Board of Selectmen June 26, 2018
After returning from an Executive Session, Chairman Marie Smith called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
Present were Joseph Pacheco, Marie Smith and Patricia Riley.
Mrs. Smith opened the meeting with our Pledge of Allegiance.
Acceptance of the Minutes
Ms. Riley made a motion to accept the minutes of June 12th, meeting as printed, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
Department Heads & Committees
Mr. Bob Iafrate, from the Building Department, was present to request the appointment of a new Assistant Plumbing & Gas Inspector, Kevin Boyle who was recommended by Michael Doyle. Mr. Iafrate believes he will be a good addition to the Building Department and will only be needed when Mr. Doyle is not available. Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
A request for an appointment was received for a Special Police Officer, Kelly L. Gormley who has completed MCJ training. Ms. Riley made a motion based on the recommendation of the Police Chief, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
The Board discussed the yearly appointments. Ms. Riley made a motion to table it to the next meeting, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
An earth removal permit was requested from Long Built homes. Mr. Castongetti was present, representing the builder. He said it is a two-lot subdivision which was approved by the Planning Board and Conservation Commission. Mrs. Smith suggested that he be walked through the process by Mr. Iafrate, as they do not require a permit for this. Ms. Riley made a motion to refer it to the Building Inspector, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
Mr. Peter King was present to give the Board a video of the Memorial Day Parade. The Board thanked Mr. King for all his work.
Completion of Old Business
Adam Perry, Animal Control Officer was present to review with the Board his findings regarding the fence at the home of Ida & Patrick Riley. He feels that the fence has some deficiencies and still requires some work. Mr. Perry said currently the fence isn’t suitable to contain the dogs and he recommended repairing it and reviewing it again to make sure that this is followed through with. Ida Riley said that on July 3rd the invisible fence is being installed and they will fix the existing fence. Mrs. Riley said that she will contact Mr. Perry once the fence is completed. Amy and Dan Smith were also present and just wanted to emphasize the fact that they want to feel safe in their yard. Mr. Pacheco made a motion to request Mr. Perry return and report on the additional improvements made by the dog owners, Ms. Riley seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
Mrs. Smith said on our contracts, we have been informed by the Attorney General that all contracts have to be voted on at a pubic session. So, therefore, I’m going to ask for a motion on the contract for the Building Commissioner. Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Town Planner, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Highway Superintendent, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Town Accountant, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Treasurer Collector, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Veteran’s Service Officer, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Health Inspector, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. On the Plumbing & Gas Inspector, Ms. Riley made a motion to approve, Mr. Pacheco seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous. The Town Administrator, Ms. Riley read a statement: at the May 29th meeting it was my understanding that when Randall Buckner our previous Town Administrator retired the position was not listed and our Health Agent, Mr. Flaherty was asked to fill the position for one year as Acting Town Administrator. Which he has been doing and we certainly appreciate it. When the term comes to an end on June 30th, I propose with agreeing on a job description and then advertising the position. I would like to make a motion that we extend for a period of 6 months, the agreement with Mr. Flaherty as Acting Town Administrator that was negotiated by the Board prior to my service although never made legal in an open meeting. And that simultaneously, we go forward with a full-scale search for the next full time Town Administrator for the Town of Raynham. And as part of that motion, or as a separate motion, if the Chair wishes I would like to volunteer my services as Selectmen’s Liaison for a search committee, of town officials with a wide range of town government experience. Mrs. Smith asked, is that one motion or two? Ms. Riley replied, I would just as soon go with one motion. Mr. Pacheco replied, I’m not seconding that, but I do have comments. Mrs. Smith seconded the motion to allow Mr. Pacheco to make his comments. Mr. Pacheco said, I have been on this Board for 12 years and in the past two weeks this is the first time I have not looked forward to coming to Town Hall. Mr. Flaherty was not even given a head’s up that this was going to be discussed and I feel like if you take out politics, as a human being, it seems that we owed this to Mr. Flaherty prior to this being taken out into open session. And that’s unfortunate. The one thing that I will agree with in your statement is that Dave has done a good job. But, that is precisely why I named him as one of three votes and it takes the majority of the votes, and some people don’t understand that. But it takes the entire Board to vote on something and that’s why I believe that Board put Mr. Flaherty in that position. Prior to Mr. Buckner’s retirement, he was not forced out, he retired on his own accord he offered his assessment that he liked Mr. Flaherty, he was competent, able and at that point doing what he needed to do to continue on. I have his personnel file – there’s nothing in it. When you go to fire somebody, there should be documented evidence of insubordination or incompetence. And that has not happened, and I think that is the most unfortunate thing. We can call it whatever we want to call it, but the bottom line is this vote, if it moves forward, is the termination of a loyal employee of seven years. If you don’t like the process you put a system in place to prevent the process from happening again. But you don’t move forward and terminate an employee who has provided 7 years of service, in my opinion, with distinction. And that’s what’s happening tonight. Mr. Pacheco read an article from the Boston Globe about Town Administrators who’ve lost their jobs, because of in the change of the elected body that appointed them. Certainly, it’s not because of Raynham’s financial conditions, because our bond rating just got increased. Dave has been with the Town for 7 years, he has not applied for other jobs, he has offered his commitment to the Town and when I hire employees, one of the things I try to gage is the person’s commitment to the Town because to me that is just as important as his qualifications and abilities. If you have people who show up everyday and are committed to the Town and the people who live in it, you have a better Town. We have been so lucky decade after decade being graced with employees who come here and stay here their entire career. That’s why we are where we are as a Town not because we change people every couple of years it’s because we have that continuity and Dave provides that to us. We can do a nation-wide search and I have no doubt that we will get some good candidates, but we are going to pay them a significant amount more than we’re paying Mr. Flaherty. Here is just a sampling of towns doing nation-wide searches, Hanover – September 2018 terminated, Oxford – 2018 terminated, Stoughton April 2017 – terminated, Hamilton April 2018 resignation, terminated because then couldn’t come to terms over a contract that paid over $150,000, Nahant March 2018 – termination, Easton February 2017 terminated, Rockland Town Administrator has just been placed on leave. You can do a search, and think your bringing in the very best candidate, but the bottom line is you don’t know what you’re going to get. You know what you’re going to get from Dave, that is commitment and somebody that shows up every day trying to do the best he can for all of us. He has not had the opportunity to solely be the Town Administrator, because he also had to be the Board of Health Agent. We’ve unsuccessfully not been able to fill that position. Two weeks ago, we brought forward a candidate that fills that bill. My proposal is to allow Dave to serve out the one-year contract that the previous Board, in good faith entered into, albeit incorrectly. It should have been done in open session, but that was the intent of the previous Board and I believe that it’s only fair to do it and I believe that would give Dave an example and an opportunity to further demonstrate to this Board and the Town of Raynham why he belongs in that chair right there. Additionally, I had an opportunity to read information that you supplied me Ms. Riley, in Charlton the Administrator was hired in 2006 and had problems with strained relationships with employees and in 2017 an employee alleged harassment against him. In summation, we can do a search, but we have gone this route before and Ms. Riley you were there when George Guasconi was appointed for the Superintendent’s position as well. Ms. Riley said; I didn’t take part in it. The bottom line is that we owe it to Dave to fulfill the contract that the previous Board, in good faith, entered into. And I believe that going in another direction, is going to adversely affect every other department head. When you come to work, and you believe that you are in an environment that you can’t make a mistake, or you are going to be shown the door, you’re not going to have any loyalty from your employees and if they make a mistake they are going to try to cover it up which is going to create more problems. I am going to make a plea to my two colleagues, Ms. Riley I would ask that where you’ve been on the Board 75 days that you allow Mr. Flaherty to continue on for the next year and give him a fair evaluation and to Mrs. Smith, I would argue to you that you have never voted to terminate anybody regardless of the outcome and tonight to me, regardless of how we want to categorize this, it is a termination and I would ask you to continue to be consistent and not terminate Mr. Flaherty tonight. Ms. Riley responded, nothing has been mentioned about termination. Mr. Flaherty was given a one-year contract, illegal contract, as Acting Town Administrator, and my point is we need to go forward with a search, which is the correct way to do it. I did not offer this in any way as a criticism of the job the Acting Town Administrator has been doing, Mr. Flaherty has every opportunity to apply for the position and my motion is to extend the contract for 6 months, then he and certainly apply for it. I believe that the people in the Town of Raynham, want us to do our due diligence and conduct a search and I’m not talking about terminating anyone. Mr. Pacheco said; we are going to respectfully disagree on that one Ms. Riley. Mr. Flaherty asked if he could read a statement in rebuttal. He said; I feel that I should make a statement regarding my position in the Town of Raynham and how it has been affected this past month. I started as Health Agent in March of 2013 and I was appointed as the Acting Town Administrator in 2015 as Randy approached retirement. In 2016 I was offered the Acting Town Administrator’s position and would learn the job and prepared the next FY’s budget and Town Meeting warrant with Randy’s help. It states clearly in the memo from him to me, section 4 – probation period is 3 – 6 months following Mr. Buckner’s departure during which the Board will have further opportunity to evaluate performance. Mr. Buckner retired in April of 2017 and at which time I took over as Acting Town Administrator in a probationary capacity. And during that period, I put together the warrants for a Special and a Town Meeting as well as prepared the budget for FY18. I also fixed the insurance mess that I inherited by getting existing Town Properties on the insurance roll, which they hadn’t been and removed vehicles off the insurance roll that had long been traded in for new. I conduct Town business in a professional manner and have positive communication with the various Town Superintendents, vendors and citizens that I interact with. In 2016 Mr. Pacheco informed me that they wished to keep the Acting title on my position in other words, 6 more months of probation. I agreed without objection because I enjoy the job and wanted this to resolve itself which I believe it would. Since, I have assembled another Town Meeting as well as prepared new department heads contracts for FY19 budget. I have participated in union negotiations with the various Town Counsels and Selectmen and have updated the Town Hall phone system which resulted in a net decrease in costs to Raynham. I’ve updated the Town website to make it more user friendly and again with a net savings to the Town. I have also fulfilled all the duties of Health Agent with no additional stipend or salary, so that the Town would be covered. The Board of Selectmen directed me to advertise for a Health Agent which I did, responses were limited and not qualified. We recently interviewed a well-qualified Health Agent on May 29th with a follow up interview with the Selectmen. My contact was signed April 3, 2018 by then Selectmen, Chair Karen Donahue. I have never been written up for disciplinary action, insubordination, or dereliction of duty. I believe that I have been very respectful with the Board of Selectmen, my relationships with Town employees seem to be very positive and many have reaffirmed that to me. In light of this, being threatened with the loss of my position, after 18 months of being on the job and possessing a valid contract for the next FY and trying to do the work of two people, sends a very negative message to the department heads and employees and citizens of Raynham. How many months or years do I need to serve before I feel that my position is secure? It seems that 1 ½ years in not enough even with a valid contract. I live 90 minutes away from here, yet I’m one of the first people here at Town Hall. Raynham is worth it to me, but now it feels like Raynham doesn’t feel I’m worth it. Ms. Riley said, for clarification a contract is not valid unless it is voted in open meeting and no one has the authority to sign a contract unless it is first voted on in open meeting. Mrs. Smith said we stand with a motion that was seconded. It in no way as Ms. Riley said in her statement is this saying that David was fired, what we are doing is trying to correct something that incorrect to begin with. Mr. Pacheco said, if I could clarify, what are you saying? What needs to be corrected that was incorrect? Mrs. Smith replied; it was not voted on in an open session. Mr. Pacheco asked; the contract? Mrs. Smith replied, yes. Mr. Pacheco said, but that’s not what we’re disputing now because what we just did was voted on every other contract that was previously acted upon with no changes. The motion at hand is to significantly change the contract that was previously entered into unlike every other contract that we just voted on and again, essentially, we can call it whatever we want but it’s a termination of Mr. Flaherty. It’s not to correct an error that was made, we just did that the motion on the table, I want you to be clear Madam Chair, the motion is to essentially terminate Mr. Flaherty. He was offered a one-year contract consistent with what we’ve done in the past, and every other department head. We just voted on 6 department head contracts that were previously voted on and rectified the issue that we were aware of. We are not voting on the same thing for Mr. Flaherty, so let’s be abundantly clear on that. It’s a termination of Mr. Flaherty because somebody doesn’t like the process by which he was selected and did not control, but you and I were on that Board, Madam Chair, and we both supported that process. Ms. Riley asked why wasn’t the position ever advertised when Mr. Buckner retired and Mr. Flaherty and anyone else could have applied for it? Mr. Pacheco said, I can speak to my reasons, we felt that when you have the ability to promote from within, which we’ve done across the Board, Chief Januse, Chief Donovan, Town Clerk Silvia, we have always promoted from within when we felt we had a qualified candidate in house. For two reasons; one, we knew what we had and if you ask any successful business person, that’s continuity. When you’re replacing people and you have a revolving door you lose productivity and are not maximizing your revenue, and in this case, taxpayer dollars. Mr. Flaherty shows consistency, continuity and commitment. Mr. Flaherty in 7 years has done nothing to warrant the treatment that he has received from members of this Board or his contract renewed like every other department head. If you don’t like the process, I will second every motion you want Ms. Riley from now on any posting we have to do, but to put him out on the street after he’s served the taxpayers of Raynham for 7 years with honor and dignity it’s disturbing. If I was treated like this I wouldn’t come back, I would be sending my resume out and if I was every other department head, and I would be doing the same thing. Ms. Riley said, just a point of clarification regarding salary according to the MMA the average salary of Town Administrators is between $85 - $100,000, I think we pay at the very top end. Mr. Pacheco replied, we do not Ms. Riley, I have never seen a town in Massachusetts pay what we pay Mr. Flaherty, he doesn’t even make $100,000 and if you look at every one of the towns you sent me, they’re in the $150,000 range – Easton is almost $200,000 and then they fired him which is what we might have here, if he wasn’t so classy. I’d have lawyer here tonight if I was Mr. Flaherty, he could be on the hook to sue us. Let’s be real here, I have given everybody an opportunity to speak. He could sue, but if I was him, I’d have a lawyer here right now. I have never seen a Town Administrator in Massachusetts get paid $80,000 never, Rockland - $160,000, you tell me anybody who’s going to take this job for $80,000 and I’ll give you $100. We do salary study, after salary study and when department heads come to me looking for more money I say the privilege is for you working for the Town of Raynham. We are at the bottom of the barrel across the board – there are many Town Clerks on the job for 4 minutes and are making more than her. Most Town Administrators make more money than Dave, and one of the examples you gave me Ms. Riley, he also has outside employment which has been very criticized in the Town of Carver. Dave, do you have outside employment? Mr. Flaherty said, no. M. Pacheco asked, is this your only employment? Mr. Flaherty replied, yes. Mr. Pacheco asked; have you applied for employment since you’ve been with us? Mr. Flaherty replied, no but there was a job in my home town as Assistant Town Administrator for over $90,000 and I thought about it, but I like Raynham and I’d rather drive an hour and a half then 5 minutes. Ms. Riley said; it was $1,800 a week. Mr. Pacheco said, I told you he makes under $100,000. Ms. Riley said, I have not said anything negative towards Mr. Flaherty. Mr. Pacheco said, what I said was the previous Board, based upon past practices, and I emphasize that, entered into a contract in good faith with Mr. Flaherty to extend his term for another like we did with every other department head and every other department head was given a renewal tonight except for Mr. Flaherty. Ms. Riley said; there’s a difference every other department head was not in an Acting position. Mr. Pacheco said; I agree with you but there’s no deviation the fact is the previous Board entered into a contract with him for another year. Mrs. Karen Donahue, former Selectman was present to make a statement. She said we signed Mr. Flaherty’s contract on 4/3 in good faith and that he did a great job. We had a discussion in open meeting and in Executive Session we had bullet points on what he needed to improve on and what we thought his assets were we and as a Board came together and did the exact same thing. We all acted together, and as the meeting went on, we all determined that Mr. Flaherty, moving forward, did a great job and do both positions well. We also _____ with the Planning Department, we did not post that position. But I really hate when people say we have part-time people, we have great people that do a great job and that’s why we can do this. Mr. Flaherty’s done nothing wrong, he’s a phenomenal person he makes everybody happy and work harder and has a great work ethic and he drives 90 minutes everyday to come here. It breaks my heart that we would even consider doing this to him. It’s a travesty! I’m disgusted with the Town right now. This is beyond anything I could imagine. Ms. Riley said, I would respectfully like to request at what meeting it was discussed in public, I’ve gone through all of the minutes and I’ve watched videos and never saw anything. Karen Donahue said, I don’t know the exact date, but I know it was brought up and we did it in Executive Session and in Open Meeting. When you look at the Open Meeting Law it says, you have to discuss the contract, it says nothing about signing it. After every meeting we say that we adjourn and sign contracts, warrants, etc. and that’s what we did. We brought it up in Open Meeting and then we sign it. Ms. Riley said just for clarification, the Open Meeting Law very clearly states that contracts with non-union personnel can be negotiated in Executive Session but must be voted in Open Meeting and you can’t just say that it’s a signed contract it has to be identified. It’s all part of transparency which is so important for public trust. So, nobody’s contract is the past 10 years is valid? That’s ridiculous. That’s why we just corrected the contacts in Open Meeting. Mr. Schiavo was present and said, obviously there’s a lot of information and a very complex thing. I’m confused about why the Board initially approved the other positions that needed public approval and why not this one? I was one of the people who hired Dave 7 years ago. This job reports to you, you have the authority, not him. What I don’t understand is there has been no complaint that we’re aware of and he has a pretty good reputation and a signed contract, and I support you. Ms. Riley said, just for clarification, there is not a signed contract, and according to a ruling from the Attorney General, regarding the open meeting law, if it is not voted in open meeting it is null and void. And I think that the reason for it is because it was because he is acting. Have we done an evaluation of Mr. Flaherty? I will withdraw my motion and make another motion, that we extend the contract as Acting Town Administrator for 6 months with an evaluation; at that point it would obviously be a public evaluation if the Board agrees. Mr. Pacheco said; I am not seconding that, Mrs. Smith seconded to give Mr. Pacheco the floor. To do the right thing, is to give Dave his one-year contract and add a monthly evaluation if Ms. Riley wants. I believe that this man deserves a one-year contract that the Board previously entered into, and if we move forward and fill the Health Agent’s position and allow him, like Mr. Buckner be the Town Administrator, forget about these 6 month contracts, I don’t know anybody that has one, it’s not fair and it’s no way to live. Mr. Flaherty deserves more of an investment from us. What I would like to see is a motion on the floor for a one-year contract and regular evaluations by this Board, and whatever Ms. Riley sees fit of Mr. Flaherty’s contract, and by March 30, to see if we are going to move forward with it, or we are going to post and go out. We owe him that courtesy and that decency, and we owe the people of Raynham the continuity. Mr. John Teixeira, of First Street was present and asked when we renewed his contract, when his six-month probationary period was up why didn’t we make him the Town Administrator? Mr. Pacheco said, we tried, but there was a member of the Board who made a request at that time to continue on in that capacity and continue to evaluate. I wanted to do what you just said. Ms. Riley changed her motion Mr. Pacheco said my motion is like the other ones, Ms. Riley, give him a year contract which was previously committed to him, and I would stipulate to you what ever type of evaluation process you want to put in place, but he deserves to be here. Mr. Pacheco made the motion to renew his contract for a year, consistent with every other Department Head, and do at minimum a quarterly formal evaluation of Mr. Flaherty and leave his title as it stands as Acting Town Administrator, Ms. Riley seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
Town Administrator’s Report
Mr. Flaherty reviewed the Town Administrator’s Report.
The Archive Room at the North School is done; and there are minor bathroom finishing touches left to do.
A new vehicle is to be acquired for the ACO as specified in Town Meeting.
Mr. Flaherty attended MCCPO training session in Boston yesterday for procurement.
Mr. Flaherty, as Acting Health Agent, followed up on four Chapter II Housing complaints, performed two Title 5 system inspections and processed four Title permits for construction. Health Inspector Brian McCracken is up to speed on almost every type of inspection to perform.
The EPA/DEP Stormwater Report has been submitted and Raynham is in substantial compliance now.
Raycam needs another Board Member. Please contact Kevin Ellis, if interested. Raynham Historical Society needs 2 more members. Please contact Pat Riley. Contact info can be obtained at the Selectmen’s Office.
The next Selectmen’s meeting will be held on July 10th at 7:00 p.m. as the Board is observing the summer schedule.
The next Dept. Head Meeting will be held on July 19th at 9:30 a.m.
The SMHG Meeting will be held on July 26th in Seekonk.
The RFD Safety Committee meeting will be held on July 10th at 6:30 p.m.
Mr. Pacheco wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July. He also wanted to offer his condolences to the family of Paul Sullivan of Bridgewater who recently passed away.
Ms. Riley recently attended training at the MMA that provides advocacy, publications and training for Massachusetts cities and towns. On June 9th , the Mass. Selectmen’s Association recently held their training for newly elected Selectmen, which included a wide range of topics that is relative to the Boards of Selectmen and also included was a full range of resources that are available that Towns can access for their benefit at no cost. Much of the focus was on the Open Meeting Law which has become much more closely monitored and enforced then ever before and they also discussed the transparency in local government. Also, budgeting and setting the tax rate was also discussed. Ms. Riley would like to see on the Agenda for the next meeting, being the first meeting of the new FY, would be goals that we could come up with for the office, and updating of the By-Laws.
A letter of resignation was received from Pam Menconi, Asst. Town Clerk. She will be taking a position in the Town of Easton. Mr. Pacheco made a motion to thank Pam for her service and wished her well, Ms. Riley seconded, and Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.
A thank you letter was received from the Fast Pitch Soft Ball Team, for Tag Days, as they have found it to be a very successful source of fundraising.
Citizen & Community Input
Jordan Deschenes, from the Taunton Daily Gazette was present and had some questions.
8:12 p.m. Ms. Riley motioned, and Mr. Pacheco seconded to adjourn for the performance of administrative duties, signing of Bills and Warrants with no business to be conducted afterwards. Mrs. Smith made it unanimous.