Cohasset Selectmen vote 5-0 for Collins Center to act as town manager screening committee

The Cohasset Board of Selectmen voted to appoint the Collins Center as the town’s screening committee with a local individual who will act as soul conduit to the committee, and who will review background and reference checks of the final five candidates selected to be considered by the board of selectmen.

The board agreed 5-0 it would prefer Moderator Dan Evans to be the conduit to the board if he was willing to accept the job. If Evans acquiesces, the board will appoint him at its next meeting.

Other screening committee options included variations of each selectmen getting to choose one person on the committee. But selectmen on a vote of 5-0 agreed the board was too political to pull it off.

Although it was not discussed last night, acting town manager Mike Milanoski has stated he is a candidate for the permanent position, so selectmen may have felt it best to keep the search committee as far away from town hall as possible so that the search could not be infected.

Select chair Fred Koed said letting Collins be the screening committee did not preclude public input and it would be less expensive — $1500 cheaper-as everything would be happening at the Center, and not in Cohasset. Koed added that the board would get five final candidates by early November instead of early December.

Selectmen Karen Quigley said her preference was for a local committee, but that the board and the town government was too divided and trying to come to terms with members of the screening committee who would be acceptable to the board, given the level of intensity of the police chief search, was too political. “We hired Collins to take it out of the political arena. I’m concerned about citizens (on the screening committee) being subjected to pressure from opposing sides. For that reason I would like to have Collins take it from beginning to end.”

Selectman Diane Kennedy said she agreed that the board might not be able to find people to serve on the selection committee. “We don’t want them to get beat up.”

Kennedy then said she had an issue with Collins, saying Richard Kobayashi (senior consultant at the Collins Center) told her that the option voted by selectmen (3-2) was put in there to exclude acting town manager Mike Milanoski. Her other problem was that she didn’t like the first draft of the town profile down by the Collins Center.

Quigley said outside of her interview with Kobayashi she had no conversations with Kobayashi. She did add that Kobayashi was under the impression that the town’s governance committee was going to be the screening committee. Quigley said the Collins Center serving as the selection committee might work well if the board stated clearly that the board of selectmen would have no communications with the Center during the screening process.

“Individuals on the last screening committee were either in town government or were former town officials.  Although highly regarded by board, that screening did not go well,” Quigley said, adding that it would be much better for the professional Collins Center to screen. “They know the candidates and their strengths and weaknesses. If we appoint the screening committee locally, I have an inkling that many people on the last screening committee will be brought forth again, and that concerns me,”

“The framework makes some sense,” Selectman Steve Gaumer said, saying the biases of the board should have no place on the screening committee. But he said he did question the integrity of the Collins Center, but would go with the Center if it could provide an affidavit that it would work independently. He then brought up the possibility of appointing Dan Evans, town moderator, to act as a conduit between the board and the Collins Center.

Koed stated that anything said to the Collins center came about through individual interviews with board members and whatever biases they took to the interview. He added that everything had been fully vetted in a public forum.

“Having just sat through the last several weeks on this board, I am concerned that bias would get put on a selection committee,” Koed said. “The pressure then gets put on us when the final candidates show up. Let’s take politics out of the pool.”

Kennedy said Koed should make sure selectmen get funding from the advisory committee. Koed said funding is certain.

Selectmen discussed having Evans participate in Collins Center screening as both a reviewer and as a conduit to the board.

“Nobody can talk to the Collins Center except Dan,” Koed said. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Dan is available.”

If Evans is not available, and a second choice cannot be agreed upon, Gaumer said he would be agreeable to going with the Collins Center completely and without a conduit.

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