Cohasset Selectman Fred Koed says his board has never opined on a series of issues that were taken out to other selected boards by the Acting Town Manager, as if he had the portfolio of the selectmen.
I was talking to a few town officials last week about what is happening now on the Cohasset Board of Selectmen. I suggested to one of them that this kind of politics happen in every town, and that maybe the only thing happening in Cohasset are the loud moans and groans from Tinytown Unleashed.
“No Way,” he said. “What is happening in Cohasset is the likes of which we have never seen in this town before. It’s rare that non-elected boards do a power grab from an elected board and get away with it.”
Here’s a bird’s eye view of some of the things that happened last week.
Selectmen had one 7 hour meeting on a Tuesday- Wed night/morning. Two days later they came back on a Thursday for another 5 hour-meeting. If they’re signing off on contracts they haven’t thoroughly read, well maybe the Acting Town Manager (ATM) should stop scheduling midnight executive sessions.
Next week the last agenda item also takes place at midnight.
Last January Selectmen Dian Kennedy, Martha Gjesteby and Fred Koed said they were not in favor of the ATM’s organizational chart that seems to be driving the budget. It didn’t seem to matter to the ATM. He never dropped his enthusiasm for it and it returned time and time again to the Selectmen with his plans, that selectmen have now thwarted. Koed and others have told the ATM that he had all his cartssbefore all his horses and they can’t hit Town Meeting voters with an over-all organizational plan that hasn’t been bargained.
ATM did not understand. He said “We still have ample opportunity to work through the plan before (April 22).” Kennedy said the Town had to get its Human Resource person (not yet hired) involved. “Grade changes would require job description changes on current and new employees.” ATM countered: “The first thing is to memorialize what we have today.”
Koed asked when the job descriptions would be ready. ATM said a committee had not been appointed and that the town was beyond the point of utilizing a group of volunteers for this purpose. Gjesteby said she was worried about the money, ATM said he thought the town had the funds.
Mary Snow, President of the Clerical Union, said no changes could be made without impact bargaining with her union. “We’re not against it, we just can’t discuss it until we get job descriptions.” Kennedy agreed that the numbers had to be tied into something. ATM told the board that management had the right to eliminate positions, hire positions, create new positions. “The organizational chart does not have to be presented.”
“How is town meeting supposed to vote on future jobs if it doesn’t know what they are?” Koed asked, adding that he felt the town needed 6 months to work out the details. “This is not ready for the floor of town meeting.”
A similar discussion ensued when ATM brought forth his idea for bringing the building and inspection departments into the modern age with electronic tracking software. Selectmen agreed it was time to move in this direction but Select Chair Paul Carlson and Koed both asked if ATM had run it by the town’s independently elected boards.
At the Selectmen’s April 2 meeting Selectmen will review the following budgets: Elder Affairs, Health Dept., Planning, Building, Fire and Police. Fire and Police contracts may be settled, but not to everyone’s liking, and it seems we’re coming back for more.
Slated for discussion at 10 p.m. are these items requested by Koed. In his prepared statement to his board last Thursday he proposed a 15 minute time allotment for each item, with the board hearing citizen input pro and con for 5 minutes each, followed by the selectmen.
“Implied in the motion to support or reject each of these public policy questions is a directive to the Acting Town Manager to follow the public policy directive set by the Board of Selectmen going forward… Since I now have accrued 26 years of local town government experience, and over 50 years of total state and national political experience, I think I know how to count votes.
I have a good feel for the results of these proposed votes. But that is not the point. The point is the people must be heard, the people must full open debate. Citizens have a right under our frame of government to hear the results of their leaders voting.
In this case, most importantly and most troubling, the Acting Town Manager must then and ONLY then carry that portfolio forward.
Here is my list of critical items we must address for the FY 2014 Budget to move ahead:
1) Cross training Firemen to be Policemen
2) Cross training Policemen to be Firemen 1.
3) Cross training Policemen to be EMTs, and setting
the TBA stipend.
4) Creation of a new public safety department
5) No more special town meetings
6) The consolidation of the Water and Sewer Departments.
7) The proposal for posting a series of existing jobs
at Town Hall, including those now held by a number
of long term employees.
These two items were added by Paul Carlson: creation of inspections/permitting department and creation of procurement office.
On April 2 at midnight selectmen are slated to approve minutes. Chairman Paul Carlson has generously scheduled at 15 public comment period at
ATM advertises for a police chief
Cohasset Selectmen (most of them, anyway) were surprised when they learned this past week that Acting Town Manager Mike Milanoski has advertised for a police chief. The board never spoke publicly with Milanoski about what it might want in a new chief. Apparently, Milanoski e-mailed the advertisement to the Cohasset Police Department personnel.
It is unknown if it was posted outside the department. It is thought it was not posted in the Mass. Municipal Association on-line Municipal Career
Opportunities bulletin, although a position for Assistant Town Accountant was posted on March 28, expiring on 4/28. The 19-hour-a-week Assistant Town Accountant must have a BA in business administration, accounting, financial management or equivalent.
The Police Chief ad is a real turnoff to anyone who might apply: The Town currently has a strong internal candidate who is currently running the department, the third sentence says. Selectmen have been asking why Milanoski hasn’t advertised for a chief, so we suppose they are getting what they asked for. There was never a vote, so he wasn’t directed to advertise.
But it seems to us the ATM should not be involved in hiring a new chief when we are less than a month away from town meeting that may in fact prohibit the ATM from applying for the Town Manager’s position on July 1, if a newly constituted board should decide to hire a town manager before Milanoski’s contract is up on December 31, 2013.
In other Cohasset Selectmen news, The Secretary of State’s office informed us that the Town failed to respond in a timely manner to our public records request of Nov. 2, 2012. The town responded almost 4 months later. The Town must comply with a public records request as soon as is practicable, and always within 10 calendar days.
Regarding our Dec. 28th request: “Mr. Carlson stated that the Town was rejecting your records request. In this response, the Town failed to cite a specific exemption by which it could permissibly withhold the responsible record. In its initial response,the Town failed to satisfy its burden with respect to responding to your request.”
The Selectmen have given us a quote of $2,000 for the materials requested that we can have, but we have discovered another way to get the information for free.