All those kudos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s recent six-part series on the county’s only charity hospital, John Peter Smith, and its multiple failures in serving the poor are well deserved. Static applauds the daily’s newfound mission to shine a spotlight into society’s dark corners.
But it’s disappointing that in all of those words, not one sentence was devoted to Allied Communities of Tarrant, the faith-based organization that first exposed many of JPS’ failures more than a year ago in a report covered by Fort Worth Weekly.
ACT was the first to find that the charity district was sitting on a surplus of $329 million while sick people were being turned away and CEO David Cecero was being rewarded with $700,000 in annual salary and bonuses. An ACT study of the district’s finances and quality of care, using the hospital’s own economic data, showed that JPS could provide healthcare for all the county’s poor – including undocumented workers, who are now denied non-emergency charity care – without raising taxes or hurting its very healthy bottom line. ACT presented its findings to the JPS board over and over again, where the information fell on mostly deaf ears. Two months ago, the Weekly’s own story on the situation (“Code Red for JPS,” March 5, 2008) covered some of the same shocking ground as the Star-T’s series, but it took the daily’s oomph to get the board to finally fire Cecero.
In its extensive list of story credits, the paper could at least have given a few words of credit to ACT, which laid the foundation for the Star-T’s made-for-Pulitzer investigation.
The Linwood neighborhood on the near West Side is mourning the loss last week of a dedicated leader, Elena Sandoval. According to news reports, the 81-year-old went back inside her burning house to find her husband, not realizing that Jesse Sandoval had made it out. He survived, but his wife died of smoke inhalation and burns.
The Sandovals, married for more than 60 years, lived in blue-collar Linwood for much of that time. They hung on through the 1949 flood, the decline of their neighborhood due to suburban sprawl and the city’s inattention, and the 2000 tornado. In recent years, the couple fought another storm – the efforts of real estate developers to buy out Linwood residents and replace their modest homes with expensive town houses. There’s no word yet on whether Jesse Sandoval will try to repair the fire damage to his house on Weisenberger Street.
The couple was active in the Linwood Neighborhood Association and worked with police in the Citizens on Patrol program. It was common for neighbors to see the Sandovals driving through Linwood, looking for criminal activity and stopping to chat and check on neighbors. “She was really special and cared about so many people,” said association member Mary Byrd. “They did the neighborhood work not for themselves, but for others.”