For the moment, let’s assume legislators knew what they were doing when they made Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare the model for the state’s mental healthcare service system. And since that assumption pretty much establishes a fairy tale world, let’s go ahead and assume there’s a valid reason PBH has failed to release board meeting minutes more than seven weeks after North Carolina Mental Hope’s request.
So what is it, you ask. I’ve got a theory, I reply.
In an email from PBH Communications Director Cyndy Brooks last Friday, she notes she would “like to make arrangements” for me “to come view” the requested minutes. A less patient man might implode from the frustration of repeatedly telling Brooks that the law doesn’t require in person viewing. But for me, her email was the light bulb moment from which my theory was born.
Having already created a new revenue stream by licensing its Cardinal Innovations software, could it be that the ever innovative PBH is now looking to create a cottage industry out of minutes-based tourism?
Now call me as misaligned as the state’s mental health system if you must, but think about it. There might just be a demand for those minutes beyond the interest of one pesky nonprofit. What if the records of the formative years of the model system were of interest to the directors, board and staff of LMEs now required to emulate that model?
Sure, PBH staff could just attach those minutes to an email, burn them to a disk and mail them, or, and I’m talking revenue stream here, make arrangements for their viewing. Just think of the boon to PBH coffers if they could get a slice of the action from revenue generated by the tour buses of county commissioners, LME boards, and others who might flock to such a Minutes Mecca. Of course, as a courtesy, PBH would likely grant the state agency it’s replacing – the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services – a deeply discounted group rate.
And while Brooks doesn’t know how many of the requested minutes since 2003 it would apply to, a 75 cents per page scanning charge would still be expected to generate a chunk of change. (Again, as a courtesy, perhaps the Division could just be charged for copying at 5-10 cents a page.)
To generate more interest, PBH might consider an annual street fair, perhaps the Mystery Minutes Daze. I’d be there and first in line for the Bobbing for Minutes competition and to buy the Mystery Minutes Grab Bags of 20 pages of assorted minutes for just $10. And I ask for your support in advance for the Minute Man competition.
While I’ve got many more ideas for PBH on tapping this new revenue stream – the Mile A Minute Fun Run, a Minutes Christmas Gift Catalog, the Minutes of the Month Club – I certainly wouldn’t want to be accused of being an absurdist. After waiting more than seven weeks for copies of its board’s minutes, I’m afraid I just wouldn’t be able to give PBH any competition in that regard.