Pend Oreille Hospital District (POHD)
Doubles Down On Lawlessness, Obstruction
Sandpoint, Idaho – The Pend Oreille Hospital District (POHD), a local taxing district recently exposed for its misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, has doubled down on its unlawful conduct. On January 28, 2019, at a rescheduled regular meeting, POHD Trustee and whistle blower Daniel Rose, under implied threat of arrest by the Sandpoint Police Department, was forced out of an unlawfully convened executive session.
The executive session was placed on the POHD’s agenda and entered into based upon a false pretense, namely, to communicate with legal counsel. While communicating with legal counsel can be an appropriate use of an executive session, it is an inappropriate use of Idaho Code § 74-206(1)(f) to engage in secret discussions with an attorney, outside of the public’s watchful eye, for the purpose of conspiring to conceal unlawful, unconstitutional, or criminal conduct committed by the trustees of a taxing body.
As the unlawful executive session was about to get underway, POHD Chairman Thomas Lawrence, along with POHD trustee, and Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84 Superintendent, Shawn Woodward, began demanding that Rose, a duly elected trustee, leave the meeting room. The POHD’s meetings are held in a classroom in the hospital owned by Bonner General Hospital, Inc., a private corporation. Though not a standard protocol, a Sandpoint Police Department officer was present in the room. At the direction of Lawrence, the officer ordered Trustee Rose to leave and, in order to avoid arrest, Rose left the meeting room.
After the conclusion of the unlawful executive session, the six POHD trustees who also serve on the board of directors of Bonner General Hospital, Inc. voted to pass a resolution, one which was prepared in advance of the meeting and which was read aloud into the record by Woodward. The language of the resolution included numerous factual inaccuracies, as well as a series of false accusations leveled at both Trustee Rose and Trustee Rose’s attorney, Sean P. Smith. The written resolution was never shared with Trustee Rose, either before or after the vote on its adoption.
In addition to Lawrence and Woodward, the other trustees who voted in favor of the resolution were Timothy Cochran, Vice-Chairman; Dr. Scott Burgstahler; Bart Casey; and James Frank. The resolution, though not particularly clear in its call to action, appeared to authorize the filing of a lawsuit by Davillier Law Group, a Louisiana-based law firm, against Trustee Rose, seeking a court order that would bless the unlawful exclusion of Rose from future executive sessions.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office previously informed the POHD, in a letter dated October 16, 2018, that the POHD was engaging in conduct that violated both the Idaho Code and the Idaho Constitution, concluding, “In summary, the District’s funding of Bonner Hospital, in our view, fails to comply with Idaho’s applicable constitutional and statutory provisions.”
“I am shocked by the lawless conduct of my fellow POHD trustees,” said Rose. “I have a fiduciary duty to represent and protect the taxpayers who elected me. I was prevented from doing that today.”
It is a violation of the Idaho Criminal Code to delay or obstruct any public officer, including Trustee Rose, in the discharge of, or attempt to discharge, any duty of his office. The Bonner County Sheriff, the Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney, and the Office of the Idaho Attorney General have all been made aware of the unlawful activities of the POHD. What action these offices will take to investigate and prosecute the wrongdoers, or to secure a return of the misappropriated funds, remains to be seen. No arrests have yet been made.
Press release from Daniel C. Rose, Pend Oreille Hospital District Trustee, via his attorney Sean P. Smith
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