Swarthmore in the NewsSeptember 2, 2011

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Why N.Y. fired highly regarded health-care fraud prosecutor

By Mark Taylor, for the Inquirer

August 31, 2011

Though he can explain it in calm, rational terms, James Sheehan said it still feels odd to be unemployed after 31 years of public service.

In July, Sheehan, 59, arguably the nation's best known prosecutor of health-care fraud and the longtime former civil-division chief with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, was asked by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign his most recent position as New York Medicaid Inspector General.

As he did in Philadelphia, Sheehan created headlines in New York with highly publicized probes and settlements, recovering more than $1.2 billion in improper Medicaid payments in his four years there and avoiding paying $2 billion more.

New York boasts the nation's largest Medicaid program, with a budget of $53 billion paid to nearly 70,000 providers. Those folks and their lobbyists notice when enforcers grow more active. And those providers pressure legislators and governors who rely on them at election time.

Was Sheehan bounced for being too good at his job?

The trim, bespectacled Harvard Law School graduate, a triathlete, former Swarthmore track star, and slow-cooking aficionado, chuckled at the buzz circulating in health-care circles.

"The only secure position at the start of a new administration is the newly elected official making appointments," he said. "Few appointees get to serve three governors. I was not Gov. Cuomo's pick, and his team said they wanted their own man."

Friends, former colleagues, and adversaries disagree about why he was let go.

"I didn't think Jim Sheehan was replaced for cause," said Fort Lauderdale health-care defense attorney Gabriel Imperato. "There had to be some lobbying there, though. Jim was effective and tenacious, and when you're like that, you will rub somebody wrong."

Still, Imperato said, "Cuomo is not giving up on health-care fraud. He can't afford to."

...When he arrived in 2007, Sheehan inherited a new agency charged with monitoring a massive bureaucracy where spending had grown nearly $20 billion since 2004. He eventually oversaw 600 employees who told him they had been cautioned not to pursue fraud too aggressively and to focus on educating wayward providers.

...Sheehan's reputation as an antifraud sheriff was melded years ago in Philadelphia, where he oversaw more than 500 cases of health-care fraud. His office recovered more than $1 billion during his time there.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Hutchinson, now civil-division chief in Philadelphia, called him "a visionary who put the focus and spotlight on fraud for all of us to follow."

"I'm just hoping that the many of us who seek his return to the federal government will prevail," she said.

Sheehan was noncommittal about his future, conceding that he is interviewing for jobs with legal and consulting firms and is excited about his prospects. Sheehan also said he was heartened not only by the financial recoveries, but by the great strides in compliance. "That's a legacy I'm proud of," he said.

 

The Observer-Reporter (PA)

University welcomes new faculty

August 31, 2011

WAYNESBURG - As classes got under way Monday, students were introduced to nine full-time faculty members who joined Waynesburg University undergraduate teaching community.

"We are pleased to welcome these new faculty members to Waynesburg University and to our community," said Dr. Robert Graham, Waynesburg University Provost. "We think that their experience and training will help them be great additions to our faculty as we strive to prepare students to make a difference with their lives."

The new faculty are:

... * Dr. Kent M. James, lecturer of history. He received his bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College, and his master's and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. 

...

 

The San Francisco Chronicle

Shop owner an acquired taste;
But she and her store are a treasure to chefs

By Nellie Bowles, Chronicle Staff Writer

August 30, 2011

Judy Kaminsky thinks the kids who complain about her Divisadero Alley kitchenware shop Cookin' can hit the road.

The Yelp reviewer H.M.H. writes: "The staff here is not just rude, they are drastically and aggressively mean. It was a truly awful experience that left me shaken and upset."

...But in a city where the average retail business lasts five years, Cookin' has put the "open" sign out for 30 years. Since 1981, Kaminsky's shop has sold high-end vintage cookware to the Bay Area's fanciest restaurants and most intrepid home chefs.

Scouring local Bay Area antique shows, flea markets and thrift stores, and frequenting Paris to do the same, Kaminsky has accumulated a trove of rare, decently priced and high-quality vintage cookware. Her international team of loyal "pickers," friends and acquaintances always on the lookout for new items to send her, extends her reach from Atherton to Athens.

...The French Laundry's chef de cuisine, Timothy Hollingsworth, frequents Cookin', most recently buying a juicer and some cast-iron pans for his home, as well as a meat fork and obscure Parisian scoops for the restaurant. Kaminsky, he says, is "unique and eclectic."

...Kaminsky opened Cookin' out of the basement of her friend's home "a drag queen, I suppose", where it operated for a year as she collected cookware from around the world, an astonishing assortment of French antiques and New World oddities.

...Her mother never cooked, and the young Judy would watch the family chef, who used only antique French cookware.

Old cookware's copper hue, whimsical designs and sense of warm history are her eyes widen as she says "wondrous."

...She graduated from Swarthmore College and earned a doctorate from the University of Ottawa her dissertation was on 17th century religious philosophy and took a teaching job at Dominican College in San Rafael.

"Teaching freshman composition is disgusting, and people kept borrowing the old cooking stuff I had," she says, "so I figured I'd open Cookin'."

...As Yelper Gwynnie P. writes: "If you can't handle a wee bit o' eccentricity, get on down to a Target."...

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer

All politics is personal - and so is touchy evolution

By Faye Flam

August 29, 2011

When evangelical Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry said evolution was a theory that has "got some gaps," he showed that if anything, religious and political gripes with evolution are intensifying, even as Darwin's idea remains established in the bedrock of science.

...The rancor makes more sense in the context of its deep history, said Swarthmore biology professor Scott Gilbert. The roots of this disagreement go back to 19th-century Europe, where state-sponsored religions were taught as science, said Gilbert, who has degrees in both biology and religion.

After On the Origin of Species was first published in 1859, British scientist Thomas Huxley used it as a club to try to shatter the intellectual monopoly of the Anglican Church.

Back then, to teach at the prestigious Oxford or Cambridge Universities, a professor had to become a member of the Anglican clergy.

..."You had to agree that nature was God's creation," Gilbert said, and the only people thought worthy of interpreting God's creation were those in the official state religion.

..."This is, I think, where much of this whole science versus religion rhetoric comes from," Gilbert said. "It's basically science trying to break the monopoly of state religions."

...Gilbert sees the quest to insert creationism into science classes as a degradation of religion. Today, no religion can compete with science as a way to get at literal truths about the way the world works, he said. Its realm should be in wisdom, not knowledge.

Knowledge is being able to identify a tomato as a fruit, but wisdom, he said, is not putting them in a fruit salad. When Perry or Bachmann advocates teaching creationism as science, "they are making religion insipid, a one-dimensional parody."

...On the other hand, there's no reason to fret that the popularity of creationism is causing America to lose technological prowess, said Gilbert. "I don't see any connection." People can be passably good engineers, chemists, computer programmers, or gadget-designers without necessarily understanding evolution.

But if evolution is not taught well, students get cheated out of understanding a crucial area of science. Gilbert questions whether even those who say they "believe" in evolution have been given the chance to fully appreciate the way it works and to evaluate the evidence.   ...

The Philadelphia Inquirer

At the Barnes, life and learning go on

By Edward J. Sozanski

August 28, 2011

After it closed on July 3, the Barnes Foundation in Merion locked down tighter than Guantanamo. Until the new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway opens next summer, the fabled art collection is inaccessible.

This doesn't mean, however, that the entire Barnes organism will hibernate during the hiatus. The education program, the foundation's raison d'etre, will continue through the 2011-12 academic year, albeit in a modified form. In fact, fall classes begin in just nine days, on Sept. 6.

...To compensate, the foundation has arranged for its second-year horticulture students to study woody plants at the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College and herbaceous plants at Chanticleer, a 47-acre public garden in Radnor.

 

The Jewish Exponent

Labor Day Plans for a Gift of Life

By Elyse Glickman

August 24, 2011

Marshal Davis is in the process of planning a Labor Day Weekend gathering at his parents' home in Margate, N.J. However, it is not a barbeque; it is a literal celebration of life, and Davis and his family hope it will have far-reaching effects.

The event -- a donor drive -- is being planned in collaboration with the Gift of Life Foundation (giftoflife.org). Davis, of Furlong, Pa., an attorney who also owns and operates Liberty Fencing Club with his wife, Helen, says his goals for the event include finding organ donors and raising money to circulate and process test kits that could contain life-saving genetic typing and matching information connecting donors to critically ill individuals.

Over a decade ago, it was a similar event at a Hillel Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville staged by the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, based out of Boca Raton, that would profoundly change his life and save a young Chicago boy suffering from leukemia.

From Davis' perspective, life's most precious gifts often arrive in the most interesting ways. In this current situation, he received a phone call 18 months ago reminding him he had had his cheek swabbed during his college years at the University of Florida and that, so many years later, the foundation had found a bone-marrow match for a patient. That patient, then 5 years of age, was suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome, which could lead to acute leukemia.

When Davis and his recipient, Jacob Kowalik, met, the experience proved to be life-changing. Davis had arranged a meeting with Jacob through his parents when Davis was in Chicago as coach of the Swarthmore College fencing team, which was competing in national championships at the University of Chicago this May.

..."It was an overwhelming moment, and I had to watch the video again, to relive it again, with the emotional impact of knowing that I was meeting somebody who would not be alive today if this technology that enabled the transplant had not existed."

...This year has been one of accomplishment for Davis, especially as he just served as head coach for the U.S. fencing team at the 2011 European Maccabi Games in Vienna. Under his guidance, the team won 11 individual medals and three team medals.

The Davis family Gift of Life Foundation drive takes place Sunday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., at 9600 Atlantic Ave., Margate.