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Griffin defends Sequoia Healthcare District

Original post made by Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills, on Dec 22, 2011

Kim Griffin, President of the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors defends the District's actions after a scathing front page story involving overpayment of in-lieu health insurance benefits. Web Link
Here is her OpEd:
Web Link: Sequoia Healthcare District and its finances&eddate=12/16/2011 03:50:00

Here is my response:

From: Jack Hickey
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 1:47 PM
To: Jon Mays ; Dave Price ; ;
Subject: Jack Hickey response to OpEd by Kim Griffin

Facts About Sequoia Healthcare District Finances

by Jack Hickey

This is in response to an OpEd by Kim Griffin, “Sequoia Healthcare District and its finances”, (SMDJ Dec. 16, 2011) which contains factual errors in conflict with the Auditors report, communications from CEO Lee Michelson and District financial records.
On 8/12/2011, the Sequoia Healthcare District made total payroll adjustments of $26,384.40 (via Paychex) for employee’s Lee Michelson, Pamela Kurtzman and Glenn Nielsen.
On 9/18/2011, after becoming aware of the situation, I asked CEO Lee Michelson for an explanation.
On 9/19/2011 Lee Michelson responded to ALL Directors without acknowledging my inquiry:
“Recently Janeene sent out the latest check register. I want to explain some of the unusual expenses . Pamela, Glenn and I receive $400 a month in lieu of health insurance.” and, “ We discovered that when Paychex ,our payroll vendor changed computer systems, they failed to include these payments in our paychecks going back two years.”

Kim Griffin, in her OpEd, says “Last August, the same vendor informed us that we had to make up all of the in lieu payments that were supposedly missed (about $16,000, not $26,000 as reported in the article “Sequoia Healthcare District corrects books”). The district obeyed this directive from the payroll vendor. (Note Kim’s misstatement of the actual payroll adjustment amount.)

I suggest that due diligence would have avoided the compounding of errors.

On 9/20/2011 Mr. Michelson further identified the timeframe to be “July 2009-July 2011”

In reviewing financial records (see Web Link) provided to me in March 2011, pursuant to a Public Records Act request, I discovered that, in fact, bi-weekly payments of $184.62 ($400/month) were recorded for Lee Michelson and Pamela Kurtzman from 7/9/2009 to 2/17/2011. (The period covered by that record). Later financial documents sent on a monthly basis at my request showed the payments to be current. Similar bi-weekly payments for employee Glenn Nielson began on 5/13/2010, and are current.

On 9/30/2011 I alerted Ahmad Gharaibeth of District Auditors, Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., and provided him with a timeline of events regarding the expenditures. I told him that:
“It appears that the payroll adjustments of $26,384.40 were made in error.”
On 11/9/2011, Ahmad informed me that “We have made significant progress on this and should get done with this within few days. I do appreciate you alerting us to this situation and we are working with the District to get these expenses reconciled. “

At the December meeting of the Board the auditors identified significant deficiencies as follows:

“It was noted that the District reimbursed three employees for amounts underpaid for a period
encompassing three fiscal years.
Examination of the reimbursement calculation revealed that two of the three reimbursements
were in excess of any actual underpayment.
The examination also revealed that one employee’s pay raise was miscalculated.”
The CEO report at that meeting said:
3. Our auditors reviewed our payroll and found out that for two of our employees a mistake was made by PayChex, our payroll management company, which resulted in double paying inlieu health benefits. This issue has been discussed with the employees, our attorney and auditor and the employees will not receive future inlieu benefits until the double payment is recovered by the District....”

Kim Griffin, in her OpEd said, “As president of the district board, I am sensitive to the fact also that all individuals interested and affected by an accounting error deserve an explanation.”
At the meeting and afterward, I requested detailed information regarding the reconciliation of this matter, i.e. copies of the payback agreements by two employees, the amount correctly reimbursed to the third employee and the details of the pay raise miscalculation cited in the audit. None of this information has been forthcoming from the auditors or the District.
It appears that Ms. Griffin does not believe that Directors of the Board or the public deserve an explanation. In fact, I am forced to pursue a Public Records Act request to get the information.

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Good work Jack, keep it up

Like this comment
Posted by Tsk tsk
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I guess Nielsen didn't milk/bilk enough money out of Atherton, now he needs to do more over at Sequoia. What is that guy up to there anyway?

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