Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday weather

Wet and overcast this mornign, although some sun peeked out of clouds while we had some breakfast. Lot of rain yesterday. The NWS estimates 3.85 inches in Idyllwild. that's about 1/6 of annual average in 3 days.

1033 AM PST SUN DEC 13 2009

The Keenwild RAWS station recorded 2.6 inches while north at Vista Grande station, 3.7 inches were recorded. some cars had snow on roofs this morning, that must have occurred around 6,000 feet or higher.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sat weather

Rained a lot in past 2 hours, Keenwild received another .32 inches for total of 1.13 since Thursday morning. Here the latest and similar NWS note

213 PM PST SAT DEC 12 2009


Still no snow, just lots of rain. from the NWS

Since Thursday, Dec. 10 at 11:10 a.m., Keenwild has received a total of .81 inches of rain and Vista Grande has received about 1.05 inches of rain.

bring your umbrellas or raincoats.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rainy weekend, may end in snow

From the National Weather Service report about 2:15 a.m., Friday, Dec. 11.

right now it's just light rain.





Monday, December 7, 2009

IFPD Dec. 8 agenda

Here's the agenda for tomorrow's IFPD meeting. this will be the first meeting with the new commissioners — Pete Capparelli, Jeannine Charles-Stigall and Dr. Charles "Chip" Schelly. Thank you for you service to former commissioners, Glen "Mac" McWilliams, Earl Parker and Lloyd Vaught.

Tomorrow's meeting begins at 5:30.

The meeting is held at the Idyllwild Fire Station, 54160 Maranatha Dr. The Board may approve or take action on items contained in the discussion Calendar.

Swearing in of new Commissioners

Call to Order:

Roll Call:

  1. Riggi – Killingsworth – Caprarelli – Stigall – Schelly - Kunkle – Coopersmith

Pledge of Allegiance:

Consent Calendar:

1. Approval of minutes for Special Meeting of October 26th (No Quorum)

2. Approval of minutes for Special Meeting of October 30th

3. Approval of minutes for Special Meeting of November 4th

4. Approval of minutes for Regular Meeting of November 17th


1. Presidents.

2. Vice Presidents.

3. Treasurer.

4. Chief .

5. Safety Report.

6. Idyllwild Firefighters Assoc.

7. ICFA .


As Included

Action Items:

1. Appointment of Vice President.

2. Rules and Regulations 110

3. Collection of new board members identification documentation (Homeland Security Requirement).

4. Bank resolution new signatory approval on accounts.

Discussion Items:

1. Reply to Mr. Smiths questions posed at the November 17th board meeting.

2. Zoll equipment update.

3. Discuss the benefits of board training sessions.

Citizen Comments:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weather? SNOW. W. W . w. .w . .

Good Morning Idyllwild and those lower,

The weather is fall with a whiff of an approaching winter. We had rain in Strawberry Valley last night, but up high, probably above 10,000 feet, certainly above the Saddle, we can see white stuff — snow.

To lifelong SoCal'ers, the white stuff is not sand, no kicking the face, because it's density is to low. It's snow and melts at the beach.

so come on up and vist for the holidays, enjoy a warm fire, good meals, a great paper and a stupendous Christmas Tree lighting next weekend.

Hemet HS Girls' Volleyball

Congratulations to the Hemet High School Girls' volleyball team. They were very good this season and with a nucleus of Idyllwild raised athletes their prospects appear very high for the 2010 season.

They went to the CIF tournament quarter-finals this year, There they encountered an imposing team from Troy Fullerton. They were beaten 3-0.

On Tuesday, they won the first round in the playoffs, but the trip ended quickly last night.

Next year, returning players include Gina Drell, Hayleigh Friemoth and Rosie Robinson who all learned skils at Idyllwild School. In addtion, power player Taylor Griner will make an impact, too.

Below are some photos from Tuesday's game, taken by Michael Drell, Hemet High School and soon the world beyond.

Gina preparing to receive serve.

Hayleigh preparing to block a return.

The Volleyball team's rooting and cheering section! Go Dawgs!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


It's very helpful when taking action shots to have someone with you who understands the procedure. This morning at the Health Fair, I was trying to get a pic of Supervisor Jeff Stone giving a flu shot.

My wife, Rita, stopped a gentleman from walking in front of the camera and I was very appreciative for her help. Photographers have their eyes attached to the viewfinder and peripheral vision is liimited.

So how do you like this shot? And guess who is in the middle of the foreground! She's beautiful and always will be, thank you Joshua Kadsen.

Conor O'Farrell

Did you see Monday's LATimes?

Local blogger Conor O'F, noteworthy associate, of the esteemed Frank Ferro, was mentioned in a review of his latest, hope not last, stage performance.

The good news is Conor's future is probably unlimited. The LAT review noticed his talents as many of us have also, "O’Farrell betrays middle-aged disappointment in curmudgeonly sternness". As long as filmdom and the theater needs a grouch, Idyllwild will be well represented.

The play goes for a few more weeks, so rush on down and pay to see the local misantrope. Otherwise, you can communicate with him directly on "
• Frank & Conor: Bad Advice in the Morning"

I also want to mention, that I saw a preview of Steven Speilberg's and Tom Hanks' follow-up to the "Band of Brothers". "The Pacific" will be out in the spring. But the preview starred Conor O'F. He's ubitiquous. I won't reveal anymore "Doc Con".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

High cholesterol medicine may fight flu

Here’s some interesting and, perhaps, beneficial news for those you, like me, who take cholesterol lowering statins. They may improve your odds against the flu.

The results of a recent study, “Role of Statins in Preventing Death among Patients Hospitalized with Lab-confirmed Influenza Infections”, were presented Friday at the annual Infectious Diseases Society of America conference in Philadelphia.

The researchers said, “There is growing evidence that statins have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects that could reduce the risk of mortality from severe infections.”

They examined the role of statins in reducing mortality in adults hospitalized with lab-confirmed influenza. They analyzed data collected via chart review of patients ≥18 years for two influenza seasons to evaluate the association between receiving statins during hospitalization and death.

Patients who received statins were more likely to be older, male, white and Asian, to have underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and to have been vaccinated against influenza that season. Age and cardiovascular disease were associated with increased odds of death, while administration of statins during hospitalization was significantly protective.

They concluded “Statin use may be associated with reduced mortality in patients hospitalized with influenza.”

Well, we’ll see what future research produces, but maybe there’s a two for one benefit here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Goldspotted Oak Borer

I promised Doug this posting a week ago. I’m sorry Doug.

The TC has written two stories about the threat of the goldspotted oab borer — now found in San Diego County.

The insect plants its larvae in several species of oak. After several generations, only years in oak time, the time will die. Think of the damage that bark beetles create in pines.

So far the oak borer has not been found in Riverside County. While it can fly, it’s best form of migration is stealing a ride on a four-wheel vehicle.

If you buy oak fire wood in Riverside County or on the Hill, you should be sure to ask the seller where he obtained the wood.

There is no inspection or certification program available to guarantee that the insect will be contained to the county to the south and not illegally immigrate here.

The way we can police and safeguard our “Hill” is to be vigilant and careful ourselves. You’ll have to inspect and look for the “D” shaped holes. If it’s split, perhaps on the edge near the bark you might observe the larvae galleries.

As the temperatures drop, many entrepreneurs sell their firewood across the street from the Town Crier. Unfortunately, we are not the “wood” police, despite what you think!

I have asked several vendors what kind of wood they have although I didn’t see any oak. And was surprised to learn that almond is a good hot burner.

I’ve also inquired about their source. Riverside and Fallbrook are the most frequently cited areas.

The Forest Service plans to make more local oak wood available from thinning and hazardous fuels removal projects. Check with Hal Carey, the local forester (909) 382-2946. Or call the Cal Fire foresters at the Mountain Resource Center on Franklin Drive (951) 659-3337.

And please not, this villain's name is "Goldspotted", not "goldenspotted" — a mistake that we made several times in those published articles!

P.S. 2:30 pm
This afternoon, a vendor is offering a half cord of oak for $130. He says the wood is from north of here, between Idyllwild and Banning — Poppet Flats. That's what he says.

Hemet High Schoo Football

Trick or treat? Treat came early for the Hemet High School football team last night, Well before the dawn of Halloween, the varsity soundly defeated Perris High School 33-7.

The fireworks were for the crowning of the Homecoming queen, abut could have been justified for the team’s first home victory in a year.

In a battle of once triumphant teams, Hemet clearly dominated Perris. The halftime score was 26-7. Hemet’s “breaker” offense kept the ball on the ground and used much of the clock.

The defense had one of its finer nights. Two Perris fumbles were returned for touchdowns, including one off a field goal attempt.

Hemet’s frosh unit beat Perris’s freshmen 27-12 earlier in the afternoon. And to cap a successful homecoming week, the junior varsity won Thursday 7-6. And "Dawg" was happy!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

IFPD meeting with their auditors

the planned Monday morning meeting with Smith Marion & Co., IFPD's auditors, has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov 4. A revised audit for years 2004 through 2006 were received this week and the differences between year-ending and year-beginning balances have been corrected.

David Marion and staff are supposed to be available to answer questions.

November 04, 2009. (10:00 a.m.)

The meeting is held at the Idyllwild Fire Station, 54160 Maranatha Dr. The Board may approve or take action on items contained in the discussion Calendar.

Call to Order:

Roll Call:
1. Mcwilliams – Vaught – Parker – Riggi – Killingsworth – Kunkle – Coopersmith

Pledge of Allegiance:

Consent Calendar:
1. None


1. Presidents
2. Vice Presidents
3. Chief

As Included

Action Items:
1. Smith Marion review of prior year audits.

Discussion Items:
1. None
Citizen Comments:

As Requested at the October 30, 2009 special meeting please have all questions regarding the audits prepared and delivered by Monday November 2nd 2009.
Questions which are received without prior notice may need to be answered at a future date.

Executive / Closed Session:
1. None Scheduled.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to evaluate the VHS deal?

If voters reject the proposed sale of the VHS to local physicians, the doctors will have the right to purchase Menifee Valley Medical Center (MVMC) for $29 million. Some might argue that the voters have an incentive to approve the sale while doctors are better with its defeat.
One statistical indicator is the cost per hospital bed. MVMC has 84 beds, which computes to $345,200 per bed. The VHS Web site says Hemet Valley Medical Center has 343 beds, but even Dr. William Cherry, VHS president admitted there is seldom enough nurses to fill all the beds.
Nevertheless $162 million for 427 beds is $379, 400 per bed, a better deal for voters. But the fewer beds HVMC has the higher the per bed price, thus doctors would do better with just MVMC.
Of course, the $162 million price is the Press Enterprise estimate and includes the $55 million of unsubstantiated claims. If that is deleted from the costs, the price per bed is only $250, 600.
So how one evaluates the sale, depends upon how many beds one assumes for HVMC and how reliable and accurate is the estimate of PHH claims totaling $55 million.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The protagonists and antagonists

Every drama has protagonists and antagonists, the audience can choose their own sides. Below we see Holly Maag, local attorney and chair person of CSA 36, listening intently to the allegations of a local Belgian restaurateur, who blamed the whole evening on the Town Crier.

Pete Capparelli, former CSA 36 chair, smi
les graciously and listens to Bill Brown posing questions to ICRC about its implementation of the recreation contract with Riverside County. The county pays ICRC the costs of providing and managing local recreational programs. "Hey, he's not asking us."

Speaking for ICRC is the always deferential and eloquent local realter Vic Sirkin. However, he and Chair person Chris Singer, let Jim Ludy answer the bulk of the financial questions. Singer, who was offended by Brown's tone of voice, said "I don't know the answer, I'm just a volunteer and an innkeeper!"

The final player in Thursday's melodrama was Bill Brown, CSA Operations Manager for Riverside County's Economic Development Agency. Despite Brown stating he received several phone calls asking questions about the operations, several people continued to insist that the Town Crier stories created the rift on the ICRC board and were responsible for focusing Brown's attention on Idyllwild and attracting him to this meeting, his second trip to Idyllwild in a month. Do you wonder if County personnel get "per diem" expenses when they come here?


More than 50 people attended the joint County Service Area (CSA) 36 and Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC) meeting with Bill Brown, CSA operations manager for Riverside County's EDA. People from Idyllwild and Pine Cove were out to hear the discussion.

Annamarie Padula, Pine Cove resident, raises questions about the role of Pine Cove residents in the planning of the community center, especially if they will be invited to share the long-term operational costs.

Matt Kraemer, Idyllwild School principal, spoke out supporting the recreational programs success in offering children's activites rather than simply roaming the streets.

Robert Priefer explains his preliminary ideas about the use of the community center site and how planning might proceed.

Many local celebrities were in audience, below we see noted local blogger Conor O'Farrell sans chapeau, but sill able to express and to pontificate to the audience's awe. Bravo!! Encore!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

IFPD budget meeting

The next IFPD budget committee meeting will be 10 a.m., Sept. 21 at the Idyllwild Fire Station.

AGENDA FOR BUDGET Committee Meeting
Sept. 21st, 2009. (10:00 a.m.)

The agenda follows:

Call to Order:

Roll Call:

Pledge of Allegiance:

Consent Calendar:

Action Items:
1. Review and Discuss 2009/2010 IFPD Budget.

Discussion Items:
1. As listed above under Action Items.

Citizen Comments:
1. None Scheduled.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is the VHS deal a good investment?

Welcome to JP’s blog. This is where we take off the gloves and the typing gets worse.

Again I have to stress, the current bondholders were the principal whiners to the bankruptcy judge. Despite VHS’ overall improving finances, the monthly results were still losses. The bondholders urged the judge to revoke bankruptcy protection and let the creditors loose on the district.

Basically, the terms that were revealed Wednesday, simply shift the debt to PHH from VHS. That is a simplification, but not far from the final solution. How will PHH pay its new debt if the hospital is still losing money or barely profitable?

Doctor after doctor spoke last night. They all implored the board to approve the deal and let them protect the valley patients by owning the hospital. Nearly all made to sure to mention the times they worked 18 or 24 hours in the hospital.

Nearly every doctor posed a binary choice. Either sell the hospitals to them or let them be sold to cover the “Wall Street bondholders” threats!!

This conjured images of men in waxy moustaches and top hats sitting in clubs and dividing up the world. If these robber barons sold the hospitals they would be closed.

Why would the buyers pay millions for hospitals and then close them? I guess to renovate Hemet Medical Center into a high rise hotel or condominium unit.

The other threat to the community was the looming shadow of Kaiser — a single payer healthcare. Dr. Fred White offered that connection to national politics. By the way, they also feared Kaiser would limit their access to hospitals.

Rejecting PHH was tantamount to selling to Kaiser Permanente, who has not made any informal bids. And that means not enough beds.

It’s true southwest Riverside County has a lower bed per capita ratio than the rest of the state. But HVMC and MVMC have a lot of vacant beds available, which aren’t filled very often.

Which brings one back to how will the doctors afford this deal? Dr. Alex Denes, the PHH spokesman, said 130 physicians have “signed up.” He did say PHH would release a list of members after the agreement is accepted.

But he did indicate that only 54 of them have made a financial commitment.

So back to the profit margin, Denes says PHH will save $300,000 monthly because they won’t have the cost of bankruptcy on its back. That still not enough for the secured bondholders.

The profits have to come from increased revenue because PHH has agreed to keep substantially all of the current employees. Of course, “substantially” was later defined to mean “most”.

Denes did announce that PHH has aligned itself with Catholic Healthcare West, the group that manages St. Bernadine Medical Center in San Bernardino. He said this will help PHH offer expanded services such as cardiac and orthopedic.

Meanwhile existing services such as emergency room and obstetrics will stay open for at least 5 years; but only “to the extent that it is commercially reasonable and viable to do so in the context of the then applicable health care environment.”

I’m not sure what the “health care environment” will be over the next five years, but I bet the economic environment will continue to make it difficult and costly for people to get adequate care. So the demand for emergency facilities will grow.

Denes suggested that PHH might establish some neighborhood clinics to treat non-severe cases and try to shift some demand away from the emergency rooms.

When asked if Idyllwild might be a location because of its distance from HVMC, he conceded the possibility. But PHH has not done any planning to enable them to say with authority where these clinics might be located.

Two final thoughts that may affect the deal in the long term:

1. There is talk and some action in halls of Congress to limit Medicare payments to physician owned hospitals. That would have a real effect on revenues — negative. Dr. Cherry, VHS chairman of the board, says that will never happen.

2. If the proposed new hospital were completed, how would that affect admissions to HVMC and what about the eventual costs to rehab it for seismic strengthening.

But on doctor was so cocky he said he was willing to invest his life savings in this deal. Right.t.t.t.t.t

Friday, September 11, 2009

Town Crier hosts its British friend

So, this week the Town Crier hosted Robert Stiby (right), from England's Tindle Newspapers, Ltd. Stiby led us in many toasts.

He's a very nice gentleman. Cheers to you!!

Sometimes we need Sandy (left) to keep us focused on the news.

But then being at the Town Crier not all fun and games, is it Kathy (right)? She wants a dog to go with all those treats she shares.

What's Becky drinking? You have to call ahead for glowing drinks. We'll miss Buddy and Becky, too.

We also celebrated Marshall's birthday. Boy was he happy!! Don't ask me to explain the ketchup. And I share an office with him, does that explain some of my ramblings?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Town Hall Softball Championship

Kudos to the Ajax team and great game to Pacific Slope.

Last night, I watch the first game of the three game series for the Idyllwild Softball Championship.

Ajax won 13-12 or 14-13, but the game went 9 innings and Kirsten Torrez his the game winning homerun in the top of the ninth (guess she had a long drive back to Hemet and didn't want to do it in the dark). Pacific Slope was behind much of the game, but tied it with 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh.

No score in the 8th. With two out and none on base, one strike, Torrez dropped her shoulder and popped it up. The ball kept going higher, the leftfielder turned and ran toward the fence, the ball kept going further. the leftfielder stopped, and the ball fell on the bank beyond the fence.

Great game. Even the guys in blue did okay.

Second game is Friday night @ 5:30 p.m.

Highway Work

Good Morning you late risers.

This is the parade going through the middle of Idyllwild this morning, Sept. 10.

Over the weekend, i thought it would take CalTrans the full 4 weeks to pave from the lower portion of Saunders Meadow Rd to the entrance to town. But this week, CalTrans has really picked up the pace.

they are just doing the northbound (that's the right lane going toward Pine Cove) lane right now. At some point, they will turn around and come back through town.

I expect by tonight they will be well past the entrace to San Jacinto St. Park.

Drive carefully.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jazz in the Pines

OK, who's trying to sneak into the Harry Pickens performance?

Charlie McPherson (left) and Daniel Jackson (right). Do great saxophonists tell jokes during a performance?

On a hot Saturday afternoon, how many dads take their kids to a jazz festival?

Finally, it didn't take Idyllwild Fire Commissioner-elect Chip Schelly (right) long to receive his first lecture on how to improve the fire department.

Morning ashes

I received this from a friend this morning, right after I returned from the morning briefing. It was at zero six hundred hours! Wasn't bad — it was an opportunity to see a sunrise. I haven't done that since I was in school and didn't go to sleep until noon.

So I offer this through from my friend, Star:


Ashes fill the August sky, like snow flakes falling upon the rooftops of mortals who are too fond of living close to the ground. The streets and plazas abound with mortals who view the spectacle of smoke and ash and fears and prayers in the dramatic play of the theater of their collective lives.

The smoke glows red, preventing the light of a billion stars.

I thought of the spring that follows this procession of days…and I foresaw the first green sprig to rise up out of the blackened soil. A sprig of a life force that cannot be suppressed by flood or fire or calamity imposed by men or gods or galaxies. Be it the emergence of the humble dandelion or the epiphany of the sacred lotus, somehow I know that all of the science and myth and religious truths declare that from the seed of this one sprig can engender all of other life…. and you… and me… and all of our dreams that, at the same time, are wild and wonderful as the August fire.

A.Star August 29, 2009 6am

Friday, August 28, 2009

FS fire restrictions and road closures

Additional Fire Restrictions and Road Closures on the San Jacinto Ranger District

Due to fire activity, and to protect public health and safety, effective immediately, San Jacinto Ranger District officials are implementing additional fire restrictions preventing wood and charcoal fires across the entire district, including developed sites.

Additionally, three forest access roads will be closed in the northwest portion of the district, including the San Jacinto Truck Trail (5S07), the Control Road (5S06), and the Indian Mountain Truck Trail (4S21). The road closures prohibit public entry and will last until the current fire conditions subside.

For further information about the closure or fires currently burning on the San Bernardino National Forest, contact the Fire Information Center at (909) 383-5688.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cottonwood Fire photos

Photos by Jenny Kirchner

MDP advice to Idyllwild & Pine Cove residents

Photo courtesy of Emily Kaulitz

At this time we have no more current information than is available via the Town Crier or WNKI or observers on various points around the area (Inspiriation Point, above Pine Crest, the outer area of Poppet Flats, etc.) who are reporting what they’re seeing.

What INancy Layton, MDP president, asks each of you to do WHO ARE ABLE, please print out this list and visit each of your neighbors, letting me know the following information:

1) There is a fire burning east-north-east of Cranston Station at the bottom of the Hill as you approach Hemet.
2) The USFS is in charge of this fire and is releasing information as they can.
3) Two sources of current information are the Town Crier Website’s Breaking News and WNKI (1610-AM)
4) IF THEY DON’T ALREADY HAVE THEIR “GO BOX” READY, NOW IS THE TIME. Likewise, get any animals they might need to evacuate confined and able to move them quickly should the evacuation order come.
5) AT THIS TIME, WE HAVE NO ORDERS TO EVACUATE IDYLLWILD, PINE COVE, OR MOUNTAIN CENTER, but it is still a good time to begin preparing.
6) If the vehicle they’re going to use for evacuation does not have a full tank of fuel, go fill it now! Vehicles that break down because they’re out of fuel along an evacuation route will be pushed out of the way so as to not impede the progress of the others along the route.
7) MDP is on the job.

Cottonwood Fire Pix

Doris Lombard, Mountain Center, has generously shared these photos which are in sequence as the Cottonwood Fire grew in size.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More headlines

The headline police are active today and they aren't nitpicking our small local bretheren. These come from the "Grey Lady" herself! It's early in the morning, but my favorite aunt often took her medicine early in the day, too.

Both of these stories detail a tragic and deadly event. In no way, am I spoofing the untimely and unexpected loss of a loved one. Death ripples out across families and communities. While we know we will eventually share this procedure, we are rarely conscious of its proximity.

Nevertheless, the writers of these headlines produced an ambiguous statement. That's my target. And believe me writing a headline is often harder than writing the story because of the space limitation!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bad nurses!! Good Physicians!

The Valley Health System directors say they don’t want to sell the district, but their creditors are forcing them to take this position. But keep in mind many creditors are the local physicians.

Well, if you sell something don’t you try to maximize the gain? Most of the VHS directors said, that is not their objective. They have a commitment to keep the hospital open. They want what’s best for the community.

They listened to the creditors about first a “dual track” than the focus on a sale of the assets. In July, they agreed to give the local docs an exclusive right to negotiate for 90 days.

During the discussion, one of the physicians arguing for the exclusivity explained that one of his children had won the Riverside Spelling Bee while attending Hemet High School. This proof of his commitment to the community because he could have sent his child to private school.

So is the gift a spelling bee champ worth the insider’s track on a multi-million dollar hospital deal?

Here’s what those same creditors have to say about the hospital’s finances.

  • “The District’s historical indicators from FY 2006 through FY 2009 demonstrate a steady decline in financial and operational performance”
  • “Acute inpatient volumes at the Hemet and Menifee hospitals have been steadily declining for many years”
  • From FY 2008 to FY 2009, the District acute inpatient discharges fell significantly — 13.3 % at Hemet Valley and 9.8 % at Menifee Valley

Ask yourself who controls which hospital you might go to? Does you doctor recommend a facility or do you get on line and research it?

Have patient volumes been declining because VHS doesn’t have enough bargains! how about an appendectomy and gall bladder laparoscopy for one price! Or half off a caesarian section!

Patient volumes are in the hands of doctors who have been sending patients to other hospitals, forcing a bargain basement sell-off, but with little capability to keep the doors open after they buy.

The July volume at Hemet Medical Center were slightly worse than June while Menifee showed improvement it is about 1/3 the size of Hemet.

  • The picture is no brighter for the District's consolidated outpatient service lines. On a consolidated basis, outpatient surgeries declined 20 %
  • Inpatient surgeries decreased by 14.3 % in the past year.

If patient volumes have been declining for more than two years, why will they change now? Steven Wade. Attorney for Physicians for Healthy Hospitals, says the local docs now realize their incomes may be at risk if the hospital closes.

"A precipitous drop in both inpatient and outpatient surgeries gives me cause for grave concern," says Martin L. Cohen, financial adviser for the bondholders.

He also opines that the district and certain members of the medical staff are battling for control of the hospital revenue streams and ability to determine which physicians have local privileges.

Notice nobody asks about the patients, but staff, nurses and aid staffing has been significantly reduced in the past two months. Must be their fault patients don’t come to VHS. Doctors spend long hours treating patients, too bad they don't get paid. so many are near homeless.

VHS Director Vinay Rao summarized the situation for the board when they gave the doctors the exclusivity agreement.
"We are community leaders. Our charge is to community … an important part of community is the physicians. We have criteria."

Well have you seen the criteria, have the leaders felt like sharing with you? But they gave the criteria to PHH.

Even Judge Peter Carroll, the bankruptcy judge, asked Gary Klausen, the VHS bankruptcy attorney, if PHH had the financial ability to close if the hospital were sold in the vicinity of "fair market value". Klausen had to reply, "not yet! There is some internal interest and some external, but no ability to close sale yet."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is PHS better for VHS than PHH?

While the Valley Health Systems (VHS) directors continue to meet with the local physicians, another offer has been delivered to board President, Dr. William Cherry.

Prime Healthcare Services, Inc (PHS)., Chino, CA, sent a letter of interest in acquiring VHS. Several pages of the letter are shown below. If you are interested in the whole missive, just send an email (no donations necessary).

Actually, Michael Sarrao, vice president and general counsel for PHS, was present at the VHS board meeting on July 27. He told the board then that PHS was interested in the acquisition and would be submitting a letter.

Notice that Thomson - Reuters has designated PHS in the top ten hospital systems in the U.S. that seems like a good organization to run a local hospital.

Universal Health systems submitted a letter of interest about two weeks ago, so the board has at least three groups interested in its assets.

Nevertheless, the directors felt it was in their responsibility to open exclusive negotiations with Physicians for Healthy Hospitals (PHH). The local docs seem to rely on their longevity and the threat of a mass exodus if a firm purchased the VHS assets.

While some physicians may pack and move, it is hard to believe that many will. It is already clear that the valley won’t become a medical wasteland. Businesses will always fill a vacuum where the demand exists. Only a month ago, ADR Associates announced plans for a new hospital in San Jacinto.

If the existing physician corps decides to vacate, a new hospital and equipment should attract a replacement cadre of new and younger physicians.

Since the board has shown no interest in comparing offers and trying to maximize the benefit to the district’s owners — you the voters — we’ll have to wait see the results of the Aug. 18 bankruptcy hearing and the confidential deal being negotiated with the docs.

I have to acknowledge that the founder of PHS is Dr. Prem Reddy, who has been know to be invovled in controversial medical business deals. Nevertheless, PHS has garnered some national recognition.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Today, John Marshall, Valley Health System legal counsel, forwarded two documents regarding the potential deal and negotiations between VHS and the Physicians for Healthy Hospitals (PHH).

Earlier this week, he responded to our pubic records request letter and charge of a Brown Act violation. Essentially, he argued that the board can establish a special or ad hoc subcommittee to deal with these types of issues. The subcommittee does not have to report as a Brown Act body.

Keep in mind, if that is true, nobody else can be part of that subcommittee including PHH members, otherwise it is opened to the public. I’ll attach his letter tomorrow.

But today, he did send the criteria, which the board will use to evaluate the PHH offer. These are below. Please note, they are dated, July 10.

That is only 11 days after the June 29 board of directors meeting where they collectively decided to pursue the “dual track” of exploring the possibility of selling the hospital as well as continuing to demonstrate improved financial health.

Gee, in 11 days they had already narrowed the “dual track” down to one “tie”.

At the July board meeting, the board agreed to grant PHH an exclusive negotiating position for 90 days. They approved this despite two different parties announcing their interest in the district’s assets.

Days later, a national hospital management firm, Universal Health Services, wrote the board and expressed their interested. I’ve asked for confirmaion of this offer and any others, but haven’t heard from VHS yet.

That’s 3 separate parties besides PHH.

Do you think the directors are meeting their fiduciary responsibility to the district’s constituents? If PHH is the high bidder, VHS could use the additional funds to care for the concerns that might go untouched in PHH’s absence. That’s the typical economist argument for bidding rather than sweetheart deals.

VHS criteria for evaluating what? The dual track was to evaluate the concept of a sale. The first sentence of this document clearly states, VHS is developing criteria to evaluate PHH only. Weeks before the board even voted to do this.

Point number 2 suggests some physicians may have low admissions. Isn't that the issue, the number of patient days is less than estimated? Since some physicians are creditors in the bankruptcy proceedings, how does the public know this sale is not being manipulated behind closed doors?

Point 7 seems important to the public but the board's subcommittee defers it to focus on point 5 — obtain public support and marketing. Wow, our hospital is just like tooth paste or our favorite brand of detergent! Do you think they might offer coupons good for half price surgery or free TV with the purchase of a certain number of hospital nights?

VHS Criteria for negotiating sale to PHH



July 10, 2009

The Ad Hoc Committee has developed the following criteria as a starting point for discussion regarding the possible financial commitment of members of the physician community to a potential sale of assets of this Health Care District:
1. It is imperative that PHH identify/contact a credible, easily recognizable partner to move forward with any acquisition process. The reasons are twofold: physician unity is critical to the success of any proposal and the Board of Directors must have a high level of confidence that such proposal will be looked upon with favor by the district electorate.
2. Mindful of legal restrictions, PHH is encouraged to make certain physicians with high admission rates support the project and are willing participants. (Needs to be re-worked with assistance from our legal counsel as to how this should be presented). I understand it is a potential mine field and must be constructed/crafted with care.)
3. PHH must submit to the Ad Hoc Committee a business plan which addresses the major issues facing the district, i.e., revenue and operations. PHH must be able to outline how it will address these issues with specificity and a reasonable timeline for accomplishment.
4. Full disclosure of financing plan must be provided. On this issue, transparency is critical, especially to the electorate. Anything less will not and cannot be accepted by the Board of Directors of VHS.
5. Initially, PHH must be able to demonstrate its ability to obtain community support for its proposal. How will this purchase be marketed to the general public, and what level of funding has been established to support a marketing blitz are questions requiring a satisfactory response.

6. What, if any, assets of Valley Health System are off the table.
7. Commitment to maintain community-based hospital--Hemet and Menifee.
8. Retention of Hospital District model.

Breakfast amigos

Here's a little behind the scenes view of the Town Crier. Many of you know, at least the names, of the editorial staff, Marshall and I write most the stories, and Becky is the editor.

But to sprew our thoughts out to the world requires the help of 8 more people. I won't reveal names since they are behind the scenes (maybe they don't exist).

We're actually a pretty good team. We laugh and joke, really it's not that evil here. But eating is our speciality. We'll celebrate birthdays, several times a year, just for the cake, ice cream and beer.

Sometimes one of our most special people will bring donuts in the morning so that our coffee tastes better. But today, the morning cuisine was (honest) tortilla strips and guacamole dip. So if you think some of the stories don't meet past standards, imagine dipping tortilla strips with guacamole in your coffee.

Maybe that would work on St Pat's day, green (baby food green) coffee! But in the middle of August, it takes a strong stomach, but that's your TC staff, willing to do the difficult to keep the news coming.

Of course, the other side (a good reporter gets both sides) argues that this is healthy grains and fruit, perfect to start the day. Huh? I prefer liquid grains and crunchy fruit.

I admit I miss the chocolate donuts with coconut, but I'm still reading the Web. There will be other mornings. But Marshall claims he has stomach contractions (don't ask, I know what you're thinking, shame) and nausea; yet he's still here punching the keyboard too. Dedication!

So that's how the day goes. But we're all still friends even though the tortilla strips were substituted for the donuts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's huge!! Tank no 11

Steve Erler, Fern Valley Water District general manager, gave me a tour of tank no. 11 today. So I took some photos. It's huge. the diameter is 176 feet, that's nearly 2/3 the length of a football field. The volume is 3 million gallons.

The crew, Jim Nutter and Bob Sims, were cleaning the tank floor. The photo to the right with Jim and Bob gives you a sense of scale.

Below, you get a sense of how huge it is. It's like an auditorium inside. Steve has a fan blowing out of one side trying to dry the walls. He met with a representative of the coating producer, the company that did the work and the inspector.

Steve has plans to ensure the water passes the oder and taste tests efore refilling the tank and connecting it to the distribution system.

But you can see how huge it is. That's what I kept saying. Last week, when he drained it, you understand why some below were surprised by the unexpected appearance of the babbling brook behind their residence.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Truth and integrity

Many of you have visited "Frank and Conor's 'Bad Advice in the morning'", bless you.

What's with this "4:00 p.m.", "2:32 p.m." or "9:30 p.m." postings? A broken clock, a sick computer, malfunctioning keyboard, faux rolex?

No, the truth and I have to speak it is

"in the morning" means shortly after they become conscious and caffeinated. So do not expect all of their postings to be labeled "a.m."

Enjoy the bor's I mean bro's.

Public's right to know

As mentioned before, the Valley Health System directors decided to give a group of doctors an exclusive 90-day option to negotiate the purchase of the hospitals.

The name of the group is Physicians for a Healthy Hospitals. Notice, at least as of today, none of the members are identified. Some doctors did admit to their membership during Monday’s meeting.

During the discussion, Dr. William Cherry and other directors mentioned that they had criteria to evaluate the proposal. In response to a question, Dr. Cherry acknowledged that he would make the criteria available, but only after further negotiations.

Will the directors require new owners to keep the emergency room open? It would be important to know. The deal with Selecthealthcare require them to keep it open for 5 years.

Withholding this kind of information, I believe this is a Brown Act violation. Section 54956.8 of at the act authorizes a public agency to conduct closed sessions to discuss the price and terms of payment of potential real estate transactions. The agency could be a buyer, seller or leasing property.

But the section does not authorize the protection of any other information regarding the transaction, such as criteria to evaluate it.

Consequently, I have submitted a California Public Records Act request to VHS (see below). In it I have asked for a copy of the criteria and all other material shared with the physicians.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

By the way, the same section requires the agency announce who their negotiators are. VHS has yet to do that.

Letter to VHS
July 30, 2009

Fred Harder, Chief Executive Officer
Valley Health System
1117 East Devonshire Avenue
Hemet, CA 92543

Subject: Request to Inspect and Copy Public Records

Dear Mr. Harder;

This letter is to request access to records in the possession of Valley Health System (VHS) for the purpose of inspection and copying pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.).

The information that I ask to inspect is as follows:

The criteria you or the Board of Directors will use to evaluate the negotiations between VHS and Physicians for Healthy Hospitals (PHH). These criteria exist and were mentioned several times during the VHS Board of Directors meeting, Monday, July 27. Chairman Dr. William Cherry acknowledged that they would be released but would not confirm when this would happen.

I am asking for disclosure of these criteria now. Pursuant to Government Code 54956.8, the only information not subject to public disclosure prior to a public agency proposed real estate transaction is the possible price and terms of payment.

During the meeting, Board members bandied around a criterion such as “top-tier management team. Whatever the criteria are, California law does not protect them. As a public agency, the responsibility is to disclose information to your constituents.

Since the price and terms of purchase are the only information which you may continue to conceal, I am requesting a copy of all information, data or materials that you provide to PHH under the terms of the agreement approved at the board meeting on July 27.

Furthermore, VHS is under an obligation to hold an open and public session in which you identify your negotiators and the real property or properties, which the negotiations may concern. Please identify when you plan to do this before negotiations proceed further.

This request reasonably describes an identifiable record or information produced there from, and I believe that no express provisions of law exempting the record(s) from disclosure.

In light of the apparent Ralph M. Brown Act violations and pursuant to Government Code Section 6253(b), I ask that you make the record(s) “promptly available,” for inspection and copying, based on my payment of “fees covering direct costs of duplication, or statutory fee, if applicable.”

If a portion of the information I have requested is exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law, Government Code Section 6253(a) additionally requires segregation and deletion of that material in order that the remainder of the information may be released. If you determine that an express provision of law exists to exempt from disclosure all or a portion of the material I have requested, Government Code Section 6253(c) requires notification to me of the reasons for the determination not later than 10 days from your receipt of this request.

Government Code Section 6253(d) prohibits the use of the 10-day period, or any provisions of the Public Records Act “to delay access for purposes of inspecting public records.”

Thank you for your timely attention to my request.


J P Crumrine
News Editor

cc: James W. Ewert, CNPA Legal Counsel
John Marshall, counsel

Thursday, July 23, 2009

getting Old

Monk found this headline. He's worried now and I'll explain later.

"FDA Cautions Public About Electronic Cigarettes"

First, we had the gramaphone, then those "transistor" radios, now we have electronic exercise "Wi", but electronic cigarettes. I give up.

Plug and smoke?

Can you connect it to your home internet device and it will start smoking as soon as dinner is over.

Now we don't to worry about what happens after … when we roll over and take a proud draw on the cancer stick? Can you set it to go out automatically in case you fall asleep in bed … … reading?

Maybe the electronic device zaps the smoke before it becomes old and second hand.

It keeps on smoking without any puffing? One charge is worth the price of 4 packs of cigarettes (which today is about equal to Idyllwild cabin).

So Monk has heard of climate change and smog! So this product kinda scares him. He'd like to know if the carbon offset for an electronic cigarette includes the coal or gas burned to power the cigarette?

More Headline Analysis

July 23rd, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: Live pigs wounded, euthanized in troop trauma training

For breaking news on a hot, dusty afternoon, the above headline ought to bring a lot of traffic to this media's Web site.

I know many of my friends and I often discuss the fate of "live pigs". We wonder about the sanitary condition of their home — pig sties — and the care and benevolence they receive.

But this headline confused me. Unfortunately, Monk wasn't nearby to interpret it.

First what is the purpose of the adjective "Live"? I mean can you "wound" a non-live, aka "dead" pig? Or more importantly, can one euthanize a "dead" pig?

If so, will you readers who how please share those well-guarded and kept secrets with me and perhaps some other readers? There are some others out there, right?

So wounding and euthanizing pigs, remember the "enemy" are pigs and not wild boars, is suppose to be part of the trauma training for our troops? What are these — a troop of Cub Scouts or Brownies?

We're training soldiers for battle, hardening their reactions to the bloody and deathly melee, the grisly carnage to be found all about them. So pigs are a substitute? Just because biologists claim the DNA is similar and they can test new drugs on pigs, the military is now bombing and shooting them? Actually some were stabbed.

And what about "euthanize", is that "ize" for "kill"? If euthanizing is suppose to be trauma training, why not send these rookies to some animal shelters. The workers there are very disturbed that they have to work full-time reducing the world's cat and dog populations.

Anyways, don't you think the "Return of Animal Farm" or "Animal Farm: the Slaughter of the Pigs" would have been better headlines and raised fewer of these insightful questions?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A new "Hot Spot"?

Riddle me this Idyllwild!

What's going on at the dump, foundly known as the "Transfer Station" in bureaucratese. Fess up you cognoscentes!

On Friday, as we were huffing up Saunders Meadow, Monk alerted me to the car parked in front of the gate to the "Dump". Since this was before 7 a.m., we wondered what's happening at the dump if people are lining up 60 to 90 minutes before it opens. Really!

So what's the big deal about a car parked in front of the gate? It's the second time in 10 days that we've notice this phenonomen. They were different cars each time, but drivers were behind the steering wheel and motors off both times. Do you think they were trying to reclaim a valuable before Waste Management transferred it to a decent burial site?

Once the driver looked asleep. The head on the steering wheel was the clue.

Thinking outside the box is Monk's specialty and he offered the following suggestion:
  • Maybe they aren't lining up to get in, perhaps they're leaving. Is the dump a secret "Rave" site? On Thursday nights, is this where the in crowd goes to get wasted, talk garbage and pick up a trashy date?
That's Monk's idea. But we'll offer a reward for the right answer. We have a 30 gallon bag stuffed with the best recycled paper on the Hill for it. So get the answers flowing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sites of San Diego: A small town view

What a busy weekend. We were in San Diego, the big metropolis southwest of our mountain aerie. It was a great time, but I always return amazed at how quickly life progresses elsewhere compared to here.
Are we really living in Brigadoon? Am I rube? I’ve lived and worked in cities larger than San Diego for more than 30 years, so why now does it seem different than my own life experiences?
Let me give you some examples:

  • When did vodka become the principal ingredient of martinis? I grew up drinking them with gin and a twist of lemon. If someone wanted vodka they asked for it specifically.
  • A sign of the bad economic times was spotted while I was working through the neighborhoods downtown. I passed a dog and cat pet care establishment. That’s not strange, but painted on the front window, not on a sign in the window but permanently on the pane, so it must be their business — “Do it yourself dog or cat baths”
  • So what do they provide, the water and soap? Maybe they offer instructions on how to wash the ears or the under carriage?
  • Can you imagine three or four other dogs getting bathed will you wash your “child”. They’re all shaking the water off their backs, jumping and barking. Nice.Why would I go pay to do that myself?
  • Then I was made aware of the ability of large cities to plan land use more efficiently that small towns or villages. For example, next door to the dental office was the “Pain Center”. Good idea!
  • How about the location and connection of businesses on this block? First was “Pole Sinsations — fitness”, Next door was the bridal shop, along comes “Women’s careers in the future today!” Then I notice a counselor for couples and finally across the street was the San Diego County Department of Health Services!
  • San Diego is obsessed with fitness. Every few shops have something to do with your body, but it’s the city government’s participation that convinced me how much infatuation with one’s body is a part of the San Diego culture.
  • There are countdown crosswalks! “15, 14, 13, 12, 11 … 1” Now you can time yourself sprinting across the street or even run laps back and forth before the countdown hits “stop”.
  • Finally, let me share this one. As I passed a parking lot on Fifth Avenue, I saw the following sign: “Handicap spaces in this lot have excessive slope.” Is that good or bad? Maybe it gives wheelchairs a head start to the banks or restaurants.