Mystery Memo adds drama to contract negotiations

Three Selectmen met for a quick 10 minutes Thursday night to re-vote a press release into circulation because they had not correctly posted their meeting a week ago.  A week ago Selectmen voted 5-0 to issue the press release. 

At this week’s meeting Selectman Martha Gjesteby voted no. Select Vice Chair Diane Kennedy and Selectmen Fred Koed voted yes. All three Selectmen noted that some information they had received from Town Counsel might well impact on-going negotiations with their Town Manager.

Kennedy: That E-mail is something we need to discuss. It does impact on-going negotiations. We are in the process of coming to terms with Milanoski’s contract through 2015. We’re working on making that happen.

Gjesteby: I’m wondering if by voting in favor I’m approving the extension.

Kennedy: Absolutely not.

Gjesteby: I’m more than a little concerned, so I think I’ll vote against it.

Fred: Is there any editing we can do to change Martha’s vote?

Gjesteby said she would need advice from counsel.

Kennedy: “We’re between a rock and a hard place.” Kennedy then told Gjesteby that the board signed the contract after speaking with counsel.

Gjesteby: I re-read the contract and I don’t think town counsel even approved that contract. Who wrote the April 3rd contract? It doesn’t appear town counsel was involved. If I say no, you’ve got two votes.

Kennedy: That contract was reviewed by town counsel.

Gjesteby: Usually if counsel reviews it he signs off and it wasn’t signed off. If he did he would have seen town manager (not acting town manager) throughout the contract (actually 13 times).

Kennedy: Martha, at time we were working with counsel on almost a daily basis. There were a lot of other issues at the time. There was sloppiness for sure, and we need to make sure that never happens again.

Gjesteby: At another time I might change my vote if I get other information down the road.

Koed: This is already issued, it’s in the paper tomorrow. I guess (vote for it) for the purpose of making legitimate…but I do have some questions based on that memo, but that needs to be addressed by the full board.

Kennedy: The memo was more related to on-going negotiations.

Koed:  We had an open meeting law request today…she wants to know where’s the authority for all this? We have 10 days to address that….she’s not asking for correspondence per se.

Kennedy told Gjesteby that they had come together to issue a statement based on information they had last week.

Gjesteby: But now we have new information.

Kennedy: But that happens on every vote. 

Koed moved to approve the press release.

Koed and Kennedy voted yes.

Gjesteby voted ney.

Kennedy adjourned the meeting

Tinytown Unleashed: Can we ask any questions?

Kennedy: No.

Tinytown Unleashed: Do you think you’ll ever have a press conference in your lifetime?

Koed: What do you want to know?

Tinytown Unleashed: Will you have an article on the Special Town Meeting Warrant (asking for a change in the Town Manager’s Act)?  Governance said it will not be recommending anything for the upcoming special.  But you can.

Kennedy:  We haven’t discussed it. It hasn’t come up. I feel uncomfortable discussing anything without the rest of the board


© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed

  1 comment for “Mystery Memo adds drama to contract negotiations

  1. Mike Coughlin
    October 26, 2012 at 10:36 am

    In the asian culture, there is a thing known as the “death by a thousand cuts”. Its happening here in Cohasset. Everyday- faith in the board of selectmen and the acting town manager diminishes with each new mistake they make. Some like their open meeting law violation on the press release are small, while others like the ineptitude of the town attorney in the Deluca matter are large, while others could be game changers.

    It is ironic that the BOS may be finally realizing that they can not execute a contract with Mr. Milanoski which violates the provisions of the Strong Town Manager Act. The irony is that I plan to test that same theory in court.

    While I will be filing under the Whistleblower Protection Statute civil rights act and against others individually for interfering with my contractual rights, I will also be alleging that the contract which I signed was not valid under a state law- namely the Strong Town Manager Act.

    It is a well settled matter of law that a contract which violates the law is invalid. Specifically, once duly appointed, the only way a Town Manager can be removed is pursuant to Section 3 (j) of the act which states that a town manager can only be removed by a majority vote by the Board of Selectmen after a preliminary resolution “setting forth specific reasons for the proposed removal”– No cause” is not a specific reason.

    While Ted Carr sold me a bill of goods to accept the contract as written– which included a “no cause clause”, under the state law which controls what type of contract can be entered into namely
    “An Act Providing for A Town Manager in the Town of Cohasset- my contract was and is null and void. The fact I signed it is irrelevant because even if there is consent between the parties, if its illegal– its illegal.

    While Selectmen Lee “I don’t care about the law” Jenkins will once again repeat that line of thinking– judges and juries are charged with following the law.

    While part of my lawsuit is personal, parts of it are also for the greater good — namely respect for the Town Manager Act. What would this mean– well for me– if my contract is deemed illegal and the means to remove me violated Section 3 (J) a factfinder could order me reinstated with pay.

    Can this happen? — well just ask the Acting Town Manager– he challenged his firing in Attleboro by the Mayor and was reinstated to his former position with back pay by the Civil Service Commission– a decision later upheld by a Superior Court Judge.

    Given the history of Deutche Williams– the past firing of now Deputy Chief Quigley, their recommendation to hire disgraced former police officer Richard Sjoberg for the Deluca investigation and their on again off again opinions regarding a proposed contract with Mr. Milanoski- the outcome despite what Milanoski, DiCaprio and Dormitzer say is still very much in doubt. Given that towns like Nantucket and Foxboro have recently fired Deutche Williams, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on what super lawyer says– it blows in the wind to keep the client.

    Even their present advice to the Board of Selectmen is helping my case—if they are now saying — given the intent of Tom Gruber and ten taxpayers to challenge any contract with Mr. Milanowski– that the BOS must now be careful not to run afoul of the town manager act– where were they this past February/March in my case.

    And while the BOS continues to grapple with an Open Meeting Violations– lets talk about another one– this too will be in the complaint filed in US District Court. On February 7th- at the end of the meeting– Chairman Carr moved to go into executive session to discuss contract negotiations with “non union personnel”– when I asked him who– he replied “you”– this in an off itself is a major opening law violation– as I received no advance notice– had no opportunity to get an attorney. I can see it now– take the deposition Dianne Kennedy– you just said the BOS always tries to follow the Open Meeting Law– what about the two meetings concerning your press release? That said did you afford Mr. Coughlin that same line of thinking? Did you give him any advance notice prior to going into Executive Session on February 7– No… So Mrs Kennedy you still claim that the Cohasset BOS always follows the letter and spirit of the Open Meeting Law?

    Tanna– thanks again- for your dogged determination. It has been said in politics patience and perseverance pays big dividends. While we pay be impatient when it comes to justice, we have certainly persevered and it will pay big dividends.

    And Tanna, if you get a response to your public records request– namely the e-mails beings referred to by the Board of Selectmen in Open Session– please share it with my attorneys

    Finally, the BOS may now claim that the town attorneys e-mails are attorney- client documents. One funny thing about the public records law– if privileged documents are discussed at an Open Meeting– you guess it– they can for ordered released– if you get a denial– just appeal to Alan Cote at the Secretary of State’s office and see what happens

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