By Mary Alice Murphy

Although the agenda for the special meeting on Thursday, June 7, 2018, was changed from a single purpose to two action items, commissioners made a decision on what five out of nine candidates they would question at the Tuesday, June 12, combined work and regular sessions.

When it came time to approve the agenda, which had two items, one to approve or disapprove a letter of request to the Children, Youth and Families Department regarding a juvenile justice continuum position and the selection of five Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustee candidates, Commissioner Alicia Edwards requested commissioner comments be added prior to the executive session. The agenda was approved with the addition.

The letter of request was explained by County Attorney Abigail Burgess. "This letter requests to continue the juvenile justice continuum position to replace Bianca Padilla, who has moved away."

Edwards said it was her understanding that CYFD was considering not continuing the position.

Burgess said it, too, was her understanding. The letter of request was approved. Commissioner Brett Kasten commented that  Padilla's programs for juveniles had saved the county a lot of money.

After a bit of confusion about the process of deciding which candidates would be questioned and allowed to speak at next week's meeting, Commissioner Harry Browne said he had done the tally, combining the scores from each commissioner.

He explained his process, which involved adding together the points, i.e. one point for first, two points for second, etc. making the ones with the least points come out on top. Two commissioners had not scored all seven candidates, so Browne gave each of those unscored candidates an equal six points. It was agreed among all commissioners that Dr. Gregory Koury would not be among the applicants, because the Board already requires two physicians to serve on the board and he should apply at that time. The seven candidates as they were scored were Ed Wilmot, with 10 points; Ray Goellner with 16; incumbent Tony Trujillo with 19; Renee Despres with 21; Wayne Mosteller with 23 and Tom Blanchard with 24.

Each of the top five will be given five questions to answer and will have 10 minutes to answer them and tell the commissioners about themselves and why they want to serve.

Edwards had submitted five questions, which were discussed, combined and added to, resulting in the five questions being:

• What do you think are the most important characteristics of a successful trustee?
• Tell us about a time when you had to challenge the prevailing consensus of a group, how you went about doing so and what was the end result?
• Tell us what you foresee as the role of a community hospital in the healthcare of the future in the United States.
• What experience of collaborative leadership do you have and what role did you play on the team? and
• How much time do you anticipate you will have to devote to the board in order to be a successful trustee and what specific activities do you anticipate spending those hours on?

To a question about the primary election canvass, Clerk Marisa Castrillo asked the individual commissioners to visit her office on Monday, June 11, to review the election results, and the approval of the canvass would take place as part of Tuesday's meeting.

In the added Commissioner Comments, Edwards read from a prepared statement and explained why she had chosen not to attend that morning's executive session of the GRMC Board of Trustees. These are excerpts from what she said.

"After hearing why the board was convening in executive session, I felt it was not lawful," Edwards said. "It was for clarification of the hospital's proposal to remain as is. That looked like backroom dealing. I frequently get questions about the GRMC board and the Board of Commissioners and backroom dealing. The community thinks we do backroom dealing. It's the perception."

She noted that Gila Regional has a $75 million budget. "I think no one in the community thinks we can survive without it. I respect open communication. I have spent hundreds of hours on studying the hospital and what will be the best outcome for the hospital and the community."

Browne said he appreciated Edwards' comments. "I, also, did not attend. But I have my concerns about how this body works. I'm concerned we're not acting as a team. We go in different directions. We should try to act as a unified body, even if we don't agree. We have an attorney. We should take our directions from, in this case, him. When I found out our lawyer was not going to be there, I decided not to go."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said all the commissioners had put in many hours on the process about the hospital. "I thank commissioners Edwards and Kasten who put in so many more hours during this process. I did attend. I stated we were there to listen, not to speak. I would like to see a committee between the Gila Regional board and this commission. Gila Regional called the meeting. I want to create a relationship between us."

Kasten said he went to the open part of the meeting but chose to leave for the closed session so there would not be a quorum of commissioners.

Billings said he attended the meeting. "A lot of mistakes have been done on both sides, some by me. This is important to me. As for us working together, I am concerned about the manager and staff being pulled in different directions. I think we should have a cohesive direction for the manager. We should act not as individual commissioners, but as one direction. Maybe we can, as a body, give one direction to the manager."

"It's our job, not to micromanage, but to direct," Ramos agreed.

The commissioners went into executive session and adjourned from that meeting.

Live from Silver City

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