Editorial: Conflict resolution
Friday’s deadline for area residents to submit letters stating interest in filling a vacancy on The Memorial Hospital board came and went with two people — both county employees — declaring their willingness to serve.
Are those county employees — budget analyst Tinneal Gerber and emergency management coordinator Tom Soos — well qualified?
Are they intelligent and experienced in fields that could be valuable to the hospital’s management?
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Should the commission choose one of them to serve?
Not in a million years, and a single thought given to the idea is a complete waste of time, the Editorial Board contends.
Before we proceed, let this board clearly state a couple of things.
First, Gerber and Soos, already public servants, should be commended for expressing interest in the hospital board and for their willingness to help their community in an expanded capacity.
This opinion isn’t about their abilities or intentions.
As stated above, board members believe Gerber and Soos would be tremendous assets to just about any organization or agency they served.
Next, that the county commission ended with only two candidates for the hospital board vacancy is not its’ failing, but rather one by community members. The lack of public interest is especially surprising given that TMH is perhaps the most criticized agency in the community.
People clamor at times for change regarding the hospital. Well, the community was lobbed a big, fat softball of an opportunity to be part of the change they seek, and completely whiffed when it came time to put up or shut up.
Nonetheless, are we to believe that Craig and Moffat County, with thousands of residents varying greatly in background, expertise and ideas, can only produce two candidates who could benefit the hospital?
Therefore, the commission isn’t entirely responsible for its limitation on candidates to consider today. Commissioners are simply playing the hand they’ve been dealt.
But, they shouldn’t be playing at all. They should fold and wait for a better draw.
Gerber and Soos answer directly to the county commission, and they’re appointment to the board managing the county-owned hospital represents at least the perception of a conflict of interest. This is counter-productive to the best interests of the public the hospital serves.
It would be hard, Editorial Board members contend, for either employee to go against directives they’re employers — the commission — handed down regarding hospital management.
The Editorial Board isn’t saying that would happen, but simply that the potential would exist for such an occurrence.
And, the hint of a conflict is enough to avoid a questionable appointment altogether.
After all, the current board vacancy was created by avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Chairman Ron Danner, whose board seat is up for grabs, resigned for that very reason.
He said there was chatter in the community about him serving on a board that was overseen by a commission that includes his wife, commissioner Audrey Danner, being problematic.
How much sense would it make to trade one conflict — real or perceived doesn’t matter — for another one?
None at all.
The Editorial Board hopes the county commission does the right thing this morning and scraps the candidacy of Gerber and Soos and goes back to the drawing board. The commission should kindly thank them for their interest, but politely decline their offer.
If the community can’t come up with candidates, the commission and hospital board should recruit people that don’t have imbedded ties already.
That wouldn’t be hard and wouldn’t have to take long.
While recruiting, the county could also extend its deadline seeking candidates, and the community — knowing what the alternative could be — should quit its constant moaning and groaning and step up with people willing to participate.
It’s not an ideal situation for anyone, the Editorial Board contends, but one that could be salvaged with clear thinking and action today.
Of course, common sense and government don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Here’s hoping today is one time they do.
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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. to include a response from the Bureau of Land Management’s national office.