At Mondayâ€™s meeting, Selectman Christopher Donato proposed hiring a
human resources consulting company to conduct an independent
performance evaluation on Town Manager Richard MacDonald. However, the
other two selectmen did not approve of this idea, with Chairwoman Betsy
Sullivan accusing Donato of having a â€œthinly veiled agenda.â€
The motion never came to a vote, as Donato acknowledged he didnâ€™t have the support of the other two selectmen.
Donato made a motion Monday night to hire the company Cape HR
Partners, LLC of West Falmouth for $4,500 to perform an evaluation of
MacDonald. Donato said that the outside consultant was needed to look
into â€œmorale problemsâ€ within town government and investigate the
charges behind the recent letters of no confidence sent to MacDonald by
two police unions, as well as allegations of â€œintimidation,â€ including
a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaint filed
against MacDonald by an employee.
As a selectman, Donato said he has been approached by people who have concerns about the management of Duxburyâ€™s government.
â€œI am aware of these issues,â€ said Donato. â€œWe need someone with
independent knowledge â€¦ We have to figure out a way to deal with these
Donato said he wanted an â€œoutside personâ€ to come into town hall
over a two week period to look over the policies and procedures
connected with the town manager and to interview employees. The
consultant would then issue a report, he said.
Donato said the basis for his request was Duxburyâ€™s Town Manager
Act, which allows selectmen â€œto investigate the affairs of the town and
the conduct of any town department, office, or agency, including any
doubtful claims against the town.â€
He said this type of study was less costly than the recent review of
the Department of Public Works by former DPW director Wally Tonazsuck.
He pointed out that selectmen did not perform an evaluation of
MacDonald last year as they should have as spelled out by the town
Sullivan and Selectman Jon Witten did not support Donatoâ€™s motion.
Sullivan felt there was no need to bring in an outside consultant
since it is the selectmenâ€™s responsibility to evaluate the town
manager. She said the evaluation process was spelled out in the Town
Managerâ€™s Act, and added that the town had a personnel board made up of
human resources professionals who could perform the task Donato was
referring to for free.
Sullivan felt the internal study of the entire DPW with its four
divisions and 40 employees could not be compared to conducting a study
of just one position such as the town manager. She also took issue with
the company Donato suggested saying it had â€œno work experience with
municipal governmentâ€ and pointed out that according to a resume, the
company ownerâ€™s last job was â€œowning a bagel shop.â€
â€œHow is it you felt comfortable interviewing someone to work for the
town on your own?â€ Sullivan asked Donato. â€œYou donâ€™t get to hire people
for the town ... This is not how business is conducted in municipal
Donato said the â€œmorale problemâ€ in town hall must be addressed, but
Sullivan said the board of selectmenâ€™s open meeting was not the proper
forum in which to discuss those issues. Donato said thatâ€™s why he
wanted an independent review of MacDonald.
â€œWhat are we afraid of?â€ asked Donato.
â€œYou have a thinly veiled agenda that you want to bring forward,â€
said Sullivan. â€œWe have rules and regulations that we follow. We color
within the lines.â€
Donato replied: â€œAm I crazy to ask why we have issues and
allegations and letters of no confidence that I feel we should
investigate?â€¦ Do you believe there is no problem in our town?â€
â€œNot the way youâ€™re suggesting,â€ said Sullivan.
Selectman Jon Witten said he did not â€œfeel comfortable singling out
the town managerâ€ for a study as Donato suggested. He said any
discussion of character should be done in executive session.
â€œI would always support a review of the town government structure,â€
said Witten. â€œBut I think it should be generalized â€¦ I do not think
hiring an outside firm is a good idea. I think your motion is too
Witten said as the former chairman of the board, it was his fault
last year for not performing an evaluation on MacDonald. He said he
began collecting information from the other two selectmen for the
evaluation but never finalized a report.
Witten said selectmen should begin MacDonaldâ€™s evaluation and
complete it by its July due date. He said the selectmen â€œneeded to be
careful about the processâ€ and â€œdeal with personnel matters under the
cloak of executive sessionâ€ and that they should have Town Counsel
Robert Troy present.
â€œI am still naively optimistic things can get sorted out,â€ said Witten.