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Sequoia Healthcare District exceeds enumerated powers

Original post made by Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills, on Dec 9, 2010

ENUMERATED POWERS of the Sequoia Hospital District (a.k.a. Sequoia Healthcare District) were established pursuant to the Hospital District Law in effect at the time of a 1946 election.

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 hosĀ­pitals 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 hosĀ­pitals, 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.

Comments (5)

Like this comment
Posted by Arthur Faro
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2010 at 11:44 am

Jack is getting tiresome.
He keeps insisting on quoting a Grand Jury which as been superseded by two subsequent Grand Juries which support what the Sequoia Health Care District is doing.
Further, he writes about the Hospital District Act which long ago was replaced by the Health Care District Act which encourages the great work Sequoia and many other Districts in California are doing.
Jack, give it a rest. Don't you even care about the many unfortunate people we are helping? Yes, it would be nice if private philanthropy took over. BUT they haven't and in this economy, wont.

Like this comment
Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Mr. Faoro,

There are two aspects to your position that I find troubling.

1) you seem to place a very low priority of firmly determining the legal legitimacy of both the process of how the District has arrived in its' current form and the apparent absence of specific voter approval in its current form.

I personally find the lack of conscientious of your analysis toward these two very valid and important aspects troubling, and in my mind this facile treatment of these topics reduces the credibility of your conclusions.

To not have acquired this specific voter approval is tantamount to taxation without representation and strikes at one of the hottest buttons and most fundamental representational issues ever raised in our country, i.e. TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTIATION. It is irresponsible and unacceptable to not perform a more in depth and detailed response to every issue Jack raises. Instead of thESE dismissive attempts to avoid that through a thorough and measured analysis to bring to the debate.

It IS tiresome as a process, but this does not excuse from your responsibility to be conscientious and knowledge. Jack looks better because he is a better researcher with more patience. If you want to play this game, I suggest you put a lot more time and work into explaining why Jack's points are incorrect. Because to a lot of people, they look substantive and correct.

2) Your second and oft reiterated point about the angelic good the justification of not performing legal process for district formation and approval by election and how Jack doesn't care is an off-point low blow.

YOu don't know how Jack feels about this, and it's not to the point.

The point is the legalities, and if you don't care about the law and the rules, while we believe that regarding you, there is a larger and larger body of people who do care about the law very much, and you do them all a disservice by treating their concerns with such disdain.

Thank you, however, for moving somewhat away from rude and derisive comments, and comments of a personally demeaning nature.

Art, no really cares how you feel. You really are not the center of the universe as you act, but just another guy trying to help people work things out to a good end that process occurring for the express purpose of addressing and protecting the interest of the majority public affected by these taxes, as opposed to the interest of all you politicians so eager to control these funds for your own intended purposes, many of which seem to be of a questionable and self-serving, or simply downright inappropriate end.

The correct thing to do is COMPLETE audit of the District and public publishing of that analysis. The town meetings and public debate followed by a vote.

Resistance to thie process, designed to serve and meet the needs of the voters, will continue to expose the attitudes and actions of the District Board and LAFC0 over the years and currently which will make for very good information for the public to evaluate how their government is treating them and how fair and responsive they .

This is where this process is going now. Obfuscations and facile denials will prove impotent.

May you should call for the shock troops, if that's your style.

Your presence and comments to provide help for everyone to understand the attitudes and actions of those who have been responsible for getting us to where we are with this situation today.

I hope I have not been disparaging of you, and if I have I apologize.

Your statements and presence provide more clarification and understanding than I believe you understand or intend for the public who reads and thinks carefullyl


Like this comment
Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Mr Faro I don't believe that helping the needy or unfortunate is what Mr. Hickey has taken issue with.
Rather, It is the boated and unnecessary administration costs that the district's existence creates that he claims is wasteful. Money that could be going directly to the sesame charities.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Art Faro says: "Yes, it would be nice if private philanthropy took over. BUT they haven't and in this economy, wont."
He, of course, wouldn't mention the e-mail we Directors received from Don Shoecraft the District's $4,200/month PR person and media clipping service. It contained an attachemt entitled
"Kaiser grants $7.5 million for Oakland school PE"
Web Link
Note, that was not your tax dollars.

My fellow Board Members should take some advice from Foster City Councilman, Charlie Bronitsky Web Link choices without government help&eddate=07/06/2010 01:42:00 who rejected an appeal from Thrive for $16,500 of taxpayer's money. Sequoia Health Care District (over my objection), gave $100,000 to that same non-profit agency in 2009.

Regarding the Grand Jury, nothing in the succeeding Findings changed the relevant facts reported by the 2000-2001 grand jury. Web Link

Sequoia Hospital is owned and operated "lock-stock & barrel" by CHW. The District has negligible oversight function, yet they continue to Grant $1,000,000/year to Sequoia. It's time to level the playing field on which Sequoia, Kaiser, PAMF and Stanford compete.

The bogus Sequoia Healthcare District should either seek legitimacy or go out of business.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

The Sequoia Healthcare District, which refuses to seek voter approval for the continued collection of property taxes for purposes unintended by voters, still retains the power of eminent domain. As long as their newly assumed purpose goes unchallenged, they are free to "take" property which they deem essential to that purpose. And, they likewise have the power to encumber property of all kinds in pursuit of their purpose. Parcel taxes are their most likely choice of encumbrance. The Districts membership in the Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) (see Web Link)
which has created a grassroots political organization, paints a picture of the Districts future.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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