MUSC board does it again

The MUSC campus. (Robert Behre/File)

The Medical University of South Carolina Board of Trustees has a new chairman - and another black mark for how it does the public's business.

At its regularly scheduled meeting Friday, members filled out secret ballots to choose Don Johnson as their chairman, instead of taking a vote in open session as most public bodies do.

It was a lot like the board's meeting earlier this year when members voted in secret for a new MUSC president.

Former chairman Tom Stephenson said the board's bylaws state that votes must take place by secret ballot. That's a curious stipulation. Why shouldn't members be held accountable for their votes? MUSC is a state school. The public has an interest in knowing how trustees vote.

Mr. Stephenson has asked a committee to draft language for an amendment that would change the procedure.

But there was no mention of changing the bylaws at Friday's meeting.

And no member of the board exercised his authority to request that board members' votes be made public.

At least for the time being, it seems to be business as usual for the MUSC board. That's a pity. The idea that trustees know what's best and the public needn't worry is arrogant and ultimately harmful to the board's credibility.

Dr. Johnson would do well in his new position to rewrite immediately the misguided bylaw that withholds public information from the public.

That should be followed by a public vote by the board on the bylaw change.