Moderator announces new appointments – big changes to Advisory

by beth on July 3, 2018

Every June, some committee members terms expire. Most of those positions are appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Their reappointments or changes take place at public meetings with posted packets and often with public interviews. And when selectmen have debated not renewing longtime members, it usually comes with very public debate.

But some committee appointments are made by the Moderator. By nature, that doesn’t happen at a public meeting. So, when a change is announced, it comes as more of a surprise.

Last week, Moderator Paul Cimino announced three new appointments to the Advisory Committee. (That represents 1/3 of the 9 person committee.)

New blood means replacing of some old guard. One of them, Doriann Jasinski is taking a seat on the Personnel Board. As for the three members being replaced on the two boards, Cimino writes:

I also extend my sincere thanks to Karen Muggeridge and Sam Stivers (Advisory) and David Flynn (Personnel) for their many years of great service to our Town as they step down.

Here is more from the announcement:

As many of you know, the Moderator makes annual appointments to the Advisory Committee, the Personnel Board, and the Public Works Planning Board. As FY18 comes to a close I have given careful thought to these appointments for FY19, considering both the incumbents as well as new candidates. I take this responsibility seriously, and always appreciate the Town-minded spirit of those who volunteer to serve in these important roles (yes, volunteers don’t grow on trees, and those that do must be recognized and applauded!). In addition to that volunteer spirit in a candidate, I equally value skills related to the task of the board/committee, the ability to work collaboratively with other members in a productive way, as well as a diversity of background and perspectives.

For FY19, I have made the following appointments:

Advisory Committee

  • Chelsea Malinowski
  • Mina O’Hearn
  • John Rooney

Personnel Board

  • Doriann Jasinski

. . . Finally, needless to say, I wish the very best to the above list of appointees for great success in their new roles.

For people who have questions or concerns, Cimino encourages them to contact him directly at at moderator@southboroughma.com. He promises that he monitors the box continually and is always happy to respond to residents’ questions.

Cimino is also responsible for appointing some of the members of the Public Works Planning Board. There is still a vacancy on that committee, and he is in the process of considering candidates.

Speaking of vacancies, there are more committees still in need of additional members. If you are interested in serving, check out the vacancies page on the Town website.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Louise Barron July 3, 2018 at 3:03 PM

As you all know, it’s a shame when one person has so much power, to intentionally not reappoint a man who is noted as intelligent, honorable and trustworthy, not to mention an asset to the Advisory Board. This is very frightening, and something going forward needs to change. Cronyism has no place in Sobo. It has however, become rampant on most all boards.

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2 Concerned Voter July 3, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Sorry, but we need a new Moderator in my humble opinion. Any one willing to run for Moderator? Qualifications? Must be IMPARTIAL and abide by state laws, including Open Meeting Law. Does this selection process fall under OML? If it doesn’t, which I would find hard to believe, it should ! The public should know what is going on with these important appointments.

How was it that none of this process / selection / interviewing / locating of candidates was not discussed publicly before the actual selection? Why wouldn’t the public be allowed to comment on how candidates were identified? (BTW, how were they identified? We’ll never know because there was no discussion anywhere, not at a BOS meeting or any public meeting.) Didn’t the current moderator speak to transparency or run on a platform of greater transparency at one point? Did he allow for any transparency? Seems to me that nothing about this process and selection was transparent.

That said, this moderator’s personal animosities toward the public at Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting was deplorable. He did not appear impartial at all.

Now this: Why would Sam Stivers (who is a first class gentleman (something that cannot be said for all in local government) – and one of the most experienced, well versed in town finances, and most qualified persons on Advisory) not have his position be renewed?

Mr. Stivers is one of the most experienced professionals out there — and HE WANTS TO DO THE JOB. In one neighbor’s astonished words: “HE SHOULD BE RUNNING THE TOWN.” Hoping Mr. Stivers stays right in there, as I am looking forward to a future election when the dirty tricksters (and they know who they are) with their dirty emails do not work on the now-alert voter base.

In my opinion, this is a bad politically-fraught move. Town moderator must be impartial. This moderator is NOT impartial in my opinion and has completely lost my support. His personal animosity has gotten in the way of a renewal that would have been good for the town.

Sam Stivers works well with others and actually does whatever job is put before him.

He is reasonable, meaning can look at all sides and change his mind if needed. I do not agree with him all the time. However, I do agree with him the vast majority of the time. He is logical, smart and works hard — attending many boards’ and committees’ meetings. This is necessary to understanding well how the town and its finances work.

I gave this moderator a chance. He was not worthy of that benefit of the doubt. I will never vote for this moderator again (even if he is unopposed!) — he has lost my support and vote. Please fellow voters, a new Moderator should be this town’s number one priority. Thank you.

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3 beth July 5, 2018 at 1:17 PM

The process has never been a public one in my knowledge. And, under past moderators, no one ever even posted announcements about the changes made. It’s an issue that Desiree Aselbekian raised when she ran for the office a few years ago. She vowed to change the process – but she didn’t get enough votes.

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4 my town sb southborough July 5, 2018 at 5:06 PM

This town needs multiple candidates for Moderator. Sorry, not familiar with this past candidate, but Googled the name and this is what came up:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ao31LOcq-s&t=31s

See the 7.45 mark on this Youtube tape entitled “Desiree’s Desires Bag of Tricks” dated February 11, 2017. There are children in the audience. Not sure if the children are escorted out or just leave on their own. Regardless, there is a discussion about the product and our local selectperson who is a coffee mate:
“I was out to breakfast with some of MY political people in the town that I live in and the selectwoman who is like 69, I went to school with her daughter, she says to me, “what a lovely necklace.”
“Oh Bonnie, if you only knew. (laughter)

Sorry, just one opinion, everyone has a right to free speech and making a living, however, I would not vote this person in to office based on this tape and the lack of consideration given to the kids in the room. In my opinion, there was a lack of propriety and decency in exposing children to this conversation, context, and products. This should have involved adults only. The whole conversation was off base, since minors should not have been sitting in this audience.

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5 David Parry July 3, 2018 at 8:19 PM

It is notable that one of the residents who has been removed from the Advisory Committee, deserves our special thanks — because he is the one who has put in the most time, who has attended the most meetings of other committees, and who has had the courage of his convictions to speak up, clearly, when he disagrees with the policies of present members of the Board of Selectmen. He is Sam Stivers.

Some residents may think, or hope, that the Moderator is non political. Far from it. This removal of Mr Stivers is a political statement.

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6 Lucy July 4, 2018 at 9:22 AM

As they step down. Here is Cimino part of the old BOS making sure he targets people like Sam as advisory is always against the BOS vote. How does a moderator have unilateral decision making power? On top of it who lets Cimino do anything on his own. He was seen in and out of backrooms with Dipietri during the Park Central process. What a joke

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7 Very Very Surprised July 5, 2018 at 2:52 PM

I do not normally post to blogs but felt that I needed to in this instance. I am no longer on any committee or board but I do still try to participate thru Town Meetings etc. I was very surprised to read about the changes to the Advisory Committee so I made a few calls to people who currently serve on various committees to try to understand the reasons behind the changes. The following is a summary of the consensus that I received.

Karen Muggeridge did not want to be reappointed to Advisory. She has served the Town in many functions for many years and was ready for a break – in part due to her disillusionment with the current chair of the Advisory Committee.

Both Sam Stivers and Doriann Jasinski (the other two members whose terms were expiring) did ask to be reappointed to the Advisory Committee. Neither were re-appointed.

The consensus opinion is that the current moderator, Mr. Cimino, does not personally like Mr. Stivers so had no intention of reappointing him. The animus apparently is from Mr. Cimino’s belief that Mr. Stivers had something to do with an old ethics complaint against a former selectman – John Rooney. As a result Mr. Cimino intentionally did not reappoint Mr. Stivers and had no intention of doing so even though Mr. Stivers is one of the few current Advisory Committee members with the requisite experience needed to do the job. It would have been very obvious why Mr. Cimino was not reappointing Mr. Stivers if he had also reappointed Ms. Jasinski. Ms. Jasinski does not have anywhere near the business acumen and experience that Mr. Stivers does. Therefore reappointing her and not reappointing Mr. Stivers would have laid Mr. Cimino’s real motive bare. So apparently Ms. Jasinski had to go to give Mr. Cimino some cover for his real agenda.

Losing a significant portion of the Advisory Committee in one year should be a problem given the need to have people with long term experience on the committee at all times. So Mr. Cimino apparently recruited his friend, Mr. Rooney, to join the Advisory Committee to offset the criticism that adding three new inexperienced members would generate. It is my understanding that Mr. Rooney resigned from the Board of Selectman due to his distaste for the way he perceived he had been treated. Therefore it is hard to believe that he would volunteer for the Advisory Committee of his own volition. It does not pass the smell taste.

I am almost seventy years old and have therefore known several Town moderators. Until now I have never thought of the position as a particularly political position. But clearly Mr. Cimino has turned it into one which is a shame. We have two few qualitied volunteers that step up. Therefore to lose one as qualified as Mr. Stivers is a shame. For the record I don’t always agree with Mr. Stivers but he does provide real insight into issues that help me understand those issues. This is a loss for our small town.

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8 Louise Barron July 5, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Here’s the Sobo strategy for getting ahead without being honest. Remove all and every person who has ever told the truth, who looked to work for the town, not the town working for them. Gather all your cronies, brother in laws, sisters, or any other former attorney five time felon, and anyone else brought before the state ethics board and or the Attorney General’s office on charges. Appoint every crumb you can drag in to sit and make unlawful decisions that will hurt the taxpayers. Make sure you stifle public opinion at all cost. Keep the police in the back of the room in case any knowledgeable taxpayer speaks up and tries to express an opposing opinion, point out errors of procedure and/or law and needs to be apprehended, hog tied and literally dragged out of the town hall.

Qualifications ? Can you do any of the following?
Defraud the town of permits and approvals?
Have ability to read in low light (i.e. darkened back rooms)?
Talk out of both sides of your mouth (especially on legal matters)?
Make sure you do not fill out ANY Conflict of Interest Forms— at least not until the permit has been granted and the jig is up.
Although you may find this comical, it isn’t. Time for Special Town Meeting in the fall. Does October 10th work for everyone?

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9 my town sb southborough July 5, 2018 at 5:13 PM

The article above has the Moderator asking residents to email him directly. This is not appropriate. This matter is public Town business. Period.

This entire discussion of soliciting and appointing qualified candidates to these important positions belongs in the public eye at a public meeting.

This Moderator should NOT be allowed to avoid answering to the constituents he is supposed to be representing. BOS and Advisory, this should be on an agenda for an upcoming meeting.

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10 J David July 5, 2018 at 7:42 PM

I am sorry, but where the h*!! is SOBO???

This is a pet peeve of mine! Can’t we take the 1.5 seconds it takes to S P E L L the name of the town that we know and love?? Last I new, it was spelled S-O-U-T-H-B-O-R-O-U-G-H, and has been since July 6, 1727!

Some may not like what goes on in town politically, but let’s have some respect for the town as a whole, and the people that live in it and not short-cut the name making it sound like some sort of diet food!

Thank you!

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11 Louise Barron July 6, 2018 at 10:23 AM

I like SOBO.J. David, whoever you are. That’s not the point. You missed it. Politicians must earn respect.

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12 Concerned Voter July 6, 2018 at 11:35 AM

This seems like a pretty petty comment in light of the seriousness of the issue. The citizens understand what is meant by the acronym. What they don’t understand is how a former BOS person takes experienced candidates OFF a committee?? Especially when volunteers are needed.

As Mr. Hamilton states below, the moderator maintain a healthy distance and ensure checks and balances. In my opinion, this moderator has completely failed to do so and no longer has my support.

How does “I – M – P – A – R – T – I – A – L” and “F – A – I – R” strike you? We need people who can not only spell, but are deeply rooted in a sense of fair play and right and wrong. We need candidates who have NOT done business with the applicants appearing before the town on business. Most of all, we need candidates who aren’t into furthering their own agendas, back door, back room deals, and violating the public trust and spirit of Open Meeting Law.

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13 Al Hamilton July 6, 2018 at 8:28 AM

In our town, the Advisory (Finance) committee is appointed by the Moderator. That is not the only model used in the Commonwealth. In some towns the BOS appoints the Finance Committee and I believe in a few they are elected.

The Moderator is the leader of the Towns legislature (Town Meeting). As such, in my opinion, he or she should maintain a healthy distance from the executive branch (BOS, School Committees, Library Trustees etc) to protect the independence and privilege of the legislative branch and to make sure it serves as an effective check and balance. Too cozy a relationship is detrimental to good, transparent governance.

If you want to change the way Advisory Members are appointed all that is required is a draft bylaw and 10 signatures to get on the floor of Town Meeting.

The Moderator must stand for election yearly. If you are unhappy with his performance find someone you would prefer, convince them to run and campaign for them.

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14 Louise Barron July 6, 2018 at 11:14 AM

Al, with all due respect. Are you living under a rock. Cozy, doesn’t describe the relationships with certain board members and boards. Transparency, gee I heard that term before. There is as much transparency here, as there is with a cement wall. The way advisory members are appointed here or disqualified from reappointment, is at the crux of the issue, and you know it. Qualified, honest and knowledgeable with a proven history in finance are the qualities that Sam Stivers held, among just a few, and was rejected. So please, save your speech.

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15 Al Hamilton July 6, 2018 at 1:08 PM

Louise

I am not defending the performance of the current occupant. I was trying to put forth my standards of the performance I expect from a Moderator.

I am a long time supporter of Mr. Stivers. In my experience he a person that digs in and does his own work and analysis. I have always found his analysis insightful, even if I did not agree. Asking hard questions and challenging the status quo has not made him a lot of friends in Town Hall.

My main point remains. If you want to clip the wings of the Moderator you will need a By-Law. If you want a new Moderator you need a candidate and must be willing to work for him or her.

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16 n July 6, 2018 at 11:24 AM

No offence intended but would we be any worse off without this committee?

I’ve watched a few meetings on SAM and it’s hard to understand what they are trying to accomplish or what their purpose is.

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17 beth July 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM

You can find their official charge here: https://www.southboroughtown.com/advisory-committee

I’m not the best expert to sum up their work. I’d love someone who is to weigh in. But the overall purpose is to look at, in detail, the items that the Town Meeting is voting on and advise Town Meeting voters. They spend a lot of time digging into budgets and expenses and the financial outlook of the town.

It’s a level of detail and work that the Board of Selectmen isn’t able to get into. The budget is on the BOS agenda multiple times during the year – but it’s just a high level update, occasionally digging into one or two details in greater specifics.

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18 Concerned Voter July 6, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Yes.

With Mr. Stivers (he attends many other board and committee meetings as well) on it, as well as some other very good individuals, they do keep an eye on the way the town works and finances.

There must be checks and balances to BOS with a committee like this. It is the one place for the citizens to look to, citizens whose busy lives don’t allow the same level of scrutiny. That is, checks and balances happen if there is fair play in the first instance, i.e. good appointees who are not good-ole-boys, or have outright conflicts, or break the rules / laws governing the positions. The citizens do rely on this committee for independent look and advice, but don’t want it from crony, back door dealmakers.

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19 Al Hamilton July 6, 2018 at 12:58 PM

n

I served on the Advisory Committee for a number of years and was the Chair for several years.

1. Each town is required by State Law to have a “Finance Committee” sometimes as in our case it is called the Advisory Committee.

2. The method of appointment varies but appointment by the Moderator is common.

3. The intent is to create a Legislative Committee which is charged with reviewing all matters which come before the towns legislature (Town Meeting) and making a recommendation on each.

4. The Advisory committee does NOT work for the BOS or any other executive body such as a School Committee. It is supposed to do an independent review of the budgets, by laws and other proposals put forth by either the executive branch or citizens.

5. The Advisory committee also supervises the release of funds from the “Reserve Fund” This is a sum of money that town meeting reserves to cover unexpected expenses. It is charged with reporting the disposition of these funds in a report to Town Meeting.

6. The Advisory committee may investigate almost anything having to do with town affairs but does not have the authority to direct any town department. Their remedy is to make a report to Town Meeting.

7. The budget that is read on to the floor at Town Meeting is supposed to be the Advisory’s recommendation which may then be amended up or down by proponents. This practice seems to be honored in the breach.

I hope this helps.

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20 n July 6, 2018 at 4:01 PM

Thank you Al Hamilton.

#7 is interesting as it has always been my understanding that the budget as read at TM was the budget prepared under the direction of the BOS.

Why would the budget prepared under the direction of the BOS get presented and not what the committee prepares?

7. The budget that is read on to the floor at Town Meeting is supposed to be the Advisory’s recommendation which may then be amended up or down by proponents. This practice seems to be honored in the breach.

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21 Concerned Voter July 7, 2018 at 10:33 AM

Mr. Hamilton,
Am I reading this correctly? That the budget that is for Town Meeting is “supposed to be the Advisory’s recommendation which may then be amended up or down by proponents” ?

How and when did this go backwards, i.e. breached? Who was responsible for this breach?

If I recall correctly, this moderator barely allowed for the recommendations to be even known to the public. If you were sitting in the back of the auditorium, one would not see the print on the screen and there were few if any verbal discussions on position. Please correct me if I am wrong. This all seems very wrong, since the public is relying on understanding clearly what those positions are by both Advisory and BOS — although BOS has dominated discussions for the most recent meetings in memory — including, in my opinion, brainwashing the public with one-sided presentations (hours and hours) and no opposing presentations.

Why hasn’t this breach been corrected? How is it corrected?

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22 Chris Robbins July 7, 2018 at 1:59 PM

How does one post an anonymous comment?

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23 beth July 9, 2018 at 7:20 AM

You type something other than your full name in the name field.

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24 Al Hamilton July 9, 2018 at 9:03 AM

A little context is required:

The only part of town government that is charged by law with preparing a budget is the Advisory Committee.

Mass Law:

“Section 16: Appropriation, advisory or finance committees; appointment; tenure; powers and duties
Section 16. Every town whose valuation for the purpose of apportioning the state tax exceeds one million dollars shall, and any other town may, by by-law provide for the election or the appointment and duties of appropriation, advisory or finance committees, who shall consider any or all municipal questions for the purpose of making reports or recommendations to the town; and such by-laws may provide that committees so appointed or elected may continue in office for terms not exceeding three years from the date of appointment or election.

In every town having a committee appointed under authority of this section, such committee, or the selectmen if authorized by a by-law of the town, and, in any town not having such a committee, the selectmen, shall submit a budget at the annual town meeting.”

Under our By-Laws, the Selectmen are not charged with submitting a budget. Indeed they are only responsible for a small portion of our budget (about 30%). Because we have a fragmented executive no executive body has responsibility for all of the budget.

This makes sense because any Legislature worthy of the name would not surrender control of the budget to an executive branch.

As to how this came about, I discovered this during my term on Advisory but was not able to effect a change. Your questions about this are more properly directed to the Chair of Advisory and the Moderator who are supposed to defend the privileges of the hall.

Aside: I tried to look up the exact wording of the Advisory and Selectmen’s authority in the Code of the Town of Southborough on the town web site. It used to be there but I could not find in on the new site. Perhaps that is an oversight or an error on my part.

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25 Disappointed July 14, 2018 at 12:57 PM

I am behind. I just returned from vacation and caught up with MySouthborough.

It is clear that the current moderator, Paul Cimino, has turned the position into a political one. This is new. Neither John Wilson nor David Coombs ever did that. They were both very apolitical. If a resident on a committee did their job and wanted to be reappointed to their committee – both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Coombs would reappoint them. Any one new who wanted to be on a committee with no vacancies would be encouraged to look at another committee. There are always vacancies and never enough volunteers. Mr. Cimino clearly had no intention of re-appointing Mr. Stivers and therefore recruited others to fill Mr. Stivers’ seat. I really hope that someone else steps up to run for moderator next year and the voters pay attention to what Mr. Cimino is doing to the role of Moderator.

I always wondered why Mr. Cimino wanted to be Moderator. He was not very effective as either a Planning Board member nor a Selectman. I now know why and his actions are a real disservice to Southborough. Southborough has enough problems without this. Mr. Cimino you should be ashamed of yourself.

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26 my town sb southborough July 15, 2018 at 7:11 PM

Please attend BOS meeting on this Tuesday night 7/17/18 at 6:30pm.
and bring the BOS Agenda and Packet (see following link). See pages 26 – 27 of the packet.

https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/southboroughma/files/agendas/selectmens_7-17-18_agenda_packet-web.pdf

Per Mark Purple’s memo dated 7/12/18: “On June 12, 2018, the Attorney General’s Office informed the Town that the Open Meeting Law complaint filed against John Rooney was upheld.” Mr. Rooney was found to have VIOLATED STATE LAW, OPEN MEETING LAW.

The AG’s office required that this memo be made public. The email was not made public at the next BOS meeting on June 21st. This is shocking.

The Town DID NOT MAKE THE AG’s decision and the email public as ordered. The decision and email are only now released for discussion at Tuesday’s BOS meeting on July 17th.

In the meantime, on June 27th, Mr. Rooney was appointed by the Town Moderator, Paul Cimino (former BOS member) to the Advisory Committee.

TWO HIGHLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES ON ADVISORY COMMITTEE WERE REMOVED and Mr. Rooney was appointed, while the Town did not disclose the AG’s decision.

THOSE CANDIDATES HAVE NO RECORD OF VIOLATING STATE LAW.

Mr. Rooney was ordered by the Attorney General’s office to recuse himself. He did not. He circulated the email and was found in violation of state law.

This Town needs to address this matter fully. This misconduct needs to be called out and fully vetted. Any candidate found to have violated state laws and admonished by the Attorney General needs to be disqualified from sitting on any Town Board or Committee as they have disqualified themselves via their own misconduct. They did it to themselves.

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27 Lucy July 16, 2018 at 9:49 AM

Rooneyfound guilty again of OML and appointed to a position by a part of the problem Cimino. Wake up people the govt you vote for in the Dan Kolenda circle is ripping this town down. Cimino, Kolenda, Rooney, Purple, Aldo, and majority of the zba need overhaul, ethics and the willingness to work for the people and not developers money. If not more of the same and a ruined town it will be.

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28 arborist July 16, 2018 at 2:56 PM

If Mr. Rooney truly cared about the taxpayer and the Town of Southborough He should leave his newly appointed position on advisory board as soon as possible , In the end the truth always comes out, it may take time but it does.

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29 beth July 16, 2018 at 3:04 PM

At this point, I don’t know enough about what the AG decided. So I may be missing something that some commenters already know.

But what the email in the packet indicates is that John Rooney asked Town Counsel to make sure that the ZBA solicited feedback from both the Planning Board and Conservation Commission before writing a ruling on the Park Central decision. I was under the impression that opponents of Park Central wanted that to happen and that they were the ones concerned about conflict of interest. So, it’s interesting that this is the communication that was considered out of bound and confusing that it appears to be upsetting to Park Central opponents.

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30 my town sb southborough July 16, 2018 at 3:54 PM

The Attorney General’s Office has made a “guilty” determination in finding the following Open Meeting Law Violation (see link below) relating to Mr. Rooney’s email describing the CIRCULATION OF THE SECOND DRAFT DECISION (say what?!!) OF THE COMP PERMIT FOR PARK CENTRAL. This email was sent weeks PRIOR TO THE AUGUST 24, 2016 PUBLIC HEARING.

While this is a “stop!” email addressed to town counsel, WHY DIDN’T TOWN COUNSEL STOP?!! He did not stop from the look of things. The ZBA did not stop. The substance of this email is that other boards have NOT weighed in with their essential inputs. Also, the PUBLIC (!!), the Taxpayers have NOT weighed in.

Bigger question remains: “The Board” (BOS!) received and was circulating the *SECOND* draft of FINAL DECISION, WEEKS BEFORE the comp permit hearing and decision on 8-24-16 – WHERE IS THAT CORRESPONDENCE (??!) This Rooney email is the tip of the iceberg.

Why is this upsetting?! The decision was being circulated outside of the public eye and before any public hearing or discussion! And before other essential inputs by other critical boards and committees, who have legal oversight ! THEY ALL KNOW THIS!

Why are you falling on the wrong side of the equation? He broke state law / Open Meeting Law. EVERYONE must abide by state law, Open Meeting Law. The whole purpose of the law is to ensure fair play for all parties and no side dealing out of the public eye and public meeting. The purpose of Open Meeting Law is TO STOP UNLAWFUL MANIPULATION OF THE PROCESS, especially out of the public eye.

It is upsetting because Mr. Rooney was ordered to recuse himself by the Attorney General’s office. He was told by state authorities that he has conflict(s) of interest. He is a tenant of the developer. His office / law firm also is an abutter to Park Central, and by definition under the law, has a financial interest as such.

The Attorney General’s decision can be found on the AG OML determinations page:
https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

Importantly, this is the third “guilty” determination over the past 3 years.

Now, generally speaking, this Town and this Town Counsel must STOP defending the wrong side of the equation. STOP! Stop using taxpayer money to pay for legal services (OUR MONEY!!) to defend legally untenable positions. From now on, start REMOVING and PROSECUTING appointees who have broken the law and disqualified themselves from public positions by breaking Open Meeting Law and State Ethics Laws.

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31 Concerned Voter July 16, 2018 at 4:41 PM

Of course all Boards and Committees must give their feedback. And of course there must be no conflicts of interest.

This did not happen! And under whose watch?

Cannot stress enough that those who serve in public positions or are town employees CANNOT break state law. No matter what.

Those who have conflicts of interest must recuse themselves. There must be meaningful policing of conflicts, interviewing in the first instance, and meaningful deterrence and consequences for misconduct. Period.

Town government must be clean and fair. There must be fair play for all.

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32 Lucy July 17, 2018 at 2:14 PM

BOS, ZBA and Town Counseling colluding outside of the public eye on a draft decision before it comes to the public. Why? It had to be done before Eagle left or the ZBA would lose another one of it’s “preferred” zba votes and risk not getting Billy what he wants…Corruption, Collusion, Intent all grounds for removal of all of these people especially town counsel

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33 Kathy Cook July 17, 2018 at 9:33 AM

I am not sure how this thread got so far off topic. The topic was the recent changes to the composition of the Advisory Committee of which I am a member. Instead somehow this thread has devolved into a discussion of other matters with a very ugly tone.

So to get back to the original topic – I personally do not agree with the decision to not reappoint Mr. Stivers to the Advisory Committee. Mr. Stivers did nothing to warrant this and is one of the more experienced members of Advisory. There are many capable member currently on the Advisory Committee but it takes several years for someone to gain the requisite experience needed to serve effectively. Advisory is very short on experience currently and not reappointing Mr. Stivers just made that worse.

I sincerely believe that Mr. Stivers was not reappointed due to Mr. Cimino’s personal and misplaced animus toward Mr. Stivers. I also do not believe that it is a Moderator’s role to place his personal bias above what is good for the Town. I hope that I am wrong. I have discussed this with Mr. Cimino directly so he will not be surprised to read this.

Having said that – the three people that Mr. Cimino appointed are very,very capable people and will over time be able to add much value to Advisory. Mr. Rooney will add value immediately due to his significant experience in Town government. I personally believe that all Advisory members should have previous experience on other committees and have a track record of attending town meetings, etc. before they are appointed, However, we don’t always have volunteers with that background willing to serve.

As for a previous comment that was critical of Mr. Rooney and asked that he resign from Advisory – I respectfully say to you that you are wrong. I serve with Mr. Rooney on the Public Building Safety Committee and have watched him in his various town roles over the years. He is a consummate public servant and is a pleasure to serve with. He brings much needed expertise and wisdom to his roles and is a straight shooter. He clearly has the best interest of Southborough in mind when he makes decisions. I look forward to working with him on Advisory.

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34 Kelly Roney July 18, 2018 at 10:01 AM

A constructive comment with a firm point of view but no bitter anger! Kudos!

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35 my town sb southborough July 18, 2018 at 3:31 PM

To Ms. Cook, please know that I agree with you much of the time. However, there are times when you simply have it wrong. This is NOT “ugly tone” as you mistakenly characterize this. These are fact based observations. Please see the following facts and documents.

I believe that your misunderstanding is due to the fact that you do not have all the facts or complete information leading to overall context. This is one of those instances. That said, please feel free to correct anything below if needed.
The necessary preface remark is that everyone who occupies a public seat must not violate state ethics laws and Open Meeting Law. This should go without saying.

If this happens, the individual has disqualified themselves through their own misconduct. They need to “own it,” their own misconduct. The public has the right to NOT be represented by these individuals. The very purpose of Open Meeting Law is to stop individuals from keeping public town business out of the public eye and manipulating or changing any process. It is to keep the integrity of processes (such as granting of permits) intact. When the state says CONFLICT, it means STOP. The citizens have the right to object to anyone who has violated the law.

Please see the following information:
1) The Attorney General’s 6/12/18 Decision finding Mr. Rooney in violation of the State’s Open Meeting Law.
https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

The message of Mr. Rooney’s email is asking Town Counsel and the ZBA to “stop!” They do not stop.

The more important question is this:
Who saw the Park Central “Draft Decision” documents and when? Per Mr. Rooney’s email, it was being circulated to the BOS and ZBA (which makes it a public document(s) weeks before the 8-24-16 ZBA meeting, without being available to the abutters and the public. At the meeting and against ZBA practice, copies were not distributed to the public at large at the meeting, making it impossible for the public to follow.

2) Conflict of Interest Form – completed by Mr. Rooney – dated 11/15/16 with its attachment, an email from the State Ethics Commission dated 11/8/16. The State Ethics Commission states:

“It would not be possible to take a position about whether the ZBA Chair improperly handled the Park Central project without taking a position on how the project should have been handled. If you have a financial interest in property that abuts the site of the Park Central project, or you are a partner or employee of a business organization which has a financial interest in the abutting property, then you may not participate as a Selectman in any discussion, decision or vote about a particular matter regarding the Park Central project. Because the personnel matter and the approach taken with regard to the Park Central project are intertwined, my opinion is that you must recuse yourself from the discussion or vote on whether the ZBA Chair should be removed from office.” The attachment (initial inquiry to) from state ethics is dated January 25, 2016.

3) Mr. Rooney’s email dated 1/25/16 to Mr. Kolenda, Ms. Phaneuf, Paul Cimino, Brian Shea, Mr. Purple – “The State Ethics Commission has informed me that I am unable to participate in any discussions that relate to or MAY IMPACT the Park Central 40B project. The Disclosure I filed does not sufficiently address the matter, as the basis of the conflict is my firm’s lease agreement with Capital Properties and the fact that we are an “abutter” to the project and I am an elected official.”

4) THE LAW: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/board-of-selectmen-members-explanation-of-the-conflict-of-interest-law
3. Acting on Matters Affecting Abutting or Nearby Property: Property owners are presumed by the Commission to have a financial interest in matters affecting abutting and nearby property. Therefore, you generally may not act in your official capacity on matters involving a business or property which abuts your own property, or which is close enough that the outcome of the matter will affect your own property values. Also, you generally may not act in your official capacity on matters involving a business or property which abuts businesses or property owned by your immediate family members, business partners, private employers, prospective employers, or organizations for which you serve as an officer, director, partner or trustee. For more information, see Advisory 05-02: Voting on Matters Affecting Abutting or Nearby Property.

5) http://southborough.wickedlocal.com/news/20160802/southborough-bartolini-to-step-down-as-zba-chairman
Mr. Rooney participates.

6) Executive Session Minutes – Tuesday, 8/16/16 – Executive session hearing addressing Mr. Bartolini and whether or not he is to remain on the ZBA. Mr. Bartolini is the then ZBA Chair presiding over the Park Central hearings. BOS participants in this hearing include Mr. John Rooney, Ms. Bonnie Phaneuf, Mr. Paul Cimino, Mr. Daniel Kolenda, Mr. Brian Shea. Mr. Bartolini offers to step down as Chairman but remains on as a regular member.

7) BOS Meeting 9/6/16 – Flagg Road Safety Forum – Please see the following tape:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sg_WuRl9-I

Mr. Rooney opens and sets up the discussion (1.40 mark)
and when asked as to whether or not he should be running the meeting (51.39 mark), exits the room to an adjoining room, remaining listening from there while Mr. Shea takes over the discussion.
(See the 44.10 mark where a resident references traffic studies leaving out key impacted roads, i.e. “cooking the books”)

All must understand this: state ethics laws and the Open Meeting Law must be obeyed, no exemptions. The public cannot be left out. The purpose of the law is to ensure openness and transparency in government, i.e no undue influence on any process. If told by the State to stop participating due to conflicts and recuse yourself, this must be done. If ignored, step down. Ms. Cook: Are you suggesting otherwise?

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36 Louise Barron July 18, 2018 at 10:47 AM

I’m a straight shooter also. The bias, nepotism is so thick here, you can cut it with a knife.
We need clean individuals on our boards, who understand their job, work for us, not developers, builders or the multitude of those with their own agenda and special interests,
and that have hurt our town, and cast Southborough in a bad light. Sad, that people defend those who have violated State Laws, and are deceptive. The moderator’s MO is clear. That cannot be tolerated.

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