GROTON -- Refusing to let the matter rest, Board of Selectmen member Jack Petropoulos returned to the issue of the town's defunct Personnel Board, this time seeking to submit a document to his colleagues for review and discussion.
The action took place at the board's meeting of March 11, when Petropoulos presented a document purportedly covering a conversation between himself, board Chairman Stuart Schulman, and the town's legal counsel, David Dineski.
The catch was that even though he attempted to distribute the document to his fellow selectmen during a public meeting, he said the document itself could not be read during the meeting.
Schulman, clearly impatient with Petropoulos' determination to keep the Personnel Board issue alive, called the document "hogwash" and "filled with bias."
Fellow Selectman Anna Eliot flat out refused to accept the document during a public meeting if it were not to be considered a public document.
Petropoulos, retaining his equanimity, said he would have Dineski review the situation to find out if the document could be accepted in a public meeting, but his main purpose in raising the Personnel Board issue again was to ask his colleagues to reopen the warrant for spring Town Meeting, which selectmen had earlier reviewed, and add a new article to it asking residents to reinstitute the Personnel Board.
Although selectmen voted to discontinue the Personnel Board some years ago when the town adopted a charter and switched to a town manager form of government, residents at Town Meeting thought differently and failed to support the move.
As a result, the Personnel Board is still on the books, covered by a still-existing bylaw that has, nevertheless, been ignored by selectmen, who have not appointed any members to it nor even advertised its continued existence.
It was Petropoulos' contention raised at the board's meeting of Feb. 25 that the town needed the board to handle such issues as resignations and complaints that have surfaced in past months.
But other selectmen did not agree, including Peter Cunningham, who had participated in the charter formulation process. He pointed out that it was found at the time that the Personnel Board was "essentially obsolete."
Cunningham repeated his objections at the March 11 meeting, advising Petropoulos that putting the issue on the warrant for spring Town Meeting would be "premature" as long as conflict existed between the charter and the bylaw.
Agreeing with Cunningham at the Feb. 25 meeting, the board voted not to reconstitute the Personnel Board and instead referred the issue to the Bylaw Review Committee for discussion.
"We're going in absolutely the wrong direction," said Schulman of Petropoulos' request.
But Petropoulos had some support among board members, with Joshua Degen suggesting that the issue be held over for further discussion at a future meeting pending a review by the Bylaw Review Committee.
At that point, town planner Michelle Collette rose to address the board, saying she found the conversation held the prior meeting "absolutely disconcerting" because none of the effected employees of the town had been consulted on the issue.
Reading from a letter signed by the employees, Collette indicated that they looked forward to a "thoughtful review of this matter without haste."
Signed by 10 employees including Collette herself, assessor Rena Swezey, and Water Superintendent Thomas Orcutt, the letter ended with a request for affected employees to meet with the Bylaw Review Committee to discuss any conflict between the charter and the bylaw.
The board finally voted to refer the whole issue to the Bylaw Review Committee.