Saratoga Hospital: Without Sin?

While I can understand the focus on Joanne Yepsen regarding the issue of conflict of interest and recusal, I think a balanced view needs to scrutinize Saratoga Hospital’s role in this story.

Based on the documents, Joanne Yepsen initiated the contacts regarding doing work for the hospital.  Nevertheless, the hospital management had to be acutely aware of the Saratoga Springs City Council’s role in deciding on their proposed PUD.  It pushes the limits of credibility that when the mayor of your city contacts your organization about doing work, that you are not aware of the effect that relationship can have on an issued before the Council.   The relationship was not brief.  It began in October with the first lunch meeting and ended in mid January.  Is it possible that Ms. Raimo, with the title of Vice President of Community Engagement, was oblivious to the ramifications of this relationship for months?  Is it possible that she saw no need to discuss this with Angelo Carbone, the CEO of the hospital?  It is possible of course, but is it likely?

The other interesting question is: What happened just before January 14th that caused the hospital to suddenly realize the potential damage that a contract with the mayor would have and to end the negotiations?

All of this in no way excuses Mayor Yepsen’s behavior but it is important not to overlook the hospital’s role as well.

 

10 thoughts on “Saratoga Hospital: Without Sin?”

  1. Seriously? As soon as the board members found out they shut it down. TWICE. The mayor KNEW what she was getting into. This is her fault, and her fault alone. To try and twist this – or even suggest it – to be a fault of the hospital is horribly wrong.If anything, my guess is Ms. Raimo probably had no idea that what she was doing was ethically wrong.

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  2. Really? It’s not the hospital’s job to monitor the ethics of the Mayor. They are not elected or public officials. They are not held to the same ethical codes.

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    1. Wow! “Ms, Raimo probably had no idea that what she was doing was ethically wrong” and “They [the hospital] are not held to the same ethical codes.” We’re talking about the hospital, supposedly an ethical organization, engaging in discussions with the Mayor about employing her while she was in a position to make an important decision about the future development of the hospital. This may not be illegal and I suppose technically can’t be called an attempt to bribe a public official but certainly this was improper by any standard. How hard could it be for Ms Raimo to get this? She is after all identified as Vice President for Community Engagement and Executive Director of the hospital. And actually didn’t the hospital admit the impropriety of this when they terminated discussions with the Mayor. The question is why did the hospital all of a sudden end discussions in January about employing the Mayor after actively pursuing this relationship since October. Shame on everyone involved.

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      1. Hmmm, I read all the documents, and I don’t see any evidence of the hospital actively engaging in anything. They took a meeting with the mayor, put up some road blocks (“before we can even consider “hiring” you we’ll need some information”, “”oh, you didn’t provide that information yet, so we can’t “hire” you”), and then when she wouldn’t go away they specifically said “no, this is not right, we can’t hire you for anything while you’re the mayor” (and “you should know better, shame on you” was implicit in the communication from Raimo).
        Here is how it looks to me: the hospital files an application for the city to change their PUD so that they can move forward with a multi-million dollar plan. The mayor, who has no money and no real job, and is in the middle of a reelection and is in active fundraiser mode, reaches out to the hospital WHILE THEY HAVE AN APPLICATION BEFORE HER, and asks them to “hire” her firm for the fundraising that would be required IF their request is approved. (As the Church Lady would say, “how conveeeeeeenient!”). She kind of goes silent until right before she has to vote, and then, since voting for the hospital would get her in trouble with her very very close friends in the neighborhood, and voting against it would get her in trouble with the hospital and the business community – that is already mad at her over the city center parking lot and the greenbelt issues – she has to find a way NOT to vote at all. So she presses the hospital to “hire” her right before she goes to the ethics board. Even though the hospital refuses her solicitation of a payoff, and makes it clear they will NEVER hire her firm while she is in office, she lies to the ethics board and the public and says she is in active negotiaions with the hospital, so golly gee whiz, so sorry, I have to recuse myself. Furthermore, the way she handled this gives the public an impression that the hospital was trying to buy her vote, whereas the evidence suggests she was trying to sell it to them.
        This is called corruption, and this is what the politicians in Albany are being tried for right now. She is as dirty as they come. Her friends can come out here and try to spin it all they want, but I don’t think many people are buying it.

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  3. A public leader is trying to get a job using her influence on the assumption of scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. Did we just have the top politicians get sentenced for similar improprieties? I agree the hospital was doing what they needed to do…a very different set of rules.

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  4. They’ve all been exposed…….now we’ll all get a chance to see how the wheels turn…….welcome to the club of “I got it you take it”…..these people are the reason everybody is fed up.

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  5. Regardless of the order of events between the hospital and Mayor Yepsen -the hospital thought they could use her to assure an approval for the PUD. Mayor Yepsen was totally appropriate and ethical when she decided not to vote. Her vote (in favor or against) would have resulted in many accusations. She had the guts to be clear about her reasons and I hope the media in Saratoga acts responsibly by informing the public about both sides of the issue.

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    1. That’s the problem with this whole situation and why it calls into questions the ethics by the Mayor. You have a Mayor reaching out for a job while the Hospital is trying to get BIG business done with the city. It is difficult for the Hospital to know what to do in this situation. As it would be for any entity, but they did figure it out. The Hospital should have never been put in this situation by the Mayor. The Hospital never initiates any email with the Mayor, they don’t ask her to come work for them. She holds power over the Hospital and they know it. This was a huge project for the Hospital. Then she recuses at the last minute after they tell her no and recuses months after asking for a job. It looks as though she punished the Hospital and hid behind the ethics group. It also looks as though she was lording her power over them by asking for a job. Look at all the activity that takes place on Jan 14 after no activity since December and no writing sample, just go to the ethics board for a CYA excuse. This is not good. Alice Smith, her entire dealing and recusing with the Hospital is what is suspect here and not the other way around.

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  6. To play devils’ (plural intended) advocate, maybe both sides were playing a step ahead and other events arose (e.g., pre-existing neighbors getting upset and the resultant visibility) that threw a monkeywrench into the works.

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