Early Review of Town Manager is a Good Thing
We applaud Groton's Selectmen for proposing to begin early discussions to extend Town Manager Mark Haddad's contract. We think that eventual contract extension would be a well-deserved affirmation of Mr. Haddad's overall performance, and would also confirm the Selectmen's successfully having charted a course through vexing personnel problems. The Board has shown how true leadership--a mix of vision, courage, compassion, and perseverance--can achieve the greater good for both the town and individuals.
The Town Manager's job performance is key to the success of the Groton Charter, our newly adopted form of government, a form of government bestowing executive authority on the Town Manager but withholding political authority. This hybrid form of organization mixes aspects of traditional Selectmen-based administration with a 'weak' form of mayoral-type governance. Such divided authority makes the Town Manager's job difficult in the best of times, but much more difficult during this initial period of transition, which requires everyone, including Groton residents, to adapt to a new set of mixed and overlapping authorities.
As Groton's first Town Manager, Haddad has set a largely positive tone for town employees, demonstrated excellent financial savvy, skillfully negotiated contracts, and demonstrated a capacity for hard work. For these reasons we think he has set a positive precedent for future Town Managers, creating a solid baseline of expectations for how the job should be done. He also worked through a serious personal misstep and highly charged accusation, showing a sufficient degree of humility by willingly acknowledging his faults when his actions were found lacking.
Residents seem to sense that the adjustments and shocks of adapting to the Charter are mostly behind us, trusting that the new government is taking root, creating a solid new structure for governing the town. An extension of Town Manger Haddad's contract would further encourage these positive trends, giving the Town the benefit of continuity of executive leadership, and showing appreciation for Mr. Haddad's, skills and hard work.