In 1946 voters established the Sequoia Hospital District, generally comprising the area from the southern San Mateo County line to northern Belmont, to maintain a tax-supported hospital with the understanding there would be future bond issues to build and add to the hospital. In 1947 the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors assessed those district taxpayers a total amount of $46,578. The hospital opened in 1950. Today the assessment continues and in fiscal year 2009-2010 the District budgeted $7.4 million for tax revenues.
A 2001 Grand Jury report Web Link recommended:
"The Sequoia Healthcare District should reduce property taxes for district taxpayers unless in a future election district voters approve expenditures for purposes not approved by district voters in the 1946 measure establishing the district or in 1996 Measure H. This reduction would equal the amount expended by the district for purposes not approved by the voters in the 1946 measure or in 1996 Measure H and effectively limit district expenditures to those purposes approved by district voters. By this reduction in property tax receipts to be requested under the Revenue and Taxation Code �96.8, property taxes would be lowered for all district taxpayers."
The District continues to collect and expend property tax dollars for purposes not approved by district voters in the 1946 measure establishing the district or in 1996 Measure H. They are exceeding the powers as posted below:
ENUMERATED POWERS of the Sequoia Hospital District (a.k.a. Sequoia Healthcare District) established pursuant to the 1946 election and the Hospital District Law in effect at that time:
"Article 2. Powers
32121. Each local hospital district shall have and exercise the following powers :
(a) To have and use a corporate seal and alter it at pleasure;
(b) To sue and be sued in all courts and places and in all actions and proceedings whatever;
(c) To purchase, receive, have, take, hold, lease, use and enjoy property of every kind and description within the limits of the district, and to control, dispose of, convey and encumber the same and create a leasehold interest in same for the benefit of the district;
(d) To exercise the right of eminent domain for the purpose of acquiring real or personal property of every kind necessary to the exercise of any of the powers of the district;
(e) To administer any trust declared or created for hospitals of the district, and received by gift, devise, or bequest and hold in trust or otherwise, property situated in this State or elsewhere, and where not otherwise provided, dispose of the same for the benefit of such hospitals.
(f) To prescribe the duties and powers of the manager, secretary and other officers and employees of any such hospitals; to determine the number of and appoint all such officers and employees, and to fix their compensation, which said officers and employees shall hold their offices or positions at the pleasure of said boards.
(g) To do any and all things which an individual might do which is necessary for and to the advantage of a hospital and a nurses' training school.
(h) To establish, maintain and operate one or more hospitals, situated within the territorial limits of the district.
(i) To do any and all other acts and things necessary to carry out the provisions of this division."
The current Board majority of the Sequoia Hospital District is acting under the assumption that by having submitted what was referred to as a "Name" change from a Hospital District to a Healthcare District, the District automatically accrued NEW powers under the Healthcare District Law. Web Link In fact, creation of a Healthcare District (a TYPE of District) requires a vote of the people. A name change, such as from Sequoia to Douglas Fir does not.
In my opinion, most if not all of the Districts current expenditures exceed the ENUMERATED POWERS posted above. If so, this would be felony misappropriation of public funds.
Some of the most egregious examples of such District expenditures are:
1. $4.5 Million grant to subsidize school Districts after voters rejected parcel taxes.
2. $1.35 Million/year to the Children's Health Initiative, a massive program which acquires funds from multiple sources to subsidize Health Insurance for children from families having incomes up to 4 times the Federal Poverty Level. (>$62,000 for a family of three.
3. $2 Million Grant to Sequoia Hospital Foundation budgeted for 2010-2011) What about Kaiser Foundation and Palo Alto Medical Foundation who also serve District residents?
4. Multi-million dollars in charitable grants to non-profit agencies, and other government agencies, which have included Planned Parenthood, Catholic & Jewish charities, Samaritan House, 2nd harvest Food Bank, St. Anthony de Padua Dining Room, San Mateo County Union Community Alliance (formed by San Mateo Central Labor Council) etc.
5. $1 Million/year subsidy of Nursing Program with no payback from graduates. Nurses unions and local hospitals should fund and oversee this program.
6. $250,000 HeartSafe Program for distributing AEB (portable defibrillator) devices free to government schools. Such a program shoul result in reduced liability risk with a resultant reduction in insurance premiums. CSAC Excess Insurance Authority
Web Link, which oversees the pooled insurance JPA's of government agencies should seek legislation to mandate deployment of AED's to schools and other agencies as the Legislature did for private Health Clubs. See: Web Link
Any Attorney's out there who would like to take on this run-a-mok government agency? I've got $500 in seed money.