Ex-Head of Alcoholism Council Named Hospital District Chief

Philip R. Valera, 50, a Redondo Beach resident who headed the South Bay Alcoholism Council for six years during the 1970s, has been named chief executive officer of the South Bay Hospital District, which provides funds for public health programs in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

Valera, who will be paid $50,000 a year plus a $225 monthly car allowance, begins work April 1. He will work without a contract.

The post has been vacant since August when the five-member board fired its first executive officer, Kathleen A. Belkham, after 10 months on the job. The board faulted Belkham for not spending enough time in the community promoting the district, but infighting among board members also was considered a major factor in the action.

The board, which ran South Bay Hospital for more than 20 years, became a grant-giving foundation after it leased the hospital to American Medical International Inc. in June of 1984.

Administrative Background

Valera served from 1974 to 1980 as the first executive director of the South Bay Alcoholism Council. Later he was executive director of the Interreligious Council of Southern California and now is grants administrator and contract manager for El Nido Services in Los Angeles, which provides child-abuse education and counseling and other services for young people, including pregnant adolescents and teen-age parents.

The board's first choice for the executive post, by a 3-2 vote, was Patricia Dreizler, longtime community resources director in Redondo Beach. She said there were "more reasons I wanted to take the job than not" but said she turned it down because the district was not able to guarantee her the same retirement benefits she has in Redondo Beach. Dreizler, 59, said she will be eligible for retirement at 52% of her $50,000 salary when she is 60.

Dreizler, with strong backing from board members Mary Davis and Eva Snow, became front-runner for the job shortly after Belkham was fired. Board members Virginia D. Fischer and Jean G. McMillan opposed her from the start and cast the two votes against her appointment. Voting for her were Davis, Snow and board President Gerald R. Witt. Dreizler said the divided vote was not a factor in her decision.

'Personalities' Not Involved

"I'd have withdrawn earlier if I had concerns about personalities," she said.

Valera, who received a 5-0 vote, said he is not concerned that he was second choice. "Pat has been a friend of mine for some years and will be an important resource in the community," he said.

Valera said he intends to "be out in the community" and "bring new ideas and suggestions" for board action. "The board has identified community education and illness prevention as its major objectives," he said.

An executive search firm hired by the district recommended five people for the top administrative job.

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