Summary Evaluation of Town Manager Sparks Contretemps
by Connie Sartini
Chairman of the Select Board Barry Pease advised his colleagues that he had completed his Summary Evaluation for Town Manager Mark Haddad and sent it to the board members for their review.
A Summary Evaluation is prepared by the Select Board Chairman and is a summary of the comments, observations, input, etc. from each individual member. The Summary Evaluation is Board policy and it also part of the Town Charter.
Pease said that two weeks ago, the Board’s summary evaluation was compiled from members’ individual reviews, which he stressed were “not public. Only the Summary Evaluation becomes public.” He added that policy clearly states that the Board decides on any amendments and votes on an amendment and/or to add or delete any comments contained in the Summary Evaluation.
Select Board member Alison Manugian thanked Pease for “taking on this task. You did a very good job capturing the intent and nuance and presented a very thorough and reflective document.” Pease replied that he made sure that “everyone was equally represented.”
Member Becky Pine said she had one request and that was to have the initials of the individual Select Board member next to their rating on the charts where each member voted as part of the Summary Review. Pease replied that this might be a violation of the Open Meeting Law.
Selectman Josh Degen told Pine that as a result of a court decision in another community, “We cannot do that in 2019.” Pine responded that she talked with Labor Counsel Brian Masur who told her it was “totally fine.” Pine said, “I am not advocating anything illegal,” and said she just wants to include individuals’ votes on the check lists. She added, “There is no benefit to keeping this from the public.”
Pease responded, “The Summary Evaluation is the only way for a Board governed by the majority. The spread of checks doesn’t matter. It is the majority.”
Select Board member John Giger said he “was not in favor of adding this to the process as it is out of context and not right.” Colleague Degen agreed.
Pine made a motion to include the charts and initials of the Board members in the Summary Evaluation, but did not get a second to her motion.
Select Board member Alison Manugian made a motion to accept the Summary Evaluation.
Pine asked, “Does this mean that it does not allow me to share” my evaluation?
Pease responded that this is personnel-related and that only the Summary Evaluation is public. Degen added that although he understood what she was trying to do, “the law protects this. The Town Manager is the only job where the summary review becomes public and this is to protect the integrity of the employee.”
Pine continued to push for including the initialed charts. “I intend to read all of your reviews. I felt that some of my comments should be in the summary.” Pease told her that if she had one or two items they could be included.
Clearly not satisfied, Pine said, “I am shocked at the resistance to include the spread sheets that identify the individuals and I am shocked that we are not finding out if it is legal.” She said she wanted three of her comments included, adding that she was “voting against the summary which is a sham.” She immediately apologized for using the word sham and corrected it to be “incomplete.” She said that it was incomplete because it didn’t include the spread sheets with the initials of the individual board members.
The Board did not support Pine’s position and voted 4 (Pease, Manugian, Giger and Degen) to 1 (Pine) to approve the Summary Evaluation. That Summary Evaluation is now available to the public in the Town Clerk’s office.