Cohasset Selectmen Debate Collins Center Town Profile

Selectmen’s discussion of the Collins Center draft town profile led to an exhaustive discussion largely driven by Selectman Vice Chair Diane Kennedy.

Under discussion were the qualifications of the next town manager, a question that may well be moot, as the state has not yet blessed the Amended Town Manager’s Act and may not be in a hurry to do so. Consequently, it appears that Cohasset will be looking for a professional town manager with the patience of Jobe and the personnel skills of Jesus.

This coming Tuesday at 4p.m. (August 27) Selectmen will meet with a facilitator, at some location with cable TV to be announced, to discuss goals and objectives. At 7 p.m. they will meet at the selectmen’s offices for a regular meeting at which time they will continue to discuss and debate the issue of the permanent town manager’s qualifications.

Kennedy, who has not been home for two days, says she, doesn’t think the Collins draft is ready for prime time. She dismissed the draft in a fluttery bird-like movement, saying there were grammatical mistakes, and errors of substances. The Collins report said there had been 4 town managers and Kennedy thinks there have been three.

Kennedy forgets that Mike Milanoski’s first multi-year contract was in fact a town manager’s contract. Alas, Milanoski was in fact the town’s, albeit illegal, fourth town manager.  Kennedy thinks many more lengthy conversations are needed with town hall boards and committees.

Continuing on with her soliloquy, Kennedy poised the question: “What is it we’re really looking for in a town manager?  What this town needs is a profile of the community…we need to go out there and sell this community.” She said the draft profile did not address joint management of the enterprise funds. And blah, blah, blah. And then she asked that the board postpone this discussion until “we have a full board,”  (until Selectman Gaumer returns).

“Keep delaying, delaying, delaying,” Selectmen Martha Gjesteby remarked.

Select chair Fred Koed noted that Gaumer had asked the chair to put off discussion of this issue until he was back from a business trip. “We can’t guarantee full boards,” Koed offered. “We need to talk about how we want to move forward in the process.

Selectman Karen Quigley said she felt the Collins Center draft “closely reaches the goals of what we are looking for. In a number of places it references the town manager act…not a specific laundry list. But it gives a global description of duties, type of personality and skill sets. I think it’s very close to be ready for prime time.”

Koed suggested that his board put together a list of people who need to be seen.

“I expected a community conversation. To not speak to the chair of the advisory committee…to me, it’s crazy,” Kennedy said.

“This is easy corrected,” Koed said, against asking his board to send him names of individuals who should be contacted.”

Gjesteby suggested that the ideal candidate would know how to be a town manager. “This is not a learning position. Part of the problem is we cannot have 40 pages of detail. There is a handbook published for Selectman by the Mass Municipal Association.”

Kennedy said the board hasn’t defined the biggest challenges of the town.

Quigley said the draft profile was very broad for a reason. “I don’t think talking with chairmen of appointed committees is going to provide any different information. “

Kennedy lapsed into another laundry list of missing ingredients in the report…”It doesn’t mention that human resources are a priority of this town…maybe it isn’t.

“From what you’re saying, I don’t think you want to hire a town manager,” Gjesteby said. At several points in this agenda item, Kennedy reiterated that she was not trying to delay the discussion.

“This is not complete, it’s an absolute mess,” Kennedy lamented.

Quigley asked if Kennedy could point to something substantive.

“Sometimes town managers are hired with a one and a half inch ad in the newspaper,” Koed said.

“We have made mistakes – we are a board, we have to work as a unit,” Kennedy said, adding that she and Koed had just met with department heads. “There is a cross-energy between committees,” she said, noting that the Collins Draft report didn’t pick upon this energy.

The rest of Kennedy’s board disagreed with her.

The draft report suggested two hiring options that it had put together after speaking with selectmen. Selectmen will need to decide on qualifications in the near future. Option A is more in a line with a professional town manager with 7 years of experience. The second Option (B) would open the position up to managers with non-municipal experience.

Kennedy once again interjected “We are not a complete board tonight; we all need to feel good about this…we need to be unanimous.”

Koed told Kennedy that the entire board makes sacrifices to be on the board, and that he was missing his daughter’s birthday party in Boston that same evening.

Kennedy said she would be open to someone with10 years of private sector experience, “with municipal dabblings.”

“No,” Gjesteby said.

Kennedy said she felt the qualifications should not be narrowly defined.

Quigley said she wanted someone with a master’s degree in pubic administration.

Gjesteby said she wanted a town manager who did not support candidates and who did not get involved in the political process.

When Kennedy again brought up the importance of having a full board to deliberate on matters of this kind, Koed said “Some of us are having personal issues demanding time, I put myself in that category.”

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed