In December of 2012, Sequoia Healthcare District Director’s Kane, Faro and Griffin voted to increase Health Insurance Premium reimbursement for Directors and employees from $1,200/month to $1,500 month. Director Hickey suggested that the increase could not be applicable to “sitting” directors.
Additional research was to be conducted by a subcommittee of the Board consisting of CEO Lee Michelson, Director Kane and Director Faro with item to be placed on the 2/6/13 meeting agenda for re-evaluation. District Counsel Mark Hudak was to research whether the increase is applicable to “sitting” directors. In a 12/6/2012 memo to CEO Lee Michelson, Hudak stated that “The answer is not entirely clear, but I think it can be done.” That memo was not distributed to all directors.
Director Kane, maker of the motion, cited pending Health Insurance Premium increases for employees and directors which would rise above the $1,200 limit in 2013. The fact is that only one employee(the district has 2 full time and 3 part time employees), Pamela Kurtzman, benefitted ($66.72/month) from the increased cap in the first 6 months of 2013. Directors Kane, Faro and Griffin, the only ones voting for the increase, received increased benefits totaling $1,800 each for the first 6 months of 2013. They failed to disclose their financial interest at the time of the vote.
The Hudak memo was not presented to the Board at the February meeting and there was no agenda item on the subject. Hickey said: “It is a reasonable assumption that the contents of that memo were shared with “then President” Griffin as well as the subcommittee, consisting of Michelson, Kane and Faro, which met in late December of 2012.” Their collective influence likely played a role in Michelson’s decision to initiate the increased reimbursement for directors beginning January 1, 2013. Such collective influence would constitute a violation of the Brown Act.
At their April 3, 2013 meeting, acting upon the recommendation of the subcommittee(Michelson, Kane and Faro), Directors voted to add a 10% co-pay to premiums effective July 1, 2013. Now, Pamela Kurtzman, who previously had 100% of her premium paid by the District, is paying $125.70/month for her insurance. And, Janeene Johnson, who previously had 100% of her premium paid by the District, is paying $66.67/month. The 10% co-pay was deemed by District Counsel NOT to apply to "sitting" Directors. The Hudak memo was not presented to the Board.
After obtaining a copy of the Hudak memo in mid-April, Director Hickey suggested the following to President Jerry Shefren: "It is my opinion that, if pursued, a Writ of Mandate would issue to remedy the situation by delaying the increased subsidy for board member health insurance until the next elected directors are seated."
Subsequently, item 5.e, “Attorney Report on Health Care Benefits For Sitting Board Members” was placed on the 6/5/2013 meeting agenda. Action was taken which denied increased benefits to “sitting” directors with an effective date of 7/1/13. The $1,800 already received by Directors Kane, Faro and Griffin from January to June was left as a “gift” by a confused Board.
In May of 2013, Hickey filed a complaint with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. Their investigation ended with a report from ADA Al Seratto.
Hickey has made numerous appeals to Board President Jerry Shefren in an attempt to resolve this issue without litigation. Finally, on November 15, 2013, he posted an “Open letter to Sequoia Healthcare District Directors Kane, Faro and Griffin” on the Almanac Town Square Forum and e-mailed it to those 3 Directors. Director Faro responded: “FYI, I returned the difference to the District several months ago.” I informed him that he was mistaken. Directors Kane and Griffin did not respond.
Director Hickey is now calling for the resignation of Sequoia Healthcare District Director’s Kane, Faro and Griffin.