Life’s Appomattox


Life & ACA @ GCA

Life’s Appomattox


JC Smith, MA, DC


“Without consequences, you cannot be effective.”

Prez George Dubya Bush


“Chiropractic is in an enviable position,” said Dr. Daryl Wills, ACA prez at the 2002 luncheon for ACA members at the GCA convention held in Atlanta last Friday, “and our future will be defined by all of us.” This luncheon seemingly resembled Generals Lee and Grant at Appomattox in an attempt by the ACA and Life to bury the hatchet that had fractured our profession for too long, especially here in Georgia, most notably by the Southern Secessionist $id E. Williams, the fallen leader of Life Confederate College.


Aside from a good lunch among 60 ACA members arranged by John Dull, Georgia’s ACA rep, this historic occasion included the presence of Dr. Mike Schmidt, interim prez of Life, and Dr. Chuck Ribley, chairman of Life’s BOT, who were there in an obvious attempt to mend broken fences between Life and the profession’s leading association. As Dr. Wills urged, our profession needs “unity of effort and conservation of resources” and implored that “this profession needs to pull together.” No one in the luncheon would argue with that point, although some not in attendance might disagree.


Dr. Mike Schmidt appeared understandably nervous and rather deflated in front of the friendly ACA crowd despite his admission he once belonged to the ACA and GCA, undoubtedly before Williams demanded he join $id’s coup détat of the ICA and maverick GCC group. As he stood at the microphone, hands in his pockets, jacket unbuttoned, speaking in an apologetic tone, one had to sympathize with this man being sent by the BOT to take the heat for Life’s doldrums. Indeed, no one envied him as Dr. Dull said.


Incidentally, the Chairman of the BOT, Chuck Ribley, was sitting at the head table, yet he failed to say one word or answer any questions. Just like $id, who is still in virtual hiding, these notables are strangely absent for public questioning, making me wonder as to the strength of their backbones and convictions. Schmidt now symbolizes the sacrificial lamb sent by the Life gods to appease the heathens.


Dr. Schmidt mentioned that he “loved education and technique,” which he formerly taught at Life and Life-West, but “I hate politics and being in front of the camera” as one peered at him no less than 15 feet away. “It’s very painful to be at Life with students who ask me, ‘what do I do now?’” He admitted, “I spend a lot of my time apologizing, telling them ‘I feel your pain.’” And everyone in the luncheon could feel Dr. Schmidt’s pain too.


During the Q & A session, Schmidt answered a few of the moderated questions from the crowd of ACA members:

  • Q: Why did Life lose its accreditation?                                                                      A: “For several reasons. For many years, problems at Life on its philosophical perspective refused to embrace the modern world and what licensure requires. Life tried to meet the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law, and had an increasing difficulty of credibility—things were made to look a certain way when they weren’t.”
  • Q: Will Life work with the GBCE and GCA legislation to pass a new scope bill with CCE language?                                                                                                A: “I don’t know.”
  • Q: Will Life increase cooperation with the ACA and GCA to build bridges?       A: “We look for more unity among DCs because we are our greatest energy. We’ve got to stop and change the environment for the next generation. The greatest failing of my generation is that we did not fix the divisiveness.”
  • Q: Will Life allow freedom of speech and end its censorship on campus?            A: “Yes, we’ve already discussed having the ACA on campus, but no date is set to have Dr. Wills speak there yet.”
  • Q: Is Life willing to change its name and start with a clean slate—a new BOT, a new administration, and a new curriculum?                                                                                   A: “No,” said a determined Schmidt.


The last two questions were mine, of course. What Schmidt doesn’t understand is that Life must not only change its policies, but it needs to change its culture if it wants to survive and to overcome the huge resentment its created among most field docs. Simply to put a new face on the same old chirovangelism won’t work, and until there’s a complete regime change at Life with a completely new BOT and new administration that is free of the Williams’ influence, we can expect the old guard to ignore the tabula rasa that should happen if Life wants to regain credibility in the eyes of the public, press, and our profession. It’s the only possible adjustment to remedy this painful dis-ease at Life.


Life’s Irony

The more Dr. Schmidt spoke, the more it became obvious that, as painful as the role of interim prez may be, at least he had the backbone to be present to take the heat and field questions—more than we can say about $id Williams and his DECE group who knew this meeting occurred, yet neither had the nerve for direct confrontation. Suffering from bunker mentality and paranoia, Williams and his sycophants meet alone, spin the events to their liking, then simply send news releases to the press without giving the press or the profession any forum to ask questions in return. Indeed, Williams continues to avoid having his feet held to the fire as he chirps his latest drivel from his lofty confines.


This peace-pipe luncheon was not with irony, however. While Schmidt was pleading for the support of those at the ACA luncheon, and Dr. Wills publicly asked me to tone down my critical articles about Life (who, me?), at the same time Williams was hurling more salvoes at the CCE in the press. Coincidentally, just that very same morning in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, Dr. $id Williams issued a Public Statement in which he basically declared war on CCE.


Here are a few excerpts of his revealing declaration that beg a “rational” response:


Sid Williams: ‘Life will be vindicated’


Sid Williams






Life University founder Sid Williams resigned as the school’s president in July, less than a month after the Council on Chiropractic Education revoked accreditation of Life’s chiropractic program.

After the council rejected Life’s appeal of the loss of accreditation last weekend, Williams issued this statement:

“Today, in my capacity as a private citizen with no connections whatsoever to the school, [Although he still owns the land Life sits on] I feel compelled to offer my observations on the unfortunate developments over the past few days. [“few days”? How about the last 28 years?]

“I have refrained from offering any public comment until this time on the matter of Life University and its accreditation struggle with the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) [Imagine how hard it was for $id not to speak]…I believe that their decision to deny Life’s appeal is a revealing message to the world of chiropractic education and to the chiropractic community at large from those in power in the CCE, that there can be only one way to approach educating chiropractic professionals: their way… [Their way, of course, is to improve upon a notably bad chiro education immersed in outdated chirovangelism and a dumbed-down curriculum]


“The flexibility and tolerance that such bodies are supposed to display to differing philosophies has died under that drive to eliminate those principles with which they do not agree…[Why then have Sherman, Cleveland, Palmer and Parker, all “straight” colleges, been approved by CCE? Again, let’s be honest—the real issue is bad chiro education from a notorious diploma mill, not straight chiro per se, although that too is another issue worth discussion later]


“The elimination of the opportunity to receive an education anchored in the unique values and philosophy of chiropractic at Life will close an important frontier in health care… [The only chapter closed will be the chiro cult chapter, aka, chirovangelism, and the biggest diploma mill in this profession]


I want to express my very grave fear that the CCE’s efforts to shape chiropractic education in their limited direction will not end with Life. [“Limited”? How untrue—nothing was more limited than Life’s censored “straight” curriculum] Those schools who base their educational focus on the subluxation and the chiropractic adjustment will now be forced to re-configure their educational offerings to include less chiropractic-specific training and more common domain procedures, intruding into the realm of medicine…[Untrue—a DC can be a PCP and not compromise anything, except chirovangelism—look at National, LA, Northwestern, Western States, CMCC as examples]


“The argument will go forward that in order to serve the public, doctors of chiropractic must have a broader, more medical education so that they can offer themselves as “primary care physicians.” [True—DCs must protect the public by being able to diagnose before they treat, something chirovangelists refuse to do, hence, the argument can be made that Life DCs are actually chiro therapists who are not trained to diagnose as PCPs]


“I understand that the CCE and others will try and offer a definition that seeks to qualify this notion, offering a revised and enhanced role for the chiropractor. [True—the main goal of CCE is to upgrade chiro education to enhance the role of DCs rather than the dumbed-down chiro-therapist curriculum at Life] I say that there should be clear, precise lines between the professions and that the public is entitled to such clarity. [The real line to draw for the public is between competent DCs and those chirovangelists who renege on the legal duties of a PCP.  I urge all state boards to suspend the license of any DC who renounces PCP duties and who espouses chirovangelism, Innatism, or vitalism until they can be retrained in an After-Life program]


“Those who aspire to primary care physician status owe it to the public to qualify at the highest level of attainment, by seeking a medical education and obtaining a medical license…[Why not the highest level of chiropractic achievement instead of the dumbed-down chirovangelism taught at Life? This is $id’s argument he’s made for years—if you want to be competent, you must “wannabe a medipractor.” He just doesn’t understand one can be both competent and a DC, unlike him and his $idiots]


“This is a battle that is far from over. [The ranting of an old defeated warrior who just doesn’t get it] Over the coming months and years, I intend to devote all of my energies to the public policy processes, both state and federal that regulate the activities of organizations like the CCE. [With the many lawsuits he’ll be facing, methinks $id will have bigger fish to fry than carrying on his Don Quixote battle with CCE]


“My decades of dedication and experience in chiropractic education will, I believe, provide a unique vantage point [“Unique” for sure; does he still hear “little voices” in his head?] from which to act to make fundamental changes in the system that has dealt so arbitrarily, callously and, I believe unfairly, with Life.” [Wrong again–$id’s decades of experience created the biggest diploma mill this profession will ever see, riddled with cronyism, nepotism, and hucksterism. And how can he say CCE dealt with him “arbitrarily” when it gave him fair warning and over a year ago to change? More proof he was asleep at the helm!]


Obviously Williams shows no remorse for those involved, just regret for the downfall of his chirovangelism and cash cow diploma mill. He still doesn’t get it—the CCE took the accreditation because Life was a second-rate chiro college teaching faith-based cultism that failed to meet CCE Standards. As Schmidt said, “Life tried to meet the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law, and had an increasing difficulty of credibility—things were made to look a certain way when they weren’t.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that—but it did take a courageous COA to call $id’s bluff. Enuf sed, ya folla?


No Mea Culpa

Moreover, like Gen. Cornwallis who lacked the courage to be present at the British surrender at Yorktown, $id Williams has shown his own lack of dignity to meet the onslaught of questions from the press, the students, and from the profession. Hiding behind his underlings such as Dim Kim, Bobby Braile, and the sycophants in the DECE, Williams has maintained a very low public profile. And his Public Statement is a sham—no accountability to the profession by $id to come out of hiding to answer questions, such as the one posted by this Life student in the AJC Forum discussion on Life.


As a 13th quarter student, stuck in the muck at Life, I would like an apology from all involved in this decision. The University, Sid, CCE, Board of Trustees, and the US Dept. of Education. I sacrificed many things to follow my goal of becoming a chiropractor, where are your sacrifices?

To the school… where will my diploma that you promised I would earn after all my hard work? To the federal government … how do I repay all these loans? The school defaulted on me. What happens to them? I know that when I default on my loans.

Sid, how do you sleep at night knowing how many lives you have touched and destroyed? If you really are all about To Give, To Serve, To Love…then start to show it, cuz I ain’t seein’ it.

n     Darcy A. Crisp, Marietta GA


Williams conveniently forgets to address many other issues in his tirade, such as the many lawsuits filed against him and the BOT by students and staff, nor does he mention the investigations by the IRS or Medicare, or the real issues that led to the loss of re-accreditation, such as the lack of a quality curriculum and research program, the lack of qualified instructors, the lack of academic freedom (and the lack of political freedom), to name but a few of the major reasons why re-accreditation was lost. He still refuses to show any contrition, he offers no mea culpa or apologies to the students and staff, and offers nothing but more inflammatory statements against the CCE. It’s time to put $id out to pasture.


Life’s Appomattox

Regrettably, while ACA prez Dr. Wills and Life’s interim prez, Dr. Schmidt, appeared to be willing to meet to discuss how the ACA can help Life regain some credibility, Williams continues his old ways of divisiveness with his Public Statement. As Wills and Schmidt smoke the peace pipe of reconciliation, Williams on his own declares the mother of all wars against CCE for doing its job to upgrade chiropractic education. Like an old Southern Secessionist, he refuses to accept the obvious—his utter defeat.


Instead, he cowardly sends out emissaries to do his fighting for him. Although humiliated in the court of public opinion, until $id is thoroughly humiliated in the court of law, he will continue to act to divide this profession as he’s done for over 30 years. He just doesn’t understand that his chiropractic Civil War is over and he’s lost, chirovangelism is a bankrupted educational construct, and his hate-straight ideology is gone with the wind, finally!


Unlike the soldier-gentleman, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who so graciously accepted defeat and then worked to rebuild our fractured country, Williams continues to act more like Saddam with his hot air rhetoric calling for defiance. Like the KKK, his DECE group continues to disseminate propaganda to incite the naïve and to destroy unity and instill fear in the mainstream. Shadowy figures, indeed, who are afraid to shine the light of truth on their dead ideology.


Hit-and-run is their tactic now rather than an open debate among peers. In fact, I challenge $id and his DECE to an open forum to discuss this and other important issues in our profession. If they have any validity to their position, I urge them to come forth in a public forum at Life in the near future to debate the issues and needs facing chiropractic in Georgia and nationally. What do you think the odds are that $id or the DECE folks will accept this challenge? Or will they remain in their bunker hiding from the light of truth?


Even Guy Riekeman, the new-age chirovangelist, has fostered this dissension with his public praise of $id at Palmer’s Lyceum. As well, the Palmer-Florida campus is already teaching students that “mixers are bad” in the first week of instruction, in obvious defiance of any peace-making with the ACA or FCA, no doubt still annoyed at his interference with their FSU project.


Meanwhile, Palmer recently sent out a postcard touting “Building a Bridge to the Future” with Riekeman posed arms crossed looking to the horizon.  The brochure reads, “As we begin the 21st Century, the Chiropractic profession—indeed, the nation’s entire health care system—needs Palmer leadership more than ever.”


Geez, has Riekeman gone Napoleonic too? Does he suggest the nation’s healthcare woes can be solved with his leadership and more BJ-inspired chirovangelism? I thot $id tried that route and failed, but Riekeman obviously has taken the role as the leading spokesman for the primitive straight movement now that $id is ousted. Well, Riekeman will learn soon enuf that he can’t speak out of both sides of his mouth and supposedly build bridges in this profession without creating more troubles.


Ironically, the very man some thought would build bridges seems intent now on blowing them up, and oddly the bridge Riekeman has in mind is connected to the past, not the future. Heaven help us all if the “Future” is more of the same fundamentalist nonsense from these primitive hate-straights who obstruct and oppose any progress in this profession. Indeed, we don’t need to go back to that future.


Straight Backlash

While the loss of Life will be a huge setback to the straight ideology, many rational DCs remain concerned about its revival, as noted by this past ACA bigwig:


“Jim—this is only the beginning –in the not too distant future the fundamentalists will surface with renewed vigor and, as always, the rationalists will be painted with the same brush that the public uses to describe our profession. The time is ripe for a public denunciation of Chiropractic as a faith based profession and to publicly declare a divorce—I have said that actions of cataclysmic proportions is ‘the way’–otherwise it will continue to be the same old same old–thank you for keeping me in the pipeline.”


Undoubtedly that is what we’re seeing now with the onslaught of new PR spin by Williams, the DECE, Riekeman and now by Gerry Clum. Indeed, this concerted effort by these straight leaders makes one wonder if there is a conspiracy to make one last ditch effort to revive their fallen leader and vanquished ideology. Anyway, it ain’t gonna work.


As expected, Dr. Clum, prez of Life-West who owes his career to $id, chirped in with his monthly email appraisal of the loss of Life in which he unbelievably likens $id case to Martha Stewart’s situation (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried). Here are a few excerpts of his message with my obligatory “rational” response:


“You are all well aware of the circumstances of the College of Chiropractic
at Life University and their relationship with the Commission on
Accreditation (COA) of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). You are
probably sick to your stomach of the persistent rumor-mongering and steady
stream of dribble [sic] that is put forward as the “inside story” regarding
anything and everything at Life University or about Dr. Williams. [The fact is the vast majority of these so-called rumors has proven true and came from credible sources within the Life faculty, its BOT, and even the administration itself. Plus, it’s not “dribble,” but it’s the “drivel” that comes from the PR spinmeisters at Life and the DECE sycophants that has been the largest source of misinformation and the source of Clum’s stomach sickness, methinks]


“It is my understanding that the College of Chiropractic forwarded a letter
expressing their desire and intent to seek initial accreditation from the
COA on Monday, October 21, 2002. The efforts of the detractors of the
College notwithstanding, I think it is safe to say that Life University has
no intention of packing its bags, closing its doors and moving into the
status of a past institution. [When its enrollment drops below 600 students, Clum may be eating his words. With other events looming, such as Moody’s Research lowering Life’s bonds to junk status, SACS’s expected denial of regional re-accreditation, the IRS and Medicare investigations, and the numerous student lawsuits that have been filed against $id and the BOT, it doesn’t paint a very rosy picture, eh? Anyone interested in a used chiro college?]


“On Thursday, October 17, 2002, Life West hosted its annual one-day program
known as “SPA Day”–celebrating the science, philosophy and art of
chiropractic. [How about SPAM Day to include the Money Hum too?] I had the opportunity to address those who had gathered to take part in the day. A thought came to me that morning that involved Martha Stewart and Dr. Sid and Life University. [Now that’s an ugly thot—Martha and $id together, ugh]


“Do you really think the Wall Street Journal would be writing up a story of
a woman in Topeka who sold some shares of stock on the advice of her
advisors who told her to buy the equity in the first place? [I doubt insider trading by a multi-millionaire Board member of the NYSE is quite the same as a little ol’ lady in Topeka] I don’t think Congress would be holding hearings regarding the sale, or that anyone would give a damn. [Gerry, let’s get back to reality] But it wasn’t a single mom in Topeka, it was a big player–it was Martha Stewart! [aka, Rich Bitch] Similarly, I wonder how much of the hoopla and trauma visited on Life University, Dr. Williams and most importantly the student body has to do with being a big player. [True—the $900,000 prez of the largest chiro diploma mill is a big player] This does not suggest Sid or Martha is up for canonization, [I can’t believe Clum hasn’t already canonized his mentor and benefactor] but it does question whether the demonization process is in part driven by elements apart from Security and Exchange issues or accreditation-related matters. [This allegation, while unfounded, does hint at the truth–$id has made many enemies; hence, the lack of outcry from the vast majority of mainstream DCs and ethical chiro-educators at the loss of Life] It is my opinion that the punishment has exceeded any misdeed(s) in both situations.”  [$id had ample warning to upgrade his diploma mill, even sat knee-to-knee with the COA and laughed in its face. Now Clum has the gall to suggest the punishment doesn’t fit the crime? Lest I remind Dr. Clum, “Without consequences, you cannot be effective.” COA did the right thing, ya folla?]


Furthermore, where’s Clum’s and Riekeman’s moral outrage over the financial and academic malfeasance at Life? While they point accusing fingers at CCE and journalist critics like myself for shining the light on these issues, their silence on the obvious wrongdoings at Life speaks volumes about their own intellectual dishonesty in this matter. For supposed “principled chiropracTORS,” I find their tacit approval of $id’s exploitation of Life through the years is tantamount to conspiracy and partners in crime, which makes sense inasmuch as none of them has any academic credentials to be college presidents. With only high school diplomas and pre-CCE 18-month PCC diplomas, both should feel very lucky to be prez of anything, certainly a chiropractic college.


“Without consequences, you cannot be effective,” says Prez George Dubya concerning Iraq, and the same can be said about chiropractic. For too long, the primitive hate-straights have caused divisiveness to unity, obstruction to legislation, and soiled the collective image of the entire profession with their hyperbole as they pursued their path of chirovangelism without any real consequences for themselves.


Now, that’s all changed with the downfall of $id Williams and the loss of Life. Williams was right about CCE changing traditional BJ-inspired chiro education, and Riekeman at Palmer and Clum at Life-West should take heed or suffer the same consequences. It is a new future, and building bridges among ourselves, increasing educational standards, and working to improve our collective lot is the direction progressive DCs want us to go, with or without these chirovangelists preachin’ the BJ gospel from yesteryear.


The Money Hum Continues

While students and staff members wonder how they will afford the consequences of Williams’ actions of incompetence and malfeasance, little is mentioned that he and Nell continue to draw their salaries until March 2003. Supposedly they also got the BJ Mansion in Florida and may have stolen a bunch of art purchased with University funds. Rumor has it that Dim Kim’s living room is filled with artwork stolen from the school. Why doesn’t that surprise anyone?


If you’ve ever been in $id’s inner offices, like BJ, he had all sorts of art objects in there (no, not those pornographic ones like BJ’s). It’s not known what else was taken, but there are all kinds of rumors, and these questions were included in a very detailed list of written questions that the Faculty Senate asked the BOT, which refused to answer. Just what are they covering up, including the $5 million $id loaned to Clum out of the faculty’s retirement fund to pay for Life-West’s new campus? The looting of Life by the Williams’ family continues and the BOT says nothing! I do hope $id takes the Little Chicken and the Healing Hands statues with his booty, and I daresay no one would object to that.


Supposedly Sigafoose has told several people that Dim Kim’s buyout was $750,000, and apparently he was very upset about it too.  Nobody will know the answers to these questions until the IRS fraud and abuse division for non-profit organizations investigation is complete. Rumors also persist that $id received nearly $9 million in his buyout, but the BOT refuses to acknowledge anything, which is odd in that Life is a non-profit organization whose books are supposed to be made public since it receives federal funds.


Indeed, the mess of Life continues, valid rumors persist as to more shenanigans, the BOT continues to turn a blind eye, sycophants continue to spin the truth, and the saga of Life continues. Whoever said Life is stranger than the truth was absolutely right.


Stay tuned, there’s more to come!