RIOC Board Reluctant in a Hire

by Dick Lutz

Some members of the RIOC Board expressed reluctance to approve a new hire as Vice President of Legal Affairs at Thursday evening’s meeting. They approved it anyway.

Asked to endorse Susan G. Rosenthal for the post, several Board members voiced mystification about the termination and absence of General Counsel Don Lewis, who left the job when fired by RIOC President Charlene Indelicato, who apparently attributed the decision to replace Lewis to “the wishes of the Board of Directors,” according to a WIRE source familiar with the firing.

But resident Board members’ comments in the Thursday session didn’t square with that characterization. None indicated dissatisfaction with Lewis.

Howard Polivy said that there were aspects that he didn’t fully understand and would like to “untangle” – including the sudden departure of Lewis. Margie Smith refused to vote yes on the confirmation of Rosenthal, saying that accepting the only candidate presented rather than interviewing at least three qualitified candidates was contrary to good business practice. Kathie Grimm referred to State-required training that the Board members had taken, then said that the procedure being followed in hiring Rosenthal ran directly counter to that training.

“This Board has never operated according to the training we were given,” Grimm said, then added, “We should be applying that training to [the hiring of] senior staff.” Fay Christian agreed, as did Michael Shinozaki, who commented that a vote was required, a counsel was needed, and there appeared to be no choice other than to approve Rosenthal. Christian said, “We’re in the dark and I don’t like that.” Shinozaki said, “We have to take a vote by law. But we are told we can’t do a search [for candidates for the job].”

David Kraut’s only comment during the discussion was inaudible, but he seemed to express no reluctance and soon moved for approval of the Rosenthal appointment, then voted for it. Christian, Grimm, and Polivy also voted yes. Smith and Shinozaki abstained. Smith commented, “Until we start abstaining, this [sort of thing] is going to continue.” With the votes of the State’s two representatives on the Board, the hiring was confirmed with six yes votes and the two abstentions.

There were hints, in the discussion, that Board members don’t consider themselves satisfied in what they know – and don’t know – about the circumstances of Don Lewis’s departure.

Tags: RIOC Representation & Governance Dick Lutz

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