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DOWE DEMANDS THAT HEALTH CHIEF BE NAMED

Oct. 17, 2001 – Sen. Carlton Dowe, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, wants Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to name a commissioner of Health — a position that has been vacant for more than six months — and to fill long-vacant positions on commissions and boards that the committee is charged with approving.
In a letter he sent Turnbull on Wednesday, Dowe wrote that "… for the fourth time, I must demand that you name a permanent commissioner of Health. I note with great interest your media statements of last week in which you referred to Dr. Mavis Matthews as the acting commissioner of Health."
He reminded the governor that Matthews' authority to act as commissioner expired Sept. 20. "Since the Legislature has not agreed to extend her time beyond the statutory six months, we presently do not have a legally acting commissioner," he wrote.
With the current anthrax scare, he added, the lack of a Health Department head could "generate panic" throughout the community.
At a Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday on St. Thomas, Dr. Lucien Moolenaar, Health deputy commissioner for public health services and former acting commissioner, testified, representing the department. Dowe said during the meeting, "Governor, I know you're watching on the TV. Where is our commissioner of Health?"
He asked Turnbull "to execute your sworn duty and nominate someone to be our next commissioner of Health. The time has long passed for the foot dragging to stop."
Dowe also noted that two boards frequently can't muster a quorum to conduct business.
The nine-member Board of Land Use Appeals has three vacancies, the senator said, and one of the six sitting members is a Public Works employee who has to recuse himself when government projects come before the body. As a result, Dowe said, some projects have been stalled for years.
The five-member Housing Finance Authority Board has two vacancies. Three members constitute a quorum, Dowe said, but one current member is the Office of Management and Budget director, whose other responsibilities prevent him from attending many meetings.

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