LtE: Improper Committee Appointments for the Reading Board of Health

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To The Editor:

It has come to my attention that improprieties have occurred in the selection process for members of the town Board of Health (BoH). I have no direct knowledge of the events, but have heard an account of the interview from Mrs. Rebecca Liberman, and think the Post should investigate. 

Mrs. Liberman, an epidemiologist that has worked in her field for the past 30 years, applied for a purportedly open position on the BoH During her interview she was told by the Select board members who interviewed her that the board was planning to reappoint the members whose terms were up for consideration, without giving due consideration to applicants with far more experience than some of the members due to be reappointed. In other words, the Select Board was using incumbency alone as a criterion for reappointment.

I attended a BoH meeting earlier this year when they considered a town-wide mask mandate. The epidemiologists that were in attendance did a fine job of presenting the available information about COVID-19. During that meeting there was misinformation promulgated by various residents, which was countered by the epidemiologists. The BoH passed the mandate shortly after that meeting. We need this expertise on the Board of Health.

For the Town of Reading to use incumbency alone as a qualification for a seat on an important committee, ie the Board of Health, instead of real qualifications seems to me to be the height of ignorance. It makes absolutely no sense that someone with Mrs. Liberman’s qualifications was not placed at the top of the list of candidates, nor even given a fair chance for appointment. She is someone who was willing to serve on the BoH, and has the experience to back her up. Perhaps this warrants an Election process instead of a Selection process because the people doing the selecting were acting inappropriately.

Using incumbency alone as a qualification for a committee appointment is nothing short of nepotism. It should not be allowed in Reading. Qualified candidates should be considered for appointments on town committees regardless of an incumbent’s status on the committee. Incumbents should have to reapply for their positions and provide their qualifications.

 The selection process is flawed and biased, and should be changed.


Joseph White
Reading resident  

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