GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Letters to the Editor: Shirley residents both for and against Monday’s recall vote

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

It grieves me to learn that the Groton-Dunstable Regional High Choral Choir will not perform in the Easter program at a Catholic Church in Italy because of the selfish, shortsighted desires of one woman.

This enriching and rewarding learning experience is a wonderful growth opportunity for the students.

If it is not funded by the school district. I see no conflict between church and state, since the purpose is not politically motivated. How sad that one person is allowed to ruin such a wonderful opportunity just to get her name in the news.

Laura Masson

Wells, Maine

A vote for the recall — and against the town administrator

This is an opportunity to put some Shirley Municipal government issues into perspective. What was done in executive session in 2015 concerning the Town Administrators raise was illegal as adjudicated by the MA Supreme Court in a similar case. Funds cannot be changed or transferred without town meeting approval. Under contract does not affect the issue. During the past 49 years of attending town meetings, I cannot remember a more blatant disregard for the wishes of the voters as shown by the under recall selectmen in Kendra Dumont and Robert Prescott! Shirley has a financial problem as does every city and town resulting from in simple terms, out of control costs, excessive spending habits, and to great a dependance on cherry sheet revenues.

We voted in 2015 town meetings not to give the Town Administrator a cost of living raise as was being given to town employees. The T.A. was only part way through her first contract period and the voters did not like the way municipal employees were being treated!

Over the past two years plus we have lost some 21 municipal people constituting many many years of government experience and that includes the resignation of the entire Board of Appeals at the same time in 2014 with over 100 years of zoning appeal experience. It is not difficult to understand with such a large personnel loss over a relatively short period of time has to be a PROBLEM IN TOWN HALL!!

We also voted in 2015 to restore the compensation and hours the Selectmen cut to balance the budget because we collectively felt the employees were not being treated fairly. The 21 people left in large part, and I personally questioned 5 former employees and to a person all agreed that an ADVERSARIAL WORK ATMOSPHERE existed in town hall over the past several years permitted by the under recall Selectmen and in large part carried out by the T.A.. This is an EXTREMELY poor personnel management policy and inexcusably bad leadership!! To my knowledge no one was even given a letter of appreciation or a verbal thanks for their years of service!! One would have to be a complete fool not to realize a part of this policy was direct retribution to the voters for restoring employee compensation!!!

Unfortunately politicians all too often need to be emphatically reminded who they work for and that the END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS!!!! Recall is entirely a justifyable action for the Shirley voters to take! PLEASE VOTE Jan. 30 and help make this happen!

Stanley H. Whiting Jr.

Shirley

A vote for Dumont and Prescott in Shirley

Selectman Dumont and Selectman Prescott have worked hard for years to put Shirley on the firm financial footing we enjoy today. For the first time in 10 years we have a real surplus and taxes have actually decreased. They have worked hard with people and departments to find new revenue for the town, like the Solar projects, and eliminating waste in our government. Due to their tireless efforts Shirley has a surplus of $450,000 in Capital savings and $801,965 in General savings for a total of $1,206,965 in total savings.(from town

website) The tax rate went down from $17.31 to $16.51 per thousand. A savings of $200 on a home valued at $250,000. Despite all this hard work to keep our town government efficient and financially responsible there are some in town who want to destroy it.

The recall stems from a misguided effort to violate the Town Administrator’s contract. A group of people at town meeting voted to deny the 2nd year contracted amount to the Town Administrator despite the fact it was guaranteed in her contract. This is a violation of her contract and is against the law. No vote at town meeting or selectman can violate a person’s contract. To save the town from lawsuit the selectman correctly gave the administrator a healthcare offset of 2 percent. What the selectmen did was right legally, morally, and in the best interests of the town. The Town Administrator Patrice Garvin has saved Shirley $1million in removing government waste and has brought in over $3.1 million in grants for the town. She is doing her job and doing it well. That hard work hasn’t stopped leaders of recall effort from using vulgar language to describe Ms. Garvin, Selectman Dumont and Prescott and lying to petition signers about the document they were signing.

This recall is an attempt to undermine our election process. Both Dumont and Prescott were elected by the clear majority of Shirley citizens. At no time, have they done anything illegal or immoral. Not one charge of corruption. This is a blatant attempt to undermine your vote and the financial stability of our town.

If you like your tax rate declining and your town government acting responsibly with your money, then the choice is clear.

Vote on Monday January 30, 2017 to keep Shirley fiscally sound and efficient. Vote AGAINST the recall of Kendra Dumont and Robert Prescott and then vote FOR them in the space provided!

Frank Devan

Shirley

Guercico will support current selectmen in recall vote Monday

I write this letter fully supporting our citizens right to challenge anincumbent by following the directives set forth in our recall bylaw. In this special election on January 30 I plan to support the incumbents.

I have had the privilege of serving as your selectman for almost 18 years from 1986 to 1993, and again from 1998 to 2009. During those years, our town experienced significant growth under the leadership of many, and the financial support received as a host community to a state prison known as MCI funds. Our town built a new town hall, police station, and D.P.W. garage, updated and replaced communication equipment, fire apparatus and equipment, police cruisers, and made public safety improvements. With town meeting approval, citizens of Shirley also supported a $13 million siting and construction of a middle school, through a debt exclusion, and a regionalization agreement with the town of Ayer. Town meeting also approved and authorized the board of selectmen, through the board of sewer commissioners, to accept a State Revolving Fund (S.R.F.) loan at 50 percent, matching funds to construct and implement a $15 million inground sewer system with a treatment plant located on the Devens Enterprise Zone. This system serves all of south Shirley and parts of Shirley Center, guaranteeing property values, eliminating ground water contamination, and preserving our aquafiers.

Growing pains and costs associated with all of the above, coupled with the national economic crash of 2008, created very challenging and stressful financial hurdles for elected and appointed officials to navigate through.

The road has been tough.

The road has been bumpy.

The incumbents that serve today had no easy answers or easy solutions available to them.

I personally do not agree with all the decisions that have been made.

For example, as the chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, I supported the “appeal” filed with the ZBA asking that the Planning Board decision concerning solar panels off of Walker Road be remitted back to the Planning Board for additional overview and conditions. The majority vote of the ZBA did not support that request, and as a result, the petitioners have filed an appeal with the state land court. I believe that is a correct action and the process delineated by law for citizens to follow. Our Board of Selectmen sees that differently; which is their prerogative. We agree to disagree.

Overall, the financial health of our town is in a more sound and stable place than it was coming out of the 2008 crash. At this point, the forecast for budget requests for our regional school system are on target with projections; the sewer commission is meeting all of its obligations and building a strong reserve, ensuring solvency as we get closer and closer to concluding our payback of the SRF loan, thus securing continued operation required for generations to come. Our town has also been able to end the use of one time revenue sources to balance the operating budget.

We have indeed seen a change in our municipal labor force. Many long time, dedicated, and professional appointed personnel have left, reluctantly moved on, or even in some cases, felt pressure to move on. Many of those individuals I know personally; I worked and interacted with them during my time on the Board of Selectmen. I believe that most of those former employees were fortunate enough to secure new employment, some at higher paying positions; others have taken early retirement. Some no doubt wish circumstances were different, and would have been happy to stay with the town of Shirley.

Unfortunately, our form of government can not address and solve each and every discussion to the satisfaction of all. Our government grapples with the problems with which they are faced and makes decisions that they believe are in the best interest of the town. I have no doubt that was the basis for the decisions that have been made. I also know that the process invites scrutiny and debate, which is why we are in the throws of a recall election.

I have known Bob Prescott since he was seventeen years old. He washed dishes at my family’s restaurant through high school and waited tables through his college years. I have supported his nine year tenure as a member of the School Committee. The strength and curriculum of our regional school system speaks for itself. His commitment as a selectman and town servant is unwavering.

The state of our town, I believe, is on stable ground with general oversight, financial checks and balances, a fully capable (although maybe still learning) municipal staff, and a course of action to meet future needs over the next two to three years.

I will vote for the recall and the re-election of the incumbents. I encourage you to join me in support of continued strength towards financial autonomy for our town.

Chip Guercio

Shirley

Haase seeks support in Shirley Board of Selectmen bid

My name is Holly Haase and I am asking for your vote for the Board of Selectmen in the Recall Election.

I have over 28 years of municipal government service that includes the Assessor’s Office, Personnel Board, Tax Collection Committee, Finance Team, Cultural Council, Center Town Hall Committee and Town Collector. My understanding of how municipal government works on a daily basis will be an asset to the Board of Selectmen and will help us serve and lead our community. Beyond government, I have been involved in other happenings in our town, including the organization of the Shirley Meeting House Concert Series, participant in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day Ceremonies, maintenance of the Celebrate Shirley Community Calendar, Shirley Media board member, Shirley Shines organizer, T-Ball, Softball and Basketball coach and a Cub Scouts Den Leader.

I believe government must be transparent. Most discussions of the Selectmen should be done in open session with all documents available for the residents to review. To that end, I will make the Selectmen’s agenda available on our website, Facebook page and in printed form 4 to 5 days prior to a meeting. The same will be done with the budget. Our residents should be able to see and review the entire budget process from beginning to end. Other communities do this and there is no reason we cannot do the same.

Each board, committee and department has duties and responsibilities stated in Massachusetts General Laws which is what creates the checks and balances in government. The Board of Selectmen must understand this and create a work environment the helps all succeed. Because I have worked in the municipal government I know the interactions between the departments and this knowledge will help us all work together to better serve our community.

I will revisit plans to bring businesses into our town using some of the past work done by the Economic Development Committee. There is no reason that Shirley cannot be a desirable community for commercial businesses, which will help our tax base and bring much needed jobs.

We have many programs to help our aging population, but fall short in helping young struggling families and individuals. I will research available programs at the state and federal level that might address this need.

The most important thing any elected official must do is listen to the voters and learn what they believe will better our community. The Governing body of the Town of Shirley is the voters; their opinions and votes must be respected.

The Board of Selectmen are our town leaders and I believe that good leadership requires humility and respect. In the words of Doug Guthrie, “A humble leader is secure enough to recognize his or her weaknesses and to seek the input and talents of others.” This is the kind of leadership I want to bring our community; one that listens to and asks the people of our town to share their opinions and talents. I will work hard to earn your respect. Our town is not one person, but the personalities, life situations and opinions of many. We will not always agree, but we can and must respect each other. Let’s work together and make our town the best it can be! Please vote on January 30. Contact me via e-mail: hollyforselectmen@gmail.com

Holly Haase

Shirley

Swanton against recall

To the Residents of the Town of Shirley: Recalling Selectmen Robert Prescott and Kendra Dumont is a Bad Idea.

On Monday, January 30, it is critically important that all registered voters in the Town of Shirley (there are about 4,200 of you) go to the polls to vote “No” on recalling Selectman Robert Prescott and Selectman Kendra Dumont. Both of these individuals should be permitted to serve the full terms that they were elected, by the voters of Shirley, to serve.

There are two reasons why this recall should not be supported.

Reason #1 — The premise for the recall, that Mr. Prescott and Ms. Dumont failed to abide by the votes of Town Meeting regarding the salary appropriation for the Town Administrator, is simply not true. There are specific legal differences between the salary appropriation under the jurisdiction of Town Meeting and the Employee Contract benefits under the jurisdiction of the Selectmen. And while the recall petitioners want to suggest that they are effectively the same, by legal definition (as confirmed by Town Counsel) they are very different.

Reason # 2 — Given, then, that Mr. Prescott and Ms. Dumont did abide by the decisions of Town Meeting regarding the salary appropriation for the Town Administrator, this recall is being put forth not because of any wrong-doing, or dereliction of duty, but simply because the petitioners don’t like the decision that the Selectmen made in this matter.

Some background: The law provides for Town Meeting to appropriate monies for items in the Town Operating budget, including the annual salary for the Town Administrator. The Special Town Meeting reaffirmed (with 116 votes to 79 votes) the vote to deny Ms. Gavin an annual salary increase, an increase was provided to all other Town employees at the Annual Town Meeting. While no explicit reason was given for this action, it seems likely that the vote to deny Gavin’s salary increase was in retaliation for Gavin’s recommendation for the reorganization and consolidation of personnel resources, to improve efficiency and save money. A recommendation that was supported by the Selectmen and the Finance Committee, and brought to Town Meeting for a vote.

Gavin’s salary, today, is as those 116 members of the Special Town Meeting voted. The Selectmen have taken no action to adjust Gavin’s annual salary.

The law also provides that the Selectmen, not Town Meeting, are responsible to sign and execute employment contracts. These positions include the Town Administrator, Police Chief, Fire Chief and Town Accountant, positions that involve decisions that may be emotionally and/or politically charged. Without an employment contract, these individuals could find themselves

facing termination or retaliation for their position or recommendation on an issue, rather than for their job performance. This appears to be the case with the denial of Garvin’s salary increase.

The Selectmen took action to renegotiate other terms of the contract (health insurance), not under the jurisdiction of Town Meeting, to prevent the invalidation of Gavin’s contract. Failure to meet the terms of the employment contract could have resulted in legal action against the Town. It could also have resulted in a decision by Gavin to seek employment elsewhere. This would be a serious loss for the Town. As member of the Finance Committee since the mid 1990’s, I know Ms. Garvin to be, by far, the most capable Town Administrator the Town has had in the last 20 years. In recent months the Town has realized well over $1 million in grants for infrastructure repairs, due to Garvin’s efforts. This is money that will not have to be raised through property taxes.

Finally, recalling an individual from office because you don’t like the lawful, well-reasoned position or action they have taken can have a “chilling” effect on the governance of the Town. Elected officials will be influenced to make decisions not simply based on the best interests of the Town at large (nearly 6,000 residents), but will have to be concerned that if a handful of people object to any decision, a recall action may immediately take place.

There is a method for replacing Selectmen whose opinions or actions you don’t agree with. It is called the Annual Town Election, held in May of each year. The recall of an elected official, the current by-law notwithstanding, should be reserved for issues involving illegal or criminal actions, gross misconduct, or dereliction of duty. The issue raised in the current recall does not come close to meeting that standard.

I respectfully ask all registered voters in the Town of Shirley to go to the polls on Monday, January 30, and join me in voting “No” on the petition to recall Robert Prescott and Kendra Dumont.

Michael Swanton

Shirley

Swanton is a member of the Shirley Finance Committee.

Dumont disputes rationale for recall, cites record

My name is Kendra Dumont, a member of the current Board of Selectmen, and I’m hopeful that Shirley residents will vote AGAINST the recall of myself and Robert Prescott on Monday, January 30.

My reasons are simple. I’ve always gone by the saying that you should “Never do anything you didn’t want to see on the front pages of the paper.”

To that end I’ve been honored to serve since 2009, when first elected we were facing a deficit of over $1 million, less Police, Fire and DPW and these public safety people were working with old equipment. Our community was in bad shape, our total combined saving was less than $140,000.

We hired a professional manager that consolidated positions within the town offices to align with the reduced work load, we increased our Police, Fire and DPW and provided them with new equipment to better serve you the tax payer and did so without an override. Today based on a lot of hard work andsome very difficult decisions we have a more robust public safety element, including around the clock ambulance services, Police, DPW and Fire and without increasing taxation, our rate has dropped from $17.31 to $16.52 and our community now has over 1.2 Million in our combined savings and applied for and received over 3 million in grants.

To address the elephant in the room, the rationale for the recall. Our administrator was never given a raise, what she was given was the annual contracted amount. Had the Selectmen not done this the town would have faced certain litigation for a contract and Mass State law violation. This was affirmed in a Superior Court Judge’s decision when he stated “…The Board of Selectmen’s LAWFUL decision regarding the Town Administrators compensation…”

I would humbly ask that on Monday the 30th you vote AGAINST the recall of both of the Selectmen, and in the space provided vote FOR Kendra Dumont and Robert Prescott. My only desire is to continue to move our town forward to make a better community for all.

Kendra Dumont

Shirley

Prescott makes the case for remaining in office

My name is Bob Prescott, I currently serve on the Board of Selectmen and I’m asking today for your support on Monday, January 30.

I was originally elected three years and nine months ago in a special election. After listening to my plans and ideas, the town elected me by a margin of 2 to 1 over Mr. Enrico Cappucci.

Since being elected, we have implemented many of these ideas regarding regionalizing services where it made sense, consolidating positions that had not been done when school regionalization happened, and reallocating funds that directly affect the taxpayer with regard to public safety.

The result of all of this work has been our town going from a 1.5 million dollar deficit to a 1.2 million dollar surplus. We restored Police, Fire, DPW and Ambulance positions as well as increased funding to the Library, Seniors, and Veterans. We were able to tax under the 2 1/2 percent cap last year and if it is decided on Monday that Mrs. Dumont and myself complete our duly electeced terms, we are headed toward a balanced budge a tax rate under the 2 1/2 percent cap again.

This is no small accomplishment. It takes long hours of hard work, cooperation and consultation from all departments, Fincom, and the Town Administrator.

The gist of this election is two-fold.

1. Some people wanted to punish the Town Administrator by denying her contracted salary increase, for implementing our plan. Town Meeting doesn’t have the authority to change contracts but they voted to do it anyway with the support of the then Moderator, Enrico Cappucci who would not allow Town Counsel to advise the body that their decision would be overreaching their authority.

When we corrected this destructive course some of this body decided to punish us through this recall.

2. The second part of this is one Selectman’s crusade to control the Police Department by making a dismissed police officer chief. Sadly this is the only focus of Mr. Cappucci. His concern is not with the responsible governing of this town.

The importance of this election cannot be over stated. If Mrs. Dumont and I are not both allowed to complete our duly elected terms by voters voting AGAINST the recall , most of the accomplishments will have been in vain. Shirley will within a budget cycle or two will revert back to cuts and deficits. There is much work to be done moving forward and I ask for your support and trust on Monday January 30th.

A vote for myself and Kendra is a vote for all of Shirley not just a few.

Bob Prescott

Shirley