WIMPY1(Published Sept. 16, 2015)

I’ve been thinking. We in America are so very fortunate being far removed from the misery and consequences of war. Although from varied backgrounds and customs, we have benefited from time, space and opportunity unavailable to others.

As we read about and watch human misery across two protective oceans, our good fortune is apparent. European Union has a human and humane problem. Migration, immigration, emigres, expulsion, whatever you want to call it, there seems to be no answer to the suffering. Hungary puts up razor-wire barriers to keep refugees out, buttressed by a wall. *Germany welcomes 800,000 of the deposed and urges a quota system be adopted. The U.S., far-removed with an immigration problem of its own, says it can maybe accept 5,000 a year, by 2016. Meanwhile the great American spokesman Donald Trump leads the charge to build a protective wall in conjunction with the ouster of 11 million illegal Mexican aliens already here. [*Germany is the size of the state of Montana.]

To be sure, there is more than enough sorrow and suffering within our borders, no argument. With more to spare. It’s just wise to once in a while pause and reflect. Take the time to reflect and compare. For example, we remembered 9/11. Which was proper, but the fact is 9/11 occurs almost every day somewhere in the Middle East.

So yeah, you can’t help but think. Pretty hard not to. But then I catch myself being self-centered and suspect: Will my car start tomorrow? When will the next cramp attack strike? Will “O” make an appearance soon? Maybe I should quit battling the DMV and just relinquish the keys. Finally, CR2S can’t stop worrying about what the future holds for Keiro.

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Face-to-face conversations and emails represent my world of social media. And the only subject of discussion these days: What is going to happen to and at Keiro?

I guess some people are waiting to see what my reaction is to last week’s news that Pacifica Companies LLC’s bid to buy Keiro Senior HealthCare passed the smell test demanded by the State Attorney General’s Office; a necessary ratification before escrow could proceed to conclusion. If you’ve been keeping score and paying attention, this was where Ensign Group’s bid was waylaid last year. What this approval means is, with the dotting of a few I’s and crossing of several T’s, the sale of Keiro Senior HealthCare holdings to Pacifica will be a done deal by early 2016.

But and yet, done deal or no, it appears one final gesture of protest looms. Although not a threat to sidetrack the deal (the public protest period is long over), there is a move afoot to hold a community forum to air grievances and ask questions; a gathering that should have been held years ago when rumors of potential operational problems at Keiro first surfaced. If not a dark storm cloud formation, maybe more like a cloudburst of disapproval and complaint; unexpected rain on the proposed multi-million-dollar parade. A final whimper of dissent and challenge surfacing much too late to be effective or meaningful.

A last-gasp group met last Saturday, kinda like a funeral gathering. Fully aware nothing can be done to retain the greatest Japanese American achievement ever, consensus was a community meeting had to be convened. If not to bury the iconic enterprise, at least get straightforward answers that many believe have been inadequate or glossed over.

Well thought out or not, some of the inquiries most often asked but yet to be fully explained: (a) Pacifica, just as ill-fated Ensign Group before it, is a for-profit company. If Keiro is a formidable non-profit healthcare operation, why is it so coveted while presumably doomed? Pacifica has agreed in writing (for five years) to a continuance of established practices and customs. What if they don’t and who is in a position to monitor? There are other pertinent questions, some fair and some not, that shout to be answered. And finally:

The elephant in the room is money: How much and where does it go?

“All proceeds from the sale will remain with Keiro and used to benefit older adults in the Japanese American community” is the official explanation.

Unfortunately, this innocuous statement prompts further doubt rather than clarify.

The agreed-upon transaction figure has never been made public. I don’t know why. Let’s end the drama: CR2S believes the agreed-upon sale price is $41,000,000; which will translate into approximately $39 million net (more than Ensign’s bid). So where does this munificent amount of loot go? That’s a whole lot of lectures, workshops and health fairs. But if earmarked for existing Keiro operations, how and in what form? The same query looms regarding the funds locked up in endowments, trusts and ongoing donation agreements.

The proposed public information meeting is scheduled to be held at Centenary Methodist Church later this month or early October. Watch for an announcement.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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