LOS MEDANOS: Grand Jury Calls For Disbanding Of Hospital District
The Contra Costa County grand jury has ruled that the Los Medanos Community Hospital District "should disband" due to "[s]loppy record keeping, procedural problems and unwarranted secrecy." The grand jury also found that the public agency was "mishandling taxpayers' money and abusing their trust," and failing "to comply with the state code, which requires special districts to conduct annual audits," the Contra Costa Times reports. In its 1997-98 report, the grand jury writes, "The Board of the District must face the reality that its justification for continued existence is ... settling the bankruptcy matter. Otherwise (it's) a hollow public agency without any demonstrated reason to persist." The hospital district was established in 1945 and "operated Los Medanos Community Hospital until four years ago," when it went bankrupt.
It Keeps On Going
"Among the grand jury's other findings: The district has operated without any accounting procedures or an approved budget since the Pittsburgh hospital closed in 1994. The district's five board members have neglected to put office procedures in writing and enforce them. ...The board has abandoned most district decision making, often leaving out routine administrative matters to its attorneys." In addition, the Contra Costa Times reports, "the board repeatedly has failed to honor grand jury requests for public documents." Board Chair Al Prince "disagreed with much of the criticism." He said, "We opened our doors, we shared our accounting records -- everything they requested we provided them." He also said that the board had taken steps to correct the problems with the accounting procedures, but that he couldn't comment on the other charges contained in the report because "he hadn't yet read it carefully" (Coetsee, 6/10).