Cohasset Selectmen vote 3-2 to change Town Manager’s Act

SelectMen voted 3-2, the SelectWomen voting No, to take changes in the Town Manager’s Act to the Dec. 10th Special Meeting.  Selectmen Chair Paul Carlson, and Selectmen Lee Jenkins and Fred Koed voted in favor of changing Section 3 (I) of the Town Manager’s Act. Vice Chair Diane Kennedy and Selectman Martha Gjesteby voted against going to special meeting for diverse reasons.

The changes, if voted by the special meeting, would allow any individual from an elected or appointed board to be considered for the position of Town Manager. Selectmen would have to be separated from the town for 15 months before being eligible to be appointed  Town Manager.

The ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Last April Selectmen gave Mike Milanoski an illegal Town Manager’s contact. Most certainly suspended Police Chief Mark DeLuca and his attorneys are aware of Milanoski’s illegal contract, as are Mark Brennan’s attorneys. It is unknown how this illegality will advance these individuals’ cases. Brennan was fired and recently filed an age discrimination case against the Town with the Mass Commission Against Discrimination. DeLuca is requesting a hearing – probably in January. Selectmen say they have already spend half of their legal budget for the year.

Kennedy and Gjesteby (who may have a common ancestor in Canada) said they did not like the piecemeal approach. Kennedy said she was concerned that Section 3 (I) changes were not fully vetted by Town Counsel. Gjesteby noted that the Governance Committee had not spoken to the Bylaw Committee or Town Counsel. Gjesteby said this should be an Annual Town Meeting article, not special.

Selectman Leland Jenkins said it was critical that Selectmen take this issue to special town meeting now so the board could have some peace. “He (Milanoski) is not a town manager, but he has all the skills to be a town manager. It is important that we have this resolve.” 

Governance Committeeman Ralph Dormitzer said he could fine no other Town Manager’s Act that prohibited an appointed or elected member of a town board of commission to be considered for the position of Town Manager.  So what?  This is what citizens voted to do in 1997.  It was a close vote, so are a lot of Celtic’s wins close. But I noticed how Dormitzer underscored, with a sneer, that our citizen’s group had gotten our Town Manager’s Act from “Hull.”  How common was that?

Carlson said: “Nobody is able to discuss why they put this in.” {Yeah, and nobody ever called me and asked me, I who was one of the first 10 signers. However, I write about it all the time on my very famous blog, We did it because the town needed a professional manager. The selectmen were not up to snuff. And they were political. We needed a buffer between them and the very capable town employees.)

Lenora Jenkins said the people who got the Town Manager’s Act were a very diverse group. (Not really, most of us were members of her Taxpayers’ Group. She said things were so toxic in Town she could not be one of the first 10 signers. That’s right, she was the toxic person. We could only get it passed without her. The vote was low because we were the last article on the warrant.)

Adrian McCarthy spoke against going to Special Town Meeting with this article. “Special is for housekeeping.” She noted that the change had not properly been vetted.

Selectman Fred Koed said there was a serious flaw in the Town Manager’s Act.  “We have an opportunity to fix it.” (It is unclear how an Act passed by the legislature could have a flaw.)

Capital Budget Chair Steve Gaumer cautioned the board to not make change for current changes. “If this chair were vacant, would you want to restrict yourselves?”

Agnes McCann said the reason for the language in the Town Manager’s Act was to preclude a small group of people from appointing each other. She advised selectmen to not make changes in the Act at a Special Town Meeting. She added that Town Counsel hadn’t looked at this. But she was wrong. Town Counsel advised Selectmen to change the Act at Special Town Meeting in order to make Milanoski legal…at least from that point forward.

Former selectman Ronnie McMorris noted that the Selectmen’s Dec. 10th Special ‘Town Meeting was taking place on the 2nd night of Hanukkah. Selectmen said finances dictated the date. Milanoski asked for and got a vote from Selectmen to continue the meeting to date closer to Christmas if possible.

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