Half a Year After Louis Lowenthal Drowned at Michael Phelps’ Home Training Facility, Maryland Officials Still Won’t Say Who Polices Public Pools And to What End

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The guts of the accountability for the preventable death last October of 14-year-old Louis Lowenthal, following his practice with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, are buried in an overly redacted incident report by the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. More later on the efforts of my attorney to get this public information liberated.

But we still also need to solve the riddle that has become something of an “Alphonse and Gaston” routine by the state of Maryland and the Baltimore Health Department over who regulates public pools in that city. And more importantly, what does that regulation entail? If all getting licensed means is that you fill out some paperwork, and if renewing a license just means filling out a new set of paperwork, even after someone died in the interim on the licensee’s watch, then the regulation is meaningless.

Last night I received a response from Maryland health official Dr. Clifford Mitchell to an inquiry I had sent about aspects of this … on April 26. One of my questions asked for the authority for the statement that Maryland delegates to Baltimore regulation of public pools in the city. Mitchell wrote in part:

“The delegation agreement between the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and the Baltimore City Health Department is based on the powers and duties of the Health Officer. Specifically, Md. Health-General Code Ann. §3-306 (d) Delegation of duties, powers, etc. which states, ‘The Secretary may delegate duties, powers, and functions as provided in this article to a health officer for a county or other county official authorized to administer and enforce health and environmental laws.'”

Here Maryland cites the provision of the state code allowing it to delegate to Baltimore, but not the “delegation agreement” itself.

In turn, I asked Mitchell: “Please explain if there was a single delegation agreement that was entered into on a certain date, and if so, what that date was; or confirm that there has been, rather, an historical series of state-to-city delegation agreements, perhaps renewed or redefined at intervals, and/or at the discretion of successive DHMH Secretaries.”

As always, I’m standing by for the explanation.

Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick