Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Senior Abuse at DeVos Controlled Alterra

The first debate between Granholm and DeVos took place last night and it pretty much went the way I expected it to - Granholm was aggressive and articulate and easily dominated the debate. Several columnists criticized Granholm for being too aggressive, but I thought she set the right tone. (It's interesting that Bush can get away with acting and speaking aggressively - "bring it on" - but when a woman does it she gets criticized.) Anyway, there were no big surprises in last night's debate except for one:
In Monday night’s debate, Granholm, a Democrat, said DeVos had failed to disclose his investment in Alterra Health Care, a Milwaukee-based firm that went bankrupt in 2003 amid charges of patient neglect and abuse. She said DeVos had owned 12 million share of Alterra’s stock. [emphasis added]

DeVos responded that he had owned less than 1% of Alterra’s shares and that he didn’t disclose it because his disclosure statement dealt with investments he currently holds. He also said he became aware of Alterra’s problems with patient care “just recently.”
Really? That pretty much contradicts the latest press release from the Michigan Democratic Party and whistleblower Kathy Recco:
LANSING- Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer was joined by whistleblower Kathy Recco to discuss the abuse of seniors at Alterra assisted living centers while Alterra was controlled by a group of investors led by GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.

DeVos hypocritically said in unveiling his Senior Citizen plan, "Our seniors deserve to be treated with honor and dignity because they continue to make significant contributions to our great state. We must do more to give back. We must ensure the services we have for seniors are both affordable and of high quality. And above all else, we must do a better job of protecting our most vulnerable citizens." (Dick DeVos, Senior Citizen Plan, 9/21/2006) (emphasis added)

“I am here today to tell the story of 6 devastated families at the hands of a huge corporation called Alterra, families whose loved ones could have been protected with a $7.00 an hour employee by Alterra, a corporation that Mr. DeVos was very much a part of,” said Ms. Recco. “Mr. DeVos should have made sure his Alterra did the right thing. He did not.”

“Dick DeVos had the responsibility to care for vulnerable senior citizens at Alterra,” Brewer said. “The abuse that residents suffered at Alterra homes completely contradicts his political campaign rhetoric professing concern for them.”

In May, 2000 Dick DeVos led a group of investors made up almost entirely of family members and business allies which took control of Alterra in return for a nearly $200 million investment. They installed Jerry Tubergen, a longtime DeVos employee who runs the family’s investment firm RDV Corp, as Chairman of the Alterra Board of Directors and put other directors on the Alterra board. Tubergen and those DeVos directors had veto power over any significant management decision, such as the election of the Chairman of the Board, Alterra’s operating and capital budgets, employment of a President and other top executives, borrowing, capital expenditures and many others.

“There can be no doubt that from May, 2000 until Alterra went bankrupt in January, 2003 DeVos controlled Alterra through Tubergen and his other hand-picked directors,” Brewer said. “He must be held accountable for the terrible abuse many seniors suffered in Alterra facilities. Anyone who would allow such abuse to occur is unfit to be governor.”
The Free Press expands on this information even further:
From at least 1999, before the DeVos investment, on through the years the family held their investment, Alterra was the subject of multiple complaints, lawsuits, and investigations in Michigan and other states stemming from patient neglect and possible physical and sexual abuse in some of its facilities.

On Monday night, he [DeVos] said he learned of the problems “just recently.” Alterra’s problems, and those of the entire assisted-living industry, were the subject of widespread media coverage.

Time magazine did a major story dealing with Alterra in 2001, and USA Today did an extensive investigation of Alterra in 2004.
I don't buy it. How can DeVos claim he just recently heard about Alterra's problems when they existed prior to his investment in the company and the media was widely reporting on them? Nobody plunks nearly $200 million dollars down without first doing some checking, especially someone like DeVos who claims his business background makes him the perfect candidate for governor. No wonder DeVos refuses to release his income tax returns. How many other questionable holdings is he trying to keep from the citizens of Michigan?

Click here [pdf file] for a USA Today article and several other stories regarding abuses at Alterra centers.

Update: Matt @ Michigan Liberal has an excellent post on this subject that I encourage you to read: Why the nursing home thing is a BIG deal

1 comment:

Lew Scannon said...

The more the light shines on DeVos, the more the weasel looks like a skunk (or is it skunk looks like a weasel?). You gotta wonder what else he's hiding.
And the part about not being aware of allegations against Alterra, either he's a boob, or just another incompetent businessman (which he's looking like more each day) whose only real success has been running daddy's glorified pyramid scheme.