“Actually, I think it’s enhanced the community’s perception of what this commission is going to do because you have a couple of folks that want to ensure that the commission’s process is open and there isn’t any hint of any kind of conflict,” Rivera said.
“I think (Tim Leigh and B.J. Scott) took their potential roles very seriously, and they did what they thought was best for the community, and I can applaud them for that,” he said.
Leigh, a commercial real estate broker and mayoral candidate, was asked to resign Friday after news that his wife is a registered nurse who works at Memorial became public.
Scott, president and CEO of Peak Vista Community Health Centers, resigned voluntarily Tuesday. When she applied to serve on the commission, Scott disclosed that Peak Vista has business ties to Memorial, but she told The Gazette on Tuesday that she decided to resign from the panel because she didn’t want the relationship to become a distraction.
Leigh didn’t disclose his wife’s employment at Memorial in his application material.
Leigh and Scott were among three applicants who were selected to serve on the commission through secret polling among council members. The third, health care consultant and author Stephen Hyde, told The Gazette on Tuesday that he doesn’t have any relatives who work at Memorial and that he’s “not aware of any conflicts of interest.”
The other eight members of the 11-member commission had to go through interviews before the City Council. During those interviews, all of them were asked whether they had family or friends who work at Memorial or business ties to Memorial.
Rivera called Leigh’s resignation “pretty straightforward.” Rivera and Councilman Darryl Glenn had asked Leigh to consider resigning last week.
“His wife (works) at Memorial Hospital and council was pretty diligent about questioning applicants about any family members working at Memorial or any kind of business relationships,” Rivera said.
Rivera seemed to indicate that Scott’s resignation was unnecessary, saying he was “disappointed” she had stepped down.
“I think all of us are well aware of the mission of Peak Vista and the relationship with not only Memorial Hospital but with Penrose. That wasn’t an issue,” he said.
“She brought something to the table that I don’t think anybody else in this community really has, and that’s working with the folks who are uninsured or underinsured,” he said.
Councilman Sean Paige said he was disappointed with both resignations.
“And I’m disappointed that we put Mr. Leigh in a position where we then had to turn around and ask him to withdraw,” Paige said. “I think it was gracious of him to do that, but I think it was unfortunate that we put him in that position.”
Paige said he opposed asking Leigh to resign from the commission.
“I was a minority in that,” he said, adding that the council had made a “mistake” by not vetting the three applicants who were selected outright.
“I didn’t see an association with Memorial as being something that would remove anyone from participation, so I didn’t go in with that attitude,” he said. “As long as it was disclosed upfront because there were a number of people who were chosen that have some level of association – not as great as Mr. Leigh – but they do have some level of association.”