Article 14 Flawed on Cohasset Special Town Meeting Warrant

I beg your used mercies. I updated this when I put out the Dec. 05 print edition of the Tinytown Gazette this weekend and have added more pertinent information. If you can stand another read-through – it might be worth it. Milanoskicontract

Selectmen are pulling out all stops to bring the Town’s constitution, The Town Manager Act, into sync with their illegal town manager’s contract. But they’re missing a point or two.

The change Selectmen are asking voters to make will make their illegal town manager legal going forward in the sense that it will no longer matter that he was on two appointed boards at the time he was given a town manager’s contract
Unfortunately, Selectmen, in their haste, neglected to change the qualifications for the town manager in this same section 3 (i) that also makes their current guy unqualified for the job. Holding an illegal town manager’s contract in the town of Cohasset since June 2012 does not make one a full -time, professional town manager.

Selectman Chair Paul Carlson wrongly told Advisors: “This particular segment (Article 14) stands alone. It doesn’t interact with anything else.” But in fact it does. It goes hand-in-hand with qualifications.

The Strong Town Manager’s Act stipulates that the Town Manager will be qualified by previous full time experience as a town manager or assistant town manager. For 15 years numerous boards of selectmen have understood this qualification and have appointed experienced (oftentimes retired) town managers to serve as acting town managers This is the first board of selectmen that professed not to understand the Town Manager’s Act. Two former selectmen sit on Governance and they too opine that the qualifications section of the Town Manager’s Act is fuzzy, muddy, not clear. Let me tell you that this will all be made very clear at Special Town Meeting, as I will be reading from the transcript of the 1997 Annual Town Meeting that passed the Town Manager Act. You will hear the spoken words of the INTENT of petitioners from 15 years ago telling you why they were bringing this forth.

This is Section 3 (i) and the changes proposed (see last paragraph of this section for the change).

Section 3 (i) Said Board of Selectmen, by a majority vote of its full membership, shall appoint a Town Manager, who shall be professionally qualified person especially fitted by education, training, and previous full-time experience to perform the duties of the office. He shall be a citizen of the United States.

The Town may from time to time, by bylaw, establish such additional qualifications as seem necessary and appropriate.

Said Board of Selectmen shall enter into a formal contract with the Town Manager and may set a job description for the Town Manager which shall take precedence over any personnel bylaws. The Town Manager may be appointed for successive terms of office, no term of which shall be more than three years. Before entering upon the duties of his office, he shall be sworn in the presence of a majority of said Board of Selectmen, to the faithful and impartial performance thereof by the Town Clerk or a notary public. He shall execute a bond in favor of the Town of Cohasset for the faithful performance of his duties in such sums and with such sureties as may be fixed and approved by said Board of Selectmen, the cost for which will be borne by the Town.

No present or former selectman of the town shall person holding elective or appointive office in the Town within fifteen (15) months of holding such office be eligible to be appointed to the position of Town Manager.

Article 14 should be pulled. Selectmen never held a public hearing on the changes. Selectmen are unable to explain much about their changes even to their own advisory committee.

Advisor Tom Reardon said “It concerns me that the board of selectmen haven’t talked about the search. Voters ought to assured of what is going to happen…you’re asking us to change the regulations but you won’t tell us what you want to do.”

Carlson said his board hadn’t discussed that issue. Carlson added that if asked about it at town meeting he would refuse to answer. Does Carlson plan on keeping town counsel bound and gagged in the boys locker room during the special town meeting? Will we never get a chance to ask about all the illegal stuff they’ve been doing? Advisors voted 6-2 to support the article at Special Town Meeting. Nan Roth and Andrew Willard voted no.

In 1996 the 10 petitioners who brought the article forth wanted a professional town manager. There is absolutely no confusion as to the intent of the article and the intent of petitioners and the intent of the Annual Town Meeting that voted for the Strong Town Manager Act. Peter Pratt, a former selectman, authored the Town Manager’s Act. It is not Hull’s Act, it is an Act that Pratt and others on the committee created using various models available at the time. Shortly after its passage in 1997 the very same Selectmen who voted against it shortly after its passage thanked citizens for having worked to bring professional management to the Town of Cohasset. They had not realized how starved they had been.

Over the years we have had many good people serve the Town as Selectmen. All meant well. All were well liked among their fellow citizens. But when it came to governing, they simply lacked the skills, knowledge of the law, and were increasingly lacking the background to run a town government that had become more and more complex. A professional town manager would be the guy or the gal who stayed put, as the board of selectmen changed from year to year.

The Town Manager would be the rudder. The North Star. He would need the support and good will of the Selectmen in order to do his job.

Selectmen have held no public hearing on Article 14, which they cannot discuss, because they wrote an illegal contract with their town manager and now they’ve got to wiggle their way out of it. Selectmen never opened the warrant, never closed the warrant and never signed the warrant that was sent to voters.

Vote against Article 14 on Monday, December 10th. It is not ready for prime time.

At the May 2013 Annual Town Meeting voters will presumably have the entire Town Manager’s Act before them and voters can entertain changes on the entire document at that time. Hopefully, there will be many public hearings regarding the same. If at Annual Town Meeting citizens wish to “unqualify” the town manager, leaving it up to the Selectmen to decide what experience the Town Manger should bring to the position, then I feel we will be living in dangerous times.

Remember what your Board of Selectmen did to the Conservation Commission two years ago when it went after it with a sledgehammer, striking two professional people from the board and demoting another. Selectmen then put their political appointments on this permitting board and the ConCom’s decisions now mirror those of their benefactors, the Selectmen and their Town Manager.

Selectmen will always need the guidance that a professional town manager, town counsel and a municipal accountant bring to the table. When Selectmen ignore their advisors and the law, when Selectmen decide to write their own illegal contracts because they want to, when they take a meat cleaver to one of their own permitting boards in order that their friends might get the decision they wish from that board…then what you have, citizens, is a rogue board of Selectmen.

The Rogue Board does what it wants when it wants. Although it is pledged to uphold the law and is surrounded by legal and financial advisers at every turn, it deliberately breaks the law when it wishes.

Article 14 on the Special Town Meeting warrant was put there to make the acting town manager with a town manager’s contract “whole.” But it will not do that, because under the Town  Manager’s Act, this individual is not qualified, unless you count 6 months working under an illegal contract as professional, full time  experience. I don’t think so.

© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed

  6 comments for “Article 14 Flawed on Cohasset Special Town Meeting Warrant

  1. inconvenientfacts
    December 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Comments deleted.
    Writer must sign in as himself.

  2. Karen Quigley
    December 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Peter dearest,

    1. I argued against the BoS involvement in Cat Dam as the only Town body with any jurisdiction in that issue is ConCom. It was George Chammilard and his E20 tiny cronies who petitioned their friends Ralph Dormitzer and Gary Vanderweil on the BoS.

    2. I never signed off on the Cat Dam NOI. It was not my role. It is the role of the Town Manager. As for my fellow selectmen not knowing about it, it was discussed in open meetings on several occasions when I asked Bill Griffin for an update. They conveniently ignore that fact and find it convenient to blame me for their own inattention, lack of involvement in the process and responsibility.

    3. You also continue to misrepresent my vote on the Bear Hill cell antennas. I voted yes.


  3. December 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Dear I,

    I’ll let you up this time only in order to answer your strange comments. Keep in mind that the rules here require people to use their real names. So this is the last time you will appear here as inconvenienttruth.

    Moi? When did I ever petition selectmen to get involved with anything to do with Cat Dam? My editorial position is and has been forever that Selectmen allow their permitting committees to do their jobs and not politicize them.

    As for the rest of your love note – you are not even barking up the wrong tree – you haven’t found the tree.

  4. inconvenientfacts
    December 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Its a rather inconvenient fact that you and your tiny cronies were the ones that petitioned the Selectmen to get involved with the Cat Dam in the first place! But hey, facts are just an nuisance on this web site! Much more juicy to make up your own facts!

    Although your other half, Ms Quigley, advocates for property rights when it suits, she didn’t in the case of the Cat Dam when she was Selectmen Chair. Going against what the owners/abutters , she signed off on an NOI proposal secretly and behind the backs of the other Selectmen and sent it on to Con Com! Hey, here is a hypocritical quote from KQ regarding the water dept, ””this is what happens when town officials disregard process, procedure and precedent. This is what happens when they vote based on personal relationships and politics. We are asking our children and teachers to stand up to bullies. Shouldn’t we be held to the same standard?””””
    Yes, but not for the tiny cronies apparently!

  5. December 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    It started with their interference with Cat Dam.
    But I disgress.

  6. Mary A. Parsons
    December 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Is this the type of government people want? When did selectmen/ town councilors become all knowing and always right when it comes to governing the people. Why are they afraid to let people ask questions?

    Mary a. Parsons

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