Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District’s Measure W Heads to Defeat After Today’s Special Election

Medical Feature

Image used by H.p.frei via Wikimedia Commons

Measure W which proposed to raise money for a new hospital by charging a $170. parcel tax for 45 years on qualified parcels of land in Southern Humboldt was likely defeated today. The unofficial election night results have only 44.28 % of the voters saying yea while 55.72% said nay. Two-thirds of the voters would have had to have vote yes in order for the measure to pass.

The election had the distinction of requiring a judicial ruling over Scotty McClure’s odiferous objections to the pro argument on the ballet. McClure’s one sentence rebuttal stated, “Insert Fart smell here →_ W _ _ !!”

Humboldt’s County Register of voters had tried to disallow the sentence. But a judge ruled McClure, who is also a school board member for Southern Humboldt Unified School District, had the right to express his opinion. (See Lost Coast Outpost for more on the stink.)



  • Typical, growers tout themselves as a positive part of the community but when it impacts their large wallets they suddenly change their tune.

    • Lefthanded Lunatics

      This was not about weed, or growers. It was about a hospital district that has lost the support of it’s community.

      SHCHD has failed to provide the services the population desires, and this 11th hour attempt to tax and borrow proves that the administrators and board members at SHCHD are completely out of touch with the needs of the people in the district.

      To be fair, if you go to a board meeting, you will find few concerned citizens there. At the board meeting, though, the members will be talking about the same things they were discussing 5 years ago.

      When SHCHD develops a reasonable plan to raise funds, a plan to deliver services, a plan to stop exploiting and mistreating it’s employees, a plan to stop playing politics with the community, and a plan to deliver care to all while employing highly qualified locals in a continuous manner instead of hiring and firing and staffing with locums and travelers, SHCHD may see the community developing support.

      Good service, good outreach, good leaders, these will bring patronage. Hiding in the dark, scheming, making disingenuous statements, poor HR practices, failure to evolve, and maintaining attitudes couched in distaste for the current community, will bring only the demise of this district.

      • Lefthanded Lunatics

        OH and please call SHCHD today and ask them to clean up all those damn “Yes on W” signs!

      • You do realize that they hire travelers because few professional medical staff want to actually live there, don’t you? Rural areas have difficulty hiring enough medical staff. It is the same across the country. St. Joseph can’t hire enough staff and they have a brand new facility. Oh well, who needs it. The Republicans who govern us are busily destroying our health care system and reducing access for the masses anyhow.

        • Taurus Ballzhoff

          SHCHD, when it does get perm staff, fires them indiscriminately, and bans them for life. The local prejudices against new folks operating here are extreme, and de-constructive. An operation so bent on killing itself, hating outsiders, and rejecting competent help, will never succeed.
          These are your public employees! You pay them! You are supporting a shamefully shortsighted, dangerously incompetent and wasteful organization that refuses to change!

          Like Jimi said: Power of love not love of power…


          Blaming stuff on Trump or Repubicans is ignorant. Goobsterdam is full of folks who paint themselves as hippies when they are actually Republicans.
          St Joseph’s is a great example of what is wrong with, and unsupportable in a healthcare operation.

          For decent local care, drive to Willits or Ukiah. In Humboldt, in 2017, good luck!

        • They ran off a Doctor whose family the hospital is named after and guess what his daughter was graduating and coming home to be a doctor but Harry Jasper Took the Docs salary and forced him to leave in disgust . The reason W falied is because of a shitty hospital with a board who is not qualified to run a hospital and a new director trying to scam the community

        • If only we had a doctor who lived here, better yet one whose family name was on it.

      • L…I suggest you and all the local trash talkers do one thing. Google any hospital you like and read the reviews. And wonder how the opinions of care can vary so greatly. I am glad the hospital is there and will continue to use their services. You and your pals can drive to Willits or Ukiah anytime the road is open. In fact I wish you would. And as for firing employees ….you have to be a serious screw up to get fired in this job market.

        • Spoken like a retired person who knows nothing about the current environment. You know better Dave! There were years where Harry and Kent screwed everyone over, with 60% turnover several years running. You shouldn’t think those people were all “screw-ups”… It IS easy to find employment in other facilities though, and eventually SHCHD will have a very poor reputation as an employer. I would certainly warn others not to work there!

          Meanwhile, I wouldn’t take my DOG to Jerold Phelps Hospital. It’s dirty, staffed with under-trained and incompetent folks, and serves a population of indigents. No thinking person would use this facility! It’s a bad joke on healthcare, staggering and swooning in place while waiting to close. Only the SNF keeps the doors open, and those folks are dying to escape!

          Good luck to SHCHD, they will need it. Good luck to Garberville, who needs it? Take that love it or leave attitude and feed it to the homeless; that attitude will preserve you in your dissolution but it won’t get you a new hospital!

          • My aren’t we bitter. We won’t miss your dog. You the one who got canned and has been trying to get rehired ever since?. Your opinions are just that,,,opinions. The fact is the E.R is staffed with more competent providers than the bad old days when well meaning locals did their best with inadequate training. People have been writing off the healthcare district for decades and they are still there whether you guys like it or not

            • They absolutely would not be there with out the parcel tax that they told us was for earthquake retrofit and they used the money for operating expenses .The exact same scam they tried to pull again .How much this special election cost us landowners who pay the parcel tax .Dave

              • Dave: Trust, Respect, Loyalty, Patronage, these things are not cheap. They have to be earned.

                SHCHD has not earned my loyalty. SHCHD has failed to earn patronage and respect.

                SHCHD is not an honorable organization. We are unable to trust SHCHD.

                And so, SHCHD has not earned our support.

                Thanks for your service , Dave.

      • Veterans friend

        Thank you

      • Over the grammar

        Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes. How hard is that to remember/learn?
        It’s = “it is.”
        Its = Belonging to “it” as in “It was about a hospital district that has lost the support of its community.”

        • Lefthanded Lunatics

          Dear grammar person:

          Ya ya ya, ya ya ya, you lost me after the word “Possessive”.

          Language and the use of language, this is an art form. Rules are made to be broken.

          This is not third grade. This is RHBB.

          Thanks for the grammar lesson.

  • It appears that many prefer death to taxes.

    • Let’s see if they’ll dump all their dope in the bay to protest taxes.

    • Bring out your dead

      I for one, along with others I know, are happy that the measure did not pass. At least you will only suffer death and NOT taxes at the hand of SHCHD.

      Redwood Rural is your friend and will find a good way to pick up the slack, respect your personal choices, and have a willingness to hire qualified local employees and administrators.

  • Recall Estelle

    Why wasn’t part of the ‘cannabis tax’ allocated for the new hospital or our schools? WTF? Being an unincorporated area will always haunt So Hum. No representation at the county level. So sad.

  • Lefthanded Lunatics

    There will be a candlelight vigil for SHCHD, which died from criminal negligence following an attempt to fool SoHum property owners into believing that SHCHD could somehow manage to steal and lie it’s way into collecting $74,000,000 over the next 45 years and then BORROW $40,000,000 from the USDA on top of it! The Hospital District failed in it’s last minute scam to bury itself in debt and characterize itself as capable of managing the public’s funding, failed in it’s attempts to mislead and misdirect the public with the dirtiest SoHum election in history, and once again, the busted little hospital district has ultimately failed to honor the public’s trust.
    The cowboys and whack-a-doodles in charge at SHCHD have once again failed to do the job they were elected and hired by the public to do, which would be operate a medical facility transparently, honestly, profitably and in the public interest.
    The backstreet, dirty little hospital was unceremoniously closed May 3rd, following the failure of measure W. Services will follow.
    The building will be deloused, treated for mold, and turned over to Humboldt County to house trimsients and homeless for the season. In November 2017 it will be surrounded by an orange plastic fence, forever.

    • What’s the solution?

      • Lefthanded Lunatics

        Some equations are not able to be solved using existing methods.

        We need a new approach.

        I suggest:

        Replace the board. The whole board. Find members with Healthcare backgrounds.

        Replace all administrators.

        Replace the HR director.

        Start raising funds, soliciting donors, applying for grants. A grassroots campaign to build the new facility will result in an organization valued by the community.

        SHCHD should STILL apply for USDA funding.

        If SHCHD can’t change, or operate profitably, it should be turned over to Professional Management.

    • LL – funniest, wittiest, and most accurate comment I have ever read on a local board, and there have been some good ones over the years.

  • I am glad that the people didn’t respond to the fear and lies being spread by the SHCHD and by wellborn and his cronies.To bad jasper wasn’t here to go down with the ship.funny how there was not one no on w sign and still this measure lost

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      Oh, Harry went down with the ship all right! He left you a gigantic dysfunctional mess, and a community full of former employees. Guess what, we don’t forgive SHCHD, and I don’t need a sign for that!

  • Mike Thompson

    All of the naysayers use many words to describe the so called ills of the hospital. What i have not seen is a single example of the general accusations made by you naysayers.
    When are you people going to educate us with EXAMPLES and FACTS validating your claims.

    • Veterans friend

      You might have taken the time to read….
      Many many examples have been presented, right here.

    • Are you really asking your not from the community if you have to ask .Thousand of stories just ask around

    • You want facts Mike? How about, in 45 years of living here, I had a doctor at that hospital for the first 35 years – first Old Man Phelps (said respectfully), then Doctor Bill, who got me through Lymes due to early recognition and aggressive treatment, then Mark, who became a personal friend.

      Since Mark left, I have not seen the same doctor twice in a row. Not Once! We have rotating Doctors, rotating PA’s (with a few exceptions, and rotating nurses (again, with a few exceptions). This level of staff turnover is a classic example of bad management.

      A rural hospital deserves better, and we had better until the Jasper. We landowners already are paying a special tax to support the district -and I go to Eureka for my health care now – at least I get to see the same Doc and NP each time.

      There is a lack of professional management – Measure W lacked clarity, and was not focused – it was way too open-ended on what the funds could be spent for, and the board and administration seems to have a huge edifice complex. The current board focus of buying the old school district building and land, even if W fails, is
      another example – over a million as a down payment on a facility? The old building/current playhouse would need to be torn down just for openers. There is a million and a half plus.

      I have served on a number of non-profit boards, and I have a hard time grasping how the current board seems to have zero awareness of fiscal discipline.

  • Wow- You guys in SoHum had a special election just for this?! How much did THAT cost?

  • Happy it failed. Really tired of being nickle and dimed to death with special assessments like the JC campus that never was.

  • Michael Hoffman

    Dear Voters
    I want to thank everyone who took the time to read and understand the issues regarding Measure W. The results of the election are clear at many levels. I personally believe a town hall style meeting should be held to establish a small group of individuals that can convey to the healthcare district board the desires of SoHum. Together we can move forward and improve healthcare in So Hum.
    It is likely that Measure W will be placed again before the voters this Nov. in a slightly modified version. Without public input it is likely the measure will again fail.

    • It only took 60% of the 30% of all qualified voters to shut them down. This is clearly not a good environment to pass a property tax measure. I would like to see SHCHD try this a few times more without making significant changes to the board and the administration. I will still be around to oppose this organization.

      Nice try. Play again.

    • Ah yes Mr. Hoffman. When Mr. Cherney walked onto the board without winning a single vote and having no knowledge of history of the institution and immediately inserted himself into an ongoing conflict between Mark Phelps and the administration Mr. Hoffman who knew even less than Cherney became one of “Cherneys Chumps” . Looks like he’s still at it. Could be because his wife ran for the board and came in dead last. Been trying to wreck the place ever since.

      • Lefthanded Lunatics

        What on earth are you talking about? Cherney?

        The hospital supporters are so off the wall and rooted in the past! Who cares what happened years ago? Mark Phelps is gone. All that is OVER!

        We want to hear what happens NEXT! How will SHCHD improve?

        Folks who oppose the district need to organize better, although this election shows that SHCHD has a poor image and not much support in SoHum.

        Without significant changes and a new approach, SHCHD will fail. Period.

      • Darryl Cherney

        Dave Kirby is a pathological liar with a corrupted soul, at best, who loves to hear the sound of his own bellowing. I’ll leave it that nothing he said above is true either except that I was appointed to the board because no one wanted to be on it. I knew plenty about the District. I am seasoned at politics. And Dr. Phelps approached me because the administration was spiritually killing him and driving him and his wife out, which Kirby certainly did not oppose.

        Kirby is one of those board members who made sure the $1 million heist by the administration was not investigated by the authorities. So the problem with the district is that its mission for the last 18 years appears to be covering up a million dollar heist rather than providing healthcare. The million dollar plus interest debt payments are still being made and that’s factually what the measure covers, in large part. He, the current board and the administration are still covering up the illegal collatoralizing of our public building to 6 Rivers Bank. Gotta wonder why. The statute of limitations is probably up, Dave. But some of the people involved in that heist still work there.

        Seven years before I joined the board when the place went bankrupt due to this corruption, Dave’s cronies got rid of our birthing room, surgery facilities, most of the doctors and so on. Blaming Mike Hoffman and I on the utter collapse of the district is a farce and factually incorrect.

        The Lefthanded Lunatics is also correct. Even if there was any truth to what Dave said, that is the past. The hospital and clinic provide somewhere between substandard and deadly healthcare. The people here know they don’t want to put their money into an vile institution. If an actual competent doctor or two who lived here was provided, people might see things differently. In other words, provide actual healthcare and the community will vote for the tax. I was one of two who championed the last parcel tax, ironically with Kirby. Kirby did the printing. I did the field work–interviews, putting up the yard signs and letters to the editor. As soon as the $125/parcel passed, the board, against my wishes began firing the local workers and allowing the district to fall apart further. I did everything I could to stop the exodus of staff, which stood at 33% a year. That wasn’t because of me. That exodus continues 7 years after I left the board. But hey, Darryl and Mike Hoffman and his wife, who never sat on the board, are to blame for everything.

        I was chair and creator of the pre-natal committee and the 215 committee as well as a member of other committees. I felt that providing pre-birthing services would not only be necessary but a great outreach to the community to say “we care.” And my proposal in 2009 to make the district the first ever government run medical cannabis dispensary would have also brought much love, support, and notoriety to the District. My first action on the board was to move the meetings from 9 am to 1 pm so employees and the public could attend during their lunch hours. I fought tooth and nail to keep Dr. Phelps, who served 3000 patients. How much did you speak up for keeping Dr. Phelps, Kirby?

        Additional solution would be to float a parcel tax that would be spent exclusively on buying homes in Redway and Garberville to provide transitional habitat for permanent staff. Besides the fact the place is a horrid place to work, anyone who comes here in any profession finds there is nowhere to live.

        Dave is a real estate agent who helps run a children’s gift and costume shop. These are hardly the credentials of someone who knows anything about healthcare. That’s OK but I wouldn’t be throwing so many stones, Dave.

        • Lefthanded Lunatics

          Darryl: Thanks for the lengthy explanation.

          The past is still over. Everyone take a deep breath and step out of the circle…

          We need a decent plan by folks not so emotionally involved. Operating a district hospital is usually very challenging, and not just due to staffing problems and corruption. The stories that come out of SHCHD are not unusual, and get echoed all over Northern CA. There was always some CEO who stole, and hey, go out to Cedarville and meet the folks who never tell the truth about ANYthing. Just the way people are…

          Start over. Get some new faces in admin, and this means all of the old administrators! It’s time for a new approach, a new way of thinking, a new plan.

          SHCHD is a horrible place to work. It’s hard to find housing. Still, the needs of the population must be addressed, and the services needed by your community must be supplied.

          SHCHD can’t be allowed to do a poor job any longer. SHCHD admin and staff work for the public. It’s not a club. The board can’t manage it, replace them! District Hospitals are supposed to serve the people of the district, not the whims of the board and administrators.

          I don’t have a short solution. It takes a lot of people working together to have a hospital, so let’s stop living in the past and do something constructive, aside from trying to tax, borrow and spend our way into even more trouble.

    • In this election I merely voted as usual, I along with the majority of the community that did vote voted against this tax. After reading your post it is appalling how out of touch you are! You plan to try again in Nov in a “slightly modified” version? Your response has actually encoured me to get involved the next time your “slightly modified” version is up for voting. If that envolves time, effort or money I am more than willing to contribute whatever I can to make sure you can’t swindle the public for anymore. Perhaps it’s time for you to have a career change, or at least a change of location you do it at?

    • Can’t Open Door move in and expand its offerings to be an emergency center, as an alternative provider. The tax on parcels sounds outrageous. Trinity has $110 per parcel. The $170 for 45 years is a ton of money. Too much to ask the voters to take on. A $125 for 25 years would have sounded cheaper and doable.

  • Covelo or busted


  • GREAT NEWS!!! It looks like more than a few are worried about being able to taken on another tax burden for decades. Try being on a fixed income & coming up with just another tax year after year.

    When that arrogant person said they will buy the new property even if the measure failed should have been a BIG warning. Then he said they would go for another ballot measure.

    This area can’t afford this extremely high ,extremely long term debt load in today’s economy no less in a uncertain future.

    • Exactly, a hospital at an enormous expense to serve the relatively tiny population of Southern Humboldt makes no sense at all.

  • Veterans friend

    One thing they could have done was to allow only property owners who would be obligated to pay this tax to vote on this tax. And one vote per parcel. My son owns 6 properties in so hum and would get no benefit at all from this tax as he lives in another state.
    I imagine the defeat would have been epic.
    As it is I am glad it failed. And the district should be prohibited from any kind of “do over” for at least 5 years

  • There’s one grocery related business that was a huge proponent of Measure W that I will boycott. I travel to EKA once a week and will patronize ENF or The Co-Op instead of contributing to this business’s profits. I’m not mentioning any names.

  • WOW! This community sounds as polarized as national politics! A very sad situation!! My two cents: We need a hospital. RRHC is not it. We have two health providers in a small community. That makes no economic sense. The current SHCHD board seems to be operating in a bubble of non-creative thinking. There are more ways of financing a hospital than taxing property owners. We, as community members, owe it to ourselves to attend their board meetings and help them figure this out.
    IMHO we need to have one health care organization, not two. We need to find creative ways to spread the cost wider than a property tax. We are too small a community to build a new hospital at the whim of state regulations designed for multi-story buildings, so some legislative consultation and action may be necessary. And we need quality administration for the health care that we have. Turn out folks. Speak up. Don’t wait for this same stupid proposal to come up for another vote, and another, until enough of us fall asleep that it it passes.

    • Lefthanded Lunatics

      We do need a hospital, but it needs to be run by different people. A complete wash of current administrators would be a good place to begin. A totally new board would also help. Someone else in HR, Nursing, Operations.

      SHCHD needs to go forward. If they keep doing everything like they did in 2005, they will get the same result. Healthcare is extremely competitive. The old model can’t compete.

      You have a new community. Get a new approach.

  • I appreciate what you are saying, Lefthand. And the idea of a community forum to hash out an agreed path forward could be very helpful.

    This community CAN AFFORD a hospital. ($45M sounds ridiculous though). With TENS OF MILLIONS OF (currently, untaxed) DOLLARS running through this community, there IS the money for a good, modern facility!

    All of the residue of the dark aspects of SHCHD needs be addresses. Yet, we can move ahead, with persistence and heart. This community NEEDS a local hospital!!

  • Trillium Hummingbird

    When a publicly owned entity goes this wrong, the public needs to take over!

    SHCHD did not have HALF of the votes it needed to carry the mess called Measure W. Only 36% of eligible voters, though, even bothered to cast a ballot! This is a pretty poor example of a citizenry being involved in government! BUT: it also shows how low the regard for SHCHD currently is in this community!

    In a region with few public entities other than schools, and with almost no traditional medical care at all, I would think that there would be a bit more support and involvement with and for the ONE facility available!

    Folks in SoHum need to organize, guide SHCHD, and create a future which includes local healthcare options, in addition to the highly regarded federally funded facility in Redway.

    Watch RHBB for news relating to this concept. More to come…

  • You know what ‘we’ need?

    We need to get money out of medicine.

    What has happened/is happening at SHCHD is just a small example of what is wrong at the national level.

    Single payer NOW!

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