As I’ve previously posted, its the season for running for Town Offices. A dozen seats will be on the ballot this May.
I promised to post when races begin to brew. As of this weekend, there appears to be a race for the Select Board. (Formerly known as the Board of Selectmen.)*
Select Board Race
Select Board Members Sam Stivers’ and Marty Healey’s terms expire this May. Healey announced that he isn’t seeking a second term, since he’ll be traveling extensively this fall. Stivers has pulled papers to run for re-election.
Over the weekend, Advisory Chair Kathy Cook informed me that she will also be throwing her hat in the ring. (If she’s elected, I believe it will be the first time that the majority of the board are women.)
Cook’s announcement makes three candidates for the two seats, since Michael Weishan previously announced his run.
Weishan has most recently served as the Chair of the Historical Commission. This month, the Select Board met with him in Executive Sessions over questions about purported conflict of interest violations over expenses reimbursed 5-6 years ago. Weishan has publicly refuted the charges as a misunderstanding and stated the timing was “highly suspect” given his run. Chair Lisa Braccio objected to is statements as “irresponsible and damaging untruths”.
Last Thursday, following a closed session, the Select Board accepted Weishan’s resignation. No statement about the incident has been issued since by the Board or Weishan.
On the Ballot
If you’re interested in joining that race or seeking another position, nominations papers can be pulled until Friday, March 18th for filing by Monday, March 22nd. (Both deadlines are 5:00 pm. Candidates must submit 50 valid signatures of residents registered to vote in Southborough.)
Below is the full list of which seats are at stake. (Unless otherwise specified, each have one seat available):
- Board of Assessors – 3 year term
- Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds – 3 year term
- Board of Health – 3 year term
- Select Board – vote for two – 3 year term*
- Board of Trustees Southborough Library – vote for two – 3 year term
- Moderator – 1 year term
- Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee – Southborough candidate – 3 year term**
- Planning Board – 5 year term
- Southborough School Committee – vote for two – 3 year term
I’ll update readers as races develop or if it appears we’re in danger of ending up with a vacancy for any positions. In the meantime, if you want to keep tabs on who has pulled or filed papers you can look for daily updates on the Town Clerk’s dedicated election page.
For those of you considering a run, check the Town’s website for the full list of vital dates. (If you have questions about the responsibilities for each board, you can find information here. Since most of the boards/committees have only been meeting online, you can also view their latest meetings here.)
For those of you just interested in voting, make sure you’re registered by April 20th at 7:00 pm. And save the date to vote on May 10th between 6:30 am – 8:00 pm at Trottier Middle School. (Or register for Absentee Voting here.)
*The Board of Selectmen’s official name change to Select Board (approved by voters in the fall) has been ratified by the Attorney General’s office.
**There’s also a Northborough seat available on the Regional School Committee, but while Southborough residents can vote for it, we obviously can’t run for it.
Before Mr. Healey leaves his post, I hope he Gives us taxpayers an update on his accomplishments or lack of, in dealing with St. Marks school The last I knew nothing has happened.
Good to know there are multiple people running, even though the town needs more BOS candidates. All five BOS members starting with Healey (plus Braccio, Malinowski, Dennington, and Stivers) have not disclosed the full costs and controversial details of the St. Mark’s project. Per public record, Ms. Cook email of 3-9-21: “. . . I am on Capital Planning Committee and HAD NO IDEA the town’s share of the St. Mark’s project is $1,000,000.” K.Galligan: “. . .I do not know what the final cost will be. . . It was such a fast track from inception to bid, THE PROJECT WAS NOT FULLY FORMULATED OR DESIGNED when the Town decided to pursue the grant . . .”
Excerpt from Kathy Cook (Advisory) to Karen Galligan 3-9-21: “It appears that we will have no road funds (Warrant or Ch.90) to use for other routine paving projects until at least 7-1-23. . .KG: “. . . We will not have sufficient funds to bid and award a $1.5m road maintenance There are no current road maintenance contracts. . .”
Except from KG email on 3-11-21 to Purple and Healey: “We were planning on $1.3m including the add-in of sidewalks all the way to west campus. Unfortunately, we are at $1.2m without that. . .we don’t have enough money to do the sidewalk ADD-IN, which makes the project more attractive to the town. . .my recommendation is to RETURN THE GRANT and incorporate the intersection and sidewalk with the downtown project.”
Excerpt from EDC Chair John Wood email 12-16-20 to Purple and Healey re: Winter Street Shared Streets Grant: Does EDC need to vote on this before we can submit? Can we get approval from Marty. . . or does this need to be presented at a BOS meeting?”
Excerpt from Marty Healey email dated 12-16-20 to Wood and Purple: “Mark – my view is that you can OK this. Votes by EDC or BOS seem unnecessary. Agree?”
Excerpt from 12-16-20 Purple email to Wood, Healey: “EDC has had all the luck with these grants lately, so maybe it’s Karen’s (Galligan) turn.”
Excerpt from 1-5-21 MassDOT Shared Streets Grant Program – Name of Official Municipal Signatory: Martin F. Healey. Project Cost (Required): $580,000. Project Description: “The town of Southborough is proposing a series of new sidewalks, pedestrian connections and gathering spaces to develop the “Southborough History Walk.”
On 2-4-21 the State awarded $290,000 grant to support the History Walk.
Excerpt from Patricia Fiore email 11-3-21 to Purple: “the state’s website says “Southborough received $290,000 to support the implementation of a new, “Southborough History Walk. . . (Also see My SB 2/2/21)”. “. . . sounds like all the things that qualified this project for the grant have been eliminated. I don’t see sidewalks on the original plan.”
“I am trying to understand why Southborough is undertaking a construction project, using grant money for the town, that is on land owned by St.Mark’s and the purpose of the project is to increase parking for St.Marks playing field. . .” “I am trying to understand the intentions of this project. When items were cut from the plan, it was the items benefiting Southborough residents yet the part benefiting St.Marks remains.”
Question: look at the date of Ms. Fiore’s email, it’s two days after Mr.Healey’s and Ms. Connelly’s push of the EDC Downtown Re-Zoning Initiative at town meeting on 11-1-21. Was there any discussion of the inability to afford the normal usual road maintenance contract at that meeting? By Advisory’s Ms. Cook or any member of BOS? Any discussion of grant money or questions on licenses to the town on land swaps with St.Marks? Want to know what taxpayer dollars just paid for? What piece of land is BOS only backwardsly NOW looking for voters to authorize? See “Exhibit A” to the questionable license agreement (signed 11-16-21) by all five BOS dated AFTER all this work got done: BOS and DPW just relocated St. Marks street through an area depicting Nipmuc Burial Ground in the town history book. They are handing over the land under the existing Town road to St. Marks.
Last email excerpt, to Marty Healey from Purple 11-8-21: “Lisa (Braccio) has been doing a tremendous amount of research, with Karen’s (Galligan) assistance, to prove that the Nipmuc burial ground is within the confines of the Old Burial Ground, despite crudely drawn maps in books that may indicate to the contrary.” (Town history book, Fences of Stone in town library and Town Hall).
Thank you for putting in the work of requesting public records. Luckily, since public records are themselves public records, it looks like there have been 6 recent requests for records relating to the project and the town’s fiscal relationship to St. Mark’s, including one from the Historic Commission, yielding *100s* of pages of records! I’d be very grateful to hear more about your work on these records. If you can, please reach out at email@example.com. Thank you again! -James
Wow! This sounds horribly mis-managed and maybe worse. Seems we mis-led the State about our purpose and clearly provided too small an estimated cost to the Grant Approval authorities… and now, I read that there may be no money for even routine pothole repair for another year! Please tell me i’m all wrong. How could this happen??
More proof that Karen Galligan and Mark Purple have overstayed their welcome. We seem to have lost accountability and responsibility
Thanks to Healey and gang, this is an OFF BUDGET crazy UNDISCLOSED $1.3m amount stuck to the taxpayers, a road and infrastructure project that apparently had nothing to do with the clear application to the state for a history walk. All done outside the town budget process. The reason a road contract is not in place is because the town can’t afford it, the money has been spent.
Galligan applied for the grant (her “turn” per EDC, Wood—with Healey and Purple directing) clearly describing a History Walk. This had everything to do with the EDC rezoning of downtown at upcoming town meeting on November 1. That’s why you never heard a word from any BOS or Advisory member.
On 2-3-21, the state awards the grant. On 3-2-21, Ms. Galligan writes to Ms. Gillespie (Open Space), “The history walk was just a concept that was floated to make the grant proposal attractive. However, it is not set in stone or funded under the grant, or part of the spec that is being bid.” She just applied for (at others urging) and got a state taxpayer funded grant that has been spent on construction for a parking lot and a road on St. Marks land. WTH. The entire concept is nuts, running a busy short cut road with traffic rush hour cutting next to a park. A park with no trees. Razed trees that used to absorb much of the water that floods the area, but now will be impervious paved area, on a reportedly sacred burial ground of indigenous people, all while ignoring the warning letter from the Mass Historical Commission.
Starting with Ms. Cook, who realized what was going on, every single one of these people could have disclosed and discussed these matters on town meeting floor on November 1. Instead every one of them remained silent, never disclosing cost problems, nor lack of and much later dubious legal agreements, questionable legal authority (why ask voters permission now, after the fact), Mr. Healey’s putting the $1m yoke on the town. None of these people represent what this town needs. This is mismanagement at its worst. It was all preventable. None of these people are worthy of your vote. Voters, do not approve this mess and send a message to Healey, Dennington, Malinowski, Stivers, and Braccio. Someone needs to make the town whole.
Not surprising’ the whole thing should be returned to what it was before construction started. It must be time to have an outsider appointed to watch our government more closely to avoid these kind of deals🪱🪓☢️
It is long overdue for Mr Purple to move on. I would think some of the things mentioned in Undisclosed’s comment above would be grounds for termination, assuming they are true.
Ms Braccio might be wise to consider resignation as well.
Agree, long overdue. It’s much too cozy, disturbingly so, in that department in town hall. The lack of professionalism and accountability to the public is terrible. More importantly, this is a monumental expensive mess that Purple had a first hand participation in, which appears to be a breach of his authority. Time for a full review of all of his communications and participation in the Healey, Wood / EDC, Galligan “turn” to get money from the state. Good luck with that: Purple is also the Chief Records Officer. He sanitizes public records requests by not including attachments and follow up emails, with obvious omissions.
Ever wonder why his salary contract is so much higher than surrounding towns? There needs to be an investigation and put that ridiculously overpriced contract out to bid. Every single BOS and Advisory member who knew this was happening and sat silently at the November 1 town meeting does not deserve voter support. They played an active role in duping the taxpayers.
No signed agreements between parties. None. St. Marks Director of Development claims they were approached by the town, and it’s not their project. So why is this project happening? Why is the town handing over the existing town road to a private party. And the town’s share of expense is over $1m, per Advisory’s Ms.Cook? She asks Ms. Galligan when did she inform the town?
On 11-16-21, at a BOS meeting, Lisa Braccio produces a License Agreement (that is questionable on legal validity) for the BOS to sign after the work is done. A questionable application for an Emergency Grant by Karen Galligan, who later recommends the grant be returned to the state and the “project” be rolled into the Downtown project.
Mr. Marty Healey, did you or someone fail to check about burial grounds? If this is a cemetery, sacred burial ground, you cannot run a road over it. It’s against the law.
Excerpt from 10-31-21 email from Mark Purple to St. Marks: “. . .due to financial constraints, the Town has decided NOT to do the History Walk portion of the project. . . Therefore, both documents would have to be edited TO ELIMINATE THE MENTION OF THE WALK so that people don’t think that they are getting something that they are not. If you want to circulate the plan, then I would defer to Karen (Galligan) to see if she can edit the plan to eliminate the portions of the walkway that are no longer included.”
This is eight months after Ms. Galligan tells Ms. Gillespie (email reference above) that the History Walk was just a concept to make the Grant Application more attractive to the state. In October 2021, St. Marks is instructed by Mr. Purple to edit out the History Walk.
As an important footnote to the above Ms. Cook’s discovery of the Town’s share of cost, see the following excerpt from Marty Healey 2-9-21 email to Karen Galligan,DPW: “I think we can get away without a full blown contract between the Town and St. Marks but we’ll need something. . . What hard costs might there be if we (the Town) did some of the heavy lifting on the gravel parking.” (For St. Marks). This allegedly has turned out to be an additional $20,000 of Town funds. All off budget. No vote from BOS, Advisory, or the town voters.
So with no contract with the Town, and in violation of conditions of the Grant, work commenced. On 11-16-21, new town counsel and Lisa Braccio put forward a DRAFT license agreement to the BOS for their signature. The agreement itself appears to be an easement, which makes it allegedly of no legal authority. The matter should have been discussed at Town Meeting on 11-1-21.