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Monday, May 21, 2012

Fallbrook Watchdog

There have been a couple of issues regarding Fallbrook in the news or on the periphery recently that I think are worthy of our review and discussion. The first issue is in regards to the Fallbrook Healthcare district. This is a column from the Union Tribune dated May 14th, 2012 titled Fallbrook, Grossmont health agencies oppose changes. Bill would mandate they spend 95 percent of tax revenue on programs and services.

If I may quote and paraphrase, the district collects about a million and a half dollars a year from taxpayers and then stockpiles the rest, and have now amassed a tidy little nest egg of about ten million dollars. They give about a third of the money out in grants every year, to some health oriented community groups and others who while worthy have no tangential relation to healthcare whatsoever. A new bill  A.B. 2418, would force them to spend 95% of the money they collect.

I would be lying if I pretended to know all of the facts or had all the answers but from the outside looking in, the district seems merely to be a landlord for a contracted, private medical concern with a very long lease and contractual obligation on the building. Representatives of the district maintain that the huge stash of cash is necessary in case anything goes sideways in the future.

Vi Dupre of the Fallbrook Healthcare District said asking a public agency to spend 95 percent of tax revenue on any specific purpose is shortsighted. The district tax revenue funds salaries, health insurance, office expenses and other costs, she said.
“It isn’t as though all we have is to give money into our grant program,” Dupre said. “If for any reason that contract were to be terminated, the district would have to take over management of the hospital. It is imperative that we have funds set aside in such a circumstance.”

As laudable as the grant program is, as a taxpayer I would frankly rather that the money stayed in my pocket. I think that in these times of economic distress, it is unconscionable that these kind of monies are being stored, with more to accrue, to guard against a hypothetical future collapse. If there are concerns about the company currently running the hospital, address them and don't use them as a straw dog to soak the taxpayers.

Is it really economically justifiable to set up a large bureaucracy for a group that essentially just deposits a tenant's check every month? If we are truly interested in slimming down bloated bureaucracies and giving taxpayers a break, wouldn't this be a great place to start? 

I would love to hear from my fellow Fallbrookians if my perspective is misguided or more important, factually incorrect regarding this issue.


I received this interesting anonymous email recently regarding the Fallbrook Public Utility District. To be on record, I think that it is one of the best run districts around, and have always been impressed with their competence, especially compared to Rainbow Water. Somebody obviously feels differently.  I have no idea as to the veracity of the comments but if true, they also raise interesting questions. A subsequent broadside from the emailer says that the conjunctive use agreement is also redundant, since Camp Pendleton already has first dibs rights to what comes out of the tap.

Robert,   $495,780.90 is spent annually to supply eight individuals transportation during work hours in addition to after hour accommodations to home and back.  Obviously, this includes fuel, maintenance and all other related expenses.  Fallbrook Public Utility District has also rehired past General Manager Keith Lewinger as a consultant at the annual salary of $177,000.  This is in order to see the Conjunctive Use Project with the Base through to fruition.  It seems to me to be a vote of no confidence for Brian Brady, the current General Manager.  Governor Brown has discontinued the State sponsored vehicle allowance, by the way, in order to try to eliminate budget and government waste.  Wouldn't it be nice if FPUD followed suit to lower rates for us beleaguered rate payers?  One other thing.  The additional rates that Metropolitan Water District is charging San Diego County Water Authority, of which we are a part of, for-now get this- delivery and transportation, was voted in with the help of Keith Lewinger who was and still is a current member of the Board of Metropolitan.  This was voted in while he was General Manager for FPUD.  This seems to be the definition of a breach of fiduciary duty to his own water district and the board who hired him.  He was also effectively double dipping incomes and vehicle allowances.


Anonymous said...

It sure looks like you have it right about the Fallbrook Healthcare district.

Thomas G Johnson said...

Lewinger is a parasite and a lot more. I was overjoyed to see him "retire" and now like a bad penny, he's back to suck a little more blood from the taxpayer. Look directly to the board of directors AKA toadys who rubber stamped anything Keith Lewinger proposed with the addendum of "YES SIR". I'm still observing Mr Brady but must say that I was impressed when he eliminated the private, dedicated parking spot formally reserved for the almighty "general manager". We are watching FPUD. If it takes a mob with torches and pitchforks to reform these crooks I'd have to say "I'm in!". Not Archie though. He's the only one on the board that actually gives a damn about the ratepayer. Look at the disrespectful way he's treated. Just disgusting!

Anonymous Email said...

Personally, I think it's great this person came forward via an anonymous email. Sometimes people just don't want to get caught in the middle, and more times than not, where there is smoke there is fire.