28 Oct 2012
Cohasset Selectmen have written an illegal contract with Michael Milanoski. They know they have done this. I know they have done this. The question is what do they do about it?
Last Thursday night Select Vice Chair Diane Kennedy said: “We’re between a rock and a hard place,” which means she thinks they have nowhere to go. But that is hardly the case. There are two good options, A and B. and they both solve the Selectmen’s problem. Option C is also a possibility, albeit a messy one.
Option A. Selectmen put an article on the upcoming Dec. 10th Special Town Meeting asking voters to remove all qualifications for the Town Manager. The Town Manager would no longer have to have any experience as a town manager or an assistant town manager. And he or she could come directly from any town board or committee. The Current Town Manager Act requires Cohasset elected and appointed officials to be separated from the Town for one year before applying for Town Manager. Under the current Manager’s Act, Milanoski doesn’t qualify, and he presently has a problematic Town Manager’s contract.
If the Selectmen’s Option A passes at Special Town Meeting Selectmen would immediately put out an RFP for a new Town Manager and Mr. Milanoski should be invited to apply.
If the Selectmen’s Option A. loses at Special Town Meeting Selectmen would immediately put out an RFP for a Town Manager and get on with the business of running the Town of Cohasset.
Option B. Tear up Milanoski’s illegal contract and give him a Simple Simon contract that says he is acting town manager until such time as Selectmen hire the new Town Manager. Proceed to issue an RFP for Town Manager.
Option C. Selectmen do nothing. Bad option because then I have to ask for a Declaratory Judgment at Norfolk Superior Court and I win and Selectmen look bad right before annual elections and they have to put out an RFP for a Town Manager anyway and Mr. Milanoski cannot apply. Legal fees are already out of sight. How much have we spent to keep our police chief on administrative leave? Don’t choose Option C.
Option B is the right thing to do. However, this board has been solidly behind Mr. Milanoski for some time now, and they have taken all kinds of risks for him, including writing an illegal contract.
And so I am betting they will go with Option A. This option requires them to eat crow big time, confess to their sins, ask to be forgiven and wear hair shirts through April. It also permits STM to get involved in discussing Milanoski’s very generous contract that permits him to develop his consulting business on the side. And some other stuff.
If they do choose Option A, Special Town Meeting should vote by written ballot on any changes to the Town Manager’s Act. The fact that STM will have a written ballot on the question should be advertised ahead of time. Otherwise, town employees and friends of town employees will be frightened to come to the meeting and vote against their boss, who will be taking notes.
It took Selectmen two meetings to issue a press release only to discover during the second meeting that Town Counsel has some information about Milanoski’s contract that could effect on-going negotiations. Also, it appears that the three selectmen at that second meeting, Diane Kennedy, Fred Koed and Martha Gjesteby were hearing about Town Counsel’s information for the first time. Why would that be? Was counsel not involved in the first contract?
In related news, I asked Selectmen to invite Town Counsel Paul DeRensis to a future meeting to answer questions from the press and townspeople regarding the legality of Mr. Milanoski’s contract with the Town.
I specifically referred to the Selectmen’s press release, which said “We did this based on advice from counsel and the belief that ‘acting’ positions can and do last for multiple years.” For some time now I have held the position that Town Counsel did not bless Milanoski’s contract with the town. There were too many rookie errors in it.
Do I expect Selectmen to permit Town Counsel to answer questions from the public?
It never hurts to ask.