Governor vows to have last word on medical board

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday he intends to move swiftly and take legal action to remove three members of the Board of Medical Examiners if they do not quit voluntarily.

"The law permits the governor to remove those members for cause," Gibbons said in a short news conference. "We will move to remove them. It is going to be soon. We are not going to let this drag on."

Gibbons on Sunday announced that he wanted Daniel McBride, Javaid Anwar and Sohail Anjum to resign their board positions because of their close personal and business relationships with Dr. Dipak Desai, the majority owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

Officials have linked the Shadow Lane facility to six cases of hepatitis C. Preliminary information on a seventh case was linked Tuesday to an affiliated center.

McBride reiterated Tuesday that he will not resign, pledging to "pursue every legal option to keep the job." He and the two other board members previously announced that they will not vote or participate in any board matters involving the Endoscopy Center or Desai.

Gibbons would not give an indication of when he would pursue legal action to remove the three, other than saying it would be soon. He said legal options are being reviewed.

Gibbons also is seeking the resignation of Tony Clark, executive director of the Board of Medical Examiners. Clark is refusing to leave and has suggested that the governor wants him dismissed because of an old personal vendetta.

Clark, formerly Nevada's adjutant general, ran the state Air and Army National Guard when Gibbons, a decorated military pilot, was ordered to retire as Air Guard vice commander in late 1994. Gibbons, a Delta Airlines pilot at the time, fought the order in vain.

Gibbons at the time was a former state assemblyman who in 1994 lost the race for governor. Gibbons flew jets on weekends with the Air Guard.

Clark implied Monday that Gibbons wanted the medical board to fire him as a form of retaliation.

"That never entered my mind," Gibbons said of his personal differences with Clark. "Tony Clark was not doing his job."

Gibbons said the only reason Clark won't quit now is because he would lose retirement benefits. Clark is scheduled to retire in September.

"That is his story, and he is sticking to it," Clark said Tuesday.

He added that Gibbons was so upset about the forced retirement that he lobbied Gov. Kenny Guinn to replace Clark as adjutant general.

"Jim and I know what this is all about," Clark said.

Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, a physician, urged those asked to resign from the medical board to do so for the sake of the public interest and public perception.

"I don't accuse them by any means of having done anything wrong," he said Tuesday. "But people need to be reassured there isn't ever going to be any undue influence."

Gibbons also asked the board to restore public information that had been removed from its Web site, which has not been updated since March 14.

Clark said the medical board in 2005 voted to remove some information about medical malpractice cases. A discussion on whether to place that information back on the Web site will occur at the board's June meeting, he added.

The board is scheduled to meet March 28-29 in Reno and by teleconference in Las Vegas. Clark said members will discuss the health care crisis as part of an investigation item during the Friday portion of the meeting.

He also expects that a big crowd will attend Saturday's meeting in Las Vegas when the public can make comments.

Review-Journal writer Molly Ball and The Associated Press contributed to this report.