San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 Commission's attorney Richard Davis said, "Issue we have had recently is you know quite honestly a bit of a gray issue, it really is. He was referring to the questions raised in the media after Commissioners J Michael Edwards and Mark Schwinge communicated about filling the two vacancies on the board outside of an open meeting. The district has stated two members can communicate since it is a five-member board (even though two of the seats were vacant) and two is not a quorum. The district is also saying that the board can take action by a 2-1 vote.
When staff at the Attorney General's Office was asked by San Juan Islander if the actions violate the OPMA, the staff said an Attorney General's Opinion would be required to answer the questions. The PHD can obtain an AGO if either Senator Kevin Ranker, Rep. Kristine Lytton, Rep. Jeff Morris or San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord requested one for the PHD. At the February 26 worksession set up to educate the PHD board and staff about the OPMA and the Public Records Act and board governance, Davis emphasized, "You can violate it if you knowingly violate it." To prove a violation of the OPMA, the plaintiff would have to prove the violation was made knowingly. Action taken in violation of the OPMA can be voided. Asked by San Juan Islander editor Sharon Kivisto if it wouldn't be wise in the light of the "gray area" for the PHD to obtain an AGO, Davis declined to answer since he has been informed a lawsuit regarding the issue might be filed.