Tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., Cohasset Selectmen will have yet another marathon meeting on the budget. It’s April 2 and Town Meeting is only 20 days away. (The Acting Town Manager wanted to have the town meeting in the cramped high school auditorium, where we all had so much fun with our wet coats last December, but the Troika voted to have it in the high school gym. Yay Troika.)
Selectman Fred Koed’s 7 critical issues to be discussed in order for the FY 2014 Budget to move ahead:
1) Cross training Firemen to be Policemen
2) Cross training Policemen to be Firemen 1.
3) Cross training Policemen to be EMTs, and setting the TBA stipend.
4) Creation of a new public safety department
5) No more special town meetings
6) The consolidation of the Water and Sewer Departments.
7) The proposal for posting a series of existing jobs at Town Hall, including those now held by a number of long term employees.
The following two items were added by Paul Carlson: creation of inspections/permitting department and creation of procurement office. We guess this is back for a vote.
At midnight selectmen are slated to approve minutes, after which Chairman Paul Carlson has generously scheduled at 15 public comment period. You have to love this guy. Bring your blankies.
(At the very same time Selectmen are in the middle of their ever-ending Crisis, Kevin O’Donnell, Jr., son of Donna and Kevin O’Donnell of Cohasset, will be appearing in the episode of Golden Boy at 10 p.m. Set your DVR for Channel 4 (CBS) or watch in on Demand (episode #7 ). Kevin is playing a murdering bartender with an Irish accent….truly a Mother’s pride and joy. )
The Acting Town Manager (ATM), who in all respects has moved into Town hall and plans to stay, has reduced next year’s legal budget to $200,000 because he feels he can handle most of it himself. He is now an expert negotiator. Never mind that he wrote his own first illegal contract, has probably written an illegal police chief advertisement, and probably did not legally settle the DeLuca police chief settlement. Do you really want this guy in charge of your town?
Aside from more claims of unfair labor practices, the Acting Town Manager’s (ATM) solicitation for police chief will likely be challenged on whether its very narrow definition and mention of an internal candidate runs afoul of equal opportunity and fair employment standards. Massachusetts courts and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination are very touchy about job searches that seem to favor a single candidate at the expense of other candidates, including women and minorities. And the ATM’s strange ad does all that and more. He wrote it himself, you know.
Already, the town has a number of lawsuits. Former town Manager Mike Coughlin is seeking reinstatement for his unlawful dismissal. The first court hearings will likely be at the end of the month, unless the Acting Town Manager turns over the documents his lawyer has requested. The documents were due last month.
Former Operations Director Mark Brennan’s age discrimination complaint is before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. And it is likely that retired Sgt Conte will be seeking to reopen his case. Still others may be asking for a second shot at justice.
At their March 21st meeting, while discussing how the term “firefighter” got into a police contract, Town Counsel Paul DeRensis advised the Board of Selectmen that the Town Manager Act gives a Town Manager the authority to negotiate contracts without the selectmen’s approval. This should be very welcome news for the 11 employees who the former Town Manager extended contract protections before he was dismissed without cause last year.
It seems that despite the action of the Acting Town Manager who advised the BOS to void these contracts, the employees and department heads have valid agreements that must be honored.
Section 4 (c) v provides that the Town Manager has sole responsibility for any number of contracts and personnel administration functions including contracts. Contracts are different than appointments that need selectmen approval. It appears that many employees have a valid protection against the Town Manager’s proposed illegal moves. Not only would this include several who are currently under fire at Town Hall, it could also include Chief Mark Deluca.
DeLuca may not only have a valid contract, his settlement agreement could be voided as well. Given what Town Counsel Paul DeRensis told the selectmen on March 21- namely that a Town Manager has sole contract authority and the fact that Chief Deluca was advised just the opposite by town officials – would allow Chief Deluca to file suit to invalidate the agreement under the theory his signature on the settlement agreement was obtained by way of fraud in the inducement.
Deluca may not even have to sue; his settlement agreement may not be valid. Tinytown Unleashed has learned that the settlement agreement was never signed by the Board of Selectmen. Further, at the time the Acting Manager signed DeLuca’s settlement, he himself didn’t have a signed contract. And even after he did, many aspects of it were “unenforceable,” as we all learned at last December’s special town meeting. And exactly what would those unenforceable aspects be?
Under Section 4 (c) N of the Town Manager Act, a Town Manager must request and obtain approval from the Board of Selectmen to prosecute, defend or compromise all litigation to which the town is a party. An administrative or disciplinary hearing is litigation. So it would appear that Chief Deluca and the other department heads that had contracts with Mike Coughlin may have a basis to sue the town in light of the Acting Town Manager’s continuing actions.
All of this is just food for thought while considering if your tax dollars are being wisely spent in the growing number lawsuits, potential lawsuits, whatever.
Should you vote to amend the Town Manager’s Act on April 22 and let the selectmen decide what the Town Manager’s qualifications should be?
Never mind. Selectmen have already decided for you. They ignored your Constitution, hired a guy they never vetted, never even saw his resume and they gave him $140MM of your money to play with. And he is having one hellavu time.© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed