More on Conflict of Interest re: GRMC -One Answer from County Attorney (Somervell County)


More on Conflict of Interest re: GRMC -One Answer from County Attorney (Somervell County)

13 April 2009 at 4:29:42 PM

I have said before that I believe there is an appearance of conflict of interest regarding Mike Ford, Precinct Commissioner 2.  Mike Ford is not only the listed originator and registered agent for the Roger E Marks Foundation but is also the executive director. (I have not looked at the SOS website in the last few weeks so that very well may have changed  but that doesn't concern this issue.) I believe and continue to believe that Mr. Ford should recuse himself from any votes that involve the Glen Rose Medical Center which is a dba for the Glen Rose Medical Foundation, as long as he is also involved with an entity which purpose is to raise money for the GRMC, which is NOT a county organization but a private non profit.

I spoke about this in open citizen comments a few months ago and Judge Maynard said he would have the county attorney look into this. I also filed a formal complaint at that time. I got back a reply around the beginning of this month from Mr. Hankins, after calling him to talk about it, and requesting a written reply.

I had a most enjoyable conversation with Mr. Hankins, and he was quite informative in his verbal as well as the subsequent written comments about the history of the hospital. I continue, however, to have an issue about whether the votes of Mr. Ford constitute a conflict of interest.

Link to Ron Hankins letter (PDF)

One reason is that, because the Roger E Marks foundation is also private, how can one know that there is not a conflict of interest? Is, for example, Mr. Ford being paid by the foundation? Is there proof to that effect? What does the Roger Marks foundation spend money on? We were told by Mr. Ford that they only did scholarships but that is in direct contradiction to the published purpose of the Marks foundation.

If the GRMC were a public entity, taxpayer funded (and of course that is the direction the hospital board election was going), then any citizen would have the ability, though open records to see exactly how money was spent, etc. But GRMC is a private entity that leases the building, land and equipment from Somervell County for one dollar per year. And apparently they were able to get that lease without a bidding process. According to Mr Hankins, and I am saying this as I recall the conversation and am open to being corrected, Somervell County was the one that approached Gary Marks et al and asked them to form the foundation, helped them with everything except filing the paperwork. And, because it was Somervell County that was asking for this to happen, it didn't have to go out for a bid process. I don't know but that doesn't seem right to me. I"m not saying that this happened, but generally, the reason as I understand it for bids is so that there isn't any potential for crony contracts and the process is fair and open to all.

In any event, I am continuing to pursue my questions regarding this.

P.S. The Glen Rose Reporter Newspaper had an article in the April 9 2009 issue about First Christian Church of Granbury donating money to the Roger E Marks Foundation in March. The contribution they are making is for a room specially equipped for children at GRMC's emergency department. The article, which appears to have come from a press release, says.

The Roger E. Marks Foundation is a philanthropic organization created to assist GRMC in providing for the healthcare needs of the community. As a non-profit organization, the foundation donates funds for equipment and other needs to the medical center and medical community in order to further healthcare services in the area.

REM has given an annual scholarship in the amount of $3,000 for the past three years to local high school students with intentions to enter into healthcare professions.

Hospital foundations raise money in several different ways, including, annual campaigns (mailing to patients and community members), capital campaigns (efforts to raise funds for specific projects, such as a new facility or service), planned giving (when a person donates to the foundation in a will), endowments (investments that provide a stable, long-term income source for the hospital), special events (such as black-tie dinners, golf tournaments and galas) and major gifts (large one-time donations from individual donors).

And polo parties.

Contributions may help with building or maintaining facilities, buying new equipment or making up losses from operating costs. Foundations also fund special programs such as mammography vans and free clinics.

That part about "making up losses from operating costs" would be strictly for the private GRMC.

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