Monday, October 13, 2008

Union chief begs for dough, gives away 59 Hummers

The head of the teachers union here has been begging for extra money for education. On Sunday she gave 59 Hummer H3s to her section leaders. Each of the 2009 models cost 500,000 pesos, or about $40,000. (Photo from Vanguardia)

Elba Esther Gordillo, president of the National Union of Education Workers, which is known for its hardball negotiating, said, “If I could have given them armored cars, I would have.” Evidently she´s worried about safety for her union chiefs.

On Sunday, at the close of a national union meeting, the secretary general of the union, Rafael Ochoa, handed the keys to each of the 59 section leaders. The union officials assured readers of El Mural that the Hummers will be used for work.

A teacher´s salary is about $5,000 or $6,000 a year. It´s not clear how the union gets that kind of money.

The crass self-indulgence of those entrusted with public money or responsibility is astounding.

Update Oct. 16 -- Today´s El Mural carried a followup story that revealed that the 59 Hummers were promised to the union by the government as part of a wage negotiation. So the taxpaying chumps paid for the section leaders to drive in style.

In the resulting uproar over the vehicles, the union has now invented two alternative explanations -- the Hummers are to be used for lotteries with the proceeds to go to schools for the poor. When the reporter asked local union officials about the supposed lottery plan, they didn´t know anything about it.

The other story the union invented was that the Hummer was for use by the entire union office not just the union bosses. Tell that to the boss who got to special order the color -- yellow -- of her Hummer.

Liver transplants at $100,000 per
It seems that the head surgeon in a liver transplant operation here in Guadalajara has been doing a little business on the side. Although the public hospital where he works charges $1,500 for a transplant, you could move up on the waiting list by depositing $80,000 to $100,000 in the personal private bank account of the father of the head surgeon, Luis Carlos Rodríguez Sancho (Photo from Informador).

Someone died, someone complained and the whole seedy practice was exposed. Hospital officials were shocked -- shocked -- to learn of the practice and then dismissed its importance and defended the surgeon. Officials of the university of Guadalajara took out ads in newspapers defending Rodríguez Sancho, even after the State Controller´s office found him guilty of irregularities and banned him from working in a public institution for three years. (He was fined $1,500 as well.)

The very next day, the State Controller reversed itself and said the surgeon could continue practicing at the public hospital if he does eight surgeries pro bono for every two he does on his own account.

No one at all seems interested in finding out how much money Rodríguez Sancho has raked in over the years nor who else might have gotten a cut. No one has even hinted that his actions might be criminal. The prevailing attitude seems to be that he is a kind of hero and deserves all the money he can get.

UPDATE NOV. 2 -- The New York Times just did a piece on public corruption in Mexico that shows how broadly and deeply narcotraffickers have compromised public institutions.

No comments:

Post a Comment