The December 4th Board of Selectman meeting in Hingham was an eye-opener at the beginning of the meeting, which I wrote of previously in a blogpost entitled ‘Certain Hingham Selectmen need to remember what century this town operates in’ as well as at the end of the meeting when approximately 20-25 minutes were taken up with a matter not on the posted Agenda for that evening’s Meeting.
Beginning at the 2 hour 48 minute mark watch as an issue is brought up and acknowledged by the The Chair, Irma Lauter, that it is concerning something not on the BOS Agenda for that evening’s meeting and she then proceeds to read a letter into the record from a citizen concerning the Bathing Beach deed to the Town of Hingham and it’s Trustees( a Board/Trustees which is/are elected at Town Meeting each year for terms essentially which can be for life or however long each Trustee wishes to serve) which contained a question[s] that the citizen would like answers to from legal counsel.
She finishes the letter and says words to the effect, I think these questions can be easily answered if we - meaning the BOS, assign the questions to legal counsel and get the answers.
The newest Selectman, Paul Gannon, as his developing ‘go to habit’ continues to exhibit itself, agrees with the Chair – doesn’t see what the big deal is – what is it ? A day’s work for legal cousel? NBD for him spending taxpayer money on legal opinions – he admits within the time frame ‘discussion’ that he’s been calling counsel with questions without asking anyone.
It takes the 3rd Selectman, Paul Healey to deal with a defense on multiple levels:first, he would have preferred that the letter, be put into the record as correspondence, because, it is not on the Agenda.Nope, the Chair reads it.
He points out to the other 2 Selectmen, that the Bathing Beach Trustees are an elected Board – elected at Town Meeting, and elected pretty much for life if they so desire. You can tell that doesn’t sit well with the Chair or the newbie Selectman.
( Do they go to Town Meeting one wonders? The election of the Trustees is one of the very first things accomplished at Town Meeting every single year).
There is a brief sort of history given by Healey to the other two – this seems to happen frequently in meetings and as a Hingham citizen, all I can say and write is: Thank God Paul Healey sits on that Board at this present time ~sort of like an in-house tutor to the other 2 Selectmen. Unfortunately, they don’t listen to him that much – I don’t think it is because they don’t like him, I think it is because they have a fundamental difference in how they view how town government operates.
In my opinion, Chair Irma Lauter doesn’t see a lot of limits or any significant check and balance on her power and authority.
Selectman Gannon seems to think that the job is about providing services to citizens outside channels, ignoring process.
Put those 2 together and the delicate balance of how town government works starts to splinter, fragment, disintegrate over a whole host of ways.Even by spinning the Minutes or ignoring the need to follow an Agenda. We have witnessed that this Fall of 2014.
Suffice to say that the clip I shared above has all of these elements within them – to the point that, despite being told by the Town Administrator that they have spent 10 minutes talking on a subject NOT on the Agenda – watch how Irma Lauter insists, insists mind you – that she had asked that it be put on the Agenda and the Town Administrator calmly says no, never heard from you on that – she indignantly replies – ‘I did, I sent you an email’; she becomes absorbed in going through her papers, lets the conversation wander, she is going to FIND that email and you just KNOW she is going to wave it, brandish it about, and practically get giddy with the words HERE IT IS!!!! SEE. RIGHT HERE!!!……..only, her extensive search turns up nothing, zero, nada – so does she apologize to the Town Administrator? Hell no. She says, ‘I will re-send that email’. I could almost hear the hrroumph at home she seemed so annoyed.
The real kicker comes when the BOS are about to vote on something NOT ON THE AGENDA.
The newbie Selectman had read an extensive motion, Paul Healey was not going to second it, and what do you know? The Town Clerk calls someone in the audience to have them relay this important message to the BOS sitting there in view of HCAM : YOU ARE NOT AllOWED TO VOTE ON MATTERS THAT ARE NOT ON THE AGENDA.
Is there a school we can send Chair Lauter and Selectman Paul Gannon to re-familiarize themselves with Roberts Rules?
At least until May, when we can send the Chair Irma Lauter packing frm Town Hall permanently.
Vote Mary Power for Selectman May of 2015.
Full disclosure:I am endorsing and vounteering for Mary Power for Hingham Selectman come May 2015. I am a lifelong Hingham resident.