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October 20, 2014

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Gibbons’ medical board move called ‘political payback’ (UPDATED)

CARSON CITY – Tony Clark, the executive director of the state Board of Medical Examiners, says Gov. Jim Gibbons’ request for his resignation is a case of political payback.

Gibbons has asked for the resignation of Clark and three members of the board in connection with the growing controversy over licensing of medical businesses.

The three members of the board have reported ties with Dr. Dipak Desai, owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, where unsanitary health practices led to infection of six people with Hepatitis C.

Clark said he has no association with Desai and had nothing to do with the licensing of the clinic.

“This is just payback,’’ said Clark, former adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard.

He said he replaced Gibbons as vice commander of the National Air Guard after Wing Commander Chuck Chinnock complained that Gibbons was not doing the job as vice commander.

Chinnock said Monday he was following the recommendation of the previous commander, Woody Clark of the 152nd Tactical Recognizance Wing, who suggested that Gibbons, a colonel in the Air Guard, be retired.

The recommendation had “nothing to do with his performance,” Chinnock said. But Gibbons had 20 years in the guard and it was time to let other officers move up the ladder, he added.

Clark said he agreed with Chinnock but knew there likely would be political repercussions.

“I know how the game is played and what goes around comes around. This was his (Gibbons’ opportunity to get rid of me,” said Clark, who had announced last year he would retire this September after 23 years of service.

Daniel Burns, Gibbons’ acting press secretary, said he was part of the all-day discussions Sunday about what actions to take and the issue of the National Air Guard never came up.

Of Clark’s statements, Burns said, “I find them hard to believe.”

Clark said he doesn’t work for the governor. He said he works for the board and will do whatever it wants.

Burns said the board failed to take quick and decisive action when the health crisis was revealed.

Gibbons intends to replace board members Dr. Javaid Anwar, who is board president; Dr. S. Daniel McBride and Dr. Sohail U. Anjum, board vice president.

“What we have here is a public health care crisis and what we need is public health care confidence,” Gibbons said in a statement. “That is why I am taking decisive action to restore public trust.”

Clark said a three-member investigating committee will look at the evidence involving Desai. The panel, composed of Northern Nevada members, will make a recommendation and the remaining six members will make a final decision.

Gibbons also asked Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, to fire Lisa Jones, head of the Bureau of Licensing and Certification.

Steve George, Willden's spokesman, said he was in Washington D.C., Monday. When he returns Tuesday, Willden will follow Gibbons' direction, George said.

George said Jones, a 29-year state employee, has been head of the bureau for five months and was on a probationary status. He said she could revert to her old job, fill another open position or retire.

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