Verbatims from 8/12/08 City Council meeting
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 go 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.
Then, I think we can look at our taxpayers and residents and say, “We did the right thing. We looked at it, and they decided to change it, or not change it, or alter it.” And, I’m telling you, there could be another issue coming up where the same thing could happen in another area. I mean, we’ve taken action over the past few years and months and….subcontracted some things out that needed to be done. Was it the normal course of business? No, because we felt strongly that something had to be done. We’re not finished. It goes back to the same thing: open, honest discussion, and go from there.
I truly wish, you know, with all this going on, somebody would have called me. Of course, they didn’t call me when I said I lived in Harrison, Ohio, so, I don’t know why they would call me over something like this. That’s a ticklish subject, so…I’m open to questions, but I’m hoping that we at least, okay, we’re going to take a look at it.
Steve Thornbury: In your discussion with the health commission member who sent the letters, if we’re going to have open discussion, which you say you want to have happen over a period of time, they obviously are going to be in need of finding a replacement for Ms. Laake fairly soon. Has there been any discussion between you and them about how to proceed?
Mayor Williams: No. I’m on that commission, but in the past, I’ve told Donna when she had a member for the commission, I said, “You know better than me. Tell me who you want, and I’ll put them on.” That’s the way I’ve done it. I don’t know enough, I’m smart enough to know what I don’t know. And I’m not a health expert. So, no, do we need a health commissioner right away? Good question. I’m not sure. You know, Ms. Lake told me tonight, “Well, that scares everybody off.” Well, I know, I know. I’m sorry about that. Once again, I told the one commission member, they wanted some immunity for residency. I oppose that. Maybe that’s wrong. Council may want to override it. But, once again, I’m stuck on that. I mean, the health commissioner we have now, Donna is a good example of that, I mean, you…once again, get involved in the community. So, if we do this review, I think it’s like…garbled.
Victor Schneider: I agree if you’re going to review what the health department does, it should be done out in the open. You have some public meetings and discuss what’s going on. A lot of people benefit from the City of Norwood having its own health department. Enough about that, you’ve already made your thoughts well known.
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