Mountain View Voice

News - October 12, 2012

El Camino spends big bucks to defeat salary cap

by Nick Veronin

A group opposing Measure M — the upcoming initiative to cap executive pay at El Camino Hospital — is greatly outspending proponents of the measure, who appear to have spent little or no money promoting their cause

The Los Altos-based anti-M campaign, which goes by the name Citizens for Responsible Health Care, has collected more than $200,000 in campaign contributions and spent close to $134,000 on legal services, public affairs consultants, campaign literature and print advertisements in an effort to defeat the measure, according to campaign expenditure reports filed with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office.

The majority of the money raised came from El Camino Hospital itself, with two contributions totaling $149,000. An additional $49,000 came from two donations by the California Hospitals Committee on Issues, an organization affiliated with the California Hospitals Association that takes positions on ballot initiatives.

As of press time, the registrar's office had no record of any money raised or spent in favor of the measure, and several leading Measure M advocates either did not respond to requests for comment or could not say whether any money had been spent in support of the initiative, which proposes limiting all salaries at El Camino Hospital to no more than twice the salary of California's governor.

Gov. Jerry Brown currently makes $173,987 annually. Twice his salary — $347,974 — is still less than half of the $714,460 that El Camino's current CEO, Tomi Ryba, is projected to make in 2013.

According to Citizens for Responsible Health Care's report, filed with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Office for the period of Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, the committee has taken in $198,000 in cash contributions and $5,524 in "non-monetary" contributions, for a total of $203,524. Additionally, the committee has charged $11,270 in debts while running its campaign.

The campaign's biggest reported expenditures were paid to Competitive Edge, a San Diego-based research and communication firm, which received payments of around $37,750 for polling and survey research; BergDavis Public Affairs, a San Francisco-based PR firm, which received payments of about $25,000 for public relations services; and Meridian Pacific, Inc., which was paid about $24,350 for campaign literature and mailings.

Other big-ticket items included website design, campaign paraphernalia and legal services.

Although a pro-M web address appears under the "Arguments for Measure M" section on the SmartVoter.org website, it seems that no site was ever built; those who click on the hyperlinked URL ElCaminoExecPayCap.org will be taken to a mostly blank GoDaddy.com page, which asks whether the visitor wishes to purchase the domain.

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