Broward Health goes dark; Gover­nor Scott clams up

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAN CHRIS­TENSEN Flori­daBull­dog.org

FORT LAUD­ERDALE, Fla. - Things are get­ting stranger at Broward Health.

On Friday, the tax­payer-sub­si­dized pub­lic health sys­tem be­gan re­fus­ing to pro­vide re­quested pub­lic in­for­ma­tion – in this case a list of the salar­ies of its top 25 ex­ec­u­tives who stand to re­ceive hefty bonuses un­der a newly ap­proved man­age­ment in­cen­tive plan.

“We are only re­quired to re­spond to re­quests for pub­lic records and not an­swer ques­tions. Given that, Broward Health will not com­pile in­for­ma­tion,” Broward Health lawyer Kevin Hyde said in an emailed re­sponse. The hospi­tal dis­trict paid Hyde’s firm, Fo­ley & Lard­ner, nearly $2 mil­lion last year, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion re­leased be­fore it stopped an­swer­ing ques­tions. Broward Health col­lected about $137 mil­lion in prop­erty-tax rev­enue in 2017.

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott’s of­fice de­clined to ex­plain why the gover­nor hasn’t sus­pended three sit­ting Broward Health of­fi­cials who were in­dicted by a Broward Grand Jury in De­cem­ber for vi­o­lat­ing Florida’s Gov­ern­ment-in-the-Sun­shine Law. The gover­nor has broad au­thor­ity to sus­pend ap­pointed of­fi­cials in­dicted for a mis­de­meanor re­lated to the du­ties of their of­fice, and has done so be­fore with oth­ers sim­i­larly charged.

NO EX­PLA­NA­TION

“Our of­fice is re­view­ing this,” said the gover­nor’s press sec­re­tary Lau­ren Schenone. She did not ex­plain why, four months af­ter the in­dict­ment was handed down, the gover­nor’s of­fice would need to re­view Scott’s de­ci­sion not to sus­pend in or­der to ex­plain it pub­licly.

Two other for­mer commissioners were also charged by the grand jury: Rocky Ro­driguez, who re­signed last week, and at­tor­ney Linda Ro­bi­son.

Also Monday, in re­sponse to an­other in­quiry by Florida Bull­dog, spokes­woman Schenone said Scott’s in­spec­tor gen­eral has yet to com­plete a re­view of Broward Health’s con­tracts that was an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary 2016 in the wake of the sui­cide of Broward Health Pres­i­dent/ Dr. Na­bil el Sanadi. Then In­spec­tor Gen­eral Melinda Miguel said the re­view was ex­pected to be fin­ished by July 1, 2016.

“The IG’s re­view is still on­go­ing pend­ing ad­di­tional doc­u­ments from Broward Health,” Schenone said in an email. Why Broward Health has not yet pro­duced those doc­u­ments for the in­spec­tor gen­eral was not ex­plained.

At the same time, the gover­nor’s of­fice ex­plained for the first time the fate of Dar­ryl Wright, the Broward Health com­mis­sioner who Scott sus­pended along with Com­mis­sion Chair­man David Di Pi­etro in March 2016 af­ter Miguel ex­pressed “grave con­cerns” about in­ter­fer­ence by the board into her re­view of those con­tracts.

Di Pi­etro sued Scott and was or­dered re­in­stated by a Broward judge a month later. Di Pi­etro, declar­ing vic­tory, then re­signed. Wright, how­ever, did not sue, re­mained un­der sus­pen­sion and sim­ply van­ished from pub­lic dis­cus­sion.

“This po­si­tion was filled,” said Schenone in her email. “Ad­di­tion­ally, his term ex­pired on June 20, 2017.” She did not say who filled Wright’s seat, but Scott did ap­point Ro­bi­son to an un­spec­i­fied va­cant seat on the board a month af­ter Wright was sus­pended.

OF­FI­CIALS UN­DER IN­DICT­MENT

The ac­tive Broward Health of­fi­cials un­der in­dict­ment are Com­mis­sioner Christo­pher Ure, Pres­i­dent/CEO Bev­erly Ca­passo and Gen­eral Coun­sel Linda Bar­rett.

The de­ci­sion by Broward Health to no longer an­swer the pub­lic’s ques­tions comes on the heels of news ear­lier this year that the dis­trict was de­mand­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in ad­min­is­tra­tive and le­gal fees be­fore al­low­ing pub­lic ac­cess to records about its lawyers and le­gal costs.

The stonewalling tac­tic was im­ple­mented by Ca­passo and Bar­rett last year to choke off dis­clo­sure of po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Florida Bull­dog’s re­quest that prompted at­tor­ney Hyde’s March 30 email

Gover­nor Scott

re­sponse sought spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about Ca­passo’s salary and ben­e­fits and the salar­ies of each of the dis­trict’s top 25 ex­ec­u­tives. Those of­fi­cials stand to ben­e­fit most from the

in­cen­tive plan that was en­acted last week.

The Sun-Sen­tinel re­ported March 28 that the board raised Ca­passo’s an­nual salary from $650,000 to $750,000.

“To re­spond to both in­quires, Broward Health would have to com­pile the in­for­ma­tion,” Hyde wrote be­fore stat­ing that the dis­trict would not do so.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BROWARDHEALTH.ORG

Broward Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Ft. Laud­erdale

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WFSU.ORG

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