FFH board reappointments divide parish councilmen
Members of the St. Mary Parish Council were split down racial lines when considering reappointment of two Hospital Service District 1 Board of Commissioners Wednesday.
Commissioners Dr. Nick Accardo and Allan Von Werder, who are both white, had both applied to be reappointed to their expired terms on the board. Theirs were the only applications turned in before the advertised deadline; however, council clerk Lisa Morgan said she had received an application from Jeffery Beverly after the deadline.
A motion on their reappointments was made by Councilmen David Hanagriff, District 3, and Logan Fromenthal, District 6.
Councilman Albert Foulcard who moved to amend the motion to postpone the reappointments drew support from Councilmen Charles Middleton and Lionel Metz. All three are African-American.
The service district board that oversees Franklin Foundation Hospital has seven members that include Accardo, Von Werder, Didi Battle, Clegg Caffery, Dr. Roland Degeyter, Eugene Foulcard and Ann Luke. Foulcard, the nephew of Councilman Foulcard, is the sole African-American. Accardo is a retired orthopedic surgeon and Von Werder is the publisher of the Daily-Review in Morgan City and the Banner-Tribune in Franklin.
“I think that everybody should be represented on the hospital board,” Foulcard said. “And right now we only have one minority on the hospital board. Dr. Accardo is a doctor and should be on the board; Von Werder is intelligent, a very good guy … I just think we should even it a little bit and let the other people possibly be represented.”
Hanagriff said business conducted by the board has never been better and added that the two candidates are over qualified.
“I would ask to not table this but ask these two members to continue the good job that they are doing,” he said.
“These gentlemen have stepped up to the plate like no other time in history,” Councilman Steve Bierhorst, District 10, said. “It’s working well right now. I just hope that we leave it alone.”
“That hospital serves all of West St. Mary and the board is not representative of all of West St. Mary,” Middleton said. “I think that at some point in time we need to start making sure that these boards are representative of the people they serve and the people of the area should be able to serve on that board. I have no qualms with who’s on the board but I think that there’s need for a change.”
Hanagriff said he understood Foulcard and Middleton’s concerns, but added, “To make a change for the sake of making a change to replace an individual who’s been serving … and doing a great job, I don’t think it’s appropriate. … We can judge a man by his merits and not by his color.”
Before voting on Foulcard’s amended motion, Middleton said, “The newspaper has a great responsibility. The hospital has a great responsibility. You can’t write positive or negative about the hospital if you’re part of the board … and I don’t know if we get a straight argument if we have the newspaper man sitting on the hospital board.”
The amendment failed on an 8-3 vote with Foulcard, Middleton and Metz voting in favor.
The motion to reappoint Accardo and Von Werder passed 9-2 with Foulcard included on the winning side, and Middleton and Metz voting against. Also voting in favor were all of the white representatives on the council — Hanagriff, Fromenthal, Bierhorst, Glen Hidalgo, Ken Singleton, Tim Tregle, Sterling Fryou and Kevin Voisin.
Other appointments Wednesday by the council included Charles Carline and Shirley Purvey to Fire Protection District 11; and Jimmy Ohmer, Jason Brown and Joe Venable to Fire Protection District 3.
Also, a letter of resignation from the West St. Mary Port Commission effective Oct. 1 was received from John Lockett. The vacancy will be advertised for new applicants.