Selectmen appoint new chief: Woonsocket Captain Kenneth Paulhus

by beth on January 17, 2014

Post image for Selectmen appoint new chief: Woonsocket Captain Kenneth Paulhus

The Board of Selectman had what Chair Dan Kolenda described as a “tough but good problem to have” last night. They cast their votes for one of the three “very qualified candidates” for Southborough Police Chief.

In a 2-1 vote, Captain Kenneth Paulhus of Woonsocket got the nod. He has accepted the position.

Kolenda and Selectman Bill Boland both cited Paulhus’ high rank and length of experience in a senior position as making him the strongest candidate.

Kolenda and Boland acknowledged the vocal support for Lt. Sean James and the benefit of internal promotion. Both commended James for his service and expressed the belief that he will make a good chief some day.

James, a lieutenant for 2 years, had the shortest experience at that command level. (Boland slipped in calling James “Sargeant” several times. He repeatedly apologized and pointed to the many years he had known James as Sargeant.)

The decision was contentious. Selectman John Rooney argued passionately against the choice. He gave a 20 minute explanation of his research, thought process, and concerns.

Rooney dismissed consideration of Lt. Richard Bates, who he believed had no real interest in the town. He then detailed his reasons for believing Paulhus was a poor choice and James the right one.

Boland responded that he chose not to focus on the negatives of the candidates. Earlier he had stated that none of the candidates answered all the questions the way he would have liked, but he didn’t expect that. He said that Paulhus had a “little more of what I think could help the town at this point.” 

Kolenda described Paulhus as “personable, professional, calm, curteous, confident, decisive, impressive and qualified.” He objected to Rooney’s characterization of Paulhus as “militaristic”.

Kolenda reminded Rooney in the “only 2 years” since James was sergeant, James said that he hadn’t received the mentorship he should have. Earlier, Kolenda pointed to Paulhus mentorship by his chief (who accompanied him to the interview) as one of his great strengths.

Rooney countered that James had replaced that mentorship with extensive training. In the end, he was outvoted.

According to Town Administrator, Mark Purple, Paulhus spoke with selectmen last night and accepted the position. Purple will meet with Paulhus next week to discuss his contract.

If you were a charter customer hoping to watch the decision live, you may have been frustrated last night. Reportedly, the service was down. But Southborough Cable has posted the rebroadcast. To see the discussion, click here.

If you want to get a better look at our presumably future chief, you can click here to see his interview on Monday night (in the last hour of that broadcast).

(Photo from Woonsocket Police Department website)

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 resident January 17, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Calling Lt. James Sargent was no misstep. I believe it was intentional as well as outright rude by Mr. Boland. Lt. James was the ONLY candidate that showed up for the appointing. If the other candidates wanted the job so bad, they should have been there. From Comments Paulhus made on Monday, he had no intention of being there. THIS is what we hire??? This was a travesty of justice. The BOS should be ashamed of themselves (with the exception of Mr. Rooney) for doing this to the taxpayers of this town. Paulhus has taken no interest in our town to make himself more aware of how things operate. We as residents all need to remember this when it is time to elect/re-elect the BOS. It was clear from the body language of Mr. Kolenda and Mr. Boland that they had no intention of hearing the points Mr. Rooney made or changing their mind. Mr. Kolenda even appeared irritated with Mr. Rooney for pointing out the obvious. Don’t think for one minute that if a job that looks better to Paulhus comes up in a department he is more interested in to match his background that he won’t be pounding pavement over there. If you remember he tried to skirt the question when he was asked that. I doubt he will be here long, but let’s hope in the meantime that we don’t lose all the good staff that we do have at the station. Sgt. Widdis’ words in the article speaks volumes. It is a sad day to be a Southboro resident.

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2 Resident 2 January 17, 2014 at 12:43 PM

The BOS made their selection with the information they were given, much of that decision is trusting your gut. LT James was a tramendous candidate but just fell short of his goal. Two men were going to be disappointed last night…. It’s really that simple. The police force must now rally around their chief and push forward.

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3 Just Curious January 17, 2014 at 12:33 PM

On balance, I think this was a good decision by the BOS. Captain Paulhus has far more police management experience than Lt. James. I also think Mr. Kolenda’s observation concerning the quality of mentoring that Capt. Paulhaus received was an extremely perspective observation.

I respect the hard work and effort Mr. Rooney puts into his efforts. It is abundantly clear that he is extremely well prepared for all selectmen meetings. I do tire of his habit of whining when the other 2 selectmen disagree with him. Mr. Rooney is quoted on the Metrowest paper as saying he thought the other two selectmen did not do their homework on this selection issue. No. They simply disagreed with him. Mr. Kolenda is quoted as describing Captain Paulhus as “Personable, professional, calm, courteous, confident, decisive, impressive and qualified”, a man who has been a police officer in Woonsocket for more than three decades.

Also, he lives in the small town of Blacktone, MA., so he’s not a big city guy.

On another note, I was very troubled to read the tone of two quotes in the MetroWest paper attributed to Sgt. “The department was everybody’s second home,” said Sgt. Heath Widdiss. “Now, I think it’s safe to say we feel like strangers.” Also from the MetroWest, “Several officers were visibly agitated following the vote, and Widdiss said the sentiment is that the team James began building two years ago has been shattered.

Someone needs to give Sgt. Widdiss a reality check. The Southborough Police Department will continue long after Sgt. Widdiss and any other officers leave. If they leave for only this reason, then good luck to them.

The SPD has had a LOT of turmoil and internal personnel issues over its recent past. Let us all move beyond this, and support both the new Chief and Lt. James. I know Lt. James to be a fine man and I hope he remains with the department. In fact, I hope he receives enough quality mentoring an experience s he can replace the new Chief when he eventually retires.

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4 Publius January 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM

The decision has been made. A difficult decision as the selectman noted numerous times. Question, did Selectman Rooney do the same due diligence with the other candidates ? He was made a good case, but that is exactly the point, he built a case for the candidate he wanted to hire. Were phone calls made to those who know each of the candidates, not just one ? Supervisors ? co-workers ? Department heads ? Did the BOS make on attempt to know each of the candidates or were they relying on a 50 minute interview with predetermined questions ? The good LT should continue to build upon his experience and seek out mentoring and who knows, in a few years he might be the next Chief. His actions now will be the true test on whether he has the disposition to one day become Chief. In meantime lets welcome Chief Paulhaus. .

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5 Southborough Resident January 17, 2014 at 1:54 PM

I think it’s a shame that we did not promote from within. The issues facing Woonsocket are clearly different than those facing our town. The size of our department may also prove to be a challenge to the new chief. I hope that he understands these differences and is prepared to deal with them. Thank you Mr. Rooney for your thoughtful presentation/analysis.

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6 John Rooney January 17, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Along with the decision to run for selectman, was a corollary commitment to only vote after diligent research allowed me to arrive at an opinion which was in the best interest of the town. In my mind, there is no substitute for preparation, no shortcuts to gaining knowledge. I truly believe that the position of selectman demands more than just a vote; residents are entitled to understand the foundation of my vote. My preparation for last night’s vote was true to my commitment, my explanation for my vote exhaustive. If my explanations are characterized as “whining,” so long as you understand why I voted the way I did, you can assign any term to my comments.

Immediately after the meeting I called Captain Paulhus on behalf of the BOS and congratulated him on his success. I told him the vote was not unanimous, that I voted against him, and why I voted against him. I assured him that upon successful completion of contract negotiations, a negotiation I will conduct, I will do everything I can to make him a successful Chief and that he will find in me an individual willing to help him in any way possible.

When I spoke with Lt. James early this morning, the predictable disappointment was secondary to his love for this town and his commitment to help and assist the new Chief without reservation. If you know Lt. James, this is neither a surprise nor lip service; it is, of course, exactly in keeping with his non-selfish character as his interest is, and has always been, our town.

Decisions such as these have the tendency to polarize, and such polarization causes a delay in healing. It is time for us to move forward as a community and welcome the new Chief with open arms. That is the way we do things, that is the Southborough way, and it is why we can categorically say we live in the greatest town around.

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7 BarbM January 18, 2014 at 1:10 AM

John,

As you may suspect, you have not been on my high-respect list since the last police selection process, but as of last night you have made the grade. You, alone, retained an open mind and did the due-diligence that the townspeople who elected you deserve from those in your position. Without even knowing the assessment scores, I ranked Lt James above Capt Paulhus from the interview answers, his commitment to family (which I believe would extend to the townspeople), his extensive knowledge of the town and its citizens (which the other candidates failed to show an interest in), and his demonstrated leadership ability. You gave concrete reasons for your choice, not generalities and platitudes.

I am very disappointed that Lt James did not receive at least one more vote from one of the other two selectmen. Their clear unwillingness to be open-minded and seriously consider some of the points you made does not reflect well on them. Quite frankly I feel they were committed to hiring outside no matter what, and your rationale was of no import to them. Not allowing the audience to speak was an insult to everyone there, as was the constant reference to the Lieutenant by his previous rank.

Regardless of where you stood on going outside to look for a new chief, I respect the work you did to make the right choice for us and for following through with both the new Chief and Lt James today. I believe we have a quality department and it will work out well, albeit a harder road for a few months. Thank you for doing this well.

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8 Sal Giorlandino January 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

John,

Four years ago we were involved in a tough Selectmen’s election race in which you prevailed. It was a difficult period for me because unbeknownst to many at the time, including you, I had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Colorectal Cancer shortly before the election. Following the election, you reached out to me to check on the progress of my cancer treatment. I wasn’t expecting that because of the rough edges of the Selectmen’s race we had. I’m glad, however, that you reached out to me because we developed a mutual respect and understanding of each other’s views, even though we don’t always agree.

On the issue of whether Lt. Sean James of the Southborough Police Department should have been appointed the Town’s Police Chief, you and I agree that he should have been appointed, and I echo BarbM’s comments above. I was present at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting of this past Thursday evening, January 16th, when your colleagues on the Board voted not to appoint Lt. James as Police Chief. As BarbM said in her post, you alone, retained an open mind and did the due-diligence that the townspeople who elected you deserve from those in your position. Your thorough and highly persuasive presentation assessing the three candidates for the Chief’s position required many hours of preparation and I greatly appreciate your efforts. Your colleagues’ clear unwillingness to be open-minded and seriously consider the points you made demonstrates that notwithstanding their claims to the contrary, they wanted to hire someone outside of the Southborough Police Department from the outset of the Police Chief search and appointment process. This is the case for the following additional reasons:

At his interview before the Selectmen on this past Monday, January 13th, Lt. James demonstrated beyond doubt that he is an exceptional individual who was clearly ready to assume command as Southborough Police Chief. He is a dedicated public safety professional with nearly 30 years of substantial experience in the field of public safety. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Western New England University (2005), and is currently taking graduate classes at UMASS Lowell. He began his career with the California Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1986. After serving four years with the Sheriff’s Department, he moved to the California Central Coast where he continued his career in law enforcement with the City of Morro Bay’s Police Department. Morro Bay is a California municipality with approximately 10,000 residents. During his tenure with Morro Bay’s Police Department, Lt. James served as a patrol officer, detective, and sergeant. He was involved in community policing serving as a D.A.R.E Instructor, Neighborhood Watch liaison, and supervised the Citizen’s on Patrol program, which consisted of 14 civilians.

Lt. James joined the Southborough Police Department as a patrolman in 2001. During his 12 year career with the Department, he has risen through the ranks from patrolman, detective, patrol sergeant, sergeant in charge of investigations, administrative sergeant, and the first ever Lieutenant of the Department. Lt. James knows our community— knowledge that the newly appointed Southborough Police Chief does not have, and, a skill set, that by his own admission in his Police Chief interview, he needs to work on. When you and your colleagues unanimously promoted Lt. James to his current position nearly three years ago in June 2011, all of you gave him very high praise (see My Southborough posting of June 7, 2011). One of your colleagues said that Lt. James’ “credentials and service [were] outstanding”; another of your colleagues said that that Lt. James’ years of experience helped him “rise above” the rest; and you said that you were impressed by Lt. James’ work history and that he “gets it.” Lastly, in the Police Chief Assessment Center testing that he went through with his competitors for the Southborough Police Chief’s position, Lt. James came within a whisker of being tied with the top scorer on the test. This is a remarkable achievement given that Lt. James had never gone through a Police Chief Assessment Center testing process previously, unlike his competitors.

In sum, John– many thanks for your service to the Town of Southborough.

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9 Outsider January 17, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Captain or should I say Chief Paulhus is going to have his hands full with a group of not happy officers. There was a police chief vacancy and he applied and was selected, the department should support him. It may be difficult for the Lt. to do but he has a choice. Assist the new chief and become a trusted ally and be a “go to guy” in an effort to make the department better. Or, he can be an obstructionist and sore loser and do everything he can to make the chief miserable and fail.
One thing I know, Paulhus is the sixth Woonsocket Police Officer selected to be a chief in a Massachusetts Town. Five are still sitting chiefs and one has retired (after more than ten years). None of them has as one selectmen “pounded pavement” to run to another job.
There is no reason to suspect Paulhus will be any less competent, dedicated or loyal to his new department as the others are or have been.

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10 Brendan January 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Why did chairman Kolenda not open the discussion to the people that attended the meeting? Is the communities viewpoint not important in selecting that communities police chief? If I’m not mistaken when Chief Moran was appointed the public was allowed to comment, but why not last night?

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11 jim foley January 17, 2014 at 5:24 PM

I wish our new police chief great success . but really wanted to comment on how impressed I am with John Rooney. We as a town are very lucky to have him. It will be a sad day for us when he steps down. He deserves much respect he always carries himself in such professional manner.

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12 Objective Observer January 18, 2014 at 6:31 AM

Mr. Rooney stated he did “exhaustive” research to come to his decision, but did he? It appears his research was all but one sided and self serving.

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13 linda chan January 18, 2014 at 6:44 AM

It is time that our selectmen have time limits. I believe that two terms are sufficient. We need some fresh ideas. I applaud Mr. Rooney and Lt. James.

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14 Jamie James January 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

I have a unique perspective on the Southborough Police Chief selection process. While I am no stranger to politics in a small town, being from Kinston, NC, I am wholly disgusted by the turn of events. Please allow me to share my view.

The most troubling aspect of this entire process is the lack of direction, leadership and information provided from the town administration, which includes Mark Purple and the BOS. In any business, when management becomes aware of a critical position vacating, every effort is made to assure staff and customers of the continuity of service. Effective leaders and successful businesses communicate. However, not once did the town’s administration feel it necessary to contact the department with a transition plan or to say “this is where we are at and this is how we will move forward.” I would have expected in 3 months that someone could have made a call or sent an email, if stopping by was simply too much. Not once did any representative from the town contact the internal candidate before the process began. Let me be clear, I don’t expect you to hand the job to anyone if they are not qualified for the position. However, the town administration could have taken a few days to meet with any internal candidate and communicate expectations for the position and any concerns that they may have with the internal candidate. Maybe within that moment they could have agreed this wasn’t going to be the right fit. I would almost guarantee that one action, the effort made to show respect and professional courtesy, would have resulted in the department’s support of the administration’s decision even if they disagreed. Instead the internal candidate wasn’t even notified when the position was posted.

Once the process began, true to your history, controversy was just an assessment center away. I have no desire to add to either side of the drama, so I respectfully omit my insight. I mention it only to recommend to the administration to take a day and document some lessons learned so that you don’t continue to embarrass yourself and waste the town’s resources.

To the reader of this comment, I thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and experiences with the process. I warn you that what you will read below is a little less politically correct and a smidge more emotional.

I am the proud wife of Lt. Sean James. My husband has dedicated a large part of his career serving your town. In his 26 years of professional experience, by Kolenda’s math that would be three decades, Sean has worked and trained for this opportunity. I am not listing all his accomplishments, trainings, experiences and recommendations here as Mr. Rooney has covered those quite well. I will simply say, thank you Mr. Rooney. Thank you for the respect you showed to my husband and integrity in which you have conducted yourself during this process. Thank you for the information you provided on the other candidates that showed the internal candidate rose to the top.

To Mr. Kolenda, flipping through a Thesaurus to come up with a list of adjectives is neither research nor a rebuttal worthy enough to win the debate. Ms. Boland, I mean Mr., you are the most disappointing of all. You proudly posture your 8 years on the board and yet you had the least substance in your words when you should have had the most. The fact that you continued to call him Sergeant when he was your own appointed Lieutenant proves your lack of respect and more your disconnection with the department. Lastly, Mr. Purple, you sir should be stripped of your authority over personnel. The fact that Sean found out he was a finalist by email after being an employee of the town for twelve years proves you can’t be bothered with people. Additionally, I question if you could even tell me what he does, specifically that ends up on your desk? You have zero people skills and even fewer reputable management skills which includes communication.

To the town of Southborough, thank you for letting Sean serve your community. The fact that he wasn’t chosen for this opportunity to better serve you, in no way changes his dedication to his job, the department or the town. So for any of you that comment differently, you clearly don’t know Sean. In the end it just didn’t work out, but I challenge you to challenge those that you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf. I challenge you to hold them responsible, not just the police chief, when the department fails to meet your needs or the department’s needs.

To the Southborough Police Department…you guys ROCK! Thank you for your support and for being there for Sean. Being a police officer is difficult, even without the politics, and at times a dangerous job. It should not be thankless…so thank you for choosing to do what you do!

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15 BarbM January 18, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Jamie,

“Behind every good man is a good woman” ….and you are clearly it for Sean! Your comments are appropriate and well said. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out better for both of you. You two ROCK!!!

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16 resident January 18, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Jessie,

I whole heartedly agree with all your comments but especially the one regarding people who think Sean will no longer act as professionally as he always does. Anyone who knows Sean, knows he would never be anything but professional. He is as lucky to have you as we are to have him. I have not an ounce of doubt that he not only should have been made chief but that he will continue to be a very important leader for this town. The BOS will have nobody to blame but Boland & Kolenda and they should be ashamed of themselves.

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17 Publius January 18, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Doing selective “home work” on one candidate is not due diligence. Selectman should do what is best for the town over all. This isn’t about winning or losing. Leave that to ball games and trials. Lets not forget, emotion aside, one of the three didn’t make the cut in the first place. Wasn’t even number 4. Go figure. Why have careful vetting if its all too be ignored?

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18 Elder January 18, 2014 at 8:50 PM

It is a sad day when one selectman who has never visited the police station once and another selectman who can’t even get Lt. James rank correct vote for someone who knows nothing about our town without telling us why. The way the Lieutenant was treated and how he had to fight to get to the assessment center smacks of back room politics and playing favorites.

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19 Craig Stanley January 18, 2014 at 9:33 PM

I dont live in Southborough, but I do have many generations of relatives that were born, raised, died and are buried there. Because I do have several relatives still living there, I have a vested interest in the town and it’s public safety. I’m a full-time police officer for the Town of Milford, MA. I have worked with several officers with-in Woonsocket Police Department over the past 25 years in cases involving murder, property crimes, sexual assaults, prostitution and narcotics. During this period I got to know Captain Ken Paulhaus on both a professional and personal level. I have a great respect for him, his judgment, intellect and his abilities not only to lead, but bring both the police and the community together.

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20 Objective Observer January 18, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Publius is correct. Unfortunately everyone has forgotten that the “inside” guy was knocked out of the running by the search committee and was resurrected by politics which resulted in the resignation of the paid consultant. He was deemed to not be qualified by this committee and now you ordain him the obvious choice. Really? The select board did not do their due diligence either. One even relied on one letter of recommendation. We’re the other candidates told to solicit such letters. I am sure they could have found several people willing to do so. Were the professional references contacted prior to this important vote? I did not hear anything close to resembling this type of due diligence during the all important appointment meeting. The voters were short changed by a a lack of effort by the people voted in to office to do so. One selectman stated he did his due diligence and even called the other members out on it but it appears his due diligence was directed to only one finalist, who wasn’t supposed to even be there to begin with if the process had not been corrupted by politics. Had it not been so, who knows the outcome. But due diligence? Ha!!

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21 Publius January 18, 2014 at 10:20 PM

The search committee did a fine job vetting the candidates. If one did not withdraw this debate is moot. In fact if the next on list was chosen to be a finalist this debate is moot. Why go through a deliberative process, a vetting process if its to be ignored? Selectman Rooney did a fine job researching his preferred candidate. Did he do the same for the others? The public record suggests not. Mr. Boland and Mr. Kolenda stressed the postives in each candidate justifiably since all were accomplished. Lets not forget that. They had conviction to vote their conscience on a vote both took seriously and with great thought ant reflection. Thank you both for your courage to do what you thought best for Southborough.

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22 Al Hamilton January 19, 2014 at 9:38 AM

I don’t have a dog in this fight. Hiring decisions are probably the most important decisions that a manager makes. I know all three selectmen and believe that they made the decision based on what they think is the best for the town. Mr. Boland and Mr. Kolenda went one way and Mr. Rooney took his best shot at convincing one of them to change their mind but came up short.

While I am sure that those that supported Lt. James are disappointed, smearing Mr. Boland and Mr. Kolenda is probably counter productive. If either of them is on the BOS the next time this decision is made I suspect they will remember their treatment from Lt. James supporters, it is only human to do so.

If you are really upset with the decisions made by Mr. Kolenda, Mr. Boland, or for that matter Mr. Rooney your best avenue for redress will be found in the month of May. Mr. Kolenda is up for reelection this May (assuming that he still wants to serve). Find a candidate, take out papers, support him or her and run against Mr. Kolenda. That is your most effective means redress.

We have a lot of difficult issues facing our community that we will not be able to ignore for much longer. These include dealing with our crumbling municipal buildings, the need for a police/fire facility, shrinking school enrollments, the ticking time bomb of unfunded retirement obligations, union contracts, open space, the fate of the transfer station, and prop 2.5 overrides to name a few.

We elect the BOS to help us process the issues relating to these issues and in many cases make the decision on how to move forward. These issues are hard and require difficult choices. We need good people to come forward and serve our community in this role. Engaging in the politics of personal vendetta and destruction only inhibits good people from offering their services to the community. Why would anyone in their right minds want to be tarred and feathered as per above when they can stay home and watch TV instead?

So, instead of anonymously taking to this blog with pitchfork and torch do the hard work. If you don’t like the decisions made by one or more of the selectmen find someone more to your liking and get them to run and work to get them elected. Whining is easy, do the grunt work of democracy that is the gift left to us by those that died to make sure we could enjoy its benefits.

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23 Emperor's New Clothes January 20, 2014 at 8:27 AM

Southborough dodged a bullet, and we should all be grateful the committee and the selectmen had the foresight to choose wisely. We’ve turned the corner on cronyism. We suffered through the last chief. How did that work out for us? Finally we have a new opportunity with an outside qualified person. We had first hand dealings with Sean James, and his incompetence was almost indescribable. He allowed a felon to walk. He didn’t view stolen evidence for over a week and waited months to interview the suspect. He had a temper tantrum, because he couldn’t answer the questions. In a meeting with the chief he stormed out of the room in an extremely unprofessional manner, and he treated us like the criminals instead of the victims of a crime. The real perpetrator got away. James’ police work on this particular case and the superior who was covering for him, did a big disservice to the town of Southborough. These crybaby cops that are upset James didn’t get the job should embrace the new chief, and if they don’t like it, maybe they should apply for a job in a town like Ashland and see what a police dept. in disarray looks like.

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24 Buzz January 24, 2014 at 4:57 PM

I hope that my remarks will be taken by the Selectmen especially Mr. Kolender and Mr. Boland
I have lived in Southboro about 40 years and have not seen the actions by the Selectmen until last week when they voted to hire a Police Chief from R.I. I don’t understand how they voted for a Chief of Police who never showed up for the vote that should tell you something about those 2 Selectmen The only one who showed up was Lt. James the internal candidate Cannot believe the disrespect showed Lt. James
I have talked to some of the Pokice Officers and they have never seen these 2 Selectmen at the station The only one who has been and talked to the officers is Mr. Rooney. This will come back and bite them when some of these good and fine Police Officers leave the Police Department
The current offices corp is the best that has been there for the last 20 years due to Chief Moran and also Lt. James what is the matter with those 2 selectmen they should be ashamed of themselves remember at election time

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25 Al Hamilton January 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Buzz

You have every right to be disappointed if you think Lt. James was the better candidate. However, I think that the purported lack of attendance at the Police Station by the two selectmen is a bit of a red herring.

We are trying to move away from the days when Selectmen regularly sat in on department meetings. That is the reason why we hired the new TA and Town Meeting empowered the TA with substantial managerial authority. This has been reinforced by the BOS who have effectively made the TA the supervisor of the chiefs. Given that we have made the TA in effect the COO of the municipal govt it is not really appropriate for a Selectmen to bypass the chain of command and spend a lot of time mucking about in any department. If any selectmen is spending a lot of time in any specific department they could easily be seen as undermining the authority of the TA.

I do not think that Lt. James was disrespected. I have applied for lots of jobs that I did not get both internally and externally. The fact that the position was offered to someone else is not in and of itself an act of disrespect. Yes, it is no fun to lose, but that is very different than disrespect. Lt. James chose to attend the meeting where the decision was made. He had to know that there was a chance that he would not succeed. That is the risk you take when you apply for a new position. Such is life.

It is natural for an internal candidate to be the “favorite” of a department. They represent the safe choice who will probably not rock the boat. However, department members to not choose their leaders that is the responsibility of the BOS and the TA. They may not measure the performance of any specific department by the same yardstick that the members of that department use.

So, we are going to have a new chief, that is a fact. We can work to help him make a success of his new job or we can work to undermine him. I hope it is the former.

If you are really unhappy with the decision made by Mr. Kolenda and Mr. Boland then your course is clear. Mr. Kolenda is up for reelection this year and Mr. Boland next year. Find a candidate more to your liking, convince him/her to run for the positions now held by the 2 selectmen you disagree with. All the rest is just useless whining.

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26 Emperor's New Clothes January 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Referring back to our last comment one can decide for oneself who was disrespectful–Lt. James actually blundering, fumbling, and disrespecting on the job, or selectmen who didn’t vote for James. You don’t get a job, because you showed up, and you don’t get a job, because your cronies are interviewed. You get a job, because you are the most qualified candidate. James should follow the Golden Rule: Treat others respectfully, if you want to be treated that way. Some of James’ good old boys should fear that the new chief is going to expect more accountability. Thank you for pointing out that cronyism is just expected by some members of the police department!

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