Paranoia: It’s Not So If They Are Really Shooting At You

Paranoia: It’s Not So If
They Are Really Shooting At You


Leonard Zwelling

         Along with The Cancer
(Sept. 4) cover article on the Chancellor’s MD Anderson shared
governance charade (at least it will be called that by me until any faculty
effort to countermand a DePinho proposal actually goes into effect), Paul
Goldberg reports on his magnificent victory in US District Court that quashed a
subpoena from Amgen to force Paul to testify in a case surrounding The Cancer Letter’s reporting on the
deleterious effects of Aranesp on cancer patients back in 2007.

         Why is this important?

         First, it is a major victory for freedom of the press from
intimidation by corporations with deep pockets willing to bully journalists who
they believe have harmed their stock price with honest reporting.

         Second, it also showed Amgen to have been particularly
sloth-like in pursuing other routes to get the information it said it needed to
show harm by a legitimate publication.

wasn’t it old President Bush 41 who called it “that darn Cancer Letter.” Well, I wish more publications were bad mouthed by
politicians and leaders in other fields because the publication unearthed
untoward events that the leaders wanted to keep secret. No one has done this
better than Paul Goldberg and The Cancer
for the past 30 years and we should all be glad for it. In
infuriating politicians, NCI Directors and cancer center leaders alike, The Cancer Letter has been a lighthouse
in the sea of malarkey that is the oncopolitics of the 21st century.

the little murders that take place every day at MD Anderson that inhibit
faculty members from seeking help for significant problems in the operation of
the clinics, the manner their careers are managed by their supervisors, and the
general inequity in distribution of the resources that make research
possible—space, slots, and money—go on. Why? Because fear so permeates the
institution that no one dares raise a finger or a voice when he or she sees misdeeds
and injustice occurring all around. They fear retaliation. They fear
retribution. They trust no one and who can blame them? It ain’t paranoia when
they are really shooting at you.

hear story after story of poor treatment of faculty by nurses in the clinics, administration’s
ever oppressive drive to see more and more patients and spend less time with
each, and leadership’s clamor for more money that seems to go into a bottomless
pit over which Dr. DePinho rules.

your opening is now.

believe that the Chancellor really does want shared governance and even though
The Ronald has the final say in all decisions, making public the deliberations
surrounding the decisions now that at least some faculty will be “in the room”
when the decisions are discussed could shed some light on the hitherto
concealed considerations of the Executive Committee.

is time to throw off the yoke of paranoia and test the waters of shared
governance. Demand that every rejected promotion and tenure request be reviewed
by independent faculty. Demand full financial disclosure via a balance sheet,
income statement and statement of cash flows for MD Anderson. Demand a review
of salaries and equity by state auditors as soon as possible and an explanation
for the ridiculous levels the current leadership’s salaries have reached when
compared to the level of their effectiveness. (That was proven when the
Chancellor had to intervene and tell them how to run the place).

have you been able to get a full accounting of your grants and contract
balances that allows you to manage those funds? My understanding is that the
systems that were to be put in place years ago are still MIA.

faculty shouldn’t have to go to US District Court to get a little justice now
that the Chancellor has explained the facts of life to The Ronald. But if the
faculty sits back and allows their newly found rights to be trampled on yet
again, then don’t be surprised if the last one out shuts the lights no matter
how much money they tell you they are making.

if I were still a faculty member, I would like to be convinced of what money is
coming in and what money and how it is being spent. But that’s me. I am the oft-quoted
bad seed aligned with the rebellious ex-Russian (and fellow Dukie) Goldberg, my
friend and colleague.

Tova, y’all.

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