Two Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board officials under fire
A legislative panel on Tuesday reviewed a proposal to fire two Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board officials for their alleged failure to stop corruption on the board several years ago.
Lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Government Reform appeared to be divided on the issue. Some said the officials had done nothing wrong, while others said they bear some responsibility for the wrongdoing and should lose their board positions.
The committee didn't take a vote on the measure that targets Jeffrey Mark, executive secretary of the board, and David Carvalho, a non-voting board member who is a deputy director at the Illinois Department of Public Health.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross, who is pushing the proposal as an amendment to Senate Bill 1905, said Tuesday he isn't accusing Mark or Carvalho of illegal conduct.
But Cross said the board has a "history of corruption" so it "needs to be sanitized and start with fresh players from top to bottom." That means getting rid of Mark and Carvalho, he said.
"Corrupt activity happened under their watch," Cross added.
Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said he doesn't believe the men did anything that should lead lawmakers to seek their firing.
Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican who supports Cross's proposal, compared it to a pension-reform law that passed last month and required the dismissal of Jon Bauman, who was executive director of the Teachers' Retirement System. Backers of
that law said Bauman had to be fired because he'd been with TRS before, during and after a scandal about five years ago.
The troubles at both TRS and the Health Facilities Planning Board are linked to ex-businessman Stuart Levine.
Levine, who served on both boards, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in connection with schemes to get money from companies looking to do business with the boards. He also testified at the corruption trial of Tony Rezko, a fundraiser for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Mark and Carvalho defended themselves at the committee hearing, saying they did what they could when they became suspicious about the board.
Mark said he went to the board's attorney and its ethics officer with his concerns after he witnessed an unusual board vote on a project in Crystal Lake. In the middle of that vote, Levine got up and whispered to another board member, who then changed
his vote from "present" to "yes."
"Was I aware of it? Absolutely not," Mark said of the corruption. "Should I have been aware? I'm not sure."
Health Planning Board officials repeatedly pointed out on Tuesday that the current members of the board didn't serve back then.
Also testifying at the hearing was Pam Davis, chief executive officer of a suburban Chicago hospital who became a whistleblower and helped uncover the Health Facilities Planning Board scandal.
She said Cross's plan deserves support because Mark and Carvalho "have proven they cannot do their jobs."
Cross said Davis's hospital, Edward Hospital, has "not gotten a fair shake" from the planning board, which has on three occasions rejected an application to build a new hospital in Plainfield.
Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or email@example.com