Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Next Shoe To Drop

Kenneth M. O’Brien

The hubris of the town manager and the gang of five knows no bounds.

Next Wednesday, June 1, 2011, there will be a meeting of the Council of the Whole.

The purpose of that meeting will be to take up the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee.

The gang of five and the town manager are salivating at the prospect of using their position to cast in stone their stranglehold on town government.

The Charter mandates such a committee. Its purpose is to review the Charter and make recommendations for its modification every five years.

The first Charter Review Committee (CRC) was appointed in 2009, five years after the adoption of the current Charter.

It consisted of Deborah Gregoire-Lefebvre, Dennis Martinek, Laurent R. McDonald, Gary Fontaine and myself.

We labored for a year to review every component of the current Charter. Every meeting was open to the public. Forms were made available on the town website for those who wished to contribute to the deliberations.

Suffice it to say that the attendance of the Town Manager, the gang of five and their minions was limited to their special agenda and the rare occasion when the meeting was televised.

I will not bore my readers with all the amendments to the Charter that the CRC recommended after a year of work. These are available for all to see on the town website.

What I am going to put forward here is what the gang of five is going to attempt to do to legitimize their agenda. It is an agenda that has thus far been perpetuated by deceit, scurrilous legal opinions, citizen intimidation, and dissembling. It is an agenda that is driving our town to the brink of financial ruin as I have documented extensively.

The greatest ally they have had, however, is the apathy of a disinterested, befuddled and downtrodden electorate who get their news from a co-opted press establishment.
Here is what they will attempt to do:

Board of Health: They will institute an appointed five-member board of health. As we have seen in the past, that will be a mechanism to give free reign to our residents’ indentured servitude to Casella.

Town Manager: They will amend the Charter to require 6 votes to remove the town manager as opposed to the current 5 votes. They will argue that six votes are required to remove the council chairman. However, the council chairman is the head of government under our Charter. He is elected, by the public and by the council. Severe restrictions are imposed to remove any elected official under the Charter via recall.  On the other hand, the town manager is a hired employee with no public constituency. His only constituency is a pacified council majority.

Town Attorney: The CRC recommended making the town attorney answerable to the council chair. As observed above, the council chair is the legally constituted head of government. We have witnessed the consequence of a town attorney who is subservient to an unelected employee with a self-serving agenda.

Term Limits: The CRC decided to remove the Charter’s restrictions on the number of terms a councilor could serve. The reason was that councilors are not unitary executives who can perpetuate their status through patronage as might be done by, say, a mayor. Rather, long-serving councilors can provide a valuable “institutional memory” as was the case with the late Laurent E. McDonald.

Town Clerk: The gang of five wants to make the Town Clerk’s position appointed rather than elected. They feel that recent controversies have made the current Town Clerk vulnerable. Can you imagine the consequences if the chief town official responsible for the integrity of elections was answerable to the town manager?

Unfortunately, the June 1, meeting will be a Council of the Whole. There is no citizen’s forum. The public will be without a voice.

Demand that any final actions be reserved for a regular council meeting. Only there will the public be allowed a voice.


  1. Thanks Dennis.
    When will the people wake up?

  2. The cabal's intentions are so obvious, yet it takes rational, attentive people to see them.

    The fact that they are all urging for this meeting indirectly proves that they are discussing and planning off-line -- once again, having illegal meetings. But without direct proof, we can only try to block their actions. An uphill battle when "The greatest ally they have had, however, is the apathy of a disinterested, befuddled and downtrodden electorate who get their news from a co-opted press establishment."

    Hopefully, the chair and the other three might be able to use parliamentary maneuvers that might stall them in the meantime.

    Great job!

  3. One should read council rules and regs and the town charter and citizen should have a voice at those meetings of a whole...


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