23 Feb 2012
To Elizabeth Kouloheras
Regional DEP Director, Massachusetts
from Mike Cloughlin
Cohasset Town Manager
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Dear Ms. Kouloheras,
As the Town Manager for the Town of Cohasset, I am writing about the Cat Dam project which is currently under consideration by your department.
Shortly, after I was appointed but before I took office on August 1st, the Board of Selectmen took what I believed was illegal action concerning the reappointments/appointments to the Conservation Commission. These actions by a 3 to 2 vote of the Board of Selectman with Chairman Edwin Carr and Dianne Kennedy in opposition dramatically changed the direction of the town’s position.
Since then, I have been extremely concerned that officials from the town of Cohasset have been trying to influence the outcome of the process through various calls and back channel appeals to your agency as well as the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
I am also concerned about the ethical integrity of the Town’s legal position. As you know, the attorney for the group that call itself “E-20” has had a heavy influence on the strategy by the town. To that end, the attorney for that group, drafted a request that the project was exempt from further review. The Town Attorney did not believe in that approach but in the end was instructed to merely print the letter on the town’s stationery and submit it.
I regret to inform you that there is a now coordinated and orchestrated effort by officials to attempt to influence your agency and other agency’s involved to render a decision favorable to the “E-20” group. As you may be aware, state environmental officials has agreed to meet with Cohasset officials in an effort to discuss the way forward. I am believe that this effort – led by Attorney Rick Huckstrom from Deutche Williams—the town’s attorney is being compromised. I believe that external influences will prejudice the outcome and a resolution of the issue. There are also ethical considerations concerning those officials trying to influence the process.
I regret bringing these matters to your attention but a cloud has been cast over this issue. Decisions should be made according to applicable environmental laws and the standards of conduct that public officials—including those in Cohasset are expected to follow. If you or your agency need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Very truly yours,
Michael J. Coughlin