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Who's Nos. 2 and 3?

health board members' status eyed

August 02, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — A legal formality has put two members of the Board of Health under the spotlight, but the town manager and attorney hope to clear that up in short order.

At issue is the aftermath of last month's Town Council "point of order" under which the board was switched from five members to three. According to Town Attorney Robert Caprera, when Councilor Richard Logan made the move and called attention to the fact the bylaw violated the charter, it created a problem under state law that protects town officials who act as "de facto" officers under the assumption their appointment was legal.

Before Logan's act, "We could choose to do nothing because Rinaldo [Bernardone] and Ann [Beinema] filled out a functioning board of three," Caprera said.

By having the board's five-member status declared invalid, he said, Logan essentially but unintentionally invalidated Bernardone and Beinema's appointments, because the timeline of appointments indicates they occupy the fourth and fifth seats. The problem exists, Caprera said, even though seats held until recently by Dean Cook and Rene Tremblay are now vacant.

The issue is a confusing and fairly technical one, relying less on when an individual was appointed and more on which seat they fill and whom they replaced. Former Manager Clayton Carlisle's "reorganization" of the board to create two new seats in 2003 makes it more complex.

According to the official list in the Town Clerk's office, Bernardone seems to have held the same seat since Oct. 6, 2003. A few months earlier (Aug. 13, 2003), Judith Zaido was appointed; her seat is now held by Beinema. (Technically, Bernardone might have switched seats when the council voted against him last June, but later reappointed him. In that case he actually sits in Zaido's old seat, and Beinema holds the one he had.)

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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