CREATED Sep. 28, 2012
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The turbulence surrounding the Medstar fiasco ending the career of one top official and another is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason has been on top of this story since the beginning and has the latest.
When the Medstar scandal was exposed last month, the county grounded its emergency helicopter and now two top officials in charge of the program are out of a job.
During the Medstar mess we tried speaking with officials in charge of the program by going directly to their offices.
Mike Mason: "I'm here to see John Wilson or Kim Dickerson. So John Wilson won't even talk to us?"
....but they remained 'unavailable'. Now, they'll be out of the office indefinitely. Lee County’s Public Safety Director John Wilson retiring today after 27 years with the county.....his second in command, Deputy Director Kim Dickerson, was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Arnold "Mac" McAllister: "They wouldn't listen to any of the people that did know better and it's because of the arrogance of the management there and that's what led to this day."
Former Medstar pilot, Arnold McAllister, has been calling for Wilson and Dickerson to resign for weeks. This all comes just two days after the county began soliciting offers from private companies that may be interested in taking over the Medstar program. Lee County has overseen Medstar for more than 30 years.
Arnold "Mac" McAllister: “I think if they can't run a program efficiently then perhaps they need to get out of that business altogether. And probably the next thing is to get rid of the transfer divisions for the street ambulances as well. Might as well privatize that too."
County Commissioner Frank Mann says now that Medstar is grounded, it poses a serious risk to the public.
Frank Mann: "This is indeed a life and death service, it makes the difference between life and death and Lee County should not have flopped on this one and we did."
Mann also blames County Manager Karen Hawes for not telling Commissioners about problems sooner.
Frank Mann": "We've been billing for services and being paid for services that we're now going to have to give back and it looks like it could be upwards of millions of dollars."
Mann says when Hawes did tell Commissioners about the Medstar mess she left out the part about how the county was improperly billing clients.
Frank Mann: “It is quite obvious that the first explanation was not the right explanation it was not an adequate explanation, from the County Manager, and it has all the trappings of a cover up."
County officials say the FAA reviewed billing and flight records this week and should finish up their investigation soon. The County Manager also plans to update Commissioners on the internal audit early next week.