House committee leaders blast governor over possible API privatization - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Sunday, December 15, 2019
HomePoliticsHouse committee leaders blast governor over possible API privatization

House committee leaders blast governor over possible API privatization

Within hours of the announcement that the Alaska Psychiatric Institute is no longer facing closure by the federal agencies that watch over it, the co-chairs of the House Health and Social Services Committee lashed at the governor today for not doing enough to improve conditions at the institution, and criticized him for exploring privatization of the formerly troubled facility.

[Read: Alaska Psychiatric Institute gets OK from feds]

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, who last week spoke at a rally in Anchorage to recall the governor, said she welcomed the recertification of API by the federal agencies.

But Spohnholz qualified her acknowledgement of the recertification:

“However, API is still barely operating above 50 percent capacity, and the adolescent unit is still not open. The potential privatization of the hospital is making it difficult to recruit and retain qualified staff. If the administration is serious about getting the hospital back to full capacity, they should take privatization off the table and aggressively recruit to fill funded but vacant positions at API,” Spohnholz said.

The Alaska State Employee Association, the union for state workers, has opposed privatization and is suing the Dunleavy Administration over the contract with Wellpath, the private company that has helped stabilize the institution. ASEA’s political action committee, ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 PAC, is a major donor to Spohnholz’ campaigns, giving her the maximum allowed by law in 2018 and 2017.

Co-chair of the HSS Committee Tiffany Zulkosky was similarly critical of the news regarding API’s recertification:

“Over multiple hearings in 2018 and early 2019 about the status of API, we heard overwhelmingly from patient advocates and healthcare partners across the state about the essential role of this institution in meeting the behavioral health needs of Alaskans. We also heard from employees and stakeholder groups who expressed concerns in ensuring those who care for our most vulnerable Alaskans are also safe and protected. For these and many other reasons, in FY19 the Legislature increased staffing and operating resources for API.

“While I join colleagues in sharing my appreciation for the good news that API returns to good standing with its accrediting bodies, it is vital the Department of Health and Social Services continue to prioritize increasing capacity for all units of Alaska’s sole psychiatric hospital. We should not lose focus on patient and staff safety by wasting resources on feasibility studies that have shown that privatization does not save the state money or improve operating outcomes.”

Zulkosky also accepted the maximum donation to her campaign by the ASEA-ASFCME Local 52 Political Action Committee. She is the vice president of communications for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, which also has a large behavioral health footprint in her Bethel region.

Commissioner Adam Crum speaks during a press conference at API on Aug. 5, 2019.

Both Spohnholz and Zulkosky this winter voted against the confirmation of Commissioner Adam Crum, who is now in charge of the Department of Health and Social Services, and is in charge of bringing the Alaska Psychiatric Institute back to full capacity after its near collapse under former Gov. Bill Walker and former Commissioner and Lt. Gov. Valerie Davidson.

The two House critics never uttered a word about API while it spiraled into chaos under Walker and Davidson, with nurses being injured, patients with broken bones, and a staff that was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. API was widely known as the worst psychiatric hospital in the nation during the Walker era.

Spohnholz is rumored to be interested in running for Anchorage mayor and has been increasing her visibility at every opportunity. She led an inquisition against retired Judge Karl Johnstone during confirmation hearings for the Board of Fish, accusing him of behavior for which she offered no supporting evidence.

[Read: Karl Johnstone: “What Spohnholz did to me, she could do to anyone”]

Donations Welcome

Share

Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Poison Ivy should be in the lockdown wing at API. Her poison is contagious. Consider lobotomization.

    • What Anchoragites are stupid enough to vote for Poison Ivy? The homeless don’t vote. [Or do they?].

  • More evidence that a wing of the Democrat party cares more about union employment than any kind of outcomes.

  • What is the matter with those two who are after the governor, when they let it happen on their watch?

  • I filled in a vacant seat for a year on Bethel City council and sat threw a yearly budget process with Tiffany Zulkoski. She never saw a tax she didn’t think should be bigger or have a second thought to screwing the lower income over if it advanced YKHC agenda.

    She is a paid puppet for the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • She’s from a town that survives on the government. That is all she knows. Racking and stacking shelters, healthcare facilities, you name it. If it wasn’t for government $$ pouring into Bethel, it would be nothing but delta dust.

      • That’s fact. Lived there 27 years. Zulkoski keeps her employer first and foremost. She has no qualms about stealing all the cash the poorest people on the Delta get from the PFD to make sure that Bethel social service organizations stay flush in government subdizes.

        Ykhc is a Native health organization that puts their financial health above the people they medically take of.

    • Does the city of Bethel give money to YKHC?

  • I congratulate our new Governor Mike Dunleavy in choosing the privatisation route to clean up the terrible mess at API. One of my daughters left API because it was run so badly. She disagreed with many things happening there, but only had a BA. I told her to report things directly to the Governor. She made the right choice and just left there. She now almost has her MA. But she has no intention of returning there to deal with the same supervisors. all of whom I recommend the Governor to replace.

  • Poison Ivy and Harriett and her Chariot were leading the charge at the recall Dunleavy rally. Poor form at best. Ivy has got to go. First I heard about her mayoral dreams. That would be a nightmare for the citizens of Anchorage. She is a shameless liar beyond “politics as usual”. Anyone bother to ask Ivy what has become of the situation where multiple women contacted her claiming Karl Johnstone made unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments? She spiked his confirmation on the board of fish at the 11th hour with a pile of BS – plain and simple. And, the additional sick part is the rest of the gang went along with it (rhymes with Bryce Edgmon). I’d like to run into her someday – in public for fear she might accuse me of something – and ask her what happened. I have no doubt she would stammer and hem and haw because NOTHING happened with it because NOTHING happened in the first place. She screwed a man out of position, soiled his reputation and damaged him and his family.
    .
    She originally got into her position because Max Gruenberg died. Tiffany originally into hers because Zack Fansler smacked a woman so hard he broke her eardrum, hoping for some S&M kink. People actually reelected Ivy. Good Gawd. Both appointed by Gov. Walker. Good work Bill. Thanks.
    .
    She has to do more than scream into a microphone, tell lies, and promote pop-up non-alcoholic pubs to be mayor worthy. Wait…..maybe not…….
    .
    Be afraid…be very afraid. Please God, let there be a worthy conservative ready to take this city over!

  • FemiNazi Spohnholz may be interested in becoming the next mayor of Anchorage? Could that city spiral into the abyss, any further?? Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

    • She’s got more education than Begich and more attractive than he and Berkowitz put together and went to Steller High School. What more do you need to run the largest city in Alaska that’s striving to look like Seattle/San Fran/Portland? I think that covers the quals. Just say the word FREE and your flock surrounds you!

      • And just say the word “socialism” and the flock erupts into a delirium of joy. It may seem funny, but do not kid yourself: These folks are deadly serious. They are coming for your money, your car, your house, your future and ultimately your freedom.

        • Yep. Not joking.

    • Best case scenario for Eagle River’s secession would be one of those 2 Leftists to become mayor. It would guarantee it.

  • As a former combat attack helicopter pilot, I can only smile when I remember an old saying on pre-mission briefings, “When you start taking flack, you are OVER the target.” When the state union’s mouthpieces run to the local media mic to condemn the Governor. I must laugh at their double standards because not one negative word was said or printed when twice defeated Former Mayor and Senator Mark Begich was gathering every grant and no-bid contract dollar he could.find. Media coverage from the socialist newspapers
    , The News-Miner (a government-subsidized non-profit operation) and the in and out of publication Anchorage Daily News Fishrag are still the go-to publications for the meager minded libs.

    • Whatever leads you to believe that the Fairbanks Daily New-Miner is a non-profit corporation??

      • Mary Bishop:
        I think this is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek statement by Mr. Dryden, and a way to poke fun at Dermot and Terrence Cole (also known as the far-left, little Cole dwarfs). btw, doesn’t your son, Sam Bishop, still work at the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer?

  • Representative Poison Ivy undoubtedly wears the same lipstick – Stila “Stay All Day” liquid lipstick – as her heroine and mentor, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. She is using whatever means are available to her to enhance her political fortunes. There is little doubt in my mind that Poison Ivy will destroy anything and everything in her path as is necessary as she goes forward.

    • I wondered about the hideous lipstick. I think you nailed it.

  • The parasitic class are getting desperate and Its gonna get ugly as the money runs out for AK and the rest of the nation

  • I think it’s a good idea conserve room at API for the leftist losers, because they aren’t able to coerce their way to their lib/socialist/dim agenda being fulfilled. As insanity only worsens when they don’t get their way and only ‘support’ pets to keep their heads from blowing up (rhetorically), they should be happy that certified, competent management is in control of their future home. I’ll bet they wouldn’t like it if their ASEA cronies were in charge then. No matter what Governor Dunleavy says or does, the dim/leftist wingnuts will lie, complain, call him names and threaten, not just him, but everyone with a different opinion. Remember, the next election, anyone with a D (and some R’s) by their name is not interested in the citizenry/constituents. Only their cronies.

%d bloggers like this: