Cohasset Town Meeting Sunsets Governance Committee

The governance committee may have attained their citizens’ search committee language on a ballot vote (87-to 62); alas, town meeting voted to sunset governance (75 to 46). One might say governance won the  skirmish but lost the war.

Governance committee member Ralph Dormitzer led the charge, tearing apart the selectmen’s rendition (Article 22) of Amendments to the Cohasset ByLaws. He told the meeting at one point that the Amended Town Manager Act stated that a citizens’ committee had to be appointed as a town manager search committee. When asked by the meeting, Town Counsel Paul DeRensis said the town manager act did not specify that the search committee be formed by citizens. He said governance’s language went beyond the Town Manager’s act.

Selectmen won some points, too. The budget planning committee will not be a standing committee. It will be an ad hoc committee that the town manager can convene as necessary.

Future Governance committees will be appointed by the Troika but report to Selectmen. Governance, dubbed the breakfast club because of its 7:30 a.m. meetings, has been summarily dismissed.

The next time selectmen go shopping for a town manager, they will have to appoint a citizen’s search committee composed of 5, 7 or 9 members.

Selectmen said they did not have time to consider the new language, presented to them that very night, and could not vote on it.

Advisors voted 7-1 to approve the new language, which they had seen prior to the meeting. Advisory chair Peter Pescatore said his committee felt the last-minute wording gave selectmen adequate flexibility in the choice of process.

Speaking against Dormitzer’s amendment to the article were Selectman Karen Quigley, Ronnie McMorris and Agnes McCann.

Quigley said the board of selectmen had been told by town counsel earlier that the word “shall” in Dormitzer’s amended langauge would not allow a future board of selectmen to have the same flexibility the current board had when it hired the Collins Center has both its recruiter and search committee.

“I think this amendment should be defeated as a matter of principle and matter of good governance,” Ronnie McMorris said. “Amending bylaws on the floor of town meeting is no way to run a town. We have the right to understand what we are about to put into our bylaws. The intention here is very clear. When you require the board of selectmen to do something you take the flexibility away from them.”

Jim O’Neill spoke against the amendment, saying selectmen should have the flexibility to do the right thing.

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed