What Exactly Is the Town Manager Hurry?

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A Letter to the Editor from John B. Miller:

I happened to be at the Select Board’s meeting on June 11, 2018. A pointed hiring discussion for Town Manager was underway. The gist was this. Nearly 40 applicants submitted resumes to an Advisory Committee. The position will pay $200,000 per year. After a review of submissions, a quarter were interviewed. The Advisory Committee put forward a public list of two candidates – just after it learned that two other candidates it would have also put forward withdrew.

That was a mistake. The Advisory Board should have approached the Select Board for guidance, before making any names public. Had this been done before June 11, the Select Board would now be interviewing more candidates for the position of Town Manager. To try to fix the mistake, on June 11 the Board voted 3-2 to add more candidates to the Select Board list.

Between June 11 and June 15, the Advisory Board’s mistake had real consequences – for the Town and candidates. One was rehired by his current employer –with a raise. He withdrew. The second also withdrew, for personal reasons. At a controversial Select Board meeting on June 15, decisions were taken not to add candidates and to begin negotiations with the second candidate – willing, now as the only candidate, to be convinced out of withdrawing.

The very public mistake by the Advisory Board in identifying its top two choices has put the Town upside down in its search. The Advisory Committee has declined to put forward any other candidates, compounding its first mistake. The appointed Advisory Committee has chosen the single candidate for Town Manager, not the elected Select Board. How an Advisory Committee can refuse a request from the Select Board to add to the list of interviewees is unexplainable.

Former State Representative Paul Casey applied for the position. Mr. Casey is Harvard educated, with 20 years of experience at the State House. Winchester residents know and like him. He has extensive managerial experience. Mr. Casey did not receive even the courtesy of an Advisory Committee interview. That is surprising!

No candidate is worth sharp division and bad feelings among members of the Select Board. The Board should step away from the ill will these mistakes have generated. A new, different Advisory Board should be appointed that will stay in its lane.

The sky won’t fall. We will struggle through. Our Clerk, Treasurer, and Assessor are fabulous. So is Asst. Town Manager Twogood, who served on an interim basis before. Mr. Twogood was offered the Town Manager position in 2011. Mr. Howard might even put up with us a bit longer.

Miller has been a Winchester resident for 40 years. He is a past President of Winchester Youth Basketball and was the MAGOP candidate for Attorney General in 2014.

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