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Broward Health Documents Arrive (Anonymously) in Defense of Commissioner

Anonymously mailed envelopes are usually full of a whistleblower's goodies. But today's discovery was a bit of a let-down: This envelope with no return address contained the minutes of the April 7, 2008 special meeting by the North Broward Hospital District board.

That was the day that the commissioners had summoned their general counsel, Laura Seidman, to tell her she was failing at her job and that if she didn't improve, she would be fired. It listed 11 "performance deficiencies," followed by a 7-point action plan for how she could save herself.

The point of the sender, you can bet, is to demonstrate that Commissioner Rebecca Stoll had legitimate grounds for pressuring Seidman to resign.

In the document, which Board Chair Mike Fernandez read to Seidman at the meeting, the general counsel was accused of "excessive absenteeism" and delegating "almost everything" in the legal department to her subordinates. That staff had grown under Seidman, it said, and yet her general counsel's office was sending out a great many legal bills to outside firms, a habit that made additional legal expenses for the district, which has funded partially through taxes. It had become evident, according to the commissioners' statement, that Seidman had a "lack of substantive knowledge of health care laws."

And maybe she did. But to Seidman's credit, she disclosed that in her interview, saying of health care law "It's not one of my strengths," according to a Buddy Nevins column in the Sun-Sentinel. So how did she in the job in the first place? Clearly, her connections in the Republican Party played a big factor in convincing commissioners -- who are appointed by Republican governors -- to overlook her shortcomings in health care law.

The sender, it seems, is submitting the document to refute the allegations made in the memo by Seidman that was the basis for this post a few weeks ago. In the memo, which you can read here, Seidman claims that Stoll was furious about her having refused to join Stoll's campaign to oust district CEO Alan Levine.

Seidman's memo is dated April 2, 2008. Again, the special meeting to critique Seidman came on April 7. She resigned a few weeks later.

So even if that special meeting didn't come as a reaction to allegations made by Seidman against Stoll (and Maureen Jaeger and Joseph Cobo), the question remains: Why did it took two years for commissioners to give an ultimatum to a general counsel who, based on the review, was failing at virtually every aspect of the job?

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Thomas Francis

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