If a prize fight, this would be headlined $41 Million Keiro vs. Ad Hoc Committee Against the Sale of Keiro, refereed by California State Attorney General Kamala Harris. The community would be the pay-per-view audience; not yet a sell-out, either way.
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The attorney general provided the public a lengthy opportunity to voice objections to the proposed sale, a legal necessity when a for-profit is prepared to devour a non-profit. I’m told there were “many” objections received, mostly from individuals. Let’s face it, the type that tends to be emotional but sans clout. There was no organized opposition.
“I don’t think Keiro should be sold” or a plaintive “Where will I go?” don’t exactly resonate when a multi-million-dollar deal is being considered. The AG’s office thus gave the proposed agreement a coveted stamp of approval; where the ill-fated Ensign Group pact fell apart last year. [An interesting sidebar: The Pacifica bid topped Ensign’s 2014 offer.]
That old saw about crying over spilt milk sadly comes into play. After more than a year of CR2S questions and doubts, our so-called community remained silent and unmoved, turning a deaf ear to the ominous warning signs.
There are numerous past examples of protest movements, large and small, some successful. The most recent dispute receiving loud and wide support was the ado over the proposed auction of the Allen Eaton art collection. A mere 240 camp artifacts were set for public disposal when the Japanese community staged a nationwide protest campaign — and succeeded.
Other recently publicized disputes were a Nisei family threatened by eviction from a promised lifelong home; a forgotten wartime detention center seeking remembrance; dilapidated farm structures become historic monuments. It wasn’t that long ago when people went bonkers over a poorly handled JACCC hiring. Over the years, community groups have been formed to erect (and fight) statues, save a tree, and not to forget, a newspaper as well!
Here we’re on the verge of losing the single most successful achievement in our history and nary an early voice was raised in opposition. Where are the pseudo-community leaders? The JACL, JA non-profits, medical profession, religious heads, Chamber of Commerce, Business Association, consul general, historical societies? I’m running out of people to point a crooked finger at. How about Gardenans and South Bayans? Maybe, alas, the proverbial Japanese community is a farce, a figment of our imagination.
Pardon me for getting all riled up, but when our most iconic creation goes on the chopping block, what happens? Nada. Zip. Nothing. Until a fledgling protest group is hastily formed three weeks ago! Until then, nothing but an occasional CR2S column registering concern and an occasional letter to the editor is printed. But that was then, this is now.
Nothing is impossible, but let’s not be naïve. AHCASOK faces the monumental task of convincing the AG’s office to put a hold on escrow proceedings. Secondly, and vitally important, an alternative plan or option must be offered. A plaintive “Please don’t sell” won’t do it. [Without getting mired in politics, it’s like Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act of 2010. GOPers decry the ills of “Obamacare,” but can offer no alternative workable plan.]
Opposing the sale of Keiro to Pacifica is the easy part. Presenting plausible alternatives is the mountain to climb (Fujiyama, if there’s still room for levity).
“Financial feasibility” would have to precede any proposition. CEO Shawn Miyake is on record stating that clouds of financial doom began to form three years ago. Convincing separate boards of directors of a bleak future, a decision to seek a buyer was reached. The public has been apprised of all proceedings from the outset, Miyake contends, answering the hue and cry of the masses. “It’s all there,” he contends, from press releases to informative community gatherings to a constantly updated website.
But the public remains uninformed. The overriding objection is never being forewarned of any financial shortfalls, nor apprised of why Keiro’s overall future was suddenly so bleak. No matter who is right or wrong on the transparency argument, a done deal is being questioned, if not becoming unraveled.
Workable solutions? A qualified management firm with expertise in saving healthcare non-profits? Downsizing appears inevitable. Find a deep pocket? Pacifica has promised to maintain status quo for five years. A naïve but simple question then is why not hang on and stay alive and independent that much longer?
Amidst all the protesting and finger-pointing, a reminder. To prolong the battle, let alone somehow win, more dedicated minds and bodies are needed.
But then, what do I know?
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CR2S is not privy to future strategy of the Ad Hockers. It has enlarged its active base and is rushing to gather names for a petition to stop escrow proceedings. So let’s review some other personal observations and assumptions:
The hastily convened town hall meeting that launched the sudden revolt was well-covered by the Rafu team of Monnier and Nakanishi in both Japanese and English sections. Nakanishi also interviewed Miyake and Board Chairman Gary Kawaguchi to give them an opportunity to counter charges and answer questions.
As a member of a vanishing Nisei generation, the lack of numbers makes us irrelevant. Whatever happens (if anything) is now in the hands Sansei, Yonsei and shin-whatever. While census figures and mixed marriages point to the rapid demise of Japanese, let’s keep in mind the influx of citizens from Japan – who stay. There were so many only Jappo-speaking attendees at the Centenary meeting that translations were required.
As reported before, 80% of Keiro Retirement Home residents are Japanese-speaking, the remaining 20% are like me, a Nisei with poor language skill. Remembering this is pertinent when considering the pool of potential users of Keiro facilities in the future. Although San-Yonsei might have other options, there appears to be a continual stream of natives.
Worthy of mention was the presence of Board Chair Kawaguchi at the hostile gathering. Jappo protestors aren’t exactly rabid or violent; fervent and committed, maybe, but not fanatical. So it wasn’t exactly Daniel in the lion’s den. But yet a display of huevos to merely show up, then taking the mic in a vain effort to pacify the hundred or so disgruntled. It should be noted, he was the sole Keiro rep to face the music.
S.D. is one of many volunteers collecting much-needed *petition signatures. As a resident of KRH, he figured on corralling 100+ names in one fell swoop from concerned tenants. It works like this: Every morning announcements are made reminding breakfast-goers of the day’s scheduled events, time and location. When S.D. asked for permission to make an announcement concerning the petition, he was denied! Nor allowed to solicit signups in the dining hall. [*This matter will most assuredly be brought up at the monthly residents meeting, which will be held Wednesday morning.]
CR2S is unusually lengthy today. My apologies. The temptation to ramble on occasion is always a clear and present danger.
But then again, what do I know? I just write this stuff.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.