CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Can an Ad Hoc Committee Undo Keiro Deal?

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and exhale to get rid of bombast and b…s… Now let’s see where we stand as far as the disposal of Keiro is concerned.

Fact: The California State Attorney General’s Office has approved the sale of Keiro to Pacifica Companies LLC, despite a last-minute outpouring of protest by a number of naysayers. The AG endorsement was the final hurdle with ownership transfer set for early 2016.

Fact: The okay, a *requirement when a for-profit proposes to take over a non-profit, is to protect the public interest; in Keiro’s case, the Japanese community. [*which was the downfall of Ensign Group, the ill-fated initial prospective buyer.]

Fact: An Ad Hoc Committee Against the Sale of Keiro has unexpectedly been formed. Although odds are against its success, the hastily organized group held a town hall meeting last night (Tuesday) at Centenary United Methodist Church in a show of public pique.

= * =

The matter of being fair and transparent is in the eyes of the beholder. CR2S has held that the powers-that-be failed to keep the community properly informed of the whys and wherefores behind the decision to sell. The rebuttal is numerous publicity news releases, pronouncements and information sessions with families and relatives. But the question persists: Why the community was not apprised of the shaky future confronting Keiro and given an opportunity to voice objections. Admittedly The Rafu did not do a good job covering the story early on. [On top of which there are too many who don’t read the paper.]

Let’s take a pass on the debate over transparency and zero in on what the buyer has agreed to that earned the AG’s stamp of approval. Terms of agreement listed below are commitments guaranteed for five (5) years (italics mine).

(a) All current residents will be in a “preferred” classification, meaning top priority in case of transfer or displacement;

(b) There will be a one (1) year moratorium (on rent?);

(c) All current community outreach programs will be continued;

(d) Medi-Cal and Medicare patients will continue to be accepted;

(e) All current program activities will continue in a “sensitive manner,” specifically including continuation of Japanese menu selections in dining hall;

(f) All sale proceeds will be earmarked for the benefit of older adult Japanese;

(g) A Community Advisory Board (CAB) will be formed to monitor operations;

(h) All staff employees will be rehired at current level and position;

(i) Donor Recognition Wall will be retained;

(j) Leasing agents (North Star and Aspen) will support and maintain all existing volunteer programs.

Pacifica, Keiro and the CAB must all sign off on a summary report that must be submitted to the AG upon completion of the five-year agreement.

= * =

All of the above information was presented by President Shawn Miyake last Wednesday at a meeting with Keiro Retirement Home residents. While most of the report is self-explanatory, there are three, (b), (f) and (g), that require elaboration.

In the case of (b), CR2S fails to note where and why there will be “a one-year moratorium.” [Sorry, my bad. Probably regards rent hike.] As for (f), the burning question highest on the public’s mind is how the $41 million will be spent. The answer given was inadequate and hollow, to say the least. Also of great import was (g), the Community Advisory Board. First and foremost is how the CAB will be implemented, its responsibilities and manner in which members will be appointed. And how many.

There was an open-mic period giving residents an opportunity to quiz Miyake further. When the makeup of the CAB was asked, Miyake replied it was “to be determined.” Another gave the CEO an opportunity to refute lack of transparency claims and repeat the company line of why Keiro had to be sold. The greatest surprise was no one pressed for a more detailed explanation of how the $41 million will be earmarked.

CR2S chose not to pose any questions. The president had been invited to meet with residents to give (his) update. Common courtesy called for inquiries based on tenant interests, not mine.

I guess the audience was more interested in a potential rent hike than a death dirge.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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