Russ Webb is Chair of the Mental Health Trust Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy of AMHTA.)The change in leadership at the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority was made official on Thursday. Many trust advisory boards and beneficiaries expressed concerns about the Board of Trustees’ unexpected October decision to hire retired Trust Land Office Director Greg Jones as the interim CEO.Former long-time CEO Jeff Jessee officially resigned his position and will take a new post as a program officer.The governor’s office signed an official memorandum on Tuesday allowing for the change, though Jones may only be hired on an interim basis.In an email to concerned advisory board members and citizens, Deputy Chief of Staff John F. Hozey III wrote the changes were approved “on the condition that final decisions regarding a permanent CEO require consultation with the supporting boards.”He also wrote that the governor will consider the concerns when deciding who to appoint to the board in the coming weeks. Trustee Larry Norene’s term expires March 1, 2017. He is eligible for reappointment.“It is through the appointment process that the Governor can affect the direction of any board,” Hozey wrote. “It is not appropriate for the Governor’s office to micro-manage individual actions that are within the legal responsibility of any board.”During Thursday’s Trust board meeting, Trustee Jerome Selby asked the board to reconsider the decision.“I’m gravely concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I think we heard some good input yesterday from a number of folks [during public comment] that maybe we need to step back, slow down a little bit,” he said. “We’re moving too fast. Our house is not in order.”The seven-member board voted along the same 4-3 split as the original decision to replace Jessee.Jones, the new CEO, was not present at the meeting because of a previously planned trip.During an interview, board chair Russ Webb said shifts in leadership are normal and often make people feel anxious and uncertain, but things will quickly smooth over. He said they listened to the community’s comments with interest.“I think unfortunately there’s much of the issues related to this are not a matter that can be made of public record,” Webb said.Other board members, during and after the October 26 meeting, said they thought the decision making process to change the CEO indicated potential violations of the Open Meetings Act.Webb said those allegations “are neither true nor correct.”“I won’t further address allegations made by anyone,” he said. “I think it’s frankly beneath me to do so.”The Board of Trustees has authorized up to $35,000 to be spent on a facilitated training session on the Ethics Act and the Open Meetings Act, and a discussion of the reorganization of the Trust Authority. It will be led by the Trust’s independent counsel, Nelson Page, through a separate contract.