Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

COW recommends residency wavier for H.C. candidate

After roughly 2+ hours of sometimes intense debate and questioning of members of the Norwood Health Board regarding their methods of recruiting and screening candidates for the Health Commissioner position, 4 of the 7 Committee of the Whole council members gave vocal approval of a committee report that recommends granting a residency waiver to Health Commissioner candidate Pamela Walker-Bauer (see Dr. Frank Perrino‘s letter posted 3/23/09 below). In the majority were Keith Moore, Joe Sanker, Michael Gabbard, and Steve Thornbury. Not approving the recommendation were John Mumper, Chuck Barlow, and Victor Schneider. The recommendation will be put to a vote by council at their next meeting on April 14.

A few highlights from the COW meeting:

1. Despite sharp disagreements about granting the waiver, one thing all council members as well as all 5 Board of Health members and Mayor Williams agreed on was that ideally all City department heads should live in Norwood.

2. Council members grilled Board of Health members about whether qualified Norwood residents were actively recruited, applied for and were seriously considered for the Health Commissioner position. Dr. Perrino and other health board members stated that a couple of Norwood residents applied but didn’t fit the qualifications for the position.

3. Mr. Barlow favored continuing the candidate search and said that in view of so many people being laid off, he could not imagine that there is “no one out there unwilling to move in a bad economy.” Mr. Thornbury countered that while many industries are suffering, “the health industry isn’t one of those.”

4. Mr. Sanker expressed his displeasure with Dr. Perrino’s letter to council, stating several times that it came across as “demanding” of a salary and a residency waiver for Ms. Walker-Bauer and that council should “vote on this right now.” Mr. Thornbury said he disagreed with Mr. Sanker’s characterization of the letter, but Mr. Sanker reiterated that he found the letter “demanding.” That was followed by COW Chairperson Mumper reading aloud Dr. Perrino’s letter requesting council approve a starting pay and approve a residency waiver for Ms. Walker-Bauer.

5. Mr. Schneider strongly opposed the waiver, chiefly on the grounds that granting one would 1.) negatively affect the long term viability of the City and 2.) would enable every paid member of the Health Department and even Public Works employees to move out of the City. In response to the latter, a Health Board member stated that only one of the five Health Dept. employees, the secretary, resides in Norwood, a fact that did not please Mr. Schneider. Suggesting that the Board of Health was perhaps being grandiose, i.e. looking only for degreed candidates, Mr. Schneider urged that the Health Board continue their candidate search and “broaden” what they’re looking for.

6. After considerable debate among council members, Mayor Williams said that in order to avoid a rash decision if everybody hasn’t make their minds yet, perhaps one or two council members should sit down with the Board of Health and go over the entire issue with them. Mr. Sanker was the only council member who expressed a willingness to do this.