Selectmen vote to postpone ZBA removal decision

by beth on December 20, 2016

Last night, the Board of Selectmen discussed their decision to potentially remove Leo Bartolini from the Zoning Board of Appeals. But the only vote they made was to indefinitely put off the decision.

Over objections of Selectman Dan Kolenda, members Paul Cimino and Chair Brian Shea voted to postpone their vote to a date to be determined. The action was based on the recent complaint filed by residents with the State Ethics Commission.

The complaint asked the state to determine that Bartolini acted improperly.

All agreed that the state’s findings would not be something the board members could consider as part of their deliberations, since the hearing already closed. But Cimino strongly urged fellow members to wait for the outcome.

Cimino argued that if the Ethics Commissions findings were in opposition to the board’s findings, there would be a petition or request for the board to revisit the decision. He repeatedly stressed that was possible whichever way they voted.

The selectman said he didn’t want to do it twice:

It’s bad enough that we’re doing it once. I don’t like the process.

Kolenda rebutted that there duty as selectmen may require them to do it twice. He worried that the state could take several months or not do anything at all. He believed that having the outcome drag on would be unfair to both petitioners and Bartolini. 

Shea reinforced Cimino’s stance, indicating that if he had known about the filing of the complaint prior to posting the agenda, the hearing discussion wouldn’t have been included as an item. The Chair said that with only three members able to vote, he wanted all of them to be prepared to vote.

Kolenda pointed out that with elections in May and the tendency of government actions to be slow, it could leave them with just one to vote. (Kolenda’s and Cimino’s terms end in May.)

Cimino said he wasn’t intending to postpone that long. He asked Town Administrator Mark Purple to find out how long the process usually takes.

Resident Ben Keyes asked what they saw Bartolini’s role in the meantime. He was concerned about the member continuing to participate, including on Park Central, while the determination of possible improper behavior was pending.

Cimino said he wouldn’t suggest that Bartolini should automatically recuse himself from proceedings in the interim. Instead, he recommended that Bartolini follow advice from Town Counsel.

He also told Keyes not to assume that the vote outcome would be what he’s looking for.

Cimino remarked that if petitioners want to expedite the process, they could withdraw their letter to the ethics commission. He quickly followed that he wasn’t suggesting they should.

1 Anonymity December 20, 2016 at 8:25 PM

Please!!!! What a bunch of puppets on a string… BOS you should be ashamed of yourself

2 Anonymous December 20, 2016 at 8:26 PM

BOS- you should be ashamed of yourselves! Really!!

3 T December 20, 2016 at 9:20 PM

I’m disapppointed in my elected officials. He is under investigation both locally and at the state level (with substantial evidence) and you’re going to just let him keep going at the ZBA? At least ask him to formally recuse himself from all activities until there is action by the state or BOS.

4 Townie December 21, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Going out on a limb here. I’m not advocating for either side, quite frankly I think both are at fault for how far this has gone. I believe the BOS is postponing because Bartolini is currently under investigation and only until the investigation is over will they make a decision. “Innocent until proven guilty”. The American way.

5 New Resident December 21, 2016 at 10:32 AM

As a new resident watching all this unfold i’m shocked at how the BOS has handled this issue. Bartolini should have been removed from his position or at a minimum suspended until an outcome is reached. The fact that they still have him participating as a member of the ZBA is mind blowing. I’m not even concerned about Bartolini, i’m more taken back by the actions of the BOS who have ignorantly allowed him to continue serving as a member of the board. So assuming his found at fault by the Ethics board are all decisions he has rendered or influenced as a member of the ZBA need to be revisited, reopened and resubmitted? So anything his participating in now could might have to be done all over again. So to Mr Cimino who does not want to do things twice, you should think about this because you very well could subject anyone that has come before Bartolini to repeat the process again (assuming his found at fault which is highly likely given the evidence that was presented two meeting ago)

6 Frank Crowell December 21, 2016 at 10:04 PM

Yes, you have witnessed quite a year. The tittle of Southborough 2016 in review should be “How Town Government Should Not Operate.”

7 Resident December 21, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Yet when it comes time to vote, we as townspeople keep putting the same bozos at the helm. If you are dissatisfied, do something about it with your vote.

8 D. McGee December 21, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Putting the town in jeopardy of having ZBA decisions vacated. If he had any dignity or class, he would step down, but we know that’s not happening. Shame on you BOS.

9 Jillian S December 22, 2016 at 7:21 AM

Didn’t we go through this about 5 years ago? Isn’t the town and BOS being sued for such arrogance and ignorance ? If I remember correctly, a life long resident and sergeant in the police department broke the law on several occasions and was never disciplined but the person that reported it was. It appears that if you have lived in town all of your life and have connections, the BOS will protect you and allow you to skirt the law but take exception to anyone that points it out. Revisit former complaints of the BOS — things that seemed hard to believe at the time might make a little more sense now that this is out there. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. And, we as tax payers are the ones to pay for it… as the insurance goes up and lawyers fees pile on. We get the government we deserve when citizens ignore the misdeeds of town government and let them get away with it when they think it doesn’t affect them. Because, eventually they will do something that does.

10 Dick Tibert January 18, 2017 at 10:20 AM

Just a simple question-
Why do you allow comments to be made without a full name identification? If everyone was required to fully identify themselves, perhaps there would be more discretion with dialogue and less cowardly bull from the kitchen.

11 beth January 18, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Before I took over the blog, I sometimes commented anonymously. People are sometimes so entrenched in their political camps. By posting anonymously, I could ask people on the other side of an issue questions that I wasn’t comfortable asking in person.

Without inciting anger/judgement from acquaintances, I wanted to understand why on an issue some people had different opinions than mine. What facts did they see that I didn’t? What was their response to the “facts” as I saw them.

I believe in the real exchange of ideas and opinions. Too many perspectives would be silenced by people afraid to speak up. Sometimes, there is too much vitriol. But I believe that a lot of the dialogue on the blog has helped people be better informed and understand other points of view.

I’ve certainly benefitted from hearing perspectives from many anonymous commenters. They raise points or ask questions I never thought about.

Some readers think people should have the guts to share opinions under their name. But many times, the biggest bullies have those “guts”. And some commenters with thoughtful and reasoned perspectives don’t feel comfortable standing up to them or putting a spotlight on themselves.

12 mark dassoni January 18, 2017 at 1:33 PM

Beth: I totally agree I put out my name when commenting , I say things that gets me through agendas from start through people involved to answers through all involved, guts no it getting information ,I never bully I’m above that, ideas and opinions is what is democracy at it best, so to Beth thank for this blogging section .Mark Dassoni

13 Publius January 18, 2017 at 10:41 PM

This whole process is a farce. If you don’t like the job someone is doing that is what elections are for. Why would anyone volunteer for this unfair abuse. And why have few if any of the complainers ever stepped up to serve?

14 D. McGee January 19, 2017 at 8:41 AM

You obviously are not aware that ZBA members are not elected, they are appointed by the BOS.

15 Al Hamilton January 19, 2017 at 11:05 AM

I don’t have a dog in this fight but the BOS is between a rock and a hard place.

Much of the policy and new initiatives as well as significant operational aspects of the town are run by volunteers. There is a dearth of these folks as can be readily observed by the number of open volunteer positions. Their action in this case either by removal or reaffirming the appointment will do nothing but make make the prospect of serving the town less attractive. Delay has the same result.

I have been serving on various boards and committees for about 15 years. The town, in my opinion, does a poor job of supporting its volunteers.

1. Over the last 15 years the amount of well meaning but burdensome bureaucracy associated with serving has increased substantially.

2. Members are often asked to perform clerical tasks that should be performed by town employees.

3. Members are increasingly cognizant that there are very real legal and potentially financial risks to serving our community and that the town may not have their backs.

4. The BOS has in many cases made appointments on the “Any Warm Body” basis to boards and committees even when the appointees are in open opposition to the policy direction stated by elected leaders who are charged with making policy. This in turn has lead to significant dysfunction. Better an empty seat than one that is unwilling to respect the will of the voters in choosing our elected policy makers.

5. Town employees are often very resistant to any suggestions of change and will work behind the scenes to kill any serious consideration of change.

I think the BOS needs to give a serious rethink about how it appoints, supports, and protects those that volunteer 100’s of hour each year to our community. Don’t appoint a committee, make some decisions.

16 mark dassoni January 19, 2017 at 3:21 PM

I agree in part agree with open volunteers seat are way too many times empty, delays does hurt more , in Ashland will have people serve with a purpose and visions for town , Mark Dassoni

17 n January 20, 2017 at 8:54 AM

Limited time in my life for nonsense. Happy to volunteer and do but have no interest in being a part of the nonsense Mr. Bartolini has contributed. Life is way too short.

Raising the bar a bit in terms of what we as a community accept as tolerable behavior in my view will more likely have the impact of attracting more competent volunteers.

18 mark dassoni January 19, 2017 at 11:47 AM

I was at zoning board meeting knowing how it would go down ,ZBA is not hearing citizens and legal people ,to Mr. Bartolini if attorney says to participate he is getting whole board in ethic trouble by not disclosing conflict of interest involvements ,to the citizen group keep on fighting what goes around will come back around for your interest . Mark Dassoni .

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