Township Committee to Vote on Board of Health Tonight

Much-debated ordinance will decide if board remains autonomous body or if Township Committee absorbs its functions.

Springfield officials will decide the future of the Board of Health tonight.

The Board, presently composed of seven residents appointed by the , meets monthly and steers the Township’s health and safety regulations. Along with the Township Committee, it is one of two governmental bodies in Springfield that can pass ordinances. The Springfield Township Committee is to the township’s board of health. Under the proposed change to township ordinance, which is up for final vote tonight, that configuration would be replaced by a board of health made up of the Township Committee members and two residents with expertise in public health.

While some officials tout the move as a cost-saving effort, current members of the board of health and township observers characterize the proposed changes as a power grab that disregards public health and safety.

The matter has been fiercely debated in meetings, print and online publications and social media since the changes were first proposed in May. Springfield Mayor Ziad Shehady devoted considerable space to criticism of the present board in his . In his , Board of Health chair Samir Shah said that Shehady was not telling the entire story. implored the Committee to retain the Board of Health as is.

The issue spilled over onto Facebook when Shehady, while attending the Board of Health’s June  meeting, put up a Facebook message accusing the board of “unnecessarily giving small-business Sofia's Restaurant a hard time.” 

Meanwhile, supporters of the current Board of Health have put up lawn signs throughout Springfield calling for residents to help retain the autonomous board.

Democrats Rich Huber and David Amlen have publicly stated their intention to vote in favor of the autonomous volunteer board. Nonetheless, if the three Republicans on the Committee vote together to change the board, the ordinance will pass and the Committee would absorb the functions of the Board of Health. 

BART FRAENKEL June 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM
The mayor's use of facebook to criticize the BOH misrepresented the situation completely. I attended the BOH meeting and the most eggregious behavior was displayed by the owner of Sofia's who showed a total disrespect for the board and while acknowledging the violations, made excuses for them instead of owning them and moving on. One can only wonder why a merchant would be willing to openly act in such a callous manner with the Dept of Health inspector and the BOH given that he'd have to work with them in the future. The only thing that comes to mind is that he doesn't think that group will be there moving forward and so he had nothing to lose. I wonder from whom he may have gotten that impression. Could it be from someone using facebook to criticize the BOH? The BOH needs to remain autonomous for the benefit of the public's health and well being. We don't need elected officials making decisions when they have personal relationships with the retailers, and especially when we already have something in place that works well and with professionals who do not cost the town a penny.
Keepboh Autonomous June 26, 2012 at 10:59 AM
The changes that will be made tonight will affect the health and safety of ALL residents.  In his letter, the Mayor states that board hearings, held when a restaurant has failed 3 inspections, are unnecessary. He thinks coyotes can be handled by police, despite the NJ Public Health Veterinarian calling the Deputy Mayor on Jun 11 in strong disagreement. He ordered the Board to stay quiet or be "reorganized;" they spoke because of an ethical and moral obligation to do so. It's not about money, and it's more than just health. It's about the ethics of how decisions and disagreements on public health are handled. Remember, unlike politics, keeping 51% healthy is not sufficient. Removing preventable causes of disease for 99% is not enough, especially if your family is the other 1%. Hold your Township Committee accountable, tell them to keep the autonomous Board of Health, by attending the final vote tonight.
Len June 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Again I must mention...How can a TC member who has pidgeons and dead lobsters in his restaurant (as per Gordon Ramsey's TV program) actually be considered to be a BOH member!!! It's completely insane!!
Shane Ronan June 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Len, Do you believe everything you see on TV?
BART FRAENKEL June 26, 2012 at 03:04 PM
You're right, you can't believe everything you see on TV and some of that may have been sensationalizing things a bit. But the spoiled food shown on the show is an entirely different story. But that aside, what was the purpose of the deputy mayor appearing on behalf of the merchant at a BOH hearing? You haven't gotten back to me on the Dobbs question, so maybe you will with this one.
Len June 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Considering he admitted it when he saw it...in this case Yes I do!
john l June 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
if you believe the three stooges will pass this knowing full well two of them will be voted out of office and the dems will reverse this waste of time when they should be working on more important things. How about getting more traffic lights at morris and mountain ave
Shane Ronan June 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I'm not going to comment on the Dobbs question because frankly I think you already know the answers and are trying to bait me. As for why the Deputy Mayor appeared, he's already made a public statement about that.
Shane Ronan June 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Both Morris and Mountain Avenues are County roads.
BART FRAENKEL June 26, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Shane.......bait you? I thought you were above using excuses instead of answering questions. I've answered whatever question you've asked, regardless of whether or not I agreed with you. As for the deputy mayor, I don't know what he said, because he never told me and I've never read anything about it he may have said. So please answer it.
Bob Groder January 23, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I am thrilled that the 2013 BOH is being reinstated to an autonomous board. This grave error was corrected from 2012 when they were reorganized against the wishes of every single person who spoke out in the room in those hearings. Last night not a single person spoke out against the reinstatement as this shouldnt be a political issue in town. It was all about hiring madison which the former board wasnt willing to do so in essense they were "fired". ironically Madison works the same way as they also have an autonomous board so obviously its the right thing to do. There was obvious friction between Dr. Shah & Mr. Shehady which was to me partly why the BOH was restructured in the 1st place. Anyway the bottom line is we have madison for 3 years so the reformed BOH will oversee their activities in what I hope stays free of political interference.


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