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Auerbach Falls In Crime-Lab Scandal

The incredibly disturbing and far-reaching state crime-lab scandal has taken a major political victim today:John Auerbach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, has resigned.

Auerbach is a widely liked and respected advocate, who was previously Tom Menino's top public-health official in Boston.

Governor Deval Patrick released the following statement:

“Today, I accepted Commissioner John Auerbach's resignation. The failures at the Department of Public Health drug lab are serious and the actions and inactions of lab management compounded the problem. The Commissioner recognizes that, as the head of DPH, he shares accountability for the breakdown in oversight.

While the recent developments are deeply troubling, they are not representative of the whole of John’s work or of the rest of the Department. For the past six years, John has run a department that improved public health and wellness. His and his colleagues’ commitment to the common good and the people of Massachusetts is unquestioned. It saddens me to accept his resignation today and I wish John well in the future.”

And below is Auerbach's official statement, released to the media:

“It is with deep regret and with a sense of responsibility to uphold the high ideals Governor Patrick demands that I announce today my resignation as Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

“It is clear that there was insufficient quality monitoring, reporting and investigating on the part of supervisors and managers surrounding the former Department of Public Health drug lab in Jamaica Plain – and ultimately, as Commissioner, the buck stops with me.

“What happened at the drug lab was unacceptable and the impact on people across the state may be devastating, particularly for some within the criminal justice system. We owe it to ourselves and the public to make sure we understand exactly how and why this happened. I will continue to work with investigators to make sure we find answers and accept responsibility.  

“The behaviors of the drug lab chemist and the failure to properly manage and supervise her work are unacceptable.  But I know they do not represent the work of the rest of the staff at the Department of Public Health. My colleagues take seriously their responsibility to help make Massachusetts a better place and are as upset with what happened as everyone else.  It has been my great honor and privilege to work together with them.

“In the past six years, the work of the Department of Public Health has had a significant, positive impact on public health and I am proud of these accomplishments, including: launching Mass in Motion, a major initiative to combat obesity and promote wellness; strengthening efforts to prevent chronic and infectious diseases; heightening efforts to combat substance abuse; successfully implementing sports head injury regulations and strengthening the Department’s focus on perinatal health outcomes. These efforts have lead to the lowest rates of HIV infections and deaths in decades, a decrease in the rise of opiate overdose deaths and holding the line on childhood obesity.

“I thank Secretary Bigby for her leadership and principled commitment to promoting the health of residents of the Commonwealth. I offer my deep appreciation to the Governor for the opportunity to have held this position and I look forward to continuing my work to promote public health in my future endeavors.” 

 

 

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