Methuen State Representative Diana DiZoglio and Cambridge Doctor Bharani Padmanabhan were both bestowed one of the highest honors by The Valley Patriot newspaper last month, when they were each given the newspaper’s First Amendment Award.
Each year, The Valley Patriot’s 1st Amendment award is given to two individuals who show with their actions that they value the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. This award is given at our annual BASH in March.
Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan told the crowded room at the Firefighter’s Relief’s In (yes that’s s how it’s spelled) last month, that protecting and defending the first amendment was one of the most important things anyone in a free society can do.
“Winners of this award have made a significant difference in transparency in government, acted in a bipartisan way to protect the taxpayers, and gone above and beyond to defend and protect our right of free speech, a free press, freedom of religion, and/or taking great risks to be a whistle-blower.”
“Each nominee tonight should be very proud of their Valley Patriot nomination whether they win or not.”
“In previous years, this award has been won by Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, State Rep. Jim Lyons, and lifelong whistleblower Michael Sweeney (now the State Lottery Commissioner), who won the First Amendment Lifetime Achievement Award last year for his decades of exposing corruption in the City of Lawrence.”
The first award tonight goes to Dr. Bharani Padmanabhan who has been exposing corruption in the medical industry for the last five years.
Dr. Bharani became a whistle blower when he found out that his Multiple Sclerosis patients at Cambridge Hospital were being misdiagnosed because medical professionals were faking reports of the brain scans of his and other doctor’s patients.”
“Dr. Bharani also got involved and defended free speech when the state tried to seal records in the Justine Pelletier case… a case where a sick child was kidnapped by the state, and whose parents were wrongly accused of abuse because… as we found out thanks to Dr. Bharani … Massachusetts state laws says that once a child becomes a ward of the state it is legal to conduct medical experiments on them. That’s 100% true,” Duggan said to the gasps of the crowd.
“So, when the state tried sealing the court records in the Pelletier case, Dr. Bharani filed a motion with the court on behalf of The Valley Patriot to have the records released to the public. Because he did that, those records were unsealed by a judge in Superior Court and we, the public, got to find out exactly how badly the Pelletier family and other families like them are treated by the medical community and the State of Massachusetts.”
“What’s more,” Duggan continued, “Dr. Bharani has been telling us for five years that the state’s Board of Registration in Medicine (called BORIM) was so corrupt that they had stripped him of his ability to bill his patients as retaliation for his whistle blowing at Cambridge Hospital. And if that was not bad enough, they are now trying to take his medical license despite the fact that he was cleared of any wrongdoing by Cambridge Hospital itself.”
“So, I went to the BORIM meeting and was absolutely stunned by what I saw. Now remember, I cover Lawrence so it takes a hell of a lot to stun me. This public board, which is paid for with public dollars and appointed by public officials, refused to allow public participation at a public meeting. They held parts of their meeting in secret, refused to allow the doctor to have a legal representative present during their secret hearing on his case and, even with the knowledge that a reporter was in the room, admitted publicly that they do not follow Roberts Rules of Order and do not allow transparency.”
“Honestly, after reading Dr. Bharani’s columns over the last few years in the pages of our paper, I was looking forward to learning the other side of this conflict. In fact, I fully expected to attend this meeting, hear the other side’s evidence against the doctor, and walk out of that meeting saying to him, “now that I know the other side, you are full of shit.’”
“But, instead, I walked out of there shaking my head that the corruption, lack of transparency, arrogance, and steamrolling being done by BORIM was actually worse than Dr. Bharani initially said it was. Clearly, if it wasn’t for Dr. Bharani, there’s a whole host of corruption in the medical field in Massachusetts that we would never know about.”
STATE REP. DIANA DIZOGLIO
“Our second, 1st Amendment Award tonight goes to State Rep. Diana DiZoglio. Four years ago I submitted a bill to change the state’s public records law, because there is no punishment for officials who violate it. It was State Rep. Diana DiZoglio, along with our 2014 winner, Senator Katy Ives, who sat down with me, walked me through the process of how to get a bill passed, and then fought for our public records bill.”
“But, she not only fought for it publicly, she also worked behind the scenes to help us get this bill passed. Unlike some of the other legislators involved with this bill, not mentioning any names, Diana was actually proactive and didn’t act like some others who think I should feel blessed that she even takes my calls. She called me every single time she heard anything about the progress of the bill, she testified at subcommittee meetings, and kept an open line of communication with my office. And, unlike some other legislators, she invited me to The State House to meet with legislators who were trying to change the language of my bill so that we could explain together why it was so important punish officials who willingly violate our state’s public records law.”
Thanks to Diana, and to be fair many others, my bill got a unanimous vote in the House, a unanimous vote in the Senate and we are expecting Governor Charlie Baker to sign the bill into law this year.
“She was nominated last year and the year before, but this year I am proud to say that our winners are Methuen State Representative Diana DiZloglio and Dr. Bharani Padmanabhan!”