Advisory Committee Update: Resignations, board changes, and continuing vacancies

by beth on January 25, 2019

This winter, four members stepped down from the nine member Advisory Committtee for various personal reasons. Only one of those spots has been filled.

The Committee is in midst of its busiest season, preparing for an Annual Town Meeting. Their job is to advise voters on all articles and budget requests. This year’s task should be daunting with 45 Warrant Articles to examine, a budget season that has been seemingly difficult, and earlier than usual deadlines.

So, I was surprised to see three seats remained not only vacant but also unpromoted.

I followed up with Moderator Paul Cimino and new Chair Kathy Cook to understand what’s happening.

The short version is that they don’t want to add inexperienced new members this close to Town Meeting. They are better off relying on the experienced members they have.

But the longer version includes a disagreement between Cimino and Cook about not filling one of the vacancies with a former, longtime member Sam Stivers.

Here’s more background:

At the start of the Tuesday, December 11th meeting, Town Clerk Jim Hegarty informed the public of an odd happenstance” that happened over the weekend. He explained that Vice Chair Frank Mainville resigned on Friday afternoon followed quickly by Chair Adrian Peter’s resignation on Sunday “for totally unrelated reasons”. 

Hegarty advised that because the circumstances happened within the 48 hours* of the meeting, it was “perfectly allowable” to hold new officer elections. The board unanimously voted in Kathy Cook as Chair and Chelsea Marie Malinowski as Co-Chair.

In the weeks that followed Secretary Ravi Mynampaty and member Mina O’Hearn also stepped down for personal reasons. Recently, former member Claire Reynolds was appointed to fill one of the seats.

In my conversation with Moderator Paul Cimino, he said that he and Cook discussed not throwing new members in the deep end this close to Town Meeting. He followed that Cook was confident in the abilities of the remaining members of the committee.

Speaking with Cook, I learned that following the first two resignations she asked him to appoint both Reynolds and Stivers. 

Back in June, when Stivers and Dorianne Jasinski’s terms ended, Cimino replaced them with O’Hearn and former fellow selectman John Rooney. (He moved Jasinski to the Personnel Board.) At that time, Cook publicly commented on the blog her concern that it was for “personal and misplaced animus towards Mr. Stivers”.

Cimino was unwilling to publicly comment on that issue. But he did invite that anyone who wanted to discuss it with him could contact him directly at moderator@southboroughma.com.

Cook says last month, she urged Cimino to appoint Stivers to Peters’ seat to help them through this season. Since that seat expires in June, the Moderator would be able to replace him again this summer.** According to Cook, Cimino was initially noncommittal. In a later conversation he confirmed to her that he would not appoint Stivers.

However, Cook does agree with Cimino’s assessment that Advisory’s sitting members are all knowledgeable and capable.

*The “48 hours” notice under Open Meeting Law do not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays.

**I should note that Cimino’s seat is up for re-election this spring. Therefore the moderator making appointments in June may be someone else.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 southsider January 25, 2019 at 1:21 PM

Wow! Talk about getting personal with your politics.

Sam Stivers is one of the more knowledgeable citizens in this town; for years, attending more public meetings of the various Committees and Boards than anyone else. He has Advisory experience at a time when such experience is sorely needed.

Yet our Moderator deigns to not appoint him to be one member of a 9 member Board for undisclosed reasons! Shame! Government is supposed to be more transparent than that.
Is Sam so persuasive and yet so unaligned with Mr. Cimino’s vision that he won’t even appoint him despite the specific request of the Advisory Chair?

curiouser and curiouser

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2 Al Hamilton January 26, 2019 at 9:05 AM

Southsider

State law requires the town to have an Advisory (Finance) committee and that it is that committee that is responsible for developing a budget proposal for debate at Town Meeting

However, the number of members and method of appointing members is left to local control. In our town the Advisory by-law says that it is the Moderator that appoints. In other towns the BOS appoints, or members are elected, or appointments are split between various boards and officials.

If you are unhappy with Mr. Cimino’s performance you could raise the 10 signatures to put a change of appointment method before Town Meeting or you could decide to challenge Mr. Cimino at the polls.

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3 SSSS January 29, 2019 at 12:13 PM

Stop Subverting Stivers, Simino

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4 Concerned Voter January 30, 2019 at 6:30 PM

SSSS — I agree. Furthermore, this Moderator is anything but neutral, as he should be. He injects his own personal bias which is not ok. He runs town meeting with his own agenda. He allows hours and hours of ill-conceived presentations at the taxpayers expense, with little to no opposing opinion, thereby cheating the taxpayer of all sides to the issue at hand. He cuts short public comment and opposing opinions. In my humble opinion, he is anything but neutral and anything but fair and balanced. Imagine this: a public official telling you, the public, he won’t discuss his reasons for not appointing the most experienced volunteers in the community? Wake up Cimino: this is Town public business. You don’t get to hide your reasons and not discuss them publicly. The public is not going to email you with their questions. You answer to your boss: the public, and publicly. If not, you are out.

All of this is not ok. All of this is in contrast to the way Mr. Wilson ran town meeting, without the same level of personal rancor and bias. Time for a new Moderator.

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