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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

Innocent until the SEIU says otherwise

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 9:58pm

Given the inclination of the SEIU to run roughshod over freedom of speech and to undermine the use of elections, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when it attempts to ignore the “innocent until proven guilty” premise of American life, as well. The Executive Vice President of the union sent a letter this week to our Board of Directors, and later released it to the press, naming one of our Overseers by name and suggesting that the Board “conduct your own investigation” to determine whether this person is still suitable for membership in this organization of lay supporters of the hospital.

I am reminded of a quote from another setting and another era: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Let me explain. The Board of Overseers is not a governing body. It has no fiduciary responsibility for the hospital. People who volunteer to serve on our Board of Overseers do so out of loyalty to and affection for our hospital. Some are recent members and some have been members for years. They contribute time, money, good will, ideas, suggestions, and energy to the public service mission of the hospital.

Sometimes, people on our Board of Overseers go through hard times in their lives. They might have financial troubles, marital troubles, and even legal troubles. When they do, we stand by them as they have stood by us. We consider them members of our extended family. From time to time, an Overseer might resign because he or she feels that they can no longer ably serve the institution. Our practice is to let people make that decision because we know that they have tremendous loyalty to BIDMC, and we trust their judgment on such matters.

We do not and will not conduct an investigation of anybody on our Board of Overseers. Contrary to the SEIU’s suggestion, we do not pretend to arrogate to ourselves the powers of law enforcement or regulatory bodies. Those bodies are given their statutory authority by the Constitution or by law, and we trust them to do their job well.

We also do not issue press releases suggesting that any other organization — hospital, business, or union — conduct an investigation of one of their members or one of their advisors. To do so would simply be indecent.

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