In the span of a few days in January, a member of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District (MCHCD) Board of Directors appears to have violated the Brown Act, released confidential personnel material, and schemed to overthrow the election of the new board chair. That MCHCD Board member is John Redding.
As is usually the case, some back story may be necessary. At a December 13, 2021 MCHCD Board meeting it proved clear that John Redding was not pleased with how the election of board officers part of the agenda went. The candidate he nominated for chair was narrowly defeated by a 3-2 vote. Immediately following this vote, nominations for vice chair were heard. The lone nominee happened to be one of the three who voted for an alternative chair candidate. The rest of the board voted in favor of the solitary candidate for vice chair, including the board member who had just loss the position of chair (a seat held for two years running). While the outgoing chair voted with a supportive, if not enthusiastic, voice for the vice chair candidate, (one could say the person who cast the deciding vote against only moments before), John Redding cast a dismissive “No” vote against the new vice chair. Redding's sulk continued when he refused the nomination to be Treasurer of the Board, a position he has held for all but three-four months over the last three years. The three to four month gap occurred in December 2020 when Redding appeared to petulantly refuse the Treasurer position after losing his bid to be board chair that year. Some observers of the healthcare district board may recall similar behavior after Redding failed to gain the board presidency in January 2019 (the MCHCD Board changed the leadership title from President to Chair in late 2020). If you care to see Redding in action at the election of board officers meetings, go to the mchcdorg.com website. Scroll down to Zoom meetings and archived recordings. Click there then on the December 13, 2021 button and the December 11, 2020 button (the 2020 meeting actually took place on December 10th).
Next in our back story we arrive at a December 16th resignation of a MCHCD employee apparently hired sometime shortly after the MCHCD Board meeting of November 11, 2021. This board has had poor luck in retaining support staff since the affiliation with Adventist Health became fully official on July 1, 2020.
This most recent employee, who seemingly performed duties akin to an office manager, authored a letter of resignation (as stated above on December 16th). In the letter the employee states that two MCHCD Board members subjected the employee to verbal abuse and that the letter was being submitted in a state of duress. Near the end of the correspondence the employee states, “In addition to resigning, I will be considering all my options in the days ahead.”
There may be two sides to the accusations. At this juncture, that is not the story. What is pertinent? This is a letter apparently sent only to the MCHCD Board members. As is evident this is a personnel matter with further ramifications, potentially involving litigation. As such this is a correspondence that should not be going out to the general public or the press. So, how did it come into my hands? John Redding sent it to me as an attachment to an email. His sending it was unprompted. I did not ask for it, had no idea it existed or that the employee had resigned until he included it as part of a January 11th email. Redding's motivations for sending what seems to be a matter for a MCHCD Board closed session to someone who writes regularly in a newspaper can best be guessed by each individual reader.
My previous email to him had been focused on Measure C (parcel tax) funds. Near the end of that email I did make reference to something he had brought up out of the blue the day before in another email exchange. On January 10th Redding stated that he had filed a complaint with the Mendocino Grand Jury against two fellow MCHCD Board members. The issue at hand apparently was/is reimbursement for a health insurance account available to individual board members. At the end of the grand jury complaint Redding adds the current board chair to his complaint, stating that the chair “appears to have colluded with” a board member “by using her position as Board Chair to approve submitting the request” for health reimbursement funds. Redding's next sentence states that the board member making the request for the funds “tellingly nominated and voted for” the board member who is the newly elected chair at that December 2021 election of board officers meeting.
Redding did not stop there. He went on to tell me in an email that he “properly informed” a MCHCD Board member and then another MCHCD Board member about the situation. The MCHCD Board is made up of five individuals. Under the Brown Act, designed to protect the public and other members of a board from secret meetings, a majority of a board cannot discuss an issue that is or could be brought before the board. By “properly informing” two members about this matter Redding has created such a majority. It should be noted that there is seemingly no indication that the two board members Redding contacted responded to him. Thus, the potential of a Brown Act violation rests only on him.
On or about January 8, Redding reportedly contacted another board member concerning that December 13th election of board officers. Apparently Redding had concocted a scheme to overturn those elections, in particular the election of a new board chair. According to the account told to me, at the next MCHCD Board meeting Redding would claim that the December 13 meeting was not properly adjourned. Under that pretext, Redding purportedly suggested that this other board member he had called would make a motion to reconsider that board member's vote for board chair. Thus, tilting the 3-2 margin in favor of the candidate Redding favored.
The MCHCD Board member Redding contacted said no to the scheme.