Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 1, 2010

News Digest

Palo Alto council to choose new mayor

Palo Alto will swear in newly elected members Karen Holman, Larry Klein, Gail Price, Gregory Scharff and Nancy Shepherd as well as elect a new mayor and vice mayor at its first meeting of the new year Monday, Jan. 4.

The council will also read commendations for outgoing council members Peter Drekmeier, Jack Morton, Yoriko Kishimoto and John Barton.

The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, beginning at 7 p.m.

County debuts drug-discount program

All residents of Santa Clara County can now use a new, free prescription-drug discount card, which allows them to save an average of 22 percent on drugs purchased at participating pharmacies.

Residency is the only eligibility requirement, Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss said in a press release.

Most local pharmacies are participants, including Costco, CVS Caremark, Maximart, RiteAid, Safeway, Target and Walgreens. For a complete list, as well as a price estimate for an individual prescription, drug-interaction information and news articles about health issues, visit www.caremark.com.

The free cards are available at county libraries and social-service agencies, as well as at participating pharmacies and online. Copies can also be downloaded at www.sccgov.org and printed out.

Residents can also call 877-321-2652.

The plan is not limited to people who are uninsured or underinsured; any resident can use the card to save money on prescription drugs not covered by their health plan. Anyone in the household may use the card.

The discount drug program is funded by drug distributors and pharmacies and will incur no costs for Santa Clara County, Kniss said Tuesday, noting that drug companies and pharmacies want to sell their products.

"The reason we are pushing it so hard is that for anyone who is uninsured or who falls into the 'donut hole,' this provides that discount," she said. "The purpose is to assure that the uninsured get covered."

The discount-card program is open-ended and not part of a pilot or experiment, Kniss added. It is offered by Santa Clara County and the National Association of Counties.

San Mateo County launched a similar program in December, offering greater discounts than the Caremark/NACo card with its Coast2Coast Rx Card, according to Martin Dettelbach, chief marketing officer for Financial Marketing Concepts Inc. of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which markets discount benefit programs.

The card also offers discounts on lab and imaging tests, he said.

The discount card can be printed from the website, www.coast2coastrx.com/sanmateoca.

Warrant issued in philanthropy embezzlement

An arrest warrant was issued Dec. 24 for a former Silicon Valley Community Foundation employee suspected of stealing $100,000 from the organization, according to the Mountain View Police Department.

Police spokesperson Steve McCoy said he could not give out any more information until the former employee, Frances Louise Stewart, 52, was arrested.

On Monday the foundation announced that it had fired an employee on suspicion of embezzlement.

"Our finance department noticed a discrepancy and they began trying to figure out what was going on," said Rebecca Salner, vice president of marketing and communications for the nonprofit, located in Mountain View on El Camino Real near Showers Drive.

An internal investigation was launched and less than a week later the case was turned over to the Mountain View Police Department. Stewart worked in the foundation's human-resources department, Salner said.

"The theft was identified by our finance department as a result of internal controls, and we intend to pursue every possible remedy to ensure that restitution is made to the community foundation," CEO and President Emmett D. Carson said in an e-mail.

"The incident remains under investigation by external authorities, and the community foundation is engaging a forensic accountant to provide further assistance as needed," a statement on the organization's website read.

The money taken was from "flexible spending accounts" used for employee health care and dependent care expenses. The monies were not budgeted for philanthropic grants or programs.

Any money not recovered will be covered by insurance, the statement said.

The Community Foundation oversees donations to numerous local nonprofit organizations and in 2008 awarded $264 million in grants.

— Kelsey Mesher

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