See all posts re Tri-City Healthcare.
The Public Integrity Unit in the San Diego district attorney's office may have been officially disbanded, but the same names (Dumanis and Leon Schorr) are popping up in a bizarre new prosecution that seems every bit as political as two notorious Chula Vista cases. The Public Integrity Unit was embarrassed by the acquittal of Chula Vista councilman Steve Castaneda and the strange case of a Chula Vista employee who was charged with five felonies for taking two hours off work.
"...[A] local law professor said Sterling's alleged vote-swapping deal in late May closely resembled what occurs in Washington, D.C., every day. He cited an example of congressional Republicans refusing to support presidential initiatives until after tax cuts were extended. What is the difference, the professor asked, between this very public vote-swapping and what Sterling said in the restaurant?"
OCEANSIDE: Sterling pleads not guilty to felony charge
By PAUL SISSON
North County Times - Californian
December 16, 2010
Tri-City Medical Center Director Kathleen Sterling pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony vote-swapping charge in Vista Superior Court.
On Nov. 19, the San Diego County district attorney's office charged Sterling with soliciting a bribe and a misdemeanor count of wrongful influence. She appeared, as scheduled, for arraignment Thursday, represented by a court-appointed attorney.
Stating that the hospital director was not considered a flight risk, Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr did not request bail. Sterling is scheduled for another administrative court date Jan. 3.
Sterling declined to comment on the court proceedings during the hearing. Later in the day, her colleagues voted 4-1, with Director Cyril Kellett abstaining, to again censure Sterling. This time, the censure regarded statements Sterling made at a hospital meeting Dec. 4. Those statements included suggesting that fellow board members "take the brown shirt and wear it" after they accused her of, and censured her for, calling board members "Nazis" at a previous meeting.
On Thursday night, board members called for Sterling to resign in light of the censures and felony charge.
Sterling said in a telephone interview Wednesday that she's not going anywhere.
"I'm not going to resign," she said. "This is nothing more than political bullying at its highest. Why not find out what is really underneath all of it?"
In court, Schorr, the deputy district attorney, said it was Sterling's statements at a May 26 dinner meeting with two fellow board members and a hospital administrator that led to the felony charge against her. Hospital Director George Coulter, board Chairwoman RoseMarie Reno and Casey Fatch, the hospital's chief operations officer, testified at a public hearing July 15 that Sterling offered to support unspecified future board business in exchange for being made vice chairwoman of the hospital board and chairwoman of the hospital's Human Resources Committee.
"Both positions have elevated personal power on the board and result in personal financial benefits," Schorr said in court. "Ms. Sterling's demands were offered in exchange for procedural votes on board matters."
If convicted of a felony, Sterling would no longer be able to serve on the Tri-City board.
Schorr said the misdemeanor charge of undue influence relates to a vote Sterling made during a formal sanctions hearing July 15. At the hearing, the board voted to strip Sterling of the stipends she received for attending hospital meetings. Sterling voted against that item even though the board's attorney told her she could be breaking a law that forbids elected officials from influencing decisions that could affect them financially.
"Ms. Sterling disregarded the advice and voted on issues that had a direct economic impact on her," Schorr said.
After the initial complaints against Sterling were filed, a local law professor said Sterling's alleged vote-swapping deal in late May closely resembled what occurs in Washington, D.C., every day. He cited an example of congressional Republicans refusing to support presidential initiatives until after tax cuts were extended. What is the difference, the professor asked, between this very public vote-swapping and what Sterling said in the restaurant?
Standing in the hallway outside the courtroom Thursday, Schorr declined to comment on the workings of Congress...