Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Council puts off decision on McEvoy, sets Aug. 28 election on MHS lease

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2012 at 7:51 PM


Two weeks of microscopic legal review and nearly 90 minutes of closed-door discussion were not enough for the Colorado Springs City Council to determine a strategy Wednesday in dealing with former Memorial Health System CEO Dr. Larry McEvoy.

So the Council, still unsure how to deal with the controversial $1.15 million severance package given to McEvoy by MHS' since-ousted board, took no action in a special meeting convened after the group's regular monthly Utilities Board session.

Instead, Council gave City Attorney Chris Melcher some additional questions to answer, and tentatively made plans for another executive session Monday after a Council informal meeting.

"We've asked the city attorney for more legal information," Council President Scott Hente said. "There are lots of extenuating circumstances. It is not cut-and-dried."

Meanwhile, Council had no trouble moving forward in setting a tentative Aug. 28 date for a special city election to vote on the proposed 40-year lease of Memorial to University of Colorado Health.

Before that unanimous 9-0 decision, Councilor Brandy Williams answered a question about whether Council should go ahead with the Aug. 28 plan or wait until the November general election.

"The sooner we can get it on the ballot, and the sooner we can turn over the hospital [to UCH]. the better it will be for the health of our hospital," Williams said. "That's the biggest issue."

Final lease negotiations are continuing, and details of the lease agreement should be made public around June 11, Hente said. City officials have until early July to craft the actual wording of the single ballot issue for that Aug. 28 mail-ballot vote.

Council had no trouble being united on the Memorial lease issue, but the McEvoy situation is a different story. Several Council members, including Tim Leigh and Angela Dougan, have been outspoken in wanting the city to toss out the $1.15 million agreement with McEvoy, even if it means a court battle. McEvoy's contract had called for six months of salary as severance, but the MHS board upped that to 18 months in April, and the agreement was signed.

Council wanted to know whether it can negate or rework the severance deal, and had given Melcher two weeks to provide a report, which he presented Wednesday. The lack of action implied that Council wasn't satisfied with its apparent legal options.

Hente says the issues include "contract law and labor law," but he adds that Council isn't feeling rushed — other than its own desire to resolve the matter, saying, "We have to come to closure on this as soon as possible."

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