by lyle e davis
10:30am, Friday, February 6, 2009. A phone call is received from a subscriber to The Paper:
Mr. Davis? I’m a subscriber to your paper. I absolutely love The Paper and, in particular, I loved this week’s cover story about Illegal Immigrants. I went to the Kaiser Pharmacy in Escondido to get four or five other copies to mail to friends and family and there were no papers there! I always get extra copies there! There wasn’t even one!
I acknowledged this was unusual as we routinely deliver 300 papers to the various Kaiser departments in the Esconido facility by 5pm every Thursday. I told the subscriber I would look into it and I did.
Not only were there no copies of The Paper in the pharmacy, there were none in the Primary Care Module, nor in the Laboratory, nor in the Nurses Clinic, nor in the second floor Primary Care module.
We had censorship issues with Kaiser Permanente about five months ago that involved the San Marcos Kaiser Permanente facility. On a hunch, I drove to San Marcos. Not one copy of The Paper. At the San Marcos facility we deliver 900 copies each week. They had all been confiscated and, we presume, destroyed. I secured the San Marcos Facility Manager’s name, Dave Horton, and his phone number (760)510.5745.
I drove on to the Vista Kaiser Permanente facility and was pleased to learn that we had our regular display of The Paper available in Vista.
I returned to the Escondido facility and conducted an investigation. I learned that the Escondido facility had been called by someone from the San Marcos facility, presumably Mr. Horton, the facility manager, and he instructed Pam Weikert, the Escondido Kaiser facility manager (760)839.7170 to pick up all copies of The Paper and destroy them. This information apparently was transmitted to Terry Price, (760)510.4144, head of the x-ray (radiology) department who then instructed members of her staff to collect and destroy all copies of The Paper not only in her department but throughout the Escondido complex.
In October, 2008, the San Marcos Kaiser Permanente staff took it upon themselves to ban The Paper due to the apparent actions of Dr. Jonathon Rott. As a refresher, we republish a Letter to the Editor from November 13th, 2008:
The “physician-leader” that started all this nonsense at the San Marcos Kaiser Permanente was Dr. Jonathon Rott. It was he who decided he didn’t like the “editorial content” of the paid political ad you ran and insisted that The Paper be removed and banned from being delivered. He gave the instructions to Steffani Cobler.
We love The Paper and this was a stupid decision on both their parts. They should have known better!
Following this episode we received a letter of apology from Kaiser Permanente management, an acknowledgement that neither Dr. Jonathon Rott nor Steffani Cobler had any right whatsoever to order The Paper to be banned; we were further assured that The Paper would be welcome at Kaiser Permanente locations while they reviewed the issue further.
We accepted this in good faith.
Confiscation and destruction of our copies of The Paper is called censorship. Kaiser Permanente has broken faith with an agreement they suggested to avoid this type of infringement on First Amendment rights. Here, as reported in the Local News Section of our November 20th, 2008 issue:
The Paper Now Available At Kaiser Permanente San Marcos
Kaiser Permanente has welcomed us back into their San Marcos Kaiser Clinics to distribute The Paper. They have also acknowledged that their people were in error:
"We want to apologize for any confusion that may have occurred when you were told that The Paper could not be delivered in mid-October. Some of the comments that were made to you were inappropriate and do not reflect the position of Kaiser Permanente."
Readers of The Paper may now find it again in the patient waiting rooms of the San Marcos unit of Kaiser Permanente, as well as other Kaiser units throughout North San Diego County. The Paper had been banned from that and other Kaiser units, briefly, but all is now well.
Lyle E. Davis, editor and publisher of The Paper, said: “I regret the incident ever occurred. We were pleased to work with Kaiser Permanente top management and it appears the problem is now resolved. I want to thank the many readers who wrote to Kaiser, who called them, who sent us Letters to the Editor, who called us in support of our First Amendment rights. We could not have accomplished this resolution without your support and for that, we thank you. Bottom Line? We have kissed and made up and agreed to play nice. We’re back in good graces with Kaiser Permanente and hope to keep it that way.”
Sadly, such was not to be. Someone within Kaiser obviously decide he or she was in a position to decide what you, the reader, should be able to read or not read. In so doing, they broke faith with the agreement that we and Kaiser management had entered into.
(We had been delivering The Paper to Kaiser and its patients for seven years before all this began to happen).
If you are unhappy about being told what you can read and what you cannot read, you may want to call the persons listed above and let them know of your displeasure. We already have and our attorneys shall as well. You may wish to add Casey Hart, Public Affairs Officer for Kaiser Permanente. She can be reached at: (619) 528-7483. If you wish to read about the earlier Kaiser Censorship, please go to:
An additional list of senior management contacts follows at the end of this story. Kaiser Permanente is not the only medical facility that seeks to censor The Paper. Palomar Medical Center had welcomed us into their facility for years. We provided copies in the waiting room at the hospital entrance as well as in the waiting rooms in the Emergency Room.
No problems. None.
Suppressing Freedom of Speech, or the attempt to do so, is not all that uncommon. For some strange reason, our freedom of speech seems to be drawing most attention from area hospitals. We’ve done three well documented and unchallenged expose’s on Mike Covert, the president and CEO of Palomar Pomerado Health District. As soon as our first expose broke, guess what happened? They sought to ban our papers from the hospital.
Then, within a matter of days of the second publication, we were no longer welcome in the waiting rooms of Palomar Medical Center.
A spokesperson for Palomar Medical Center claimed it was a policy that had been in force for some time. Strange how that policy was enforced only after we wrote two critical cover stories about Mike Covert, the president and CEO of PPH. (who is being paid $676,000 per year.)
Since that time, we deliver 200 copies of The Paper every week to Palomar Medical Center. 100 copies to the front waiting room area, 100 copies to the ER waiting room area. Within hours of their delivery Palomar Medical Center staff have confiscated them and destroyed them.
They have offered a news rack stand outside. That is unacceptable to us. We maintain we have a state and federal constitutional right under the First Amendment to distribute our papers within the patient waiting area of this publicly funded hospital; that the taxpayers who support this hospital have every right to have access to their community newspaper.
Palomar Medical Center is not alone, however. We at The Paper seem to have our problems with medical centers and hospitals. Tri-City Hospital sought to pass a bond issue last fall. It was the third attempt to do so. The North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune both endorsed the bond issue.
We opposed it.
The day after our cover story came out that opposed the bond, suddenly The Paper was persona non grata in the hallowed halls of Tri-City Hospital. A hospital, we might point out, to which we had been delivering papers regularly for over a year, and that is a public hospital, supported by taxpayer funds, and a hospital to which we, as a newspaper of adjudicated general circulation by the Superior Court, State of California, have every right to distribute as a free press.
The Tri-City officials don’t see it that way. The see their hallowed halls as sacrosanct. Not to be blemished by The Paper. (Yet there are numerous magazines available in the various waiting rooms there . . . which are news oriented . . . but not with local news. How can you allow one and not the other?)
Up to the point where we opposed the bond issue there had been no problems.
We’ve made our positions clearly known with both Palomar Pomerado Health and with Tri City Hospital: they are public hospitals. We have every right to distribute our papers at public hospitals under the First Amendment as guaranteed by both the Federal Constitution as well as the California Constitution.
So Who, or What Does Banning The Paper at Kaiser, or other hospitals Hurt?
It hurts you, the reader.
You won’t have the chance to learn the results of investigative journalism we have undertaken to protect you, the consumer. You won’t get to read fascinating cover stories about adventure, travel, historical slices of time. You won’t get to read the handy information provided by our brilliant columnists. And you won’t get to chuckle at The Chuckles Column. (We’ve been warned by many of our readers the if we ever took the Chuckles Column out of The Paper we’d be drawn and quartered. And maybe spanked).
If we find out about a corrupt politician . . . a swindler running around loose . . . a sex offender being released into the community . . . how are you going to learn about this, absent your favorite community paper, The Paper?
We have been very pleased at the consistent reports we get from our readers who have picked up copies of The Paper while visiting the various Kaiser clinics. They enjoy the Chuckles, they enjoy the cover stories. They either agree or disagree with our editorial positions . . . but they grant us our right to express our opinions, just as we offer them the right to express theirs via the Letters to the Editor columns and/or Guest Editorials.
Next time you go into a Kaiser Clinic, or Palomar Medical Center, or Tri-City Medical Center, and notice there are no copies of The Paper, you may want to call the officials from each hospital and let them know how you feel.
Editor’s Note: You may want to contact the following:
George C. Halvorson, Chairman of the Board, Kaiser Permanente,
1 Kaiser Plaza,
Oakland, Ca. 94612
Senior Executive: Med Director
Jeffrey A. Weisz, MD
393 E. Walnut St. 7th Floor
Pasadena, Ca. 91188
President of S. California Region:
Benjamin K. Chu, MD, MPH,
MACP (same address as above)
Arthur Flippin, MD
Area Medical Director
4647 Zion Avenue
Communications Manager, Public Affairs
Phone: (619) 528-7483
Palomar Medical Center
Chairman of the Board
PPH Board of Directors
15255 Innovation Drive
15255 Innovation Drive
Chief Administrative Officer
555 East Valley Parkwy
Escondido, Ca. 92025
Tri-City Medical Center
Rosemarie Reno, Chair, Tri City Hospital Board
4916 BELLA COLLINA ST
OCEANSIDE CA 92056
Day: (760) 724-1545
Evening: (760) 724-1545
FAX: (760) 630-0985
Tri-City Medical Center
4002 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92056
Tri-City Medical Center
4002 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92056
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