Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AG silent on Blaine Manor feud

No response from state office so far


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A nonprofit group called the Committee to Save Blaine Manor is trying to stop Blaine County from transferring the operations of Blaine Manor, above, over to another health care provider. Express file photo

    The Idaho Attorney General’s office has not yet responded to a request for a legal opinion on whether Blaine County has the legal authority to turn over the assets and operations of Blaine Manor to another skilled-nursing provider.
    Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, said she has not yet heard from Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office on the matter. Wasden’s spokesman, Bob Cooper, said he could not talk about the case with the media. Pence said she does not expect a result until the end of this week.    
    The legal battle was launched last week, when Ketchum attorney Jim Laski sent an email to the Blaine County commissioners saying he believes the county does not have the legal authority to transfer Blaine Manor’s operations and assets—including a sought-after Medicare and Medicaid certification—to Safe Haven Health Care.
    “The county’s authority to pursue the transaction is at best in question and more likely non-existent,” the letter states.
    Laski was hired by the grassroots Committee to Save Blaine Manor, headed by Ketchum resident and physical therapist Donna Alfs. Alfs contacted the Idaho Mountain Express last week through a news release stating that the committee believes there is an “outstanding legal question as to who has the authority to make this decision to transfer or sell the nursing home license.”
    The news release states that the committee believes the county commissioners “usurped” their authority and have not listened to the public in making the decision to turn over Blaine Manor’s operations to Safe Haven, a Pocatello-based senior-care service that is building a new facility in Bellevue.
    Currently, Blaine County is operating under the assumption that the county has that authority. Blaine County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves wrote a response to Laski last week stating that the Blaine Manor board of trustees derives all of its authority from the Board of County Commissioners.
    Alfs said in the news release that the committee is speaking out now because “they never believed the [county commissioners] would ever choose Safe Haven.”
    Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that the Committee to Save Blaine Manor has been registered as an unincorporated nonprofit association as of Tuesday morning. The committee has also been assigned an employer identification number with the Internal Revenue Service and has opened an account for donations at D.L. Evans Bank in Hailey.
    Alfs said Monday that the group does not yet have a website, but she expects it to be up soon.
Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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