In a room filled with spectators and cheerleaders for a number of non-profits the Mount Diablo Health Care District (MDHCD), produced a flurry of activity last week that has not been seen by that board in years. Further, the audience witnessed one of the rarest voting splits in probably seven years as Chairperson Grace Ellis and Frank Manske actually voted together as a minority, as the majority pushed on to fund a number of community based social service agencies (CBOs).
In the course of the single agenda item reporting on the request for funds from a group of CBOs, the new majority—Nick Adler, Jeffrey Kasper, and Roy Larkin, the three newest Directors—rejected a request from Ellis-Manske to delay things till January 2012. Then the energized majority charged through five proposals culminating in a true breakthrough in directing District funds to several community organizations.
Grants were made to:
$50,000 for SABH headed by Doctor Harmesh Kumar to work with homeless in collaboration with a new organization, NorCal.
$50,000 as a matching fund grant to RotaCare in Concord, the medical service for the uninsured sponsored in large part by the efforts of local Rotary Clubs.
$40,000 for Wellness City, a program for high school and middle schools involved in growing and serving healthy food.
This follows up a previous grant of $2,500 to Cops for Kids.
LaClinca had requested funding for their operation in Concord but the board unanimously agreed to delay the request until the completion of the construction project on Oak Grove in Concord. Additionally, a $43,700 grant for New Connections was tabled till January.
Pressures to dissolve MDCHD continues, however. Yet, the three new board members appeared determined to make good on responding to health needs of the District.
While some may cynically try to characterize recent efforts as a public relations ploy, but with the oldest members opposing action and the newer ones forcing the issue, may help dispel some of the grumblings of critics.
There was additional news concerning changes in the expensive health care packages doled out to Chairperson Ellis and former member, now City Councilman of Concord: Ron Leone. Grace Ellis announced that she was restructuring her coverage package in line with application and coverage with Medicare Plan B that could greatly reduce the expense and exposure of the District. A reliable source also indicated that Ron Leone who shared the $30-40,000 a year benefit health package with Md. Ellis is under pressure to possibly shift to a different plan that will cost the district possibly $6-7,000 a year.
While public doubts remain that these recent actions and restructuring of overhead costs can overcome past inaction, newly funded non-profits and their many clients in the District are celebrating this weekend.
At an earlier meeting of Concord’s Community Services Commission (CSC)—which divvies up some of Concord’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-HUD)—120 non-profits applying for funds were told of 14-25% cuts to the overall pool of funds and, in some cases, a projected 50% reduction in the number of grants. Against this news, MDHCD was a shinning spot of good news that will help cushion the blows to CBOS serving at-risk clients in the months to come.