I realize you might be a feeling a bit picked on at the moment, seeing our second cover story about your Humboldt County holdings in the last three months. In fact, over the past 16 or so months, we've written nearly 20,000 words detailing your doings in Humboldt County. That's a lot of ink. But it's nothing personal. It's just that your actions here locally can be held up as an example of what's spawning the anger and angst that led to the Occupy movement, and fueled the opposing populist campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Let's start with the basics. You are a member of the 1 percent, having proudly boasted of bringing home a $3 billion annual income on national radio. Your company, Brius, reported banking a $77 million profit from its California holdings, that from the meager taxpayer funds our legislators have decided should go toward caring for the state's elderly and infirm indigent population. And you've done this while providing a standard of care that, in some cases, is abysmal. But I've got to give it to you. Boy, do you know how to turn a profit.
Take Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness in Eureka as an example. Back in 2011, when you bought your Humboldt skilled nursing facilities, you entered into a 10-year lease for the five properties and facilities. Then you turned around and rented each of those five facilities back to your own companies. In Pacific's case, you did this only after marking up the annual rental price by about $70,000 — a nice profit right off the top. Then you made sure Pacific contracted with the medical supply company you own, your consulting firm and your management company, essentially ensuring the vast majority of what gets logged as facility "expenses" goes in the "revenue" category of another one of your company's ledgers.
You're obviously a pretty brilliant guy and I've got nothing against turning a profit. But when you systematically bilk taxpayer funds intended to provide a stable and safe place for the sick, aged and dying who cannot afford one of their own, well, in my mind, that puts you a rung below the jerks Eureka police recently busted for stealing out of the Toys for Tots bins. While immoral, their actions didn't directly lead to bed sores, infections and trauma, and I'd also be willing to bet they don't have a net worth with four commas attached to it.
I've read some stories that make you sound like a man of virtue, Shlomo. There was one in the Jewish Journal back in 2011: "For the past seven years, Rechnitz and his family have followed this simple model for helping those in need: You ask, they give," the article states, describing a scene that unfolds at your Los Angeles home every Saturday night. "A line of people extends outside the Rechnitz house and leads right to a dining room where Shlomo Rechnitz, dressed in a white shirt, sits at the head of a long table, waiting for people to come. Each person in need sits next to him for a few minutes of conversation, receives a check, says thank you and then goes home. Some might bring 'evidence' of their despondency — like an eviction letter from a landlord — but they hardly need it. Everyone walks out with a check."
Well, Shlomo, I don't have a seat at your dining room table but I'm sitting here in Humboldt County asking on behalf of our injured, our sick and our seniors with nowhere else to go. They don't need a check. They need you to provide them the quality of care they deserve. They need you to stop jerking them around and gaming the very systems designed to protect them.