By Dan Christensen and Buddy Nevins, FloridaBulldog.org
Acting Broward Health President/CEO Kevin Fusco apparently exceeded his spending authority last month when he signed a deal to pay more than $400,000 in hush money to a district executive who was fired after publicly criticizing a proposed $71.4 million, no-bid advertising contract.
The same day, Fusco signed a second deal to pay the fired chief executive of the district’s Fort Lauderdale flagship, Broward Health Medical Center, $537,000 to go away quietly.
The taxpayer-supported public hospital system’s chief executive is authorized to spend $250,000 on his signature alone; anything above that amount requires the approval of Broward Health’s governing board.
Approval for the costly agreements with ex-Broward Health Chief Financial Officer Robert K. Martin and medical center Chief Executive Officer Calvin Glidewell, however, was neither requested by Fusco nor granted by the board, according to minutes and coverage of board meetings.
Fusco did not respond to requests for comment made over several days.
Fusco inked 10-page separation agreements with Martin and Glidewell on Feb. 5, nine days after being named acting president/CEO in the aftermath of the Jan. 23 suicide of Broward Health boss Dr. Nabil El Sanadi. The contracts bear El Sanadi’s name, but his name was crossed out by Fusco when he signed them following El Sanadi’s death.
Martin’s agreement says he was “terminated” Jan. 7, when El Sanadi was in charge. El Sanadi and a majority of the board supported the proposed contract with Fort Lauderdale’s Zimmerman Advertising.
Under the contract, Broward Health will pay Martin his regular salary of $407,930, or about $196 per hour, through Jan. 7, 2017. Martin also got a lump sum payment of more than $17,000 for approximately 87 hours of accrued personal leave, plus a job-hunting service paid for by Broward Health.
In exchange for the money “to which Martin would not otherwise be entitled,” the agreement required Martin to release Broward Health from any legal claims he might have. He also agreed not to “disparage or adversely affect…or work to the detriment of Broward Health.”
The agreement broadly defines Broward Health to include not just the North Broward Hospital District, its legal name, and all related entities, but “current and former commissioners, directors, officers, employees, successors in interest, attorneys, representatives and agents.”
“Martin hereby represents that he has no knowledge of wrongdoing on the part of Broward Health or conduct that might adversely affect Broward Health or any issue of potential liability to Broward Health,” the agreement says.
BREACHES WOULD END PAYMENTS
“Any breaches by Martin will therefore cause Broward Health to immediately cease further payment to him.”
Martin declined to comment.
Glidewell was fired the day after Martin. The district has not publicly discussed why Glidewell was let go.
Glidewell’s deal specifies he’d continue to be paid his regular salary of $445,432, or $214 per hour, through Jan. 8, 2017. He’d also get a lump sum payment of $92,313 for 431 hours of accrued personal leave time, plus up to $10,000 in job search assistance.
To get the money, Glidewell signed the same gag terms as Martin. Any breaches by Glidewell would cause Broward Health to shut off further payments.
Glidewell did not respond to a phone message seeking comment before deadline.
The Broward Health public health system was subsidized last year by about $140 million in property tax revenues. Nevertheless, administrators have repeatedly inserted so-called “non-disparagement clauses” into separation agreements with its executives. The result has been not only a lack of transparency but, in the cases of Martin and Glidewell, a lack of accountability.
Former Broward Health procurement director Brian Bravo, fired in December amid an FBI corruption investigation, got a similar separation agreement on Jan. 7 in which the district agreed to pay his $159,000 salary through next June 14. Bravo also was given a $17,000 lump sum payment for accrued personal leave.
El Sanadi signed the deal on Jan. 7. It included a non-disparagement clause containing the same language as Broward Health’s agreement with Martin and Glidewell.
Wayne Black, a Miami private investigator hired last year by El Sanadi to look into alleged corruption at Broward Health, told commissioners in a January e-mail that Bravo “was bragging about getting $75,000” from the district “to pay his criminal defense attorney.”
Fusco isn’t the first Broward Health president/CEO to apparently exceed his signing authority. As FloridaBulldog.org reported Monday, El Sanadi signed an initial, $2.1 million no-bid annual contract with Zimmerman Advertising on May 5.
Like Fusco, El Sanadi’s authority to sign contracts was limited to $250,000. A review of the minutes of every public Broward Health board meeting in 2015 revealed no indication that Zimmerman’s initial contract was every brought to the board for its consideration.