Northwest NEWS

June 28, 1999

Local News

Evergreen Hospital Board of Commissioners admits breaking law

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   Evergreen hospital board members acknowledged their violation of the state open meetings law last October, during which they discussed a 43 percent raise for Evergreen CEO Andy Fallat which would give him a salary in excess of $600,000 a year. They voted to give Fallat the raise right after the closed meeting.

   The hospital still intends to fight the lawsuit brought by non-profit Tacoma watchdog group Citizens for Leaders with Ethics and Accountability Now (CLEAN). CLEAN attorney Shawn Newman of Olympia argues that the hospital should throw out any action taken after the illegal meeting.

   "They could cure the problem by retaking the vote," said Newman. If they lose the case, state law would hold Evergreen liable for CLEAN's legal expenses and each commissioner could be fined $100. The hospital has already spent over $15,000 on the case.

   Evergreen attorney Phil Carter maintains the board commissioners didn't think any member of the public was in the audience when they called the meeting. Carter said CLEAN lacks legal standing to file their suit, thus the suit should be dismissed. He said he wants to use the suit to find out who might have leaked confidential information from the executive session. In court papers Carter filed for disclosure of information, he listed a statement by Bruce Buckles.

   Buckles, president of Evergreen's board at the time of the illegal meeting, abstained from voting on Fallat's raise, stating that he thought it conflicted with a federal law regulating compensation paid to non-profit corporations. Buckles gave CLEAN a statement admitting that he had not announced when the board would be coming out of executive session.

   Evergreen gets about five percent of its annual $200 million revenue from property taxes paid by residents in Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, and parts of unincorporated King County.