Thu09182014

Saying goodbye to Measure M: Editorial

Back in November, El Camino Hospital District residents voted in favor of Measure M, a proposal to cap the salaries of the hospital’s top executives. Under Measure M, CEO Tomi Ryba would be limited to earning no more than twice the salary of the California governor (currently $330,000). Ryba makes more than twice that at $695,000 annually.

Implementation of that vote of the people will likely never come to pass. The reason? Money – or lack thereof.

Hospital officials, faced with what they saw as the prospect of a decline in quality of leadership because of the salary cap, filed suit against the filers of Measure M – hospital workers Kary Lynch and Laura Huston. Both are members of Service Employees International Union. Hospital officials cannot sue the union because it did not sponsor the measure – Lynch and Huston did.

The hospital claims that Measure M is unconstitutional. As part of the lawsuit, the court sent a letter to the defendants asking for a response within a 30-day period. Because the backers (the union itself is not getting involved) don’t have the financial resources to offer a response, the judge can simply invalidate Measure M after the 30 days. That time is up, and all that’s left is an official ruling from the court. What started as a furious campaign with thousands of signatures collected and lots of knocking on doors has ended without even a whimper.

We have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, the will of the voters has been thwarted because one party can afford legal representation and the other cannot. On the other hand, voters were misled by a campaign of misinformation that was fueled by union members unhappy with their negotiations for a new contract.

We stand by our endorsement to vote no on Measure M. The public was told taxpayer money was footing the bill for Ryba’s salary and others, when, in fact, all personnel funding comes out of the hospital’s operating budget. The board determines those salaries based on comparison with other hospitals in similar socioeconomic areas and of similar sizes. The board aims for the middle of the salary range, neither the high end nor low end. So, yes, Ryba could potentially make more under market demands.

The good news is that the hospital can now move forward, without distractions, doing what it does best: providing quality health care for its patients.

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