Tempers flare between Tahoe Forest hospital board members | SierraSun.com

Tempers flare between Tahoe Forest hospital board members

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The effects from a conflict of interest investigation into Tahoe Forest Hospital District CEO Bob Schapper are having impacts months later.

At Tuesday night's board of directors meeting, the topic of reimbursing Schapper's personal attorney fees related to the investigation was brought up, causing a heated exchange among board members, in which one accused another of threatening bodily harm.

Back in August, the board voted 4-1 to take no further action regarding an alleged conflict with Schapper in connection to his wife's company, Medical Practice Solutions.

This was based on a conclusion from an independent investigator hired by the board that found insufficient evidence Schapper violated California law.

Reimbursement for Schapper's attorneys was brought up at the board's Sept. 23 meeting, when board chair John Mohun voiced concern that the topic would be discussed in closed session under the CEO's performance evaluation.

According to that meeting's minutes, Mohun recommended the item be removed.

Recommended Stories For You

"I don't believe in the past Mr. Schapper's attorneys fees had been appropriately agendized," Mohun said in an interview Thursday.

BODILY HARM?

During public comment at Tuesday's meeting, director Roger Kahn said he felt the matter should be discussed and acted on by the current board, as it was "the sitting board that investigated the matter and (has) first hand knowledge…"

Kahn also said he expected the reimbursement item to be on Tuesday's agenda, but suggested Mohun chose to not include it.

"(Administrative Executive Assistant/Board Clerk Patricia Barrett) informed me that the board chair insisted that he was using his power as the chair to set the agenda and specifically would not allow the board to consider this matter," Kahn said during the meeting. "… I'm asking the board chair to refrain from using his actions to try to control the board at our meetings through domination of the discussion and manipulations."

Mohun responded to that by saying Kahn threatened him at the close of the Sept. 23 meeting.

"(Kahn) got up out of his seat and approached me with his finger sticking out and very enraged told me he was going to do great bodily harm to me," Mohun told the meeting audience on Tuesday.

At this point, TFHD director Karen Sessler raised a point of order.

District counsel Steven Gross then spoke: "We're in a public comment section. It's not intended to have a response, a reply, and you shouldn't disclose matters that were discussed in closed session. It's improper to continue the conversation right now, John."

CONFLICTING STORIES?

In a follow-up interview Thursday, Mohun said he wasn't contacted about putting the item on Tuesday's agenda. He said he "would have entertained it" if he was.

He later added: "I want you to know no one should be threatened at all. Nobody in the public should be threatened to try to vocalize what they perceive as an argument or the best interest of the district."

Also in a Thursday interview, however, Kahn said he did not threaten Mohun at the end the Sept. 23 meeting

Instead, Kahn said he approached him to express that he didn't think it was proper how that day's 4 p.m. public session was conducted, which ran more than an hour long with the board touching on Schapper's attorney fees and his contract.

At Tuesday's meeting, Kahn asked for a special board meeting to consider reimbursing Schapper's attorneys fees.

In a 4-1 vote, the board approved putting the item on a special meeting agenda, with Mohun against, said Paige Nebeker Thomason, TFHD director of marketing and communications. A meeting date has yet to be determined.

Other finance matters

The board also decided Tuesday it will revisit the topic of awarding Schapper an incentive compensation next month.

Eligibility is based on achievement of financial targets established by the board of directors, Thomason said.

According to a recent audit report, the district's net capital assets increased by $6.8 million to $144.9 million as of June 30, 2014. The district also saw a decrease in its debt obligation by $2.7 million from 2013 to 2014.

"When I look at your balance sheet compared to other clients, yours is head and shoulders above them," said Bill Peterson, a certified public accountant with Matson & Isom, which conducted the audit.

Residents and hospital staff said that reflects on Schapper's leadership.

"I think he's got a phenomenal job of having foresight and vision, not just thinking one step ahead or two steps ahead, but like a good chess player, thinking five or six steps ahead," said Greg Tirdel, a doctor with Tahoe Forest Hospital. "I think that's one of the reasons we're hearing what we're hearing from the auditor about the (district's) financial health."

At the September meeting, the board decided to wait until after the Nov. 4 election to continue contract negotiations for Schapper. His contract expires June 30, 2015.