County Ramps Up Campaign Against AG Xavier Becerra in Bid to Save Two Local Hospitals

Santa Clara County officials are turning up the heat on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, demanding that he drop his bid to block the sale of O’Connor and Saint Louise hospitals to the county.

In a noon press conference Thursday, the county went public with calls for the public to join a social media blitz targeting Becerra, coupled with pleas from local health officials, union leaders and California elected officials and testimonials from Latino patients—all aimed at showing the importance of keeping the two hospitals open.

There was no immediate sign that any of this made the newly elected attorney general budge from a hard-line position that the county says could close the two hospitals owned by failing Verity Health System. According to court records, Becerra wants to block the sale unless the county can guarantee that it could maintain the same quality of care for low-income patients.

“Attorney General Becerra has rejected all of our good-faith efforts to resolve his objections to the county purchasing the hospitals,” County Executive Jeff Smith said into a bank of media microphones set up on a patio outside the County Government Center in San Jose. “It is clear the Department of Justice is more concerned about protecting its power than protecting the health of Santa Clara County residents.”

Smith, a lawyer and doctor, warned that “if O’Connor and Saint Louise hospitals close, communities in the county would lose significant access to critical healthcare. The closurs ... will very likely mean that some people will suffer needless delay in obtaining critical healthcare and such delays may imperil lives.”

“Maybe you should look at a map, Mr. Attorney General, so you can see the distance from Morgan Hill and Gilroy and San Martin to Valley Medical Center,” said Sally Armendariz, of Gilroy, who spoke at the press conference about the importance of St. Louise Regional Hospital to citizens of South County. “If people are having a genuine emergency, they’ll die before they get there.”

Of Becerra, she said he “should be proud that Santa Clara County is willing to have a medical center for all its residents, not just San Jose.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Dr. Sara Cody, county health officer and director of the Public Health Department, who said keeping St. Louise and O’Connor hospital “open and thriving is so important to our communities, and South County in particular.”

Cody said that Gilroy and Morgan Hill have higher mortality rates due to cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes than the county’s overall population. “Also teen birth rates are significantly higher in South County, compared to the rest of the county,” she said.

“People living in this area need more access to health care, not less,” Cody said.

Standing behind the speakers at the press conference were medical staff and patients of the two hospitals, holding signs that read, “Tell AG Becerra, Don’t Block Hospitals’ Sale,” with links to the attorney general’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and a hashtag of #SaveSCCHospitalsAG.

The $235 million sale of O’Connor and Saint Louise hospitals was approved late last month by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Los Angeles, who also overruled objections by Becerra to the county’s acquisition of the two hospitals. The attorney general has appealed that decision to U.S. District Court, and is asking the bankruptcy judge to stay his ruling pending the outcome of the appeal, which could take months. A hearing on his stay request is set for Jan. 30, with a ruling expected as early as Feb. 1.

Any delay would be fatal to the two hospitals, because the county’s purchase agreement expires March 1, and there are no other offers on the table.

Smith said in an interview that he does not expect Becerra to prevail, but added that for the next week at least, the threat of the hospitals closing is real—and unnecessary. He said Becerra was engaging in political posturing, with no concern for health care needs of Santa Clara County.

Verity Health System is seeking protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for massive debts incurred by its six hospitals. Verity announced last week that it has a bid pending for the other four hospitals, including two in San Mateo County—Seton Medical Center in Daly City and its Coastside branch in Moss Beach—and two in L.A.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian, president of the Board of Supervisors and Health and Hospital Committee chair, said at the press conference that “the sale has already been approved. The attorney general has already made these arguments and lost.”

“It isn’t really about lawyers and lawsuits …, about power and politics,” he said. “What it is about and what it should be about is the … Santa Clara County residents who won’t have a hospital bed if this deal crumbles.”

Smith said more than 2,000 employees of O’Connor and Saint Louise have applied for the open positions created by the county, in anticipation of the takeover this spring, and approximately 700 physicians are ready to join the expanded county hospital system. Smith said that over the next few weeks, the county will expend significant staff and financial resources to review and process job applications and onboard the physicians to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center medical staff by the Feb. 28 deadline.

If Becerra gets his stay order, hundreds of employees would lose their jobs and hundreds of physicians would lose their contracts, Smith said.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, whose Congressional District includes San Jose and much of southern Santa Clara County, is on board, he said. Lofgren released a statement on Thursday, saying “I have conveyed directly to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra that it is in the best interests of my constituents that these medical facilities continue to serve our local communities’ health care needs.”

Becerra is a former six-term Congressman.

“I am doing everything I can to keep these hospitals open,” said county Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who represents Gilroy and Morgan Hill. He did not attend the press conference, but appeared on one of the county’s YouTube videos directed at Becerra.

“For workers, the purchase means having a job. The AG’s decision to block the purchase could leave thousands of healthcare workers unemployed,” said Ben Field, head of the South Bay Labor Council. “While the county can’t save the workers from all the hardships brought upon by Verity Health’s bankruptcy, the county is offering thousands of professionals the chance to continue working for two local hospitals in their community.”

County officials and health representatives are encouraging people who live and work here to urge California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to save the hospitals by contacting him on Twitter @AGBecerra or on Facebook using the hashtag #SaveSCChospitalsAG or by telephone at 800.952.5225.

21 Comments

    • AG office has an open antirust complaint against James Williams and Dave Cortese. The bidding of this hospital was very suspect and #metoo movement just hit County Assessor Larry Stone.

  1. Silicon Valley has their own Stones:

    Joe Smitian and Cindy Chavez should be indicted for public corruption and misuse of public funds.

    As early as October 12, 2017 public comment shows in violation of the Brown Act, Joe reached out and took an order of Presiding Judge Patricia Lucas from Mr. Scott Largent. Joe claimed he was going to have James Williams of the County Counsel’s Office review the order. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3coJGedpcos

    Apparently Mr. Williams wasn’t very good, or efficient, at his job.

    On May 1, 2018 Mr. Largent was arrested on a public sidewalk in front of the family courthouse, as the local judges were doing everything to support the NO RECALL of Judge Aaron Persky.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stSPBpT8Ri4&t=153s

    Judge Patricia Lucas and other public officials are being investigated for misusing their public office in order to influence the June 2018 recall election of Judge Aaron Persky.

    Sherriff Laurie Smith was the only public official to support the recall, a campaign that eventually saw Judge Persky recalled by a landslide vote that was very embarrassing to local judges.

    The recall of Persky resulted in the highest voter turnout in Santa Clara County’s history.

    As the local community was divided over the Persky recall, a line was drawn in the sand between the legal community and protestors demanding reform in the county’s local courts.

    As Joe Smitiian and James Williams took six months to review the order issued by Judge Patricia Lucas, Patricia Lucas who was appointed to the county’s Public Safety and Justice Committee, Mr. Largent was arrested for language in the order that was later changed by judge Lucas on November 30, 2018.

    Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen has continued to prosecute Mr. Largent for what is an unlawful court order, in an effort to discredit and chill Mr. Largent’s right to criticize county officials who have been wasting money by allowing private divorce lawyers and government lawyers to engaged in criminal activity with impunity.

    Voters may have hoped Susan Ellenberg would bring change, yet her first month on the job she is proving to be a classic lawyer willing to waste money that could otherwise be invested to pay nurses, doctors, teachers, clerks, cops and firefighter wages that allow them to live in the county and provide much needed services. Those services do not include all the money the county is spending on legal fees, as the County Counsel has not been audited in over 30 years.

    Maybe while the Attorney General is looking at the county’s acquisition of a hospital, the AG should also be looking at the county counsel, and the county assessor ( Larry Stone) and the building of Levi Stadium.

    Maybe next San Jose Inside will be reporting on the women who have encountered Larry Stone when his wife Carmen was out of town who can point the AG to far more than the county counsel will be producing in discovery.

    • I agree with you. Most of our local officials are highly corrupted. Jeff Rosen, Cindy Chavez. Dave Córtese, and other supervisors are some of the top Corrupted. Here are some news people, Dave Córtese is now thinking of state position. It appears being a successful local corrupted politician is a pre-requisite for a state office. I am a democrat and dislike all these corrupted people and also the president who brags about grabbing women by their pussies. Hate of corrupted and sexually perveted individuals is not a Dem or Rep condition but a moral and ethical value!

  2. This is most likely about the SEIU trying to preserve pensions and benefits. The current sale hits their members hard since this is not a sale of the hospital businesses but rather asset purchases. Employees have to re-apply for their jobs losing all seniority. Since the AG is beholden to the SEIU, he has to take a stand in their favor. I doubt the AG will put up much of a fight since it’s a losing cause. The County should offer to preserve some seniority or other benefits and things will go more smoothly.

  3. Things are getting so corrupt and the level of trust in local government in one-party California is so low, that pretty soon we’ll have to send a posse to an old folks home to find a retired Republican politician with alzheimer’s who’s too addled, too disoriented, and too friendless to be corrupt.

  4. It seem fairly obvious to me, Becerra must be working on behalf of Russian Oligarchs that have control over the states one party system, and want to bankrupt the state with the affordable care act.

    I think we need a Congressional inquiry and a special prosecutor to look into Russian Collusion of all Democrat candidates in the State of California.

  5. Becerra is just asking for county to show the same level of quality will be given to patients by county. The county has strick rules for local agencies contracted with the county. Why are they not OK with AG asking for the same at the state level?

  6. Zoe Lofgren, it is in the best interest of the people that when they report to you local law enforcement engaging in watching child porn, local law enforcement, judges, and other officials covering for them, you do something about it. You not only ignored such reporting; you also supported the no recall of a highly corrupted former judge. Don’t cherry pick; JUST DO YOUR JOB! I may run next election. You are only in your office because no one runs against you! My reason for running will say: I am just want this bitc…out of her sit!

  7. Save St. Louise Hospital Call to Action

    Morgan Hill, San Martin and South County Region
    January 25, 2019

    A group of South County Activists and concerned residents are holding a rally in support of Santa Clara County’s purchase of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The CA Attorney General is demanding that the County meet certain conditions of the Sale or he will block the sale and ST. LOUISE WILL CLOSE IT’S DOORS!

    Please join us at St. Louise Hospital 9400 No Name Uno – Tuesday January 29th at 4:30 PM to send a very loud and clear message to the CA Attorney General that we urgently need St. Louise to stay open to care for the over 100,000 residents in South County that are already underserved regarding health care.
    We are including contact information for our elected officials that need to hear from us regarding why we need to have a hospital in our Region. These e-mail and letters will be delivered to the Attorney General’s Office:
    Attorney General’s Office: Susan Duncan Lee, Assistant to the AG: [email protected]
    Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office: 916-445-2841
    Assembly Member Robert Rivas (AD -30): 916-319-2030
    Senator Bill Monning’s (SD-17) Office: 916-651-4017

    Contact: Swanee Edwards 408-219-7739 or Claudia Rossi 408-603-3664 with questions

    • NOTE: Please contact Assemblymember Robert Rivas’ District Office at (831) 759-8676. The input will be collected and forwarded to the AG’s office from there.

  8. I am a democrats and support AG. The county should prove they can provide quality service to the community. It feels more like the corrupted supervisors are trying to increase the items on their Bios. This is so typical of local politicians. Last Friday, Jan 24, 18. Cindy Chávez and Ash Karla were at the Human Traficking Conference in San Jose. The people presenting their Bios spent more time speaking than what any of those spent talking to attendees. Then, they took the press photo and left. These are the photos people will see on their facebook and press PR. Attendees were not given opportunities to ask questions. Thus, the event appeared more of a Press show for these two politicians, DA office, and others sponsoring the event. Of course these piliticians have other community agencies support. Has any one seen AACI, Gardner, and other agencies websites and press pictures? You can see the San Jose major, judges, supervisors, and others on the same pictures. Then, these agencies receive favors from these politicians including awards for their staff to flash online. The Democratic Party is fracmented into different fractions. The main two are those of the democratic elites pictured above and those that are and work for the people. It is also divided by authoritarians who expect all democrats to be pro-choice…The other part of democrats understands that people have the right and freedom to be pro-choice, pro-life, straight, gay, religious, atheist…and that all deserve to be respected and protected by the law. These are the democrats that will recall you, indict you, and audit its own base. These are the democrats for the people not for the corrupted democratic Elites. AG, do not give them a break; ask them for measurable evident of their capability to provide quality service to the most vulnerable individuals in our county.

  9. Hey county supervisors, another explanation for AG’s lack of trust in your “good faith” efforts is the fact that local people have engaged in writing letters to AG, Kamala Harris, and former Gov. Brown about DA not prosecuting cases due to influence of those involved, county supervisors covering for each other’s corruption and abuse of power, and corruption in the justice system. You should be aware that the AG, Kamala Harris, and former Gov. know more about your corruption than your colleagues and others sitting and standing by you. I personally sent at least two letters to AG, Harris, and Brown about local corruption, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, local judges, and other officials. When you give deaf ears to the complaints of locals just because your friends are involved, you give them no option than to write to the state people. Susan, if Martin Luther King Jr, will be here, he will vomit you all. You represent the oppression he by himself and supported by the people fought, equality, non discrimination, access to education… You Susan and your other supervisors friends represent the corruption of the elite that opresses those with no power. Weren’t you part of the Women’s Policy Office controlled by Cindy Chavez? Now you are a supervisor? The same power seeker club. Then we have San Jose Inside and the SJ M News not being the watch dog of government but the puppies of the local politicians! DEMOCRATIC RESSISTENCE ON LOCAL CORRUPTED OFFICIALS! Our eyes and ears are every where…next to you, by you…we welcome democrats, republicans, and all others committed to fight local corruption! If you are not planning on becoming a politician, you are a member.

    • > When you give deaf ears to the complaints of locals just because your friends are involved, you give them no option than to write to the state people.

      OH WOW!

      I’ll bet the county supervisors are shaking in their boots.

      People are so upset with Democrats that they’re going to vote for . . . er. . . ummm . . . . OTHER DEMOCRATS!

      So,there!

  10. What’s the AG up to HMMMM, You all must have missed the “Kamala Love Boat” interview this week.
    Free Heath Care for all, it would be a total waste of local funds to buy hospital when we can get them free after they go bankrupt. The Federal Government will pay for it all with money from George Soros, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet and Apple and Facebook and GOOGLE.

    Isn’t that just great?

  11. KAMALA FOR THE PEOPLE! KAMALA FOR PRESIDENT! Go to her website and donate today even $5 dollars will be highly appreciated. You can also buy a very cool t-shirt and other items. Thanks and God bless you for your donation!

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