PROSPERITY RELIGION: NORTHWOOD'S PETE RADAKOVICH AND YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

(05/22/2007)

By Bob Weaver

Rev. Ike, the famous success and prosperity preacher, and Northwood mental health CEO Pete Radakovich have dared to go where preachers and mental health providers have not, using the public's money.

Both Ike and Radakovich have had the nerve to preach personal prosperity.

Members of Northwood's mental health board in Wheeling have lauded Radakovich for jerking the center from the jaws of economic death.

Radakovich has lauded himself with a salary of $470,000, mostly paid by Medicaid dollars.

The CEO was so proud of his management accomplishments, he ventured to hire a public relations firm to promote his management accomplishments, likely using taxpayer funds.

Magazine ads praising his accomplishments are modeled after corporate ads, staunchly picturing Radakovich and his team's leadership accomplishments.

Radakovich has now touted himself as a "savior figure" on the latest Northwood web site, indicating if mental health can't help clients, Jesus will.

Jesus is likely available if clients needing mental health services don't have money or a Medicaid card.

Charleston reporter Eric Eyre wrote "Weirdly, the Web site asserts that Radakovich brought the nonprofit health system back from near bankruptcy "due in large part to God's help."

"God can be very helpful, but most of Northwood's money - almost $22 million in revenue in 2005 - came from the Medicaid program."

"Salvation and a half-million-dollar salary came from taxpayers," wrote Eyre.

In a web-section called "Why Northwood is a world-class organization," Radakovich delivers a personal message, sounding much like Rev. Ike.

"Most importantly, this web site honors the Lord, who made it all possible. Praise and glory to you Lord." he said.

The web site has a depiction of Jesus being nailed to the cross and a photograph of Northwood CEO Pete Radakovich wearing a black shirt and gold cross necklace.

It's not clear about Radakovich's life-style, But Rev. Ike owns a Rolls-Royce fleet (a different color for every day of the week, appointed in mink), diamond rings, expensive suits, and multiple mansions.

He has his own brand of mental health.

Ike's theology centers around the "Science of Living" and "Thinkonomics," his own version of economics based on the premise that poverty, a lack of luck, and poor health are the result of incorrect attitudes, a lack of confidence, a lack of faith and a failure to get in touch with the "presence of God."

Meanwhile, public officials wring their hands over the gargantuan amount of money used by the Medicaid program for the poor and elderly.

Medicaid consumed $320 billion in state and federal dollars, eating up almost 25% of state budgets.

With virtually no oversight over state non-profits, Bob Graham of the Wyoming County Council on Aging, persuaded his elderly board members that he deserved more than $450,000 worth of salary and benefits in 2004.

Graham used funds to purchase a Lincoln Navigator, take lavish vacations, cash out almost $200,000 in sick leave, and collect lucrative retirement benefits.

News reports said he had hot tubs and frequented strip joints, perks of his tax-funded job.

Charleston Newspapers said none of this constituted an illegal diversion of government funds intended to help the poor, although the federal government was finally able to get Graham on only one charge - taking more than $31,000 in sick leave benefits without approval.

"Jesus wouldn't take high executive salaries from an operation that depends on taxpayer funds, and it's not something the state or federal government should allow anyone else to do either," said a Charleston newspaper editorial.