The Assembly voted 3 to 2 at Tuesday’s meeting to approve the resolution for a June 12th special election for the public to vote on whether to recall 8 out of the 9 members who sit on Wrangell Medical Center’s Board of Directors.
The petitioned board members are Jim Nelson, Linda Bjorge, Lurine McGee, Sylvia Ettafaugh, Jake Harris, Delores Norman, LeAnn Rinehart, and Hospital Board Chairman Mark Robinson.
This stems from petitions filed on March 29th by 14 Wrangell residents which include petition sponsors Gary Allen and Mike Otteson Sr. In less than a week petitioners collected more than 900 signatures in support of a recall vote.
According to the borough’s municipal code, grounds for a recall are misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties. Specific petition charges supporting the recall state:
Wrangell medical center board members improperly prohibited the board’s Borough Assembly liaison from participating in a closed-door executive session last August. Board members violated purchasing rules by authorizing the hospital administrator to enter into a contract with Innovative Capital for financing and American Health Facilities Development for construction of a Borough-owned building.
And board members mishandled conflict of interest rules by allowing a member, whose “immediate family member has a substantial financial interest in the outcome of legal action,” to be part of discussions and actions of revoking a doctor’s privileges at Wrangell Medical Center.
Prior to the Assembly’s vote, Hospital Board Chair Mark Robinson voiced concerns regarding a recall. Reading from a letter between Hospital CEO Noel Selle-Rea and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Director of Rural Development Merlaine Kruse, Robinson points out the potential harm a recall could have to the construction of the new hospital.
“An experienced board and administration are integrals of the success of this hospital. It is unlikely USDA will provide construction financing under current circumstances. We will be able to respond more directly after Wednesday after we plan to meet on these issues,” he says.
Assemblyman Don McConachie requested that the Assembly delay their vote on the resolution until further discussions are had between the Hospital and USDA, However the Assembly voted this down 3 to 2. The City will be meeting with the USDA Thursday April 26th to discuss the future of the approximately $24 million loan.
City Clerk Christy Jamieson says she will begin preparing for a special election. The election is scheduled for June 12th 2012 at the Nolan Center. The next Borough Assembly meeting is May 8th at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.