Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mayor Williams: Health Dept. review will be open process

During last night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Williams made, to our knowledge, his first on-the-record remarks regarding the Norwood Health Department issue. We are publishing his and Councilpersons Steve Thornbury’s and Victor Schneider’s statements and questions verbatim, with the exception of only a few words that were garbled here and there. We hope our readers will find this transcript beneficial, especially readers who do not have cable service to view the meeting on cable Channel 4.

Mayor Williams: Other issue, discussion going on, a lot of people are anguished, and I understand it.

First part of July, we were notified USPC would be leaving With the earnings taxes starting to go down some…Take UPCS announcing they’re leaving and announcement of the health commissioner retiring, the discussion came up among a couple of council members, the idea was maybe to look into the future of that health department.

I know it’s caused some problems. I think it’s the prudent thing to do. If I remember, going back when we were in Fiscal Emergency, (we were asked) “Did anybody look at anything; did you make any adjustments; did you see it coming?” As hard as this is, I still think it’s the right thing to do.

How it’s going to turn out, I don’t know. I had a brief conversation with the health commissioner (Donna Laake) tonight, and, basically, what she said to me was true. She said, “You know we were interviewing people, and you never said anything." That’s true. Mainly because it didn’t come up at the time they were having their first round (of interviews).

I did have a conversation with a member of the health commission, and I said, “Maybe you should look at this. Maybe we should not be in that big of a hurry.” It went from there…it went downhill. People got very emotional, uh, and I can understand it somewhat. The way I look at it is so…what we decided to do is, we contacted Hamilton County. We had a brief conversation with them. A little bit of information was given which we will share, and he made contact with the health commissioner.

Now, this is one of the issues where, and I can tell you this, before the year is up, there’s going to be another area we’re probably going to be looking at to review. And it’s going to be, basically, what you’ll be doing is a cost analysis.

You know, what seems to be a good economical decision does not always turn out to be that way. It doesn’t turn out to be worth it. And there’s several reasons. By the City and the residents, if another agency takes over, lack of service, uh, and the, once again, chipping away at our independence. Do I still think it’s worth reviewing? Yeah, I think we’ve got an obligation to look at it, and I mean everybody included, the health commissioner, the medical director, the retiring health commissioner. Get everybody involved. Let’s do it openly. That way, we say, “Okay, what we provide is good, and that’s all we need. And this is a dead issue.” But, once again, with going through it like we did at one time, I don’t believe there’s anything with reviewing it.

I do understand that it causes some problems, and I’m sorry for that; but, on the other hand, I go back to when we were in Fiscal Watch and Fiscal Emergency, and I had people come up to me and say, “Why didn’t you do this; why didn’t you do that; did you ever check into it?” I said, “No.” You know, I wasn’t willing to make a change. I guess it was partially due to Donna. Donna and I go back 27 years, and I had a loyalty. But now, you know, as I said, it’s a combination of both issues. And I think it’s worth looking at in an open process. And it’s not really something we should do, that it should be done quickly. It should be done over time, and everybody who knows anything, who’s got anything to contribute, contribute and say something.

I’ll take my share of the responsibility and my position. One of the things, and we all know this, one of the problems that we have is our proximity to each other. Yet, on the other hand, all the information that’s flying around, the rumors get out, and nobody calls. I was the recipient of some really bad rumors, and there was an individual, and I’ll let them on their own stand up and say who they were, that called me up and asked me. That was a refreshing thing. And so, I know how it works, but I believe, still believe, that there’s this obligation to at least look at it and include people in it, the health commissioner, retiring health commissioner - include everybody. I’m not saying hide it from anybody. Just everybody have their say and speak for themselves.

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