Hope you enjoyed your summer. While you were finding some relief, our top officials have been busy, busy, busy putting our house in order and conducting the people’s business. You may recall the serial disaster known as our Board of Selectmen and the messes they left before glorious summer hit and all of this receded into the background. Or so they wish…
Let us revisit some of the unfinished business and see exactly how it is playing out as our highest elected officials have been hard at work – counting on your short memories – to put many of these embarrassments to rest and, hopefully, to keep them there.
Start with Cat Dam. Through a convoluted legal process, the Town and E20 arrived at a stalemate with regulatory authorities wherein the town had the option to file the requisite ENF or to have the entire dam operating schedule revert back to what it was before this all started. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Not being wiling to accept this simple, backdoor victory, the E20 dispatched its newest water carrier, Jack Creighton, Chair of ComCom, to appear before the selectmen to plead that this schedule of limited flushing was not what the E20 wanted, that they had looked for more openings, better environmental results, but the process itself had tied its hands and caused it to accept this result.
The BOS chimed in by saying that the Town had spent enough money – $50,000 on lawyers and consultants upholding the E20’s position – and couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t spend any more in a seemingly futile attempt to improve Inner Little Harbor. Case closed? Not quite.
First, chuckle along with me as we recall Creighton’s plaintiff wail: Please, Farmer Brown, don’t throw me into the briar patch, anything but that. To suggest that the E- 20 didn’t get exactly what it wanted is pure hypocrisy.
To suggest that this is the end is even worse. The town is by no means through with dealing with these same regulatory agencies that it defamed and manipulated on behalf of the E20. You can bet on the kind of reception the Town will receive in any requests for grants, cooperation or coordination as it goes forward with its inevitable interface with this part of state and federal government.
First in line to appreciate this must be Ralph Dormitzer, chief proponent of a plan to extend the pipe out from his beloved Sandy Beach or, baring that, to remove it altogether. In showing the way to success to the E20, he very well may have drawn his proverbial gun and shot himself in his own foot, as surely that project will need permitting and funding.
Additionally, on a day not too, too far off, Cat Dam will need repair or replacement, once again bringing the Town, i.e. the E20, before these same regulatory folks it so recently totally alienated.
On to our two ousted officials: Coughlin, our fired Town Manager, and DeLuca, our Police Chief currently and still on paid administrative leave. Two different cases with some common denominators. In both cases the town’s actions against these two is unclear as to its legality and in both cases, clearly, there will be big bucks required to make these two go away. Big bucks that the town neither has nor has any prospects of hiding, delaying or defraying by passing it on through higher premiums in its overall liability insurance policy – providing the insurance companies pay these claims.
Another cost of dealing with these individuals is in the contract extension now under negotiation with Acting Town Manager Milanoski. This extension, touted by the BoS as necessary to keep a valued member in harness going forward, is more aptly described as a ploy to slam the door on the return of either Coughlin or DeLuca.
Do the Selectmen really expect us to believe that Milanoski is going anywhere soon? Attleboro has stated emphatically that they don’t want him back.
He is not qualified to serve as town manager here or anywhere else for that matter yet we are and will be paying him as if he brought the same talents and experience to the table as his predecessors. We are paying big time for his on the job training and will only realize the actual cost of his errors and oversights upon his departure, a likelihood the BoS has delayed about as far as legally possible with his contract extension; and will attempt to delay even further by changing the existing Town Manager’s Act and allowing Milanoski to serve as an administrator ~ virtually forever.
Which lets us conclude with the events surrounding the BoS’s extension of Milanoski’s contract. This process has revealed that in his current contract the Town “desires to hire Milanoski as Acting Town Manager) (legal) but it goes on to state, “Milanoski accepts the position of Town Manager” (illegal) and continues to refer to Town Manager through the articles of the contract. Paul Carlson, BoS chair, promises to remedy any “ambiguity”.
While the ineptitude displayed by the Selectmen in announcing his contract extension after an executive session (illegal) may indeed be simply an extension of the ineptitude they have displayed on so many occasions in the past, the contractual references are probably not. Certainly, Town Counsel, who originally ruled that Milanoski could only serve as Acting Town Manager, would not have made this error in his review of the contract; it was either changed without his consent or he never reviewed the contract at all. God help us all if he did review it, was ordered to use the Town Manager title, and complied.
The BoS is correct in one respect; the extension of Milanoski’s contract does create continuity in this important position going forward.
Where they are incorrect is the desirability of this unqualified, un-vetted individual being the correct choice for this Town at this time or, perhaps at any time. This is the single, most important responsibility the BoS is charged with… the hiring and firing of the Town Manager, and in this regard they have continued to fail us.
So, kids, you can see it has been business as usual while you were on summer break.
Some damage, nothing permanent but getting closer – a lot closer. The question is not, “did you take your eye off the ball for a few turns at bat;” sure you did…. how were you going to swing the bat and hold your nose at the same time!
The question is how soon can you get back up to speed and back in the game? Vigilance is the watchword here… it is, after all, your money they’re playing with … and playing only partially describes the ongoing donnybrook.© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed