Family Health Fiasco: Board of Supes President Lets Organized Labor Write His Letters

In an email from January 11 of this year, Kathleen King expressed concern to Working Partnerships USA policy director Bob Brownstein that the city of San Jose will stop funding the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) after Measure A passed in the 2012 election. As executive director of the the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, King realized this would have an adverse effect on the foundation’s ability to continue operations in the face of declining donations and enrollment of low-income children.

Needing six of 11 council votes for the city to approve funding, King noted to Brownstein that certain councilmembers—Ash Kalra, Kansen Chu, Xavier Campos and Don Rocha—were already in the bag, while Sam Liccardo and Madison Nguyen could be pressured for support since they are both expected to run for mayor in 2014.

“I am worried about the city council,” King wrote. “I am not sure we can get support from 6 of them. For sure, we could get support from Ash, Kansen, Xavier, and Don. We may be able to get Sam and Madison due to their political plans. Is it a good idea to get their position whether they would support or not. Can we strategize and can we do it soon?”

King and Brownstein then coordinated on a letter to be sent to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and the City Council. The letter, which King asked Brownstein to edit, presented for a compromise to drawing down Children’s Health Initiative funding instead of the band-aid approach. That letter was apparently then given to county Supervisor Ken Yeager, who two days later wrote Reed and the council a letter nearly identical (i.e. word for word) to the one drafted by King and Brownstein.

Here is text of the final letter:

Dear Mayor Reed, Vice Mayor Nguyen, and Members of the City Council,

As you may know, I recently delivered my State of the County address, in which I called for a renewal of our collective commitment to providing medical and dental coverage to all children in need. To ensure that the Santa Clara Healthy Kids Program fulfills this promise over the next decade, we must renew the partnership between the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara that has historically supported this critical program.

As you know, the City of San Jose currently provides $2.1 million to cover roughly 2,000 children annually,  and Santa Clara County provides $3 million to support approximately 3,000 children annually. I propose that the City of San Jose agree to fund the Healthy Kids program for the next three fiscal years, with the level of support diminishing in the second and third years of the agreement as follows: $2 million for Fiscal Year 2013-14, $1.5 million for Fiscal Year 2014-15, and $500,000 for Fiscal Year 2015-16.

Should the City agree to such a proposal, I will request that the Board of Supervisors fund the balance of the cost of insurance premiums for San Jose children in each of the next three fiscal years, as well as the full cost of insurance premiums for the following seven years that Measure A sales tax revenues are available. In addition, the County would continue its annual $3 million appropriation to Healthy Kids.

I look forward to discussing how we can move this proposal forward to continue our partnership on behalf of the children of our community. If your staff has any questions, they may contact my Chief of Staff John Mills at ( 408) 299-5040.

Ken Yeager
President, Board of Supervisors
Supervisor, Fourth District

“Family Health Fiasco” is a series based on public documents released May 17, 2013, after a court decision by Judge Carol Overton. The documents shed light on how the South Bay Labor Council interacts with local nonprofits and government agencies. Click to read more about the coordinated campaign activities between the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation and local labor leaders.


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