News

Roodman says no to additional retention pay; commissioners vote no confidence in Heide, Hemstad

(Editor's note: The video of the Monday commission meeting should be available on Wednesday.)

The meeting of the Valley Medical Center commissioners' meeting Monday night was packed with the unexpected, along with the expected.

The unexpected:

• Valley CEO Rich Roodman decided he didn't want an extension of the "golden handcuff" in his contract – the retention payments he gets for remaining as CEO of Valley Medical Center.

• Three commissioners – Carolyn Parnell, Don Jacobson and Sue Bowman – took a vote of no confidence in the other two commissioners, Dr. Aaron Heide and Anthony Hemstad. Jacobson introduced the motion, pointing out, among other issues, that Heide and Hemstad have consistently voted against paying the medical center's bills.

• Parnell, Jacobson and Bowman voted against Hemstad's motion for a vote of no-confidence against Jacobson and Parnell. Bowman wasn't included in the motion.

• Parnell, Jacobson and Bowman voted against Hemstad's motion for a vote of non-confidence against Roodman.

• Bowman in her commissioner comments related how after she was elected as a commissioner in 2007, she met in Hemstad's living room with Hemstad, state Sen. Pam Roach and Chris Clifford of Renton. The agenda was how to remove Roodman from his job as Valley's CEO, she said. She took office in 2008, after beating Gary Kohlwes. She says she still will disagree with Roodman but she strongly supports his efforts to ally Valley Medical with UW Medicine and the direction Valley Medical is taking.

• Parnell, Jacobson and Bowman voted against a motion proposed by Hemstad prohibiting the spending of public money "on any advertisement or marketing materials that knowingly contain the name or image of any current candidates" for a seat on the hospital commission. The three agreed with the intent but Bowman said the motion was written too broadly. The issue arose over a special "wrap" that appeared in the Renton Reporter and its sister newspapers about the new strategic alliance. The wrap contained a comment from Renton schools superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel, one of the candidates.

The expected:

• The commission approved 3-0 a revised Code of Ethics but not before rejecting a much shorter one proposed by Hemstad. Hemstad and Heide abstained; they have not signed the code. The new code removes a phrase that Roodman and commissioners argue could make commissioners liable for code violations by other commissioners.

• The commission voted to approve the monthly bills but not before hearing again from Roodman about the dire consequences, including possible legal action and having to take back pay checks, if it didn't. Parnell, Jacobson and Bowman voted to pay the bills; Heide and Hemstad abstained.

Roodman had decided earlier in the day after talking with his wife Cheryl that he would ask that the commissioners not modify his contract to add two years of his retention payment.

That decision will cost Roodman about $525,000 during the two years, or about $263,000 each year.

Roodman's total compensation package is about $1.2 million annually, which includes the maximum – $213,103 – he may receive as incentive pay. How much he makes is based on performance standards but is no more than 30 percent of his base pay. The amount he receives varies by year.

In an interview Tuesday Roodman said he and his wife, who is an experienced public relations professional, knew the pay issue was "contentious," so "why create a potential diversion from what's important," he said. What's important, he said, is the strategic alliance with UW Medicine.

"Contrary to what some people want to believe, while money is something I am interested in, it's not my primary focus," he said.

It's highly likely the board majority would have extended his retention pay. Jacobson said the retention payment was important to maintain the "continuity" of leadership at Valley Medical.

Roodman said he didn't want to "set up the alliance for some initial controversy that wasn't necessary."

"I am old enough and happy enough and financially secure enough that I don't really have to work unless it's something I enjoy," he said. Roodman is 63.

Roodman will serve as the CEO of the new strategic alliance and for now will remain as the superintendent of Public Hospital District No. 1. Commissioners on a 3-2 vote modified Roodman's employment agreement so that he could serve as the alliance CEO. Heide and Hemstad voted no in a roll-call vote.

Roodman is still bound by a contract clause that prevents him from taking a job with another hospital in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties.

Roodman has said it will take three to five years to fully institute the strategic alliance. It's his wish, he said, to remain in the CEO position for five years.

"I like to believe that I in part gave birth to this idea and nurtured it during the past nine or 10 months, especially as it relates to the UW," he said.

Monday's meeting was the last regularly scheduled meeting of the five-member commission of Public Hospital District No. 1 before the new strategic alliance with UW Medicine takes effect on July 1. It again was marked by heated exchanges among the commissioners.

Hemstad said he and Heide learned of the proposed extension of Roodman's retention pay only on Friday. "It absolutely stinks," he said of the extension.

"Aaron and I are trying to stand up to the rogue actions of an abusive majority," Hemstad said in interview. "If that earns us a no-confidence vote from that rogue majority, so be it. Aaron and I are doing our job by standing up, having independent opinions and speaking out."

After July 1, a new 13-member board of trustees will oversee what will become known as the District HealthCare System, a part of UW Medicine. That new system is basically anything to do with health care at Valley Medical Center, the bulk of which the current hospital district commissioners oversee.

Roodman called that date a "monumental milestone."

The current five hospital district commissioners will serve as trustees, plus oversee the hospital district itself, mostly its assets – the medical center buildings – and its tax dollars.

As the CEO of the strategic alliance, Roodman will report to Paul Ramsey, the dean of UW Medicine, and the 13 trustees. Decisions to hire or fire Roodman as the alliance's CEO will be made by Ramsey and the trustees.

As far as the job as hospital district superintendent, the board can fire him, he can step down as superintendent or the board and Roodman can mutually agree that he will step down as superintendent.

Roodman said he will remain as district superintendent during the transitional period. "As weeks turn into months, that may change," he said.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.