By Katina Caraganis
SHIRLEY -- While Chief Administrative Officer Dave Berry made it clear Friday he would not resign after the selectmen told him he should, or force being fired, some town residents said the decision by the selectmen could have been handled differently.
Patricia Krauchune, who previously was a sewer commissioner and constable in the town, said that while she thinks Berry is a decent man, she doesn't know enough about his work performance to say for sure that he should be let go.
"He's a very pleasant man. If he had a contract, and town counsel said this was the way it should be done, then so be it," she said Saturday afternoon. "I just think it shouldn't have been done on television. I don't know all the circumstances here but it's my feeling they should have just taken him aside."
Krauchune said that there is such a thing as common courtesy when it comes to dealing with someone's career.
"I was surprised they went and did that. The three of them (selectmen) should work together. If town counsel said they could do this, Andy (Deveau) should have been involved," she said.
Deveau, the board chairman, said he was blindsided at last week's meeting that the other two members of the board wanted to let Berry go.
"Andy really should have been involved in the process from the get go. They would have still gotten their way in the end because it would have been two against one," she said.
She said the way the situation has played out isn't right, no matter who it is.
"This is no way to treat a human being. In the professional world, this isn't the way things are done. The selectmen should have pulled him aside and worked it out with him alone," she said. "Ultimately though, it's not up to me to judge his performance."
Kevin Hayes, of Shirley, said that while he's not directly involved in Berry's day-to-day operations either, he's concerned about his salary because Berry promised to help bring in grants to supplement his increased salary over former manager Kyle Keady, and that hasn't happened.
"Frankly, Kyle was paid a lot less but he was a lot more effective. Obviously, there were things he did I don't agree with but he knew how to get things done in town. I think if he (Berry) doesn't resign, they should fire him," Hayes said. "It's clear Andy is okay with him but clearly Dave (Swain) and Kendra (Dumont) are frustrated with him. How much time do you really give someone? I think they were for awhile trying to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Berry has a "just cause" clause in his contract that the town could execute if Berry was not measuring up.
Selectmen David Swain said that because Berry has not been an effective manager, selectmen have enough reason to execute the clause and begin the process of letting Berry go.
If that happens, Swain said, a hearing must first be held in which Berry can lay out his case and the reasons he believes he should stay, and selectmen can lay out their own concerns.
It will be up to Berry to decide if he wants the hearing in public or behind closed doors, as allowed by state law.
Ron Marchetti, who served as the interim town administrator and played a role in bringing Berry to the town, said Saturday he would not comment for now.
"I don't know what the selectmen are going to do. I don't want to add fuel to the fire. I want to let the dust settle," he said. "I don't think anything I can say right now will do any good to the town. The selectmen have to wrestle the alligator to the ground first."
He did say, however, he would not be interested in serving in an interim capacity again if asked.
"It's certainly not in the cards for me right now," he said.
Deveau said Friday he felt things should never have been played in front of the cameras and said he was "blindsided" by what he calls an unexpected conversation and because of that, did not voice his objection to discussing it in public when it happened.
Dumont and Swain were not available for comment.