Selectmen Block Petropoulos Personnel Bylaw Initiative
Selectman Jack Petropoulos was clearly annoyed with his colleagues' decision at their meeting two weeks ago to reconvene the By-Law Review Committee to address any conflict between the Town Charter and any existing Personnel Bylaws and make recommendations for possible changes.
He pushed the issue again at Monday night's board meeting and this time wanted to discuss a document containing notes that he took of a telephone meeting with Board Chairman Stuart Schulman, Town Counsel David Doneski and himself.
He said his notes were reviewed by Doneski, who he said advised that it could be passed out to his fellow selectmen but could not be disclosed to the public. The purpose of the conversation was for Petropoulos to get answers to some of his questions.
Chairman Schulman called Petropoulos attempt to distribute his notes "hogwash" and "filled with bias" and refused to take a copy of the document.
He was joined by Selectman Anna Eliot who said, "I will not take possession of this ...please take it back." She objected to his effort to distribute a document during a public meeting that could not be considered a public document.
Petropoulos continued his push, telling told fellow board members that if they did not reinstate the Personnel Board, that he wanted the Annual Spring Town Meeting warrant reopened and that he had the necessary number of citizen signatures. "I don't want to force a special town meeting," he said, and then made a motion that the board agree to open the warrant to allow for a placeholder article for the town to vote to reinstate the Personnel Board. There was no second to his motion. He then asked to place the notes on next week's board agenda.
Selectman Peter Cunningham stressed that the "Board actually voted to not reinstate the Personnel Board but agreed to get the By-Law Review Committee to make recommendations." He stressed to Petropoulos, "This is the operating policy of the Board of Selectmen and we need all members to accept when the [majority] makes a decision. It is premature and counter-productive to do this (put it on the warrant) now."
"We're going in absolutely the wrong direction," said Schulman of Petropoulos' effort to get an article on the warrant.
Petropoulos continued to try to force the notes he took into the meeting causing Schulman to tell him to "Stop. Terminate this conservation now." Schulman added that he "hoped that Attorney Doneski would publish his opinion and not what someone said he said."
Selectman Josh Degen commented, "This Board took a vote and made a decision. I saw a letter from the bylaw employees that was circulated that indicated that they were okay with the process being proposed ...collectively we need to work together as a Board." He told Petropoulos to "move forward and stop holding onto this."
Land Use Director Michelle Collette told Selectmen that at their meeting two weeks earlier she found their discussion "absolutely disconcerting" that they would talk about the 14 or 15 bylaw employees that "could be subject to the whim of a vote of town meeting....no one talked to us about any changes."
A letter, signed by 10 of the town bylaw employees and department heads, "respectfully requests that you review any existing and potential conflicts between the Charter and the Personnel Bylaw." It stated, "It is clear that more clarification is necessary at this time. We as employees will benefit from a thoughtful review of this matter without haste and look forward to your recommendations." Petropoulos responded, "I could argue this point by point but it is not my issue."
Schulman stressed that the document that Petropoulos wanted to discuss was not a public document and they would wait to get a formal decision from town counsel.
Cunningham then put a motion on the floor to move forward with the Bylaw Review Committee assessment and bring the results forward at Fall Town Meeting. It was seconded by Petropoulos and voted unanimously by the Board.