Total Transparency Before Taxes

Mendocino Coast District Hospital, “MCDH” is owned and supported by their community.

One unique characteristic, that has been observed for quite some time, has been the make-up of the MCDH/MCHD Board of Directors. In most circumstances a person who is employed by the agency they are candidates for, cannot run, due to a conflict of interest. MCDH has been ignoring this basic tenet of governance with the legal excuse, “They are contractors, not employees, so they just have to recuse themselves when negotiating their own contracts.”

This lack of transparency leaves the community suspicious when financial statements and political activities arise, where the shortfalls are always blamed on external forces or lack of taxes. Management NEVER admits that they may have made a poor decision, a mistake,  a criminal act or they may be paying outrageous money for services that shouldn’t cost so much or are unnecessary. Mendocino TV has watched current and past Directors sit on the Board while their private businesses have negotiated sweetheart deals and hide these deals behind “Closed Sessions” and personnel confidentiality.

The result of this excessively lenient attitude towards apparent conflicts of interests has been a lack of trust by the community when issues regarding the hospital come to the public’s awareness. This situation has to end if MCDH management wants to pass any new taxes in our community. We propose the MCDH/MCHD Board of Directors make a legally binding commitment to the voters they serve not to allow this aberration to continue. That act would go a long way towards regaining the trust of the coastal residents. Until we see a transparent Board of Directors, with no financial entanglements with the entity they oversee and direct, we cannot support any new taxes.  It is anticipated the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District will be requesting additional taxes as a part of the plan expected to come from this joint meeting.

We believe this problem can be addressed and resolved with a by-laws change. Although the legal implications may be many, we trust that the existing attorney, John Ruprecht is up to the task of crafting the necessary legal documents to accomplish this goal and still be sensitive to the other privacy issues involved.


  1. As a former MCDH Board member and contracted physician, I must take exception to your conclusion.

    1. MCDH Board members are elected by the residents of the District. Voters knew, or should have known, that some elected physicians had contracts with the hospital. If one is uncomfortable with that situation there is a simple remedy: don’t vote for them. No “bylaws change” is necessary. Such a bylaws change is probably illegal as it restricts an otherwise qualified person to run for the Board, and it also insults the intelligence of the voters.

    2. In this hospital, as in all hospitals these days, virtually all practicing physicians have contracts with their hospital. So if you want a local practicing physician, they will be contracted(or employed by some group). Yes, there is a potential problem with conflict of interest, but practicing physicians are in the hospital every day(and night). They see it all–the good, the bad, and the ugly and bring a unique perspective which I feel is sorely needed.

    3. I’m not sure any physicians have “sweetheart deals.” Hospitals are legally mandated to pay fair market value for physician services, and there are strict penalties for non-compliance. Although physician contacts are approved in closed session, once they are signed they are available to the public(California Public Records Act.) If you ask to see the contracts, you will probably meet a fair amount of resistance, but it is my understanding you have a legal right to do so.

    (Benjamin Graham, MD)

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