Editorial: Dentistry board should vote for transparency

The Oregon Board of Dentistry is considering fixing a big mistake it made earlier this summer when it voted for secrecy about disciplined dentists. That’s good news for good governance.

Two reasons were cited by The Oregonian: 1) The July vote may not have been properly noticed, which would violate the state’s public meetings law; and 2) Some board members were confused about what they were approving.

The July vote was prompted by board member and Portland dentist Todd Beck, who had himself been disciplined in 2000, accused of falsifying documents to hide his own abuse of the drugs hydrocodone, diazepam and others for himself, patients and nonpatients.

Beck wanted to remove the names of disciplined dentists from both the board’s newsletter and its official minutes, saying, “All it does is pour salt in the wound.”

The board approved only part of the idea, removing names from the newsletter but keeping them in the minutes. That left a way for a determined member of the public to find the names, but the reason for the discipline was not in the minutes. Previously, both were included in the newsletter, providing a fuller picture of the reason for the discipline.

That action was promptly criticized by former board member Norman Magnuson and Assistant Attorney General Lori Lindley. It was Lindley who said the vote might have violated the law because it was not included in the board’s agenda for the meeting, The Oregonian reported. Meanwhile, some board members told The Oregonian they were confused about what they had approved because they didn’t understand parliamentary procedure. While it’s troubling that they would vote without knowing what they were setting in motion, it’s perhaps less offensive than a desire to hide dentists’ failings from the public. And it’s something they can fix.

The new vote is set for Oct. 17, with more information available at 971-673-3200 or www.oregon.gov/dentistry. Please join us in urging board members to remember their responsibility to serve the public, not the private interests of dentists.

They should vote for transparency.