“Wait until you see how many candidates we get once we drop the
qualifications.” Statement made by a member of the Governance committee
I suppose the cartoon alone would suffice as our editorial position.
But we have a little more to say than that.
We’re against amending The Town Manager’s Act at this time for all these reasons.
A. A new board will more than likely want to advertise for a professional town manager. Because the amendment would need the blessing of the General Court, it would make it difficult to advertise for a new town manager and tell him what his job will actually be. Plus -
1. Cohasset Governance Committee has not begun to examine bylaw changes that should go hand-in-hand with the Amended Town Manager Act.
2. If the Amendment passes the General Court make take several months to bless the changes.
3. If the Amendment passes there will be a citizen’s group challenge that could send the Act to a ballot vote.
4. Many, many detours.
B. There is a process here that has not been followed. The confusion has arisen because the acting town manager has stayed around much longer than a temporary, acting town manager (ATM) should and is now making decisions a professional, trained town manager should be making. Selectmen have made no move to advertise for a professional town manager. They don’t want to start a search until the Town Manager Act amendment passes, all qualifications are removed for the town manager, and the acting town manager can legally apply for the position.
The ATM is about to hire a police chief. Now, you know how town managers like to hire their own police chiefs. Former Cohasset police chief Mark DeLuca ran into that in two towns – Duxbury and Cohasset. He was successfully running the Duxbury Police department when a new town manager came on board. BAM! The new guy wanted his own guy in the top spot. Same thing happened in Cohasset. The acting town manager wanted his own man – that being the former Deputy Chief who is now the Acting Chief. DeLuca got $300,000 in Duxbury and he will probably repeat that sum in Cohasset when he files his intent to the town sometime this month, we have been told by people close to DeLuca.
If this board of selectmen, whose membership may change by 2/5th on May 11, lets the acting town manager choose the chief, it could big problems for the new board and the new, professional town manager.
C. This town needs a professional, experienced manager for all these reasons and more:
Because Selectmen are not always paying attention.
Because Selectmen are a volunteer board chosen largely via popularity contests. Other than being likable folks when they arrive, and found to be in contempt when they leave, they need to lean heavily on the experienced town manager and town counsel to run the town.
The Town Manager is the Every Day Guy. If he doesn’t know how to do the job, who trains him? Absolutely nobody. The Town Manager stands alone. He has to carry his own weight. He is the conductor of this symphony we call Cohasset Town Government.
A member of the Governance committee said at a recent meeting: “Everyone should be able to aspire to the office of Town Manager.” We agree completely. And if they aspire to that office they should get a degree in public administration and apprentice with a municipality. And anyone aspiring to become a heart surgeon should go to medical school and apprentice, also. You just can’t let people start operating because they aspire to do so.
There are lots of brilliant people sprinkled throughout our town government. But if they haven’t apprenticed as an assistant town manager or served as an executive secretary to a board of selectmen, if they have never negotiated a police contract or any contract, I don’t want them running our $40 million budget with a million and one nuances. And you shouldn’t either.
You may think the above cartoon is fanciful and a joke.
It’s not. It’s a warning to the future.
The next board of selectmen will probably hire a professional manager because even the current board is beginning to understand what a professional manager brings to the equation. But what about the Board of Selectmen in 2018 or 2025 or 2030? They won’t remember what happened in 2011-2013.
The qualifications for the position of Town Manager HAVE to be in the Act.
For all the reasons above and even more, please Vote No on Article 8 at the Monday, April 22 Annual Town Meeting.
© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed