The Three Rivers Hospital board of commisssioners paused its CEO search process early this morning after discussions with legal counsel and state officials.
"We have the process out of order," Chairwoman Vicki Orford said.
The board set a new special meeting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
"We'll convene, then move into executive session," Orford said. "We have reviewed this with our counsel and the state attorney general."
"It's your opportunity to look at all the candidates collectively," hospital CEO O.E. "Bud" Hufnagel said. "You'll come back into the publc meeting. Then it'll be up to the board to say you want to cut the number ... and these are the individuals.
"You won't be making any decisions in executive session. That has to be done in public."
That's exactly what The Chronicle wanted to happen, Chronicle Publisher Roger Harnack said.
The newspaper had challenged the process after commissioners reviewed resumes and left notes on each for Orford, who then previously announced the board had cut the applicant list to five semifinalists.
Such an action is a violation of state law under Revised Code of Washington 42.30.60, which states, “No governing body of a public agency at any meeting required to be open to the public shall vote by secret ballot. Any vote taken in violation of this subsection shall be null and void, and shall be considered an ‘action’ under this chapter.”
"The hospital board should be commended for taking a step back and making sure the proper process was followed," he said, giving credit to Orford and Hufnagel.
"We are just reiterating what we've already done, just doing it in the right sequence," Orford said.