Tony Leys had the scoop for the Des Moines Register: having lost his re-election bid for the Broadlawns Medical Center Board of Trustees, Bill Taber is hoping to remain on the seven-member board through an appointment.
Though it may be tempting to pull strings for a colleague they’ve worked with for years, board members of Polk County’s public hospital should respect the will of the voters and name Dave Miglin to fill the vacancy.
Five candidates ran for the two Broadlawns board seats on the ballot in 2020. Emily Webb was the clear winner with 100,513 votes (37.3 percent), according to published results. The second slot went to current board member Kavilash Chawla, with 58,125 votes (21.6 percent). Miglin finished third with 40,316 votes (15.0 percent), followed closely by Taber (39,781 votes, 14.8 percent).
Two days after the election, longtime Broadlawns Trustee Mary Fuller, who was not up for re-election, abruptly resigned her seat. Her resignation letter said she made the decision “after careful thought and consideration,” but gave no other explanation. She did not respond to a reporter’s call Saturday seeking comment.
The remaining trustees have the authority to appoint someone to Fuller’s spot. Taber resigned his lame-duck seat on Nov. 12, and he asked that his former colleagues consider him to fill out the remaining four years of Fuller’s six-year term.
Miglin has also applied for the position and told Leys the maneuvering on Taber’s behalf was “politics and ethics at its worst.” Broadlawns board members Janet Metcalf and Mary Krieg endorsed Taber and Chawla in a guest commentary for this website. (Bleeding Heartland also published a piece supporting Webb and Miglin, written by Broadlawns board members Rocky Sposato and Marc Ward.)
Metcalf told Leys that “no one asked for the resignation of Fuller, who has not been in good health and has not been able to attend meetings in person for more than a year.”
I’m sorry to hear about Fuller’s poor health. But if it has long been clear she would not be able to perform her duties as a board member, she should have resigned months ago, so voters could decide who would serve out the remainder of her term.
The Broadlawns board is not required to select the top vote-getter among the unsuccessful 2020 candidates. Any Polk County resident can apply for the seat; applications are due November 30, and the board will select someone after Webb takes office in January.
Since this vacancy arose immediately after voters rendered their judgment on several qualified candidates, it would be wise for the board to appoint Miglin. Naming Taber would create the appearance of a public entity being run like an insiders’ club.
UPDATE: Taber did not apply for the board vacancy, Leys reported on December 2, citing a spokesperson for the hospital. “Miglin applied, as did five others: Patrick Dahlen, Thomas Logan, Negendra Myneni, Vi Nguyen and Travis Rychnovsky.”