The Lowest Score Goes to the Massachusetts Department of Health
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
State law requires the Executive Office’s public affairs group led by Alex Loftus to be the keeper of the information, but GoLocal editors and reporters repeated efforts to secure copies of basic reports in a timely manner proved futile.
“It is amazing that a public relations professionals who derive their income from taxpayers can sometimes be the biggest barriers to the public getting access to important data,” said Josh Fenton, CEO of GoLocalWorcester, parent company of GoLocalWorcester.
Over a two-week period, GoLocalWorcester called and emailed the Massachusetts’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services requesting a 1-page report that is submitted annually by municipalities to the State Department. However, days went by with the office repeatedly unable to provide the simple page one page public affairs request.
The lack of availability of the report by the Department raises serious questions about whether the Department is in compliance with the law. It is unknown why the report wasn't readily available, and additional questions have not been answered by Loftus.
In addition, GoLocalWorcester requested responses to the following questions late last week:
1) Does the Department of Health maintain municipal Annual Food Inspection Reports?
2) Are those reports reviewed by health professionals?
3) Who reviews then?
4) Municipalities who do not submit them are they notified?
5) Do you know which municipalities have not submitted their reports?
6) Why are these reports not readily available to the public? And, why are they not posted online?
The Department refused to answer any of the above questions.
“The lack of access to reports being provided to the Department by the cities and towns demonstrates a lack of transparency,” said Fenton.
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