Tahoe hospital CEO contract negotiations on hold until post election
TRUCKEE, Calif. — It appears the Tahoe Forest Hospital District Board of Directors won’t continue contract negotiations for CEO Bob Schapper until after the November election.
“I believe there cannot be a negotiation that can be completed before a new board sits, and any action that we take now in negotiation with Mr. Schapper will be negated as soon as the new board sits down,” director Roger Kahn said during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Kahn, whose seat is among three up for election, was previously appointed by the board to negotiate with Schapper for a potential contract extension.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Kahn, who is not running for reelection, offered to resign from the negotiator position. A motion was made to appoint director Karen Sessler, whose seat is not up for election, to the role.
In a 4-1 vote, that motion was defeated, leaving no board member as the designated labor negotiator. Director Larry Long was the lone “yes” vote.
Kahn, acting as the appointed negotiator, said he met with Schapper and Director of Human Resources Jayne O’Flanagan earlier this month to begin dialogue on Schapper’s contract.
“When he started to verbalize some of (what he would like), I said, ‘I appreciate it if you put it in writing, but I’ll tell you right now there’s no way that I think we’re going to get you what your attorney and you want,’” Kahn said, “‘but I would like it as a starting point, so I can go back to the board in closed session armed with that … and begin the process.’”
On Tuesday, hospital board chair John Mohun described suggested contract parameters drafted by Schapper’s lawyer as having “very heinous terms.”
Requests of district counsel Steven Gross to obtain those contract parameters were not returned for this story.
The fact Schapper hired an attorney for the negotiation process brought up the topic Tuesday of whether the board should hire its own attorney.
“Now that he’s hired an attorney, that puts us in a precarious position,” Mohun said. “… It’s my position we should hire somebody who’s educated in this type of law and have them negotiate, as opposed to having Mr. Schapper’s attorney potentially talk to a negotiator who may or may not have the business acumen and understanding of the negotiations, or get caught up in something that we didn’t expect we’d get caught in.”
‘GETTING A LITTLE UNUSUAL’
When asked about hiring an attorney, Schapper responded: “In my almost 12-year tenure here, I have never used an attorney. I believe we worked in good faith. … The only reason why I used an attorney (this time) was because things are getting a little unusual. They’re not the way they have often been through the years.”
Kahn said he is not in favor of using additional district funds to hire an independent attorney when Gross has worked on past contracts for Schapper.
While directors Long and Sessler echoed that sentiment, Mohun pushed for an outside lawyer.
“Steve Gross I believe is a good attorney, and I believe Porter Simon law firm is a good firm, but I think this is getting a little insidious,” Mohun said. “… I encourage us to look outside the box right now and to not get into a situation where we’re using an attorney that has been through a big process with Mr. Schapper and the board.”
SCHAPPER WANTS TO STAY
The board’s and Schapper’s comments Tuesday come after media reports in July raised potential conflict of interest issues involving Schapper, linking him with his wife’s medical company.
In August, the board voted 4-1 to take no further action regarding the matter after a multi-month internal investigation.
The decision was reportedly based on a conclusion from an independent investigator who found insufficient evidence that Schapper violated California conflict of interest law.
Mohun, who was the lone vote against in August, said he doesn’t feel Schapper’s contract should be extended.
“If Mr. Schapper wants to ask me personally whether I think he should continue to work here, from what I know, and where I sit and what I’m privy to, the answer is ‘no,’” Mohun said at Tuesday’s meeting. “… I’ll make that perfectly clear, so I’m not going to vote in favor of getting a negotiator, and for that reason alone.”
Schapper, meanwhile, said he’d like to continue his role.
“I’ve been part of this community, and I’ve helped you engage a vision that was compelling about advancing a progressive high quality health system in a small community,” he told the board. “I would like to see that through, or if you think that it’s just not appropriate to do so, all I’m asking for is the common professional courtesy to tell me so sufficiently in advance, so I can proceed with other opportunities.”
Prior to the board’s vote Tuesday, John Falk, who is running for the hospital board, urged directors to wait until after the election before making any decisions regarding Schapper’s contract.
“… Whoever does make the cut I think should be given the opportunity to assist the board members with the institutional history to set the course for the next four years that they’ll be forced to live under,” Falk said.
Fellow hospital board candidates Mark Spohr and Greg Jellinek, and other members of the public, echoed that sentiment.
Schapper’s contract expires June 30, 2015.
In 2013, Schapper received $558,882.86 in compensation, Flanagan said. Of that, $404,227.20 was base pay, with the rest in assorted benefits, incentives, deferred compensation and a vehicle allowance.
To add perspective to how much the hospital CEO is paid, Schapper’s salary has increased in a five-year span by roughly $100,000 — in 2009, his base pay was $304,491, Flanagan said.
She added that new provisions increased Schapper’s base compensation, but cut his incentive compensation eligibility from 30 percent to 15 percent.