DEPARTURES: Koester Retires from Ventura Post, PacifiCare CFO Resigns
As Ventura County struggles to find a way to pay a $15.3 million settlement to the federal government for Medicare fraud, county Chief Administrator Lin Koester quietly left the position where he found himself "entangled in the failed health department merger he opposed," the Los Angeles Times reports. Koester has been at the "center of the storm" over the botched merger and the subsequent Medicare settlement, which could ultimately cost the county as much as $20 million. "It's a shame that all of his energy these past few months has gone to balancing a negative situation," said Supervisor Judy Mikels, a "close ally." She added that "it's to Lin's credit that it hasn't gotten worse," lauding Koester for working toward a consensus. Supervisor Frank Schillo also praised the retiring administrator for bringing "discipline to what they say had been a lax county administration." Armed with the county's $955-million budget and 7,000 employees, Koester balanced the budget and acted as a "conciliator," his allies said yesterday at his departure, which noticeably lacked the "same flowing tributes and frivolity that marked" the exit of his predecessor, Richard Wittenberg. Mikels presented Koester with a standard-issue Ventura County baseball cap and joined Schillo and Supervisor John Flynn in a few words of praise, while Supervisors Susan Long and Kathy Lacey, who believed the merger was not a mistake, "remained silent." Mikels said of the brief presentation, "I did not want him to go away from his last board meeting without some acknowledgement from the board. And the baseball cap quite frankly wasn't from the board. It was from me" (Saillant, 9/16).
A Short Stay
PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. announced yesterday that CFO Robert Stearns would resign "over differences with other executives," the Los Angeles Times reports. Stearns is leaving the company 14 months after he arrived, said spokesperson Lisa Boyette, because "his vision for PacifiCare's future wasn't the same as that of the rest of the management team" (Finkle, Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times, 9/16).