Town Council chair Chris Palmieri (D) tried to head off controversy at Monday’s meeting before asking for nominations for the next Town Attorney. Palmieri carefully explained the difference—as he sees it—between the appointment of a Town Manager and a Town Attorney. It was funny to hear him quote the charter and essentially say that it was okay for him to exert his will on the town because his party’s in control… because that’s the way it has always been done. Then, Republican councilor Tom Lombardi took the floor.
Lombardi pointed out that the Democrats won the council based on a philosophy of open and fair government. He even went through and read all of the Democrat responses that appeared in The Observer when asked about the hiring process for the Town Manager before the election.
We agree with Lombardi that Palmieri was splitting hairs when he talked about the difference between the two positions. In the first opportunity to practice what they preached, we feel that Democrats fell short of their campaign promises.
Our position hasn’t changed. During the Town Manager hiring practice, we said that “the council should have laid out goals and objectives for a discussion about hiring high level positions.” We said that the process left us “wishing they would have talked on the record to create a town process for future, high level job searches (like Deputy Manager or Town Attorney).” We said that “instead of the immature bickering and backdoor deals, the council could have left us with a solid set of guidelines, so that future leaders wouldn’t have to face the same challenges.”
They didn’t, and here we are again.
Of course, Lombardi was in the majority last time, and it looks like he finally gets it now that he’s in the minority. Of course, we thought Palmieri understood it, too. This could have been avoided if Lombardi had addressed this when his party was in control during the Town Manager hiring. We hope that he continues to champion a solution to this problem now that it appears he finally understands the issue.
Now that the council is bringing guest speakers to their meetings—like the economic development director on Dec. 11—it would really be nice if they’d finally invite the town’s human resource generalist to the discussion. It would be great to hear her talk about how the town addresses fair hiring (or appointing) processes for other positions, so that the council could do it, too. It would be nice to hear from the town’s only real expert on the matter.
Then, we can finally have an open discussion about whether or not the charter needs to be revised.