Almanac

News - November 10, 2010

Hickey slate fails to take over health board

Jerry Shefren and Jack Hickey were elected Nov. 2 to the board of the Sequoia Healthcare District. Art Faro leads in the count for the third seat.

Mr. Hickey did not succeed in getting his slate of three candidates elected. The other two — Michael Stogner and Frederick Graham — finished sixth and seventh. Mr. Hickey wanted the three to take over majority control of the board to reduce to zero the amount of property taxes collected by the district.

The latest count: Jerry Shefren, 21,212; Jack Hickey, 20,289; Art Faro, 18,834; Ruth West-Gorrin, 18,309; Alpio Barbara, 12,906; Michael Stogner, 8,040; and Frederick Graham, 7,480.

The district now funds regional healthcare programs such as low-cost or free clinics in Redwood City and unincorporated North Fair Oaks, and a program to restore nurses to public high schools and fund school gardens, health education and walk-to-school programs, outgoing board President Don Horsley told The Almanac.

The county Board of Supervisors on Oct. 19 approved a grant of $6.3 million from the district to the county public health system for the purpose of consolidating into one clinic the three existing facilities that offer free or low-cost medical treatment. Two of those three clinics are in in North Fair Oaks and one is in Menlo Park.

The district granted $3.6 million to the county for this new clinic in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budget years, said public health spokeswoman Robyn Thaw. This new grant raises the total to $9.9 million.

In an interview, Mr. Hickey described as "false philanthropy" the distribution of property tax revenues to local nonprofits. "This sort of giving money that isn't (the district's). This is taxpayers' money," he said. "Unfortunately, the government has gotten in the way of true philanthropy."

The Sequoia Healthcare District, like all health care districts in the state, used to oversee a public hospital. The state Legislature changed the missions of these districts in 1994 to reflect an evolution of medical practice away from hospital services and toward outpatient services.

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