GROTON -- Select Board members clashed at a Monday night meeting over discussion about the town's email response policy after the town manager answered a resident's question emailed to the board's account.
A resident sent a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with a line referring to Town Manager Mark Haddad's proposed budget. Haddad responded to that point and copied all members of the board and Finance Committee.
Selectman Jack Petropoulos took issue with Haddad responding on his own behalf through the account. He put the email policy on the board's agenda. The topic came up near the end of the three-hour meeting.
"Having this on the agenda tonight sends a bad message to the professionals that you have working for you," Haddad said to the board.
Town policy states that the town manager is allowed to open emails to the general selectmen email account and respond to requests for information that he is capable of providing.
Four out of the five members of the board didn't see an issue with how the town manager responded.
Petropoulos proposed policy change clarifying that responses from that account should reflect the opinion of the board as a whole. If an email is intended for a specific member, responses should come from that member's email account.
"It would assure that if someone writes to us, they get a respond from us," he said.
Boar d Chairman Joshua Degen said proposed policy changes need to be put in writing and brought to board at a later meeting to vote on.
When Petropoulos asked why not approve the policy now, Selectman Barry Pease pulled out a spiraled notebook and read back a quote from Petropoulos from earlier in the meeting: "I think don't think we should take a position on something we don't understand yet."
Discussion brought up a slew of other questions, including why the board has the general email address and how it can be difficult to respond to residents through that email in a way that doesn't violate open meeting laws.
Haddad, who grew frustrated with the conversation, suggested eliminating the town manager position and asked "Why am I even here?"
"No more resignations this month please," Pease replied, in reference to Police Chief Donald Palma's decision to retire early.
The town manager asked to be excused from the meeting, but Degen said no.
When the email policy discussion concluded, Degen said Haddad was done with his town manager report and could leave. He encouraged Haddad to stay and listen.
"I am listening to everything," Haddad shot back.