Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, September 26, 2008

Republicans: keep funding NHD, hire Health Commissioner

In this article in today’s Enquirer, reporter Steve Kemme says that approximately 60 Norwood residents attended last night’s Committee of the Whole meeting during which two Hamilton County Public Health officials presented services they would provide should City Council elect to close or modify the Norwood Health Department in favor of a contract with HCPH. Following the presentation and questions from council members, approximately 30 residents spoke of the outstanding services the Norwood Health Department provides and asked questions about the presentation. Many spoke in favor of keeping the department. The Enquirer article quotes several of the speakers: Emily Wands, Robin Mace, and Deb Robinson.

Possibly because Mr. Kemme had a deadline to meet prior to the 10: 00 p.m. closing minutes of the meeting, he did not report that Councilperson Steve Thornbury asked for a vote on the following Minority Report of the meeting. Mr. Thornbury read the report aloud from previously prepared typed copy:

We the undersigned members of the Committee of the Whole recommend that Norwood City Council pass a resolution affirming its support for the continued operation of the Norwood Health Department with future appropriations for the indefinite future to adequately support operations and services at their current level.

Further, we recommend that the Norwood Board of Health be encouraged to proceed directly in the process of hiring a full-time Health Commissioner so as to guarantee the continued efficient and effective operation of the Department.

Councilperson Keith Moore immediately took issue with the Minority Report, expressing shock and even anger that Mr. Thornbury or anyone could come to the meeting with it typed up in advance of the presentation. Mr. Moore went on to say, essentially, that the NHD is funded and that he himself needs to study the matter further and gather more information in order determine whether or not there is duplication of health services with HCPH and at what cost services can best be delivered to the community.

Mr. Thornbury replied that the fact that he had prepared the report in advance did not mean that he was going to read it. Rather, he prepared it in advance in case he felt after hearing the nearly three-hour presentation/discussion that it was necessary. He emphasized that the fabric of the Norwood Health Department is jeopardized by delaying the decision any longer and that he wants a Health Commissioner in place and the basic operations of the NHD affirmed as soon as possible by City Council.

COW Chairman John Mumper said the committee would not be issuing a report of the meeting and that the presentation was but the first step in council considering a contract with HCPH. A vote on the Minority Report was not taken. Instead, the minority members will sign it, and it will be presented at the next City Council meeting on October 14. Minority Republican council members Michael Gabbard and Steve Thornbury were present last evening, but the third member, Victor Schneider, was absent.