The Sequoia district, like many others in the state, was chartered to establish a hospital and given a 1 percent share of the district's residential property taxes. In 1996 the board decided to sell the hospital to Catholic Healthcare West. The sale did not do away with the district or its tax revenue, which currently generates more than $10 million a year that gets distributed by the board to nonprofit agencies within the district. The board's donations are legal under state provisions that allow health-care districts to focus on outpatient services, but are not up to Mr. Hickey's standards.
During his 10 years on the board, Mr. Hickey has steadfastly opposed the practice of contributing to nonprofits, saying the private sector should take over this support and the tax revenue diverted to other uses.
Ms. Griffin and the other three board members disagree, showing no inclination to change their current strategy of supporting nonprofits with sizable annual grants, including $2.9 million for the Healthy Schools Initiative and $2 million for the North Fair Oaks Clinic.
Mr. Hickey's crusade to push other board members and the public his way has found little support. His effort in the previous election to take over the board with a slate of Libertarian-leaning candidates was a failure, leaving his dissolution strategy in tatters. Despite the aggressive attacks on the board and its actions, there is little likelihood that he will succeed.
In our view, if the board does change course in the future, it should either decide by vote of the directors or by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), which oversees special districts in the county, to turn down the tax money. Neither body is likely to change current policy, so the single-minded effort by Mr. Hickey in this election is virtually certain to fall short.
We do suggest the board majority pay more attention to stewardship of the public's money. Every effort should be made to ensure grants are spent as intended, and even audited if possible. At the same time, the board should reconsider if the district needs a $150,000-plus a year CEO and five employees. We agree with Mr. Hickey that the CEO's compensation is far beyond necessary to attract a good administrator who could oversee such a small staff.
In the race for two seats on the Sequoia Healthcare District board, we urge voters to support incumbents Kim Griffin and Katie Kane, and to NOT cast a vote for Jack Hickey, who is already a board member and has two years remaining in his term.
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