Judge Threatens Hearing on Contempt Motion if Emergency Action Not Taken at Prisons
A federal judge on Monday said he would convene a hearing on a contempt motion in a few weeks if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) does not appoint someone to enact emergency reforms in the state prison health care system, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Paul Mello, the state's retained lawyer, said Schwarzenegger has begun the interviewing process. Mello said he does not know how long the process will take.
Senior U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said if the governor "doesn't plan to do it, I'll do it ... and I will give that person the authority that is necessary" to make the changes (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 11/29).
Also at the hearing, Henderson heard testimony about a recommendation from attorney John Hagar, who said the state needs to increase salaries for prison doctors and nurses by Dec. 1. Henderson did not say when he would rule on the matter.
In related news, Schwarzenegger on Monday appointed two health care executives to help oversee the state prison health care system.
Peter Farber-Szekrenyi was appointed chief of the Division of Correctional Health Care Services. Farber-Szekrenyi has worked in health care administration for 30 years, including as a manager at Alameda County Medical Center, the Anaheim-Tustin Hospital Medical Center and Fountain Valley Hospital and Development. The position, which has an annual salary of $204,000, requires Senate confirmation.
Darc Keller was appointed as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation assistant secretary for health care policy. Keller is a former CEO of the Los Angeles County Medical Association and served as the assistant state surgeon for the headquarters of the California National Guard. The position, which has an annual salary of $119,100, also requires Senate confirmation (Chorneau, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 11/28).