As Crist Dithers, Republican Applicants to Hospital Board Wait for Call to Serve

Everybody wants to be on the Broward Health board, it seems, except the people who are actually on the Broward Health board. Specifically, the four-person majority of Mike Fernandez, Joseph Cobo, Rebecca Stoll, and Maureen Jaeger, whose politically motivated absences are responsible for the board's having canceled its last two scheduled meetings.

So in the interest of moving forward with the business of one of the nation's largest public hospital districts, Juice will play matchmaker between the governor's office and some nice, smart, available candidates for board seats. Let's start with Marvin Dejean.

Dejean, a native Haitian, runs a marketing and public relations firm in Corals Springs called Markcom Industries. He's an activist in South Florida's Caribbean community, having helped raise millions of dollars for a variety of worthy causes over the past decade.

Over that time, he's also had dealings with the Broward Health system, having served on its Community Relations Council since around 2003. Dejean says the district wanted his help in improving its service to the local members of Caribbean community.

"It's a question of awareness," says Dejean. "For example, you may have a young mother from Haiti who is delivering a baby. There are cultural differences -- these women tend to be shy, and they nod their heads even when they don't understand."

Dejean and his wife recorded a video for Broward Health to show its staff about the nuances of communicating with Caribbean patients.

OK, enough feel-good stuff. Let's get down to brass tacks. Prerequisite number one: Is Dejean a Republican?

"Yes, I've been involved with the Republican Party for the last 20 years," says Dejean, who formerly was a leader of the Broward Republican Outreach Coalition, which sought to invite minorities into the party. He knows George LeMieux, Chip LeMarca, and other Broward Republican heavyweights he's encountered at local party functions.

Great. So far so good. Prerequisite number two: Is Dejean generous with donations to the Florida Republican Party?

"I doubt that," he says. "I give what I can, but you won't see my name on the list of big givers."

Uh-oh. In our conversation, Dejean made a number of excellent points about how he could bring a "fresh perspective" to the board, how he had none of the usual health-care business-related conflicts and so could avoid the "sweetheart deals" for which the commissioners are notorious. All of which makes him a model candidate -- the fact that he's of Haitian descent makes him even more attractive as a way of the governor's making a statement for diversity and against the good ol' boys network.

But the governor's got a U.S. Senate campaign to run, and a cynic might say that Crist needs campaign donations more than he needs a feel-good story like Marvin Dejean. Whatever the case, there's no excuse for Crist's failing to appoint somebody, anybody, so long as it means the governing body of this enormous health-care district can actually meet.

For more on Dejean's background, check out this profile in the South Florida Times.

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