, Salem, MA


March 27, 2013

Letter: Keep Salem health board at seven members

To the editor:

I submit this letter in strong opposition to the March 25 letter to the editor written by the three remaining members of the seven-member Salem Board of Health. The letter alleges that the request to reduce the board from seven to three is simple, consistent with history and common sense.

The request is neither simple nor consistent with history and violates not only common sense but the rule of free, open, democratic participation in municipal government.

What is simple about a request to reduce the board from seven to three, when the board has functioned effectively and professionally and as a leader in public health in the North Shore since the mid-1970s, with seven citizen volunteers? What is simple about a request to reduce the board from seven to three, when a request to reduce the board from seven to five was defeated on Nov. 16, 2012, in this same council? What has changed in four months? How is this request consistent with the board’s history?

The board has been a leader in public health, as a seven-person board, not only on the North Shore, but in the entire state. The board has led the way in public health, policy, procedures and enforcement. The board has led the way in anti-smoking regulations in all public-licensed facilities. The board has led the way in balanced, fair, healthy and lawful regulations of body art. The board has led the way in enforcement of smoking regulations and prevention of smoking by the underage youths of the North Shore. The board has led the way in emergency preparedness.

The board has done all of this with seven members. How is this change common sense?

On the contrary, it is inconsistent with participatory, municipal democracy, which requires maximum participation in all public policy, inclusive of public health policy, by all local boards. This radical change is especially suspect when public health policy has been so effectively articulated and enforced for decades by a seven-member board. The request of the remaining three members of the Board of health is ill-advised, anti-Democratic, ill-liberal, elitist and absolutely positively political.

Please deny this request immediately.

Edward M. Moriarty Jr.


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