By Pat Grubb
A controversy that broke out August 23 on Next Door Point Roberts began with a post alleging that the Point Roberts clinic was effectively closed and wasn’t accepting new patients or former patients.
Over the following four days, there were 44 comments added to the thread including one by Point Roberts Hospital District Commissioner Stephen Falk who corrected the original post and informed the readers that the clinic remained open, taking new clients and in discussions with “potential service providers who have shown interest in managing our clinic.”
Also chiming in was Shannon Tomsen and her husband Victor Riley who have been engaged in a years-long campaign against the district, its management and employees and its current service provider Unity Care NW. The couple’s acrimonious campaign has been cited as one of the reasons that Unity Care NW decided not to renew its contract with the district.
In their Next Door comments, Tomsen and Riley made a series of remarks regarding the district’s treatment of taxpayers. Tomsen wrote, “Putting taxpayers last seems to be standard operating procedure for the hospital district even with the new superintendent and commissioner.” Riley added, “Preferential treatment for one group of patients is not appropriate for a clinic that is subsidized by taxpayers. Unity Care receives at least $176,000 a year in tax subsidies, according to the 2018 district budget.”
The hospital district will receive $265,664 in tax receipts this year. Part of that money has been or will be spent on fulfilling open public records (OPR) requests submitted by Tomsen, some of which have been described by district staff as previously fulfilled.
Beginning in April 2017, Tomsen’s OPR requests have consumed nearly 60 hours of management and staff time to research and process at a cost of $1,979. Legal fees and bookkeeping costs added another $8,656 and $420, respectively. So far, the cost to respond to Tomsen’s voluminous requests totals $11,055, or 4.2 percent of the district’s annual property tax receipts. The district is expecting more legal bills to arrive in the near future.
See examples of Public Records Requests below: