Could it Be? A Hospital Board Member Itching for Ethics Reform? | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Could it Be? A Hospital Board Member Itching for Ethics Reform?

Since May, this blog has turned up allegations of ethical misconduct by five of the seven commissioners who rule the North Broward Hospital District. That leaves just two -- Dan Gordon and Rhonda Calhoun. And at last Wednesday's meeting, when nary a member of the South Florida media was there to bear witness, Calhoun finally fired a shot across the bow at her fellow commissioners.

Her remarks came during the meeting of the board's Law Review Committee, as the board members considered whether they were individually entitled to written opinions from the district's general counsel, or whether that costly legal errand should only be available by majority vote. Calhoun was in the latter camp.

"What I find extremely frustrating about this board," began Calhoun, "is that any time anything comes forward that makes us better, that makes it a little more restrictive or makes us more ethical, nobody wants to go there."

Maybe Calhoun was emboldened by that day's epic scandal, which would suck in the district's long time general counsel, Bill Scherer, who left in 2005 amid allegations his firm used the tax-subsidized hospital system as a cash cow.

In any case, that day's scandal is the reason that I wasn't there to witness Calhoun's remarks. I'm quoting her from the tape, which I acquired Friday via public records request.

John DeGroot, the former Sun-Sentinel scribe and current blogger, says he was the only member of the Fourth Estate, though he was more interested in getting a copy of the district's budget -- he said that for the first time he could remember, the district was demanding to be paid in exchange for the documents.

Robert Bernstein, the commissioner who wanted a written legal opinion from the general counsel, fired back at Calhoun, saying that the district charter gave him that right. But it was evident that Calhoun's concerns were much, much bigger than this single question. The culture, she told her fellow commissioners, is one where, "Let's leave it as it is, so we can all do what we want."

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Thomas Francis

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