In a blatant violation of the Open Public Meetings Act, Dr. J. Michael Edwards and Dr. Mark Schwinge met in private to decide who to appoint to the two open positions on the San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 Board. Asked if they had coordinated before the meeting, Edwards said yes. When told it was illegal, he said two board members can meet in private. That is only true if there were five or more members on the board. The board had only three members, meaning two votes is a majority. Edwards and Schwinge clearly violated the OPMA.
Dr. Mark Schwinge, Dr. Warren Appleton, Rebecca Smith, Anna Lisa Lindstrum and Dr. J. Michael Edwards at the end of the February 8, 2018 Hospital District Board meeting. Photo by Sharon Kivisto
In the round of voting for filling position #5 Schwinge and Edwards voted to appoint Rebecca Smith. Smith's husband is an EMT and Board member Anna Lisa Lindstrum had expressed concerns about potential conflict of interest when it comes to voting on issues affecting EMTS. Lindstrum voted for Barbara Sharp. Sharp served on the hospital board until her term expired at the end of 2017.
In the second round of voting, Smith, Schwinge and Edwards voted for Dr. Warren Appleton, a six-year resident of San Juan County. According to Lindstrom, emails have been sent back and forth between Smith, Edwards and Schwinge in the few weeks leading up to this board meeting.
The five candidates not selected included Sharp, longtime Director of the county Health and Commmunity Services Department John Manning, David Meiland, C. Mitchell Shlosser. and Dr. David Balmer.
Appleton has said he will only serve two years and won't run for re-election.