Ethics complaint filed against 2 selectmen; one resigning (next spring), citing a planned stand against recall Articles (Updated-again)

by beth on March 30, 2017

Post image for Ethics complaint filed against 2 selectmen; one resigning (<em>next</em> spring), citing a planned stand against recall Articles (Updated-again)

Above: On August 2nd, then-Chair John Rooney recused himself from a discussion of Park Central. That immediately followed his recap of a closed session that night on complaints about the ZBA Chair’s handling of Park Central. A complaint has been filed against him and Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf for their participation in that session. (image from Southborough Access Media)

[Editor’s Note: Because of my clear failure to do what I intended when I wrote this story, I have written a new story that clearly lays out my opinion: Opinion: Rooney’s resignation is based on his ethical stance (not a result of the complaint).]

Selectman John Rooney has submitted his notice to the Town. The resignation letter is on the heels of an ethics violation complaint filed against him and fellow board member Bonnie Phaneuf. But Rooney isn’t stepping down until the spring of 2018. And he is citing very different reasons.

In fact, the selectman cites his resignation as based on his unyielding principals. And he states that the decision was made and communicated prior to the filed complaint.*

The resignation submitted on March 28, 2017 is effective May 8, 2018. That will end his term one year early. Rooney’s stated intent is to free himself of apparent personal interest when he publicly opposes an effort to pass a recall law this spring.

At Annual Town Meeting next month, voters will weigh in on Citizen Petition Articles** related to the removal of appointed officials and recall of elected officials. In Rooney’s letter he explains his vehement opposition to the articles.

The early ending of his term is to show that he is opposing the articles in the interest of what he believes is best for the Town, not protecting the length of his own term. He plans to concentrate his “full efforts at garnering resistance to Articles 6 & 7”.

In his resignation letter, Rooney wrote:

We should all be very troubled about the potential to allow the recall of elected officials or those appointed to boards and committees simply because of disagreement with a decision, vis., a political decision, as opposed to a recall based upon misconduct.

One big issue that has been contentious between residents and Town officials is the handling of the Park Central development. And that is at the root of the complaint filed with the State Ethics Commission against Rooney and Phaneuf six days before Rooney submitted his letter.

The complaint accuses the two Board of Selectmen members of acting improperly in the handling of public requests to remove remove Leo Bartolini from the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

Selectmen responded to a petition last summer by holding a closed executive session with Bartolini on August 2nd. In that meeting, members discussed the situation, including Bartolini’s handling of Park Central. They agreed to his suggestion that he step down as chair but continue to act as a full voting member (and one of only three on that case). Then-chair Rooney announced the news to the public later that night.

Attorney Gary S. Brackett, representing petitioning residents, pointed out that Rooney and Phaneuf have recused themselves from the public hearings on Bartolini’s removal that took place in the fall. The conflicts of interest they cite already existed prior to the August meeting they participated in.

Brackett also claims that the members acted improperly by remaining present for the subsequent public hearings and discussions. According to the attorney, as recused members, they were required to leave the room.

Rooney’s announcement makes no direct mention of the complaint or Park Central in his letter. He instead focuses on his planned fight against the Citizen Petition articles.

How does his resignation in more than a year reduce his appearance of a conflict in opposing recall articles?

If the articles do pass, they would still need to proceed to the Mass General Court (legislature) for approval. While its possible that a quick ratification by the state house could leave him vulnerable, the window is significantly smaller. The article doesn’t allow for recalls of anyone whose position is set to end within 180 days of a recall petition being filed.

Of course stepping down immediately would be a clearer removal of conflict on the issue. But it also may make it appear a result of the complaint. Rooney explains his reasons for delay as:

for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that there are a number of pending issues, ongoing projects, and unfinished business that I have worked tirelessly on over the last number of years that I feel compelled to see to conclusion.

Next May will mark the end of his eight years of service as a Southborough Selectman. He wrote:

This has been a hard decision, one that I have agonized over for too long, and is neither made summarily nor lightly.

Rooney has served as selectmen since he won 62% of the vote in 2010. He ran unopposed for re-election in 2013 and again when he ran alongside Bonnie Phaneuf last spring.

This year, several candidates are running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Last year’s lack of opposition may indicate wide support for Rooney and Phaneuf’s actions on the board vs their colleagues. Or it may be that the tides have changed since last spring.

Rooney seems to indicate he believes the latter. He wrote that after many interactions with residents he has realized:

that the priorities I envision for the Town are, at times, incongruous with many Town residents. . .

The residents need to elect and deserve someone who echoes their character, demeanor, ideals and temperament, and if decisions are to be made based upon “coercion” and politics, that someone is certainly not me. I will never under any circumstances, compromise my values and integrity. . .

I genuinely hope that the fury, anger, and divisiveness that dominates our meetings and debate will come to an end with the election of like-minded, thoughtful and representatives to boards and committees.

For Rooney’s full letter, click here. For the ethics complaint, click here.

Because the letter addresses Articles 6 & 7, I sought out the most recent versions that Article petitioners plan to present at Town Meeting. Sam Stivers, one of the co-sponsors, stated that they plan to present modified versions on the floor and ask voters to approve amending the motions. He explained to me:

These versions show the additions (underlined) and deletions (strikeout) from the STM warrant language. I’ve continued to solicit input from a variety of sources (including the Advisory Committee this past Monday evening and from three individual Selectmen over the past several months) and I’ve made some updates accordingly.

Stivers quotes the Lowell Sun as reporting on 9/12/15:

The recall process, an option that more than half the communities in the commonwealth already have…

He claims that the language he selected is generally consistent with other towns, though he says some bylaws are more restrictive and some are less.

Click here for Article 6 on recalling elected officials (though it is likely to have more changes between now and ATM). Click here for Article 7 on removing appointed officials (which Stivers believes is close to the final form he will bring to ATM).

*Updated (3/30/17 11:00 am): Though his notice letter was dated 6 days after the complaint was filed, Selectman Rooney commented that his decision to resign was made prior to the filing.

Updated (3/30/17 12:21 pm): Rooney further clarified that he had told others by phone prior to the filing.

Updated (3/31/17 9:58 am): Based on feedback I received, I have added a new post to the blog laying out my clear opinion that Rooney did not resign because of the complaint. In it I explain that I do see the two items as related. But that relationship is more about the environment in which Rooney chose to resign. Although he has clarified the decision came first – the complaint comes out of the same environment that he refers to in his letter.

I’m not taking down this post because it contains facts I consider important. I stand by those facts (as updated). But I regret the implication they caused. That is what I am trying to rectify through the further update and the new story.

**Articles 6 & 7 were part of the Warrant for the Special Town Meeting in March. With the night running past 11:00 pm, voters chose to continue that meeting to be held “within” the Annual Town Meeting. ATM is scheduled to be opened on April 25, 2017. Both of those articles, along with Article 8 to authorize elected boards to hire attorneys in special circumstances, are sponsored by Stivers, Freddie Gillespie, Jack Barron, and Louise Barron. All three articles were inspired by issues related to Park Central.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mark dassoni March 30, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Just read Rooney letter, it was both heart felt and detailed,I wish him luck, read ethic complain it is the full history which should use as evidence without objection, Mark Dassoni .

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2 mark dassoni March 30, 2017 at 10:10 AM

two warrant article once passed at town meeting should be included with process. Mark Dassoni .

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3 Jane Smith March 30, 2017 at 10:17 AM

Beth – the link to Article 6 in incorrect. It’s linking to Selectman Rooney’s letter.

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4 John Rooney March 30, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Ms. Melo, The entire underlying premise of your post is incorrect.

I had made the decision to resign well in advance of Mr. Brackett’s letter, a fact which could easily have been learned by simply picking up the telephone and calling me at any one of my three telephone numbers or by asking the Town Administrator or asking the Chairman of the BOS.

I understand you do not hold yourself out to be an investigative reporter. That said, I would hope in the future if you intend to propose a theory to your readers you, at a minimum, undertake to perform a modicum of research before going to print.

JR

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5 beth March 30, 2017 at 10:52 AM

I’m very sorry that you felt that way. I actually tried to make it clear that nothing in your letter indicates that it was a result of the complaint. I clearly wrote that you stated the reasons as being to fight the recall articles.

If it didn’t come off that way to you, I apologize. If there is anything specifically in my writing that indicates otherwise, please point it out.

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6 Make a difference March 30, 2017 at 11:45 AM

Mr. Rooney,

Thank you for your service.

I was just curious, if you had made the decision to resign based on the direction the town and “particularly the sentiment underlying the Citizen’s petitions identified in Special Town Meeting Articles 6 & 7”, why did you choose to wait until now to announce your resignation, when technically those articles were up for review on at the Special Town Meeting a month ago- shouldn’t that meeting have been a perfect opportunity for you to step down?

Beth- I do not agree with Mr. Rooney’s assertion that you have made inference, you provided the facts. Thank you.

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7 southville March 31, 2017 at 8:18 AM

I think you’re attacking her unfairly here. Right in the second paragraph the article says “he states that the decision was made and communicated prior to the filed complaint.” Further explanation of the when/why of the resignation follows.

Then you go on to complain that she didn’t include this information and should have called you. It looks to me like she did do her research and did present the facts, including the ones you claim she didn’t.

And as a side note, even if she got something wrong, which I don’t believe she did, I think a more cordial tone would be nicer appropriate, rather than condescension. There have been minor mistakes made here and there on the blog, and every time Beth has been quick to admit and correct those mistakes. Try and give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt, we’re all just doing our best.

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8 beth March 31, 2017 at 9:50 AM

The original post didn’t include he states that the decision was made and communicated prior to the filed complaint. That was an update added based on his comment. So, he had a fair point. A point so fair, that I decided to write and post a new piece clarifying my opinions.

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9 John Rooney March 30, 2017 at 11:04 AM

Ms. Melo, I’ve spent thousands of hours giving to this town my entire being for the past 7-8 years. All I’m saying is that a simple courtesy of a phone call would have provided you information that I had alerted people of my intended resignation weeks ago, and thus removed any suspicion of an alleged connection, thereby allowing your readers to understand the real reason from my resignation.

I am confident that the residents, upon reading the entirety of my note to the Department Heads, will understand and appreciate the real and factual basis for my resignation.

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10 John Rooney March 30, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Make a difference, Great question.

I made the decision and alerted the Town Administrator of my intention on March 9, the day after Special Town Meeting (STM). It was at STM when I first realized, based upon the comment of the sponsor of the subject articles, that the underlying motive behind those articles was to coerce volunteers to vote a certain way, the consequences of refusal was to face a recall petition. While perhaps I should have realized it before, it was the expressed confirmation of the objective that first hit home with me on March 8.

Between then and now, the usual internal indigestion took place, along with many friends and colleagues urging me to remain on the Board, and making persuasive arguments thereon. I vacillated between immediate resignation and a delayed one, and finally opted for the latter particularly because of the open status of the St. Mark’s deal and the Public Safety Facility.

My family, my universe and reason for everything, remains split on my decision. I always go back to my family when I have important life decisions, and I have sadly come to the conclusion that there will never be unanimity in the Rooney household on this decision, something which has made it very difficult for me.

To the extent you would like to discuss this further, or to the extent anyone wants to engage me in conversation, I prefer not to do so through this impersonal medium. Please pick up the phone and call me, 617-966-0851. If I do not answer it means that I cannot, but most assuredly I will return your call. JR

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11 mark dassoni March 30, 2017 at 4:21 PM

To Mr. Rooney your response is saying to me that you are hurting from inside, plus you want to open to all I commend you for this, Mr. Bartolini I feel this from you too, but since I live outside of Southborough, I can only watch, to all involved you be under the microscope locally .Mark Dassoni .

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12 Alexandra Rooney March 30, 2017 at 5:29 PM

Beth,

I have been reading this blog for the past seven years. Since you started running it you have only allowed posts of people’s negativity and rarely allow posts of people’s positive comments. It is very upsetting to see how badly you twisted my fathers letter. You should really rethink running a blog if you cannot take into consideration everyone’s feelings and learn to write the truth.

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13 beth March 30, 2017 at 6:16 PM

Honestly, I have no idea what you are talking about. What positive comments have I not allowed?

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14 beth March 30, 2017 at 6:18 PM

Further, while I understand your passion in defending your father, please point out where I twisted what he said in his letter?

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15 Alexandra Rooney March 30, 2017 at 7:01 PM

I think he already pointed that out.

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16 D. McGee March 30, 2017 at 6:26 PM

There is no way you could have been reading this blog for seven years if you claim positive comments are suppressed. Besides being simply untrue, it’s insulting and silly. And for the record, I don’t think Mr. Rooney’s letter was twisted in any way. I totally understood from the article that the decision to resign had nothing to do with the ethics complaint. I suggest you let your father fight his own battles, because your post does not contribute to the discussion of the real issues at all.

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17 Alexandra Rooney March 30, 2017 at 7:26 PM

Oh my comment doesn’t matter but Mark Dessoni, who doesn’t even live in towns comments are important. Please think about that.

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18 Alexandra Rooney March 30, 2017 at 7:28 PM

At least Mr. Dassoni’s comments this time are very positive. We all live in the same town, it is about time we start working together and talking before we write things that are just assumptions, a simple phone call to Mr. Rooney would have made all the difference.

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19 mark dassoni March 30, 2017 at 10:52 PM

positive mean more, I hear all sides first then comment, thank you Alexandra .mark dassoni

20 Mike Fuce March 31, 2017 at 9:38 AM

Amen to that Alexandra, too much snipping and trolling as they like to say. Did not know what that was until some on this blog informed me. Anyway, Your Dad is a great guy, he was a very good little league coach, good neighbor and he has been a very good board member, and honestly he must be a little tired after eight years. Thank you for your service Rooney Family.

21 mark dassoni March 30, 2017 at 10:49 PM

thank you, mark dassoni .

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22 resident March 31, 2017 at 11:52 AM

WOW!! You are completely off base. Beth has done a great job and if you are unhappy with the way she is running her blog, you don’t have to read it. She puts in long hours doing what she does and for you to personally attack her, is very wrong. You may not know this because I am posting anonymously (FOR GOOD REASON) but I have had interactions with you that have been less than pleasant. You should really rethink volunteering at town events if you are going to act the way you do. You have no reason to attack Beth and again, you are way off base.

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23 Townie March 30, 2017 at 7:11 PM

Beth, you write to an intelligent audience and your efforts to explain away your words do not pass the smell test. You clearly told your readers these two issues were associated. The title of the article, Ethics complaint and one selectmen resigning. And, “The resignation letter is on the heels of an ethics violation complaint filed against him and fellow board member Bonnie Phaneuf” and, again, “And that is at the root of the complaint filed with the State Ethics Commission against Rooney and Phaneuf six days before Rooney submitted his letter.” and again “Of course stepping down immediately would be a clearer removal of conflict on the issue. But it also may make it appear a result of the complaint.”

I do not know Mr. Rooney. I do know he has done a lot of fantastic things for this town, and it will be a great loss to lose him. I find it very upsetting and real difficult to believe you would write such an article without asking a single question. Very disturbing.

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24 beth March 30, 2017 at 7:38 PM

I learned of the complaint right after learning about the resignation. Based on what I was hearing through the grapevine, and based on experience with readers reactions to past stories, I believed that if I wrote two separate stories on the same day, readers would jump to conclusions but I believe two were unfair. The story was meant to reflect Rooney’s public stance that this was about the recall.

My statement about if he resigned right away it would appear that it was due to the complaint was meant to be exactly that at face value. There were people wondering well if this was really about the recall, then why wouldn’t his resignation be effective immediately. My point was meant to be if the resignation was effective immediately, those same people would say well obviously he’s resigning because of the complaint.

I believe the real problem here is that people were reading between the lines insinuations that were not there.

As a lone blogger, I do not have the benefit of an editor to double check my work. That leaves it to readers like you to take on that role and call me on it if you think there’s a mistake and how I reported something.

When you do I share the comment.

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25 Townie March 30, 2017 at 7:56 PM

So you relied on the “grapevine” rather than asking the principal. Got it.

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26 beth March 30, 2017 at 7:58 PM

I didn’t rely on the grapevine. I was trying to debunk the grapevine. Unfortunately your perception and that of the Rudy’s is that I was trying to confirm it.

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27 Townie April 2, 2017 at 9:09 AM

FYI, this is NOT the same “Townie” commenter from the past. Sorry buddy, go find another anonymous name.

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28 David parry March 30, 2017 at 9:59 PM

I can well imagine how upset Mr Rooney is with the news Article, because anyone reading the title would immediately think the matters MUST be linked :
” Ethics complaint filed against 2 selectmen; one resigning (next spring), citing a planned stand against recall Articles (Updated).”

I certainly thought they must be linked, and almost gasped, hoping this cannot possibly be true. Well, it wasn’t true.

A very unfortunate choice of words. It happens to all of us, but to happen at the announced ending of his outstanding term of public service is doubly unfortunate. Many have been hoping Mr Rooney would stay on for many more years., me included.

Sorry to see you go, John.

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29 Make a difference March 31, 2017 at 8:08 AM

Beth has done a fantastic job providing information for this town. This blog is better than any other method we have. To be clear, a blog is just that, a blog. She is not a reporter, she is a blog writer while also providing very good information for the town. Seriously without her newsworthy blogs, where would you be learning about this information?

The insinuation that she discretionarily removes positive comments is ridiculous.

Beth thank you for the time in managing this communication flow. You must be doing something right if people don’t like what you you are stating.

Bottom line, Beth provided facts and a catchy title. Mr. Rooney chose to send a resignation letter without any statement within the letter of when he made this decision. A state ethics complaint was submitted and I assume he had a copy of it just days before. People will take these two facts and do what they want regardless of how Beth positioned them. I would not proverbially “shoot ” the messenger on this one.

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30 C'mon man March 31, 2017 at 8:36 AM

Let’s give Beth a break. She is entitled to use alternative facts and throw out a story about unconfirmed facts without easily verifying those facts with the person who would know those facts, and then leave it to her readers to support her. It is done everyday.

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31 Todd March 31, 2017 at 8:37 AM

I’m happy to see more changes to the board. I think the citizens have been poorly served with regards to Park Central and everything related.

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32 Paul Cimino March 31, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Beth, I have occasionally publicly commented on this blog, and have often complemented you privately for the work you do and service you provide. Nevertheless, and as Townie and others also point out, one need read no further than your headline to take from it an intention by you to be “sensational” in the bad sense of that word (of course, I acknowledge your saying that that was not your intention).

Your headline starts “Ethics complaint filed against 2 selectmen; one resigning” and then you used the word “citing” which, to me and others, further implies that the reasoning given may or may not be true. This is only the headline. I also agree with Townie’s analysis of the body of the post itself. I don’t think Mr. Rooney’s or Townie’s perceptions are off at all. I can tell you that Mr. Rooney is no shrinking violet, and if he were actually resigning due to the ethics complaint, he would more than gladly say so and explain his reasoning.

Meanwhile, for those who may be interested, here are some more facts that should close the book on this. Several weeks ago, I confided in Mr. Rooney my intention not to run for re-election as Selectman. During that same conversation, Mr. Rooney confided to me the fact that he was considering stepping away from the Board as well, because he felt so vehemently in opposition to the recall Articles, but was afraid that his views would be discounted since he was a sitting member of the Board. On the other hand, we also discussed that his immediate resignation might theoretically result in a disruptive turnover of 3 of the 5 Board members only weeks from now (since both my and Mr. Kolenda’s terms are up this year). With all of this on our minds, during that same conversation I suggested to Mr. Rooney that he could avoid the worst case scenario (disruptive 3 member turnover) but still avoid clams of self-interest regarding the recall Articles, by continuing to serve until the next election cycle (thereby reducing the potential “churn” the Board would experience) but yet announce now that he would resign next year. He decided to take that approach, much to his chagrin today I’m sure. The bottom line is that he was not aware of any ethics complaint at that time, period.

Now for the “opinion” part of my comment. Mr. Rooney does not lie or obfuscate, and he is the most selfless of any public servant I know. When I learned of the ethics complaint against Mr. Rooney and Ms. Phaneuf several days after the conversation I just described, my first fear was that now Mr. Rooney would revert to his original plan to resign immediately — not in reaction to the substance of the complaint, but in reaction to the ignorance and/or petty cynicism behind it. To his credit and my personal gratitude, he has not done so.

And yes, I said ignorance and petty cynicism. John Rooney doesn’t need my defense but I’ll do it anyway, because the rational majority in our Town need to wake up. Certain folks who don’t like the ZBA’s process or decision on Park Central have raised legitimate questions about it previously, but now with this complaint they are shamefully grasping at straws. Mr. Rooney has served our Town selflessly and without need of thanks for almost 8 years. He is the very prototype of a Selectman, that which all of the rest of us should aspire to be, and our Town will be the vastly poorer for it when he no longer serves a year from now. During his time of service and leadership, our Town and the Board have tackled more weighty issues than any Board in memory. Burnett House, Medical Marijuana, Main Street Reconstruction, Public Safety Building (and Golf Course acquisition), etc. These all are things that require the hard work of research, analysis, public hearings, persuasion and consensus, all of which takes, literally, years to do. Not weeks or months, years. Regardless of anyone’s individual view about the outcome of these or other issues, the fact remains that the current Board (and Mr. Rooney especially) have been willing to try to wrestle those kinds of things to the ground, and not kick the can down the road.

Nevertheless, apparently there are those out there that would say that Mr. Rooney has not been such a good Selectman. If that is your opinion (which you have every right to hold), then in my opinion you are either ignorant or petty, or both.

Paul Cimino

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33 resident March 31, 2017 at 11:58 AM

It is unbelievable that a selectman in this town would call townspeople “ignorant or petty, or both”. May this forever be remembered by the people of this town and they vote you OUT next time we vote on you. We are entitled to our opinion and how dare you criticize us for it while trying to jam yours down our throats. YOUR ignorance is certainly showing!

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34 New Govt March 31, 2017 at 4:58 PM

Grasping at straws. Pretty sure the town will regret it’s behavior on PC Unbelievable, so happy Cimino is out. Back room politics at its best.

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35 D. McGee April 1, 2017 at 10:32 AM

I know it is unfortunately in vogue right now to call names and disparage anyone who thinks differently than you. However, I do find it particularly distressing that one of our Selectmen would chose the words “ignorant or petty, or both” to characterize anyone who has a different opinion than he. This is hardly language befitting a town representative (and likely future moderator) and suggests that intelligent people can’t disagree. You should know better.

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36 louise barron March 31, 2017 at 11:04 AM

Beth should not have to defend herself. This is a blog for goodness sake. Both Mr. Rooney’s “resignation” and the ethics complaint stand each on their own and each is self-evident in content to the reader. Let’s stop insulting Beth and the reader’s intelligence.

That said, Mr. Rooney’s “resignation” is not a resignation. It is an announcement not to run for re-election at some future date next year.

In his second paragraph, Mr. Cimino suggests to Mr. Rooney that he could avoid a disruptive turnover “but still avoid claims of self-interest regarding the recall Articles, by continuing to serve until the next election cycle” . . .”but yet announce now that he would resign next year.”

Good to know where the idea came from.

Then in Mr. Cimino’s “opinion” 3rd paragraph he cites “ignorance and/or petty cynicism” behind the ethics complaint.” “Certain folks who don’t like the ZBA’s process. . . “ (Are you referring to the lack of keeping of legal minutes during certain hearings? Or the alleged no quorum issue (talk about ignorant!) trying to be remedied by in court presently by the fair and decent taxpayers of this town? Or the running over of legitimate safety concerns? Or the stifling of opposing public comment when trying to address defects and deficiencies – talk about ignorance! — that’s the current BOS – not the voter / taxpayers!)

Mr. Cimino’s suggestion to Mr. Rooney to announce his “resignation” now is curious and strange timing. Now for the further opinion part of this comment: Contrary to Mr. Cimino’s view that it “avoid(s) claims of self-interest regarding the recall Articles” – your words not mine – it certainly appears to be a self-serving attempt to influence the vote on Articles 6, 7, and 8, and POISON THE WELL IN ADVANCE OF TOWN MEETING.

THIS IS PURE HORSE MANURE.

Mr. Rooney’s announcement stands on its own and is self-evident in its message. He takes the recall provision too personally instead of seeing the BENEFIT to the town of modernizing town rules and regulations and bringing them into the 21st century. Other towns have these rules and use them. The Town of Shirley just recalled two selectmen. The Town of Townsend also just recalled the Town Administrator and Town Counsel. Those people are not ignorant or petty or grasping at straws. They are attempting to right gross wrongs. Southborough can update too and have the same ability going forward like other towns.

And, by the way, not every voter / taxpayer agrees that the projects cited, Burnett House, Medical Marijuana, Main Street Reconstruction, Public Safety Building (and Golf Course acquisition), are achievements. One resident at Special Town Meeting said it so eloquently: when you conflated the issues (St. Marks / conservation with the dire need for the new police facility – something every voter recognizes that they need), YOU LOST MY VOTE. Ditto!!

In fact, the costs to the taxpayers and potential exposures on several of these boondoggles could well result in higher taxes and exposures to the taxpayer, well beyond any discussion to date. . . .and further exacerbate an already projected negative trend in BOS’s own town budget. Congratulations for leaving the expected coming deficits to the next board.

VOTE “YES” ON ARTICLES 6, 7, AND 8. Thank you!

And PS . . .don’t appreciate your calling the taxpayer / residents ignorant and petty.

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37 beth March 31, 2017 at 12:23 PM

I do want to point out that Rooney’s term wouldn’t have ended until May 2019. So, it is more than not just running for re-election.

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38 Concerned April 1, 2017 at 8:55 AM

I agree with Selectmen’s Cimino’s comment that “the rational majority in our Town need to wake up”, which is what I believe is starting to happen, just not in the way that Mr. Cimino intends. The Selectmen have been behaving in a way that knowledgeable citizen’s would not support. However it is hard for the average citizen to be knowledgeable when Selectmen do so much of what is supposed to be the public business of the Town in Executive Session while breaking Open Meeting Law on many occasions – both hard to prove because … Oh it is done in secret.

So Mr. Camino wants to call those with concerns ignorant and our cynicism petty – Shame on him! Didn’t he run under the banner of transparency? There is very little transparency with this Board of Selectmen.

Some of the comments in support of Selectmen Rooney and particularly those made by Selectmen Cimino point why the town is in such a mess with lawsuits everywhere. The Selectmen’s mishandling of the Park Central issue from before it was even an application at the ZBA, by appointing all men with ties to the developer interest to the ZBA, and then when recently an opportunity came to appoint a more neutral person to the ZBA, they again unanimously appointed a developer with conflicts, not giving the Planning Board Counsel therefore costing the taxpayers increased legal fees defending lawsuits that never would have occurred if they had counsel when they first requested, to handling of complaints against the ZBA Chair knowing there was a record of complaints against him going back over a decade….

And now calling the legitimate concerns about the alleged violation of the Conflict of Interest of Law by 2 sitting Selectmen petty? We will wait for the Ethic’s Commission to make a determination before assigning guilt … but Read the Complaint –there is evidence enough to make a reasonable person concerned.

I ask Mr. Cimino, now that you’re guaranteed to be our next Moderator, will you continue your prior practice and only appoint men with developer interest to the Advisory Committee? And yes, I know that under intense pressure the Selectmen did appoint a non-developer as an alternate to the ZBA, too little – too late – and just for appearances sake. And the way you fooled the people thinking it was a contested Moderator Race and then the other 2 dropped out at last minute is shameful. Shame on Mr. Hamilton for that too. Someone else would have stepped up if they knew that you were running uncontested. And I wonder if it was a contested race, would you have been so quick to call citizens with concerns about the leadership of the town and potential illegal actions, “petty and ignorant”?
Mr. Rooney’s Resignation is nothing more than Political Grandstanding

I read Mr. Rooney’s Memo before I heard about the filing of a complaint for an Ethics Violation and found it to be bizarre. The reasoning doesn’t pass the smell test. He disagrees with an upcoming Citizen’s Petition Warrant Article and resigns? Effective a year from now? Really?? Why not resign effective now with an election coming up where we have more than enough candidates for a contested race even with 3 seats available? No, he is giving a year’s notice and creating all this drama. Plenty of time to change his mind. I suggest that he should either make the resignation effective now or know that many citizens believe it is just a ploy. It is meaningless and an attempt to push public opinion. Poorly done.

And the assertion that his resignation has nothing to do with the Ethics Complaint – maybe, maybe not, we will never know. But his assertions about the timing don’t hold water. He decided to resign before the complaint was filed? Ok that may well be true, but don’t think for a moment he didn’t know a complaint was coming. Read it and it is obvious that much investigation went into drafting the complaint, requiring Public Records requests and surely the staff at the Town House would have alerted the Selectmen that he was being investigated. He knew it was coming.

These are sad days for the Town to be sure, but not because the citizens are ignorant and petty, but rather because of the poor behavior of our Board of Selectmen with biased and bad judgement calls and possible illegal actions.

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39 beth April 1, 2017 at 9:49 AM

I won’t comment on most of what you said.

But there’s an allegation in there that not only seems unfair to me but I worry may be based on your misreading of my past posts.

Nobody sent announcements to me that they were running for moderator. I announced when people had pulled papers. At that time I made clear that we wouldn’t know until the filing deadline who was really running.

I always included info that Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Morreale hadn’t filed papers yet.

On the day after the filing deadline I mistakenly posted that there was a three-way moderator race. At that point the news didn’t affect any decisions since the deadline for filing papers had passed.

Later that day I learned that I had misread the email from the town clerk. Next to their names were indications that they had not filed papers. I quickly updated the post to reflect that.

It is a common practice during election season for people to pull papers consider a run and then decide not to file. And as I warned when I share the news of who peered to be running, it also his possible for people to later withdraw their names and not appear on the ballot. They have until April 6 to do that. In fact we have already seen that with two people in the selectmen’s race.

I won’t presume to know why the other moderator candidates decided not to run, but I see nothing to back suspicions that there was collusion in creating the false impression of a race.

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40 Al Hamilton April 2, 2017 at 9:19 AM

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” A. J. Liebling

If you are unhappy with the way that Beth runs HER blog, start one of your own.

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41 Publius April 4, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Mr.Hamilton is right once again. We haven’t lost all of our freedoms, yet, anyone is free to start their own blog or newspaper if they think they can do it better. It seems that some like to point fingers and ignore their own failings. If someone is a candidate it is up to that person run their own campaign and get their own name out there, not any one blog or newspaper. .And if one candidate gets more press than another. Tough. That is life.

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42 I NEED A LAWYER April 4, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Beth, According to your article, attorney Brackett filed this complaint against Selectwoman Phaneuf and Selectman Rooney and said he represents everyone who filed the document to remove Mr. Bartolini. I signed the Bartolini petition BUT I DID NOT, AND WILL NOT, BE PART OF THE CHARADE AGAINST THESE TWO FINE PEOPLE. I talked to my neighbors who also signed the Bartolini petition and they ALSO do not want their name associated with this charge against our selectmen, and they are bull****. I wonder how many of the people who signed the Bartolini petition know this charlatan lawyer is representing he is representing them against Phaneuf and Rooney. This is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and has to be illegal. I’ve known Mrs. Phaneuf for over 30 years and I have nothing but complete respect for Mr. Rooney. I am not a lawyer but all of us who this is being done to need to get one to stop this and get this lawyer disbarred. Immediately.

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43 Jane Smith April 5, 2017 at 4:11 PM

Thank you ‘I Need a Lawyer.’ I didn’t speak with you last night, but I am in the same boat. This is shocking. I’d like to hear from the person responsible for the petition. How on earth could Mr. Brackett say he is representing us on an action I neither authorized nor approve of? And, thank you ‘Lawyer’ for the free advice.

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44 Lawyer April 4, 2017 at 8:38 PM

To I need a lawyer,

If an attorney files a complaint and represents that he is doing so on behalf of a client(s) and that turns out to be false, he has perpetrated a fraud upon a tribunal. This is a very, very, very serious matter, and one which the Ethics Commission will likely ask the Board of Bar Overseers will surely look into.

You have to assume this lawyer is being directed by a ring leader, or a group of ring leaders. To defend himself from a claim of fraud, he may claim that he was told he had the authority, but we know from your comment he did not. And, this is where it gets interesting.

The only way he can save his license is to divulge (probably to the Board of Bar Overseers) exactly who told him he had the authority of all to file, when it was told to him, and what he did to make sure that information was accurate. It will not be a defense if he just took the ring leader’s advice unless he has in writing an agreement with the ring leader that he/she is authorized to make all decisions on behalf of the group. Which, since you are in the group, this could not be the case, since you and your neighbors (and maybe others) did not agree.

The end result is if what you and the others say is true, this guy is in boiling oil.

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45 Resident April 5, 2017 at 7:55 AM

Lawyer, I spent 90 minutes on the phone last night and 100% of the people I talked to who signed the Bartolini petition did not and do not want to be connected with this filing against the Selectmen. What do we do? Do we reach out directly to the Overseers or demand information from the lawyer? Appreciate any free advice you can give.

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46 Lawyer April 5, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Resident, if you were my client (which you are not) you want and need to protect yourself. I would advise you to do these things immediately

— Send a certified letter with a return receipt to the Ethics Comm telling them you did not authorize the filing
– Send a certified letter with a return receipt to the attorney telling him the same

This will protect your pocket if fees are ultimately assessed or more likely it will insulate you from having to reimburse Phaneuf’s and Rooney’s counsel who will certainly seek to recover whatever out of pocket expenses they incur. If you sit back and do nothing and fees and costs are awarded you may end up reaching into your pocket for something you never knew about or agreed to. I would never let my client take such a risk.

I think you let the licensing authorities take care of the rest.

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47 Publius April 11, 2017 at 11:15 AM

If any attorney acted unethically the proper action would be to file a complaint with the BBO. Here is a link: https://www.massbbo.org/Complaints

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48 Dick Tibert April 12, 2017 at 9:57 AM

The silliness and immature flavor of these “My Southboro snips” back and forth are beginning to equate that of Trump Tower tweets. I would think that some of you would feel embarrassed and with too much time on your hands, at the very least.

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49 Frank Crowell April 12, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Take two aspirin, right a check to Sen. Warren, stop reading the comments here, but please keep posting (it helps those of us who voted for Trump). I find all comments on this blog interesting including yours.

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50 Frank Crowell April 12, 2017 at 2:23 PM

That should be wirte a check – obvisously.

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51 Jack April 12, 2017 at 11:32 PM

Thanks for corretcing

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52 Al Hamilton April 13, 2017 at 8:21 AM

I don’t think Sen. Warren will ever accept anything “right”

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