Selectmen Still Working Behind Closed Doors
by William Dowd 6/26/12
On Wednesday, June 27, the Board of Selectmen is scheduled to go into Executive Session to handle “bargaining with non-union personnel”. This is just a fancy way of referring to the process for determining the pay or other terms of employment for employees not in a union.
First, it’s so “Massachusetts” that the law and rules allow for the discussion, debate, development and establishment of the pay and benefits for non-union employees to take place in secret. It’s bad enough that union negotiations get to go behind closed doors. Extending that evil to those not in a union may constitute some bizarre form or fairness, but it is definitely counter to the interests of taxpayers.
Second, it’s curious that the discussion will take place at this time since the Board has previously decided to hold off on pay adjustments for non-union employees until after the long delayed compensation and benefits study is complete and processed. Without the report, I’m wondering what exactly they’ll be discussing and why they can’t do it in open session.
Third, it is yet another violation of the Board’s alleged commitment to transparency and visibility. Ever since I first raised questions about the cost of retiree health insurance benefits over two years ago, both the Selectmen and FinCom have indignantly professed their belief in transparency. Some of them have taken to referring to it as the “T” word, as though even suggesting that it’s not happening is preposterous.
When a public board or committee chooses to do its work in secret, taxpayer alarms should sound. There is absolutely nothing transparent about a meeting that excludes the press and the public. There are good and proper reasons for having certain discussions in a so-called “Executive Session”. Dealing with the pay, benefits and terms of employment for employees of the Town is just not one of them, no matter what the law and rules may allow.
I think the Board of Selectmen should do this business in open session. On Wednesday, we’ll see what they think.
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