Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

by beth on December 4, 2018

Post image for Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

It’s time for another open thread.

What’s on your mind this week, Southborough?

For those of you new to the blog, the open discussion thread is your place to ask questions, sound off on town issues, or share information with other readers. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask questions about programs in town or the town itself
  • Post a note about things that you’re selling or giving away, or things that you want
  • Share notices about upcoming events (Southborough or otherwise)
  • Register your thoughts on town issues or news stories
  • Point out interesting or helpful resources

You can add comments to the thread throughout the week. Check back often to see new comments. (If you read the blog via email or RSS, you might want to check the site from time to time for new comments.)

To view past open discussion threads, click here.

(2010 image of Downy Woodpecker in Cordaville area of Southborough posted to flickr by JD)

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark Pietrewicz December 4, 2018 at 11:55 AM

Just a thank you for all the work you do on this site. I find it to be a great resource. I am sure it can be discouraging at times.

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2 beth December 4, 2018 at 1:28 PM

Thank you

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3 Naughtius Maximus December 22, 2018 at 2:26 PM

With all the seriousness at the national and local levels, enough of seriousness for the holidays. Can’t we lighten the mood with a little humor? Here’s a hilarious one for all of those who are on the naughty list (you know who you are), thanks to Saturday Night Live:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWnP2jO06gc

and I agree with Mark, thank you Beth for all you do all year. It is hard work, and it is appreciated. Happy Holidays!

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4 Rachel December 4, 2018 at 12:26 PM

I drove down Acre Bridge the other day, and noticed someone dumped their mattress and box. So frustrating! It’s on the Southborough side. Can we call DPW and have them grab it or do we call someone else?

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5 Allan Bezanson December 4, 2018 at 5:22 PM

High tide in Basin 5

Today, for the first time in many years, the spillway of the Sudbury Reservoir Dam in Fayville is awash. This forms the reservoir known as Basin 5, completed in 1898. Basin 5 winds its way through Southborough, Framingham and Marlborough all the way back to its termination at Deerfoot Road. The water is as high as it can get everywhere in town.
https://media.fotki.com/2v2EuANmsxJayUD.jpg

View today from the Nichols House
https://media.fotki.com/2v2EuANVixJayUD.jpg

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6 Matthew December 5, 2018 at 9:06 AM

Sump pumps are running on Wood Street about as far to the south as you can get in Southborough. The river is high but most of the water seems to be coming from the north.
I almost can’t wait for the foundations and septic to go in at Caine’s Crossing at the corner of Southville and Parkerville. 11 units displacing ground water surrounded by houses that already get water in their basements.

Who pays for the damages when my basement floods? Is it the DPW, Selectmen, or ZBA?😂 – is this the right emoticon?

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7 arborist December 5, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Matthew, I would say the board of health would be responsible, they approved the septic system in that very low and wet area . They (contractor) was filling in the little pond they created from removing dirt from the site. when was the perc test performed? bet it was during a drought.

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8 Be Best December 5, 2018 at 3:59 PM

Physically and verbally threatening a member of the public as Dan Kolenda did at last nights Selectman’s meeting is not acceptable. While the content presented by an individual during public comment may have been difficult and the presentation direct, they were done within the boards comment policy, and provided no justification for Mr Kolenda’s behavior. His physically threatening actions, saying he was going to call law enforcement for disagreeable comments and name calling are all far out of line for a public official. Calling for a recess of a public meeting, so recording would stop so he could threaten someone is a direct anger management issue that can not be tolerated. He violates all that he claims to stand for with regards to respectful behavior. This is not the first time he has been disrespectful either, for he has done the same to other members of the public and to town officials. Repeating that you are a volunteer as if that is an excuse for inadequacies in performing the responsibilities of your position is not a good excuse. For the sake of the town and its integrity, he should step down.

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9 beth December 5, 2018 at 6:33 PM

I wasn’t aware of the incident. I watched the tape and it appears you are referring to his reaction to resident Louise Barron stating that the board broke open meeting law. (That begins here.)

Mr. Kolenda referred to her comment as slandering public officials. She rebutted that it wasn’t slander. He responded that he was cutting off public comment. She returned, “Look, you need to stop being a Hitler! You’re a Hitler!” as he called for a recess.

At that point the volume was muted but before the video cut away, it did capture his body language for about 10 seconds when he rose and addressed Ms. Barron. Readers can watch for themselves here.

It appears the board never returned to public session.

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10 Naughtius Maximus December 9, 2018 at 9:12 PM

Sorry — the Attorney General’s Office Determination page link below does not work.

Here is the functioning link to the 2018 BOS violations of State Law (Two: One for Mr. Rooney, One for the BOS, under Mr. Kolenda’s chairmanship, January 2018) and the ZBA’s violation of State Law can be found via the following link:

https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

Select “Southborough” and hit “Search” at the bottom of the page.

Mr. Kolenda should apologize as he threw the first punch and brought the situation on himself. He made a false accusation. He himself broke the Code of Conduct. Sorry, but does the Conduct Code apply to everyone but him? If any resident conducted himself the way he did, Kolenda would be the first person looking to throw them out via the police. He should have been thrown out with the police escorting him out due to his violent and scarily inappropriate threatening behavior, audio or no audio. No matter what any resident is asking it does not ever warrant screaming threats, calling a resident names, and thrusting a pointing finger in a threatening manner.

After viewing Beth’s link above to Mr. Kolenda’s frightening tirade, I agree with SB Resident’s comment below:
“I have considered getting involved in public service and don’t. It is the Dan Kolenda’s not the Ms Baron’s of the world that prevent me from serving.”

For anyone who missed the interview of the first candidate for the new building inspector, here’s the tape of that interview, the one that got away:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vFTMjYJTnY

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11 my town sb southborough December 12, 2018 at 9:16 AM

Generally speaking, those at the podium are just saying what is on every citizen’s mind.

In this case Mrs. Barron was expressing concerns about the projected huge increase in taxes and the serious unbalanced budget situation.

BOS does not want to hear about it. They would rather silence and haul the taxpayer out of the room.

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12 Townie December 6, 2018 at 9:12 AM

Louise Barron called him a Hitler! She’s the one that should be apologizing. She is constantly berating the BOS, other town boards, and committees for whatever decision they make that she does not believe in. A nuisance.

If someone called me something as offensive as what she did, you better prepared for the reaction. I don’t blame him one bit for giving it right back. She deserved it.

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13 Naughtius Maximus December 7, 2018 at 3:46 PM

Again, upon review of the tape, it is Mr. Kolenda clearly threw the first punch by falsely accusing the commenter of “slander” first, his favorite go-to tactic when he wants to shut down public comment, especially opposing opinion. In this instance, the initial commentary was on overspending and the dire budget situation, asking about the difference between town manager and town administrator, and concern over a repeated pattern of breaking State Law, i.e. Open Meeting Law Violations, a matter of public record. THAT is when Kolenda wrongly whips out the “slander” card. The commenter was saying nothing that wasn’t opinion and matters of public record. The commenter pushed back and used the wrong word probably out of shock at the false accusation of so-called “slander.

On the other hand, Mr. Kolenda clearly violated the Town’s Code of Conduct. His response, caught on camera, was scarily threatening and shockingly inappropriate.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kolenda does not embrace public comment. (The current Chair ran a campaign based on the slogan “Let Me Be Your Voice,” what a difference.) However, he should. He falsely labels opposing opinion as “slander.” Here are the controversial issues:

• BoS has violated state law under his chairmanship; it is public record. In 2018 alone, there have been 2 OML violations against the BOS and 1 against the ZBA (see them here) Hit control click on the previous link to view the Attorney General’s Determination page.

• Open Meeting Law was violated (multiple times for the town, including the ZBA, the BOS’s appointees). Mr. Kolenda falls back on the “only a volunteer” argument, while simultaneously arguing he has been on the board for six years. It takes six years (??) to read and follow state law, Open Meeting Law? To keep and approve accurate minutes, all it takes is to follow the pattern of reaching back to the last minutes done and after checking for accuracy, approving them and releasing them to the public. He’s an attorney. It should not take him or any other person (or lawyer) sitting on this Board six years to read, understand and follow State Law.

• Article 1 (Special Town Meeting Vote to re-affirm the ZBA Quorum Requirement) – Allegedly, the Town Administrator, Town Counsel and BoS appear to have been working outside of the public forum to stall and delay this article with AG. Their non-public efforts (you would not know unless you did a public records request) on this very public town business have been 100% in opposition to the Town Meeting vote. (This type of conduct is prohibited in many municipalities by bylaw.) Article 1 was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

• The Town Budget – At the December 4th meeting, the BoS wrestles between 5%, 6%, and 7% (or 10%, the original proposed increase), calling for 6.5% to 7.0% at the December 4th meeting. All voters should look at the BoS package, which summarizes the budget. https://www.southboroughtown.com/board-selectmen/events/66803

Mr. Kolenda calls for full funding of all Recreation projects, but the budget is far from balanced. This might(??) include including the turfing of a water detention basin (used as a field, yes, you read correctly, a water detention basin for an apartment complex, constructed to take excess rain / flood water). Notably, the DPW / Roads budget is slashed from $450k to $250-ish range, less than the cost to turf the water detention basin ($267,400). Sorry, my humble opinion, but doesn’t the budget need to balance? And shouldn’t road safety be a priority? Where is the common sense in all of this?

The last attempt to get this funding was via an “off budget” presentation by Rec person, Kristen LaVault, (Kallendar Field) at the last Special Town Meeting. In my opinion, the “presentation” was a haranguing whine-fest (should have been wine-fest to dull the pain of listening to it), that was rejected by other BoS members for the brazen “off budget” attempt and overwhelmingly rejected by the voters.

http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/04/24/recreation-update-kallander-field-at-special-town-meeting-plus-skate-park-survey-results/

• Fayville Hall – How a taxpayer owned asset that is appraised by the Town’s own outside appraiser for ½ million (and valued by the Town itself, via the Town assessor’s opinion for roughly the same) is sold for $20k is the question of the day. Beth posted an article here:
http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/11/20/swl-selectmen-approve-21k-bid-to-buy-and-restore-fayville-hall/
Just my humble opinion, but the town vote was to sell it, not give it away. And they could have at least put up a “For Sale” sign.

Whatever you do, don’t ask any questions about the budget or violations of State Law or else this could happen to you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYV-qYeWPkk

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14 Karen Connell December 17, 2018 at 11:43 AM

Townie,
I agree and disagree with you. I can not think of a worse name to be called. I believe an apology is in order for referring to the BOS member as “Hitler”. However, I am reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” and the line I’m most thinking of in reading this thread is “if you can keep your head all about you while others are loosing theirs and blaming you…” . The problem with Selectman Kolenda’s agreesion is that it’s habitual. Everyone makes mistakes and looses temper from time to time. He seems to make a habit of it. His normal go to response is standing up so his vituperative attacks are magnified with body language. In other settings he would be arrested.
Last thought….we are a nation, society, and culture that is formed by nuisances. I am mighty grateful to the brave nuisances who bring forth the truth for us all to see.

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15 Karen Connell December 17, 2018 at 9:33 AM

Be Best,
I agree with your comments about Selectman Kolenda. He displays the exact kind of aggressive and hostile behavior we teach our school children to be unacceptable. I have called Selectman Kolenda a bully to his face and I do so now in this forum, using my real name. Selectman Kolenda you are a bully and you are setting a poor example for the community and fellow veterans who serve in active duty but return to peaceful life peacefully. Thank you for your service. If you need help there are ways to get it. I wish you peace.
Karen Connell.

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16 Naughtius Maximus January 3, 2019 at 6:48 AM

At the beginning of last night’s BOS meeting 1-2-19, Mr. Kolenda made public comments about his behavior at the 12-4-18 BOS meeting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UntZFKb6pSU

In this citizen’s opinion, he issues a non-apology, really not sorry at all, all wrapped in the American flag one more time. Incredibly, he makes HIMSELF out to be the victim, after he threw the first punch by accusing a resident of “slander” for asking perfectly legitimate questions, all in conformance with Code of Conduct (and not getting any answers by the way!). After seeing this, I can say with no hesitation that he has lost my vote and support for good. He brought it all on himself by throwing the first wrong punch.

He continues to avoid the real issue:
Continually closing down public comment on legitimate business questions regarding Town business and public concern (taxes, town administrator vs. town manager, Open Meeting Law violations). If public comment contains any opposing opinion, he threatens to call the police, while ironically he himself violates the Code of Conduct he cites.

The only thing more disappointing is the Board’s wrapping itself in pleas for “kindness” and a “kinder world,” all while avoiding the real business issues, overspending and a dire budget situation and flagrant Open Meeting Law violations. These tactics are P.R. emotional smoke and mirrors that have no place in a business meeting. These are diversionary tactics that are simply wrong. How “kind” is it to shut down public comment (this was BEFORE any name calling) and then call a resident names(?!), i.e “disgusting?” Does it get any weirder or less professional than that? This Town deserves better.

Come on, how many “ministerial” errors are there, “accidentally” not releasing BOS Minutes (including Executive Session Minutes) to the public? So far there are dozens and dozens of “accidents.” For the working public who can’t attend meetings or don’t have hours to listen to tapes, no access to minutes (for years) that should have been timely approved in accordance with the law is not only illegal, it is a travesty and disservice to the Town the BOS is supposed to be representing.

Those Minutes are critically important to transparency in government and the only way for the public to understand important public matters of impact to them. SHAME ON YOU! FOR THE WHITEWASHING AND THE DISMISSIVE TREATMENT, AS WELL AS THE LACK OF EXPOSURE AND DISCUSSION. Does the public understand what you are doing? Do they know what is the content of those minutes? When do these shortfalls and the important content get discussed publicly? Or does it all get shoved under the carpet?

The persons responsible for this travesty get to speak. However, for the second BOS meeting in a row, no public comment was allowed.

I agree with “Be Best” above:
“His physically threatening actions, saying he was going to call law enforcement for disagreeable comments and name calling are all far out of line for a public official. Calling for a recess of a public meeting, so recording would stop so he could threaten someone is a direct anger management issue that can not be tolerated. He violates all that he claims to stand for with regards to respectful behavior. This is not the first time he has been disrespectful either, for he has done the same to other members of the public and to town officials. Repeating that you are a volunteer as if that is an excuse for inadequacies in performing the responsibilities of your position is not a good excuse. For the sake of the town and its integrity, he should step down.”

I agree. This Town can and should do better. No more smoke and mirrors, please. Stick to business. And BTW, what is in those minutes?

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17 Publius December 6, 2018 at 7:35 AM

Why would anyone think it OK to call someone Hitler under these circumstances? this is shameful. Actually it is worse. And why would any rationale person serve the town under these circumstances ? and for such a meager allowance. Barron needs to apologize in a open video taped meeting. Possibly this forum as well.

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18 Ghost of Public Discourse December 6, 2018 at 8:57 AM

Plenty of blame to go around. Louise Baron’s vitriol here and in other public forums is counterproductive and calling someone Hitler is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior and she should publicly apologize. Also, I don’t blame Kolenda for losing it at that comment, but as someone who is held to a higher standard by virtue of his position should be able to react appropriately and should have taken the higher ground. I don’t know what exactly was said after mic was cut, but I imagine an apology is needed there as well.

It’s a shame what has become of public discourse.

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19 SB Resident December 6, 2018 at 10:42 AM

Really she was calling him a dictator, but chose the word Hitler to cause more agitation which clearly worked. A person of Mr. Kolenda’s credentials should be way above reacting in a situation like that and shows a lot about his character. I would never condone Ms Barron’s behavior, but she is who she is and is clearly out there with it unlike Mr. Kolenda who goes to recess so he can hide his true colors. It’s pretty ironic that he would do something of that nature in response to accusations of violating open meeting law.

I have considered getting involved in public service and don’t. It is the Dan Kolenda’s not the Ms Baron’s of the world that prevent me from serving.

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20 Naughtius Maximus December 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Let’s review the tape: Mr. Kolenda clearly threw the first punch by falsely accusing the commenter of “slander” first, his favorite go-to tactic when he wants to shut down public comment, especially opposing opinion.

In this instance, the initial commentary was on overspending and the dire budget situation, asking about the difference between town manager and town administrator, and concern over a repeated pattern of breaking State Law, i.e. Open Meeting Law Violations, a matter of public record. THAT is when Kolenda wrongly whips out the “slander” card.

Ironically, it is he who slandered the commenter, because a key element of slander is that the comment must be false and his comment was indeed false. The commenter was saying nothing that wasn’t opinion and matters of public record.

The commenter did push back. Did not use the right word probably due to the shear shock and sudden inappropriateness of the “slander” accusation for merely asking questions during “Public Comment” section. His behavior is best described as inappropriate “bullying” and scarily threatening. I was watching this from home and was actually frightened for the resident when he stood up and started his threatening rant.

This is wildly inappropriate threatening body language, screaming at the resident (you are “disgusting” — say what??!!) and thrusting his hand and finger at the resident. Clear violation of the town’s Code of Conduct Policy for the BoS.

Regardless, this is the second time (!!) he has attacked senior members of the public (the last one resulting in a report to the Attorney General, decision pending?) and calls on the police (??!!) , completely twisting the story based on the report to the AGO (take a read, Beth posted it here somewhere).

All of this is a situation being blown of proportion and being taken too seriously. How about taking it all down a notch with a little humor?? Here is a tape of the BOS public comment section from the previous meeting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx_G2a2hL6U

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21 Naughtius Maximus December 6, 2018 at 4:09 PM

Here is what happened to the last commenter during the last BOS Public Comment section who had questions about overspending and the dire budget situation. Setting the budget / the budget process is depicted at the beginning of the tape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9PY_3E3h2c

PS — If you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t bother watching.

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22 southsider December 6, 2018 at 10:52 AM

I just listened to the BOS budget discussion from earlier this week.
They’re discussing average annual tax bill hikes of $600- $700 more than we’re paying today with no relief in sight for at least a few years!
I’m very appreciative of the services we all receive from the Town and am not keen on any reductions to maintain tax levels but wonder why the BOS isn’t spending some energy discussing new revenue sources.
If there’s ever a time to re-trigger a discussion about split tax rates, it seems like that time is NOW!

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23 jim December 17, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Southsider,

There’s still time to get a citizens petition before Town Meeting to urge the BOS to adopt a split tax rate. The decision is up to the BOS but if it a citizens petition asking them to set a split tax rate ere to pass by an overwhelming majority, I think the BOS would take note and follow the citizen’s lead.

I think you’d have to hurry to get 10 or more signatures of residents on a form from the Selectmen or the Clerk and return it by 5 pm tomorrow (Tuesday).

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24 Naughtius Maximus December 18, 2018 at 12:56 PM

Southsider and Jim,
That is important and a very good idea. There is still time.
Thank you !

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25 Publius December 18, 2018 at 3:40 PM

A split tax rate is a disastrous idea from the perspective of long term fiscal stability. Most of the few communities that have gone that way wish they never did. Now what might work is exempting the first $250,000 or so of property value from real estate tax thereby keeping Southborough affordable and assessing tax on those more able to pay it.

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26 Kevin December 25, 2018 at 10:54 PM

Just ask Waltham and Framingham amongst other locales. Business rates are through the roof and the cities are full of thriving businesses that can afford the rate. Let’s do it. Where do I sign?

27 Ben December 26, 2018 at 9:08 PM

I doubt anyone is happy about tax increases that are ever inflating.
it seems that a dual tax rate is picking up interested commenters.
However; I wonder if there was such a mechanism in place what would our tax rates be ?
We are not Framingham nor Marlboro for that matter and our business base is limited to route nine and other small entities scattered throughout town.
There has been a proponent of the “Dual rate” for a few years now, I wonder if he can add his comments of the business base versus home property tax and what the benefit would be if any.?
We don’t have a shopper’s world to be a big a cash windfall for the town.
My estimation would be marginal at best if majority of taxpayers would see any benefit to “dual tax rate”.
Regarding business vs residential I would like to pose a question regarding the major landowner of Southborough. The MDC/DCR/MWRA, who ever they call themselves these days, what the land of the reservoirs are valued at? Other than aesthetic value we get no benefit of having them there.
Furthermore other non profits in town have stepped up recently to “pay into the kitty” through prodding of former selectman. I’m sure they can do more.

Maybe there should be a tax on residential properties over million dollars ?

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28 Publius December 27, 2018 at 3:43 PM

Kevin and Beth I would direct you to the City of Framingham website that outlines the TIFs and DIFs, tax breaks for large employers that are required in order to attract commercial taxpayers who end up paying a fraction of the commercial rate. Or look at Worcester. They went down the dual rate path a coupe of decades ago and now commercial rates are through the roof and the residential taxpayers pay an astonishing 85% of the City budget and every year more TIFs and DIFs are approved. . A dual rate has the perverse effect of punishing in the long term the taxpayer it purports to help in the short term. No one likes to pay taxes lets face it but pitting one group against the other in the end hurts both.

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29 beth December 27, 2018 at 5:26 PM

I’m not sure why you are directing me to read it. To be clear, the change wasn’t recommended by me. I’m neutral on the issue.

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30 David Parry December 14, 2018 at 1:31 PM

Thanks for bringing Selectman Kolenda’s astonishing behavior to our attention.

What a stroke of luck! At last we have proof, on video, of Mr Kolenda’s angry tirades and breaking official rules of conduct. Note how he tried to keep it secret, by calling a recess, but the camera kept rolling !

Perhaps it is best summarized in the previous comment, from Naughtius Maximus, (quote):

” His behavior is best described as inappropriate “bullying” and scarily threatening. I was watching this from home and was actually frightened for the resident when he stood up and started his threatening rant. This is wildly inappropriate threatening body language, screaming at the resident (you are “disgusting” — say what??!!) and thrusting his hand and finger at the resident. Clear violation of the town’s Code of Conduct Policy for the BoS. ”

This episode was caught on camera by accident. So imagine his behavior off camera, when he is Chairman, and when he has control over town officials.

I can understand how most persons (who comment) want to remain anonymous. Not me. As a former Selectman, I have been one of many on the receiving end of his rants. What is the appropriate punishment for such violations? Having the police remove him from Town Hall? Or how about permanent banishment from Town Hall ?

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31 David Parry December 14, 2018 at 4:31 PM

I forget to describe the following procedure, for administering official discipline upon a town resident who openly criticizes Mr Kolenda.

The following procedure is not theoretical. It is copied from the procedure already used by Mr Kolenda.

First, what is the “offence”? Mr Kolenda claims the criticism is causing a “hostile work environment”.

Second, the punishment needs to be imposed in secret. Above all, avoid a formal meeting which is governed by the Open Meeting Law, with the “nuisance” of giving the public, and the “offender”, any advance notice.

Third, don’t give the “offender” any ability to respond, or any right to an attorney.

Fourth, have the discipline decided upon by just one member of the Board of Selectmen …. (Yes, you guessed it … by Mr Kolenda himself). To avoid violating the OML, it is critical to keep the other 4 members out of it, officially. (They were sent a draft … A violation of the OML).

Fifth, have the one Selectman meet with the Town Administrator, police chief and Town Counsel. Dredge up some items contained in old police logs, describing totally unrelated items as … for instance … a lost cell phone, found in the snow outside Starbucks, … and a car with a very old dog inside, requiring the air-conditioning to be left on. (Not a single log is a violation of anything).

Sixth, after the one Selectman has decided on the discipline, then mail the “offender” a letter … but be careful … make sure the letter is kept secret from everyone else, and avoid any other written record of what has taken place.

This procedure should work well to silence any political critic. Because he won’t know what’s coming! He will learn of the punishment, by surprise … AFTER it has been decided upon. He will be embarrassed. Above all, he will be stumped, because he won’t be able to appeal !

Oh yes, sorry, I nearly forgot … have Town Counsel proclaim this procedure to be ethical and legal, because (he can claim) it is permitted by the Town Code, specifically by the Town Administrator Bylaw. But he conveniently forgot that this Bylaw was passed by Town Meeting just two years earlier, was written by a Committee, (not by Town Counsel), and contains no such language for punishment of residents. In this case, to prohibit the resident from access to Town Hall (except to pay bills, etc).

Ha? Ridiculous! Preposterous! This must be purely “theoretical”, and it would be never, ever, be allowed !

Wrong! This procedure happened … to me. And I am a former Selectman.

The attorney general is looking into it.

(Footnote: Mr Kolenda is now trying to reward the Town Administrator for loyalty, by changing his position into a “Town Manager”. How’s that for more autocracy, and less democracy? He further violated the OML, again, by not including it on the agenda).

Enough … For now.

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32 Al Hamilton December 15, 2018 at 9:41 AM

If you want to find out what a horrible person you are, run for public office. I know.

Mr. Kolenda, who I have defended on other occasions, needs to learn to control his temper. If he cannot, he should not put himself in a position where he can be goaded into loosing his temper. I have seen him do so in other forums.

It is interesting to note that while Mr. Kolenda was serving on the BOS, I was compared unfavorably to the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbles on these pages by a committee member appointed by the BOS. Did they do anything? No, crickets. Seems like a bit of a double standard to me.

If you are going to serve in a public position you need to be able to conduct yourself with dignity even in unpleasant situations. Otherwise you will sink to Trumpian depths.

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33 HonestAbespeaks@gmail.com December 15, 2018 at 11:22 AM

There is also something disturbing. The BOS member seems to have emotional issues from the body language and previous displays with constant haranguing of his “fighting for his country”. Tried to follow where that fit in to this ugly scene of a man gone mad. More than just disturbing. I’m afraid the BOS member needs a long vacation.

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34 when_it_rains December 15, 2018 at 12:51 PM

The yelling and threatening can easily be construed as a form of assault. Kolenda is a lawyer? He should know better.

As someone posted above, we all need to remember how this BOS behaves the next time we’re ready to cast our votes.

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35 Frank Crowell December 17, 2018 at 12:15 PM

Yelling is a form of assault – well I have an old boss from Southie that should be arrested then. In fact I have to turn myself in. When our senior senator said she “is not a person of color” the TV was verbally assaulted. Nothing like a politician admitting to multiple years of fraud to get under my skin. Real profile in courage since the elections are now behind us.

Yep – tired of the Kolenda bashing. If his behavior is so bad vote him out or get a recall going. My guess is he is staying for only one reason. I am not defending his actions. I haven’t voted for him in a while. Works full time, Army reserve, two volunteer positions in town – just trying to help him with life choices when I entered the voting booth.

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36 Publius December 17, 2018 at 11:08 AM

This is why those who are willing to give up their time and serve the town deserve a great deal of gratitude for all of us who are “too busy” and other excuses. A good man was driven from town office by the same people posting here, with false allegations of unethical behavior, at a great loss to the town and the effects of which will realized each year. There are a small contingent with an axe to grind which is obvious by the content of their statements. The great majority do not feel these same sentiments and we know this because they are not posting here and they vote.

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37 Karen Connell December 17, 2018 at 11:55 AM

Publis, you make a great point, our public officials are owed a debt of gratitude. To say it’s a thankless job is an understatement!
I am curious of what you are referring to when you say “a good man was driven from office” I’d like to know more. I am one of those “busy people” who stays only moderately aware of town issues.
I also make note that most people on this blog use pen names. I use my full name because it’s style.

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38 Publius December 17, 2018 at 3:32 PM

PTSD is no laughing matter. Throwing the term around is a shameful disservice to those who actually suffer from it. No one should get a free ride calling someone Hitler. No one. The same goes for wild speculation about PTSD. There are a handful of people who will attempt to destroy good people to have there own petty way when they are unable to use thought and reason to convince others. Why would anyone put themselves up for these petty assaults. It is often said the people get the government they deserve.

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39 JOJAMA December 17, 2018 at 4:40 PM

Publius,
I agree with you. I don’t appreciate the manner in which Mr. Kolenda conducts himself at the BOS meetings. I think he is a bully and mean at times. But to throw around PTSD is both ignorant and shameful.

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40 D, McGee December 17, 2018 at 4:52 PM

But public officials DO get a free ride for berating constituents in an unhinged, unprofessional, threatening and totally inappropriate rant?

If people truly get the government they deserve, we’ve been shortchanged.

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41 beth December 17, 2018 at 5:01 PM

I agree with your wild speculation remark.

Upon reflection, I regret allowing the comments about potential PTSD. I apologize to Mr. Kolenda for approving the comments to be posted in the first place.

I allowed it initially because it was a question, not accusation, and it was framed as though caring about someone’s well being. But I wish I had given it more thought.

I tend to allow free and open exchange of opinions. And I think it is fair for commenters to debate Selectman Kolenda’s apparent reaction to Ms. Barron’s comments.

And I think we should be able to discuss mental issues like PTSD without attaching stigma. But I don’t like the way it is being discussed in this context. It feels like irresponsible jumping to conclusions with prejudice towards someone based on his service to our country.

So, I’m removing the comments below that make the implications.

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42 Naughtius Maximus December 18, 2018 at 12:54 PM

Some of our public officials are indeed owed a huge debt of gratitude. There are some who work their tails off with little to no support, some times by those sitting next to them.

Those public officials who simply do not show up for meetings for most of the year, break state law (no matter what they think their own intentions are, they should explain what they did to the public), and/or break their own Code of Conduct (e.g. being disrespectful of public comment, stomping on the public’s right to speak, actual screaming at the public (does it get any weirder?), thrusting fingers at citizens, calling citizens denigrating names, should step down. These are not normal or professional behaviors.

With busy lives, many can find difficult to understand what is happening. However, there are some determinations by the State on violations of state law. Here is the link to the 2018 BOS violations of State Law (Two: One for Mr. Rooney (who was told by the State to recuse himself for conflicts of interest on Park Central and failed to do so), One for the BOS, under Mr. Kolenda’s chairmanship, January 2018) and the ZBA’s violation of State Law can be found via the following link:

https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

Select “Southborough” and hit “Search” at the bottom of the page.

Those who follow state law or are trying to correct past wrongs of others are indeed owed a huge debt of gratitude. Those are the real heroes. Not those who sit on boards for years and years and cannot apparently read and follow Open Meeting Law.

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43 David Parry December 18, 2018 at 2:59 PM

I see the usual agenda item “public comment” is not on tonight’s agenda. An oversight or a message?

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44 Be Best December 18, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Courtesy, respect, and open dialogue are prerequisites for continued membership on any board. There is no room for any compromise on this condition. A basic principal of town philosophy and anything done to infringe on these ideals will not be tolerated.- This may be paraphrased, but was put forth as an essential standard for town officials by this very Board of Selectmen. Mr Kolenda is a long way from meeting this standard and should be held accountable to that which he holds others. No one has an axe to grind, behavior speaks for itself. Because of him, the town has lost good talent, more does not step forward to serve, town legal fees accrue, taxpayers are threatened and intimidated.
It should be agreed that there is not room for compromise and that the behavior has been tolerated for long enough. An apology is not enough. Mr Kolenda knows the correct thing to do, now will he do it?

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45 Al Hamilton December 19, 2018 at 8:29 AM

Mr. Kolenda is fully entitled to continue to serve by virtue of winning an election. He is not required to make a decision about staying or going.

His continuation of his roles in government at the next election is up to him and the voters. If you are unhappy with his performance then first you need to find someone to run for his seat and get that person elected.

Sorry, resolving this issue is not up to Mr. Kolenda, it is up to the voters.

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46 Naughtius Maximus December 19, 2018 at 10:34 AM

Al, different topic for a moment: you mentioned elsewhere that Advisory Committee (more commonly called “Finance” Committee in other towns) has been operating backwards, i.e. Board of Selectmen have been leading the way, setting the budget first, then Advisory jumps in (if I have this correct?).

Looking at last night’s BOS meeting, the BOS is indeed setting the budget first (in terms of order / procedure) and Advisory is “invited” to attend the next BOS meeting.

Is this backwards? And if so, what can be done about it? If this is not an accurate understanding of what is happening, by all means, please, it would be appreciated whatever light you can shed on whatever should be happening. Thank you

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47 beth December 19, 2018 at 1:00 PM

It’s worth noting that on the Advisory Committee page of the Town Website, a link directs to “The Role of the Finance Committee”. The document is written by the Chair of Arlington’s committee. But, presumably the posting on the page means the committee agreed that it describes its role.

That document outlines a process where the budget originates from Town employees under the selectmen then proceeds to Finance Committee. It then seems that the committee’s recommended version is what is presented to the Town. If selectmen disagree they can then make a motion. However, that can be different in Towns where a different process is specified in the bylaws. And I don’t know if there is something in our Town’s bylaw that is presumed to do that.

You can read the document here: https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/southboroughma/files/news/the_role_of_the_finance_committee_0.pdf

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48 Al Hamilton December 20, 2018 at 9:25 AM

There is nothing unusual about the BOS developing budget requests for the departments under their control (about 1/4 of town spending). That is their responsibility.

However, Advisory is responsible for developing the whole budget that is presented to town meeting. It is the Advisory budget that is supposed to be the initial main motion on the floor. Once the Advisory recommendation for a particular budget is moved, other Town Meeting Members (including the BOS, School Committees etc) can move to amend the motion either up or down as they deem appropriate.

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49 Publius December 19, 2018 at 11:48 AM

As he often is, Al is correct. This is ultimately up to the voters and frankly few are talking about this at all except for the handful that have butt heads with the BOS in the past.

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50 Naughtimus Maximus December 19, 2018 at 5:51 PM

Publius, perhaps Al as well as Be Best are both right in a sense. Be Best is quite right in stating that “no one has an axe to grind, and behavior speaks for itself.” Al is of the opinion that it is up to the voters.

Sorry, but don’t agree at all that “few are talking about this.” The word is out and the whole town is talking about this. Those who violate state law will find themselves on the wrong side of the Attorney General’s Office and will find themselves out of favor by the voters. They will not be voted back in, while others who can read the law and follow it will be given a chance by the voters. This sentiment is Town wide. Violating Open Meeting Law and State Ethics laws will sweep out the old, and bring in the new. New candidates will get the chance. Time for a change. No one wants the “old boy” way of doing things anymore. It’s OVER.

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51 David Parry December 20, 2018 at 11:29 AM

The following comment was posted yesterday by another resident, under a different subject heading … but it deserves being repeated here, where it is far more pertinent. (Quote):

” Selectman Dan Kolenda reminded (Selectman) Braccio that the board’s public comment policy is to shut down comments if residents criticize Town employees’ ——seriously Dan……that your contribution? ”

Good point.

Perhaps we should add that the official policy (which Kolenda wrote) forbids SHOUTING. But that is exactly what he did, followed by threats of retaliation.

Can anyone who was there please tell us what he SHOUTED?

There is now, quite obviously, a pattern to his behavior.

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52 Naughtius Maximus December 20, 2018 at 2:54 PM

Reportedly and allegedly he was screaming and thrusting his pointed finger / hand in a threatening manner while calling the resident “disgusting” several times and threatened the resident with removal from the building.

Sound familiar? That should intimidate and chill comment on taxes and any other questions on public town business he doesn’t want to hear!

Unbelievable.

He should have been removed for breaking the Code of Conduct !
The Code of Conduct applies to everyone except him. His behavior violates every principal of behavior for the private workplace or public life.

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53 Publius December 21, 2018 at 7:48 AM

That is a gross exageration but many might have a strong reaction to essentially being called a racist which is what Adolph Hitler was. There is no place in public forum to call some Adolph Hitler or a Nazi. Or maybe some posters feel saying anything is fair game?

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54 Naughtius Maximus December 21, 2018 at 11:37 AM

Again, let’s review the tape: Mr. Kolenda clearly threw the first punch by falsely accusing the commenter of “slander” first, his favorite go-to tactic when he wants to shut down public comment, especially opposing opinion.

In this instance, the initial commentary was on overspending and the dire budget situation, asking about the difference between town manager and town administrator, and concern over a repeated pattern of breaking State Law, i.e. Open Meeting Law Violations, a matter of public record. THAT is when Kolenda wrongly whips out the “slander” card.

The commenter was saying nothing that wasn’t opinion and matters of public record. The commenter did push back. Did not use the right word probably due to the shear shock and sudden inappropriateness of the “slander” accusation for merely asking questions during “Public Comment” section.

His behavior is best described as inappropriate “bullying” and scarily threatening. He is using intimidation tactics to chill public comment. He does not want public discussion of the tax situation and violation of State Law under his Chairmanship, or so he would like. His screaming and name calling is unfit conduct by private sector and public sector standards and common sense.

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