Former selectman Ronnie McMorris dressed down Cohasset Selectmen during their public comment period (August 16th meeting) over petitioners’ disappointment and outrage at selectmen’s firing of three conservation commissioners on July 12. (Link to original petition – click here)
Ronnie McMorris was accompanied to the meeting by approximately 20 of the 120 petition signers…”a diverse group of people who never dreamed they would all be agreeing and be putting their names on a petition.” At several points during her delivery the group broke into applause.
McMorris told selectmen one of the primary reasons she got involved with the petition drive was “Debbie Cook.”
“I have personal knowledge of Debbie’s contribution to this community. We both worked on Open Space committee, and it’s no simple task to create an open space and recreation plan. The Benefit to Town is significant. I also worked with Debbie to have Cohasset be one of the first towns in Massachusetts to adopt the Community Preservation Act. As we look around the town at all that we’ve accomplished, we can thank Debbie Cook.
“It’s up to board to set tone, be out front, and express appreciation, for volunteers in this community, not …boot them out the door. These 3 people deserve an apology and we expect the boards’ mistake will be corrected.
“The board of selectmen should welcome an independent investigation of its handling of the cat dam issue. “ Ronnie McMorris said the board seemed to be genuinely confused about it boundaries and its authorities and its powers, vis a vis the town manager and the conservation commission.
She added that under the strong town manager act the selectmen have limited powers, very specifically defined. “When it comes to our natural resources we operate under state wetlands act and local wetlands bylaw provides selectmen with ZERO jurisdiction.
“When town meeting approves $17,000 to hire aprofessional (engineering) serviceto prepare a Notice of Intent (NOI) to submit to the conservation commission, selectmen should have stepped back and allowed everyone to do their job. Instead, they seem to have confused their authority with that of the conservation commission and continually interfered with this process.”
This investigation, we hope, will clarify all the boundaries and authorities for all of us,” McMorris said.
Agnes MCann, a library trustee, said “Where we (the trustees) have succeeded it has always been because we started by respecting the process. The board of selectmen did not respect the process. A subset of board of selectmen appointed people who had a stridently expressed interest in the outcome of a conservation commission issue. Without warning to the board of selectmen or the (conservation) commission, replaced them in a huff. I think that’s shameful.”
Cohasset Selectman Chair Ted Carr said board would take petition under advisement and get back to petitioners.
Author’s note: Ronnie McMorris knows the Strong Town Manager Act well. She was on the first Cohasset Board of Selectmen to work with a Town Manager.
© Copyright 2011 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed