Healthcare

Miami-Dade’s Public Health Trust seeks to fill seat

 

dchang@MiamiHerald.com

Four finalists made the cut Friday to interview for an opening on the Public Health Trust, the board that runs Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade’s $1.5 billion-a-year safety-net hospital network.

But the nominating committee’s favored candidate — Jose Ramon Mas reported a potential conflict of interest that now will be reviewed by the county’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust before his nomination will move forward.

Miami-Dade’s County Commission ultimately will select and appoint the hospital board member from the nominating committee’s recommendation in October. One nominee and two alternates must be recommended by Sept. 13.

Mas, chief executive of the engineering and construction company MasTec, received more votes than any of the other eight Miami-Dade residents who applied to serve on the hospital board — despite the fact that Mas reported a potential conflict of interest on his application: his brother, Juan Carlos Mas, is a member of Miami Children’s Hospital’s board of directors.

Under the strict ethics standards for members of Jackson’s board, immediate family members cannot have a “material interest” that competes with Miami-Dade’s public hospital system, according to county attorneys who advised the committee.

Jackson’s Holtz Children’s Hospital competes with Miami Children’s for patients in a number of medical services, including obstetrics and pediatric cardiology.

Several members of the nominating committee, including Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, questioned the stringent ethical standard, which is identical to the one that applies to county commissioners.

“After all,’’ Edmonson said to a county attorney, “there’s no pillow talk’’ between Mas and his brother.

Marcus Lapciuc, a Jackson board member, said he, too, found the ethics standards excessive, and that he worried they would disqualify “90 percent’’ of applicants.

“We want to encourage applicants to apply,” he said.

The four finalists culled from a pool of nine applicants are Mas; Daniel Kavanaugh, a retired attorney and former committee counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives; Robin Reiter-Faragalli, a past member of Jackson’s board and former interim president of the Beacon Council; and Calixto Garcia, a neuropsychologist with extensive experience in public health.

If the county’s ethics commission clears Mas of any conflict, then Garcia will be removed from the list. It is unclear if the ethics commission will rule by Sept. 13, the deadline to recommend nominees to the County Commission.

Mas has at least one other potential conflict of interest that the nominating committee did not discuss, and which he did not report on his board application: Mas and his brothers have become investors in the recapitalization of U.S. Century Bank.

Carlos Migoya, Jackson’s chief executive, also is an investor in U.S. Century Bank.

Valda Clark Christian, an assistant county attorney who advises the hospital board, said after the meeting that because both men are investors in the bank, it presents a potential conflict.

“It raises questions,’’ she said.

Mas, scion of one of Miami-Dade’s most prominent Cuban-American families, signed his application for Jackson’s board vacancy on July 30.

In August, Mas told the Herald that he and his brothers will have one of the largest investments in the bank, through their private equity firm, Mas Equity Partners.

Mas did not attend Friday’s meeting, and he could not be immediately reached for comment.

Joe Arriola, a member of the hospital board who also sits on the nominating committee, said after the meeting that the county’s ethics commission would be asked to also rule on Mas’s investment in U.S. Century Bank as a potential conflict to serving on the board.

The board vacancy was created in June when past member Stephen Nuell resigned amid a county ethics investigation that found “probable cause” Nuell — a personal injury attorney — abused his public position to benefit himself and his law firm by contacting members of Jackson’s business office in attempts to resolve claims for private legal clients who owed money to the hospital.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
A sign stands at 1448 NW 103rd St. in Miami to let passers-by know the government demolished the house even though the owner was on active military duty.

    Miami-Dade County

    Miami-Dade demolished active-duty soldier’s home

    A federal judge ruled last week that the county should have delayed building-code violation proceedings against the soldier when he asked for a stay while he was in Iraq.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category