UPDATED: Bloody Greed: District Drops Community Blood Centers

The South Broward Drainage District voted yesterday to drop its blood drive and look for a new blood company.

Why? Because board members were fed up with the outrageous salaries being paid to top officer at the "non-profit," monopolistic, and heavily political Community Blood Centers of Lauderhill.

"I donate my blood regularly and I fully expect the center to spend a reasonable amount, but these salaries are just exorbitant," says board member Alanna Mersinger.

Mersinger's research on the topic led her to a 2002 New Times cover story titled "Blood Trade" which revealed that Community Blood Centers President Charles Rouault made $280,000 a year and the company had $3 million left over at the end of the year -- money that could be used to pay more salaries and further build its burgeoning blood empire.

Since Eric Barton wrote that story, CBC has only gotten larger and more political. And Roualt's salary has exploded. UPDATED: According to CBC's 2006 990 tax form that was kindly forwarded to me, Roualt made $438,000 in 2005. Just to make sure your blood boils I'll note that's more than a 50 percent raise in a few years. Other lavishly paid blood center officers include medical director Bruce Lenes ($351,000), CIO Lance Reed ($284,000), associate medical director Paul Morris ($268,000), CFO Steve Erjavec ($235,000), VP of operations Nieves Losa ($230,000), and staffer Johann Reyes ($130,000). Those numbers include employee retirement matches, deferred compensation, and expense accounts.

The non-profit also had $8 million sitting around in surplus.

Oh, and just for kicks, I'll mention that former Broward school board member Abe Fischler and current county commissioner Ilene Lieberman are listed as board members. (Is there anything that Ilene Lieberman doesn't have her fingers in?).

CBC uses lobbyists Neil Sterling and Barbara Miller to do its political bidding, including strong contacts at the school district. School board member Beverly Gallagher admitted that Sterling helped secure her a job at CBC that pays her at least $50,000 a year. It's an obvious conflict of interest -- and nobody seems to know what Gallagher actually does at CBC when she's not campaigning.

Mersinger didn't address the political situation -- she's just disgusted by the big money going to non-profit blood company executives who prey on the volunteer spirit of blood donors. That includes CBC's competition, Florida's Blood Centers, which might even be worse. The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this month that FBC's CEO, Anne Chinoda, was raking in $500,000 a year and that board members were involved in profitable deals involving the company. But Mersinger's plan to switch to a new more ethical company has stalled: It appears that there is no such company to run to. She had hoped to turn to Memorial Healthcare System, but it no long does blood drives.

Community Blood Centers took it over in 2004.


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