Richard Power Reverses Opposition & Supports Hospital Sale as “Fair Market Value”

Board Votes 4 to 1 to Support YES on Measure A Selling Facility to AAMG for 7-Day Urgent Care, Outpatient Services and Local Jobs

In a stunning reversal likely to boost the prospects for a continuation of hospital services and nearly 100 well-paid  jobs in West Sonoma County, the newly elected Palm Drive District Health Care Board member Richard Power had withdrawn his opposition to the upcoming Measure A to sell the building to the only buyer in years willing to operate a hospital.

At a February 4 meeting of the District Board, Power voted 4 to 1 with the majority of the Board to approve the sale of the hospital for what a final definitive appraisal found to be the legal “fair market value” of  $5.2 million. The two-page final term sheet for American Advanced Management Group  (AAMG), a health services company with a proven track record specializing in turning around the fate of besieged small community hospitals like Palm Drive,  can be read below and here: Term Sheet of Hospital Sale to AAMG Feb 4 2019

AAMG, whose COO Matt Salas recently explained in detail “Why Sonoma Specialty Hospital is Good for West County” here in the Sonoma Independent.  The renamed Sonoma Specialty Hospital (SSH) features a range of outpatient services that include radiology (3-D Mammography, X-rays, dexa scans), lab work, as well as surgery and other services to come online in the future. A high quality drop-in Urgent Care facility, that utilizes the full range of hospital services, just opened in the previous Emergency Department.  It is available to anyone with non-life threatening illnesses and injuries from  9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.  SSH is in the process of being certified as a Long Term Acute Care hospital to care for patients who require ICU and other high quality long term care for their eventual recovery.

In the County Voter Guide for the Special Election on March 5, Richard Power had joined Board member Jim Horn in signing his name to a rebuttal against Measure A, writing,  “We urge you to vote “no” as well—unless our taxpayers and former employees get a fair deal.”

At the February 4 Board meeting,Richard Power reversed his stand and spoke strongly in support of  the sale for its expertly appraised value of $4 million plus a $1.2 million promissory note that would be triggered if AAMG re-sold the facility.

Richard Power stated,  “I believe that we’ve entered into a transaction, that in the context we’re working in, does reflect the fair market value.”

Power continued, “It’s not one that fits a classic – how you buy a house, or how a business would sell, but this is not that kind of a situation… The decision was made with AAMG, the goal is to have a healthcare facility here . . .that clearly has value. \The pricing reflects what they’re getting, and I hope they’re successful.  If they’re not, we’ve taken steps to protect the district in its ability to pay off the rest of its loans, with whatever money would come from it.”

During a Town Hall meeting on February 6, Power elaborated on why he now supports the sale.  “The ballot statements had to be provided to the county before we had any deal, or even knew what the deal was,” he explained. “As that process developed, the board went through the process of [seeking a] professionally arrived at determination of value  in order to figure out a way to sell the property at that value.  I was one of the people that said ‘Be sure that the fair market value question has been answered.’   From my perspective it has been answered.”

Although Board member Jim Horn had, in his ballot statement opposition rebuttal, referred to a higher valued appraisal for the property in his opposition statement to Measure A, that document was never provided to the public and was, according to multiple sources, only a few pages long, hastily done, and failed to account for the millions of dollars of deferred maintenance improvements necessary to keep any medical facility open.  At the February 4 Board meeting, Jim Horn backtracked on his ballot statement mis-statement about the hospital’s appraised value, agreeing that when the $1.3 million cost of demolishing the building was subtracted from the $6.5 million value of the raw land, $5.2 million was indeed the fair market value for the property.

Horn then commented that he still “quibbled” with the manner in which the $1.2 million promissory note would be forgiven after AAMG had operated the facility for ten years because, despite the comprehensive assessment that he and others had accepted, “I just have a gut feeling that the hospital is worth more.” Other speakers at the meeting observed that taxpayers have spent millions of dollars per year supporting health services at the facility, effectively more than 20 times the cost of the ten year forgiveness note to AAMG. And that the community will therefore be getting a great deal out of  the sale, which eliminates all future liability for taxpayers while providing an urgent care facility, out patient surgery and other health care services at not cost to the District for the next ten years.

Jim Horn’s view was clearly not shared by attorney Richard Power, or Board Chair Dennis Colthurst, who have worked for months on the complex negotiation. Nor was it shared by Board members Eira Klich-Heartt, or Gail Thomas, or Board attorney Bob Arnone, who explained that by law, the Board had to receive the fair market value to sell the public asset, and that the final value had been derived by a revised January 2019 appraisal by specialist Health Care Appraisers Inc.

Horn’s unsubstantiated “gut feeling” led him to be the only on of the five Board members to vote against the sale on February 4.

Palm Drive Health Care District Board Chair Dennis Colthurst noted that he and Richard Power, along with the CEO and owner of AAMG, had worked on Super Bowl Sunday to negotiate the terms of the carefully crafted term sheet. “With this plan,” Colthurst said, “I believe in my soul that we’ll be able to continue as a hospital and be successful.”




Jonathan Greenberg

The founder and Editor of the Sonoma County Independent, Greenberg is an investigative financial journalist with 40 years of experience with national publications. Greenberg also serves as founder and Executive Director of Informing to Empower, the parent non-profit of both the Sonoma Independent and the Maui Independent. Greenberg has won awards from the Greater Bay Journalism Awards for the past four years on behalf of the Sonoma Independent, starting with his coverage of the closing of County library cutbacks, and then the struggle to reopen Palm Drive Hospital. Jonathan Greenberg recently wrote three of the most widely-read exposes about Trump’s career ever published on the Washington Post. Jonathan was the notorious Forbes 400 reporter who taped two long Trump calls in 1984 in which he pretended to be the fictitious John Baron. His Post expose about this, with audio here, has been the subject of monologues on Colbert, the Daily Show and Seth Meyer’s A Closer Look. Jonathan has appeared live on a dozen top news shows, including Chris Cuomo’s CNN Good Day and most recently on CNN’s prime time Upfront with Erin Burnett to expose Trump’s latest lies. Jonathan was a Web 1.0 pioneer, founding Gist Communications in 1996, an Internet company that competed successfully with TV Guide Online. In 1997, Gist was one of just 14 websites in the world to be named a winner of the First Annual Webby Awards in San Francisco. Jonathan’s professional career began as a fact checker at Forbes Magazine, where he advanced to the role of the lead reporter in creating the first Forbes 400 listing of wealthy Americans, as recounted in this recent article for Forbes’ 100th anniversary issue and more extensively in this biography of Malcolm Forbes. Jonathan has been an investigative financial and political journalist for such national publications as The Washington Post, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Mother Jones, Forbes, Town & Country, Money, GQ, Manhattan,Inc., The New Republic, and Alternet. From 2011 through 2017, Jonathan was a blogger for the Huffington Post, where his narrative-transforming reporting and analysis about subjects like Bernie Sanders, Monsanto and Native Hawaiian water protectors achieved some of the widest readership of any HuffPost writer on these subjects. Jonathan’s nearly 40 years of professional media and reporting experience has been enhanced by a Yale Law School Masters Degree fellowship program, from which he graduated with honors in First Amendment Law from internationally renowned attorney Floyd Abrams and then Yale University President Benno Schmidt. Jonathan is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Staking A Claim: Jake Simmons and the Making of an African-American Oil Dynasty, which a Washington Post Book World front page review called, “a rare biography that challenges the readers senses in the same the way science fiction does.” In 1992, he edited Buying America Back: Economic Choices for the 1990′s, an anthology of 45 progressive solution-oriented essays called by Publisher’s Weekly, “An immensely important resource for policymakers, community activists, and everyone concerned with building a more humane future.”
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    Susan Moulton
    8 February 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Attorney Richard Power has done a very thorough job of exploring all the pros and cons of Measure A and agrees with those supporting our very special local hospital that this sale is a very good win-win for Sonoma County. The hospital will enhance its role as a hub for health care and acute care hospital services while expanding its mission to include sorely needed Long Term Acute Care beds. Urgent Care which quietly opened this week has seen a steady stream of patients from 9 am to 9 pm, it’s extended hours and all are grateful they have a very short time to wait and have received excellent care. Thank you Sonoma Independent for the excellent in-depth coverage. We hope the well-funded real estate and commercial interests allegedly behind so much confusing and negative press will finally allow us to benefit from the presence of a wonderful local hospital instead of another big box store, shopping center, or communications center.

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