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Thread: The many problems with the Selectmen's firing of the Town Administrator

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Default The many problems with the Selectmen's firing of the Town Administrator

    The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 last night to fire Town Administrator Fred Turkington. Turkington had received excellent reviews every year since being hired, but was fired "without cause" because the town supposedly needs a "new direction". However, there was no public discussion or explanation of what that "new direction" might be.

    The motion was made by Tony Boschetto. Ed Collins and Doug Leard voted with him. Leard, as Chair, Collins and Boschetto offered no substantive discussion of the motion. What is unclear to me is what "new direction" Boschetto, Collins and Leard were agreeing we needed without having any public discussion of what that "new direction" might be. Joe Nolan voted against the motion; Steve Correia was appalled by the process, refused to be part of it and left without voting. (Watch the video online here starting at 27:30)

    There was no public advance notice of this. The agenda stated: "Review Town Administrator Employment Agreement and Job Description" and Chairman Leard (who is responsible for the agenda) did not return Mr. Correia or Mr. Turkington's requests for clarification. Selectmen Steve Correia and Joe Nolan were clearly completely blindsided.

    On the other hand, Selectmen Collins and Leard seemed unsurprised by the motion. The same could be said of the unusually large audience for a summer meeting with no major matters apparently on the agenda. Chairman Doug Leard managed to make what he called the "most difficult decision ever" in a few minutes without any substantive public discussion, but then he offered to write a letter of recommendation for the man he was terminating. I can't make sense of how this can happen in a world in which no discussions about board decisions are allowed to be made outside the public view.

    This termination, of a man whose performance is not being disputed, turns our Town Administrator position into a political appointee. Who would take what is intended to be a long-term position if they might be treated this way, arbitrarily, by the Board of Selectmen? The Town has endangered its ability to hire quality personnel in the future.

    The Town has an obligation to pay Mr. Turkington's salary and retirement benefits for the next 12 months. If the Board was dissatisfied with Mr. Turkington's performance, it should have been discussed with him and indicated on his evaluations. If they weren't dissatisfied, then the decision could only be purely political in what is not intended to be a political position. Why not have just waited until his contract expired and then made a timely transition to the next Town Administrator? We won't know because there was no public discussion of this.

    Consider the risks this puts the town in today. We just fired our COO with no transition or replacement plan (or at least one in any way articulated to or vetted by the public). We have major items on the agenda including the new DPW building process and we are just about to head into the budgeting process with a brand new Finance Director.

    I am aghast. I feel duped and blindsided, cheated as a taxpayer, violated as someone who believes in courtesy and transparency, by this decision by three members of the Board of Selectmen. I am embarrassed by the actions of the three majority members of this board. I feel we are owed a collective explanation, apology, and immediate reversal of a thoughtless and hasty decision.


    Note: This posting is my work individually, and has not been reviewed or endorsed by the WaylandeNews editorial board.

    Note: Mr. Leard has not (as of the time I am making this post) responded to my email early this morning looking for help with my confusion over understanding of how this vote could have occurred as it did. If he does respond, I will suggest to him the opportunity to provide clarification here.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 08-27-2013 at 01:30 PM. Reason: clarification

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