More points used in the tally than were technically available!
It seems unbelievable that a room filled with smart people including doctors, lawyers, executives, educators and the media (me included!), did not figure out that 21+18+3+1 equals 43, which was 3 more points than the total of 40 that were used to choose Steve Lund, the new member of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital /Mendocino Coast Healthcare District Board of Directors. As I sat down Saturday night to watch the meeting and write up an editorial on the proceedings, it dawned on me there was no way possible that Steve Lund could have been fairly elected if the announced results were accurate.
The August 10 special meeting was to conduct interviews with 5 of the 6 candidates who applied to replace Dr. Rohr until the general election November 8. The process was carefully laid out by Chairperson Tom Birdsell and the interviews were facilitated by The League of Women Voters.
While 6 people applied, Frank Gamma was eliminated because he is not a registered voter, which is a prerequisite for the appointment. Candidates included Eric Frey, Steve Lund, Philip Ross, Tanya Smart and Dr. Donovan Spencer.
The process included each candidate answering a series of questions, one each chosen by the current MCDH board members and management, submitted to and vetted by The League of Women Voters. Additionally, candidates were given 2 minutes for an opening statement and a chance to add additional information at the close. Question responses were limited to 2 minutes as well. No community input was allowed.
After the interviews were completed, each of the 4 board members were to fill out an official ballot and were specifically directed to complete it with their first, second and third place candidate preferences. The ballots would then by tallied by CEO Bob Edwards in a separate room under the watchful eye of 2 audience volunteers, John Funderburk, an MCDH employee and Roberta Brockschmidt, a community member attending the event.
Chair Birdsell gave very explicit instructions. Each board member was supposed to fill out the entire ballot with 3 individual names, with no duplicates or blanks which theoretically would result in a total of 40 points.
The ballots were then weighted by first place receiving 6 points, second place 3 points, and third place 1 point. Mr. Edwards returned the final election results to Mr. Birdsell, after thanking the applicants for their thoughtful responses; read the results out load without previewing them first.
The final tally as read were Lund 21 points, Smart 18 points, Frey 3 points, Ross 1point (and Spencer 0 points) which adds up to 43 points! Since there were only supposed to be 40 points, it appears there was an error in the voting or tallying processes and hopefully not an attempt to manipulate the outcome.
Concluding the process, Sean Hogan, who is not running for reelection, made the formal motion to appoint Steve Lund and it passed unanimously.
As I pondered potential math scenarios, with 4 board members voting it would have been easy for there to have been a tie for first place between Lund and Smart, a split with 2 board members each voting Lund and Smart as first and second choices, splitting third place between Frey at 3 and Ross at 1. There was no provision in the process for the potential of a tie vote and the legal appointment was by a legal motion to appoint Steve Lund as the new board member.
Watching the video, it was clear to me that Mr. Lund and Ms. Smart were the applicants with the most relevant experience. Mr. Lund, a retired school superintendent, volunteers for the MCDH Foundation and MCDH Board Planning Committee. Ms. Smart, a community college educator, volunteers on the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Board of Directors and has recently advocated that MCDH retain Labor & Delivery Services. Both have filed to run for the 3 open MCDH Board of Directors positions in the November election, where incumbency may be an advantage over other candidates.
Mendocino TV will follow up immediately as it was announced the ballots will be available for perusal in the CEO’s office with Gayl Moon. There will be follow up to this election irregularity and its consequences, as well as an editorial reflecting my perceptions of the interviews themselves and November election coverage.
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