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Salem Health Board to Remain at Seven

City Council members nixed a plan to reduce the board to five members in order to help the Board of Health get a quorum.

The City Council voted seven to three Thursday to reject a request from the five remaining Board of Health members to reduce the size of the board from seven members to five.

The board currently has five members. One member was asked to resign. Another resigned voluntarily. And of the five remaining members, the terms of four members, including chairman Dr. Barbara Poremba, has expired.

The council also failed on a five to five vote to approve the request of the health board to change the title of health agent Larry Ramdin to health director. Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey was absent.

The Board of Health appears to have the authority to call its senior staff person by either title and may vote, despite the council's action, to change the title.

Councilor at Large Thomas Furey, who is the council's liaison to the Board of Health, argued that most cities in Massachusetts have only a three-member board. And with seven members, the board cannot meet at times for lack of a quorum.

Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan argued against the change, saying there are a lot of people in Salem who would like to serve and are qualified to serve on the health board.

"We have people willing to serve," Ryan said.

Council President Joan Lovely seemed to seal the defeat of the proposal, saying, "If it is just to make it easier to reach a quorum, then I can't support that."

Other opponents suggested that the remaining members of the health board wanted to reduce the number of members to make it easier to control the board.

Councilor at Large Arthur Sargent III said, "I can't believe the reason (for this proposal) is attendance. The more members you have the more input you have, more opinions and more democracy."

The health board was created in the early 1970s by merging the three-member health board with a three-member city hospital board. The city and ultimately the state legislature added a seventh member to break ties.

The health board argued that since the city no longer operates a hospital, having seven members is more than are needed.

Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel, who opposed the measure, said the health board should get its membership reappointed first.

Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy suggested that the attendance record of board members should be reviewed before they are reappointed.

"If they can't make the commitment to attend the meetings, they shouldn't be on the board," McCarthy said.

windpower November 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM
And more http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/scituate/2012/11/scituate_turbine_to_remain_tur.html
god November 16, 2012 at 01:03 PM
The board of health is in the biggest hipa violation of privacy of right with coordination with Salem ... its time for both the major. Ask the blonde under cover cop station on. Train via federal building ...punk
gene November 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
If they are having quorum problems replace the members who don't attend. Don't cut back on democracy. This whole thing smells
windpower November 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM
The city will need to have control of all boards to move forward with the "Gateway City " plan The planning board is also one to watch as they already have voted to violate Zoning limits on a regular basis . Ed Wolfe
Frank Kulik November 19, 2012 at 10:51 PM
If the "Gateway City" plan doesn't frighten the hell out of Salem residents and taxpayers, it's hard to think of what will. As Ed so correctly states, it's much easier to implement this protocol if the administration has control over any and all city boards that might stand in their way. And that's their plan and that's their objective.

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