Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update: Southbridge Town Manager Wants a New Employee

Ken O’Brien
On January 25th I posted an article titled “Breaking News: Southbridge Town Manager Wants a New Employee”.
In that piece I wrote, “I now have it confirmed by reliable sources within town hall that the town manager has come up with plans for a new position (paid for, presumably, with your tax dollars) that will also reward someone who (in my opinion) showed substantial kindness to the administration in the past.
“The proposal will be to create a part-time director (or whatever title) for the town recreation committee….
“Finally, the same sources confirm that the candidate that the town manager has in mind to recommend is Walter Bird, former Editor of the Southbridge Evening News.”

On February 9 Mr. Bird posted the following on his Facebook page:

Let me make it clear that I have no animosity toward Mr. Bird.
However, this announcement troubles me for several reasons.
First, as I pointed out in the earlier article, “…the town recreation committee is in somewhat of a legal limbo. The current town bylaws, last revised on October 3rd, 2011 says about this committee:
Section 3-215 Recreation Committee
So, unless there is another set of bylaws other than that posted on the town website, there is no bylaw creating a Recreation Committee.
Second, as I again reported on January 25, this will be a paid position. When was this position authorized by the town council?
Third, since when can someone be appointed to a position, even an interim position, without the prior approval of the town council?
Finally, are we to believe that there was no one from Southbridge that could have filled this position rather than a resident of Brimfield?

Want to get on the gravy train? Go HERE for details


  1. OK, it is six weeks early for April Fool's day, but I think someone might be pulling your leg.

    i heard a rumor that when one of the main three cameras was broken from being left on for days that the temp cable guy was getting chucked, and a entire school committee meeting disappeared, and there was a town hall rumor that Bird would be running Cable.

    Bird has too much a reputation with young ladies, and is too much a hot head to work with teenagers. How is that skate park coming along?

    Don't we have actual Athletes or people educated to do such work?

  2. This is a payback job, pure and simple. Clark's patronage jobs are a joke. What next, Vecchia as finance minister for Southbridge Basketball? Bird has ruined any chance of getting back into journalism by figuratively jumping into bed with those he was supposed to stay away from to be objective. Then again, he never was objective. This is so blatantly absurd; no unemployed people in Southbridge were qualified Mr. Clark? Bullshit. That describes this town, it's Manager, and former Editor.

  3. It's for just this very reason that special legislation was passed requiring a 2/3 vote to access 50% of the landfill royalty money. Unfortunately, creative reading of the charter by our counsel and Chris' belief that bylaws can trump state law has allowed a flood of money into the general fund. That money was supposed to be used to offset the loss of revenue when the landfill eventually closes. Instead, we see our money being wasted on patronage and cronyism. We'll be paying Chris' pension when the town finally realizes it was robbed.

  4. Old Jake says:

    The quote in today's Evening News speaks best to the arrogance of this $136,000 a year Town Manager.

    "Clark said the funds are coming from about $8,000 he put into the budget last spring to start a recreation department, but has not
    had time to do anything with because of other
    issues. Some time ago, he said, he “informally asked around, but there wasn’t much interest,” so the idea essentially languished. Then a Bird flew into his office. Seeking full-time work,
    Bird said he set up a meeting with Clark simply to get some job-hunting tips, and had not expected the offer."

    Town Manager Clark took this same approach with the Green-Brown Consulting firm, he failed to put it out to bid as is required by law. How many times is the town council going to let this man flaunt the law? This council is out to lunch and clueless as far as their responsibility to protect the citizens of this town from this type of abuse.

    So now, all town officials have to do is ask around informally if anyone wants a particular job and if no one shows an interest then we just hire our friends. If this was an elected politician doing this someone would be calling for their head.

    But it's okay for an appointed Town Manager who is compensated so well yet needs a human resource manager to do recruitments to hand out patronage like this.

    Why aren't more people upset about this? Why is it that either one of the major news outlets, The Evening News and Telegram and Gazette, cyring foul?

    Come on Southbridge and the news outlets, wake up and flesh out what's going on here!

  5. How incestuous is all of this?
    You have councilor David Langevin posting on Walter's Facebook page the comment, "Congrats! You will do well in that position."
    Nobody's guarding the henhouse except Larry McDonald and Conrad Vandal.

  6. This appointment is absolutely outrageous! Was the position even advertised? Was it posted anywhere for others to see and apply? Maybe a more qualified person could have been hired? Maybe a Southbridge resident could have been hired? Let me get this straight: The guy just waltzes into the town manager's office, seeking job-hunting tips, and he's rewarded with a job, without a formal interview process? Without any other candidates also being interviewed? Wow, has he been unemployed all this time, ever since he was let go from the Southbridge Evening News in 2010? But back to the topic at hand ... This whole thing stinks, BIG TIME. It's not right. This job should have been advertised. Others should be given the chance to apply for this job. I would hope that the Southbridge Evening News would investigate this thoroughly and cover the issue fairly, disregarding the fact that he used to work there.

  7. The Evening News investigate? They put this story on the front page but they put Shaun Moriarty’s announcement of his candidacy for town council on page 2.
    Doesn’t that speak volumes about where their loyalties lie?

  8. After all, Gus Steeves is also an appointee of the Town Manager on the Agricultural Commission.

    And forget about the editor, he's only interested in the "Minor Details" of things. Mainly, his editorials are about his family life rather than the boring important issues of the town.

  9. To hell in a handbasket. This town and its managmenet, as well as the majority of the councilors, have no shame. They don't seem to care about the fact the they are skirty by-laws, the Charter, anything to get what they want. Both Bird and Clark should be apologize for giving the people of this town the "bird" one time too many. But for people like me and you, the challenge is that the outrage isn't there, and the small minority of people involved in politics in this town don't represent the majority, and the losers that run this town know it. Make a difference by educating those people, and electing three solid people to replace these dopes.

  10. Ha! Very true, Mr. O'Brien and Mr./Ms. A. Sadly, very true. Other than those family tales and Marketti cartoons, the Evening News no longer has an opinion section. I forgot about Farmer Gus (allegedly) being in town government's back pocket. How absurd that the staff would print Shaun Moriarty's announcement of his Town Council run inside the paper yet put a story about an interim, part-time (let's see how long it ends up interim and part time) recreation position on the front, with a photo of the beaming appointee. Where's the news judgment? Where's the professional journalistic integrity? The journalistic ethics? Lame.

  11. One thing we have to do is get more people read Ken’s blog. Look at all the news he’s given us that the local rag didn’t – property taxes, home values,etc. And how many times was he first with the news.
    Keep up the good work Ken.

  12. Zotos- OK, this smells worse than the
    Landfill and big Y's parking lot combined
    We want to know how long he was on the
    Rec committee while living in brimfield and
    Decieving the town
    We want full accounting of the years he managed
    The money, who he hired who he paid
    The concert lists put out at the begining of the season
    Never happened , they were thinly veiled
    Repblican campaign rallys complete
    With ayla brown , our state rep,
    And roger couette
    Did he take the ethics test?

  13. Zotos , Oh ya, i almost forgot
    The money sounds like that
    Fireworks money that disapeared
    How many years has it been
    Since we had fireworks
    The summer concert series usually
    Costs about that much
    Now were gonna pay someone
    Who failed at drawing am audience
    We all saw the empty lawn
    Even though they claimed thousands
    Last fest they said tons of people
    The film proved bo one was rhere

  14. Anon 233: didn't you say the same thing with his predecessor ? That's your strategy? Really?

  15. aka Jester

    Is our “Dr. Utopia” trying to peddle his tonic called ...ISM ...Again?

    Watch this 50 year old cartoon titled:

    “Make Mine Freedom” @

  16. Recreation director sounds interesting. I am from Southbridge (born here) and ran an intramural recreation program for 19 years at a college but was unaware of job opening (if it was ever open). I guess I would be "unqualified" because I am not "connected" with the TM. Would have applied but I guess it was a done deal and did not need to be posted


All comments subject to moderation. All commenters must use their own name or a screen name. No comments labelled as "Anonymous" will be published. To use your name or a screen name select "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. Insert you name in the "Name" space and leave the "URL" space blank.