Eden Township Director can’t recall why he asked for re-vote on pivotal vote to file lawsuit against Sutter By Steven Tavares
When lawyers for Sutter Health filed their highly-anticipated response to the Eden Township Healthcare District’s March countersuit, more than a few observers raised an eyebrow over what appeared to be the central argument against the legal action–the inclusion of a letter from Dr. Harry Dvorsky attempting to withdraw his vote to file the lawsuit in the first place.
It turns out, Dvorsky, whose exact age is not known, but believed to be close to 90, says he does not remember why or when he sent the letter to the District a day after his vote allowed their legal team to file a countersuit against Sutter alleging three signers of the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding possessed various financial conflicts of interest.
In addition, two people serving the District, who requested anonymity because their connection to the district, say Dvorsky told them he could not remember sending the handwritten letter February 23 to District CEO Dev Mahadevan. Dvorsky has been beset with health problems and has difficulty hearing. He rarely speaks during District meetings and has appeared confused during various important votes pertaining to Sutter and San Leandro Hospital.
Sutter’s response to the District’s suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court April 22 described the events surrounding Dvorsky’s surprising request, which was only published in The Citizen, but without District Chair Carole Rogers’ specific response. “Sutter Health and Eden Medical Center are informed and believe that Dev Mahadevan passed Dr. Dvorsky’s request along to Board Chair Carole Rogers who immediately refused the request.” Rogers told The Citizen she does not know how Sutter received their information saying she had not spoken to others outside of the District about the letter. Mahadevan said in an interview this month he has also not spoken to Sutter about the event.
Also contained in Sutter’s response is a section denying conflicts of interest around the signing of the 2008 agreement between Sutter and the District. Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar, a current member of the board; Dr. Francisco Rico, a former member; and current CEO of Eden Medical Center George Bischalaney are alleged to have been employed in some capacity by Sutter at the time of the contentious deal. The response contends all three named where found by the District’s lawyer to have no conflicts with Sutter. At the time, the District’s legal counsel was Craig Cannizzo, whom the board fired in December citing a lack of trust in his legal opinions. Cannizzo infamously responded to the firing by telling the board he would not cooperate with whomever the District would replace him with and stormed out the building.
Sutter contends, Cannizzo informed both Carole Rogers and fellow Director Dr. Vin Sawhney in June 2009 of a conflict of interest pertaining to the agreements with Sutter. At the time, The Citizen reported the entire board had been notified of various conflicts. Rogers agrees with the assertion, but says her lawyer drafted a response in her favor, of which Cannizzo later agreed and followed with a letter in her favor.
In regards to the Dvorsky letter, this is not the first time the identity of a document has been questioned in the nearly two year fight to keep San Leandro operating as fully-functioning facility with emergency room services. In December, critics loudly questioned a three-page “Letter to the Community” written by Ratnesar. Reports in The Citizen had several sources questioning the authorship of the piece that drew the ire of supporters, the nurses union and state Sen. Ellen Corbett. In January of this year, an invoice from the District’s public relations consultant surfaced listing work on the letter attributed to a Sutter employee.