Town Counsel Paul DeRensis met with Governance chair Christine Cunning and her committee for over two and a half hours Monday night regarding the legal ramifications of their work on changes to the Town Manager Act.
A lively and interesting discussion revolved around part of the present act that states, in the original Act. Especially, because Selectman Martha Gjesteby is challenging the right of the town manager to “troll” thorough her E-mail and has filed a complaint with the Attorney General.
The town manager shall have access to all municipal books, papers and documents or information necessary for the proper performance of the duties of said town manager. Said town manager may, without notice, cause the affairs of any division or department under the manager’s supervision or the conduct of any officer or employee thereof to be examined.
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It is good that Cohasset Selectmen voted 3-1 (Leland Jenkins) with one abstention (Martha Gjesteby) to not file a second ethics complaint against Selectman Martha Gjesteby, who is trying to recover from hip surgery, no thanks to her board.
Selectman Diane Kennedy set the mood and tense of the 9:15 agenda item that was discussed around 10:30.
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Cohasset Selectman Martha K. Gjesteby has filed an Open Meeting Law Complaint against her board of selectmen alleging that on Dec. 18th the agenda topic for an executive session did not comply with the requirement of the specificity under the Open Meeting Law.
Gjesteby said, the posted meeting notice must include a listing of topics that the chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed at the meeting. Gjesteby said “The posted agenda was required to identify the individuals whose contracts were being discussed.” Gjesteby said the vote to enter executive session similarly failed to identify the individuals whose contracts were being discussed.
1. At the Dec 18th meeting Gjesteby alleges there was an attempted discussion of the employment of Acting Town Manager Michael Milanoski. “Because this discussion was not posted on the meting notice, it should not have occurred.”
2. Gjesteby further alleges that…”During executive session the Acting Town Manager attempted to raise a dispute with me involving an e-mail that I sent to a third party, which he apparently obtained even thought he was not a named recipient in the e-mail exchange. The Board of Selectmen then engaged in a discussion of the alleged disclosure of this e-mail, including a discussion of potential future recourse. The discussion of the alleged disclosure was not a proper topic for executive session (Gjesteby quotes the statute here) and also was not part of the basis for entering executive session (another law quoted). And therefore should not have occurred in executive session.”
- Gjesteby says she wants a recission of any action taken, an order concerning the scope of matters relating to the Acting Town Manager that must be deliberated in open session, acknowledgement that the Board of Selectmen violated the notice and executive session provisions of the Open Meeting Law in connection with the Dec. 18, 2012 meeting, and such other relief that may be just and equitable.
- The Cohasset Board of Selectmen has, likewise, filed charges against Gjesteby. But we have not been privy to that charge. Initially, they planned to file a criminal complaint for Gjesteby having shared a confidence with a legal authority. We understand their complaint has now been downsized to an ethics complaint.
Acting Town Manager Mike Milanoski’s new contract signed and effective Jan. 15, 2013 is an amazing one for a town that has the 10th highest tax rate in the state and wants town unions to take no raises this year — after Milanoski and other town officials bragging for months about the $1MM it made in new growth.
Starting Jan. 15th, Milanoski is making $150,000 a year with 5 weeks vacation plus $300 a month in addition to his regular compensation. People who have served their companies for many years get five weeks vacation. Doesn’t usually happen with new hires that have served the town less than a year. Some people get that kind of vacation after 20 years.
It is interesting that Milanoski doesn’t wish to use a town purchased cell phone, but never mind, the town will reimburse him for his personal plan. Milanoski has been tracking employees’ cell phone usage, threatening to fire them if he finds any personal calls. Perhaps he’s afraid his personal calls will catch up to him, as personal calls are wont to do.
Milanoski has to work, at a minimum, the same number of hours, as the Office of the Board is open to the public. He has to be available to meet with the public on Tuesdays. And he is permitted to devoting no more than eight hours per week for his private consulting providing that such efforts are outside the normal business hours of Town Hall. One citizen commented:
“This man hardly keeps any normal business hours. Just how would that work?” Yes indeed, how
Article 4 Sect. 4.2 of the contract says “Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the BOARD from increasing MILANOSKI’S compensation at its discretion in the event additional duties are assigned to him nor shall it be construed to require an increase in compensation in such event.” But you know how this board loves to give Milanoski money. If elections don’t put a stop to this – Milanoski will be at $170,000 in no time at all.
The vote on Milanoski’s contract was 4-1 – with Selectman Martha Gjesteby voting no.
FACT: Milanoski now makes more than Gov. Deval Patrick.
Less than a year ago Mike Milanoski was following Mike Coughlin around town learning how to do the job. Then last February when Coughlin was fired Milanoski volunteered to “help out the town” until Selectmen could find themselves a professional town manager. The next thing we knew, Milanoski was named town manager, this in spite of the fact that he had not been separated from his appointed jobs with the town long enough to qualify under the Town Manager Act.
A search committee never vetted Milanoski. Selectmen had never seen his resume. He was just…”Ted’s (former selectman Ted Carr) neighbor,” and that was good enough for the Cohasset Board of Selectmen. He started last April with a $115,000 contract. Last September selectmen upped his salary to $132,500 – and five months later selectmen gave him a new contract and upped his salary another $20,000 to the $150,000 he has enjoyed since Jan. 15, just a few days ago.
Milanoski’s new $150,000 contract says he is an acting town manager, but his contract is for a year, and acting town managers aren’t supposed to get one-year contracts. They’re supposed to get letter contracts in 3 and 6-month stages. They hardly accrue any vacation time because during this time the town fathers and mothers are supposed to be advertising for a professional town manager that will be vetted by a proper screening committee.
Town Counsel Paul DeRensis advised selectmen to keep Milanoski on the old, illegal contract through June and then do a 6-month acting town manager contract through December, but selectmen ignored DeRensis’ advice.
Actually – selectmen are tired of DeRensis not agreeing with them and they are seeking proposals from a new town counsel firm. They say they’re putting out some other RFP’s also, but town counsel services was the only one Selectman Diane Kennedy mentioned.
It is like Groundhog Day. The Movie in which a man relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right. He is never told exactly what he is to do in order to stop the repetition. But then he begins to notice that when he is nice to people he moves a little further along into the day.
You are a Cohasset resident reading the new Cohasset Selectmen’s Agenda and you wonder, isn’t this last week’s agenda? Didn’t they do this before? Yes. They did.
At this week’s meeting Selectmen will meet at 6:30 p.m. in executive session over the illegal town manager’s acting town manager contract.
At 7:10 p.m. Selectmen will meet in open session over the illegal town manager’s acting town manager contract.
At 9 p.m. Selectmen will meet in executive session over the acting town manager contract that was written for the illegal town manager.
And after the executive session Selectmen are scheduled to hold a public discussion of the executive session which they were supposed to do last week but which never happened.
It is unclear what issue the public discussion is about.
It appears selectmen plan to sign a “legal” acting town manager contract with Mike Milanoski in the near future, unless they shop for a different opinion and offer him a town manager’s contract in March. Town Counsel Paul DeRensis says he cannot currently step into a town manager’s contract until he is separated from the town for one year or until such time as the town manager’s act is changed to allow the same. Other unnamed counsels disagree with DeRensis, and it is thought selectmen may just say what the hell and choose a different opinion.
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Selectwoman Martha Gjesteby will return the favor...
On Tuesday Cohasset Selectmen voted to turn in Selectman Martha Gjesteby to the Attorney General for having allegedly violated the criminal conflict of interest law by sharing a confidential ”privileged” document with a member of the public.
Directly after selectmen voted to turn in Gjesteby she turned the tables on them and said she was going to turn all of them into the Attorney General regarding an open meeting law complaint and had the complaint forms ready to go. All she had to do was sign them, she said. She planned to make that decision as early as Wednesday, she said, after meeting with her attorney in a private meeting room outside of selectmen’s office. The rest of the selectmen were in an executive session…discussing what else, the illegal town manager’s new contract to start July 1.
Gjesteby’s attorney, Brandon H Moss of Murphy, Hesse Toomey & Lehane (Quincy office) said Gjesteby had hardly done anything criminal in seeking legal advice on an issue before the selectmen, and doubted she had even breached any ethics laws.
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This is becoming so, so predictable. Whenever the Selectmen gather their remaining supporters en masse – an apparent attempt to show public support – get ready to be sold a bill of goods. This was the less than carefully orchestrated attempt to, once again, sell Milanoski to Cohasset residents as the perfect choice for Town Manager.
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The Cohasset Board of Selectmen has definitely come down a peg or two in the past week. Actually, there are no more pegs left to come down.
Former Cohasset Selectman Ted Carr was caught going to the state trough too many times and got “bumped” by State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
Your board of selectmen is about to attack its 83-year-old member, for having released what is probably public information to a legal confidant.
The Nichols Road group has decided on its candidates for selectman, neither of whom are former selectman Ted Carr or Cohasset Select Chair Paul Carlson. That must be a slap in the face after all the good work these two men have done for the E-20. But they are damaged goods, now.
It’s difficult to know what’s happening with the acting town manager’s old contract, new contract, and if it is an acting town manager’s contract or a town manager’s contract. All very confusing – very confusing every meeting. It appears after tonight’s executive session there will be an announcement of some sort. Now what might that be?
Has Milanoski fired someone else?
Tune into the Trail of Tears, starring kiss-my-ring Michael Milanoski and his water bearers, the Cohasset Board of Selectmen.
Check back on this blog later tonight to see what happened.
Former Cohasset Selectman Ted Carr, who is being sued by former Cohasset town manager Mike Coughlin for having violated the Massachusetts Whistleblower Statute, the terms of the Cohasset Town Manager Enabling Statute and the Mass. Open Meeting Law, now has State Auditor Suzanne Bump barking up his tree. According to third party reports, Bump has referred her complaint to the Attorney General’s office for action. Bump Report
Carr said in a statement to State House News Service on Jan 4, 2013 he would be happy to repay any erroneous reimbursements or other payments as soon as he knew how much he needed to repay.
Bump said Carr’s board members at the Massachusetts International Trade Council, Inc. (MITCI) had inappropriately authorized $83,140 in severance payments to Carr. Carr has received $6,346 of that sum, but Bump wants that sum returned and recommends that no other severance money be paid to Carr. Bump itemized that of monies paid to Carr $666.00 had no documentation, $10,882 was paid for a business purpose not documented, and $141 was paid for travel over $50, not approved.
Also, Bump said during the audit period MIRCI disbursed $56,207 in reimbursements to staff, primarily to Carr and MITCI’s Director of Administration, for expenses that were inadequately documented or not properly approved.
And…”MITCI overpaid its staff and consultants $12,679. This amount includes $2,297 in duplicate compensation to three staff members and $3,173 in duplicate and unauthorized compensation to Carr, which went undetected due to a lack of appropriate controls.”
According to Bump’s report, MITCI’s former Director of Administration, who served under Carr, has reimbursed the state for improperly spent money.
Bump’s audit stated that MITCI had not developed a formal internal control plan that addressed management’s oversight responsibilities, the control environment, communication and exchange of information within the entity, or the identification and management of risks to MITCI’s operations and functions.
Duplicate Payments totaling $3,009 for Ted Carr – 10 credit card expenses totaling $2,909 for travel, meals, hotels and transportation for which Car had already submitted and received reimbursement from MITCI
Duplicate Compensation to Carr for a work week – $2,538.00
Duplicate and unauthorized Compensation to Carr Totaling $3,172.00.
It appears Bump wants Carr to pay back approximately $37,000.00.
Here’s a link to Suzanne Bump’s report.Bump Report
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