Monday, December 28, 2009

Sound Bites: San Leandro Speaks Up in 2009

"Don't close Farrelly Pool. My brother is two. Can you leave it open? My brother loves it."

-A young girl named Lucinda addresses the San Leandro City Council in May asking to keep the neighborhood swimming pool from being temporarily closed due to budget cuts.
"Keep your hands out of our budget."
-Mayor Tony
Santos in May derides plans by legislators in Sacramento to balance the state's budget by raiding the coffers of local municipalities.

"We should keep fighting until the last day, even if we go down, we must fight."
-Eden Township Healthcare District Director Dr. Vin Sawhney does his best George Patton to energize supporters of saving San Leandro Hospital at an informal meeting of the District in September.

"What the hell are you trying to say?"
-A bit disoriented at a Eden District meeting, Boardmember Dr. Harry Dvorsky interrupts a doctor persuading members to block the purchase of the hospital by Sutter Health.

"In my conscience I have no conflict of interests."
-Eden Board Chair Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar after a heavily attended public hearing at the San Leandro Library. A few audience members shouted charges of conflict of interests.

"George Bischalaney just called and said he will call the sheriff if you don't leave."
-Eden Director Carole Rogers tells a group waiting outside the conference room of a board meeting at Eden Medical Center. Attendees, including city councilmembers and a former San Leandro mayor, refused to leave after learning of the board's decision to bar the public from speaking.

"It is very disappointing when one thinks there are five city council people who don't think it's important enough to come to a forum of this nature with their own constituents sitting in the audience."
-Former Eden Medical Center Chief of staff Dr. Miles Adler chides the lack of participation of council members at a hearing in October featuring every public official except Rep. Pete Stark.

"We're still trying to figure this out."
Shawn Wilson, the chief of staff for Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, was left scrambling for answers after the supervisor said she would ask the board of supervisors to rescind the county's offer to move rehabilitation services to San Leandro Hospital. Ultimately, the proposal lacked a deciding third vote on the board and dropped.

"He has no clue and never has had one."
-Dr. Miles Adler responding to claims by Mayor Tony Santos that San Leandro Hospital's unprofitability is caused by doctors outsourcing procedures to other facilities benefitting physicians.

"That is a foolish assumption on your part, although you make a number of foolish assumptions."
-Former legal counsel for the Eden District Craig Cannizzo lashes out at Director Dr. Vin Sawhney for assuming his law firm would cooperate with a change in counsel. Sawney motioned to fire the long-time attorney for the District and failed, but succeeded four days later.

"If the hospital is closed after June 30, it will be because of the action of Rogers and Dr. Sawhney."
-Mayor Tony Santos causes a firestorm of criticism from supporters of San Leandro Hospital after pinning the future of the facility on the two Eden boardmembers leading the charge towards a more offensive legal approach to Sutter.

"Well I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."
-Rep. Pete Stark responds to a constituent at a town hall meeting in Fremont who tells him "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." The exchange becomes one of the most infamous national political quotes of the year.

"Nobody wants to disrupt?"
-After raucous protesters make headlines at town hall meeting across the nation, Stark jokingly teases a tame group at the Alameda Democratic Club.

"The bill you get will be a bill I won't like and none of you will like."
-Stark tells a group of his strongly progressive constituents the bill ultimately passed by the House will not include a single-payer option most crave.

>>>RACE FOR MAYOR 2010<<<
"You know, we're a family and we choose to have our disagreements."
-Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak after her decision to vote against the city's budget last June. Her comments in the city council chambers angered a few fellow members and gave the first strong indication of her intention to run for mayor in 2010.

"We are in a state of decay."
-Starosciak raises eyebrows in November when she makes a veiled reference to the condition of the city under Santos.

"This city is not deteriorating. Anyone who says that is out of line."
-Santos quickly responds during a rambling seven minute monologue in city council chambers. He later says he will not let voters forget Starosciak's comments.

"There's an informal network of criminals who know if you commit crime in San Leandro, you'll get caught."
-With a touch of bravado, San Leandro Lt. Pete Ballew states the reason for the city's surprisingly low crime rates through the first six months of 2009.

"This may be considered blasphemy, but I don't like a lot of people to vote. I want informed voters to vote. I don't understand why we're trying to get numbers as opposed to intelligence?"
-City Councilman Bill Stephens, the only conservative on the board objects to increased voter participation--one of the strengths of Ranked Choice Voting the council hopes to debate in the New Year.


  1. Mayor Santos is correct. Acute care hospitals have to maintain 24/7 services that are very costly. The highest cost by far being labor. Free standing labs, imaging centers, and surgicenters operate eight to five with largely non-union labor. Add to that the fact that many physicians are investors in these facilities and it is no mystery that a large segment of the most lucrative business is diverted away from the hospital to these facilities. The argument that the hospital charges more for these services ignores the simple fact that historically the hospitals had to use these charges to make up for the losses in the other services.

    A good example is that of the East Bay Endoscopy Center in Hayward where a group of gastroenterologists, including Dr. Vin Sawhney, opened this facility to perform gastroscopies and colonoscopies and then diverted millions of dollars of endoscopy business away from both SLH and Eden. There is nothing wrong with free enterprise and making a profit, but pretending to be a champion of SLH while at the same time being responsible for bleeding it dry is disingenuous if not downright hypocritical.

    The other major reason that SLH is in trouble is the very high percentage of Medicare and Medical patients. The reimbursement to hospitals from the government DOES NOT cover the expenses of caring for these patients so every hospital loses money on these cases (Lesson: Don't trust the government). If a hospital does not have enough commercial business to offset these losses it will fail. This is exactly the case at SLH. Incidentally, this subsidization of government programs by private insurance is one of the causes of escalating health insurance premiums.

  2. Only and a very foolish person thinks that Dr. Sawhney doesn't have a conflict of interest.

    He doesn't care about the people of San Leandro.

    Follow the money -- union money to support the election of Carole Rogers and our elected officials. Then don't care about us or San Leandro Hospital.

  3. I am tiring of this debate,save the hospital already!

  4. Joyce is correct, the city is in decline/decay and it is not being reinvented for the next generation, especially some of the multi family apartments and single family housing along with the older retail areas. Ghetto is creeping in and Santos has blinders on.

  5. You forgot one. What about Mary Hayashi saying San Leandro hospital is her #1 priority.

  6. Dr. Rico fails to deal with an inconvenient fact: Sutter reports Eden Hospital's 2008 bottom line was healthier than ever despite the competition it also recieves from physicians' groups, competition which has been going on for more than a decade. With no direct evidence that San Leandro Hospital's bottom line suffers more ill effects from competition than Eden, this old argument shows itself as a red herring.

    After Dr. Sawhney defeated Dr. Rico in the 2008 Election, Dr. Rico made a public complaint that Dr. Sawhney had the conflict of interest he notes above. Dr. Rico claimed this should prevent Dr. Sawhney from taking Dr. Rico's seat on the Board of Directors. The District Attorneys for Alameda County and the Eden Township Healthcare District did not find merit in Dr. Rico's claim.