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Instead of a countdown to the start of baseball spring training, I should have launched a countdown to the day Bob Sillen would get fired from his nearly two year job of overseeing the health care overhaul of the California prison system.
Sillen was ousted Jan. 23 by a district court judge who said it was time to move the redo into a more collaborative, less confrontational and, presumably, less expensive phase. So, the new potentate is J. Clark Kelso, a McGeorge School of Law prof, who told the Sacramento Bee that he wanted to define what a minimum level of constitutional prison medical care would be.
By contrast, Sillen said cost was no object, he was boss and get the blip out of the way. He pretty much blew up every political bridge he encountered in Sacramento. I knew Sillen when he was a hospital CEO in San Jose. If I were putting together a list of people who were not afraid to drop the F-bomb in mixed company and could make a dinner entertaining long into the night, he would head the table.
A lot of politicians won't miss Sillen, but I sure do and will.
I'll give the final words today to state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (who I still remember from her days on the "Dobie Gillis" TV sitcom) for her chutzpa while running a Jan. 24 hearing on ABX 1 1, the health-care reform legislation pushed by Schwarzenegger/Nunez. Kuehl, a definite "no" vote when a vote is taken, presumably next week, had draped next to her microphone a sign that read "Do No Harm." (That would be, I guess, the rough equivalent of "I will not be moved.")