Editorial: Release the entire document to the public
The Petersburg Medical Center is asking the Borough for financial assistance with capital project expenses. This has caused the Assembly members to ask questions about the operations of the hospital concerning everything from the administrator’s recently amended employment contract, hospital indebtedness, investments and the procurement of construction contracts and change orders.
At their meeting last month, the assembly refused to release the city attorney’s memorandum regarding the Petersburg Borough Relationship with Petersburg Medical Center. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, the Pilot filed an information request with City Manager Steve Giesbrecht for the release of the memorandum authored by the city attorney.
Yesterday, we received the document with redactions on pages 1, 2 and 10. We believe the public is entitled to read the entire document and by a 3-2 vote, the public was denied the right to see the entire memorandum. Assembly members Nancy Strand and John Havrilek voted against the release of the information to the public.
We believe Strand and Havrilek did not act in the public’s interest.
If the discussions between the hospital board, the assembly and their respective administrators are to be productive, all of the available information, including the opinion of the city attorney, should be available to everyone, especially the public.
One only needs to review the public record to see the results of mistrust and lack of oversight that caused the recall of 6 of 7 of the hospital board members in Wrangell last year. The conflicts cost the hospital and the City and Borough of Wrangell hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly tens of millions of dollars in construction funds for a new hospital.
The Petersburg Medical Center board and the assembly need to establish both a clear chain of command and an open, candid dialog about the powers and responsibilities that are vested in the hospital board and the borough assembly.
The public needs to be a part of that discussion and thus they should demand that the assembly release the entire memorandum drafted by the city attorney.
We expect to see another vote to release the full, redaction-free memo at the next meeting of the assembly.
(The redacted Memorandum Opinion re: Petersburg Borough Relationship with Petersburg Medical Center is available on the petersburgpilot.com website.)