FRAMINGHAM – Four months ago, the 11-member Framingham City Council voted unanimously to expand the 3-member Board of Health to a 5-member Board, and requested the Mayor “petition the Legislature to enact a Special Act to increase the size of the Board of Health.”
SOURCE reached out to State Rep. Maria Robinson on Friday, July 16, after the resignation of the Health Board Chair, to see where the petition was in the state legislature.
“I have not received any information from City Hall about filling legislation to do so,” said Rep. Robinson on Friday, July 16.
Mayor Yvonne Spicer signed off on the 2021-020 ordinance on March 31, but has yet to request the legislature to file a petition to increase the health board.
SOURCE reached to the Spicer administration on Friday, but has yet to receive a response as of this report posting.
On Monday, July 12, the chair of the Framingham Board of Health announced her resignation as of July 15. So now, the 3-member Board of Health is down to just two members, as the City is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am unsure why this was not forwarded to the State legislators after the Mayor signed the order. Had she disagreed with it, I think she would have vetoed it as opposed to signed it and not forwarded it. Hopefully it is still on the “to do” list,” said City Council Chair George P. King Jr.
“For reasons I do not understand this administration seems to be overwhelmed by administrative issues that result in long delays in advertisements, appointments, job postings and the like. I suspect that is what happened here,” said City Council Chair King.
In 2016, Town Meeting voted to expand the Framingham Board of Health from three members to five. But when Framingham went from the largest town in the Commonwealth to the newest City in 2018, the Board reverted back to a 3-member Board, as the City’s charter repealed the special act increasing the board’s membership.
The proposal to increase the City’s Board of Health from 3 to 5 members, was made by District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini. It then went to the City Council’s Public Health, Safety, and Transportation subcommittee, chaired by at-large Councilor Janet Leombruno for review. That subcommittee signed off on the expansion and brought it back to the full Council, which voted 11-0 in favor of expansion.
“The Public Health subcommittee first met on this in early March, three months after the Health Director Sam Wong resigned. Given recent events, two additional members of the Board of Health would have been invaluable,” said Councilor Leombruno, tonight.
“It is frustrating to learn that Mayor Spicer has yet to file the petition passed months ago to expand the Board of Health from three members to five members to provide for greater support for the Health Director and collaboration amongst would have been board members, and to provide for more diverse representation,” said Councilor Stefanini tonight, July 18.
The Framingham Board of Health also unanimously supported the expansion, earlier this spring.
Expanding to five members would allow the Board of Health to discuss time-sensitive issues with scheduling a public meeting, as with five members the chair of the Board of Health could confer with the Vice Chair or with another member, and two members does not constitute a quorum, under the state’s Open Meeting Law.
With a 3-member Health Board, any conversation between any two members could violate the state’s Open Meeting Law, which prohibits a quorum of members of a public body from conducting business outside the public view.