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Former Commissioner Larry Hawkins selected for Jackson board

Larry Hawkins, a former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, has been selected by the unions to be a member of the Jackson Health System board, following the abrupt resignation of veteran board member Joaquin del Cueto.

Andy Madtes, president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, made the announcement late Tuesday afternoon that he had sent a letter to the clerk’s office naming Hawkins after consulting with his board and the leadership of the Jackson unions. The selection needs to be formally approved by the county commission, but that is considered a formality since the statute allows the union to pick someone for the Jackson board.

Del Cueto, a retired Miami-Dade firefighter who announced his resignation Monday, was the union-named representative to the seven-member Financial Recovery Board, which sunsets at the end of May.

He did not respond to phone calls and emails Tuesday, but Martha Baker, president of SEIU Local 1991, which represents Jackson’s nurses and other healthcare professionals, issued a statement saying del Cueto’s resignation “was a mutual decision reached by Mr. Del Cueto and the union leadership. We are grateful for his honorable service over the past five years.”

The Financial Recovery Board, created two years ago when Jackson was struggling with a deep financial crisis, has four members selected by Miami-Dade County Commissioners, one by the mayor, one by the head of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation and one selected by the AFL-CIO.

The process is beginning to select a new board that will take over in June. A new nine-member nominating committee, including Madtes as union representative, is scheduled to meet later this month. In essence, it will allow present board members to continue, with the committee selecting which members will serve staggered terms from one to three years.

Del Cueto, the most senior of present board members, often spoke out at meetings about how Jackson’s executives should pay attention to its talented labor force, and he consistently opposed management’s moves to explore out-sourcing services. He had been recently been appointed co-chair of the important strategy and growth committee, assigned to finding new sources of revenue to grow Jackson’s business.

On Tuesday, Marcos Lapciuc, chair of Jackson’s board, praised del Cueto for “his amazing service to Jackson. I’m proud to have worked with him.”

Several sources in the gossipy healthcare community conjectured that his replacement will be former Commissioner Natacha Seijas, a strong union supporter who was ousted in a recall vote two years ago.

“I’m not the one,” Seijas said Tuesday. She said she was on the board of the Penavler clinic, which was scheduled to meet Tuesday night to decide on a new contract with Jackson. “It would be a complete conflict for me to be on the Jackson board.”

Seijas praised del Cueto -- “he has my complete confidence.” She said Jackson Chief Executive Carlos Migoya “is doing a good job.”