We have four people running for two four-year seats on the board of directors of the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District. We also have two people running for one two-year seat. I would like to give my impression of what I have seen and read about these potential directors of our SHCHD.
I would put Beth Bennett-Allen, Karen Ruth and Judi Gonzales together in their approach to dealing with our SHCHD. Bennett-Allen and Ruth are running for the four-year seats and Gonzales is running for the two-year seat. These three people have done nothing but throw negative accusations towards the SHCHD, the board and the CEO. I don’t believe they have ever given any substantive proof or information supporting any of their accusations. They have not brought forth any positive suggestions to deal with their perceived problems. They don’t really know or understand the effort and hard work that has gone into making the SHCHD as successful as it is today.
These three candidates, Bennett-Allen, Ruth and Gonzales all have put forth a common platform that I would like to address.
The following statements have been stated or published by one or all of these “Three That Agree”.
(Comments after each statement are mine.)
1. They would love to get the community’s confidence back.
a. Have they offered any plan to do this? No.
b. What makes them think that there is big lack of confidence in SHCHD?
2. Improvement in the staff morale.
a. What constructive plan have they put forward? None.
3. People are terminated without explanation.
a. Do any of them know the procedure used by SHCHD to terminate an employee?
b. The actual reasons for any dismissal are confidential. This information is not subject to verification by uninvolved persons.
4. SHCHD is carrying significant debt.
a. Do they know that SHCHD has been declared a “Going Concern” by our outside auditors and do they know what that means?
b. Have they furnished any documentation confirming their claim? No.
c. Are they referring to debt that is being paid off monthly by contract? If so, that debt payment would be included in the budget with the obligation being met as agreed.
d. Have they attended or participated in any Finance Committee meetings?
5. They often mention the “controversy” concerning Dr. Mark Phelps. They state that this has caused a loss of community confidence.
a. Dr. Phelps and his wife chose to leave SHCHD. They were not forced to go.
b. The issues concerning Dr. Phelps leaving should have been aired in open session. Instead, Dr. Phelps insisted that his issues be addressed in executive session, therefore the facts surrounding his resignation are confidential and have not been made available to the public. This is mandated by the Brown Act.
6. They state that there is a high turnover rate at SHCHD.
a. Have they provided any studies that compare the turnover rate of SHCHD to those of similar size? No.
7. They are all critical of the raise to $180,000 for the SHCHD Administrator.
a. Have they examined the comparative studies of salaries for similar hospitals and clinics in California? I doubt they have.
On the last issue of salary, number 8, I went to the California State Controllers website for comparative salaries of special hospital districts such as ours. The information obtained is from the statistics for year 2010. This site is available to anyone. From this site I created a spreadsheet of special district hospitals and clinics in California. I chose organizations that had between five and 238 employees. In 2010, SHCHD had a total of 104 employees. I then listed the salaries for all of the administrators and took the average. The average salary had a low of $200,113 and a high of $244,750. The average salary for a chief financial officer was: low $146,249 and high 173,939. Even though our administrator is far below the low salary average for his position, $180,000, he also does the job of the chief financial officer. I would be happy to supply this spread sheet to anyone interested in the facts.
When you also take into consideration that SHCHD was under water when Harry Jasper started four years ago and that now it is in the black by $3,000,000 (three million dollars), you can see that at $180,000 we are getting a real bargain for our money.
My belief is that Corrine Stromstad brings to the board the only real depth of knowledge needed to operate SHCHD from the board level. The current board members have less than three years of experience. They are making great progress in learning the intricacies of managing the SHCHD from the board level, but it is a long, slow learning curve. Without Corrine Stromstad the board would really need outside help until the other members fully understand and grasp how SHCHD should be run.
Cliff Anderson brings years of experience dealing with boards of directors, personnel issues, the Brown Act and government budgeting. As a current member of the SHCHD board, he has proved his leadership and the ability to move forward without having to learn the basics of his position.
As a fire captain with Cal Fire, David Ordonez has years of leadership experience. He will bring a new voice to SHCHD in helping with policies dealing with employees and the human resources department of the SHCHD. His career as a firefighter gives him a tremendous understanding of emergency operations and planning. He is a natural fit.
I will not vote for the three that say “nay”.
I would ask you to vote with me for the continued success of the SHCHD. My vote will go for Corrine Stromstad, Cliff Anderson and David Ordonez.
I would also like to comment on Michael Hoffman’s question in his letter to the editor of 10/16/2012. He is requesting information on the $85,000 in legal fees paid by the SHCHD. Around 2010, Michael Hoffman brought legal action against your SHCHD concerning a California Public Records Act request. SHCHD had to spend $17,000 to litigate this action. The court ruled in favor of your SHCHD without prejudice. If people like Michael Hoffman would think twice about bringing unfounded actions against our SHCHD, maybe we would not be spending $85,000 in legal fees and he would not be asking these questions.
Just a note, Karen Ruth is Michael Hoffman’s partner.