Cohasset Selectmen vote to not affirm Vogelman on conservation commission

Cohasset Conservation chair Jack Creighton’s bid for selectmen to appoint Patrice Vogelman as an associate member of the conservation committee lost on a 2-2 vote with select chair Fred Koed abstaining. Later in the evening selectmen voted 3-2 against appointing Creighton to the governance committee, saying he had enough work to do on the conservation commission.

Selectmen have the power to confirm the acting town manager’s conservation commission appointment. If they do not confirm the appointment, there is no appointment. Select vice chair Diane Kennedy and Selectman Steve Gaumer voted in favor of Vogelman. Selectmen Martha Gjesteby, clerk and Karen Quigley voted no.

When acting town manager Mike Milanoski was asked if he had any other conservation associate members in his back pocket he said no, that Vogelman was his appointment. Vogelman is the wife of Jack Keniley, chair of capital budget and a member of governance and the budget planning committee.

Milanoski gave the board of selectmen a gloomy accounting of the conservation commission’s future. Over the next year or two Milanoski said as many as three individuals may leave the commission and he will be looking for many new members and associate members. Milanoski said he might consider merging the stormwater committee into the conservation commission at some point in time.

At the Sept. 24th meeting Selectmen appointed Fran Collins and Bill Huey to the stormwater committee on a 4-0 vote with Gjesteby abstaining.

We learned that a highly qualified third person, Ed Wadsworth, was appointed to the stormwater committee earlier this month. Wadsworth has a Master in studies in environmental law. He volunteers with the Conservation Law Foundation and works with FEMA. Several members of the board of selectmen were upset that Wadsworth, Huey and Collins were not considered for the conservation commission. Huey was not interviewed until selectmen complained at last week’s meeting.

Regarding Vogelman’s qualifications: Creighton said she had the skills the conservation commission needed and had recently proposed to the committee that it have all people coming before the commission submit documents electronically. Creighton said Vogelman is a group manager at Verizon, where she manages networks and engineering. She has a microeconomics degree with a minor in finance, and excellent skills in Excel and Powerpoint, both of which would help the commission. Also, Vogelman is a leader in the Appalachia Service project, a scout leader and has experience in conflict resolution.

“Why don’t you tell the audience about the wonderful background of Bob Huey?” Selectman Gjesteby remarked, saying commission was lacking the kind of experience Huey offered on the board. Gjesteby also complained that at the last conservation commission meeting only four members were there. “One member is consistently absent,” she said remarking that the commission was sorely lacking people who are qualified.

Creighton said he was a member of the conservation commission before, during and after “THE CONTROVERSY” and has determined that the conservation commission needs to be out of the business of politics. He agreed with Gjesteby that he would like better attendance at meetings. (Editor’s note: several years ago a rogue board of selectmen suddenly threw 3 people off the conservation commission and demoted one to an associate for political reasons.)

Koed said the appointments were tough votes for him; saying if the appointments had been juggled around they could have unanimous votes on everyone. He said he would abstain from the Vogelman vote.


Selectmen deny Creighton seat on the Governance committee

         Koed, Gjesteby and Quigley vote no


Selectman Steve Gaumer said Governance was one of few committees that refreshed itself on a regular basis. “A new member is chair this year…a fresh flow of new thoughts keeps it focused.”

Quigley and Koed said they were getting complaints about a handful of people holding a lot of positions in town. Quigley said: “There are too many people sitting on numerous committees consolidating power. My preference would be to consider people who don’t already sit on committees or boards.”

“I will comment with my vote,” Gjesteby said.

Creighton said governance members had asked him to join the committee. “I care deeply about the process, as you do,” he said, but he said the prospect of getting up at 7:30 a.m. on Thursdays to attend their meetings would be daunting.”

Creighton won’t have to get up at 7:30 a.m. Selectmen voted 3-2 to not appoint him to governance.

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