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The Michael Moreland interview: Utter ignorance

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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Veterans Affairs Regional Director Michael Moreland finally sat alone for reporters' questions on Tuesday. And he came across more as the arrogant and self-serving proprietor of a slummy nursing home than as the public servant in charge of veterans' care at 10 hospitals in three states that he is.

The VA has been under fire for its shoddy handling of a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in 2011 and 2012. Five vets died and at least 16 others were sickened. Investigations have shown a bumfuzzled response to the outbreak. VA officials perfected the art of stonewalling. Federal prosecutors are investigating.

Adding insult to deadly injury, Mr. Moreland was awarded a $63,000 bonus as the outbreak was announced and the VA's failure was revealed. And in this week's interview with the Trib, he defended that bonus in an unflattering me-me-me-meeeee performance.

Moreland said he has a tough job, don't you know. The Legionnaires' matter is old news, he seemed to say. And, he said shockingly, it's really not his job to be concerned with such things as the plumbing where the deadly Legionella bacteria were allowed to hold regular club meetings for so long.

Moreland obviously flunked Applied Accountability 101 but aced Advanced Arrogance 405.

While Michael Moreland says he won't resign over the Legionella scandal, he intimated that it might be time for a career change. As we're sure many veterans and their families will agree, that change should have come long ago.



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