Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A right way, a wrong way and the Duke way

Who said: “There’s a right way, a wrong way and the Duke way.”?

Was it:
A. The supervisor of a Duke University Health System in-house auditor when the auditor raised concerns about Duke’s billing practices that bilked state and federal health care organizations for at least $1 million; or

B. Lynn J. Good, President and Chief Executive of Duke Energy, when discussing how to clean up coal ash sites and leaks throughout North Carolina and who wants to bilk taxpayers for billions of dollars to pay to do so; or,

C. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Blue Devils basketball coach who reportedly has a higher income than either A or B (and everyone else at Duke University) and who bilks everyone’s intelligence with his “We’re Duke (and therefore you’re not entitled)” attitude.

Instead of an immediate answer, let’s exam all three possibilities, in reverse order:
Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, is an intimidator, or at least he likes to try, succeeding many times, being ignored other times. When the latter happens, he’s insulted (in his mind) by lack of respect, and it shows. Some people (especially those at his periodical “bobble-head” meetings where all present constantly nod approval at everything he says) think he does his job the right way; others find his way the wrong way; then there is his way, the Duke way.

What is Mike’s Duke way? Krzyzewski loves to intimidate fans for not supporting his program without question; he loves to intimidate game officials who regularly cave to his intimidation game after game; and he intimidates the media who are quick to apologize and change course, supporting him without question. 

Recently, Mike was disappointed with the media when he was called for a technical foul in Duke's loss to Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. He was insulted when no member of the media defended him or questioned the technical which was probably for one too many F-bombs which Krzyzewski commonly uses. (Obviously he thinks that word is an acceptable part of anyone's vocabulary, using it with various meanings as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and other unknown parts of speech. Bobby Knight taught him well.) A day later, in an interview with John Feinstein (click for story), he voiced his disappointment about the media when he said, “I think when you win a long time – and we’re not a state school, so you don’t have a press corps protecting you a little bit – you’re out there. That goes with the territory. And not only that, but announcers and talk show hosts and whatever—they will not say anything about yesterday’s game.”

Not sure how Krzyzewski comes to the conclusion that the press corps protects state schools (ask UNC-Chapel Hill, for instance, if that's close to being true), but once Feinstein’s interview went viral across the internet, the media (especially The News & Observer) caved to his intimidation tactics. A week after losing, thank goodness, to Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Krzyzewski held a post-season press conference to promote his program, to let everyone know he’ll coach for at least five more years, and to intimidate the media. To his credit, the intimidation factor worked. The writers at The N&O fell all over themselves to give Krzyzewski what he wanted.

Laura Keeley, a Duke grad and one of the truly biased and true-Duke Blue writers ever, might as well submitted for publication the transcript of what K said that day. Her words were just what he said without attribution. On the same day, columnist Luke DeCock wrote a truly inspiring (gag me) Duke recruiting piece, if there ever was one, that Krzyzewski will show to all the “one-and-done” high school recruits to get them to sign with Duke during K’s last five years there. And, editorial writer Jim Jenkins wrote a column that made me and thousands of others vomit, connecting being classy to Krzyzewski. Jenkins must have forgiven more than 30 years of F-bombs when F-bombs and being classy do not relate. Then, columnist Barry Saunders, reacting to comments by former Dookie Grant Hill, actually wrote something good and enjoyable to read: “Duke hatred has nothing to do with race.” He was right. Hating Duke is based on arrogance by the Duke basketball coach and most of the Dook fans. But then a few days later along comes executive editor John Drescher who writes that Saunders' column was tongue in cheek. 

So, K’s Duke way (intimidation) worked on The N&O (no surprise here). As he continues to try to bilk everyone's intelligence, Krzyzewski could have said, “There’s a right way, a wrong way, and the Duke way.”
Lynn J. Good, the President and Chief Executive of Duke Energy, bless her heart which is obviously not in the right place when it comes to her customers and all citizens of North Carolina and other states where coal burning plants are located, inherited a problem which she’s obviously not in a hurry to fix and which gets worse and worse every day. In burning coal to create electricity, Duke Energy produces toxic coal ash which must be safely stored. From the very beginning, the coal ash has not been properly safeguarded and some of it has leaked into waterways, polluting drinking supplies and recreational facilities.

Not only do the waterways need to be cleaned, at a high dollar, so do all the coal ash storage facilities, at a higher cost. We’re talking billions of dollars but nowhere close to the exorbitant profits Duke Energy reaps from billing for its services without paying one dime in taxes. Ms. Good, bless her heart which is not in the right place, wants to raise consumer rates to pay for Duke Energy’s mistakes, miscalculations and downright disdain for doing things right. 

The right way would be to admit guilt and do a thorough cleaning of the coal ash storage facilities and the waterways at the expense of the Duke Energy stockholders. The wrong way would be to ignore it all. The Duke way is exactly what she’s doing: no sincere apologies, try to interpret regulations to classify the mistakes as misdemeanors, put pressure on the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resouces for leniency, and to demand rate increases to pay the cost of Duke Energy’s cleanup and add more money to those untaxed profits. (You go, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, fighting those rates increases. We need you now more than ever, in this case.) So it could be Duke Energy's Lynn Good who said, “There’s a right way, a wrong way and the Duke way" while her company continues to bilk its customers for it's own wrong-doing.
Duke University Health System recently admitted to bilking state and federal health care organization for at least a million dollars. It’s admission—though officials at Duke did not actually say they did anything wrong (they never do)—came in the form of repaying $1 million for billing errors to Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, three federal programs, for at least six years. There is doubt that the over-billing was limited to $1,000,000.

An in-house auditor, Leslie Johnson, who no longer works there (surprise, surprise; the Duke employee “resigned” in 2010 after reporting the billing mistakes to her supervisor), claimed in a lawsuit that her supervisor told her, “There’s a right way, a wrong way and the Duke way.” Of course, Duke University Health System officials say it was all “an undetected software problem.” Hah! Computer software doesn’t make mistakes; those who program the software make mistakes, and sometimes on purpose.

In this case, the right way would have been to billed Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare properly. The wrong way would have been to improperly bill, have the error discovered by the in-house auditor, Leslie Johnson, and then make corrections, admit guilt and repay the over-billing prior to a federal investigation. The Duke way may have been for the Duke University Health System to instruct a computer programmer to purposely write the software to overbill, tell the in-house auditor to be quiet about the error, fire the in-house auditor, wait for a federal investigation, fight the federal investigation, agree to pay back an amount nowhere near the total in over-billing, and then declare no fault, close the case and figure out how to do it again without being caught.  That sounds logical as it's possible Duke University Health System purposely decided to bilk those agencies for millions. Considering what happened, maybe Leslie Johnson’s supervisor did say, “There’s a right way, a wrong way and the Duke way.”
THE ANSWER: So, who said it? Who said: “There a right way, a wrong way and the Duke way.”? It was Leslie Johnson’s supervisor at Duke University Health System, but it could have been Mike Krzyzewski or Lynn J. Good. And, on any given day, it could be all three. From their methods and actions, they are saying: Duke—Duke University Health System, Duke Energy, and Duke Blue Devils basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski—is not above the law and not below the law. With arrogance abounding, what they are saying is they ARE the law. And that’s sad as they each continue to attempt to bilk us in one way or another.


  1. Good article with good "gravitas". Agree with the points made and thought the whole article was an excellent juxtaposition of current events. The very name "Duke" does carry a little arrogance all by itself.

  2. Excellent Jim. Right on! Make sure Barry Saunders reads it.


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