In the Leader‘s coverage of the abrupt “retirement” of Rock Ambulance chief Margie Sammons (which had NOTHING to do with the seizure of her phone and iPad, she claims), the paper glossed over some of the incriminating statements in Sammons’ text messages:
Some of the messages referred to what appeared to be an effort to remove Dan Meyer from the Rock board. He is one of the three remaining members on the board and has been critical of Sammons.
Other text messages supported former board members Charles Groeteke and Paul Horn, who ran unsuccessfully for election to the board in April.
The Leader gave no further information on this, but I will, since it seems rather significant. I have in my hand the Sammons text messages I will save the election stuff for another post and talk today about the move to oust Meyer.
The back story here is that last year it was discovered that, for the 3rd time, Rock Ambulance had let its state narcotics license expire, which is a no-no when you are delivering the type of drugs paramedics do. This happened in early 2015 but was first made public in April 2016. It was discussed at the April 20 Rock board meeting and reported in the April 21 Leader. Board member Dan Meyer was not happy with the coverup and with the failure to take responsibility, and he made this known at the meeting (video here). This seems to have spawned the attempt to get him kicked off the board, along with his general disruption of the rubber-stamp culture on the board (reminiscent of what existed at Fox C-6).
Here are some text messages from former Rock Ambulance board member David Broach to Sammons (Sammons’ messages are on the right in the dark bubbles). This exchange is dated April 28 (right click > view image to see a larger version):
April 28 exchange between Sammons and David Broach
The statute in question at the beginning there is this one, RSMo 321.0017. It says:
no employee of any fire protection district or ambulance district shall serve as a member of any fire district or ambulance district board while such person is employed by any fire district or ambulance district
What Sammons and cronies were trying to argue is that, since Meyer is also on the Rock Township Fire board, he is an employee of Rock Fire, and thus can’t also be on the Rock Ambulance board. This is clearly a bastardization of the statute, as evidenced by the fact that Mark Bishop, the attorney for Rock Ambulance who is mentioned in the right column, was apparently not interested in making a move.
Here is an exchange with former board chairman Steve Ott, who resigned as part of the early October mass exodus in which three Rock board members resigned after the chief departed. State Senator Paul Wieland, (R-22nd district), is mentioned here and a few other times in the text messages. His father, Don, was another board member who resigned (the third member to resign was Anita Clark). Here’s Ott on April 26:
April 26 exchange between Sammons and Steve Ott
It’s a bit hard to read, and partially cut off, but Ott is reporting that the law does not prevent Meyer from being on both boards. Sammons asks if a law can be quickly passed to make it illegal. So as you see, Sammons wanted to go all the way to Jefferson City to get rid of Meyer. According to a search of the Missouri Legislature web site, no bills to this effect were introduced in the 2016 session.
In the most colorful exchange on the topic, Sammons talked to David Tetrault, CEO of the St. Francois County Ambulance District and a board member of the Region 4 board of the American Ambulance Association (AAA). I presume that Sammons knows him from her time as the 2015 president of the Missouri Ambulance Association (MAA). As you will see, Tetrault got quite worked up, though I’m not sure why this is so important to him (warning: language inappropriate for children):
April 28 exchange between Sammons and David Tetrault, part 1
I highlighted the juicy parts. The YouTube video referenced on the left is the one I linked to above of the April 20 board meeting. Some of the discussion above is about the narcotics license lapse (the stuff about BNDD – the state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs). You can also see where Sammons wants to get the MAA attorney to push the Meyer issue. Tetrault correctly realizes that whoever files a complaint against Meyer will have their name released, and apparently none of them wanted to take responsibility for the hit job. Here is part 2:
April 28 exchange between Sammons and Tetrault, part 2
Note: some of the messages repeat between columns. It looks like Tetrault was not only working legislators, but also working the Leader to try to get Meyer removed. And in the middle there, it looks like he is employing AAA resources towards this matter. I can’t imagine that AAA bylaws allow this or its leadership supports this.
The Jason White guy mentioned above is apparently the president of the Missouri EMS Agent Corporation (MoEMSAC), which is involved in Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance providers.
As we see here, Chief Sammons was willing to abuse her power, enlist her cronies, and use her taxpayer-provided phone to eliminate a critic because she didn’t like being called out about the narcotics license lapse and didn’t like her iron grip on the district to be threatened. In a future post, I will talk about Sammons’ attempts to help her pals win the 2016 Ambulance board elections.