The Zaitz / Brown Medical Privacy Problem – updated

The Zaitz / Brown problem started when Eastern Oregon rancher and former Oregonian reporter Les Zaitz published a lengthy article in the Malheur Enterprise (which Zaitz owns) about how killer Tony Montwheeler says now that he fooled the Oregon mental health system for twenty years to avoid being sent to prison.

The problem is separate from Montwheeler. How he took advantage of the mental health system is important to know about and resolve, but the Les Zaitz inquiry asked for Montwheeler’s patient-protected medical information – which Montwheeler exposed in testimony. That information should be protected by PSRB staff, state policy, Oregon law and courts, and impervious to media scrutiny or political pressure, regardless of who it is about or what they have done.

The scenario is unusual from a privacy perspective. And PSRB was correct to ask for a judicial ruling prior to releasing Montwheeler’s medical records. The DOJ opinion by Fred Boss, asked for by Les Zaitz, is interesting, but not sufficient to release medical records. By applying political pressure and forcing PSRB to release Montwheeler’s records, Governor Kate Brown undermines medical records and privacy law, Oregon healthcare policy, and our confidence in her administration’s ability to create a patient-centered healthcare system. We fully expect Montwheeler to sue the state of Oregon for violation of his medical privacy, and win.

He wasn’t insane, he says — he faked it to avoid prison

Published by The Oregonian March 29, 2017 and the Malheur Enterprise on March 29.
By Les Zaitz

He got away with it.

After feigning insanity for years to stay out of a prison cell, Tony Montwheeler finally confessed his scheme. Now, no longer judged mentally ill, he would walk free from the Oregon State Hospital even though officials were told he was dangerous.

That day, state psychologist Brian Hartman warned the state board considering Montwheeler’s release what might happen.

“His risk of violence would be high and it would be most likely to target his intimate partner or other family member,” Hartman testified in December.

Click the links above for the remainder of the story.


    In preparation of the article, Zaitz requested information about Montwheeler from the Oregon State Psychiatric Security Review Board about when he was a patient at the Oregon State Hospital. The PSRB refused.

State agency refuses AG order to turn over Montwheeler records

Malhuer Enterprise, March 29, 2017

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is defying a state order that it release public records to the Malheur Enterprise and intends to sue the weekly newspaper to keep the records secret.

Such a suit would be only the third time in the past 30 years a state agency has gone to court to keep its records secret.

The state board wants to keep confidential certain records it used in deciding last December to discharge from state custody Anthony W. Montwheeler, 49. Three weeks after that decision, police say Montwheeler kidnapped and killed his ex-wife and then killed a Vale man and injured his wife in a collision as he was eluding police.

He has been under Security Review Board’s jurisdiction since 1996 after being found guilty but insane in an earlier kidnapping case. The board released Montwheeler after learning in December that he had been faking his mental illness for 20 years.

Click the links above for the remainder of the story.


    Two documents are included in Zaitz’ second article. The first is a nine-page letter from Frederick Boss of the Oregon Department of Justice to Zaitz and the Executive Director of the PSRB, Juliet Britton. The letter states some information requested by Zaitz is not confidential and not protected records.

READ – letter from Fred Boss to Zaitz and Britton, March 21 (PDF)

    The second document is a legal complaint by Britton against Zaitz. It states Zaitz made public records requests about Montwheeler on January 17 and again on January 24. Britton responded on January 20 and again on February 6. The complaint asked for the court to make a ruling on Zaitz’ requests.

READ – complaint to Marion County Circuit Court by Juliet Britton in her role as Executive Director of the PSRB against Malheur Media (the Malheur Enterprise) and Les Zaitz, March 29 (PDF)

Free press? State hits tiny paper with pricey lawsuit after it seeks public records
Commentary from Seattle Times, March 31, 2017

Here’s to the tiny, two-reporter newspaper that’s waging one of the most important but little-discussed fights of our times: The government wants to do its business in secret, and increasingly there’s no press left to stop them.


Gov. Kate Brown secures release of records for small, rural newspaper

The Oregonian – April 4, 2017

A state agency agreed Tuesday to drop its lawsuit against an Oregon newspaper and has released records sought by journalists after Gov. Kate Brown took the rare step of intervening.

[SNIP]

Instead of complying, the board sued the newspaper.

The Enterprise had started a fundraising campaign and hired a lawyer by the time the governor intervened and the board dropped its lawsuit.

Though Brown appoints the board’s members, the governor has no direct power over its decisions.

In a statement Tuesday, Brown said Oregonians deserve a transparent government.

“No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency,” she said. “I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.”

Click the link above for the remainder of the story.


Former O investigative reporter aims to supercharge small town journalism

From Oregon Business – April 4, 2017

A Q&A with Les Zaitz, publisher and editor of the Malheur Enterprise.

Les Zaitz has racked up a lot of accolades. The former investigative reporter for the Oregonian has received the Bruce Baer Award five times, and twice been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. He also led the Oregonian’s coverage of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

Today, six months after Zaitz became editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise, he scored another big win. As the paper reported today:

“Under pressure from Gov. Kate Brown, a state agency dropped its suit against the weekly newspaper and will turn over public records concerning accused murderer Anthony W. Montwheeler. The governor’s intercession comes the day after the Enterprise started a $20,000 legal fund campaign to defend itself against the suit brought last week by the state Psychiatric Security Review Board.”

Click the link above for the remainder of the story.


The press release below was distributed on April 4 after the Governor’s announcement.

PSRB Statement Regarding Anthony Montwheeler Public Records Request

The PSRB responded to the Malheur Enterprise public records request by releasing a majority of the requested documents except for medical records. The decision to withhold medical records, which are submitted to the Board by medical providers, and to pursue an appeal of the AG’s decision, was done in good faith to ensure we complied with federal and state laws regarding the re-disclosure of medical records. The Board does not take any pleasure in litigating with a requestor, however, we took the only available avenue currently allowed under Oregon law to seek clarification on the matter. After careful deliberation, the PSRB has withdrawn the appeal and complied with the Attorney General’s Disclosure Order.

The Board looks forward to the continued discussion around the much needed improvements to the public records law that places our agency in a no-win position of either suing a requester or facing potential legal liability.

READ – PSRB Statement Regarding Anthony Montwheeler Public Records Request (Formatted PDF)


State board drops lawsuit against E. Oregon newspaper

From KTVZ.com – April 4, 2017

A state agency has dropped its lawsuit against a weekly Eastern Oregon newspaper that sought public records about a man charged in the kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife.

The records pertain to Anthony Montwheeler, who was discharged from the state mental hospital in December after telling the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board he had faked mental illness for 20 years to stay out of prison following a 1996 crime.

Montwheeler is now charged with aggravated murder after police say he killed his ex-wife in January and then collided head-on with a vehicle while fleeing police, killing the driver.

The Malheur Enterprise broke the story of Montwheeler’s ruse and sought additional public records about the board’s decision to release him.

After Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum ordered the review board to release the records, the board responded by suing the newspaper. The suit was dropped Tuesday after Gov. Kate Brown intervened.


Statement by Gov. Kate Brown:

Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement regarding the Attorney General’s order to the Psychiatric Review Board (PSRB) to release public records related to the Tony Montwheeler case. The PSRB, while appointed by the Governor, is an independent board.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Tony Montwheeler case, I have asked the PSRB to dismiss its public records lawsuit, to fully comply with the Attorney General’s order, and to release the public records requested by the Malheur County Enterprise. The PSRB has agreed to take these actions immediately.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law. No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency. I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous. An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s Order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong. I have directed my staff to explore solutions that would provide for swift judicial resolution without filing a lawsuit against a requester.”


Psychiatric Board Drops Lawsuit Against Oregon Newspaper

The Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board has dropped its fight against a newspaper’s request for records about a former patient charged with murder.
April 4, 2017 – AP Wire Service / US News & World Report

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered a state agency Tuesday to drop its lawsuit against a newspaper that sought public records about a man charged in the kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife.

The records pertain to Anthony Montwheeler, who was discharged from the state mental hospital in December after telling the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board that he faked mental illness for 20 years to stay out of prison following the 1996 kidnapping of his first wife and son.

Montwheeler, 49, is now charged with murder after police say he killed a different ex-wife in January after kidnapping her in Idaho. He then collided head-on with a vehicle while fleeing police in Oregon, killing the driver.

The Malheur Enterprise, a weekly paper based in Vale, Oregon, broke the story of Montwheeler’s ruse last month and sought additional public records about the board’s decision to release him, including risk assessments made by staff at Oregon State Hospital.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum had ordered the review board to release the records. The board disagreed with Rosenblum’s order and, because of a quirk in state law, sued the newspaper to block the release.

The governor cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of the Montwheeler case in telling the review board to drop the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous,” Brown said. “An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong.”

Jim Mountain, the attorney for the review board, declined comment on the case. The now-dropped lawsuit said releasing the documents would violate Montwheeler’s medical-privacy rights.

Les Zaitz, who publishes the Malheur Enterprise and wrote the article, said he expects to have the records by Tuesday night.

“It’s a victory for public records. But frankly it’s more about the right of people to know what their government is doing,” he said. “This is such a grievous case; there are so many questions.”

A Malheur County grand jury indicted Montwheeler on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and assault.

The incident unfolded in Weiser, Idaho, where ex-wife Annita Harmon’s car was found abandoned in the middle of the road. Later, across the state line in Ontario, Oregon, a convenience store clerk reported that a woman in a pickup had been kidnapped and was being stabbed.

During the ensuing police chase, Montwheeler’s Dodge pickup crossed a centerline and collided with a SUV, killing a 38-year-old man.

A month earlier, Montwheeler told the review board he faked mental illness in the 1990s because going to the state hospital and, later, outpatient treatment was better than the prison term he would have otherwise received.

“And all I got to do is make myself sound like I’m crazy. And that’s the route I took,” Montwheeler testified, according to the Malheur Enterprise, which obtained a recording of the December 2016 hearing.

Montwheeler, who was injured in the crash, is scheduled to enter a plea April 17. His attorney, David Falls, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.


E. Oregon newspaper battles state agency for public records

from KTVB.com – April 4, 2017

A story making waves across the country, sparking outrage over a lack of government transparency: a mom-and-pop newspaper in Eastern Oregon dug into the history of a Nampa man after he was accused of killing two people in Malheur County in January.

What the Malheur Enterprise discovered is troubling: They found 49-year-old Anthony Montwheeler had just been released from a state psychiatric hospital in Oregon after feigning insanity for decades to avoid prison for a kidnapping charge in 1996.

When the paper requested more public records on why Montwheeler was set free to walk the streets of Oregon and Idaho, the state Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) denied them access. Thus, the paper appealed to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who ordered the agency to turn over the records sought by the Malheur Enterprise.

That’s when the small town weekly newspaper in Vale was slapped with a lawsuit.

That brings us to Tuesday’s events: after pressure from Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the PSRB says they released a majority of the requested documents, except for medical records, to the Malheur Enterprise. Gov. Brown asked the PSRB to release those public records, as well as drop its lawsuit against the small newspaper.

The Board agreed to that ask after denying the paper a plethora of critical records earlier this year, citing privacy laws.

This story is multi-faceted – it represents the need for information to be made public when it affects the safety of the community, as well as the need for journalists to dig deep and hold the government accountable.

No longer deemed mentally ill by the State of Oregon, Montwheeler was released from the Oregon State Hospital, despite the fact that PSRB officials were told he was a threat. According to records obtained by the Malheur Enterprise, a state psychologist noted that Montwheeler’s risk of violence would be high once released and he would likely target his intimate partner or a family member, which he allegedly did.

Today, Montwheeler is sitting in the Malheur County Jail, accused of kidnapping and killing his third ex-wife, and killing a Vale man in a head-on collision while fleeing police.

It was after that episode that the Malheur Enterprise pursued information on Montwheeler’s past.

“We came across the fact that this man had been under jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board,” Malheur Enterprise Publisher and Editor, Les Zaitz, told KTVB.

Zaitz says they found records from Dec. 7, 2016. showing the board gathered to consider a hospital staff recommendation to release Montwheeler. The paper requested public records, and the board eventually released their orders regarding Montwheeler and the audio recording of the December hearing.

“It was quite haunting, it really was,” Zaitz added. “The audio was really the clincher.”

Montwheeler admitted to officials he ran a medical con for 20 years, insisting to a string of state psychiatrists and psychologists that he was mentally ill.

“That testimony alone was startling. Then you have a state psychiatrist saying, I’ve done a complete exam of this man’s files back to 1997, there’s no evidence of mental illness,” Zaitz said.

Documents show Montwheeler was found guilty but insane all those years ago and was able to avoid prison, where he would have landed if he was convicted of kidnapping his first wife and son in Baker City, Ore., in 1996.

The paper requested more public records about the case and Montwheeler’s release, but the PSRB didn’t respond.

“I asked the agency [to] give me the index to every exhibit that was entered and then I cross-referenced that with what was mentioned in the hearing and requested the documents. And that’s what started the fight,” Zaitz said. “There was absolutely no response or any effort whatsoever to explain this case and I find that rather appalling.”

So the Malheur Enterprise filed with the Oregon attorney general and asked her to review the agency’s decision and determine whether they should or shouldn’t be withholding the public records.

The AG sided with the paper and ordered the board to turn over public records sought by the Malheur Enterprise.

“I’m still trying to figure out what the state knew, when state officials knew it, and what they did about it. Those are the unanswered questions,” Zaitz added.

In response, the PSRB turned around and sued the newspaper, as state agencies can do when they have legal concerns about an order from the AG.

“As best I can tell, this is only the third time in 30 years that a state agency has defied the attorney general,” Zaitz said. “This is a very rare thing for the State to sue.”

But on Tuesday, after meeting with Gov. Brown, the board responded to the public records request, withdrew their appeal, and dismissed the lawsuit, complying with the attorney general’s Disclosure Order.

Gov. Brown issued the following statement regarding the AG’s order to the PSRB to release public records related to the Montwheeler case. (The board, while appointed by the governor, is an independent board.):

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Tony Montwheeler case, I have asked the PSRB to dismiss its public records lawsuit, to fully comply with the Attorney General’s order, and to release the public records requested by the Malheur County Enterprise. The PSRB has agreed to take these actions immediately.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law. No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency. I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous. An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong. I have directed my staff to explore solutions that would provide for swift judicial resolution without filing a lawsuit against a requester.”

The board issued the following statement to KTVB on Tuesday evening:

“The PSRB responded to the Malheur Enterprise public records request by releasing a majority of the requested documents except for medical records. The decision to withhold medical records, which are submitted to the Board by medical providers, and to pursue an appeal of the AG’s decision, was done in good faith to ensure we complied with federal and state laws regarding the re-disclosure of medical records. The Board does not take any pleasure in litigating with a requestor, however, we took the only available avenue currently allowed under Oregon law to seek clarification on the matter. After careful deliberation, the PSRB has withdrawn the appeal and complied with the Attorney General’s Disclosure Order.

“The Board looks forward to the continued discussion around the much needed improvements to the public records law that places our agency in a no-win position of either suing a requester or facing potential legal liability.”

“It is always invariably that public officials, state agencies and local governments will resist disclosure of documents when there’s been some misconduct or a misstep by government or they’re either going to be embarrassed or indicted,” Zaitz said.

He says he anticipated receiving those records Tuesday night.

“I’m hoping that they will fill in the gaps to answer those questions,” Zaitz added.

Since the lawsuit was filed last week, the paper started a fundraiser to fight back and pay for legal fees.

“I also knew that if we did a fundraising campaign that it would signal to the state the public’s unhappiness with this,” Zaitz told KTVB. “People were so upset across the country. I was getting pledges from New York, Illinois, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Washington, plus all over Oregon. And that was in one day!”

Zaitz says this shows sweeping and increasing concern about government secrecy, and the decline in reporters to hold them accountable.

“They forget that we represent the average citizen who doesn’t have the time to go to city council meetings or to request records,” Zaitz said. “One of the things I hope to do here is to show what a small newspaper can do and be an inspiration to other small news organizations that maybe we can do better. Because we need to.”

Montwheeler is scheduled to enter a plea to charges of aggravated murder, assault and kidnapping on April 17.

KTVB also filed public records requests with the PSRB for access to public records about Montwheeler and his release, as there is a strong public interest in both Idaho and Oregon about this case.

We will continue updating this story as those records become available.


We all lose when public records are hidden

unsigned editorial by The Oregonian – April 7, 2017

In a rare move this past week, Gov. Kate Brown reined in a state board that had sued a tiny Eastern Oregon newspaper over public records the agency wanted to keep secret. It was the right move by Brown at just the right time.

She pressured the Psychiatric Security Review Board to drop its lawsuit against the Malheur Enterprise and its publisher Les Zaitz, who’d sought records related to an Oregon State Hospital patient. The patient, Tony Montwheeler, who had been under the board’s jurisdiction and stands accused of killing two people within weeks after being released from the facility in January. Brown followed up with stern words for the board, which had attempted to duck the records request by twisting beyond reason one of the 500-plus exemptions to Oregon’s public records law.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law,” she wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency.”


Decades before ex-wife’s January death, Nampa man carried out another kidnapping

From the Idaho Statemen, February 2017

Annita Harmon died last month in a terrifying flurry of crime, reportedly abducted and stabbed by her ex-husband, who then drove headlong into an oncoming SUV and killed the other driver.

Family members, reeling from the loss and their realized fears about the man she married, want people to know how the woman they called Nita lived.
Anthony Montwheeler

“She was surprising. She was fun. She had a goofy laugh,” said her sister, Stacey Harmon-Roeber. “She loved to read. If she had a book in hand, you couldn’t get her attention.”

The 40-year-old Weiser mom was a hard worker and kind-hearted optimist who took in a menagerie of stray animals and believed that troubled men could be healed.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


Oregon doctors warned man was faking mental illness 20 years before new murder charges

From the Idaho Statemen, April 12, 2017

Newly disclosed records show that Anthony Montwheeler, a Nampa man charged with murdering his ex-wife and an Oregon motorist in a January stabbing and crash, was suspected nearly 20 years ago of feigning mental illness to avoid prison, the Malheur Enterprise reports.

The records, released after Oregon’s governor intervened in support of the Vale weekly’s public record request, show doctors’ suspicions in the late 1990s but give no indication that officials acted until Montwheeler admitted his ruse two years ago.

Montwheeler was under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board from 1997 until last December. A few weeks later, he allegedly stabbed Annita Harmon of Weiser to death in his pickup truck, then sped away to elude police, veering into oncoming traffic near Ontario to hit a car head-on. The Jan. 9 crash killed driver David Bates of Vale and severely injured his wife, Jessica.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


State records show doctors early on suspected Montwheeler was faking illness

Malheur Enterprise, April 12, 2017

State doctors suspected nearly 20 years ago that Anthony W. Montwheeler was feigning mental illness to avoid prison, newly disclosed records show.

The records, a portion of state files on Montwheeler, give no indication that officials acted on that suspicion until Montwheeler admitted his ruse two years ago.

Montwheeler, 49, told doctors that he hoped his ploy would get him in and out of the Oregon State Hospital in six months, sparing him at least seven years in prison.

Instead, he remained under the jurisdiction of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board, including years in custody at the state hospital, from 1997 until last December.

That’s when the board released Montwheeler, concluding he was no longer mentally ill and despite warnings that he was a danger to the community. He was subsequently indicted for kidnapping and stabbing to death his fourth ex-wife and killing a Vale man and injuring the man’s wife while fleeing from police Jan. 9. He is scheduled to plead to the charges next week in Malheur County Circuit Court.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


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6 Responses to The Zaitz / Brown Medical Privacy Problem – updated

  1. Les Zaitz says:

    I was nonplussed to see your item about the “Zaitz/Brown Problem.”
    Let’s not tell half the story.
    Your blog implies that the public would never have access to this information but for the “problem” of a journalist seeking the truth.
    That’s false.
    The orders of the PSRB are public. The discharge order for Anthony Montwheeler cites his medical records and testimony by professional medical staff. The medical staff, by the way, testifies voluntarily at open discharge hearings. PSRB doesn’t have to compel any testimony from the Oregon State Hospital. Have you read the orders?
    If you haven’t, I urge you to get them and the audio of that Dec. 7 hearing and learn for yourself how much information was put on the public record already. This included Mr. Montwheeler himself testifying about his treatment and care.
    At that hearing, more than 200 exhibits were admitted. That was done so without not a single objection or concern by either state attorneys or Mr. Montwheeler’s counsel. The Enterprise requested just 15.
    While I appreciate in general the high interest in protecting patient privacy, that can’t be absolute. In rare — and I do mean rare — circumstances, such records play into public matters.
    I note that professionals have been silent on the Oregon State Hospital’s threat to withhold records from the PSRB and — worse, in my judgment — to start maintaining “watered down” patient files. That would seem to be an ethical failure and a professional violation.
    Finally, let me point out that I reached out to PSRB to see if it wanted to propose a way to perhaps withhold some documents and release others. Its response was to sue.
    Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
    — Les Zaitz, editor and publisher
    Malheur Enterprise
    les@malheurenterprise.com

  2. CoffeeX3 says:

    Hi Les. Thanks for writing and allow us to clarify.

    Your inquiry into the mechanics of the Psychiatric Security Review Board or other agencies is accepted and respected. We’ve read articles written by you for many years. In general we’re fans of sunshine and solid reporting. The friction between the Oregon State Hospital and other state and private agencies around the state is both well documented and under-reported. And we’re not surprised by poor clinical judgement at the OSH. We’ve heard and told those stories for decades. New buildings in Salem and Junction City haven’t helped patients sustain recovery – they’re still prisons for people with medical conditions.

    Maybe Montwheeler duped some lazy clinicians. Again not surprising to us. It benefits us – people with mental illness – for journalists to inquire and pursue. Have at them.

    The question is, perhaps, where do medical records begin and end? Where does privacy begin and end? And what is the commitment of the law to people who are stigmatized or who have done despicable things? These are now not sharp edges; Montwheeler testifies his medical record in a public hearing, which is archived by the PSRB. Is it still protected? Maybe yes; PSRB says yes. You get a DOJ opinion. Is that sufficiently decisive? No. So PSRB asks for a judicial ruling. You call it a complaint. The paperwork says complaint. (We’re friendly with the PSRB for the first time in 20 + years, but we’re not lawyers or advisors. Perhaps they could use some political advice…) Beth Solvic has one of these complaints too. Then Kate Brown intervenes, abrupts the decision, and exposes Montwheeler.

    Was breaking privacy to expose lazy clinicians worth it? Will there be a consequence? You must know the top 20 salaries in Oregon (not football coaches) are at the OSH. Over-paying docs got them recruited – this is Greg Roberts’ plan to appease the DOJ. Lazy is better than not being there at all, or incompetent, or predatory. We’ve had that. Does lazy then mean lazy now? That would be interesting, but you didn’t make that case.

    Meanwhile, privacy is sacrosanct. It is a fundamental promise of our healthcare system. Your inquiry didn’t made us safer or our care better. It won’t have an effect on hiring or supervision at the OSH. If those were goals for your writing, you missed the mark.

    BTW, your language needs upgrading. See our Media Guide, below.

    http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/Media-Guide-Your-Language-Matters-When-Writing-About-Mental-Illness1.pdf

  3. I’m really confused.

    It appears from Zaitz’s excellent investigative piece that Montwheeler completely scammed the courts and the PSRB and FAKED a mental illness that he never in fact suffered from. As a result he received hundreds of thousands of dollars that could otherwise have been spent on patients who truly were mentally ill.

    Your organization’s argument would seem to be that even if a person was never legitimately a patient and LIED to the doctors and staff that absolute secrecy should prevent public disclosure even after that person is no longer under PSRB jurisdiction.

    In many other cases the journalist, particularly a small rural paper, would have had no choice but to abandon their quest for what really happened; something that will benefit all Oregonians.

  4. CoffeeX3 says:

    Yes.

    The question, why did the DA fail to convict, goes unasked and unanswered.

    Yes; media curiosity doesn’t outweigh law.

    Not germane.

  5. No, the question is how the PSRB and all these credentialed doctors could be so massively conned?

    And why did the PSRB apparently connive to allow this man to really live out of state, all the while collecting benefits that he was not entitled to.
    ‘The right of the people to know what happens in court, particularly in a case like this is not “media curiosity.” The press is the sunshine you say you value so much.

    While one question is why the PSRB would defy the Attorney General’s direction to turn over the records, hire one of the most expensive law firms in the state to prevent public disclosure, but fundamentally the main question presented by Mr. Zaitz’s original story; how was such a con pulled off for so long, and now two people lie dead.

    That is highly germane…and relevant…and important.

  6. CoffeeX3 says:

    We’re not in disagreement about the merit of media inquiry into what went wrong at OSH about Montwheeler. PSRB is a lightly staffed agency highly dependent on medical experts, and workforce issues abound at OSH and throughout the mental health system. This problem should not happen again.

    “Connive” is not appropriate. People supervised by PSRB are medical patients (until proven otherwise) and are allowed the least restrictive settings possible (see Olmstead v. LC). As for the money, seems you’re blaming PSRB for the act of a criminal’s crime. The person to blame is Montwheeler.

    Our disagreement is with Kate Brown. Not PSRB, OSH, Montwheeler, Zaitz. The Governor’s intervention in a judicial inquiry harms privacy and clinical confidence.

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