Political Climate with Mark Simon: Health district board member finally finds something he can support: his own benefits

Political Climate with Mark Simon: My ‘hit piece’ now packs a bit more punch

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

It didn’t take long for Sequoia Healthcare District Director Jack Hickey to go online and complain that yesterday’s Political Climate column was a “hit piece,” which gives you the sense that Hickey’s political career has been something less than rough-and-tumble.

In any event, he’s really not going to like this follow-up column.

When I asked him several days ago how much money he receives from the district for the healthcare benefit extended to directors, he gave me the amount of money he is reimbursed. That added up to about $8,300 over the 16 years he has been on the district board.

It’s a modest amount, but, remember, this is a guy who opposes the very existence of the district, as well as its expenditures.

What he didn’t disclose is the additional $822 a month the district has to pay for his insurance premiums. Over 16 years, that adds up to more than $150,000 of district funds spent on behalf or on Hickey.

Hickey said via email that the information he provided was correct, and that the district is overstating the amount spent on his insurance premiums by calculating the current rate over 16 years. He also said, however, that he has always cost the district less than other directors.

Now, he’s put up two other candidates for the healthcare board – Harland Harrison and Art Kiesel – so he can gain a majority and shut down the district.

This can’t be said too many times – this is a guy who has opposed every expenditure the district makes, including funding for school nurses, health programs for minorities, even funding for the new Magical Playground planned for Redwood City.

So, it’s of note that he doesn’t object to the district spending money on him for his healthcare.

No doubt, he’s entitled to it, as are other board members. And he accepts the benefit, as do other board members, a fact that seems to bother him a lot, based on the flood of comments he posted following yesterday’s column.

In that morass of comments, he noted that he proposed doing away with the benefit, and was overruled by the other four board members.

His opposition to it hasn’t stopped him from accepting it.

Apparently, it is a blissful campaign for Harrison and Kiesel, neither of whom has been to a district board meeting or sought further information on the district from its staff.

I believe we call this being unencumbered by information. They are not interested in serving the district, only in dismantling it.

ON HE GOES: As clarion calls go, Hickey has been sounding the same note – get rid of the district – for 16 years and he’s not an inch closer than he was when he started this effort in 2002.

The only reason he isn’t looking to shut down other organizations or even governments is that he couldn’t get elected to any other office, despite more than three decades of trying.

The record is clear: Voters don’t agree with his demand to close down the district. He has made that case for 16 years, has tried to manipulate the electoral process to his end and more than once run a slate of candidates. Recently, he ran for another district seat, while still holding his current one.

He contended that campaign was a referendum on public support for the continuation of the district. He lost, but he refuses to accept that the voters don’t agree with him.

His contention is that the district should not be spending tax dollars on healthcare programs, now that it no longer runs a hospital, the purpose for which the district was originally founded.

But whether he likes it or not, the district spends meaningful money on essential programs run by some of the Peninsula’s most respected nonprofit organizations.

Decide for yourself whether this is a waste of money. You can see a list of the organizations that received grants at the district website by clicking here.

THE END IS NEAR: This campaign is going to end, finally.

And On Election Night, you’ll want to turn to Peninsula TV for all the election results.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and I will be co-hosting live coverage of the 2018 campaign on Peninsula TV. We will be the only media outlet to cover all the local San Mateo County and Peninsula races in detail, including analysis, voting results and interviews with candidates and other community leaders. We will be joined throughout the evening by Menlo College Political Science Professor Melissa Michelson as our resident expert/analyst.

We go on the air at 8 p.m.

Watch us on Comcast Channel 26, or livestreaming at pentv.tv.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.