I have now rerun the Milanoski interview from Our Town several times to try to get to the bottom of the sinking feeling I get when I hear his version of events which led up to his installation and the first few months of his tenancy as Acting Town Manager. It is now clear to me that he represents a grave danger to the future of Cohasset. I herein make my case.
We must start with the deception that first led to his introduction to Cohasset Town politics. When then BoS Chair Ted Carr simply couldn’t get the ConCom debacle to die and go away he resorted to the time honored solution of political hacks everywhere… he formed a committee to study the matter, in this case the Governance Committee. He appointed his pal Mike Milanoski, to Chair the committee, which went on to do everything but look into the disgraceful firing of three ConCom members who were replaced by unqualified representatives of the E20.
As events unfolded we saw the inquisition of former Town Manager Mike Coughlin, his ‘temporary’ replacement by a conveniently available Milanoski, recently having learned his new trade by shadowing Coughlin under the guise of improving Cohasset governance, and a series of questionable events which were, in retrospect, nothing but Milanoski consolidating his power and ingratiating himself to the BoS.
Milanoski unilaterally declared the twelve new town employee contracts entered into by Coughlin to be ‘illegal’; he defied the eleven career town employees to challenge his edict at the risk of their jobs and neutralized Police Chief DeLuca, the twelfth ‘illegal’ contract, by promising him a new contract.
He then reaffirmed the trust the BoS had placed in him by giving them an economic crisis diagnosis, caused by Coughlin, fully verified by the Finance Director, to the tune of a projected deficit of $600,000. This crisis helped the BOS retroactively justify the dismissal of Coughlin and allowed Milanoski to install a spending freeze across the board, instantly making him the new, all powerful, controller of the purse strings.
The convoluted knife in the back of DeLuca followed in short order matched by Milanoski’s temporary position enhanced to a contract thru 6/30/13. The abrupt departure of Ted Carr via a stunning election defeat was a mere bump in the road for the Milanoski/BoS juggernaut.
Milanoski now presides over town government by tightly controlling everything he can get his hands on; access to town department heads, access to legally public town documents (thru exorbitant copying and clerical charges), and the proven threat of dismissal to anyone who crosses him. The BoS has endorsed the new mantra that all expenditures be affordable and sustainable with, of course, Milanoski being the judge, ergo the ultimate gatekeeper. The adage “he who makes the rules wins the game” comes to mind.
Our Town (143tv,org) is always a friendly interview. By and large Milanoski was allowed to write his own version of the past year’s history, including a gloss-over of just why his title is Acting Town Manager (which he agreed was correct) yet his business cards, letterhead and his contract say he’s the Town Manager.
They asked him to cite the eleven charges against DeLuca, allowing him to answer that he “couldn’t say”, and let ride his statement that he placed DeLuca on administrative suspension (with pay) for “his own protection”. Our Town Co-Hosts Pat Martin and Mark DeGiacomo doubted Milanoski’s statement that “ there was a real possibility the police would walk” if their grievances weren’t addressed. When Milanoski told DeGiacomo that several union contracts had not been settled and the police contract would soon be back in play, DeGiacomo wondered if Milanoski was worried about having all these contracts open? Not in the least. Cohasset employees love the town and want to do the best thing for the Town, Milanoski said.
The bombshell of the interview was Milanoski describing $32,000,000 in unfunded future health care benefits; the number wasn’t the bombshell, it was Milanoski stating that he planned to contribute $100,000 out of “surplus” revenue for the year ended 6/30/12 as a token step toward reducing this liability. ”Surplus?” What happened to the $600,000 projected deficit? Anyone willing to cough up several thousand dollars might be able to get a copy of the Town’s year-end (6/30/12) financial statement but that’s probably the only way you’re going to learn of a reported million-dollar turnaround in our town’s deficit/surplus over the last fiscal year. Ironically, Coughlin had predicted the surplus, but had been sent to the public rack, nonetheless.
Milanoski arrived on Cohasset’s official scene under circumstances that could be most charitably described as “suspicious”. Our top, highest paid position (except for the school superintendent) went to this individual illegally (in violation of several provisions of the Town Manager Act), without competition or peer review, with the bizarre stipulation in his contract that he be allowed to continue his consulting business while employed full time by Cohasset.
Take the following quiz which attempts to allow you to reach your own conclusions as to the desirability of rewarding Milanoski based on his performance.
Q 1. When Milanoski replaced Coughlin as TM he declared a looming deficit of $600,000 for FY 2012 and received the Finance Director’s confirmation of this projection? What is the actual deficit/surplus for the year ended 6/30/12?
a. $600k deficit as projected
b. break even
c. $700k surplus (based on M.’s announcement of a contribution of $100,000 out of surplus funds toward the Unfunded Future Healthcare Benefits
d. closer to $1,000,000 surplus
e. we’ll never know unless we spend thousands for xeroxing and clerical charges
Q 2. As one of many moves to combat the looming deficit, Milanoski imposed price increases at the dump, including a jump from 6¢/lb to 20¢/lb for weighing and dumping via our $20,000 commercial scales. What are the alternatives available to residents?
a. buy a Bagster from Lowes or HD, have Waste Management pick it up – 6¢/lb
b. rent a dumpster from Graham – 6¢/lb depending on size
c. can you get 8 lbs. in a small blue bag – under 20¢/lb
Q 3. Milanoski and the BOS endorsed and passed at last spring’s Annual Town Meeting a $10,000 study to determine the feasibility of extending the Treats Pond outlet pipe offshore from Sandy Cove. What were the alternatives?
a) use the Army Core of Engineers report on the same subject
b) use the reports of long time town engineering consultant Dan Coughlin, for which he has been paid several times for this same information
c) save the money and simply ask Ralph what his scheme is this time for getting the pipe off of Sandy Beach
Q 4. Milanoski and the BOS endorsed and passed at the same meeting a $15,000 study to determine the needs of town seniors. What were our alternatives?
a) ask Corale Grande, our well-paid and professional Elder Affairs Director
b) devise a survey using the expertise of Elder Affairs, Survey Monkey, and some students from the high school to tabulate the results
c) ask the New Senior Center Committee on what basis they commissioned preliminary plans for a 5,000 sq./ft., $7,000,000 building
Q 5. How much did it cost the Town to pick up the expenses of the E20 for Cat Dam for legal and other services? Was Milanoski the cause or the effect of this action?
a) over $50,000
b) the goodwill, cooperation, technical support from state and federal regulators in future years
c) all the legal expenses the Town has and will incur over the Ford permitting as a result of having packed ConCom with unqualified members/associates of the E20
d) it’s not over yet
Q 6. How much did it cost the Town for Police Chief DeLuca to be on paid administrative leave since last May? Did his absence effect public safety?
a) $50,000 in salary
b) $25,000 in fringe benefits
c) $25,000 in legal expenses
d) all of the above
e) if, as MM claims, it didn’t effect public safety, was this because DeLuca had done such a good job with chain of command, succession, training, etc. before his departure?
Q 7. How much will it cost to settle with Deluca and Coughlin?
a) legal expenses estimated at $100,000 and rising
b) payouts, wages without service estimated at $150,000 minimum
c) settlement of all suits, claims, etc. $250,000? $500,000? more?
d) Is this equivalent to a signing premium we are paying to acquire Milanoski?
Q 8. Validity to the claim that some settlement (DeLuca-Coughlin) expenses will be covered by insurance?
a) insurance companies hardly very attempt to recover losses by raising ongoing premiums
b) insurance doesn’t pay for claims based on illegal activity
Q 9. Is there a pattern here?
a) sounds like the same old, same old mismanagement we’ve come to expect from the public sector
b) we’re paying a huge price for the privilege of Milanoski’s so call management skills
Did you agree with the BoS? Or did you conclude that we’re paying a big price for Milanoski’s on-the-job-training and that only part of that cost is financial?