Cohasset Selectmen question contracts with non-union employees – yawn

It is unknown why this is happening. Is this happening because selectmen are trying to make suspended town manager Mike Coughlin look like a spendthrift right before his hearing on March 13? Have town advisors’ brains all turned to mush? Is our recently appointed acting town manger too young (43) and too inexperienced (never was a town manager before) to lead the board of selectmen, or is he just the unfortunate well-paid creature ($2K a week) of a board that stopped obeying the laws of the land several years ago?

Say what you will. I don’t want to pay a 43-year-old who has never been a town manager, and who has a large learning curve to over-come, as much as I would pay a seasoned town manager. How did this slip by selectman Lee Jenkins? Was he being operated on that night?

Ok. Keep all this in mind as you read the list of town employees below whose contracts are being questioned. Also keep in mind that all five Mr. and Ms. Potato Heads were aware of all of these contracts and said NOTHING to Town Manager Mike Coughlin. Didn’t say “My God – stop the bleeding!” Nope. Not a word.

Under the Town Manager Act, Fifteen days is needed to notify the Board of Selectmen of appointments. But the contracts noted below are extensions for appointments already made. New appointments must be ratified by the BOS, but contracts are under the purview of the Town Manager. ACCORDING TO THE STRONG TOWN MANGER ACT. But the Potato Heads don’t understand the strong town manager act.

Suspended Town Manager Mike Coughlin said the only department which should go before Town Meeting is the Operations Department –  “In my experience in other towns, introducing this question under the budget is all you need.” Further, Coughlin predicted the department heads will win in court as the Town Manager (suspended or otherwise) clearly has contractural authority and the department heads acted in good faith.

Here are the contracts being disputed (not seriously, we pray) by Acting Town Manager Mike Milanoksi, who is being paid 2k a week during these difficult financial times:

Tara Todd –  Health Inspector –– new contract

Mark Kelly– Building and Facilities new contract

Mary Quill– Assessor  – contract renewal

Jo-Ann Pilczak – new position- Planning Coordinator- approved by Town Meeting-  new contract

Mark Brennan -Director Operations– newly created position– new contract

Carl Sestito – Highway Surveyor- contract by previous town manager expired –  new contract renewal

Mary Goodwin – Town Nurse  – new contract

Jen Oram – Assistant to Town Manager- new contract

Bob Silvia– Fire Chief – – contract extension

Mark DeLuca– Police Chief – contract extended to August 1, 2014.

Bill Quigley– Deputy Police Chief– new position approved by Board of Selectmen – new contract – no longer union. (In a phone interview Coughlin said changing the title of the #2 position in the police department is not a “reorg” under the town manager’s act.)

John Dockery – Assistant Fire Chief – new position approved by Board of Selectmen – new contract – no longer union. This position existed under previous contracts many years ago, it just hadn’t been filled.

Mary Gallagher – Town Accountant/Director of Finance. She’s not on the selectmen’s hit list, but she got her contract via Mike Coughlin, the same way all the others on the list got theirs. How is her contract OK and the rest are wrong?  Can’t wait to hear Town Counsel Paul DeRensis argue this one. Let’s see…how is Mary Gallagher different? How about..she’s got them by the balls. She leaves and the circus folds up its tent.

In related news, several good sources say that the E-20 had quite a nice “cash only” party for one lucky selectman. Selectmen may soon need lots more of those parties. Keep your wallets open, E-20.

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

  2 comments for “Cohasset Selectmen question contracts with non-union employees – yawn

  1. Mary A. Parsons
    March 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Concerning the newly created Operations Director, town meeting approved a budget for that department. That is where the money for the newly created position comes from. I will assume that the former acting town manager, Steve Lombard, supported a budget that include a salary for the newly created position. The FY 12 budget was underway before a new town Manager was hired to replace Steve Lombard.

    The new position of Planning Coordinator was approved by Town Meeting and again the money should be in that departments’ budget. The acting town manager does not get to do a new contract.

    Deputy police Chief and Assistant Fire Chief do not need town meeting approval and if they already have a contract and are in the middle of the terms of that contract, they say if they want to renegotiate not the acting town manager. The reason they have a contract is they are no longer in the union.

    It looks like the acting Town Manager needs a permanent job and it may cost Cohasset more money since this person may not have any experience as a town administrator or town manager.

    The BOS better start reading these individual contracts. By the way, these contracts are public record and anyone can read them. I would suggest people do just that. Everyone in Cohasset needs to be informed, because the current government in Cohasset has to be the worst in the state.

  2. Mike Coughlin
    March 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    While the BOS will decide my fate on Tuesday March 13th, I would be remiss if I did not weigh in on the issue of the contracts that I issued for the hard working department heads and professionals for the Town of Cohasset. In the Cohasset Mariner, the Chairman of the Board Ted Carr referenced errors in communication. In all due respect, much of the blame lies with him. In a Town Manager form of government, the Town Manager briefs the Chairman of the Board and the Chair in turn is expected to communicate with his colleagues. Apparently this did not occur on the contracts as well as other issues.

    On any number of the contracts referred to on the Tinytown Gazette and which are to be taken up on Monday night, Chairman Carr was briefed about the underlying issues for the contracts. The general process I used as well as specific individual cases were also discussed. For example, one financial department head expressed a willingness to get a job in an other town. This was expressed to the Chairman and any number of town officials. All wanted to keep her– the mechanism– an employment contract. Now that contract is under question- outrageous.

    The need to protect our professionals was given greater importance when certain officials began pressuring me to fire as a scapegoat a certain financial department head in December. This town was expressed to the Chair. It also came up in January when some associated with the Water RFP began questioning the status of the Operations Director.

    While I agree that the Operations Department must be approved by Town Meeting– in my last three towns usually when the budget is adopted, the appointment of the position of the Operations Director was a done deal. One of my first actions as Town Manager and and a appointment approved by the Board. The Operations Director was created by Acting Town Manager Steve Lombard. Originally titled– Water and Sewer Superintendent– I merely changed the title to that of Operations Director. It was approved by the Board who were briefed that the position would be funded in FY 12 in a piecemeal fashion by the various budgets which comprise the Town’s engineering and public works functions. The contract merely formalized the appointment and gave stability to the professional charged with caring out this most important function.

    Given the political turmoil, the professionals deserve the stability to do their jobs and give unfettered advice. This can only be accomplished by a contract. Despite statements to the contrary, the same process was used for each position. The argument that the Finance Director was the only contract that passes legal muster will not hold up in court or the court of public opinion.

    With respect to the Assistant Fire Chief, Labor counsel Peter Berry was involved in every step i the creation of this positions and in fighting some initials issues raised by the fire union. The issue of Town Meeting approval never came up. Moreover, we contaacted civil service. Since both the Police and Fire are under civil service and the fact that the Town Manager is considered the appointing authority– civil service gave us feedback that neither the Assistant Fire Chief nor the Deputy Police Chief needed Town Meeting approval. This conformed to the practice in my previous three towns.

    If either of these contracts are brought before a court for enforcement– how can Attorney Berry argue that his position has changed but for the fact that I am no longer Town Manager. How can some officials deny under oath that they did not know about some contracts and various personnel actions.

    In a Town Manager form of government– the Town Manager signs the contracts. In a Town Administrator form– the Board of Selectmen signs the contracts. Last time I checked, as much as some try, Cohasset is still governed by the Town Manager Act. So how can they change the contracts which bear my signature as Town Manager and are keeping with past practice in the Town of Cohasset.

    The Town Department heads acted in good faith, the town’s labor attorney raised no problems, the Chair of the Board was briefed, various e-mails confirm certain conversations and oral discussions need to brought out in the open— why are the innocent on the brink of being penalized.

    The Acting Town Manager states that many of these personnel actions were signed by me in the last month. Is Mr Milanowski implying that I could predict the fact that I was to be fired? Hardly– as most know on February 4th– I was described by Chairman Carr in the Cohasset Mariner as “our terrific town manager”. Perhaps Mr. Milanowski forgets that these actions were finalized in my sixth month– last time I checked it was standard management procedure to approve personnel changes after six months of observation. Maybee Mr. Milanowski is forgetting that the political climate changed abruptly in January triggering the need to provide our professionals with some additional stability.

    What the BOS plans to discuss on Monday is disturbing not only as a Town Manager but as a Cohasset resident and taxpayer. In the Cohasset Mariner, Chairman Carr states that I am still Town Manager– so if communication is the reason for my hearing on Tuesday March 13th and communication is a two way street– why wouldn’t the BOS want my imput before toying with the lives and livelyhood of our department heads. How can the Board make such a decision without the imput of the only person who was involved in each and every contract– the one person who knows the truth and can contradict the misinformation.

    To the department heads– it was an honor to work with you and it is an outrage that some are taking their disagreements with me out on you. I can not be present on Monday night because under my suspension I am banned from being on Town property to express anything related to my actions as Town Manager, but rest assured if any department wishes to enforce the contracts which I legally entered into with them in court, I will be there to give testimony to rebut the hyprocrisy and mean spirited actions which some are contemplating.

    Mike Coughlin
    Town Manager

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