The Pend Oreille Hospital District Board of Trustees,, aided by prior county and state prosecutorial nonfeasance, signed onto an “agreement” that replaces decades of unlawful funding. “
In summary, the district’s funding of Bonner Hospital, in our view, fails to comply with Idaho’s applicable constitutional and statutory provisions,” Idaho Consumer Protection Division, Deputy Attorney General Brett DeLange’s Oct. 16, 2018, letter to POHD. On Oct. 23, 2018, the super-majority of POHD board, including Trustee Burgstahler, defiantly voted to unlawfully transfer thousands of dollars to BGH. The 2019 “agreement,” drafted primarily by the Bonner General Health, Inc. attorney, exclusively funds with public tax dollars the “agreement’s” creator, BGH.
The POHD Board never discussed or debated material conditions of the “agreement” in open public meeting or in executive session. Eighty-seven pages of “agreement” and sub-lease documents were approved within 14.5 hours of receipt, without a single question asked by the super-majority of POHD trustees, thus continuing $1.2 million of annual subsidy funding of BGH’s $55 million of expenses.
The flawed “agreement” depicts that “lipstick has been applied to the pig” and a conflicted POHD board remains a subservient tool and/or blissfully loyal to BGH interests, to the detriment of many. The “agreement” identifies POHD subordination to BGH, contradicting statements, subsidy conditions, conflicts of interest and alleged violations of Idaho Code occurring at least six times each. The March 26, 2019, POHD board meeting identified the super-majority’s newest funding impropriety desire.
Feb. 13, 2019, POHD minutes identify fiduciary violation by the unscrupulous super-majority in avoiding discussion of a motion to fund the only eligible “public” medical clinic (Panhandle Health) that exists within the POHD. The predictable super-majority voted 6-1 for the monopoly “agreement.”
Further, If one should concede to the Attorney General’s legal gymnastics that a private entity can be funded with public tax dollars (corporate welfare), one needs to ask…, why was the private entity, Kaniksu Health, which offers similar clinical services, never considered for public funding prior to, or, under the 2019 POHD crony-capitalism “agreement?” What makes the POHD unlike other public taxing districts (county and school) that are required to engage in a “bid process” for purchases, leases and contracts?
Answer: A feckless prosecutor is protecting the rogue super-majority of the POHD board (six of seven), which also comprises a majority (six of 10) of the BGH board positions. Overlapping boards contribute to a lack of transparency, lessen fair-market competition, and ensure financial benefit to BGH, a POHD objective for decades. On Feb. 26, 2019, an Idaho legislative committee, in a split vote, declined to mitigate overlapping board composition. The “legislative fix” was applied as supporting testimony was denied by the committee chairman’s epic fair-handedness, and only oppositional testimony was allowed, provided by the chairman of the BGH board (the $1.2 milion beneficiary) and two Idaho registered lobbyists.
The above identifies that transparent and ethical corrective action is left to the electors. The next POHD board member up for un-election on May 21, 2019, and the epitome of conflicted interest, is Trustee Burgstahler. In opposing a Dec. 18, 2018, bylaw change aimed at reducing board member conflict of interest, Burgstahler stated, “that would knock me off the board as I get patient referrals” (from BGH). Would Burgstahler’s wife being on the BGH medical staff raise a second financial conflict of interest as POHD Trustee Burgstahler appropriates subsidy funding to BGH, which indirectly and arguably has positive impact on two household incomes? Deceit under the guise of benevolence is troubling and a long-standing practice at POHD. Voting for the non-incumbent, Spencer Hutchings, on May 21, 2019, is a step toward an independent and trustworthy POHD board.