Petitioners and Cohasset Selectmen Talk Things Over

Cohasset Selectmen afforded petitioners upset over their replacement of Conservation Commission members over one hour of face time at their 9/20 meeting. Over the past week, petitioners have been discussing what kind of an investigation of selectmen they wish to pursue.  They will be meeting with Selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting (Sept. 27) to continue the discussion.

Selectman Paul Carlson spoke for a majority of his board when he said he was upset that the Conservation Commission avoided answering questions and would not engage in discussion. It’s sad that now well into his second term of office, Paul and his Selectmen pals did not understand this basic fact: the Conservation Commission had to make a decision. It’s a regulatory board. It could not engage in conversation. Plus, it was very aware that it could be sued, as the E20 (now E18) constantly reminded the ConCom of that fact. Go to and click on Cat Dam from the archives.

Carlson added that all residents must be treated fairly.

Selectman Chairman Ted Carr said: “I don’t think we did this very well.”

Petitioner Adrianne McCarthy said the Selectmen’s firing of the Conservation Commission members was “appalling and inappropriate. What I didn’t hear was any discussion around (the issue)”. McCarthy added that the firing looked “very planned,” and said she looked forward to your (the Selectmen’s) discussion on governance, which needed to be aired.

Former selectman and petitioner Merle Brown also was upset by a lack of discussion on the issue of replacing three Conservation Commissioners. “You need to meet with your committees,” Brown said. “Sit down with them.” Brown said he was upset that the three new members appointed were given commissioner status – while the policy of the commission had been to bring new members in as associates. “This is a complicated board. It has to deal with state and town bylaws. New commissioners need to do this gradually.”

Selectman Carr said “I couldn’t agree with you more.”

Chartis Tebbetts, former school committee member, and former advisory committee member, told Selectmen if they were displeased with the manner in which the commission was operating they should have met with them. “This was never done. It appears the new appointees were inspired to offer service because of one issue. The appointments were politically motivated. She cautioned the board to stop appointing their friends to committees.

Karen Quigley, former selectman, said she disagreed with the Selectmen’s accounting of the poor treatment given to the E20. “I was the Selectmen’s liaison to the ConCom for 3 years and I attend almost every meeting. I think my attendance qualifies me to be a far better judge of what happened at meetings. The three Selectmen (complaining) only attended meetings when Cat Dam was on the agenda, Quigley said. “I heard the threats from the E20 – ‘You don’t understand your role here –if you don’t vote the right way this is going to cost the town at lot of money.’” Quigley added that there already was a governance process. “Go (the Selectmen) to the meetings you are assigned to.”

Debbie Shadd, President of the Conservation Trust, asked the Selectman to avoid this from ever happening again. “A lot of things ….created suspicion.”

Agnus McCann said “Don’t ever think that people aren’t watching you.”

Susan Kent, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, urged the Selectmen to make sure people are qualified before appointing them to office.  “The new commissioners you appointed needed to be associates. You appointed rookies as commissioners.”

Russ Bonetti, the only member of the Community Preservation Board, as others (one) quit in anger over the Selectmen’s ConCom appointments, told Selectmen they had crippled his board.

Tom Callahan, former selectman and conservation commissioner, told Selectmen Cat Dam was not a private lake. He noted that as a conservation commissioner he and several other commissioners had to defend themselves before Selectmen. After the Selectmen of the time heard their reasons they reappointed all of them.  Callahan told Selectmen they had “ceded control of a public resource to private interests.” He asked them if they had consulted with Town Counsel over the issue. (This reporter asked Town Counsel the same question and was told that he was only recently involved – perhaps that same night.)


Conservation Commissioner Vee Roebuck (on the commission since 1985 she thinks) said the Selectmen had cut the bottom out of the Conservation Commission. “It will take another 20 years to train them (the new commissioners).”

Tom Killilea, a member of the E18, said he was the party who “came to Town Hall” to submit names for the ConCom. He said it was the day prior to the 12th (that he submitted names).

He said the idea came to him when he was the ConCom office having a nice general talk prior to the  Feb. 10th meeting. During that visit, Tom said Paul Shea told him “We’ve got a problem. There are a number of people on board would like to get the commission. He told me I should apply. He said it almost in jest. I took it almost in jest. It’s the last thing I wanted to do.”

At the the Feb. 10th meeting Tom said he saw how shabbily the E20 was being treated, and there was a lack of governance at the meeting, and a lack of science, and Tom started to think more seriously about applying for a position on the board. He met with Adele Janssons at Cat Dam and they both agreed they would apply. But he said he knew as a member of the E20 he wouldn’t get elected. So he sought out other people who had been short-changed before the ConCom. But he didn’t really come to grips until the deadline. He said the people whose names he submitted “came out of abuse.’ He said there were members of the board of selectmen who decided to run for office because they had been abused. He thinks most people run for office because they had been abused.


© Copyright 2011 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed