The KIC Health Advisory Committee
by Samuel Bergeron
March 10, 2004
The former Health Board of Ketchikan Indian Community was and
still is a study in organizational dysfunction.
It was with no small amount of consideration and forethought
did the KIC Tribal council change the KIC Health Advisory board
to a standing committee of the tribal council. The problem with
the Health advisory board began with our own ordinances.
KIC's ordinances, as well as our constitution need a massive
overhaul. They are out dated and contradictory. One part of our
code says that the health board has the ultimate authority over
our health issues and in another part the health board is a committee
to the tribal council. This caused some of the health board to
perceive that they where the final and ultimate authority on
issues relating to the health services provided at KIC, both
with policy and with management. They felt the tribal council
and some former staff had been disrespectful to them as the final
and ultimate authority on health related issues. They further
dug their heels in on issues that involved personnel and management.
Both of these miscues put the tribe and themselves at risk for
lawsuits and extended personnel issues as our insurance does
not cover acts deemed to be outside the scope of their designated
duty as a policy makers. In other words, if you act outside of
your appointed duties, you are open individually to a lawsuit,
as well as the tribe itself. As one of the fiduciaries to the
5000 members of KIC, I could not and would not let this intolerable
situation continue no matter how much turmoil the health board
makes or who turns unpopular policy decisions into issues of
personal integrity or conflicts of interest.
When issues that are ultimately the perview of the tribal council
are brought before us and the end result is contradictory to
the wishes of the health board, instead of moving on to the next
issue, they don't let go. It is never enough to visit an issue,
debate it, vote on it, and then move on. It is eternally revisited
as if it was still on the table. We can't operate like that.
It is incongruous to the process of government. We can't be stuck
in the past and expect to move forward with the business of the
tribe when we are constantly trying to assuage the concerns of
a board that doesn't fundamentally understand what its function
is or how government works.
We must always ask ourselves this very basic question: are we
part of the problem or part of the solution? The health advisory
board is, in its present make-up, part of the problem. With no
easy fix in sight, the tribal council acted wisely in upholding
our own ordinances that says the Heath Board is a committee of
the tribal council. Those on the council who sided with the Health
Board and wanted to maintain status Quo are Norman Arriola and
Elmer Makua. Maybe sometime they can explain their votes to all
The professional staff at KIC will be far better off without
the constant interference from a board that has involved itself
in personnel and management issues. That's micro-management.
Even though Elroy Edenshaw has said "Micro-management is
a good thing when done properly". That implies that Elroy
and others like Elroy are qualified to do the functions of General
Manager and the Health Administrator. They are not. Nor do they
understand a basic concept in government: Policy makers make
policy and managers manage. When either one crosses those lines,
the process suffers.
This letter of opinion was in response to the point of view from
some members of the Health Advisory Board that appeared in the
Ketchikan Daily News. I resubmit this for your reference.
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
Ketchikan, AK - USA
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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