REDUX: Selectmen vote 3-2 against a THIRD search for police chief

Select Vice Chair Diane Kennedy thought she had compromised Chair Fred Koed when he said last week he would have gone along with acting town manager Mike Milanoski’s appointment of a permanent police chief had Milanoski utilized an independent consultant, much like the board is doing in its search for a permanent town manager.

In the end, Koed voted with Selectmen Martha Gjesteby and Karen Quigley against opening yet a third search for a permanent police chief in a year, saying he thought the board had run out of time and he thought the permanent town manager should hire the permanent police chief.

Applications for town manager will be accepted through Oct. 3. The Collins Center will interview and is interviewing applicants as you and possibly Cohasset’s permanent town manager are reading this.  The Collins Center will present five candidates for the board’s consideration in four weeks.

Town Moderator Dan Evans has agreed to carry messages and questions to and fro the board of selectmen and The Collins Center. Some citizens have laughed at this secrecy, but when you have a sitting acting town manager who is applying for the job, and could (but not necessarily would) sabotage applicants you have to take precautions.

But we digress. Or rather the board digressed, as the permanent town manager and the permanent police chief are so very well entwined no one can discuss one without the other creeping into the debate.

Gaumer said the board had failed the acting town manager. “Reconsideration of the vote took place and the board failed to offer the acting town manager direction. It is the board’s duty to offer direction. We have a duty to fill that vacancy, regardless … the board should put together a policy that should be acted upon,” Gaumer said.

 (Editor’s note. The Selectmen have a policy book. Past boards of selectmen have written thousands of policies over 243 years, but the policy book has been misplaced. So much for policies voted by the board of selectmen.)

Kennedy said she wanted to contact Wayne Sampson, president of the Mass Chief’s Association, to receive and select permanent police chief resumes, and then submit 3-5 finalists for the position for the acting town manager’s consideration.

(We ask, who is to say the acting town manager would accept any of those candidates, and just go ahead and appoint his own guy?” Then any search will have been for naught.)

Gaumer said he was very nervous that a permanent town manager might not know the streets, not have the level of familiarity with the town to be able to run the town.  Also, the permanent town manage might find it daunting to find his own police chief, Gaumer said, adding that the town has been lacking stability for many years.

Koed said the town has had an acting police chief for 16 months and that that chief had done more than a credible job.

“What we owe the town and the police chief is a process that everybody can have confidence in,” Gaumer argued. “We are managers. Fred (Koed) told me he would switch his vote if we did a full outside search, but it sounds like he’s switching his vote again.” Gaumer surmised that a permanent town manage wouldn’t even get around to a police chief appointment until spring…as he/she would be so busy learning the streets of the town, we suppose.

Gaumer said the acting chief is being paid at the deputy chief level  (because Milanoski is so cheap?). This is another reason Gaumer wanted to hurry along the appointment. Once again he charged the board with shirking its responsibility.

Gaumer said the board inserted itself into the police chief search last March.

Koed replied that the ad for police chief was lacking. “The way it was written you had to have attended a $650 seminar (that acting chief Bill Quigley had attended) to apply for the job. That was mandatory. There is something wrong with that, and that’s why we inserted ourselves,” Koed said

“This board is not charged with personnel matters,” Gaumer declared.

We are charged with fairness in policy. We never saw the ad before it ran,” Koed said.

Gaumer said the board should have had a policy before the ad ran.

“We said post the job, have a search,” Koed said, adding that was policy enough. Further, Koed said, selectmen and the public couldn’t see the ad anywhere as it was on priority sites.

Selectman Karen Quigley urged the board to stop rehashing the past. “We agree there were issues with the process. But the new board arrived, and here’s where we are at now.”

Quigley moved that the board of selectmen’s policy on any police chief search would be that all appointments would be made by permanent town managers, not acting town managers.

Gaumer said, “I got it.” He said he understood that 2/3rds of the board did not want to move forward with a police chief search.

“We have the right to reject the appointment,” Quigley said, adding that over many weeks she had been listening to Kennedy and Gamer question the rest of the board’s commitment to the town, saying she was offended by their remarks. “We have a difference of opinion.”

Koed suggested that the board consider creating a policy with regard to a person “acting” in the position.

Selectman Martha Gjesteby said: “When a person is acting town manager, they stay the course, they don’t reorganize the town, don’t hire a lot of key people. Our acting town manager has been here too long; it should have not been any longer than 8-9 months. We had a vote last week where we decided to have new town manger hire the police chief. Frankly, this is not productive. We can’t keep doing this because you don’t like the vote.”

“We did not vote last week to wait for a new town manager…we voted to reject the appointment,” Gaumer said.

(The vote of) “Five selectmen may not have policy stamped on it –but it was a direction from the board, telling (the acting town manager) where it wants things to go.” Koed told Gaumer that a previous board had voted for a search and an assessment center on a 3-2 vote, “Just like you have a 3-2 vote now,” Koed said.

.Kennedy – said “This is why this should be in the town manager’s hands.”

“After a fair and objective search,” Koed countered.

“It’s always going to be the town manager’s appointment, the question is whether the candidates are sourced from a broad and qualified pool, with an equal opportunity to assume the position.” Gaumer said selectmen should consider hiring an independent third person to help the board draft a pubic posting to solicit candidates…

Quigley pointed out:  “It’s still the town manager’s appointment.” She added that the integrity of the police chief search in Cohasset had been so damaged that to enter into yet a third search could result in another aborted search.

Gjesteby pointed out that two searches had produced over 50 candidates, “None of whom were interviewed.”

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed