I was watching the last selectmen’s meeting at home last week when I heard a town official I used to respect tell the selectmen that “Coughlin’s (town budget figures) were bogus.” You’ll hear more and more of that kind of complaint as selectmen near the hearing date (March 13) for Town Manager Mike Coughlin, who selectmen suspended February 15 without cause. Selectmen were right about that. There was no cause.
According to the town’s two CPA consultants and our director of finance, there was no $350,000 structural budget deficit several just two short weeks ago. Now, selectmen and their designer* town administrator Mike Milanoski are manipulating the budget to create the illusion of a financial crisis in order to back up their firing of a very fine town manager. It’s a kick him out and stomp on him mentality. And they are apparently doing this with the blessings of capital budget and advisory.
Coughlin was hired to be a strong town manager; he took the charge seriously.
When he arrived in Cohasset last September town government had already broken down.
There were no financial records, the water commissioners were talking about a 20-year concession agreement and “maybe they’d just sell the place;” and they thought they owned the water company. There was also the on-going Cat Dam dilemma. Namely, 20 or so residents of the area want to maintain a static pool of water, not letting in the tide. Selectmen had fired two thirds of the conservation commission and replaced those with Cat Dam friends and neighbors and now designer town manager Mike Milanoski as an associate member. Read the Cat Dam archives on tinytownunleashed.com for an interesting history lesson. It’s incredible.
Here’s the time line:
1) August 9, 2011: the new town manager was concerned over the issue of the Conservation Commission appointments. Coughlin tells selectmen chair Ted Carr that what selectmen did could create a toxic cycle. He advises Carr to attempt to diffuse the situation. Over 120 people, many x-town officials, had petitioned selectmen to reinstate those fired conservation commission members.
2) September 13, 2011-A: shows the E-20’s attorney’s, Adam Brodsky, concern over MEPA opening up comments from agencies again. They thought they had squelched this by ‘unchecking’ box 4b.In the same email chain, Tom Killilea for the E-20 E-mails Paul Carlson (BoS) requesting a closed session meeting with the BoS, town counsel and their attorney.
3) September 13, 2011-B: town manager’s comments to town counsel on above and indicating certain selectmen were lobbying to hire Attorney Brodsky as Special Counsel; and pointing out the conflict, concern over possible ethics violations and advocating for proper procedure.
4) September 16, 2011: town manager informs town counsel that the E-20’s attorney and abutters have been lobbying some members of BoS to hire him as independent counsel.
5) September 19, 2011: town counsel to town manager about E-20 attorney representing town; advises E-20 should intervene; states they can’t recommend town’s position be turned over to private non-governmental interests citing MGL c268A sec7
6) Brodsky letter of October 14, 2011: if compared with the letter sent to MEPA by town counsel Rich Hucksum, they are one and the same. Town counsel is forced to send a letter, written by designer counsel Brodsky, under its own name to MEPA.
7) January 26, 2012: selectman Carlson asks the BoS to reconsider composition of team to visit MEPA (he had previously advocated for members of E-20 to attend).
Early-on Selectmen, Cohasset Water and Cat Dam’s E-20 recognized Coughlin as dangerous to their causes. Interestingly, Coughlin, says none of the selectmen ever sat him down and advised him to lay off anything. He was not warned to tred lightly. Coughlin never published any of his opinions but selectmen, the E-20 and Cohasset Water knew where he was coming from. He was a marked man early on.© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed