Hartford, Miller, Senior
finalists for Cohasset Permanent Town Manager Job
Finalists will be asked to return to Cohasset next week for some more meet and greets with the finance committee and other department heads, and a second interview with Selectmen. At 2 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday the public will get to meet the finalists and perhaps have a cookie with them at the fire department.
Selectman Steve Gaumer lobbied his board to do its own background check of the candidates. The Collins Center paid a firm $350 a candidate for background checks of the finalists, but Gaumer said the Collins Center would not share that information with the board and he wanted the board to have access to that information.
Initially, Gaumer said the Troika should appoint a citizens committee to do the background check that would be more enhanced than what the Collins Center did, although at Tuesday’s meeting some selectmen seemed unclear as to what exactly the Collins Center had done by an outside firm. Gaumer would have the committee look into the candidates’ activities on social media. He also wanted knowledge of any civil actions, and a credit report. “I want to see if they’re habitually late on a revolving date. In my business, I go through this (background check) annually,” Gaumer said.
“We have protected the integrity of this process by eliminating the local screen,” Selectman Karen Quigley said. “I propose this not be done by a group of citizens,” she said, noting that three town officials had written commentaries saying that none of the candidates were qualified. She suggested that an independent firm be hired.
Gaumer wondered if the Collins Center was willing to indemnify the town if the candidate chosen did not work out because of something in his background the board didn’t know about. “We paid for information we can’t see.”
“For $13,000 you’re not going to have someone indemnify the town,” Koed said. “What is presented to the board becomes public information.”
“The question for us is what are we willing to do?” Gaumer said.
Selectman Diane Kennedy said the board should discover under what circumstances it can have knowledge of the background checks.
“We agreed to background checks at $350.00 a piece. I don’t remember if we agreed to confidentiality,” Quigley said, suggesting that town counsel be contacted.
The board voted to contact town counsel for advice.
During further discussion, Quigley and Koed both said they would agree to hiring a professional to do the checks, someone independent of Cohasset.
The board will decide how to handle its own investigation of the candidates’ communities. Koed noted that previous boards visited the finalists’ communities and spoke with people who had worked with them.
The board may wait until after the second interviews to embark upon its own investigation.
Selectmen will interview Steve Hartford and Grady Miller Monday, and Christopher Senior on Tuesday. They will also post a meeting Wednesday, if needed.
Citizen Ed Goff said he was disappointed in the finalists, and thought the town could do better.
Steven T. Hartford served as a Town Manager in Westerly, Rhode Island for 5 years. Previous to that he was Town Solicitor in Westerly for 9 years. He is a graduate of Fairfield University and the Thomas M.Cooley Law School and has successfully completed the Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
Grady E. Miller was Town Manager of Narragansett Rhode Island for two years. For 10 years he worked for the City of Peoria, Arizona in assorted positions: Assistant to the City Manager, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Deputy Community Services Director. He has a Master of Public Administration degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Public Administration from San Diego State University.
Christopher G. Senior is Deputy Town Supervisor of the Town of North Hempstad in Manhasset, NY, a position he has held since 2004. He received a JD with distinction from Hofstra University School of Law and graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a BA in Economics and a BS in Journalism.