Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shades of Watergate; Missing Minutes, Blame the Secretary

During Tuesday night's Eden Township Healthcare District board meeting there was no smoking gun, no deep throat or bumbling burglars, but there is suspicious evidence of missing information.

It was revealed minutes from hearings in 2008 detailing the Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) between the District and Sutter do not exist and blamed the previous secretary. Many believe the agreement armed the health care provider with enormous power over the future of San Leandro.

During Watergate, investigators found the infamous 18 1/2 minutes of silence causing an uproar over White House malfeasance and corruption. The Nixon administration blamed the president's secretary Rose Mary Woods for the gap. Later, she testified to inadvertently erasing Nixon's conversation with his chief of staff.

Eden Township CEO Dev Mahadevan said the minutes did not exist and therefore never presented to the board for approval. The former secretary attempted to reconstruct the nearly two year old minutes from her notes, said Mahadevan, yet board members Dr. Vin Sawhney and Carole Rodgers along with state Sen. Ellen Corbett balked at the documents validity. "I find quite a few inaccuracies,"said Sawhney. "Even I spoke at these meetings and was not mentioned."

Further complicating the board's attempt to approve dated minutes is the current board is different than the group which presided over the signing of the M.O.U. "It isn't proper for me to sign minutes for a meeting that happened before this present board," said Rodgers.

Corbett told the board she read the minutes the night before and remembered many people who spoke at the hearings that were not recorded in the current version of the minutes.

The question becomes what exactly is missing from the piecemeal version of the minutes? Some believe the missing information may contain either motions or public comments not in the best interests of Sutter, while others speculate the faulty minutes as constructed would not be approved by the current board therefore allowing the M.O.U. as written and tilted towards Sutter's favor to stand.

"It's an indication of Sutter's manipulation of this board," said Mike Brannan of the California Nurses Association. "It's apparent they will get it what they want one way or another."


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