LAGUNA HONDA: Bond Measure Passes, Bidding Process to Commence
San Francisco voters passed one of the city's "most expensive" bond issues ever Tuesday, approving funds for the rebuilding of Laguna Honda Hospital, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Proposition A, the $299 million bond issue that will create a 1,200-bed nursing home at Laguna Honda, received the support of 70% of the voters, more than the two-thirds margin needed to pass, according to unofficial results. The vote also seals the fate of the city's expected $21 million tobacco settlement, with all but $1 million earmarked for the facility's reconstruction. San Francisco's Public Health Director Dr. Mitchell Katz said, "We will immediately be putting out bids for starting the work." In addition to the 1,200 new nursing home beds, the rejuvenated facility will house a new 140-unit assisted living facility and an administrative and program center. The project is expected to be completed in November 2006.
One for the Union
Many view the victory as a sign of the "continued strength of the labor movement" in the Bay Area as Laguna Honda employs 1,000 Local 250 members. Local 250 president Sal Rosselli said, "I can't think of anything that compares to this," as he "relished one of the biggest labor victories at the polls" during his decade-long tenure as the Health Care Workers union leader. Rosselli said that the approval caps the year-and-a-half long struggle to win over voters with an acceptable bond issue. In addition to spending $700,000 on a campaign to get the bond issue approved, union workers spent Tuesday encouraging residents to vote. "[W]e had hundreds of union members knocking on doors, reminding people to vote. This shows what can happen when union members and their families listen to the leadership of their unions and turn out in force," said Jose Mooney, executive director of SEIU Local 790, which represents Laguna Honda nurses (Russell, 11/4).