Today, when they convene their last scheduled meeting, members of the Prince George's County Council may wage their final battle with County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, this time over the membership of a new, countywide hospital board.
It's a classic Hogan-council confrontation, one that council members link to Hogan's year-long effort to lease the three county hospitals to a private management company. Hogan lost that fight, and in July, he reluctantly signed the council's bill to turn the facilities over to a nonprofit corporation.
Now, with Hogan leaving his post to run for the U.S. Senate and seven of 11 council members departing, the two sides are squabbling about the makeup of the board that will chart the hospitals' course for years to come.
"He fought the whole process tooth and nail, and I suspect he's not completely in sympathy with what we're trying to do, and that's to put together a quality system," Council Chairman Parris N. Glendening said of Hogan.
Glendening, considered a virtual shoo-in to succeed Hogan as county executive, said Hogan in effect has vetoed two candidates for the board who have the council's backing.
So far, the council and Hogan have agreed on 11 of 15 hospital directors, who eventually will oversee the running of Prince George's General Hospital in Cheverly, the Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital and the Bowie Health Center. As a legal corporation, the board will oversee the three facilities' $80 million budget, draft personnel rules and set rules for managing the hospital system.
The 11 already chosen include Frank Aluisi, a former county commissioner who was elected temporary board chairman last week; former Democratic state senator Meyer M. Emanuel; F. Robert Brady, a Bowie Democrat; Eugene Baker and Harold Griffin, members of the countywide hospital commission; businessman Henry J. Long Jr.; and outgoing County Council member Roy Dabney.
It's over the last four slots that Hogan and the council disagree. When talks of the board's makeup began in earnest two months ago, each side submitted 15 names for the other to consider.
Missing from the list Hogan returned to the council were the names of two proposed by the council: Nancy O'Brien, a Bowie businesswoman long active in the local health center, and Wayne K. Curry, a black lawyer and prominent Democrat.
O'Brien, now in her second year as president of the Friends of the Bowie Health Center, said Hogan opposes her for political reasons. "Politics, it's right there, and we expected this right now," said O'Brien, who was a vocal opponent of Hogan's hospital leasing proposal.
"I didn't push to be on the list, but when Hogan took my name off, that really got my Irish up," she said. "I decided to fight like hell for this."
O'Brien and Curry are supported by Glendening and Ann Lombardi, a retiring County Council member who was Hogan's fiercest opponent in the hospital leasing debate. "Both of these people have shown an interest in the system, and they've acted for constituents," Lombardi said. "O'Brien and Curry: they're my two."
Glendening said: "O'Brien ought to be on there because there's only one person from Bowie now. She's logical for the board.
"And I feel strongly about Wayne Curry. Now, there's just not sufficient black representation on the board, and he's also expert in business law," Glendening said. "If we name second-rate people, we're sure to end up with a second-rate system."
Curry's name was dropped from the compromise list apparently because of his involvement with other county Democrats, Glendening said. Cornelia Moore, Dabney and Baker are so far the only blacks among the 11 board members; the county population is 37 percent black.
Prince George's Chief Administrative Officer Kenneth V. Duncan, who was involved in some of the negotiations, said Hogan "found there were some on there (the council's list of nominees) that he could not support" but would not elaborate further.
County Council members indicated last week they will try to make final the board's membership at their meeting this morning. The hospital panel still will have to be officially appointed by the council and county executive -- a vote that probably will come after the November elections.