When Alan Levine
was tapped as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and
Hospitals earlier this year, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal described him
as a “superstar.” But in a report dubbed “Bleeding Dollars,” the New Times of Broward-Palm Beach, an alternative newsweekly in south Florida, offers another take on Levine.
Before heading to the Pelican State, Levine was the top administrator
at the North Broward Hospital District (prior to that he worked for
another GOP heavyweight — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush). But when he
left the Florida hospital gig to head further west, Levine left more
than an empty desk behind, according to the New Times. Here’s a sampling from the story :
Levine never moved to Broward, though he got moving
expenses. Not only did Levine, a rising star in national GOP circles,
negotiate a deal that would pay him a hefty $670,000 in salary and
bonuses but he also received a car allowance and a secret $35,000
payment to relocate to Broward County.
It’s the relocation payment — along with a few personal travel expenses
Levine charged to the district — that has caused some controversy at
the district. The hospital agency, which now goes by the name Broward
Health, is supported with taxpayer dollars.
The controversy arises because Levine, who left the district at the
beginning of this year to take a job as Louisiana’s top public health
official, never actually relocated.
The questionable payments to Levine were discovered in a recent review
by the auditing department, and the revelations do more than sully
Levine’s squeaky-clean image. They also provide more evidence of the
district’s dubious spending on high-ranking employees.
The public health system, which runs five hospitals, including flagship
Broward General, often behaves like a big-spending corporation, and
taxpayers, who have pumped $200 million into it, are left holding the
Levine’s relocation agreement primarily covered the “reasonable cost of
moving the newly recruited employee’s household goods from Tallahassee,
FL to the Fort Lauderdale area,” according to a copy of the document
that he signed on July 19, 2006.
Those household goods, however, stayed in Tallahassee with his wife and
teenaged daughter. Instead of relocating, he rented an apartment and
traveled every weekend to the family home while serving as CEO for the
Further, Levine produced no receipts, though the agreement specifies
that he is to be reimbursed. Despite the lack of documentation, Levine
was paid the $35,000 in a lump sum.
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