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Select Board Rebuffs Motion To Reconsider CPC Appointment

by Connie Sartini
 
At their Monday night meeting, the Select Board was asked to reconsider their split vote of their Dec. 9 meeting when they appointed Carolyn Perkins to the Community Preservation Committee.
     To consider this request, Chairman Alison Manugian cited Roberts Rules of Order in which one of the three members on the prevailing side of the vote can ask for the reconsideration and anyone on the Board can second it. The vote in favor of Perkins at the December 9 meeting included Board members Josh Degen, John Giger and Becky Pine in support of Perkins, with Alison Manugian and John Reilly opposed, both favoring the second candidate Marlena Gilbert.
     Chairman Manugian said that she wanted to clarify that the process for the appointment was messy, but was in compliance with past practices. “We will take this one step at a time and I will entertain a motion.”
     Selectman Josh Degen said he wanted to explain why he brought it up, and move to reconsider the vote. Degen pointed out that this was a vote for the Select Board to appoint an at-large member to the CPC.
     “Last week we had a request to appoint Carolyn Perkins from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). There were two folks that had applied (for the at large opening), Carolyn Perkins and Marlena Gilbert.” Perkins was the recommendation from the majority of the CPC.
     Degen said he was caught off guard. Marlena Gilbert expressed interest and wanted to speak to the Board. He stressed, “Both Carolyn Perkins and Marlena Gilbert have served the town well. I was really torn. I heard Marlena’s (position), but I voted in favor of Carolyn Perkins. I was bothered by it at home on the following day and I came to the conclusion that the CPC did not include the Select Board members,” as potential candidates for the opening.
     The CPC has five members – one each from the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, the Park Dept., the Historic Districts Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee, and two appointments from the Select Board for at-large members. “It did not occur to me that this was a Select Board appointment and that no one asked me if anyone from the Select Board wanted to serve on it.” He added that it was up to the Select Board to select the designees for the at-large positions.
     “Last week we were unprepared to interview the candidates. I would like to have a better understanding of the CPC, which takes up a lot of money in this town. My motion is not one candidate over another,” he said, adding that he would like to serve as the Select Board’s designee.
     Select Board member John Reilly said the issue for him is the process. “We are the appointing authority. We need more information on the process and we need more time to interview candidates.”
     Colleague John Giger added, there is a committee vacancy policy. “Once we have a recommendation, we can vote for it or we can opt to interview the candidates. The Select Board chose to take the recommendation of the (CPC) committee.”
      Board member Pine noted that the process had already happened and she thought, “It would be inappropriate to change.
     Degen stressed that the “policy is flawed,” noting that at least two committees that have at-large members, the Affordable Housing Trust and the CPC, could have that member be a Select Board member. “I was not made aware of this vacancy.”
     Giger said he agreed that the “policy needs work, but this is what we have. We never asked if anyone objected to the appointment to the CPC. I don’t see any reason at all to change the vote.”
     Applicant Marlena Gilbert told the Board that there were two points in the process they should be aware of. She said that on Monday, Dec. 9 as she was on her way to the Select Board meeting, she saw in the first- floor meeting room where the CPC meets, a member sign and packet on the table for Perkins who had not yet been appointed. And when the Select Board began their meeting, but before the vote on the CPC member was taken, Select Board member Becky Pine asked Perkins if it was ok if she was up here and not at the CPC meeting (downstairs).
     “This clearly represents bias. To do this at a Select Board meeting when another Board viewed this as already done.” Gilbert said.
     Following further limited discussion, the Select Board voted 4 (Manugian, Giger, Reilly, Pine) to not reconsider the previous vote for Perkins, with Selectman Degen in opposition.
     Several letters, about equally split in support between Gilbert and Perkins, were sent to the Select Board to be read into the record.
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