DOWNEY: City Officials Countersue Over Closed-Door Meetings
In their latest effort to gain access to closed-door hospital board meetings, Downey city officials filed a countersuit against Downey Community Hospital "last Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court." Council members are concerned about financial troubles and mismanagement at the hospital, and city attorneys "have asked a judge to open closed hospital board meetings to City Council members," the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. Meetings of the hospital's foundation board are open to non-voting city council members, but the council wants access to "meetings of the hospital's holding company board, which oversees the hospital and its subsidiary health plan and insurance agency."
Hospital board members said they hope the judge agrees with their contention that the lease allows the city to sit in on some, but not all meetings. Sam Smock, a board member and former chair of the foundation board, said: "My issue with the city is the interpretation of the lease. They interpret that they have a right to be involved ... in everything we do and we don't agree with that." No matter what the outcome, the Press-Telegram reports, Smock wants to get the matter resolved quickly. "If it's more in their favor than ours, at least we'll know we have to abide by it," he said. Former Downey mayor Dianne Boggs said she is more concerned that the issue will undermine the hospital's "credibility in the community." A bill currently in the state Senate -- AB 146 by Assemblywoman Sally Havice (D-Artesia) -- "would open the hospital's meetings to the council," the Press-Telegram reports (Douglas, 7/22). For past California Healthline coverage of the closed door controversy, click here. In addition, the state Attorney General's office is currently auditing the hospital's finances following allegations of misused donations.