Why the State should remand Cohasset’s Amended Town Manager’s Act

Re: H3486 – Cohasset’s Amended Town Manager Act

to: Chairman Sara Peake, Chairman, Committee on Municipalities & Regional Government

Please include this testimony from me at the hearing on Cohasset’s Amended Town Manager Act, on July 23rd. I am testifying against the Amended Act and requesting that you remand this legislation back to the Town for further work. In this testimony I am attempting to give you the political purpose of the Selectmen who sought changes in the Act and the Governance committee that attempted to accommodate the changes.

While you have a Town Meeting Vote before you directing you to make this Amended Act Law, you also have testimony from current Selectmen, former Selectmen and others urging you to take no action or remand it to the Town. This has been an ongoing, politically charged issue in the Town for some time.

This is why.

In 1997 the General Court made Cohasset’s Strong Town Manager Act a State Law. For 15 years it was the Law of the Land, the Town’s Constitution, and it lasted through three Town Managers, the last being short-changed after 6 months.

The law stated that the individual chosen as Town Manager should have previous full time experience to preform the duties of the office and should not come from any of the Town’s current appointed or elected committees. The same qualifications hold for the Acting Town Manager.

The Selectmen of 2012 VIOLATED STATE LAW by hiring an individual as Acting Town Manager who was not professionally qualified, who was never vetted, and who served on two appointed committees. In spite of no vetting, no search, they wrote a multi-year contract: April 2012 through June 2014, essentially giving him a Town Manager’s contract.

It is not legal to give an acting town manager a multi-year contract.

In August 2012 Selectmen gave the Acting Town Manager a new contract to run from August 2012 through June 30, 2015.

In January 2013, a contract correction took place. Selectmen knew the Acting Town Manager’s contract was illegal, so they wrote a new one and raised his salary to $150,000 plus a year. Town Counsel had told the selectmen to give him a six- month contract, but Selectmen upped the anti and wrote it for one year.

The Cohasset Governance Committee that has worked on the amended act is a political action committee because:

It is a self-appointing committee. It fulfills itself. From its Charge on its Cohasset Website: “The committee shall replace or recruit up to four citizens at large to the committee who may have interest in assessing town governance.”

The committee did not have a paid consultant. It was not comprised of people who had any familiarity with bylaws or constitutional law.

The committee met at 7:30 a.m. in the morning, a time when few and no citizens could participate.

The first time Governance took changes to the Town Manager Act to Town Meeting was December 2012.  It was a one-issue article: it asked voters ONLY to remove the qualifications for Town Manager in order that the current Acting Town Manager would be legal. It was defeated 188 no 158 yes. At Annual Elections 2013 the Vote was 223 in favor and 141 No. And if we had another vote tomorrow it might be defeated again.

Please do not vote to make this Act State Law. Cohasset Town Leaders acted illegally in 2012, knowingly breaking State Law.

At the 2013 Annual Elections the leadership on the Board of Selectmen was changed.

If this Act is returned to the town for remedial work, this writer feels the current Board of Selectmen will examine the work the Governance Committee has accomplished, establish an appointing authority that will better balance the committee, assign it a consultant, and regain the political confidence of the public.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tanna Kasperowicz

Publisher, Tinytown Unleashed

dba Tinytown Gazette

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