Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Island of Garbage?

There's another reason to re-use those plastic grocery store bags, or better yet use the canvas reusable ones. In fact, this story should encourage all of us to use less plastic. I was listening to the Bryant Park Project on NPR this morning and they were talking about a huge problem in one part of the Pacific Ocean. It's a huge plastic garbage mass. It is nearly TWICE the size of Texas! The mass can be found halfway between Hawaii and Los Angeles. Earth Day isn't until next month, but this is definitely something to think about. The garbage mass deposits in this particular area due to the ocean currents and lack of wind. 80 percent of the garbage comes from land based areas, about 20 percent from cruise ships, according to the man who has made 8 trips to this area. It takes about 6 months for plastic garbage to make its way from Asia to this particular spot, and about 5 years to make its way from the United States.

Find out more here

Earth Day is April 22!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Attention Renters!

We had a story Wednesday night about a couple who found out the home they were living in was in foreclosure. It went into foreclosure in October of 2007, but the renters, Jennifer and Travis, didn't find out about it until January! What tipped them off? Not the owner of the home, I did.

You can see our story about Home Foreclosure by clicking here.

In the interest of helping other renters who may not know there is a problem with their rental home, I'm reprinting the "10 steps" to find out if the rental home you're living in is in foreclosure. I've seen ads that some companies are charging $200 to get this information. It's free here.

Originally posted January 2, 2007

We get many, many phone calls from people who need to rent a home, but wonder if the rental they're looking at is in foreclosure or soon will be. The county recorder's office says on a daily basis, renters are learning the home they're living in went into foreclosure. The scary part is that the renters only learn this when they find a notice on their front door telling them they have a few days to move out! Others will find a padlock on their rental home. Not only do these folks have to move out, if they paid first and last month's rent, plus a security fee, they likely won't get that money back.Unfortunately, there is no quick 1-800 number to call and get an answer. Instead you have to do a little detective work. The Watchdog is watching out for you.

We've made this as simple as possible and have put a step by step list on how to see if the home you're renting, or want to rent, is currently in foreclosure. It would make a lot of sense to check this on a monthly basis.

Here we go!
1. Get the address of the rental property. If it's not in the rental ad, call and get it. Or better yet, set up an appointment to look at the house. That way you'll be sure the address you're given is accurate.
2. Go to the Clark County Assessor website below:

3. In the top left corner, click on address search and then enter the address. Keep in mind you enter the house number, the street name, the type of street (court, circle, road, etc) on separate lines. If you don't know what city or town the rental is in, just leave that unspecified. Even though the rental home is in Las Vegas, it could show up under another town, such as Spring Valley, etc. Anyway, enter the address information and hit submit..

4. You should see a listing with the exact address. It's probably the first one on the list. Click on the parcel number.

5. Under general information you should see the homeowner's name and address, and also the parcel number again. Write that parcel number down .. you'll need it.

6. Go to the the Clark County Recorder website:

7. The second listing on the upper far left side of the site is "search records" .. click on that.

8. In the middle of the page you'll see several options to search on. Simple, Advanced, Instrument ID and Marriage.

9. Click on "Advanced Search".

10. The only thing you want to concern yourself with on this page is "legal descriptions". There are four lines under legal descriptions .. you want to use the first line which shows parcel number.
In the blank space NEXT to parcel number, you want to enter the parcel number you wrote down. Do not enter the dashes between the number .. just the numbers. Then click on the button below that says "Detail Data". This should take you to the "Web Services Detailed Data Results." You'll notice each entry has an instrument number and a document type. If default paperwork has been filed with the recorder's office, it should be listed here. The most recent actions are listed first. If it's not listed now .. you may want to check back on a weekly or monthly basis.

If you see something that might be a default, or you want more information, write down the instrument number and take it with you to the county recorder's office. They are there to help you and that instrument number will prevent you from going through all these steps again.

Some detailed documents are ONLY available at the county recorder's office. Employees there will help you find what you're looking for.

Where is the County Recorder's office? It's inside the big stone-looking building at 500 S Grand Central Parkway known as the Clark County Government Center. It's across from the Premium Outlet Mall and near the World Market Center. The recorder's office is on the second floor. The phone number is 455-4336.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kessler Report

The Clark County Commissioners are talking about changes now that the Kessler report is out.
The report, looks at the handling and mishandling of complaints, inside the Clark County Building Division and Clark County Fire Departments. If you want to see some of the examples .. page through it.

The County is already taking steps to increase fees (fines) for not getting the proper permits from $4,000 to $50,000. It also wants employees better trained to spot concealed work. By the way, Harrah's, a major part of the report, did not let its employees talk to Michael Kessler for his investigation.

And one more thing. One of our watchdog investigators asked me .. Where was the public? The commissioners dealt with the Endoscopy crisis, and the Kessler report today. They were expecting a large group of citizens to attend. The place was nearly empty ... two people showed up. Granted, a lot of them work, but you would think enough people have been affected by this to attend. Just sayin! There is a hearing scheduled for March 24th, a Monday, at 5:30pm at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, near Las Vegas Boulevard North and Washington. Members of the state health and human services committee want to hear from the public about the hepatitis and HIV scare. Specifically how were things handled, what should change?

Monday, March 17, 2008

An apology from the Governor!

It wasn't aimed at me specifically, but to the media in general. The governor apologized for using the word "buffoonery" while describing media coverage of the health care crisis. The news release hasn't been posted on the Governor's website yet .. so here is what the release says on this "buffoonery" issue:

"The governor also said he regretted using the word “buffoonery” while describing media coverage of the health care crisis. “My intention was to be sure that people were not fearful of seeking medical care because of the intense media coverage, it was a poor choice of words and I regret it,” Gibbons said.

On Sunday, the Governor also said he will ask three members of the Board of Medical Examiners to resign. This came two days after the three doctors said they would recuse themselves from any decisions on discipline, or the investigation, regarding the doctors involved in the hepatitis/hiv scare.

It turns out the President of the Board of Medical Examiners, Javaid Anwar, MD, The Vice President, Sohail Anjum, MD, and board member Daniel McBride, MD all have financial, professional or personal ties to some of the doctors in this scare, including Dr. Dipak Desai. Desai owns the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Desai, as we've written about before, was also involved in the effort to limit malpractice damages in Nevada, which was approved by voters.

Will the three doctors resign from the Board? A spokesman for the Governor says they can't be fired. They were appointed to the position. The executive director of the Board of Medical Examiners, Tony Clark, has also been asked to resign by the Governor. The Gibbons spokesman says since Clark works for the Board of Medical Examiners, the Governor can't fire him either.

Gibbons does plan to name replacements to the board very soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UMC "Held Hostage" by Desai contract

Dr. Dipak Desai is not getting any more money from UMC. He'd been involved with the county operated hospital for years through its gastroenterology department. He, and his clinics, had a contract with UMC for nearly a million dollars a year. In return, Desai would accept UMC referrals regardless if the patients had insurance. Many UMC clients don't.

The interesting part of the story is how he got the contract. He did it by cancelling an earlier contract with UMC which paid him and his clinics about $200,000 a year. He cancelled suddenly, putting UMC in a bind. It solicited new proposals and only two groups responded. Guess what .. Desai got the contract .. but this new one paid him and his clinics about $800,000 more! UMC spokesman Rick Plummer says UMC was held hostage by the tactic. The story in the Las Vegas Sun spells it all out.

Fraud Alert! If anyone claiming to be from Metro asks you for some kind of donation. Don't believe it. And don't give out any personal information .. checking account numbers, banking information. That goes for anyone selling something on ebay or craigslist. Lots of complaints from people who are trying to sell something, but those who want to buy are asking for banking information. Sounds fishy to me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It Just Looks Bad ... Real Bad.

Obviously, Dr. Dipak Desai has a successful practice. He's the majority owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Although no formal charges have been filed against Dr. Desai at this time, or any of the other doctors in his group, investigators reported that syringes were re-used in an effort to save money. (The fluid used to sterilize some of the endoscopy equipment was also re-used.) News 3's Hetty Chang found similar syringes at medical supply stores selling for 7 cents a piece! A patients health compromised to save 7 cents? Many have called the action simply .... greed.

When you compare the cost-cutting allegations to the extravagant 3.4 million dollar, almost 9-thousand square foot home that Dr. Desai owns in the Red Rock Country Club, it's obvious he didn't cut corners at his home. News 3's Hetty Chang found those 7 cent syringes, multiplied by the 40-thousand people who may be affected by this, probably saved the doctor $2800. I'm guessing that's not enough to make the monthly mortgage payment on his Red Rock home. From all we've learned, not re-using syringes is a basic part of medical school education. If you want to see what else we've learned about these doctors, you can check out the story here.