.

Letter to the Editor: Board of Health Member Responds to Criticism

A Letter to the Editor from Board of Health Member Gil Heino regarding proposed regulation.

I have been in Easton my whole life. I've served the town in a number of capacities and have never been so taken back by some people's vitriolic comments. I realize that once I comment, I will be subjecting myself to more insults by people who are unaware of the actual facts. However I can no longer sit back without commentating.

The B.O.H. has worked many hours trying to resolve the problem Easton people may be facing. When we originally worked on this reg, it was done under the pressure of a critical alert with 55 Triple E mosquitos trapped in Easton alone. We did not have the time or state of mind to analyze each and every word that was put in the original draft. Since listening to the people of Easton's comments, we are in the process of refining this reg.

It is absolutely ridiculous to think for one minute that we are going to shut down barbecues, walkers or private activities. We are trying to protect children whose parents feel the pressure of their kids to participate in various activities that require them to be outside at certain hours.

Our department has done a great job in contacting and communicating with the state to get the latest updates to keep the citizens of Easton aware of the danger of Triple E. The various organizations in Easton have done an outstanding job of doing their utmost to protect the people by adhering to advisories of the state and town health departments. We have not received any negative feedback from any organizations.

What we are trying to do is have a reg. available to us or any other department that would like to take our position, and be able to act on a moments notice instead of waiting 3 or 4 weeks in a critical situation. Hopefully Triple E and West Nile will never be deemed critical enough to enact this regulation. I am aware that the odds of being infected with Triple E are very low but the infection is deadly and debilitating but worth protecting the public to the best of our ability. We did advise, by way of reverse 911 calls, signs, and Email, and received a great response from many organizations and citizens.

In regard to the fines, we are trying to change the wording. The fine currently states in the regulation, up to one thousand dollars which was suggested to us at a board meeting by town council. All town officials should be concerned about the safety of it's citizen in this regard. It was very difficult to sit back and see my fellow boardmembers and department personnel be insulted by people who cannot state their opinion without malice. Feel free to call me. I will answer any questions to the best of my knowledge.

-Respectfully, Gil Heino

11 year proud member of the Board of Health

Janet Sroczynski August 23, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I will be taking up many of my comments and concerns with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. And I am more than happy to do so in writing.
Edmund Hands August 24, 2012 at 09:00 AM
Thanks Gil for a rational response to some intemperate comments here on the Patch. Glad to see the of Health is refining its proposal. I know, for instance, that the terrifying thousand dollar fine is just boiler plate recommended by Town Counsel. As one earlier commenter points out the risk of getting EEE is very small, but the results are catastrophic. This makes it difficult for anyone to assess the level of risk. What does that mean? It means that without someone like the BOH so-called "responsible" adults will continue to put the needs of their programs above any potential risks. I have no problem giving the BOH the limited power to impose a curfew on gatherings on public property when the state raises the threat level to severe or critical. Let's commend the BOH for trying to do something to protect people who can't make the decision for themselves-kids, and let's work with them to craft the best possible limited regulation for that purpose.
Janet Sroczynski August 24, 2012 at 10:21 AM
@Edmund Hands - the token Fee of "up to $1,000" is not the least of my worry. Although I do see it had other writers/bloggers annoyed. Read back through the prior post when another writer described "The Genting Group" regarding the casino backed group from Malaysia that had an interest in a possible casino located 10-minutes from Easton, and 10-minutes from the Easton Schools. Google a search under the many articles that address the recent introduction of 6,000 genetically altered mosquitos being introduced to Malaysia to combat their mosquito problem. I do not want to see that introduced into the Hockomock Swamp or surrounding communities, water supply and aquifer-setting. Stemming from Environmental Concerns. If the BOH-Board of Health wishes to continue to provide "PDF" format releases of their updated regulation, that's fine with me. But "put some teeth into it" prior to release.
Jimmy Donnelly August 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM
"We did not have the time or state of mind to analyze each and every word that was put in the original draft." That statement tells us all we need to know. The BOH reacted by panicking. Thanks for your 11 years of service Mr. Heino. It's time to move on. Also, the last thing anyone needs is input from a glad handing town hall groupie like Ed Hands. http://bostonherald.com/projects/your_tax_dollars.bg?src=Mtrs#page=1&results_per_page=20&order_by=&src=Mtrs&action=get_data&payroll_search=&last_school_district=EASTON%20PUBLIC%20SCHOOLS
Maria Marchand August 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Oh my the ego's are flying. I have a daughter who is a RN and has taken care of a 40 year old women(mother) who contracted EEE. She can not move or talk she is on a vent and my daughter would talk to her the women just cried. Is this worth taking the risk or odds with your family member? Ask yourselves this question
Jim C August 24, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Part 1 of 2:Gil, I would like to say I appreciate you addressing this directly and I appreciate you many years of service. Though, I am not sure why you are taken back by the recent anger over this proposed regulation, at least how it was originally presented and written. To initially see that Easton Board of Health is using a seemingly unrelated regulation (see ref. 1 below) to impost a nighttime CURFEW (see ref. 2 below) with the penalty of a $1,000 – per violation, can and will anger the citizens of Easton. I hope we can agree that the way it was presented to everyone was an issue. The seriousness of EEE is well documented and well communicated through various media outlets. The Board has done a good job in that respect to letting people know, but should stay with alerts and notifications (I even like the ideas of reverse 911 and email “blasts”). However, I hope it is understood the facts are that while this is serious, it is rare to contract EEE and thus the attempt to implement a CURFEW for everyone is “overkill” and not acceptable to many people.
Jim C August 24, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Part 2 of 2: It sounds like in your letter your intention (and hopefully the rest of the Board), would like the ability to cancel PUBLIC night time events/activities if the EEE threat level is above a certain threshold (this threshold should be designated in the document to make this less subjective). The ability to cancel nighttime activities seems to be a different discussion than implementing an after dusk curfew and you may have more people amenable to that. I hope this is taken into consideration for the updated document as I am interested to see what the results of that will be. For me, I believe it is the Board of Health’s job to communicate the danger and leave it up to personal responsibility to decide whether they would like to stay at home or utilize their own precautions if going outdoors during dusk. It is also my opinion, that implementing a CURFEW will not go unnoticed. For now, I respectfully ask you and the rest of the board members to reconsider these actions. It is not too late to alter your course on this matter. Thank you. (references to follow)
Jim C August 24, 2012 at 04:05 PM
References to prior comments: 1. (Board’s reference toMassachusetts General Laws, Chapter 111, Sections 31 – which that just refers expanding upon to the minimum requirements for “subsurface disposal of sanitary sewage”) 2. (In regards to the CURFEW, the draft did not specify whether this was public or private….and if public – does this mean fields and parks or does it mean streets, sidewalks, etc.) (2a.- HOPFULLY ASSUMING it means just parks, but what else does it mean – could the CURFEW include public Buildings …i.e. library, town hall?)
Not Sheena August 24, 2012 at 10:40 PM
How pathetic is it that Jimmy Donnelly actually trawled the internet to post a pension record of a man whose BoH comment he disagrees with? Hopefully Mr. Hands got a good laugh out of it. Ed, keep up the good work!
Janet Sroczynski August 25, 2012 at 01:48 PM
@Not Sheena - how pathetic is it that the BOH -Board of Health is trying to impose it's will on over 23,000 taxpayers and residents of Easton. That is more to the point, than @Jimmy Donnelly posting pension information that is readily available to anyone who wants to see it, and it has been posted in the public domain and the Boston Herald too. The salary information used to be posted in the Town of Easton -"Town Report" too, for a nominal fee to purchase that book-usually around $10. Again, it's public information. It is no surprise to most people that we are paying the teacher's salary, principal's salar(ies) and their pensions too. I think @Jimmy Donnelly's post was his way of expressing himself. At least that's the way I took it. And how do the 23,000+ residents and taxpayers of Easton really feel about a Curfew? Do you see any other town or city, threatening with Curfews and Fee's of up to $1,000 per incident. It's a bit "over-reaching" of this Chair and the current Board of Health members. If Gil Heino wants a Curfew in his family, let him instill it there. But do not infringe upon the legal rights of the rest of us. And that includes Easton's town counsel too. Are they instilling a Curfew in his town? Would they like to? I notice by reading on the Foxboro/Patch.com website he's been soliciting legal work over there too, (another casino town option was Foxboro, until they voted it down). Middleboro also said "no" to a casino.
Janet Sroczynski August 25, 2012 at 01:56 PM
How do Stonehill College alumni feel about an imposed Curfew? How does the current President of Stonehill College feel, with an imposed Curfew? How about the rest of the Stonehill College community; incoming Freshman Class of an estimated 500 students & parents paying Tuition $$$), current students, and the balance of the Stonehill College community to consider. How about those concerts at Gillette Stadium, how will the imposed Curfew affect Patriot's fans and concert goers alike. Hint: drop in Revenue, with an imposed Curfew. How do the Senior Citizens in Easton feel about an imposed Curfew?

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something