For Broward Health CEO Frank Nask, there's a fine line between unemployment and a multimillionaire's lifestyle. He's glad to have landed in the latter. This past January, Nask was facing the prospect of being terminated by the public hospital district's board of commissioners, a majority of whom appeared to believe he was incompetent, secretive, and liable to lead the district toward major penalties for fraud and abuse.
But Commissioner Robert Bernstein was not able to bring his motion for terminating Nask for a vote because commissioners Mike Fernandez and Joseph Cobo -- who were both supporters of Nask -- didn't show up to the January 27 board meeting. The lack of a quorum led to the meeting's cancellation, and on the following day, Gov. Charlie Crist removed Bernstein and Commissioner Dan Gordon from the board, then filled two vacancies. By the next week, Fernandez's schedule cleared up, Cobo's health had improved, and four new commissioners were sworn in. With Bernstein gone, his agenda item was dropped, and Nask had new life as the hospital system's executive leader.
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This coincided with the resignation of other hospital leaders, perhaps because they'd been rooting for Nask's removal. In what appears the final act of retrenchment, last week Nask was given a five-year contract from the board. It will pay him at least $600,000 annually -- and likely much more after bonuses.
According to the terms of Nask's contract, he'll be paid a year's salary as severance if he's fired "without good cause." He would forgo that severance package only if he was convicted of a felony, missed an "excessive" amount of work, developed a substance abuse addiction, or simply refused to do his job.
In short, he's got it made. The employment agreement included in the board's agenda doesn't describe the bonus structure, but traditionally the district's bonus pool allows for executives to rack up bonuses nearly a third of their base salary.
Nask's job security should also be good news to Deborah Breen, a friend of Nask's who has been receiving a big paycheck as vice president of operations that was also a source of concern for Bernstein.