Seeking Higher Counsel on the Hospital
Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) is trying to dispel fears that he's out for control of the Board of Directors of Dimensions Healthcare, the company that runs the county's hospital system. Today, he suggested a new entity that should help select Dimensions' directors: The Collective Banking Group, which represents the county's most powerful ministers.
Johnson has asked for four of the Dimensions' board's 11 members to step down, with the replacements named by the remaining seven members. Until the demand is met, he says he will release no further county dollars to the hospital system.
His critics have charged the rump board left over would be stacked with Johnson allies, including his chief of staff and two members who were named to the board at his chief of staff's suggestion. But Johnson has repeatedly said he is not interested in taking over, simply in getting new faces on the board.
This morning, he revealed that during a recent meeting with the CBG, which represents more than 150 churches, he asked if the church group would take a role and the ministers expressed interest. "I would be happy for them to select the board," he said. "We could pull politics out of it."
Dimensions Board Chairman Calvin Brown responded that he would be "open to some discussion about the process," including finding a role for the CBG. He said he, too, has had conversations with the ministers and believes they have an important contribution to make, including possible suggestions about new board members. But he said Dimensions bylaws, which govern who serves on the board, should remain in effect.
"That would be a group that would bring some credibility to this process," he said. "I still think there are rules we have to follow that relate to our bylaws and lease."
Rev. Jonathan L. Weaver, president of the group, confirmed that CBG has offered to help mediate in any way it can, including possibly indentifying new board members. He said he was encouraged to learn that Johnson and Brown were open to the idea and was hoping the group could facilitate a meeting between the two. "We're interested in trying to do whatever we can, to be of help and to make sure the hospital stays open, more importantly, thrives," Weaver said.
Meanwhile, Johnson had a strikingly sunny message to send today for the hospital system, troubled for a decade: "All the problems will be solved this year," he predicated, noting he meant this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2008.
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