Sitka Community Hospital. (Photo courtesy of the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation)

The Sitka Hospital Board appointments made by the assembly at its January 8 meeting will stand. A procedural issue at that meeting had raised questions about the legality of the appointments of David Lam and Mary Ann Hall. (Photo/Sitka Community Hospital)


The Sitka Hospital Board appointments made by the assembly at its January 8 meeting will stand. A procedural issue at that meeting had raised questions about the legality of the appointments of David Lam and Mary Ann Hall.

In the end, however,  the assembly decided to leave both in their seats — but not until after debate spilled over into allegations of conflict of interest on the assembly.

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At the January 8th meeting, the assembly voted to appoint former board member Mary Ann Hall and and incumbent David Lam to the Sitka Community Hospital board, choosing not to re-appoint the board president Connie Sipe.

But after they appointed the two, Deputy Mayor Steven Eisenbeisz said city clerk Sara Peterson, who was not in attendance, realized there had been a mistake.

“When the city re-did the hospital board, they made sure that there were people from certain specific backgrounds and expertise who sat on the board,” Eisenbeisz said. We realized that we did not advertise in accordance with code and therefore the assembly’s actions were not in compliance with code.”

The available seats — the financial and medical positions — require special knowledge according to city code. Since they hadn’t designated which seats Lam and Hall would be taking, city attorney Brian Hanson recommended that the assembly rescind the offers, re-advertise, and reappoint. During public testimony, David Lam came forward and said he would be fine with the medical position he applied for, but did not want the assembly to move forward if it meant he would receive the financial position.

“I can do quality assurance. I can do personnel actions. I can do medical staff issues. But very honestly, the thing I’m the weakest at is budgeting and spreadsheets,” Lam said. “Unlike the person who is in that position right now, Connie (Sipe), who does it extremely well and is very knowledgeable. So, I have heard it mentioned as a possibility that you don’t need to rescind this, that you can just appoint me to the financial position and appoint MaryAnn Hall to the medical position. And I would like to say that would be a disaster, I am not qualified for the financial position.”

Assembly member Valorie Nelson said she wouldn’t vote to rescind the previous decision, the financial seat could go to Hall.

“When I had a conversation with the clerk I said ‘Why couldn’t MaryAnn Hall be the financial position — why wouldn’t she be as qualified as Connie Sipe? Connie Sipe is not any one of those things. Yes she runs Center for Community, but MaryAnn Hall, by virtue of being a homemaker, could be considered a financial position. So I’m not going to vote in favor of rescinding my vote.”

The conversation shifted when it came to city code — Nelson said she felt the assembly breaks code ‘quite often’ and said that now was the opportune time to bring up a conflict of interest she planned on addressing during persons to be heard later in the evening.

“I contacted our attorney back on December 6th after forcible entry and detainer hearing against assembly member Bean, whereby he said to Judge Pate at 3:42 p.m., ‘I’m waiting on a deposit, a check from a client and it’s a big client. SEARHC hospital. They buy trips from me in the summer. I’ve sent the email yesterday asking for the money and I haven’t received it.” 

Nelson was speaking of a lawsuit, which KCAW reported on prior to the election, between her husband Connor Nelson and assembly member Aaron Bean over loan repayments and eviction of Bean’s marijuana dispensary GreenLeaf Inc. Nelson was a 10 percent shareholder at the business, and though the ordinance on the table didn’t involve the lawsuit between the parties or SEARHC, courtroom tensions still spilled over into assembly deliberations.

“This guy, this assembly member at the table, and I’m advising you now, we need to decide if he’s going to partake in hospital issues,” Nelson said. 

“Point of order, point of order,” Bean interrupted. “First of all, have I received any money prior to, Valorie? B, when the time is right I will disclose it. Up until now I haven’t had business with them.”

The disclosure did not impact the vote, and the motion to rescind the appointments failed 3-3 with Nelson, Wein, Mosher voting against.

 Click here for more coverage of Tuesday’s (1/25/19) Sitka Assembly meeting.