Selectmen to meet with governance Tuesday over citizens’ petition??

Governance committee continues to confuse the hell out of everybody and play politics

The Governance Committee will meet with selectmen Tuesday (3/25) over Governance’s suggested changes for updating the town’s bylaws. Or, are they meeting about the citizens’ petition? Are they one in the same?

In February selectmen asked governance to bring the bylaws into conformity with the Town Manager’s Act, signed by the Governor in early January.

A citizens’ petition proposing to update the bylaws was submitted to the Town Clerk weeks ago. Many governance committee members signed that petition.

Apparently, citizen petition signers are willing to withdraw that article (all signers would have to sign a document to withdraw it), if selectmen vote in favor of their update that includes new language.

It appears the ctizens’ petition and governance’s bylaw update are one in the same. If not, we shall soon find out.

The new chairman of governance is Mary Jo Larson. Kevin McCarthy, candidate for selectman, stepped down from the chairmanship when he took out papers for selectmen. Also, McCarthy is no longer listed as a member of the committee on the town’s website.  

Last month governance met with Town Counsel Paul DeRensis to review its suggested changes. After that review, a citizen’s petition was delivered to the Town Clerk’s office. As far as we know, governance never made any effort to contact selectmen until recently, and it may have been at the selectmen’s invitation. Nobody’s talking.

The citizens’ petition update appears to accept most of DeRensis’ recommendations with the exception of the following:

The Statute states only that a search committee will be appointed.

The suggested bylaw change says the search committee will be composed of residents of Cohasset and the search committee will present the selectmen with candidates. If the selectmen reject all candidates recruited by the search committee, the selectmen may then terminate the search committee.

During discussion of this issue on February 4, DeRensis said the added search committee language could more than frustrate a search. (Note that the process for choosing the current town manager, said to be fast-tracked by the Collins Center, took almost six months.)

Governance committee member and former selectman Merle Brown said it was the committee’s intent to have selectmen choose a citizens’ search committee as opposed to a professional recruiting group. He said they didn’t go along with the town’s hiring the costly Collins Center.

If selectmen rejected a search committee’s candidates and restarted a search, it could take up to a year to find a candidate. It should be noted that selectmen voted 5-0 to hire the Collins Center to take the politics out of the search.

Governance ignored his advice and kept the language.

DeRensis suggested that the qualifications of the town manager follow the statute, telling Governance that the language they added outside of the statute: knowledge of Massachusetts’ municipal law and experience in collective bargaining procurement and human resources. “This could be a lawsuit that could go on for years, “DeRensis said.

Governance ignored his advice and kept the language.

A second citizens’ petition article asks Annual Town Meeting to revise the bylaws and make governance a Standing committee. No term limits were mentioned in the article, although governance is a strong proponent of term limits for everybody else. It would also legislate warrant access by an appointed committee. The committee would have some of the powers of the elected board of selectmen.

Selectmen had voted to sunset governance after the April 28th annual town meeting.

But this is now a political football.

Everybody was waiting for one. Here it is.

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed