, Salem, MA

Local News

March 27, 2013

Council debates Board of Health

Members vote to recommend that mayor appoint four more people, bringing total to seven


“I don’t ever recall having to cancel a meeting because of a lack of quorum during the 10 years I was on the board,” Harrington said.

Winter Island Road resident Edward Moriarty called the Board of Health’s recent lack of activity “public health malpractice.”

Shame on the board for not meeting, Moriarty said, and on the mayor for leaving vacancies unfilled. The Board of Health’s past four chairpersons are opposed to decreasing the board’s size, he said.

Moriarty, an attorney, said he has recently applied to be on the Board of Health.

Councilor Michael Sosnowksi said he has received emails from residents who are also interested in serving on the Board of Health but have received no response.

“We have people that want to serve, we have people that want to commit,” Sosnowski said. “... I might think about five (health board members), but certainly not three.”

In November, the Board of Health petitioned the City Council to decrease the health board’s size from seven to five members and change the department head’s title from health agent to health director. Although a council subcommittee voted to recommend the changes, the full City Council voted against both initiatives.

The Board of Health had five members in November. Since then, two members have stepped down.

Councilor Arthur Sargent told Poremba that the board should have filled its vacancies this winter.

“Once a decision is made, you have to accept the (council’s) vote and move forward,” Sargent said.

“We have a lot of folks who are interested (in serving on the health board), but it didn’t make sense to move forward until we had final discussion with council about makeup of board,” Driscoll said last night. “We need to have a functioning board, as much as I do value the opinion of the members of the Board of Health. ... I support their desire to have a more manageable number.”

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