Public Participation Squelched!
Editorial by Marianne McGee, MA/ABS
Hubris is not even strong enough to describe the arrogance exhibited at the May Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Finance Committee meeting, as Dr. Lucas Campos refused to take public comment until the end of the meeting and lectured attendees. “This is a meeting held in the public, not with the public” he declared, just after inappropriately trying to entertain a motion for a parcel tax.
In fact, a motion had not been made to accept the MCDH Budget although they had discussed it in great length and detail, when former Board President Tom Birdsell carefully coached Dr. Campos on how to legally proceed.
When Dr. Peter Glusker, long time local physician and resident, challenged Chair Campos’s interpretation of public input he was also lectured in a condescending manner, insisting the Brown Act is only to hold meetings in public.
Clip A covers valuable information on the hospital financial issues, including the parcel tax, capital equipment issues and registry problems as well as the initial conflicts over public participation.
Watch Clip B, as the only two members of the public present, express their shock and frustration at Dr. Campos’s declarations, offering concrete suggestions as to ways that he could improve his leadership skills.
I was shocked by the irony of him moving the parcel tax forward as public input is relegated to the end of the meeting only and further minimized by his declaring people need to write down questions or potential agenda items and submit them. Apparently at the offsite and improperly noticed special meeting April 1, a decision was made to limit public input at all MCDH meetings. While it was agendized as an educational session on the Brown Act, it appears the spirit of the law has been crushed. This community has long participated in these meetings and this action appears to disenfranchise voters as well as the pool of volunteers needed to ensure success.
Literally life and death issues are being decided by too many people without local knowledge and no long term community commitment as MCDH continues to waiver on the edge of destruction. When the community expresses itself through meetings or surveys, its needs and priorities are ignored unless it fits the political agenda driven by relative newcomers, many of whom benefit financially by their “service”.
Mendocino TV would like nothing more than to be able to report MCDH is healthy and successful. It is painful to contribute to the negative image by reporting what we perceive to be growing problems with the hospital’s management. The public must stay vigilant, demanding their needs and priorities be heard.