With no public hearing, Santa Clara County Executive seeks $1 million and control of hospital system

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Khanh T. Weinberg, Communications Director
(408) 678-3364 | khanh.weinberg@seiu521.org

Monday, March 28, 2011

Community leaders to voice objections at 9 a.m. Supervisors’ board meeting Tuesday

SAN JOSE – He was hired to shake things up and Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith has a couple of bombshells on the agenda for the board of supervisors’ Tuesday meeting. But rather than welcoming public debate, Smith would like the supervisors to simply approve his plans without bothering with a public hearing.

County workers and community leaders will address the board Tuesday to question Smith’s exclusion of public dialogue over matters of great public consequence.

What’s at stake? Whether Santa Clara County will succeed or fail in implementing the new health care law that could bring – or not – millions of dollars in new revenues to the county. What’s also at stake are thousands of residents and their future access to health care. The two items Smith is proposing are:

  • Increase the county’s contract with the Alvarez & Marsal consultant group by $1 million. This is the group that Smith had handpicked that was supposed to look at the county’s hospital system and come up with cost-saving ideas. The initial contract was for $100,000 that got increased to $1.5 million and then to $5 million and now to $6 million – this last move without an open bidding process or performance review.
  • Eliminate the county’s Health and Hospital System, a model of integrated care used up and down the state – and reorganize it into a top-down structure in such a way that Smith would directly oversee and have total control over the organization. This in addition to his core job: Overseeing a $4 billion county budget and a staff of 15,000 employees.

“We in Santa Clara County believe in open government, which is why we’re urging that the board of supervisors instruct County Executive Jeff Smith to take his many creative ideas and let’s get some public input on the table,” said Kristy Sermersheim, Chief Officer of SEIU Local 521. “Spending $1 million of taxpayers’ money and eliminating the structure of our health and hospital system are big-ticket items that call for public debate.”

The Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 29, at 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose.

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org

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