Letter to the Editor: Hospital district board drama



If you missed the July 31 board of directors meeting for the Somervell County Hospital District, you can watch the posted videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GlenRoseMedCenter) The drama doesn’t start until agenda item XI: Discuss/Take action on list of questions for potential attorneys.

accesories-text-editor-hiIt turns out that Mr. Paul Harper and Mr. Chip Harrison, have taken it upon themselves to round up a list of seven possible replacements for the hospital’s attorney of 20 years, Mr. Kevin Reed. This is just in case Mr. Harper can actually manage to pull off getting Mr. Reed fired even though there’s no reason to and no action has been taken by the board on this issue. These two really believe in planning ahead!

It seems that Mr. Harper is still upset about his failed petition last year when he was against the hospital district. Now that he’s in power, he’s for the hospital district so he can try to defund it instead (Plan B). He believes that Mr. Reed should have been looking for ways to approve the signatures petitioning for a recall election instead of looking for ways not to approve them.

Whew! I never realized there were such nuanced interpretations to the law. Mr. Harrison stands by Mr. Harper in the search for a new attorney and claims that he is trying to save the hospital money. Those of us who have had real-life experience with attorneys, however, remain unconvinced since we know the most important reason not to frivolously change legal representation is to avoid the extra expense that will follow. Of course, any fool can figure this out, but Mr. Harper and Mr. Harrison are no fools!

I guess Mr. John Parker had also been made privy to the plan because he could hardly contain his excitement about having an opportunity to give the attorneys who might interview for the job “the third degree in person.” Mr. Parker, just what would you be giving these attorneys the third degree about? I can think of a few questions the interviewees might ask you. Question: “Mr. Parker, it’s my understanding that the board fired your previous attorney of 20 years because one of your members disagreed with his understanding of the law. Will your new attorney be facing the same obstacle? If so, I don’t believe our firm would be interested in representing Glen Rose Medical Center.” Fortunately, the list got tabled but the “Who’s going to get the ax because someone has ISSUES?” nonsense continues. Surprise, surprise!

I won’t go into the Facebook thing except to say that it all became very confusing until it returned to where it was before this board took office. At least I think that’s what happened. We did, however, learn a few interesting tidbits. Mr. (Ron) Hankins reminded the board that when an entity fiddles around with its FB page and deletes comments, there may be serious legal ramifications. Mr. Harper didn’t flinch a bit when he heard this which made us wonder if he had known this all along even though his actions when he unilaterally took over the GRMC FB page and deleted comments suggested otherwise. We also received another impassioned lecture from Mr. Harrison about how we don’t want GRMCs FB page to look bad, something that was never a problem until the new board was seated. Then we got to learn from Mr. Parker that he doesn’t even have a FB page! Now how could things get any more exciting than this?

Last but not least was the burning question of resolving the tie between Mr. (Gene) Brode and Mr. Harper (drum roll, please). Even though it’s been almost three months since the election, these two members apparently did not think the issue was important enough to include on previous agendas. But now that Mr. Hankins has, it appears that Mr. Harper was actually working on articulating his response for this inevitable moment all along. Mr. Brode, as usual, had no comment.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Harper refused to accept the recommendation of the Secretary of State’s Election Division because it was the hospital’s attorney that made this inquiry. He also disputed with Mr. Hankins, board member and a real-life attorney, any interpretation of the law that differs from his own, down to and including what the word ‘majority’ means. He insisted that the ‘process’ requires the board to consult the Attorney General in Austin for a ruling even if this might actually take six months, and he seemed genuinely unconcerned about the increase in fees this would generate for that attorney he really doesn’t like and refuses to listen to. Why shucks, now that we have Mr. Harper on board, maybe GRMC won’t even need to have an attorney!

Mr. Harper believes that the State of Texas Election Code does not apply in this situation so we can’t rush this. According to him, we can go as long as until next February to settle the burning question before causing any problems with the next board election in May. He’s convinced that we might get sued if we resolve the tie in a less complicated way. We can only guess how long Mr. Harper would have had to keep his well-researched legal opinions to himself had Mr. Hankins not pressed the issue because certainly this strategy has not been discussed with any other board members off the record, right? And it’s obvious that Mr. Harper and his supporters on the board aren’t bothered about the appearance of conflict of interest over a plan of action that has been constructed without the benefit of legal counsel by one of the two people involved in the tie question. Yes, Mr. Harper, I think consulting the Attorney General about all this might be the best idea you’ve come up with so far. Why, I bet you’ve even got that phone number on your speed dial!

Mr. Harper, Mr. Harrison and Mr. Parker then proceeded to profess their adamant desire to resolve this problem as soon as possible even though they, along with Mr. Brode, voted four to three against the motion made by Mr. Brent Nabors to do just that by simply flipping a coin. This happens to be one of the options in our state’s election code for resolving the tie even though Mr. Harper is confident it does not apply to us.

So, let’s not worry about the little things like the inappropriateness of the two members in question participating in this vote. Let’s look on the bright side. After all, these four board members have real solidarity and that’s just got to count for something!

By the way, we were very encouraged to hear from Mr. Harrison that he has had an epiphany about what many of us already knew: The real problems for GRMC stem from the health insurance crisis in this country and not, as some have alleged, from fraud or mismanagement at the local level. Now that’s what I call progress!

So stay tuned everyone and pass the popcorn, please. The next meeting will be rolling around before we know it!

Suzanne Gentling




One Response to Letter to the Editor: Hospital district board drama

  1. Joan Taylor Reply

    August 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I salute Ms Gentling for her insight in retelling the “drama” of the last GRMC Board meeting. It was the most interesting debacle’s of the law and of Robert’s Rules I have ever seen/heard.

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