Tag Archives: GROUNDHOG DAY: Missouri Health Department Official Tight-Lipped About Cancer Report Due for 2016 Release

Bob McCarty Weekly Recap: Oct. 25-31, 2015

A lot of folks will be wearing costumes and masks tonight, but, God willing, I’ll continue to be who I am and do what I do best. The latest examples of my work can be found below in my weekly recap for Oct. 25-31, 2015.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Sunday, Oct. 25

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, I decided to share a piece Sunday that I had published for the first time Oct. 24, 2012. It appears under the headline, FLASHBACK: Emails Prove Obama Lied About Libya Attacks.

Monday, Oct. 26

I began sharing news about former Army Sgt. Todd Knight and his conviction on bogus sexual assault allegations. I published the first piece Monday under the headline, Another Soldier Tries to Clear His Name Following Conviction.

Tuesday, Oct. 27

Two weeks after I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Army officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., I received a response that showed how officials at the home of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division had lived up to my negative expectations. Read about it and see if you agree. Published Tuesday, the story appears under the headline, Fort Campbell Officials Live Up to Negative Expectations in Response to Freedom of Information Act Request.

Thursday, Oct. 29

On Thursday, I learned the military trials of some Soldiers, including the aforementioned Sergeant Knight, on sexual assault charges were likely tainted by the fact military members serving on court-martial panels — the military equivalent of a jury — had watched the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War,” as part of their Army sexual assault awareness and prevention training. My troubling findings appear under the headline, Defense Attorney Says Sexual Assault ‘Victim’ Who Appears in Oscar-Nominated Documentary Lied on Witness Stand.

Also on Thursday, I published a piece under the headline, a GROUNDHOG DAY: Missouri Health Department Official Tight-Lipped About Cancer Report Due for 2016 Release. The “Groundhog Day” reference has to do with the fact that my recent experience of trying to obtain apparently “radioactive” information from state health agency officials closely mirrors my experience five years ago. Still confused? Read it, and you won’t be.

Friday, Oct. 30

On Friday, I addressed my frustration with a recent Air Force Times article about the acquittal of Senior Airman Brandon Wright on a charge of aggravated sexual assault. Read Air Force Times Newspaper Report About Airman’s Acquittal on Sexual Assault Charge Reveals Extreme Bias in Coverage, and I suspect you’ll find the headline is the least-biased part of the article. Also, pay attention to the update I added at the end.

Also on Friday, I shared the words of Sergeant Knight’s mother, Teresa McQueen, in a piece that speaks volumes as it appears under the headline, Mom Pens Heartfelt Message About Son’s Bogus Conviction.

Saturday, Oct. 31

Today, I plan to watch some football, run some stairs at my favorite lake and hand out sugar pills to kids too young to care about getting fat from eating them.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the articles above and those to follow. You can show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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GROUNDHOG DAY: Missouri Health Department Official Tight-Lipped About Cancer Report Due for 2016 Release

“Bob, I am unable to speculate on any potential further updates at this time. As you may be aware, all information released for the department is available here. Thanks, Ryan.” When I read those words from Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, in an email message Tuesday afternoon, I felt like I was in the middle of a serious remake of “Groundhog Day.”

Click on image above to visit page Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, suggested I visit in lieu of providing me with answers.

Click on image above to visit page Ryan Hobart, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, suggested I visit in lieu of providing me with answers.

I call it a “serious remake” of the 1993 Bill Murray film, but not because it has something to do with the public health dangers associated with the long-term storage of radioactive waste at a place known as the Weldon Spring Site, located in a once-rural area about 30 miles west of St. Louis. Instead, his message reminds me of “Groundhog Day” because it’s so similar to the correspondence I had received from Hobart’s predecessor two spokespersons removed, Jacqueline Lapine.

When I tried, during a nine-month period in 2011, to find out from Lapine when the long-overdue five-year update to the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report would be released by officials at the state agency responsible for keeping citizens in the Show-Me State informed about monitoring efforts at Weldon Spring, she gave me nothing useful.

It wasn’t until shortly after 5 p.m. Dec. 29, 2011, that I finally received a copy of the 2011 report, known officially as the Analysis of Leukemia Incidence and Mortality Data for St. Charles County, Weldon Spring and Surrounding Areas December 2011 (Update to April 2005 Report) and unofficially as the “Weldon Spring Update” or “2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report.” It came as an attachment to an email message from Gena Terlizzi, the woman who replaced Lapine who, presumably, moved on to new challenges.

To fully understand the issues at Weldon Spring, read this article before continuing.

Read about my "Uphill Battle for Answers" at http://bobmccarty.com/?p=1949.

The investigation that led to my first article about Weldon Springs in January 2012 (see screenshot above) began with state health department officials being very tight-lipped about the 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Report. Read about it at http://bobmccarty.com/?p=1949.

Now, back to Hobart’s message highlighted at the top of this piece. It wasn’t our first exchange.

Our online conversation dates back to the morning of Oct. 21 and an email message I sent to Hobart:

Dear Ryan:

Five years ago, I communicated with your predecessors, Jaqueline Lapine and Gena Terlizzi, regarding the Weldon Spring Site where radioactive waste is stored in St. Charles County, Mo.

Because I had read in your agency’s 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report that the authors recommended “the Cancer Inquiry Program should continue to monitor the cancer incidence and mortality rates in Weldon Spring and its surrounding areas,” I asked for — and eventually obtained — a copy of the 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Inquiry Report.

Today, I’m repeating the process in hopes of obtaining an update about your agency’s forthcoming release of a 2016 Weldon Spring Cancer Report.

With several national news media outlets, including CBS Evening News and the The Los Angeles Times, reporting recently about the inherent dangers of radioactive waste in the St. Louis County neighborhoods along Coldwater Creek colliding with an underground fire at the nearby Westlake Landfill, it’s imperative that your agency be transparent when it comes to testing and monitoring at the Weldon Spring Site.

At your earliest opportunity, I would like you to provide answers to the following questions:

1. When do officials at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services expect to release another five-year follow-up report (a.k.a., “2016 Weldon Spring Cancer Report”)? and

2. Who, within the agency, is in charge of producing the five-year follow-up report?

Please let me know ASAP if you have questions or anticipate any delay beyond 48 hours in responding to my questions. Thanks in advance for your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Bob McCarty

After five days passed without an answer, I left a phone message with Hobart Monday morning and followed up by sending another email message: “Are you ignoring me on purpose? I’ve emailed — twice now — and I left a phone message three hours ago.”

“Sorry for the delay,” he replied two hours later. “I will be back in touch as soon as I have responsive information to share.”

Almost 24 hours later, I responded: “Ryan, As a long-time veteran of public affairs work, I must say that six days is an unacceptably-slow response time and that delaying the release of bad information — if that is, indeed, the reason for your delay — never works out well for the organization behind the delay.”

Two more days passed, and I received a mid-Tuesday afternoon message from Hobart: “Bob, I am unable to speculate on any potential further updates at this time. As you may be aware, all information released for the department is available here: http://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/cancerinquiry/reports.php#weldon. Thanks, Ryan.”

I responded two hours later: “Well, that’s a lame answer, because I’m not asking you to speculate. I’m asking you to tell me whether the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be releasing an update on the 2005 Weldon Spring Cancer Report and the 2011 Weldon Spring Update. If public funds are being spent on preparing such a report, it is your agency’s obligation to inform the public as to how that money is being spent and when they might expect to see any official update.”

I ended my message by asking Hobart a question and sounding something like a game show host: “Is this your final answer, because it is about to go national. I’ll give you one more chance — 24 hours, to come clean — before the gloves come off.”

At 9:24 a.m. today, I asked Hobart one last time if he was going to provide me with genuine answers. He didn’t reply, so the gloves are off.

Stay tuned for more developments.

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Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.