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“VELEGA— A MAN OF HONOR”

Dear Editor,
 
Malo Velega! A man of integrity, a man of honor, a man of courage. Velega has never been afraid to speak up when he sees something that is not right. While I don’t always agree with his every point of view, I do support him on his decision to step down from the LBJ Board. As a member of the Board, he knew the difference between the governance function and the management function, and recognized that what was being asked of him, was not consistent with his role and responsibilities. 
 
When a Governor appoints a hospital Board of Trustees, or Board of Directors, or whatever name you want to call it, he should select individuals based on their leadership qualities, their integrity, their knowledge and experience, and their demonstrated ability to make hard decisions, not on their perceived willingness to do his bidding.
 
One of the compelling reasons for creating the Hospital Authority back in the 80’s was to prevent political meddling in important health care issues. Now it looks like even that bold move was not enough.
 
The Board in turn has not demonstrated that its members know the difference between governance and management. The role of the Board is to provide leadership, set overall policy, and monitor the performance of management. They also select, and dismiss if needed, the Chief Executive Officer, who is delegated overall authority for the management of hospital operations, including the hiring and firing of staff. The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Financial Officer, by law, report to the CEO.
 
When the Board begins to cross over that line and attempts to assume the management functions, whether in response to the Governor’s directives, or on their own volition, they erode the effectiveness of the CEO, weaken morale, and generally move into a realm outside their area of expertise and role as Board members. Velega knew this, and was greatly troubled that he was unable to awaken his peers to this fact, in spite of his repeated protestations. So, he took the high road, did the noble thing, and stepped away from it.
 
If any of my comments are seen as disrespectful to the Governor, or my good friends, I am sorry.  They are not meant to be. I only wish to state my public support for Velega’s decision.   Malo Velega — one of the last of the great straight shooters.
 
Charles ‘Mick’ McCuddin



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