Directors of the Mt. Diablo Health Care District continue to misrepresent the finances of the wasteful and unnecessary agency as they desperately try to stall its inevitable elimination or takeover.
The district collects taxes even though it hasn't had a hospital to run since 1997. From 2000-09, Mt. Diablo received $2.2 million in property taxes and $250,000 in grants. Only about 10 percent actually went for health programs to help people.
Most was spent on overhead, fruitless litigation and health benefits for a current and a former board member and their families under an unconscionable deal providing lifetime coverage to directors who serve at least 12 years.
The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission wants to transfer control of the district to the city of Concord. We would prefer simply dissolving it. Either way, Mt. Diablo directors' ongoing delaying tactics will probably force the holding of regularly scheduled health care board elections in November at a cost of about $120,000.
It's an unfortunate waste of tax money. But if that's the way they want to play, we say bring it on.
Concerned community members should field a slate of candidates who recognize the stupidity of perpetuating this charade -- candidates who will cooperate in the district's dissolution. Voters should oust Grace Ellis, Nick Adler and Jeff Kasper, who continue spending irresponsibly, and Frank Manske, who has been ineffectual.
To justify that, district officials falsely portray the agency's financial obligations. Kasper, the board chairman, last week testified to LAFCO that a new actuarial report shows the district has only a $218,000 future liability for the health care benefits promised to Ellis and former director Ron Leone, now a Concord councilman.
Kasper failed to disclose that the actuarial calculations assume that Ellis and Leone will permanently continue their recent concessions to only take partial funding from the district. In fact, Ellis and Leone have explicitly preserved their rights to, at any time, demand full benefits. As a result, the district's unfunded liability is probably close to the $714,000 reported in an actuarial analysis just one year ago.
For months, LAFCO has tried to cajole a friendly transfer of district control to the Concord City Council. But the city wisely insists that the district first pay off the full health care liability. That would have been possible a year ago, when the district had enough money in the bank. Now, thanks to directors' wasteful spending, it doesn't. Consequently, dissolution seems more likely.
Meanwhile, expect more stalling. The longer this goes on, the more money the health care district's attorney and interim executive officer make. And the longer the directors, three of whom take a stipend, retain political power.
It's time to end this, and the ballot box may be the best way to do so.