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For decades the worst kept secret in government has been the systemic problems within the Veterans Health Care System.  Members of both political parties of Congress, Presidents from both parties, cabinet officers, administrators, care providers throughout the VA (which operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics and other care facilities), and most especially injured or ill veterans and their families have known this dirty little secret: The Veterans Health Administration has been in serious need of total overhaul for many years.

Not until Dr. Sam Foote, a recently retired physician at the Phoenix VA Hospital, blew the whistle and CNN reporter Drew Griffin started to relentlessly report on the VA scandal did the problems so widely known behind the scenes reach crisis proportion leading them to be covered on every newscast and newspaper in America.  It is only with a continuous bright light being shone on the Veterans Health Administration for all to see that heads began to roll.

The three top officials at the Phoenix VA hospital were the first to go.  Day after day we learned that the problems uncovered in Phoenix were not isolated to our community.  Rather, the entire VA health system seemed infected with cover ups, fraud, and a lack of transparency.  Before long it was discovered that VA hospital officials were “cooking the books” to appear more efficient.  They received sizeable bonuses despite falsifying and destroying records.  Ultimately General Eric Shinseki, the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, fell on his sword and resigned his cabinet post.

Today the VA scandal is being investigated by the Inspector General’s Office of Special Counsel, an independent watchdog separate from the VA which looks into whistleblower complaints from across the federal government.  One can only hope that an exhaustive analysis and assessment will result in a complete scrubbing of the long-troubled VA health system.  When the final report is issued we should expect that those who served in the Armed Forces and who deserve first class healthcare will be cared for with the same quality that matches their honorable service to the nation.

So, what does the VA scandal have to do with this Blog?  It is quite simple.  Despite the fact that the Jewish Community Association may not have placed lives in jeopardy during their decades of shameful and ineffective performance, the JCA has been an agency known to be both a failure and a disgrace to most intelligent and thoughtful Jewish leaders in Phoenix.  Past and current board leaders, donors (prior and present), staff, Jewish communal professionals, lay leaders, area Rabbis, and the JCA’s national umbrella organization in New York (the Jewish Federations of North America), all know what an embarrassing and humiliating organization the current JCA, and the Federation before it, have been.  Their attempts to serve as the central fundraising and planning agency within the local Jewish community have been met with complete failure.

By any measure, benchmark or metric, the JCA gets failing grades as was outlined in this Blog on May 25 in an article entitled “The JCA’s Report Card – Full of Embarrassingly Failed grades”  https://tinyurl.com/kk38hex

The best way to bring home the point that the community has stood by silently and ignoring the JCA/Federation debacle is by watching a 19 second clip from the American movie classic Casablanca:   https://tinyurl.com/a6h3lmc 

Are we really “shocked, shocked to find out…” that our Jewish leadership has allowed the needs of the community to be ignored while sitting around the board room table at their private health club, tolerating the least and the worst instead of demanding the best from themselves and the community?

So the time has come to treat the communal shipwreck which is the JCA in the same way that the failed VA health system is now being reviewed.  The Greater Phoenix Jewish community requires a totally independent and objective analysis of the JCA.  An Inspector General-like organization, with no vested interest in the outcome, should be engaged to conduct an assessment of the JCA’s capability, performance, capacity and take into account and measure the community’s level of trust and confidence in the agency.

To conduct the type of study that will be required to fully assess this issue will not be inexpensive.  The funding must come from a handful of authentic and genuinely concerned local philanthropists who know full well that their contributions to the JCA’s campaign are tantamount to throwing good money after bad.  If there are concerned and courageous members of the local Jewish community who, after reading this message, are sufficiently concerned and outraged and if they want to make a real difference in the future of the community, then I ask that they reply to this post or send a message to me via email at markgreenburg@me.com.

All comments made privately to me will be treated with confidentiality.  If there is sufficient interest in funding such an exhaustive study then a specific plan will be developed and reviewed with the potential sponsors of the study.

If there is no interest in this approach then this Blog will continue to expose publicly all of the examples of bad management, bad governance, and wasteful and questionable ethical and business practices by the JCA.

The fate of the Jewish community needs to shift from a self-perpetuating board of ineffective leaders and their current shameful management.  It is time to step up and step forward to say “enough is enough”.  Like the decades-long tragedy we have recently seen uncovered in the VA health system, there is no time like the present to take similar steps and take back the reins of the JCA from those who have repeatedly driven it into the ditch.