Dallas County Health Director Disputes Misuse of AIDS Funds, Calls Media "Racist"

Thompson.jpg
Dallas County
Health Department Director Zach Thompson says there's no investigation into the department. But questions and concerns remain.
Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson gathered the media on Monday to address reports, from Unfair Park and others, that there was a federal investigation into the department's use of funding designed to treat people with HIV. To be clear, Dallas County Health Department Director Zach Thompson declared, there is no investigation into the department. And, he said, it was racist to report otherwise.

This began a couple weeks back, when NBC5 broke the news that federal health officials would look into how money is being distributed by the Ryan White Planning Council, a committee, appointed by County Judge Clay Jenkins, that distributes federal money to poor HIV patents.

County health officials were adamant there was no investigation, but reporters were adamant there was -- because a federal spokesman insisted his office had questions about the spending and would investigate.

But that office, and that spokesman, are now backtracking. Officials at the federal Health Resources and Services Administration's Division of Metropolitan HIV/AIDS have since clarified in a letter that there is no investigation into the department itself, although they're still suggesting that there is a question about how the money is being distributed by the Ryan White Council.

"I am partly to blame for this," HRSA spokesman Martin Kramer told Unfair Park. "What the Division of Financial Integrity was looking into was a complaint about a subgrantee."

"That's a lie that said we were under federal investigation," Thompson told reporters at the press conference, repeatedly singling out reporters for their "misleading" information. Toward the end of the conference, Thompson became agitated and left the room before his colleagues.

But that wasn't before he accused local media of racism for questioning whether the department is under investigation:

"For me to be targeted as Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, that at no time -- I have not been implicated in any of these matters," he said. Thompson elaborated that there must be an underlying "motive."

"I've been followed for two blocks and asked questions that I have no comment on," he said, referring to NBC5's Scott Friedman, who attempted to get a comment from Thompson outside the office. "I don't see anybody else being followed for two blocks."

But whether or not the feds are specifically investigating Thompson's department, that department's relationship with the council appears broken. Ben Martinez is a community HIV/AIDS advocate and vice-chair and community member of the Ryan White Council, appointed by Judge Clay Jenkins. He spoke with Unfair Park last week about the ongoing mystery surrounding the department, and spoke frankly of a hostile working environment within the department, describing staffers who are afraid to disagree with Thompson.

"Director Thompson has created a culture of fear," Martinez said. "Both the staff are afraid of him, and the agencies who receive money from him. Not just Ryan White, but other groups are afraid of him."
Louis Henry, an ex-community member of the Ryan White Planning Council, also described a lack of dialogue within the Council. "During the time I was a member, all the members were just yes members," he said in an e-mail statement to Unfair Park. "Most of us did not fully understand the process 100 percent."



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61 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

ENOUGH of the GD games from Democrats of ANY color !!!!


There IS an investigation, according to unimpeachable media sources, and and the poff who is Director of the Health Department is taking too many cues from the Bro in the White House when it comes to deceit and lying.



rubbbrduky
rubbbrduky

Oooooooh another BROTHA' calling someone racist, hadn't hear that one before. Maybe he previously worked for Acorn.

lawsonchris
lawsonchris

What is that all saying " if you smelt it you dealt it" Look at the first person to yell Racism! So who really is the racist in this story???

smichaelclark59
smichaelclark59

This man needs to be fired.  Many in Dallas needing AIDS care are getting substandard treatment and now we hear the Health department is causing the spread of STD's

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

If I were a fireman and I smelled that much smoke, I'd be down the pole with my pants pulled up by now.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Sometimes they question the Black guy in Charge because He is the Guy in Charge who just happens to be Black .

Get over it ..

annff69
annff69

If reporting an investigation or expecting accountability are signs of racism, then I guess getting your knickers in a premature twist when there is no investigation is a sure sign that there is something to investigate.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

-" because a federal spokesman insisted his office had questions about the spending and would investigate"........ "What the Division of Financial Integrity was looking into was a complaint about a subgrantee."

The media owes nothing, there is no racism or ulterior motive.  Thompson's reputation (sterling silver, I'll just bet) was not damaged by media reports, but by statements from the federal office.

There really should be nothing to investigate.  Public funding spent on public welfare, all Thompson had to do was release the book publicly and say 'See, nothing untowards going on here.' End of problem, end of story, reputation intact.  Instead, he plays the race card.  NOW, there's reason to suspect something is going on.

and if "looking into a complaint" isn't investigating, what is it?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Just another case of the white man putting his boot on the black man's neck to keep him down.

James080
James080

If a tree falls in the forest and the only person there is black, is it still racism?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Zach Thompson may be guilty of taking this too far with the racism remark, but at the same time Zach Thompson is owed an apology, a public one, from both Unfair Park and, more important, Scott Friedman and KXAS/NBC5.

The reports of Thompson's unit being under investigation were incorrect, as confirmed by HRSA,  and these false reports have damaged Thompson's reputation.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

Wasn't he standing next to JWP at the time he said this?  Perhaps, JWP was just practicing his ventriloquism in advance of his potential shifting of living arrangements.  He will need a mouth piece downtown, Thompson was just auditioning.

snuffleupagus
snuffleupagus

Waycism waycism waaaah waaaaaah waaaaaaah!!!!!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Martinez should get around more.  Bosses exist to "create a culture of fear", and Thompson is the boss.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@JimSX Very astute of you.


Unfortunately, the story is about a black Democrat potentially doing something wrong, so nobody at this fine publication will touch it truthfully.


Prove me wrong, Jim.

James080
James080

@RTGolden1 

Thompson is a minion of JWPrice. Of course he will work racism into any controversy.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@RTGolden1 I read the letter of apology from Health and Human Services.  It appears Thompson has a right to be angry.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@RTGolden1

Agreed. If Thompson would like to continue to be the public face of the county Health Dept. he'd better learn to field media questions or criticisms a bit more adroitly.

Kneejerking is just bad form and makes you look defensive even if there is nothing to defend.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@James080 And if you were Black would you have the same perspective and the dismissive attitude you have as a White person?  

wcvemail
wcvemail

@mavdog

There's no "may be" in his guilt of throwing the race card, and I think the apology should come from the HRSA themselves and their untouchable, unaccountable PR person. OTOH, a retraction and explanation is due from DO and KXAS/NBC5, and it would be gracious of them to apologize as well.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz you mustve held some really shitty jobs, or just never worked where they appreciate your work.  The current job I have there is no fear of anything relating to our work from the supervisors up to their managers. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

Bosses exist to "create a culture of fear"...

I can tell you've never been in any management position, and if you made this statement in an interview for a managerial position, your resume would hit the can fast.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @RTGolden1 He may have every right to be angry, but not at the media.  The media reports what they're given.  Even the convoluted explanation by the HHS guy, still basically implies they were investigating the way the funds were distributed, at least in one particular case.

As you all said above, there may be something more going on between Thompson and certain members of the media.  But to fall back on racism in this case indicates Thompson is either: actually hiding something worth investigating; not capable of coherently defusing an issue like this; or completely in the dark and caught up in the scandals of whomever he is mouthpiecing for.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk  I just looked at Thompson's NBC5 statement to reporters and I get the distinct impression there is some kind of feud going on between Thompson and Channel 5 News.  He definitely was angry and lost it.  There is more about the feud we don't know yet.

James080
James080

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @James080 

How can anyone know how they would react if they were something different? But because you asked, if I were black, I hope I would take responsibility for my own successes and failures, and accept that life is often unfair to everyone. I hope I would not don a mantle of victim-hood, but would answer my critics and detractors head on, and would not become a whinny, sympathy craving race huckster.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@wcvemail @mavdog

racist never apologise since that would be an admission of guilt.  Not apologising is also deemed racist in the traditional KKK sense.  Explaining one's reasoning is unconscious racism. 

Asking for forgiveness is the Observer's only avenue, and Paula Deen can attest to the end result of that.

Voot
Voot

@ScottsMerkin @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I always assumed Myrna was the control sample in the Fancy Feast tasting labs, so I can kind of understand where she might be coming from.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@TheRuddSki Unfortunately there's a small number for businesses that seek out managers like that.  Those are really shitty places to work.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@RTGolden1 

The media reports what they're given.

the media has an obligation to verify "what they are given", and to substantiate the facts before publically disseminating "what they are given".

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@RTGolden1  There's the possibility that he's not "falling back" on the race card.  Maybe there's something there.  We may find out.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @TheCredibleHulk

I didn't see this interaction, but I'm kind of surprised - in every previous instance where I have seen him address the media, he comes across pretty milquetoast. Very informational, policy oriented bureaucrat gov't official type. Apolitical, even.

I'd be interested to know if there is some bad-blood there.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@James080 If you are a White, Male, Christian heterosexual, it's doubtful that you would have more than a bit of insight into what prejudice means.  I could say, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that most people who are not White, Male, Christian heterosexuals in America may have a good reason to suspect racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious bigotry when they are being attacked without good cause.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@James080 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

You got the subjunctive, and proper use of "hope" + "would" -- here, have this grammar award. Dust it off, as it's hardly ever given these days.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Seriously, its an awesome job, itd take a lot of money for me to leave. We only have 1 sour apple in the group and thats more bc she is a female version of the uptown douche than her work ethic

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

You can tell a lot of things reading that cracked crystal ball of yours.

I can tell you've chosen not to address my comment in any meaningful way, and that you have no managerial experience.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@doublecheese

Maybe businesses which require really stupid employees with severely limited employment options.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@mavdog @RTGolden1 You ain't getting the shit back into that goose.  Haven't seen media holding that line since at least the mid-90's.  Their mantra today is report it first, report it fast, retract if nothing comes up to displace it at the top of the polls.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@mavdog @RTGolden1


It seems the media tried to verify the Feds' statement by asking questions of the agency. When the agency denied any investigation, the media reported that denial, and continued trying to verify. This wasn't reacting to some urban legend and wildly posting, this was following up an official government announcement.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

" I could say, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that most people who are not White, Male, Christian heterosexuals in America may have a good reason to suspect racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious bigotry when they are being attacked without good cause."

Or maybe they made a bad decision and are suffering logical consequences?  Nah, must be racism or sexism.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@wcvemail 

Go back to the linked article that is headlined "The Feds will investigate Dallas County's use of AIDS Funds, even if the County won't admit it".

The Feds statement from "Martin Kramer, Director of Communications for the HRSA, .....was very clear: "The Division of Financial Integrity does have an initial inquiry into the Ryan White funds in Dallas," he said. "There's an initial investigation into the use of the Ryan White funds."

Ryan White is mentioned multiple times, the County is not mentioned at all by the Feds. Friedman and KXAS went after the County specifically.

IMO this is a case of poor journalism practices on their part.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

It's ok, hon, we know your only actual work experience is massaging the wallets of your numerous exes. Your ignorance of things like payroll taxes, management theory and such is not uncommon among the parasitic class who never put in an honest hour's work in their lives.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@mavdog @wcvemail

I take your point about the county/Ryan White distinction, which isn't a sharp line to me, but perhaps should have been to a reporter.

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