Letter to the Editor

City should do better job with restaurant inspections

Sunday, October 5, 2008

To the Editor:

Have you ever wondered why The Brazil Times does not post the results of the restaurant inspections by the health department?

I did. So I called Bill Hale. He is listed on the county's website as a "registered environmental health specialist."

He is the official in charge of, among other things, making sure the eating establishments in our county are operating in a safe manner.

Much to my surprise, he informed me there are no county ordinances that regulate how often a restaurant inspection should be done. This was confirmed with the Indiana State Board of Health. There is no state requirement to inspect restaurants and any inspections done are at the discretion of the local health inspector.

Hale tells me that he has tried on "multiple" occasions to get a county ordinance passed that would give him the authority to inspect restaurants and to site them for specific deficiencies. He said that the reason these ordinances have historically been voted against is due to resistance from the local restaurant owners.

I then looked on the website www.in.gov/pla. This website lists everyone who is registered or licensed in the state of Indiana. Oddly enough, Hale is not listed on the website as being a "registered environmental health specialist." A call to the Indiana Professional License Agency confirmed the fact that Hale has never been registered in the state of Indiana as an environmental specialist. So I called Hale. The resulting conversation was interesting and did shed some light on the subject.

However, I later received an e-mail from Hale confirming the fact that he is not registered with the state of Indiana as an environmental health specialist. He cited a couple of reasons why he is not. First of all, the county does not require him to be a registered environmental health specialist. Secondly, the fee to "renew" said registration is $195 and it would make little sense to renew.

First, why would the restaurant owners be resistant to inspections? Second, as a public official in charge of the county's health, why hasn't Hale or Dr. S. Rahim Farid (the Clay County health officer) pressed for the legislation necessary to ensure the public safety? Third, if Clay County does not require Hale to be a registered enrivonmental health specialist, why did he list himself as such on the county website and on county documents? Fourth, the state of Indiana shows that Hale has never been a registered environmental health specialist, so the "renewal" fee is a moot point. Fifth, the fee schedule posted by the Indiana Board of Environmental Health Specialists lists a renewal fee of $35.

I would also like to draw Hale's attention to IC 25-32-1-16. Practicing without certificate, Sec. 16 -- A person who assumes the title of a registered environmental health specialists -- commits a Class B misdemeanor. Each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.


Dave Watson,

Center Point