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Dimensions Directors on the Exam Table

Rosalind Helderman

A Circuit Court judge is scheduled tomorrow to hear lawyers for Dimensions Healthcare System, the nonprofit company that runs the county's hospital system, argue that the county should be forced to provide public funding to keep the hospitals open.

Without the funds, Dimensions officials have said they will soon consider a bankruptcy filing or closure. County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) has said he is prepared to give the hospitals funds -- but first he wants four members of the board of directors to step down as part of a board restructuring.

So, it seems a good time to take a closer look at the 11 volunteers who preside over the financially troubled institution.

According to company bylaws, eight are so-called "designated members," chosen for particular affiliations with the institution, and three are "public members," who are not connected to Dimensions and are elected by the rest of the board.

Johnson has accused the board of mismanagement and said he wants to replace any public member who has been on the board longer than five years, which would affect one member. He also has said there are too many designated members, and he proposed replacing three of them. In an arrangement the board has resisted so far, Johnson has suggested that the replacements be chosen by the remaining seven members and that those slots on the board eventually become public.

The four members Johnson has targeted include are:
-Calvin Brown: chairman of the board, the only public member who would be replaced, an accountant and the longest-serving member. He has clashed repeatedly with Johnson, including a 2004 incident in which he accused Johnson of withholding county funds until Dimensions hired a Johnson associate. The state prosecutor opened an investigation into Johnson's actions, but no charges were filed. Brown's term ends in September, and he will need the support of his fellow board members to remain chairman.
-George Bone: an internist and the representative of the county's medical society since 2002.
-Donald Foran: a vice president with regional real estate firm Transwestern. He has served as the designated director from the Prince George's Hospital Center board since 2001. His current term was scheduled to end in September. Last week, he announced he is resigning so he can spend more time in a new business venture with his son.
-William F. Williams: the Laurel Regional Hospital board representative since 2004 and a retired government worker. He spent 30 years as an executive at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including a stint as associate director.
The remaining board members are:
-Alvin J. Biagas Jr.: a public member since 2003 and president of AVA Electric Co. of Capitol Heights. He was nominated for his seat by Johnson's chief of staff and fellow board member Michael D. Herman (see below). Biagas's company has been a frequent campaign contributor, including donating $7,000 to Johnson or his political slate since 2001. He has urged his fellow hospital board directors to accept Johnson's terms.
-Lindberg Bing: a public director who also joined the board in 2003 at Herman's urging. He owns L.&.E Associates Inc., an Oxon Hill software company, which has contributed $8,000 to Johnson or his slate since 2001.
-Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant): chairman of the Prince George's County Council and the council's vote on the board since 2003.
-Lynne Gaynes: an endocrinologist at Laurel, she is the designated member representative of the Laurel Regional Hospital medical staff and has served since 2003. Her term ends in September, when she will be replaced by physician Gita Shah.
-Kevin Hanley: an orthopedist, he has served as the Bowie Health Campus board representative since 2003. His current term ends in September.
-Michael D. Herman: Johnson's chief of staff and his representative on the board. Herman has served since 2003.
-Hema Yadla: an internist who has worked at the hospital for three decades. The board's newest member, he has served as the representative of the Prince George's Hospital medical staff since 2006.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 25, 2007; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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I've said before that the Hospital is not doing a good job of collecting payments from people who use its services.

But permit me to digress a bit to talk about another P.G. County financial issue(and finances will be dominating P.G. issues until Nov. 2008 and even Nov. 2010.) The Metro Post reported today that, The Prince Georges County Council has decided to ask voters whether the county should boost its telephone tax" via a 2008 referendum.
"With driving costs that our citizens are experiencing, the gas tax, the major increases in energy costs with the high foreclosure rate that we're experiencing in the region, citizens are being squeezed in their pocketbooks," said Vice Chairman David Harrington. Meanwhile the Washington Post editorial board has repeatedly already called for increased,"taxes on corporations, services, income, sales and gasoline." Can we expect to see an editorial critizing the views of pocketbook- protecting hero David Harrington? When will those effete Post editors get in step with someone who has his feet on the ground like Vice Chairman Harrington. Three cheers for Harrington!

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | July 25, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

So, JJ has Herman and two, "people who gave him money" on the Board, since 2003, and he's not happy. He wants to reduce the number of designated people on the Board, i.e. the ones he cannot control. Seems like an attempted power grab by our very own "regular little Robert Mugabe".

So far, all we have heard from JJ are unspecified claims of mismanagement by the Board. I'll be interested to learn if the County includes any such specific claims in its reply to the Dimensions suit. And doncha just love the sheer audacious outside the box brilliance of Herman in nominating a donor to fill a vacancy

Posted by: Count Bobulescu | July 25, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

So the Post thinks members of a Board of Directors can influence the way an organization is run? Most people would think that. And if the country's second richest man were on your Board of Directors would he influence the way your organiation were run and what its policies were? I think that 100% of the people would think that. So its time to explore what effect some guy from Nebraska, the country's second richest man, WARREN BUFFETT has on Post editorial policy. Do we want some unelected fellow from Nebraska affecting our pocketbooks in Maryland? I thnk not. BUFFETT is on the record as being opposed to eliminating the double taxation on dividends(anybody own any stock?), restructuring the income tax code and being against any tax cuts mentioned lately. The Post editorials have called for increases n corporate, income, sales and gasoline taxesas well and opposition the sticking to charter property tax limits. Nobody can believe that the second-richest man in the U.S. would accept a position on a Board of Directors of a newspaper without being able to make editorial calls. I resent this buffoon from Nebraska telling Marylanders whose energy costs and gasoline costs have skyrocketed and who are increasingly facing foreclosures that we should experience large hikes!

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | July 26, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Ficker. Why is Warren Buffett, a member of the Washington Post Board of Directors, holding a million dollar fundraiser for Senator Clinton? Isn't that at least an appearance of a conflict of interest for the newspaper?

Posted by: Not Hil | July 26, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse


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Posted by: DoctorAdventures | August 22, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

How about Prince Georges Hospital President, John O'Brien III being charge with DUI. He failed five field sobriety test in Ocean City August 17, 2007. Oh, wait a minute, wasn't that the week of Maryland Association of Counties conference with Governor O'Malley, and all the executives from the state. I wonder if he had just left a party with them. Do you think they had presented him with a check for the troubled hospital? Funny, I haven't heard anything about this until I read the OC newspaper.

Posted by: Prince George's watcher | August 31, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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