Sparks fly at Board of Health meeting over emails

A tense exchange erupted between new member Tom McMahon and Chair Helaine Hazlett at the Board of Health’s Aug. 7 meeting.

Hazlett started the meeting by addressing recent comments by McMahon on social media, in a letter to the editor and at a July meeting, criticizing her and others for not placing a transfer station sticker on their cars.

Joanne Miller (left) Helaine Hazlett and Tom McMahon at the Board of Health meeting August 7.

“I do not use the Transfer Station or Devereux Beach, so I do not have a sticker,” Hazlett said. “I do not wish to be harassed again. Attacking fellow colleagues is no way to conduct town business. The campaign is over… it’s time to take care of business and govern.” (Read an update about the Transfer Station and stickers HERE.)

McMahon shot back. “You sent a horrible email to me, calling me a liar and belligerent, trying to shame me. Don’t play the victim. You trashed me more.”

McMahon said that Hazlett sent the email to him by accident. Hazlett did in fact send an email to McMahon on June 25, believing she was sending it to someone else. The Current has seen the email, which read, “I cannot even reply to his one-sided conversation he had with himself. I guess he isn’t planning to meet with me.”

E-mail trail

Before the mistakenly sent one, Hazlett had sent an initial email to McMahon on June 25, welcoming him to the board.

“As a Board, there is much to accomplish to protect and insure the public health and well-being of the citizens of Marblehead. Thank you for joining in this important work,” she wrote.

Hazlett offered to meet with McMahon, but that did not happen, which was what she was referring to in the email she mistakenly sent to him.

Hazlett had also sent an earlier email, on the eve of the June 20 election, encouraging people to vote for McMahon’s then-opponent Dr. David Becker. Attached to that email was a message from Becker’s son, then-BOH member Todd Belfbecker. Some of the language McMahon accused Hazlett of using can be found in Belfbecker’s message.

At the Aug. 7 meeting, Board of Health member Joanne Miller jumped in to defend Hazlett and call for respect moving forward.

“As a board, we have so much important work to do, and I know each of of is committed to. I’d like to move forward positively, collaboratively.”

The Board of Health meets next Sept. 12.


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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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