Why Vote No on Measure I?

Soon we will be receiving our mail-in ballots to cast our votes on one thing — Measure I, the $55M hospital bond. We as a community have a duty to understand just what it is that we are voting on — and for. This bond, if passed, will burden this hospital district, all homeowners and property owners. If you rent, more than likely, you will see your rent increase. This bond will be in effect for the next 40 years. We are already burdened with an $85M dollar bond passed for the hospital a few years ago, also for a period of 40 years. That one bond was overwhelmingly approved and supported by this community and the district. We all felt this would pretty much complete our hospital. Fast forward from the passing of that bond in 2005 to today, and we still sit with a shell of a hospital building. We are told that at one time the estimate to complete it was going to be around $14M, according to past board meeting records and notes. That later changed to $35M. Then, without any proof of bids for the completion of the work, no estimates to be provided by this board or administration to the tax paying public, a bond is issued for $55M. What changed? Why will this board not be upfront and transparent with what they intend to do with OUR money? It is OUR hospital — or is it?

We all need to read, or at least try and understand, what the contract says that this board entered into with HCCA. They have pretty much handed over the hospital to them! We don’t really own or control this hospital anymore! It is now a for-profit entity owned by HCCA and the Benzeevi Bros. Just yesterday we all should have received one of their flyers in the mail stating that in 2014 the hospital generated profits of over $7.5M! Why won’t they use that to start finishing the tower? That could be completed in a matter of 5 to 6 years! So why don’t they?

Because they would rather have us pay for it and they reap the profits — along with the $3M yearly they receive to run it. Sounds like a great deal to me — so long as you are on their side of the fence. Ultimately, what is needed is a Board that will listen to the real needs of those who elected them to their positon. A positon of fiscal responsibility as well as accountability to the community. We have not had that, and do not now. No record of how the first $85M bond was spent, or how. Yes, the tower is up and obviously monies spent there. But let’s see all the expenses that got us here. Is that so hard?

What this community needs to understand is that a NO vote on Measure I does not mean this hospital will close, or that we want to see it close. It only means that we need to step back and look at better options that will preserve what this community started back in 1950 when this hospital opened. We owe it to those who fought hard to get this hospital off the ground. Those who paid the price back then, those who have continued the fight since that time, and most importantly, our future generations.

Let’s get back on the right track. Let’s get this project done the way Tulare does things. With cooperation from all and with transparency and accountability! “NO” on Measure I!

Ray Fonseca

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