SWL: Vocal residents file meeting law violation and push for firing of DPW Chief and Town Administrator

by beth on June 3, 2014

This spring, two residents have led the charge on objections to the layoff of Southborough’s Cemetery Supervisor. Now, according to Southborough Wicked Local, the women have filed an official complaint about the behavior of the Department of Public Works Director and the Town Administrator.

In late April, news leaked that the Cemetery Supervisor of 24 years had been laid off. The purported reason given was the decision by Town Meeting vote to outsource cemetery maintenance.

Hearing the news prompted Zoning Board of Appeals member Lisa Capello to submit a letter to the editor on this blog. She believed that important information had been buried in the Town Warrant.

As the story developed, resident Desiree Aselbekian shared her outrage in comments on the blog. She also announced her plan to compel action by the town to rectify the matter. In her comments, she outlined multiple petitions she was circulating. The first three were aimed at reinstating the position and employee through a Special Town Meeting.

At the last Board of Selectmen Meeting, Aselbekian informed board members that she had the required signatures. She indicated that she would give them until tonight’s meeting to resolve the matter. Otherwise, she would file the Special Town Meeting request. (“Cemetery Reorganization” is on the BOS agenda for continued discussion at 6:30 pm tonight in the Town House Hearing Room.)

Aselbekian had one more petition. The 4th petition was aimed at firing DPW Director Karen Galligan and Town Administrator Mark Purple:

A petition to the Selectmen saying we have had enough: this petition states we have no confidence in the Town Administrator or the Superintendent of Public Works. It is a non-binding petition that we will submit to the Selectmen to let them know we do not have faith or confidence in these two employees and we want them removed and replaced by any means necessary. This town needs leaders we can trust and not leaders who deceive us and mislead us. Not to mention, those leaders who potentially open us up to lawsuits and financial liability. These individuals are not good for this town, and we need to let the Selectmen know we are not going to stand for this anymore.

According to Southborough Wicked Local, Aselbekian claims to now have “roughly 200 signatures” on that petition. She and Capello have filed an official complaint over Galligan’s and Purple’s actions related to the layoff. They are claiming that Galligan and Purple violated Open Meeting Law.

In their complaint, Cappello and Aselbekian do not introduce any new information about what happened. They cite [Selectman John] Rooney’s stated lack of knowledge about the layoff as proof of a violation.

“In light of Selectman Rooney’s recent statement that he was not aware, it is clear that there was an (improper) deliberation between at least two selectman, town administrator and the DPW super, a violation of Open Meeting Law,” they charge. . .

SWL reports that they are “appalled” that the issue hasn’t been placed on the BOS agenda for tonight.

Rooney told SWL that he hasn’t seen “any documents that support” the charges. Meanwhile, Purple is denying the accusations with support from Selectman Dan Kolenda:

Purple on Friday called the complaint “baseless and without merit.” In an email, Selectman Dan Kolenda said it is “filled with misstatements, wild conjecture and supposition.”

Kolenda said he has spoken to both women numerous times to try to advise them of his efforts to address their concerns. . .

“I am surprised and disappointed that they would make such baseless, unfounded allegations,” he wrote. “My only assumption is that they are intent on slandering good, hard-working people in a zealous personal agenda to smear board members and town employees of high character.”

To read the entire SWL story, click here.

1 Al Hamilton June 3, 2014 at 8:17 AM

My understanding of the Open Meeting law is that for this allegation to be true there would have had to be communications between Mr. Kolenda and Mr. Boland outside of a public meeting. (Assuming that is what is alleged.) on this or any other public matter that would come before their board.

I disagree with Mr. Boland on a number of subjects but I know that Mr. Boland, at least in public where I have been able to observe, is quite scrupulous about observing the Open Meeting Requirements. I have observed on a number of occasions where he has attended public meetings where other Selectmen are present and he sits separate from them and does not communicate with them.

I assume that Mr. Kolenda is equally familiar with these requirements.

If there is some specific evidence to the contrary I and others would like to hear it.

2 Desiree Aselbekian June 3, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Thanks, Al for your take on this issue. I just want to take the opportunity to correct the record briefly.

The fact is, under the Chapter 447 of the Legislative Acts of 1991 (effective on December 29, 1991), the DPW Superintendent has the right to hire and fire with the CONSENT of the Board of Selectmen. In this case, a layoff of an employee was made by the DPW Super without the consent of the BOS, at least as we know. You see, there are no minutes (open session or executive session) that indicate a decision was made by the BOS. However, two selectmen have indicated they were in the know and one selectmen found out about the layoff via a resident communication several days after the layoff. If this is correct, then their was a meeting at some point to approve the layoff. One can only infer that the Town Administrator and/or DPW Super were the conduit to these discussion. It is clear only elected officials can be accused of an Open Meeting Violation, but Town Employees can aid in said violation.

This is what smells. The reason the Open Meeting Violation complaint was filed is to try to fill in the gap. At some point, there must have been discussion among at least two selectmen to “consent” to the layoff. When was the meeting? Where is the documentation? If the Town can not produce the minutes and the documents that outline the process, we will seek adjudication from the Attorney General’s Office. Perhaps there was no violation, and Ms. Cappello and I are mistaken about the Open Meeting Violation. I will personally have no problem with that. However, we have the right to ask and examine our government. It’s a matter of finding facts and keeping people honest. In fact, we wouldn’t be good Americans if we didn’t question our government.

The fact that there is even a doubt about this situation, makes me very sad. I don’t trust these individuals. As a taxpayer and citizens I have the right to question. I wish more people would do so.

Thanks,
Desiree Aselbekian

3 Al Hamilton June 3, 2014 at 8:33 AM

With regard to the Special Town Meeting – This is a very blunt instrument and I regret that I think only 2 of the 4 articles are within the power of Town Meeting to Enact.

One article calls a special town meeting and one restores funding for the DPW Supervisors position. (Note, it does not actually restore the position because Town Meeting lacks that authority it only increases the budget of the DPW). Both of these articles are, in my opinion well within the scope of authority of Town Meeting.

One article reverse the “privatization” of the Cemetary. I do not believe that Town Meeting has the authority to do this. Decisions about how the DPW is run are defined in state law (the special legislation that set up the DPW) and those policy decisions are vested in the DPW Supervision and the BOS with the advice of the Public Works Planning Board.

The other article calls for the ouster of the TA and DPW Supervisor. Again, in my opinion Town Meeting does not have this authority. That authority lies with the BOS under state law (the DPW Special Legislation and the TA Special Legislation). The most that could be accomplished is a symbolic “no confidence” vote.

4 Desiree Aselbekian June 3, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Mr. Hamilton,

Thank you for your comments on the Special Town Meeting submissions. I want to make a few things clear:
1) the first petition forces the BOS to call a Special Town Meeting for the purposes of discussing the Cemetery. It requires 200 signatures, of which we have;
2) the second petition is an article to be placed on the Special Town Meeting Warrant, which would appropriate the money for the cemetery supervisor. It requires 100 signatures, which we have;
3) this petition is an article to be placed on the Special Town Meeting Warrant, which would eliminate the privatization of cemetery administration, building and grounds maintenance. You may or may not be correct about the legality, but we have the required 100 signatures nonetheless;
4) this is a final petition to the Board of Selectmen that calls for the removal and replacement of the Town Administrator and DPW Superintendent. This would NOT be on the Special Town Meeting warrant, as it is not the correct forum for this petition. This is a non-binding petition to let the BOS know where we stand. They are the elected body that has the right to hire, fire, and contract with this individuals.

I just wanted to take an opportunity to correct a couple of your statements, as to make sure people are not confused with the petitions I have circulated.

Thanks!
Desiree Aselbekian

5 SB Resident June 3, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I missed any previous news on these petitions, so my signature is not on them. But for the selectman reading this, you can mentally add one more to the list that has no confidence in the DPW Director.

6 Rob June 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Take a look next door at Westborough for some examples of town progress and leadership. They just got there debt upgraded to the highest possible rating because of “Good Management”, something lost here. What headlines have you seen and heard about from our town government lately? I support the petitions, not for personal reasons, but for the good of the town. Most likely, nothing will happen and everyone knows it.

7 Barbara June 3, 2014 at 8:37 PM

I also missed the circulation of the petitions but gladly would have signed them. I am also appalled at the response of Mr. Boland and the lack of effort from the BOS to try and resolve this issue.

8 resident June 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

QUOTE: “My only assumption is that they are intent on slandering good, hard-working people in a zealous personal agenda to smear board members and town employees of high character.”

High character? What kind of high character person slanders the soon to be Police Chief in a public restaurant with co-workers, assists in plowing in a State vehicle, closes the swap shop without notice like she is running her own little world over there that doesn’t involve anyone else and then lays off the cemetery supervisor? If that is Mr. Kolenda’s view of a person of high character, we are in worse shape and more trouble than we thought.

9 Desiree Aselbekian June 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Thank you, Beth, for bringing this article to the attention of your blog followers. I don’t know if you agree with me or not, but the fact that you have personally allowed for this discussion and comment is fantastic. I appreciate it very much!

That said, I want to make your readers aware of an email I received from the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Mr. Bill Boland. I think your followers would be interested to know their elected leader does not want discussion or transparency. I would be happy to supply you, the editor, a copy of this email for your records, if you require. I’m not hiding anything.

On the May 13, 2014 meeting of the BOS, I submitted a letter in writing requesting an agenda item relative to the No Confidence in Town Administrator or DPW Super Petition to the BOS. My request was to have the petitions filed with the BOS at the next scheduled meeting. I heard nothing for over two weeks. On May 29, 2014, I wrote an email to Mr. Boland asking when I was going to be on the agenda. I understood June 3 may be heavy, so which meeting in the future. This was Mr. Boland’s response:
_____________________________________________________
From: “Bill Boland”
To: “‘Desiree'”
Date: 05/30/2014 07:43:49 EDT
Subject: RE: Meeting Agenda Tuesday, June 3

Desiree,

Our June 3rd meeting agenda will be posted today. The Board will not be
discussing your request at this meeting or at a future meeting.

When I polled several members of the Board, they indicated that they had
reviewed your correspondence presented to them at our meeting on May 13 and
appreciate your concern for the Town. They also indicated that they had no
interest to place it on our next or a future agenda for discussion at one of
our meetings. Therefore it will not be scheduled for discussion at a future
meeting. I appreciate your concern as a resident of Southborough but your
lack of confidence in the two employees does not appear to be shared by
members of the Board of Selectmen.
_____________________________________________________

I’m very sorry that Mr. Boland is so intimidated by signed petitions. I’m also “appalled” that our elected official is refusing to hear from the public. Politicians sign-up to hear from constituents whether they like what those constituents have to say or not. Just listen. That’s all the undersigned of these petitions want. The right to be heard by our government is the most basic form of American’s rights under the Constitution. It pains me that the Chairman of the Executive Board in Southborough is infringing on our rights to petition our government. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Boland indicated he “polled several member”. Well, I know at least three of his members were never polled.

I encourage as many people as possible to attend the BOS meeting tonight at 6:30 and to continue to attend public meetings, as I will be, as frequently as possible. We must be accountable and responsible citizens. We cannot continue to allow the BOS and their hire hands to run our town this way. It is unacceptable.

While it’s my hope others agree with me, I respect all and any opinions. That’s America! We all have the right to disagree, but we all have the right to speak and be heard.

Thank you, again, for this forum. I appreciate a place were opinions are welcome.

Desiree Aselbekian

10 resident June 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

WOW!!! Is there anything else to say?

11 BarbM June 3, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Yes, the first three petitions worked! The Cemetary Supervisor was rehired, effective July 1st. Her job scope might change a little bit but she’ll be back at the cemetary.

12 I'm just sayin' June 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Thank you, BOS, for doing the right thing…my question is, though, why in the world did it take a petition from the citizens and all this hoopla to get you to see that it was the right thing? In the future, perhaps instead of taking the DPW Supervisor or TA recommendations at face value, a bit more research and questioning is called for? Given their history, wouldn’t more oversight be reasonable? Giving them the benefit of the doubt at this point seems rather unwise. I’m just sayin’…

13 Shocking June 3, 2014 at 8:33 PM

There are so many things wrong with Boland’s response, I don’t even know where to start.

14 Rob June 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Clearly the lack of confidence is shared by several hundred town citizens…… What recent things have given the board confidence???? Please respond. List one thing. Don’t you represent the people of this town????
This is why people need to show up for elections! We have one guy who cant make a meeting, and another who doesn’t seem to care what the town people think.

15 Lisa Cappello June 3, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I have read the BOS response to our open meeting law violation, however I am VERY confused. We clearly had no other choice, we asked several times for the truth…..still waiting, and when we did have the meeting a few weeks back I heard more circle talk then anything else. Actions speak louder than words! Maybe if people admitted their wrong doings from the beginning myself and other residents would not have to take such measures. I find it disturbing that we have to act like detectives and try and uncover the truth, when clearly the Town Admin. and the BOS work for us, so when we ask for them to explain these……questionable set of events that doesn’t sound outrageous to me. Correct me if I am wrong but I was under the impression it is 100% my business?! As for the comments in the MWDN :
Purple on Friday called the complaint “baseless and without merit.” In an email, Selectman Dan Kolenda said it is “filled with misstatements, wild conjecture and supposition.”
Kolenda said he has spoken to both women numerous times to try to advise them of his efforts to address their concerns.
“I am surprised and disappointed that they would make such baseless, unfounded allegations,” he wrote. “My only assumption is that they are intent on slandering good, hard-working people in a zealous personal agenda to smear board members and town employees of high character.”
Aselbekian has circulated a petition calling for Purple and DPW Director Karen Galligan to be fired. She said Friday the petition has roughly 200 signatures, adding she was “appalled” that selectmen declined her request for an agenda item on the topic at their meeting Tuesday. Kolenda on Friday said he is frustrated with the actions of Aselbekian and Cappello.
“The vitriolic tenor of the campaign needs to stop,” he wrote. “I for one have quickly grown tired of it.”

I am surprised because you are frustrated Mr. Kolenda?? Well maybe you can try and understand now how we feel? See it is not a ” campaign” it is trying to make you people understand that this was someone’s job, their passion and whether it is Bridget or someone else I would work just as hard to make that WRONG right. As for Mr. Purple’s comment, well it is NOT baseless…. your own Advisory board can’t recall any discussion! FYI people want answers and not from just Bill Boland- responding for everyone, we want all of you to sit down and step by step tell us how we got here and what you are going to do to fix it! Explain to us what actions will be taken so this will not happen again and if need be what discipline!

16 I'm just sayin.... June 3, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Inexcusable!!! I am appalled! Mr. Boland’s response to Desiree is totally unacceptable. This is America, folks, and we have every right to be heard. I voted for all three previously sitting members of the BOS and actually did not vote for one of them this time because he, as well as Mr. Boland, have done a total turnaround as to what they both personally said to me when they were campaigning. I totally agree with a no confidence vote for our DPW Head and our Town Administrator. I have no confidence in their ability to carry out their duties and in the private sector they would have been fired long ago. Yes, it is a lot of work to hire replacements but if someone is not doing their job, then so be it. Come on, elected officials, do the right thing. A lot of time and effort went into collecting all those signatures, let the citizens be heard! This IS a democracy, after all!

17 southsider June 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

I’m afraid there’s a little too much piling on here. I do agree that the Cemetery layoff was badly handled and that there have been other mis-steps in the running of the DPW department. I agree that town leaders need to examine that issue and fully expect that they will, over time, handle any corrective actions properly. I think we need to give our new Town Administrator a little slack. He’s new and certainly has no long term allegiance to any town managers. I believe he simply didn’t read between the lines of various items presented to him or, in the course of all the last minute details that must lead up to TM, simply overlooked an item that was not highlighted for him or the BOS very well. Under the new microscope that is now examining all of the various minutes and correspondence such information is easier to catch.
I also sympathize with Mr. Kolenda’s characterization of much of this ongoing dialog as “vitriolic”. There’s more progress to be made using less accusatory tactics.
To those who have been raising the issue, isn’t it now obvious that your points have all been made? Recent actions by the BOS have now rectified the most immediate need; I for one think we should give them time to deliberate and react to the other issues as well. I’m confident in their ability to do the right thing.

18 I'm just sayin' June 5, 2014 at 5:31 PM

I am afraid that Mr. Kolenda’s assessment of this dialog is a bit too strong…synonyms of “vitriolic” are spiteful, hurtful, venomous, acerbic, bitter, cruel, rancorous and malicious. None of those fit what I have been reading. I believe a better word is passion. Those that are justifiably upset at the goings on in the Town House and DPW are very passionate about the issues and about being heard. I haven’t read anyone calling anyone names, I have only read people giving facts. Perhaps I can be a bit more objective since I am not one of those being called out for not doing my job to the satisfaction of many in town. As far as the paid employees go, there have been many excuses made, many reasons given, many promises made to do better in the future, and again, I say, had these persons been in the private sector, without a contract, they would not still be employed. There have just been too many mistakes made, many of them costly. I certainly hope that the future will bring more accountability to bear.

On another note, my hat is off to those who run for public office and serve their constituents. I have had personal experience in this arena and it is not easy. However, once elected, one must do the best they can to listen to EVERYONE, even if they disagree with them. When you are in public office, you need to be respectful of those whose opinions may differ from yours. As an elected official, you are a representative of ALL those who reside in your town/city/state/country, not just the ones that voted for you. It is a huge responsibility and affords one a great deal of power…which one can use wisely or unwisely. Let us hope that it is always used wisely….

19 Matthew June 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM

How many signatures would it take for the BOS to see the petition to remove Purple and Galligan as more than a show of no confidence?
I know we vote for the selectman and they get to do what they want but if half the town says someone ought to be dismissed then who are they to ignore the message.

Where do I sign by the way?

20 On the Hill June 4, 2014 at 12:21 PM

We get the government we deserve.

21 Al Hamilton June 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

I think that those that are calling for the dismissal of the TA and DPW Super should take a step back from the precipice and consider the following.

1. Yes, there are petition signed by several hundred people. However, we just had an election and Mr. Kolenda and Mr. Cimino each received close to 1000 votes. Ms Phaneuf received nearly 600. Mr. Boland when he ran 2 years ago also received close to 1000 votes and just received nearly 1200 votes in is role as commissioner of trust funds. In the last election all of the incumbents running were returned by substantial margins. They had the guts to run for public office and can legitimately claim a mandate to govern which may include making unpopular decisions.

2. Town meeting has no authority to dismiss either the TA or the DPW supervisor. Town meeting’s BIG STICK is the power to tax. I think it is a mistake to use Town Meeting as a debating society where we discuss matters over which we do not have authority (I thought the single rate debated was a mistake). If you really want to send a message then use the power that Town Meeting has. Cut out the TA’s salary from the Town Admin’s budget. That would send a message that cannot be ignored.

3. Actual dismissal of the TA or DPW Supervisor will cost the town a considerable sum. Contracts for people in those positions were put in place to provide them security in just this type of situation. We might not like it but we will have to honor those contracts regardless.

4. Let’s remember that the TA and DPW Supervisor are real human beings. They did a poor job in managing the privatization but they are real people we are discussing who like the rest of us have our shortcomings but are trying to do a good job.

5. Finally, we should consider the impact of our decision. We have just enacted a Strong TA by law. If the first time the TA makes a mistake he/she is run out of town on a rail who will want to take the position to replace them?

Am I happy about the way the privatization was done? NO, most emphatically I am not, the clumsy handling will make it much harder to do this in the future. Am I happy about the way the BOS has responded? No but the proper response from those that are disappointed with Mr. Bolands or any other Selectman’s action is to summon the courage to run against them in the next election and give the people of Southborough a choice.

22 Desiree Aselbekian June 4, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Mr. Hamilton,

I hate to beat a dead horse, but you clearly have not been following my comments or have read my response to your misstatements. I have NEVER considered asking for a town meeting to put a petition of no confidence in the TA or DPW Super on the warrant. As I have stated on numerous occasions, as a non-binding petition, this no confidence petition only belongs with the hiring authority, which is the board of selectmen. You are 100% right in saying town meeting has no authority to weigh in on this topic. No non-binding issues should go to town meeting.

My mother taught me three things to live by: don’t lie, cheat, or steal. It is my firm opinion that if you do any one of the three in a professional environment you should be terminated and/or disciplined at least.

My biggest issue with the petitions of no confidence was that the chairman of the board did not want to place an agenda item to submission and discuss on the petitions. We were only heard last night because Mr. Roney asked for discussion. For the record, because we were able to discuss the topic, make the BOS aware of 200 plus concerned citizens thoughts on the matter, I feel this topic is settled. Moving forward, I will remain vigilant and resolved in holding people accountable, but I feel the BOS (no thanks to the chairman) adequately discussed the citizen petition of no confidence and the concerns of the citizens.

Thank you,
Desiree Aselbekian

23 Anita Reeder June 5, 2014 at 5:01 PM

All good points, Mr. Hamilton. I am sorry that you were not elected as a Selectman. Although I may not always agree with you, you have always shown great respect, wisdom and calmness in discussing issues, not to mention a whole lot of common sense, something sorely lacking in today’s politicians and government entities.

24 beth June 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Looking for me to cover what happened last night? Don’t worry, I’m not ignoring the story. But, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Pressing personal commitments mean I don’t have time to write the piece today. (And I wanted to make sure to let people know about the 6/5 deadline for comment on Main Street project.)

25 northside resident June 4, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Let’s not forget about the disaster of street signage. I am embarrassed that my tax dollars went to this project that the preschoolers in this town could have done a better job.

26 This Town is Run Like a Reality TV Show June 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

I admit my only information on these issues come through reading the news various articles and blog posts, attending Town Meeting and watching portions of the Selectmen’s meetings on TV on an inconsistent basis, but it appears to me that Mr. Purple and Ms. Galligan may not be a good fit for our community. I think its also worth pointing out Southborough may also not be a good fit for them.

The private sector calls the recent events in this town a “culture problem” and generally remedies these things very quickly because the private sector values the lost efficiency through a lack of trust in the leadership of a company.

While I had high hopes for Mr. Purple to make more modern solutions to many town problems and greatly value his previous experience (on paper), it is clear that after 18 months he has created more problems than he has fixed, which is disappointing. He has also failed to build the relationships in Town, jeopardizing his ability to make any significant remedies in the future. The recent cemetery issue has clearly given a lot of people in this community a sincere lack of pause in trusting his leadership. He did mislead our community by giving many contradictory statements publicly and has broken the trust of many residents, regardless of what the Selectmen think of Desiree Aselbekian’s petition or her style in raising these issues on television. Her style may be blustery and precise, but I think the response from a majority of our Selectmen show that she is actually onto their mischievous game. And that is what they fear most. Like a deer caught in headlights, they do not know what to do!

To me, Mr. Purple sounds like Rogers Clemens trying to prove to baseball fans he didn’t do steroids. He is clearly as stubborn as Clemens and is completely missing the point. An apology and admission to do better, much like Clemens’ teammate Andy Pettitte did, would have gone a long way in his public relations debacle. Has anyone talked about Pettitte doing steroids recently? No. But Clemens is the Biggest Goat of the steroid era because he acted like a stubborn fool and routinely gets booed by baseball fans everywhere. Yet, Clemens always appears like he has no idea whats going on. He is stuck on Planet Roger. I’m wondering the same thing about our Town Administrator?

Like myself, residents may not know all the details of all town issues, but they can smell a rat. And we pay a high premium to have high quality professionals making good decisions. Purple should have just admitted he made a huge mistake instead of taking the Town on this ridiculous publicity stunt and tarnishing his reputation, and the Selectmen’s, and the Town’s, at the same time. Successful leaders look in the mirror and correct their mistakes. Time will tell if he has done this.

Despite the tennis match of allegations and defensive, politically postured rebuttal all over the place, I ask: Do Southborough residents want leadership like this? Is this the standard we have for what we pay in taxes? Do we want our town leaders embroiled in scandals and conflict seemingly every month with something new?

Taxpayers pay Purple and Galligan over a quarter of a million dollars every year to lead our community! Where are the standards?

Contrary to what Mr. Boland, Mr Kolenda, Mr. Rooney, Mr Hamilton and some others have mentioned publicly or on this blog, this is NOT Mr. Purple or Ms. Galligan’s first hiccup during their tenure. While I admit I do not spend the amount of time many on this blog keeping up with all town events and frequently search Google to find information, in just the last year or so we have seen our town run like a joke of a reality TV show. The Town should sell off the rights to this sideshow and at least generate some income for the calamity that has ensued. Hollywood can’t write this stuff!

And personally, I do not think these hiccups are funny. They have serious financial consequences to our wallets and hard earned money through wasted time, litigation, contentious relationships and so much more. Here is just a short list of the known problems reported in the press through a quick Google search:
The Cemetery staff layoff debacle (and sorry to say this, a TA who lied to our community and supported a vindictive move by the DPW Director to get someone she did not like fired);
A lack of transparency at Town Meeting regarding almost $600,000 in capital expenditures in the budget, only to find out our DPW Director is getting a new $50,000 car — $50,000!!!!!
The 40B problems throughout the community and at Park Central and that the community lost $500,000 in mitigation money from the developer;
The Town missed a critical 40B “Safe Harbor” letter to protect this community;
a tiring and contentious Main Street redevelopment process (emphasis on process) that is like a round peg being pounded into a square hole with significant resident dissent;
A poorly run Police Chief Search process (time will tell if the right choice was made, but nobody can doubt the jeopardized process);
the Barn Lane debacle;
A wasted Special Town Meeting in 2013 due to failed solutions in the town; and
The worst of the worse, the Snow Plow problems with Ms Galligan (including more lies that there was no knowledge of the issue, then video tape surfaced from a department that you are supposed to be on the same team with, and then no public disclosure of whether discipline had actually been handed down. Why should we believe Mr. Purple again?);
And, he has caused some level of divisiveness in the community. Some town staff, many residents, and many stakeholders (town employees, businesses, boards, committees, other) simply do not feel the town is headed in the right direction.
Maybe this is what Desiree Aselbekian is trying to get across? Who is to say she won’t get more signatures if she already has 200? And the above incidents are just what comes up from a recent Google Search. If I had the time, what else could be dug up??? What else do we not even know what is going on that the press doesn’t see??? And this is just in about 12 months!

While all of these issues are not unilaterally Mr. Purple’s fault, I think it does show a lack of leadership in this community to get things done, and even worse, build the relationships to prevent conflict in the community and move it forward. He has now been here for over 18 months from what I read online. That is plenty of time to evaluate whether someone is moving the town forward or not and if they are a good fit. There is not one tangible item or news article I have seen that shows me he has made a positive impact in this town. And our Selectmen can’t name a single accomplishment either! They just say he is the “most hard working Town Administrator I have seen” and “he got a great evaluation from us last year.” There doesn’t seem to be any formal evaluation on the Town website. And what is the specific rationale to get a 4% raise? What are the tangible results?

Well for a $140,000, plus benefits, and other perks per year, I don’t see “hard working” as an achievement. That is the baseline expectation of the job!

Wait, is this also the same Town Administrator that the Selectmen and Advisory Committee proposed to take over the day to day reporting of DPW, Fire, Police and the Town Clerk? What evidence do we have that this Administrator can handle any more responsibility? No wonder those articles failed at Town Meeting by huge margins. If my memory from Town Meeting serves me correct, he did not know who our Animal Control Officer was???

I ask our leaders what is the Town’s return on this $140-160,000 a year investment in Mr. Purple? Again, I have seen nothing more than bad reality TV over the last year. In fact, I see a fundamental misunderstanding of what the role is. I don’t see a collaborative environment.

Mr Purple clearly wants to be a Town “Manager” and have control over everything and the original 3 Selectmen seemingly support this. His previous experience are in Framingham and Ashland had Town Manager’s. The problem for Southborough is we do not have that form of government and have routinely rejected this concept for many years. Again, people are trying to pound a round peg into a square hole instead of rolling up the sleeves, listening to stakeholders, opening the door, engaging, doing the hard work and getting our value for the $150,000 we are spending on just him!

A quick Google search shows Selectmen Kolenda stated at the time of his hiring, he “really liked Purple’s emphasis on teamwork.”

So where is this teamwork? Are the recent problems the result of teamwork? Vision?

A quick Google search turns up this quote from John Rooney during Mark’s hiring: “Rooney acknowledged that with Purple’s expanded roles, less day-to-day business will be done in meetings in front of residents.” Not to be snarky, but I guess Mark took this too seriously with the Cemetery issue. And the Advisory Committee thinks so, too, voting 8-0 last week that Mr. Purple did not advise them of the cemetery plans.

That does not sound like teamwork to me. It sounds to me like Mr. Purple is looking for a role the Town does not offer.

All of these shenanigans have come prior to the tenure of Mr Cimino and Ms Phaeneuf. Adding two members is the exact reason why the Town went to 5 Board members and have rejected the Town Manager form of government. To bring additional perspective and accountability. I sincerely hope both of them do their diligence this year and lend a voice to help bring some sanity to this organization. I personally voted for both individuals in this hope and have confidence they can bring perspective and action.

But in the meantime, while the other three Selectmen seem content to defend their choice for Town Administrator like Roger Clemens denying he did steroids, residents are clearly on notice that the Town House is not being run very collaboratively or without any vision or leadership. Residents are now on notice, including myself, to be more participatory. So if we begin seeing more resident participation its not because we are enthralled with the job that is being done, its because we have to. In order to break up this inside power vacuum. Desiree’s petition proves this!

Mr. Purple has a year or so left on his contract from the news articles online. Maybe in that time we will figure out whether he is the right fit for this community and whether this community is the right fit for him?

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