Of Human Bondage…”Too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all.” If ever a piece of literature resonated with Squid, it’s that one, from the Dr. Seuss epic The Cat in the Hat. Four days of a Thanksgiving holiday in which the office was closed, the rain poured, the wind howled and some idiot(s) kept lobbing projectiles at cars traveling through Prunedale on Highway 101. Squid stayed hunkered down in the lair, snuggling with Rosco P. Coltrane on the sofa, eating leftovers Grammy Squid sent home (tentaclefuls of cold stuffing straight out of the pan—don’t judge) and watching The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour masterpiece that includes the best performance of Joe Pesci’s career, on Netflix. Squid kept up with friends on social media and was just taking a quiz titled “Which Baby Yoda mood suits you best?” when the incoming text message bell rang on Squid’s phone.
“Would you be willing to take a poll?” the message read. And it included a link.
Seeing as Squid had nothing but free time and bad weather on Squid’s tentacles, Squid dove straight in.
The questions proceeded normally. “In what language would you like to conduct this survey?” English, Squid clicked. “What is your gender?” Prefer not to say, Squid clicked, because there was no “mind your own business” option. “Do you or does anyone in your household work for a newspaper or TV station, a news website or blog, a political consulting firm, or an elected official?” was the third question. “Work?” Squid thought. “I mean, it’s not like they’re paying me for this...”
And then came the entire point of the poll.
It’s less than a year out from the 2020 general election (and only three months from the primaries) and during that time, a public organization’s fancy turns to tax increases. It seems Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital is thinking about floating a doozy of a bond measure. Here’s the narrative on the poll:
“To protect and improve access to local healthcare and upgrade Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, by upgrading emergency rooms to reduce wait times, labs, facilities and technology for treating cancer and heart disease, outdated operating rooms, hospital rooms and facilities for seniors, men, women, children; shall Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System’s measure authorizing $165 million in bonds, levying 2 pennies per 100 dollars of assessed value, approximately $9.4 million annually, while bonds are outstanding, with independent oversight, audits, no money for hospital administration, be adopted?”
Squid chuckled, and then Squid winced. Squid is a penny-pincher, after all, and while two pennies per 100 dollars of assessed value doesn’t seem like much, Squid’s wages have remained stagnant for a few years, forcing Squid to side-hustle like a beast in order to keep Rosco P. Coltrane in kibbles and a roof overhead. And with the rental market being so tight, Squid knows that landlords are going to pass that assessed value cost on to tenants, making things more difficult for everyone.
So Squid hit the “no” button and that’s when the poll turned passive-aggressive.
“And is that definitely no or probably no?” the poll asked.
Definitely no, Squid responded.
“In your own words, why do you OPPOSE this measure?” the poll huffed. And when Squid responded, the badgering continued. “What if the cost of the bond measure that you just read was 17 dollars per one hundred thousand dollars of a property’s assessed value? If that were the case, would you vote yes in favor of it, or no to oppose it?”
Squid stopped, unsure of how to answer that one. Does no mean no when it comes to polls? So Squid pressed no.
“And is that definitely no or probably no?”
Squid sighed and decided to give up.
Squid appreciates the language of the bond measure poll included the proviso that no funds raised would go toward administration, but it piqued Squid's curiosity. Squid poked around on State Controller Betty Yee’s website to see who’s making what these days at SVMH and found some breathtaking numbers on the executive management list: President and CEO Pete Delgado’s total wages (as reported by the employer from Box 5 of the W-2, according to Yee’s website) was at $900,611. Chief Medical Officer Allen Radner, MD, $580,929; Chief Financial Officer Augustine Lopez, $555,434; Chief Operating Officer Henry Ornelas, $510,602; Chief Nursing Officer Christie Gonder: $381,225; Chief Strategic Communications Officer Adrienne Laurent, $348,964.
To recap, that’s nearly $3.3 million a year on the top six administrators at SVMH. By comparison, Natividad Medical Center’s CEO Dr. Gary Gray made $481,335 in 2018, according to the state controller’s website, while Natividad CFO Daniel Leon made $363,410.
Squid had a human colleague reach out to SVMH’s communications team to ask more about the poll—and the possible bond measure—but didn’t hear back in time for deadline. As Squid awaits word, Squid is going to ponder Squid’s existence and see if there’s maybe an extension course available on becoming a hospital administrator, because Squid’s tired of working for shrimp and hopes to make serious clams in the future.