10:58 am
September 24, 2018

Turmoil at Broward Health

Turmoil at Broward Health
Kevin Gale

The so-called First Law of Holes says that if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, Broward Health has found itself digging deeper into an ethical hole, which is the subject of two blog posts I wrote on SFBWmag.com.

The health district’s board, the taxpayer-supported North Broward Hospital District, has given the CEO job to Beverly Capasso, an interim CEO who is under a misdemeanor indictment. As a board member in May 2017, Capasso voted in favor of giving herself the interim role. That raised questions about whether she violated the Florida Code of Ethics, which forbids public officials from voting on matters that inure to their personal gain, WPLG-Channel 10 reported. 

The board’s chairman voted against her permanent appointment, saying it violates a promise that the interim CEO wouldn’t get the job permanently.  A former board member called the process a sham.

The board member who made the motion to offer Capasso the job says she can serve until a federal oversight agreement expires, which might be in late 2020. (Then, the district might get better applicants.)

A majority of the board says she’s done a good job turning things around and Capasso says she has done nothing wrong. However, the appointment contrasts with how boards typically are quick to drop CEOs these days when there are merely allegations about misbehavior, let alone indictments.

Unfortunately, there’s a long chronology of problems at Broward Health, including a $69.5 million settlement regarding allegations of illegal payments to physicians. One CEO committed suicide and an interim CEO was dismissed amid allegations she violated kickback statues.

To get another perspective, I invited input from Betsy Atkins, an occasional SFBW columnist and a corporate director who wrote the third edition of the instructive and engrossing book, Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons of a Corporate Director. The Coral Gables resident has credibility from serving on the boards of Cognizant, HD Supply, SL Green Realty and Schneider Electric. She is also a member on the board of Volvo Cars and the SAP Advisory Board.

“From a corporate governance perspective, putting the indicted interim CEO in place permanently with no view to a new search until 2020 doesn’t put the taxpayers’ best interests first. Being in good-standing with the law should be table stakes for even being considered for the job. Being indicted for alleged violations of the open-meetings laws in Florida, particularly holding a ‘closed meeting’ to fire the previous CEO, sounds very Machiavellian,” Atkins says.

If the board wasn’t happy with its candidates, it could have called for a new search with a different search firm, she suggests.

So, after getting 375 applicants, the board rejected them all in favor of an insider under indictment, who also happens to have a degree from what federal investigators say is a diploma mill, according to the Sun Sentinel.

It sounds like the plot for a Carl Hiaassen novel.

Correction:

The last name of Jorge Garcia of Garcia Stromberg and the first name of Joyce Lopez of Celebrity Cruises were incorrect in photo captions for the “CEO Connect” feature in the February edition.

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