Town Square

Post a New Topic

Sequoia Healthcare District and MTK Communications

Original post made by Jack Hickey on Dec 6, 2012

In September of 2009, the Sequoia Healthcare District entered into a $4,200/month contract with MTK Communications, a.k.a. Don Shoecraft, for public relations consulting services. Web Link
In June 2011, MTK began collecting an additional $500/month for website services with no alteration to the contract.

The General Ledger of the Sequoia Healthcare District for the past 4 years, which I obtained pursuant to two Public Records Act Requests, shows these and other large payments to MTK for Communications, including annual reports to the community. A sample can be found here: Web Link
The General Ledgers can be found at: Web Link and Web Link

Invoices from MTK for preparation and mailing of the annual reports do not include billing from the printing service chosen by MTK. I have personal knowledge that this years annual report was printed and mailed by Direct Marketing Solutions, a non-union shop in San Francisco.

According to Don Shoecraft,
"Preliminary estimate of the cost per piece of the 2012 Annual Report self-mailer is 61 cents delivered, inclusive of printing, design and production, list acquisition, mail handling, postage, sales tax and all other costs for 39,390 pieces. This compares to approximately 60 cents per piece for the 2011 Annual Report."

I am awaiting copies of the invoices for this years report including bills from Direct Marketing Solutions to MTK.

My last communication with Sequoia Healthcare District CEO Lee Michelson follows:
"Lee, your response to my PRA request is not complete. Staff e-mails related to the annual report, itemized invoices referenced by check numbers, drafts of the annual report including transmittal correspondence, 2008 and 2009 annual report information, etc.

Also, invoices for MTK related to the annual report, including those related to check #'s
5556, 5557, 5568.

Correspondence with Direct Marketing Solutions, the firm which printed and mailed the annual reports, is included in my request."

Comments (13)

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm

For those of you who wonder how government spending gets so out of control, the Sequoia Healthcare District provides you with a perfect, real-time example. PAY ATTENTION.

This is a district that was approved and formed exclusively to oversee a hospital. It no longer owns that hospital.

So it does other things. Like increase medical insurance benefits for its board members. Like hiring a public relations firm.

Pretty much anything but supporting the hospital that it no longer owns.

One of those directors, Jack Hickey, has the courage to point this out to voters. Instead of being hailed as hero, he is vilified.

California's university system, which is supported by taxpayers to provide excellent higher education for our children, now has a primary objective to provide jobs for teachers and administrators. What else explains their new found preference for out-of-state students who pay higher tuitions? Is that the objective.

People, you're not paying attention.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The wise cause that Jack Hickey pursues is a great service to all of us. In order for him to succeed in closing down this long defunct tax consuming institution we must not only support him but we must also find others to elect to the board of the Sequoia Healthcare District so that Hickey will have majority support for his long sought closure of this institution.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

Thank you, Peter. I also thank the Almanac for providing the Town Square Forum. And to those who read my postings without comment, I know that many of you have spread the word and that's VERY important and appreciated.
I have been exploring the process of dissolution via the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). It is formidable. Witness the recent failure to dissolve the Mosquito Abatement District despite the efforts of Martha Poyatos, Executive Officer of LAFCO. I will be posting a new topic on the political realities of the dissolution process.
I will keep pressure on the District to make their operations transparent. I ask readers to do the same.
The Sequoia Healthcare District website contains the e-mail addresses of Directors. See:Web Link
Let them know how you feel.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

The following was handed out to Directors at the December 5, 2012 meeting which had an agenda item on the subject.

Comments Regarding Annual Report: Lee Michelson
1. The annual report highlights district activities over the previous 12 months to keep taxpaying residents who financed district activities informed as to how their tax dollars are being spent and services available to them if needed.
2. Production of the annual report begins after the close of the previous fiscal year and after budgeting and goal setting have been accomplished, with the objective of producing and distributing the document as soon as practicable. Planning, design, production and distribution typically takes 3 to 4 months with mailing in October. The 2011 annual report was mailed the first week of November.
3. Mailing dates, content, formatting and all other aspects of the annual report are established independent of the Board of Directors and without consideration to any directors point of view or the board's election cycle. Legally district publications cannot feature candidates, endorse candidates or promote an individual board member, caveats that are strictly adhered to in all our publication
4. Since space in the publication is limited the annual report to the degree possible does not duplicate information available on the district website such as the budget, water reports, exhausted program detail or item by item lists. The publication is used as a vehicle to direct readers to the district website.
5. Various annual report format have been tried. The newsletter style used this year was used previously, is used commonly and is very effective.
6. Cost of production was 61 per piece, inclusive of all costs including postage, consistent with previous publications (the 2011 per piece all-inclusive cost was 60 per piece). This is a fully budgeted item.
7. All board members receive a preview of the annual report at the same time. Board members are not asked for content suggestions as this would favor one board member over another. The annual report is an administrative function, not a governance or policy function.

Apparently, since it is fully budgeted, the CEO does not have to account for details of the production.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm

little know fact, after the 2000-01 Grand Jury recommended the dissolution of Sequoia Healthcare District, that District hired Adrienne Tissier of Bay Relations to create the public education piece to misinform the public as to what a wonderful and caring organization it is and why remain giving out the taxpayers money. This is the same Adrienne Tissier who brought all of us Measure A and failed to mention her relationship with Seton Medical Center.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

Invoices from MTK for the 2012 Report to Community have been received as part of my PRA request. They can be found here: Web Link

Notables:
1. Invoice 1337 dated 11/7/12 shows $1,250 for meeting and planning, $3,050 for design and redesign of self-mailer, and $350 for Proofing, preflight and file preparation. Apparently services provided by MTK, but not included in MTK's contract dated 9/9/08 Web Link

2. Invoice 1340 dated 11/14/12 shows 11x17 four-panel four-color one right two letter folds, 80# cover, 41K quantity; Printing $7,017.30
That's only $0.1712 per piece!
Another $1,100 was billed by MTK on that invoice for Proofing, preflight delivery and job supervision.

3. Invoice 1341 dated 11/15/12 showed $2,853.81 for list acquisition, all zips, 39,391 records, and;
$2,664.45 for Record conversion, standardization, tape output, setup, fog wafer sealing, inkjetting, sort, tray, deliver and forms.
It is not clear whether MTK performed these services or contracted them out. But, since the printer used was Direct Marketing Solutions, they likely did most of the work. I am awaiting copies of their bills, paid by MTK.

Today, I sent the following to CEO, Lee Michelson:
"Lee, as a Director, I would like to know what contractual arrangements have been made with MTK for services billed by MTK, but not covered by the original contract executed by Dev Mahadevan on 9/9/08." and,
My request for copies of underlying bills from the printer, paid by MTK has yet to be satisfied.
"On November 16, 2012 you stated "I have just forwarded several emails regarding annual report. I will forward new invoices for 2012 by Monday." Where are those invoices? And, if those invoices from MTK were submitted with bills from the Printing/Mailing house, which I believe to be Direct Marketing Solutions, please include them. If no bills accompanied the invoices, I suggest that you request them from MTK."


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I have still not received the requested information regarding contractual arrangements made with MTK for services billed by MTK, but not covered by the original contract executed by Dev Mahadevan on 9/9/08, nor copies of underlying bills from the printer, paid by MTK.
I have requested the Conflict of Interest Form 700 for "consultants" which is required unless specifically waived in writing by the Board President. I was told by CEO, Lee Michelson, that no form has been filed.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm

The Conflict of Interest Code of the Sequoia Healthcare District requires all Directors, the CEO and Consultants to file a Form 700. An exception for consultants can be made as follows: "With respect to consultants, the President of the Board of Directors may determine in writing that a particular consultant is hired to perform a range of duties that are limited in scope and thus he is not required to comply with the disclosure requirements described in these categories. Such determinations shall include a description of the consultants duties and, based upon that description a statement of the extent of disclosure requirements the President of the Board of Directors shall forward a copy of this determination to the Board of Supervisors of the county of San Mateo. Nothing herein excuses any such consultants from any other provisions of this conflict of interest code."

To my knowledge, no exception has been filed for MTK Communications.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

After a "learning" experience with the US Postal service, I finally received the name and address of the holder of the permit used to mail the Annual Report. The address, 1275 Fairfax Ave 94124 is the same as that of Direct Marketing Solutions Web Link as I expected. The name on the permit is Business Service Network. Web Link
I have yet to receive information I requested regarding services performed by these companies in the preparation and mailing of the annual brochure. MTK billed the District for these services, but invoices from the printing/mailing houses have not been provided.

And, a question remains as to whether MTK has a conflict of interest.

The District seems to have a policy of obfuscation, when transparency is needed. For all I know, the printing could have been done in China! Information lacking on Direct Marketing Solutions website suggests that they are a non-union shop.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 31, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Yesterday, I visited the District Office to review some files. One of those files contained a copy of an Estimate - Revised dated Oct. 11, 2013 from MTK. Job Title: Sequoia Healthcare District 2012 Annual Report. The MTK file from which this was obtained had no Original Estimate nor a Request for Quote from the District with a job description.
My original PRA request asked for such information.

SHCD meeting on Feb. 6, 2013 includes Item 5.c. "Discussion On Consultants And Conflict Of Interest Code" See:Web Link


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Factoid: There are 6,618 voters in Menlo Park who are NOT in the Sequoia Healthcare District! I know at least one of them who received a brochure in the mail.
6,913 brochures were mailed to Menlo Park residents. How many of these were sent to residences outside the Sequoia Healthcare District?


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

At the Wednesday Board Meeting, I submitted the following in support of Agenda Item 5.c. "Discussion On Consultants And Conflict Of Interest Code" See:Web Link

To the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors
from Jack Hickey
Elected Director, Sequoia Healthcare District
2/6/2013
Agenda Item 5c.
The Conflict of Interest Code of the Sequoia Healthcare District, as adopted in it's biennial review at the Districts August 1, 2012 Boardmeeting, requires all Directors, the CEO and Consultants to file a Form 700. Provision for exempting consultants from such filing requirement, included in that Code, follows:
"With respect to consultants, the President of the Board of Directors may determine in writing that a particular consultant is hired to perform a range of duties that are limited in scope and thus he is not required to comply with the disclosure requirements described in these categories. Such determinations shall include a description of the consultants duties and, based upon that description a statement of the extent of disclosure requirements. The President of the Board of Directors shall forward a copy of this determination to the Board of Supervisors of the county of San Mateo. Nothing herein excuses any such consultants from any other provisions of this conflict of interest code." To my knowledge, no exception has been filed for MTK Communications, and as a Director, I see no justification for such an exemption.
Lee Michelson has forwarded a memo from Mark Hudak reciting alternative "consultant" definitions from code sections and regulations. Those definitions are not all inclusive. His memo, at best, informs so that a written exemption pursuant to the District's Conflict of Interest Code can be made by the Board President. Absent that written exemption, it is the CEO's duty to obtain a Form 700 from MTK Communications.
The District has a $4,200/month Letter of Agreement for Public Relations Services with MTK Communications, dated 9/9/08, which defines them as CONSULTANT. Sequoia Healthcare District pays MTK Communications an additional $500/month to manage the District website. The District also entrusts MTK Communications with an additional expenditure for publication of the Annual report which is currently budgeted at $25,000 yet has spent $29,459.84 in this fiscal year. No contractual documents cover these additional services. I have requested documentation of these expenditures, both as a Director and later in a PRA request. Response by the District has been grossly inadequate.

After suggestions were made that it was uneccessary for me to read my statement, I prevailed. The statement is in the audio recording of the meeting. You will also hear comments from district counsel, Mark Hudak, asserting that a written statement from the President is not required. CEO Lee Michelson mentioned the memo from Mark Hudak, which he forwarded to me, and said he would send a copy to the other Directors.

Here is the content of that memo: Web Link

The Sequoia Healthcare District apparently does not wish to shine a light on it's PR expenditures.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Thanks to a heads-up from San Carlos Mayor, Matt Grocott, I was able to attend the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council meeting this morning to hear a presentation by Sequoia Healthcare District CEO, Lee Michelson. At the PowerPoint controls was MTK's owner, Don Shoecraft. Also in attendance was SHCD staff member Pamela Kurtzman. This was clearly a life support effort by the dying District, and not the type of communication envisioned by the Grand Jury.

The presentation was filled with the same deceptive, self-serving content typified by the Glossy mailer sent out 2 weeks before the November 2012 election. See: Web Link
Handed out at the meeting were surplus copies of that brochure. (I wondered what would become of the 1600+ extra copies printed up by the District)
I requested a copy of the PowerPoint presentation from our CEO so that I might accurately share its content with the public. The last time I made such a request, it was denied based upon a claim that it constituted proprietary (MTK) information. At the present time, it has been referred to Board President, Jerry Shefren for his directive.

Stay tuned.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Gourmet hot dogs, sausage food truck coming to the Peninsula
By Elena Kadvany | 9 comments | 2,841 views

Allowing Unauthorized Immigrants to Learn and Earn Legally Will Help the Economy
By Steve Levy | 33 comments | 2,271 views

Finding mentors in would-be bosses
By Jessica T | 0 comments | 1,368 views

Menlo Park's Youthful Future
By Paul Bendix | 6 comments | 1,347 views

All This Arguing . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,306 views