Board chairman Tyler apologizes during hearing

Board of Chiropractic Examiners chairman Richard Tyler offered a mea culpa during a joint legislative hearing on Wednesday, apologizing for several actions taken under his leadership. But Tyler also implied that the interaction between his board and members of the staff was becoming unmanageable.

Meanwhile, legislative Democrats laid into Tyler and other board members appointed by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This effort was led by Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, chairman of the Senate Business, Profession and Economic Development Committee.

At issue is a March 1 board meeting where Tyler and his allies on the board sought to dismiss executive director Catherine Hayes and Jana Tuton, the deputy attorney general assigned to provide legal counsel to the board.

“I clearly recognize now that mistakes and errors of judgment were made during the March 1 meeting,” Tyler said early in his testimony. “I take full responsibility.”

However, Ridley-Thomas’ opposite number in the Assembly, Mike Eng, D-El Monte, said at the end of the meeting that the joint committee will look into problems with the staff, not just the board itself.

Tyler went on to outline several steps he and the other board members would take. This would include better education and compliance with the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, especially the sections limiting communication between board members outside public meetings.

However, Tyler went on to bring up problems with the staff, saying he felt “the objectivity of the board may have been compromised.”

“We had lost a little confidence in the staff,” he said.

Hayes and former board chairwoman Barbara Stanfield have made numerous allegations against Tyler. Probably the most serious is that they injected themselves into an ongoing criminal case being brought against a chiropractor in San Joaquin County.

Two Republicans–Senator Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, and Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands–took on defending the board on some occasions. Emmerson questioned how it was construed that the board had inserted itself into the San Joaquin case. He said the issue of “manipulation under anesthesia” may have gotten conflated with what is essentially a medical fraud case.

Aanestad clashed repeatedly with Ridley-Thomas. He also took Tyler’s side on his dismissal of Tuton.

“I now understand, after this testimony, why the board felt that they needed to get new legal advice,” Aanestad said.

Julie D’Angelo Fellmeth, administrative director of the Center for Public Interest Law and the University of San Diego School of Law, testified that the board has the right to dismiss their executive director and the deputy attorney general assigned to them. Only the governor, in turn, has the right to replace board members.

However, Fellmeth then detailed problems with how they sought to replace Hayes and Tuton, and cited numerous Bagley-Keene violations by the board. She said that the action against Tuton may have been because Tuton was a stickler on the open-meetings issue. She also took the board to task for communicating with chiropractors who had been under investigation.

“They have a knee-jerk desire to help people,” Fellmeth said. “But are they helping the right people?”

Contact Malcolm Maclachlan at

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