City might appeal ruling

first_imgPALMDALE – Palmdale officials are considering whether to appeal a Superior Court judge’s ruling dismissing their allegations that Antelope Valley Hospital officials violated the state’s open-meeting law in making an offer for land earmarked for a competing hospital. The City Council will meet in closed session tonight to decide whether to appeal Judge Dzintra Janavs’ ruling dismissing the city’s lawsuit, one of four brought by the city against Antelope Valley Hospital. Her ruling cited a Feb. 22 resolution in which the hospital district board said any actions that might be interpreted as an attempt at eminent domain are “null and void.” One possible grounds for appeal, city officials said, is that they believe that the hospital board’s action to pass that resolution was not properly detailed in its agenda – which city officials said is another violation of the state open-meeting law known as the Brown Act. “I think maybe the judge doesn’t understand Brown Act violations,” Mayor Jim Ledford said. “I think the ruling misunderstood the fact you can’t cure a Brown Act violation with a Brown Act violation.” Hospital district officials deny the city’s allegations and have called the court action “bogus.” “We always felt it was a frivolous lawsuit and the judge’s decision reflects that,” said Les Wong, the district’s chief executive officer. The legal battle centers on what city officials view as an attempt by the hospital district to block Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services from building an $82 million hospital complex at 38400 Tierra Subida. In June, the day before a groundbreaking ceremony for the UHS hospital, the hospital district offered $9.3 million to acquire the UHS site. The bid was viewed by city officials as a preliminary step toward eminent domain actions by the hospital district. Hospital district officials have said they fear the new private hospital will draw off patients with insurance, leaving Antelope Valley Hospital caring for a higher percentage of patients unable to pay for their treatment. Hospital officials said they do not oppose the new hospital as long as UHS has agreements in place to provide service to patients covered under the state Medi-Cal program for low-income people. In July, in a filing for a writ of mandate, city officials accused the hospital board of violating California’s open-meeting laws by discussing the site acquisition in a closed session when that issue was not disclosed on the meeting agenda. The city also alleged hospital officials discussed the use of eminent domain to acquire the land before making an offer to purchase the property. The resolution approved Feb. 22 by the hospital board states that Antelope Valley Hospital wishes to avoid further controversy and litigation and is declaring its appraisal and offer to acquire the Palmdale hospital site null and void. The Feb. 22 resolution, however, included language that leaves open the possibility of eminent-domain action in the future, stating that if hospital officials decide to pursue that option they would start the process anew. The resolution reiterates hospital board members’ past statements that, although they have discussed the possibility of eminent domain, they have not actively pursued that option. In the resolution, the hospital board members said they believed they complied with the state’s open-meeting law, but that in the public interest they wish to “cure and correct” any violations. The resolution made one exception to the “null and void” actions – the authorization of Chief Executive Officer Les Wong to make an offer on the site on one occasion. The resolution need not expressly withdraw that authorization because the offer was rejected by the city, Janavs ruled. “In any case, the resolution is clear that the CEO’s authorization to make the offer is null and avoid,” according to the judge’s ruling. [email protected] (661) 267-5743 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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