An editorial that resurrected the $1.15 million separation agreement with former Memorial Health System CEO Larry McEvoy led City Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko to divulge new details about what happened behind closed doors.
On a Facebook post of Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, Czelatdko revealed discussions in closed executive session.
Here is what Czelatdko wrote, with edits:
I was actually in the closed executive session Wayne Laugesen and so know exactly what was said and not said. What was not said was a 1.2 million dollar severance package was being given to (former Memorial Health System CEO Larry) McEvoy.
What was said was:
1) Why is McEvoy here in chambers announcing a resignation with no announcement of it on the agenda or notification to Council from the City Attorney’s Office?
2) What was said from the Memorial Hospital Board Chair Jim Moore, was that they (board and Chris) were working on a severance package for McEvoy up to 18 months and that they had been working on possible packages for two weeks under the direction of Chris Melcher
3) What was said was that no Memorial contract would be valid without the signature of Jim Moore and Chris Melcher
4) And lastly, what was said was the reminder that Council, the City Attorney’s Office and Memorial board could not enter into any contracts over 1 million dollars without all three parties acknowledging it. This understanding was put in place a month prior to protect the lease negotiations and keep the current admin entering into big money contracts that UCHealth might not want.
When I left that room I know myself and many of my colleagues who did not support retention packages thought, ‘Good luck getting us to agree to anything more than his agreed contract package,’ and we went home after a 7-hour meeting day.
Wayne, please, please stop perpetuating incorrect information and writing articles based on non factual assumptions. Did (council President Scott Hente) and (council President Pro Tem Jan Martin) know more specifics? I don’t know. Do you know for a fact? Did (Councilman Merv Bennett) and (Councilwoman Brandy Williams) know? I’m not sure. Do you? All I know is Council was told by Jim Moore that Chris Melcher, City Attorney was assisting in package negotiations. Chris did not refute that as he stood there listening to Jim speak. Chris confirmed to Council what I mentioned above regarding signatures needed for agreed contract limits and Council was told a package would come back for confirmation. No confusion for me when I walked out of the room that the city attorney who is suppose to serve both Council and the Mayor, who dare Council question or challenge his legal opinion, had it under control and was working on it with the board. Assumingly looking out for the best interest of council and the city.
I also know after the nightmare began, Chris Melcher, city attorney informed council that he paid for an outside legal consult who confirmed the board could do what they did, that if we challenged them through litigation which (Councilwoman) Angela Dougan, (Councilman Tim Leigh) and myself all said we’d support, the City would be responsible for paying all their attorneys, fees, etc and they probably would win costing the taxpayers millions more of wasted dollars. Chris told Council it was a weak case to challenge, a done deal, basically Council would have to take the lumps, and the lame press release was put out by my colleagues (I was flying with space command) that we would not pursue the matter further. So as I see it everyone won but Council and the health payers.
Memorial and UCHealth got rid of McEvoy who was tainting the campaign and poisoning the morale of hospital employees, the Board showed defiance and wielded their authority one last time, McEvoy lost a job but got a heck of a lot of money, and Council gets the blame for not overseeing the Board more thoroughly. A board who legally was given full authority and fiduciary responsibility years prior. I can only assume that decision was because the prior council thought it made sense to appoint a full time board of knowledgeable people who could dedicate their time to the health system and report back monthly to council. Council, who back then, was a part time, poorly compensated body in charge of the city, the health system and the utility company. Council, who now is even more limited and minionized by certain vocal, agenda driven, influential people, who so obviously serve one master. All I can say is I hope someone is keeping track of some of these personnel issues and making permanent notes in personnel files.