Monterey County Weekly: “Governor Signs Alejo’s Bill Limiting Hospital CEO Benefits”

NUHW In the NewsAugust 20, 2013

By Sara Rubin, Monterey County Weekly

Most of the outrage over former Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System CEO Sam Downing’s payout dead-ended when it came to audits and prosecutions.

After a criminal investigation, District Attorney Dean Flippo declined to file charges. State Auditor Elaine Howle reported Downing’s retirement package, including $2.1 million he got while still on payroll, was within fair range of industry standards.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Downing $5,000 for a conflict of interest when it came to a hospital deposit in 1st Capital Bank. 

A new bill, signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, will prevent hospital districts from paying retirement benefits to administrators while they are still employed, as happened in Downing’s case. 

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, authored AB 130 after he requested the state audit.  

“This legislation is a straightforward approach to prevent pension double-dipping problems and overly generous retirement benefit promises,” Alejo said in a statement. “This new law will improve the transparency and accountability.”

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. 

Earlier this year, Alejo’s AB 2180 took effect, which requires public health care districts such as SVMH to record benefits—including retirement—in writing if they’re different than the standard package available to other full-time employees.