Chronology of Events Leading Up to Community Grass Roots Movement to Oppose the Sale of Keiro
by Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy (KSCA)
(Edited 05/16/16 to correct typographical errors. Originally published on the sister-site, SaveKeiro.org, on March 10, 2016.)
1969: Keiro Nursing Home in Lincoln Heights opens with 87 beds.
1974: Minami Keiro Nursing Home in Lincoln Heights opens with 97 beds.
1975: Keiro Retirement Home in Boyle Heights opens with 105 rooms.
1976: Keiro Intermediate Care Nursing Facility in Boyle Heights opens with 96 beds.
1981: South Bay Keiro Nursing Home in Gardena opens with 98 beds.
1985: City View Hospital, owned and operated by the Japanese American community, is sold and the Hospital closes.
1990’s: Merger of Lincoln Heights Keiro Nursing Home and Minami Keiro takes place to form a new, 300 bed facility at the current site. Fund-raising campaign to support Keiro begins.
2013: Keiro management announces through Rafu Shimpo of changes in demographics of the Japanese American community, in decreased donations and endowments, and of the anticipated shortfall in reimbursements from government long-term heath care insurance. Keiro argues three times through Rafu Shimpo of the anticipated financial hardships in continuing to operate the facilities.
December 2013: Keiro holds a meeting to inform the physicians of the decision to sell the facilities. Meeting is attended by only 2 doctors. Question is raised if Keiro board has the right to sell without an O.K. from the community. CEO Shawn Miyake responds that if the Attorney General, Kamala Harris, approves the sale, it is O.K. A request for financial disclosures to substantiate Keiro’s claim of anticipated financial difficulties is met by the CEO’s response of “No, it is too complex.”
Closed meetings are held to notify families and residents at ICF and the nursing homes of Keiro’s decision to look for a large health care organization to take over all 4 facilities. No open discussion of the decision takes place and public is not welcome to attend.
First half of 2014: Rafu Shimpo articles indicate signs of opposition to the sale by individuals in the community as well as familiy members.
July 2014: Keiro announces the sale to Ensign, then in 9/2014, the California Attorney General’s office (Kamala Harris) denies the sales agreement between Keiro and Ensign. The AG office does not state any reason for the denial. The cancellation of the sale gives relief to many in the community but only for a short while.
February 19, 2015: Keiro signs the Asset Purchase & Sales Agreement with Pacifica Companies, a real estate firm.
June 2015: Keiro announces the sale to Pacifica and states that Kamala Harris’s AG office is reviewing the proposed sale. In the proposal, Keiro is to be split up with the two nursing facilities and ICF to be under the operation of Aspen and the Retirement home is to be managed by Northstar.
June 26, 2015: Public is given a short notice to submit written comments by 6/26/2015 to Wendi Horwitz, Deputy Attorney General of the Los Angeles office. Notice of public comment period does not reach the community due to limited announcement efforts and the short period of time given by the AG office to respond. The Attorney General, Kamala Harris, grants a waiver for the public hearing. Furthermore, any request for the terms of the agreement must be made in writing, upon receipt, the AG will mail a CD-ROM for viewing. 1) Processing time is slow; 2) elderly are not as familiar on how to access content on CD-ROM; 3) document is not indexed basically rendering search capabilities useless.
August 30, 2015: Four individuals from the community meet on a hot Sunday afternoon in the JACCC courtyard, to discuss ways to protest and to stop the sale of Keiro. They are Mo Nishida, Charles Igawa, Ph.D., David Watanabe, and Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D. Their discussion focuses on the need to organize a movement, in light of the lack of leadership from the Japanese American community.
September 2, 2015: AG office gives a conditional consent for Keiro to sell to Pacifica.
September 24, 2015: AG makes an announcement that they have approved the sale of Keiro for $41 million.
September 29, 2015: The Ad Hoc Committee to Save Keiro holds its first community forum at Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. The forum is attended by more than 150 concerned individuals from the community and the Ad Hoc Committee membership expands exponentially. Panelists are Masako Yasui, Takeshi Matsumoto, M.D., Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D., and Ronald Shigematsu, M.D. and they discuss the hardships on the residents if the sale should go through. The event is moderated by Rev. Mark Nakagawa and translation is provided by Chairman Dr. Charles Igawa. Two petitions are prepared and are signed by the attendees with overwhelmingly positive response. The first petition demands the Attorney General Kamala Harris to stop the sale, and the second petition is directed toward Keiro to be transparent by disclosing minutes of their board meetings, the independent study that recommended the sale, and all financial data supporting the sale.
Extensive media coverage provided by Rafu Shimpo’s newest reporters Nao Nakanishi and Mia Monnier reaches the greater Japanese American community.
October 11, 2015: The first 3000 signatures on the petition to the AG are hand delivered by Jon Kaji to the AG office in Los Angeles.
October 13, 2015: Second community forum is held by the Ad Hoc Committee at Centenary United Methodist Church. Frank Omatsu, the only remaining founder of Keiro, is introduced to the audience and he states with conviction that he is strongly opposed to the sale. Participants wear red cloth to show solidarity in objecting to the sale.
October 15, 2015: Two days after the forum sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee, Keiro holds a meeting at Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Los Angeles to address their decision to sell the facilities. Shawn Miyake, Gary Kawaguchi along with other board members, Aspen and Northstar face a crowd of 500 people wearing red cloth bands to show their opposition. The temple gymnasium is full with many standing in the back, and with some attendees shouting and booing with discontent over Keiro’s efforts to control the meeting by allowing only limited time for the community to speak. Many residents and staff members of Keiro attend the event. Speeches by Doctors Takeshi Matsumoto, Kenji Irie, and Keiko Ikeda, as well as Committee spokesman Jon Kaji, receive an overwhelming applause from the audience. Japanese and English language media provide full coverage of the meeting and conduct interviews of various community members after the event.
October 16, 2015: Jon Kaji obtains an endorsement from Assemblyman David Hadley of the 66th Assembly District, who writes a letter to the Attorney General, Kamala Harris, requesting that the sale of Keiro be postponed and that a public hearing be held. Assemblyman Hadley is the first of many elected officials to support the efforts of the movement.
October 29, 2015: Four members of the Ad Hoc Committee, Toshio Handa, Charles Igawa, Ph.D., Kenji Irie, M.D. and Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D. meet with the Consul General of Japan, Harry Horinouchi. They discuss the impact of the sale on the mostly Japanese- speaking Keiro residents. It is explained that many of the residents possess a Japanese citizenship and that they have no alternative facility to transfer to should the sale occur.
October 2015: Outreach efforts by the Ad Hoc Committee members lead to a growing support from various groups. Contacts are also made to local political officials and to such Congressional representatives as Honorable Judy Chu and Maxine Waters, who play a key role in supporting the Committee.
November 4, 2015: Representative Judy Chu leads the effort to engage other members of the California Congressional delegation to request Kamala Harris, the Attorney General, to hold a public hearing on the Keiro/Pacifica sale. The letter contains 16 signatures of members of the Congress. A reply from the AG office on the following day states that reopening the case is legally not possible.
November 12, 2015: Hayahiko Takase, a well-known architect in the community and a Keiro board member, resigns from his post on the board and openly states his decision in the Rafu Shimpo.
November 16, 2015: Approximately 4,600 signatures are delivered to Keiro CEO Shawn Miyake by members of the Ad Hoc Committee.
November 23, 2015: Inaugural Town Hall Meeting at the Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles. Guest speakers are Congresswoman Judy Chu, Representative Maxine Waters, and Assemblyman David Hadley. Ad Hoc Committee speakers are Jonathan Kaji, Takeshi Matsumoto, M.D. and Kenji Irie, M.D. and the program is emceed by Chairman Charles Igawa, Ph.D. Translation is provided to the audience of 500 cheering, community individuals. On behalf of the community, Dr. Igawa makes a closing remark and demands the resignation of CEO Shawn Miyake and the board members of Keiro.
November 24, 2015: Eight members of the Ad Hoc Committee meet with 4 AG attorneys at the Los Angeles branch of the Attorney General’s Office. The Committee reports on the findings of their investigations and raise critical questions regarding misleading information that Keiro provided to AG to request a waiver of a public hearing. The Committee points to AG’s oversight in not conducting an investigation prior to giving the waiver. Congresswoman Maxine Waters also attends the meeting. AG agrees to give the Committee an official response by the following week. Despite the repeated reminders from the Committee, the response from the AG office is not made until 3 months later.
December 23, 2015: Congresswoman Maxine Waters assigns a congressional aid specifically to aid the Ad Hoc Committee. She arranges and provides the services of pro bono attorneys from Bet Tzedek, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
January 2016: Four Keiro residents file a complaint with State Department of Fair Employment and Housing for disability violation and violation of civil rights.
January 14, 2016: Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Judy Chu hold a press conference at the First Southern Baptist Church in Gardena to support the Ad Hoc Committee and to give an updated information on the movement. Former Assemblymen George Nakano also gives a speech. Former Assemblyman Warren Furutani speaks from the floor to endorse the Committee’s efforts. Televised news coverage reaches the greater Los Angeles communities on the plight of the Japanese American elderly at Keiro.
January 21-29, 2016: Mediation talks begin to discuss the pending sale of Keiro. Department of Fair Employment and Housing mediates the talks involving representatives and attorneys from the Ad Hoc Committee, Keiro, Pacifica, and the Attorney General’s (Kamala Harris’s) office. The lengthy discussions fail to reach an agreement and the attorneys representing the Committee proceed to go to court on 2/4/2016, to file a temporary restraining order to put escrow closure on hold.
January 23, 2016: Ad Hoc Committee holds a community “speak-out” at Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Community members have a chance to voice their opinions in Japanese on the pending sale. All opinions expressed at the meeting are recorded and sent to both Keiro administration and to AG office. Through Jon Kaji’s efforts, Norman Mineta, the former U.S. Transportation Secretary, makes an appearance to give his support to the movement. Former Assemblyman Warren Furutani also supports the cause and obtains endorsement from the California Assembly Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. Nine members of the API Caucus sign an official letter to AG Harris to hold off the sale until a public hearing takes place. Approximately 200 people attend the event.
January 28, 2016: Led by community activist Mo Nishida, the Save Keiro protest and march starts from Little Tokyo and ends at the Reagan Building in Los Angeles where the AG office is housed. The protest is peaceful and consists mostly of senior citizens wearing the red band, which has become the hallmark of the grass roots movement. The remaining signatures on the petition to Attorney General Kamala Harris is delivered to AG staff, Tania Ibanez. The final count of signatures received is 17,000, an astounding number of individuals from the community joining in to support the Ad Hoc Committee. The Gardena City Council unanimously passes a resolution opposing the sale of Keiro. Additional resolution in support of the grass roots movement comes from Chinatown Council for Equitable Development.
January 29, 2016: Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis writes a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris, requesting that the sale be postponed and that a formal public hearing be held. Supervisor Solis is the former U.S. Secretary of Labor.
February 4, 2016: The Ad Hoc Committee, represented by Bet Tzedek and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, goes to the Los Angeles Superior Court to petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to put escrow closure on hold. At the same time, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing files a TRO due to claims made by Keiro residents of disability and civil rights violations. The legal team from Bet Tzedek and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, file a Writ of Mandamus, a court order requiring a government agency, in this case the Attorney General’s office, to correct its prior actions. The judge denies both TRO’s and the community is stunned by the decision.
February 5, 2016: Escrow closes and ownership of Keiro Senior Healthcare changes to the Pacifica Companies. The community grieves over the loss of the most important institution of the Japanese American community which took 55 years to develop with the help of countless individuals and organizations from both the U.S. and in Japan. The Ad Hoc Committee, is transitioning into a non-profit organization, called Koreisha Senior Care and Advocacy. It vows to continue to fight to regain the kind of quality senior care facility that Keiro used to be. Koreisha will advocate for the well-being of the residents and the staff, whose dedicated efforts over many years have made Keiro a special place in the community.