By Miriam Raftery
November 15, 2010 (La Mesa) – In closed session this morning, Grossmont Hospital District's Board unanimously found that Jim Stieringer should not get his old seat on the board back. Stieringer resigned Novembe 5th, then tried to resuscitate his old job by asking to have his resignation rescind after the Board refused to consider his application for a $60,000 a year staff job, amid questions over legality and conflict of interest concerns.
With Stieringer's Hospital District career in limbo akin to life support, today the District pulled the plug.
The Board found that Stieringer’s resignation letter demonstrated “a clear and express intent to immediately vacate his position on the Board and apply for the district position of Project Liaison Monitor,” district counsel Jeffrey G. Scott stated in a report on the closed session.
The Board declared his office vacant—and directed the District CEO to place a notice of vacancy on the agenda at the Board’s November 19, 2010 meeting. The Board has 60 days from November 5th, the date Stieringer advised the Board of his retirement, to fill the position.
“The Board on behalf of the citizens of the District wishes to thank Director Jim Stieringer for his unparalleled service and distinguished career,” Scott’ stated.
Ray Lutz, founder of the watchdog site www.CitizensOversight.org and a former Congressional candidate, contended that the closed session violated the Brown Act and asked that the meeting be open to the public.
Terry Francke, legal counsel for Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization that protects citizens’ access to records and provides advise on open government laws, agreed that the deliberations should have been public, MountHelixPatch.com reported. Francke concluded that the mere threat of a lawsuit is not sufficient reason to hold a closed session.
However Scott contended that the district faced potential litigation and contended that to share his legal opinion with the Board in public would have been prejudicial and “unethical for me to do as a lawyer,” Patch.com reported.
Lutz, in an email to those on his discussion list serve, said he believed Stieringer’s motivation in seeking the staff job was pension spiking. “I confirmed that his man play here was to pump up his retirement from being based on $6K/year to $60K/yaer, or a 10x improvement,” Lutz wrote.
Stieringer did not attend the meeting. A former La Mesa City Treasurer, Stieringer previously ran unsuccessfully for the La Mesa Mayoral seat in 2006.
Now that his attempt to move up from a part-time Board member to a full-time staffer with the hospital district has failed, resulting in loss of both spots, it is unclear what Stieringer’s future plans will be.