Hospital district parliamentarian resigns over direction board taking on UW alliance

Robert McBeth -
Robert McBeth
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The former Renton District Court judge hired to bring some civility to the meetings of the Public Hospital District No. 1 Commission has resigned as commission parliamentarian.

Robert McBeth was hired in October 2010, at a time when the two factions on the board were at “each other’s throats” and the meetings were becoming “uncivil,” as he described the board relationships.

“I was able to bring some order,” McBeth said Tuesday.

His role was not to engage in debate, he said.

McBeth’s tenure as board parliamentarian also included the several months that the five commissioners reviewed and then approved on a 3-2 vote a strategic alliance between Valley Medical Center and  UW Medicine.

The 3-2 vote reflected the two “factions,” the then-majority, Don Jacobson, Carolyn Parnell and Sue Bowman, and the minority vote, Dr. Aaron Heide and Anthony Hemstad.

That majority changed following the November general election, when Jacobson was replaced by Dr. Paul Joos, who is now the president of the elected district commission.

McBeth said he has resigned because he didn’t want to facilitate what he says are the new majority’s efforts to undo the alliance with the UW, which he calls one of Valley Medical Center’s best moves.

“I am concerned there is a concerted effort to undermine the alliance,” he said.

McBeth said Tuesday that resolutions presented by Joos at Monday’s commission meeting weren’t “properly drafted,” which he brought to the board’s attention. He was asked to help redraft the motions.

In an interview Joos said the redrafting issue arose because he used the word “whereas” rather than “therefore” in writing the resolutions. “That is the help he gave us,” said Joos.

“That’s not a big deal,” McBeth said of the actual redrafting. “I was having to draft resolutions that I disagree with. I didn’t feel comfortable with that.”

Joos sought McBeth’s help because this was the first time in 20 years that a board member had prepared a resolution, rather than the hospital administration.

But McBeth said the board had other plans for his job no matter what he decided to do. The board is hiring new legal counsel, who Joos said could serve as parliamentarian.

McBeth and Joos had met for about an hour after the Jan. 23 meeting, at which time McBeth said he told Joos he was “uncomfortable with the direction he was taking the board.”

After Monday night’s board meeting, McBeth and Joos met for less than five minutes during which McBeth resigned as parliamentarian.

Asked about McBeth’s comment that the board was trying to undo the strategic alliance, Joos said, “I can’t comment on that.”

He called McBeth a “great guy,” but noted he is a parliamentarian. “He doesn’t have control over our decisions,” Joos said.

Joos said the board is getting an independent legal opinion on the legality of the strategic alliance. The board also has hired its own legal counsel and is taking a new look at the board bylaws the former commission adopted.

A theme throughout the resolutions is an effort to save money, according to Joos.


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