese companies, some of which support the Chinese military, and his ownership stake in private equity funds in which CalPERS dollars are invested. CalPERS’ has been under the microscope all year about its investments in Chinese companies, including in Hikvision, which is the equipment that’s used by the Chinese for surveillance on the Uighur Muslim population.

A story almost certainly placed by CalPERS in Bloomberg cast Meng in a sympathetic light and, to a larger extent, CEO Marcie Frost (who’s most certainly in CYA mode).
Behind the scenes, Meng was growing increasingly upset and complained to his boss, Chief Executive Officer Marcie Frost, that he’d become a target in the political wars constantly swirling around CalPERS. When, in April, a compliance team uncovered at least one conflict-of-interest violation, it set in motion a chain of events that threatened to spark a firestorm of criticism and thrust him into the center of even more hostility.

CalPERS found that Meng approved an investment into a private-equity fund managed by Blackstone Group Inc. at the same time as he held Blackstone shares.

That kind of ethical breach is a clear no-no at virtually every investment manager, and California law required Calpers to refer it the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which the fund did last week
The blogger who broke the story about Meng’s potentially felonious financial disclosure forms is calling bulls**t.
CalPERS knew, and chose to ignore, that Meng had a conflict of interest problem in January 2019, not April 2020. Meng filed his initial financial disclosure form on January 31, 2019, which was as of his assuming office date, January 2, 2019. That form showed three private-equity related positions: Blackstone, Carlyle, and a credit fund run by Ares.

CalPERS should have told Meng to dispose of his private equity stakes as soon as it received his financial disclosure forms.

Meng violated conflict of interest laws in 2019, not 2020, and with Carlyle, not Blackstone. CalPERS via Bloomberg misleadingly tries to suggest, but in 2019, with $328 million commitment to a Carlyle European fund, Carlyle Europe Partners V.
If we assume CalPERS only found out about Meng’s issues with his personal investments in April 2020 and that the ethical breach was so egregious that they were required to notify the FPPC, why was there a four-month delay in making that notification? Also, people in Meng’s position are required to clear trades or disposal of assets with CalPERS, so they should have known that he still had those assets – that is, if they were doing their jobs.

The Bloomberg piece continues:
[S]he planned to discipline him — either by cutting his incentive pay or possibly by placing a formal letter into his file. And she told him to expect a media frenzy when the FPPC publicly disclosed its own investigation into his conduct and also, with anti-China sentiment running high in the country, to prepare for a fresh round of attacks on his ethnicity and renewed speculation about his allegiances.
See what they did there? Set the stage for calling any criticism of Meng, questions about his admitted participation in the CCP’s Thousand Talents Program, or concerns that he recently returned to the United States after serving at the highest levels of the Chinese government racism.

One CalPERS board member, Margaret Brown, said that the Board, the FPPC, and other authorities were never informed of Meng’s conflicts of interest.
An emergency board meeting has been called for August 17. In the meantime, we will continue to investigate how Yu “Ben” Meng was hired at CalPERS in the first place.

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