Sunday, November 3

Observations from a reader

Dear Kevin:

I’ve now reviewed Scanlon’s September 30 Management Letter on our Town.  Since I’m down here and you’re up there trying to hold the fort, I thought I’d give you some comments which may be of some help.  That’s the intent. 

1.   None of the problems Scanlon identifies appear to be terribly serious.  Yes, there are deficiencies in internal controls.  But none of them rises to the category of a “material weakness”.
2.   I would not be surprised of none of our Selectmen really understand Scanlon’s report or how to proceed to correct the identified weaknesses in internal controls.  It may be that the members of the Finance Committee have a greater understanding of these matters.  But they may not have the authority to do anything about them.
3.   2012-1 Tax Collector Accounts Receivable Reconciliation
it’s significant that Scanlon found that the subsidiary records are being correctly maintained and that the problem is simply that these accounts are not reconciled with the general ledger on a timely basis.

It’s too bad that no amounts are mentioned.  Are we talking about a lot of money here?  Or just pocket change?
4.   2012-2 Water Accounts Receivable Reconciliations
This is a more serious problem.  Hardly surprising, is it?

One wonders why Scanlon provides numbers regarding this problem while having neglected to do so with regard to point 2012-1 above.  Why is this?

It would be interesting to know the ageing of the “water user outstanding accounts” as well as their composition.  For instance, have these balances been outstanding for over a year?  Over two years?  Or are they short term?  And is there any significant concentration?  Are there water users whose accounts past due exceed $2,000?  $5,000?  If so, who are they and what is being done about them?

Finally, what are the abatements/adjustments?  Who has authority to give an abatement?  On what basis is one granted?  Again, what sort of concentration is involved here?
5.   Other Matters – Water Company
You know my opinion on the EWC: it’s a disgraceful mess.  Not only poor or non-existent management but also a woeful disregard for the basis on which the Town’s citizens voted to purchase the EWC to assist their neighbors: that the EWC users would be fully responsible for all the costs of the EWC.  The Water Commissioners are derelict in their duty to their fellow citizens, in my opinion.

The numbers speak for themselves: 2012 revenues were $136,618 while expenses were $225,376.  This marks the extent to which the non-user citizens are subsidizing the EWC users: $88,758 in 2012 alone, a hefty 39% of the actual expense of providing water to these users.  Each of the users received a subsidy of over $440 from us non-users during 2012.

The EWC’s management can’t even collect the revenues they projected: they projected $156,345 for 2012 but only collected $136,618.  We know where part of this problem lies and, fortunately, that employee is no longer part of the puzzle.  But will the EWC collect what it projects?  Will it charge full cost?  All this remains to be seen.

The other matters mentioned in Scanlon’s report have their importance.  But, to my eye, the ones I touch on above are the more important ones.  You may know better.

Please use these observations as you see best.  BUT NOT FOR ATRIBUTION, PLEASE.  I’m happy to work with you all to improve the governance of our (poor) Town.  It’s struggling with the burden of a dysfunctional management team, in my opinion.  But I want my name kept out of it, please.

Thank you and best of luck.

Saturday, November 2


          Rumor has it that since I was ejected from the BoS meeting on the 13th of September I got my mind right and stopped leaking public information to the public. No such luck! It’s been awhile since the last post because I’ve been trying to let the wheels of justice grind. As you know those wheels grind exceedingly slow. The BoS have been fielding a flurry of open meeting law complaints including one complaint that rises to the level of a civil rights violation. There have also been a few audits going on; one of which is the subject of this post.
If you attended the Finance committee meeting last Wednesday, and I know you didn’t, you would have been treated to a rough draft of the 2012 management letter drafted by the towns auditing firm Scanlon & Associates, (S&A). S&A took a hard look at the numbers, policies and procedures and found that the town needs to step up its game in regard to financial accountability. As you will see in the management letter, which was attached to the email, the water company is not the only department that needs to be more transparent in the reporting of the numbers. Here are just a few of the comments that S&A, an independent auditing firm, made in the draft of the management letter to the town.
1.     2012-1 Tax Collector Accounts Receivable Reconciliations (Significant Deficiency)
2.     2012-2 Water Accounts Receivable Reconciliations (Significant Deficiency)
3.     We recommend that the Town Accountant and Treasurer improve the cash and investment reconciliation process by documenting and properly identifying all reconciling items
I’m not going to go into the details of the management letter, as you can read it for yourself in the pdf attached to the email or embedded in the post. I’m sure with all of the financially savvy people reading this there will be plenty of discussion on the implications of the management letter. I’m not going to speculate as to why after years of upbeat management letters filtered through rose colored glasses we are suddenly receiving such a scathing review. One FC member suggested that it was probably because someone finally lit a fire under their ass. I guess with the constant scrutiny from the FC and some unruly vocal citizens a rosy review would not have been credible.
I will however go into the general discussion that went on at the FC meeting. All members of the FC were horrified with what they read in the report. Someone asked if management letters drafted by our previous auditing firm were as harsh as the S&A letter, but no one could remember any of the past letters being so candid. I have to wonder if Hirbour & Haynes P. C. ever noticed these things; or warned the town that these things may be going on? Perhaps these discrepancies occurred only since this new set of eyes took a look at the books. I guess we have to keep a better set of eyes on the town finances. You can do that by coming to the BoS and FC meetings. This next meeting will be important because this audit report is on the agenda. So come on out to the meeting, you may be surprised. These meetings are actually kind of fun, especially when you’re being dragged out by three Police officers.
On Monday November 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm. Tom Scanlon, of Scanlon & Associates, is scheduled to be at the BoS meeting. I don’t know if Bruce is going to allow the citizens to ask questions of Mr. Scanlon; but just in case he does, read the report and have your questions ready. Since our town government works best when more citizens participate, I would like to see so many people show up for the meeting that we have to move to the firehouse. Just to pique your interest let me share a few more tidbits from the report.
1.     During our audit we found that effective procedures were not in place to reconcile the Tax Collector's accounts receivable subsidiary records to the general ledger.
2.     During our audit we found the water accounts receivable subsidiary records were not being effectively reconciled to the general ledger. Variances exists between the water accounts receivable subsidiary records and the general ledger as outlined below:
3.     We recommend that the Town Accountant and Treasurer improve the cash and investment reconciliation process by documenting and properly identifying all reconciling items.
4.     During our audit we noted that payroll withholding account balances are not being properly reconciled. Because these accounts have essential annual activity and carry with them statutory tax liabilities, among other responsibilities, we recommend that these accounts be accounted for accurately and consistently.

KevinZurrin           Scanlon and Associates Audit Report

Monday, September 23

Chief Bucknell Firing

In one vote the BoS have eliminated the need for a special town meeting. Tonight in a 3/0 vote, which was motioned by Charlie and enthusiastically seconded by Mary;-? the BoS fired Reena Bucknell. Now there is no need to ask the town for 43k to fund their interim chief of police fiasco. See it for yourself.

Saturday, September 7


          The special town meeting is upon us and conspicuously absent from the warrant is the article to raise and appropriate funds to support two chiefs of police. This BoS in their infinite wisdom, or lack thereof, decided that to ask the town for $42,000.00 to fund this interim chief fiasco would create too much controversy. Instead they decided fund this interim chief position with their own money. Well the money is not really theirs, it is ours; but they don’t care as long as you don’t squawk about it. These three louts found some monies in a little known slush fund and plan to use it to fund their interim chief without consulting the finance committee or the town. Hey, isn't this the money they accused chief Bucknell of mismanaging? Oh, but it’s quite alright for them to mismanage it? It’s time to stand up and be counted!
          You may remember back in April there was an article titled The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost; I’m going to remind you of some of the things that were said. “We were all warned that when the Board of Selectmen illegally removed a finance committee member it would weaken the finance committee”. Apparently this BoS feel that they no longer have to consult anyone to spend $42,000.00 of the towns’ money. May I remind you that the Finance Committee was put in place to keep a check and balance the town officials spending practices? It was said that all expenditures would have to be reviewed by the finance committee. This expenditure of $42,000.00 on the part of the BoS circumvents the very system that was put in place to protect the town against this misspending problem. It’s time to stand up and be counted!
          May I also remind you it was said “Chairman Turner wasted no time exerting his newly usurped authority. When Laura was explaining why she thought the Finance committee did have oversight of the account Chairman Turner cut her off in mid sentence and said the Finance Committee had absolutely no say in any matter regarding this account”? This BoS has no compunction about usurping authority when they want to take any action. The use of this account for the purpose of paying a second chief of police $42,000.00 of the towns money is an obvious abuse of authority on the part of the BoS; but these three don’t care how much they have to abuse their authority to reach their end goal. It’s time to stand up and be counted!
          Another comment was on the power of the people. It was said However, all is not lost. While the BoS are getting intoxicated with their newly usurped power they fail to recognize one thing; we the people have the power to stop them in their tracks”. Notice that when a large group of citizens were present for the various hearings held to deal with the Chief Bucknell issue, the BoS didn't have the guts to fire her outright; instead they had to meet in secret and neutralize her without actually dealing with the issue. This BoS created yet another way to circumvent the policies and procedures by keeping her on the payroll and not allowing her to do her job. Now we’ll have two chiefs on the payroll; one who is working part time and one who doesn't have to work at all. The irony is that the chief who is not working at all wants to work and the part time chief is working for another town and hoping that he will become the full time chief when the chiefs’ position opens up. Essentially the interim chief is in a very well paid holding pattern until the position opens up. It’s time to stand up and be counted!
          One final reminder of what was said in this article. You see my friends; because there are so few active citizens to answer to, the BoS have forgotten that the people have control. The people have to remind the BoS that they serve at the pleasure of the citizens of Egremont". When I said This BoS were intoxicated with their newly usurped power I thought I was exaggerating a bit, but when we see how this BoS abuses their authority, ignores the safeguards that were put in place to protect the people and thumbs their nose at the citizens who dare to show up at the meetings I’m beginning to think that I understated the intoxication that this BoS is under. It’s time to stand up and be counted!

          We do have the power to stop this BoS from ruining this town but we have to get off our asses and rein them in. Just because they were elected does not mean that they have the authority to do whatever they want. The money in this so called slush fund, that the chief was accused of amassing, is not the BoS's to do with as they please. THIS IS THE TOWN’S MONEY! How dare this BoS presume to spend $42,000.00 of this fund, which was given to the town as a grant for specific purposes, to cover up their debacle? I don’t even know if it is legal for the town to keep the money let alone misappropriate it to pay for an interim police chief. Even if the town can legally keep the grant money shouldn't it go into free cash where the town can vote to spend it on things that the town really needs or to lower the tax rate? This BoS has to be put in its place and we have to do it. This Special Town Meeting coming up on Sept 30th can be the perfect place to do it. IT’S TIME TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!

Tuesday, August 27


          We have had a lot of people complaining that they could not hear what the BoS were saying at the “OPEN MEETING. Well the BoS spoke very clearly last night at their meeting. They said NO, citizens do not have the right to hear what the BoS are discussing at THEIR meetings. Their emphatic statement was that “This is OUR Meeting and by law we only have to be heard by each other”. This supercilious gang believes that we citizens may have the right to be there; but we DO NOT have the right to hear their deliberations. Like a cage full of monkeys at the zoo, we can look at them but we don’t have to understand what they are saying.
          If that isn't bad enough these arrogant thugs feel that they don’t have any requirement to allow the citizens to speak at the BoS meetings. Technically this is true, the chairman rules the floor. However, I recall not too long ago a couple of citizens, sued for the right to speak at town meeting. While the court did rule in the towns favor it cost the town a lot of money to defend their right to prohibit free speech. I think we’re still paying for that debacle. Do we have to go through this again? This is how they introduced their new gag rule. When a citizen was recognized by the chair and started to speak, the chairman cut him off and asked if what he was about to discuss was on the agenda. When this citizen said no the chairman cut him off and said that citizen’s time is limited to discussing only items on the agenda.
          From now on any Egremont citizen is required to anticipate any questions they might have in advance and make a written request to Mary to put it on the agenda. Is this so the BoS can screen the questions? Doesn't this kind of resemble the Politburo in Communist Russia? You remember; the system where a person would have to apply in writing to ask any government official a question. The government would then have to decide if they wanted to allow that person to ask the question, put that person in prison or kill them. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a bunch of bolshevic. What are these three people doing to our town? When are the citizens going to wake up and take control? Does this picture resemble someone on the BoS? Could they be related? Could one be a reincarnation of the other? They certainly do have identical political philosophies.  

Joseph Stalin


Bruce Turner


Wednesday, August 14


Well I guess I’m glad I’m not a betting man because I would have lost that bet for sure. I didn't think Reena would go for a closed session if her life depended on it. However, because she does have character and integrity, in a final attempt to negotiate in good faith, she actually went behind closed doors and gave the BoS a chance to make things right. Of course it was an exercise in futility because this BoS doesn't have the character or integrity to negotiate in good faith. They have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted. Apparently a hand shake is not good enough here. We all heard the deal that was made on the 8th of July and yet Bruce denies it.
I do see why the BoS wanted to negotiate behind closed doors. If the BoS allowed Mary to make this offer in an open meeting they would have been laughed to scorn. I don’t know how Mary could have made this offer with a straight face. It is said that you know you have mastered the art of false sincerity when you start to believe your own press. Well Mary believes her own press. You should have heard her when she made the final offer to Reena. Her voice became soft and cuddly as she thanked Reena for agreeing to meet behind closed doors. And since she had the floor she wanted to make a proposal. Dripping with that false sincerity Mary said she believed this offer was a beneficial solution for both parties.
I would never have believed that anyone could have made such a ridiculous proposal. And to make it with such contrived passion. Mary you shouldn't be in Egremont; you belong in Hollywood. That performance could have won an academy award. I know that both Reena and her attorney had to pause. Not because they were considering the proposal; but because they couldn't believe Mary had the audacity to make it. Did she actually believe that this offer would be acceptable? She must think she is dealing with total idiots. Or perhaps this was the proverbial Hail Mary pass and she was actually thinking this might work. If I were Reena's attorney I would have fallen off of my chair laughing. I see why Mary wanted a closed hearing; it’s better to look foolish in front of two people, rather than thirty five.
Since everyone is probably wondering let me tell you about this wonderful deal. Mary actually offered to give Reena almost everything the town owed her if she would just go away and not sue the town or any of the officials. This amounts to 75 accumulated sick days which accumulated because she rarely took a sick day, 50 vacation days, 25 of which would not be paid because vacation days can’t accumulate while she was on paid administrative leave and 3 personal days. This adds up to almost 21 weeks which would bring her to the end of the year. I hate to say it Reena but I told you so. I told you that you have to force these people to do their dirty deeds out in the open.
Charlie said he thought Mary was giving Reena a gift. REALLY CHARLIE! A GIFT! If that’s what you consider a gift I would hate to be at your house on Christmas. Then he went on to insult and berate the chief beyond belief. He actually dared her to sue the town. Then as usual he reiterated many times that he was a commander in the Navy. I have a news flash for you Charlie; everyone knows you were a Navy commander, you tell them several times at every BoS meeting. It’s unfortunate that the Navy couldn't teach you to be a gentleman. I don’t know if you were aware of it but you were talking to a lady. Have you no shame?
The bottom line is that the BoS still hasn't dealt with the chief of police issue. Think about this at the special town meeting when these same people ask us to cough up another fifteen thousand dollars because this issue is not yet resolved. We can force them to put an end to it by not funding it. We have the power to stop this insanity; let's end it and get on with the rest of the towns business.


Sunday, August 11


I know it’s been awhile since the last post but it is summer and things are a little quiet at the town hall. There is however a very important BoS meeting tomorrow at 7:00 pm. I suggest that anyone who can be there make it a point to show up. Come early if you want a seat because there will be standing room only. There will be a few surprises in store. We have the Chief Bucknell finale up first on the agenda. It is posted as a closed session but I wouldn't count on it.
Will the BoS finally deal with the police chief fiasco? Your guess is as good as mine. What we do know is that at the last hearing Mary, with a crocodile tear in her eye, begged Reena to consider going into closed session so the selectmen could talk openly. Mary said that they didn't want to discuss these issues in front of all these witnesses. Don’t you find it odd that the BoS would have to hide from the people in order to openly discuss the issues with the chief? What are they hiding?
It seems to me that if Bruce and Mary were comfortable with firing Chief Bucknell they had two perfect chances to do so. The first time, on July 8th, Charlie motioned the BoS to ask for the chief’s resignation or fire her. Then after these two cut a deal to return the chief to her position Charlie goaded them into reneging; well sort of. The second time, on July 22nd, Charlie motioned the BoS to ask for the chiefs resignation or fire her. No one seconded the motion so it died on the floor. Instead Mary begged for a private meeting with the chief. If the BoS had a legitimate reason to fire the chief I’m sure they would have done so without hesitation. I wouldn't think these selectmen were afraid of the people who showed up at the meeting. Imagine this group being afraid of the citizens. Preposterous!
Now the chief did say that she would consider going into closed session but she did not commit to it. I hope she tells them to screw off; or in more polite terms, that after careful consideration, and on the advice of her attorney, she decided to keep the hearing open. I’m sure if they offered to restore her to her position and a seven figure settlement she would go into closed session. Short of that there is no reason for the chief to go into a closed room with the people who reneged on the last deal and hammer out a new deal. Who knows what these three louts have in store for the chief if they get her behind closed doors. When a bunch of thugs ask you to step into the alley it’s not a good idea to go with them. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if we have a police chief or a seven figure lawsuit.
Another interesting item on the agenda is the resignation of the building inspector. Mr. Race has been the inspector for a long time. I have to wonder if he was asked to resign because he displeased Charlie or if it was an act of conscience. My hunch is that it has something to do with either the police station not getting a C/O or the fact that he didn't back the planning board in their attempt to bend the law to fit the DeLacy situation. But that’s just a hunch. With the mushroom treatment we get from this BoS we’ll probably never know.
So if you can make it I promise you it will at least be entertaining. Don’t stay away because you think they are going into closed session. Mary stating it will be closed so emphatically is wishful thinking on her part. If I were a betting man I would take odds that the chief will opt for an open hearing again. There is absolutely no upside for Reena to go into closed session. The BoS have made it abundantly clear that they will not put her back in charge under any circumstances. It’s best to force the BoS to do their dirty deed in full view of the people. Of course this will leave her no other choice than to commence the lawsuit. I can’t wait until Officer Pilone is deposed. That will be priceless.

Friday, August 2


          The finance committee meeting was if nothing else informative. If you want to know what goes on in this town then follow the money. The FC meeting is where all the money issues are discussed. There were a lot of boring details that aren't worth writing about so I’ll just get to what I thought was interesting.
          One of the subjects of course was the water company. As you may know the BoS voted to rehire Jack Muskrat on a part time bases. The vote was two to one with Charlie being the only one to stand against keeping the guy who lost literally hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars. Charlie argued that this is a perfect time to give the water company a fresh start. Bruce and Mary would have nothing to do with that; they want to keep things the way they are. After all Jack has done such a great job.
You may recall that Jack couldn't touch any of the monies because he could not be bonded. This is why the water customers had to take their payments to Mary at the town hall. Now, because Jack can't be trusted to do the billing, that task had to be given over to the town hall. Charlie was right; why do we even need Jack? The irony is that jack will now be paid more to do less. I have to wonder what power Jack has over Bruce and Mary.
One of the FC members was so horrified that they brought Jack back that he was visible angered. He asked when the BoS voted this in. Well it was on the agenda the night of the Chiefs hearing on July 22nd. Perhaps if the crowd that came for the police issue put the same passion into the rest of the meeting Bruce and Mary may have balked at rehiring jack as well. They say that democracy is rule by angry mob. Sometimes the angry mob is right.
 Then the discussion turned to the town voting to defund Jacks position, which is a good segue into the Special Town Meeting, (STM) scheduled for Sept. 16th. I think we citizens are going to have to start taking a more active role in running our town. So in that spirit let’s go over some key issues on the draft warrant for that STM.
Article 1 wants to take an undetermined amount of our money for water company wages. The FC recommends this action but I say lets hold out on giving the WC any more money until they listen to Charlie and start fresh. The town will still have to kick in whatever is needed to balance the WC books but it’s a way to tell the BoS to get in line.
Article 2 asks the town to put more money into the interim chief’s budget. I hate to tell you I told you so, but when we were asked to put up 15k to pay an acting chief at the last (STM) I opposed it. The BoS said the money was to be used to fund a 20 hour per week position at 25 dollars per hour. At this rate the 15k would last for seven and a half months. This should have taken us through the end of the year. I guess the BoS is telling us that this fiasco will go far beyond the end of this year. It seems to me that on July 8th the BoS made a deal to end this by Dec. 31st. I have an idea, let’s take away the funding for the interim chief and force the BoS to deal with the issue. Why should we have to pay another dime for the BoS’s stupidity. 
Articles 4 &5 deal with the police department budget as well. Why on earth should we put any more money into a police department that is so dysfunctional? If we don’t vote to fund the police budget the BoS can’t spend the money. Perhaps if the police dept. feared that the town would defund the entire dept, they would be a little more agreeable in negotiating their collective bargaining agreement. They might even think twice about refusing to work with their Chief.
We the people have the power of the purse I can’t understand why we don’t use it. I know a lot of the townspeople agree with these positions but if they don’t get out and vote it doesn't matter. There are going to be a lot of crucial issues voted on at this upcoming Special Town Meeting. The only way to change what’s wrong with the town is to participate. So if you’re not registered to vote then please register. If you are registered to vote then pry yourself away from the prime time lineup for one night and get out and vote.


Wednesday, July 24


          The BoS were absolutely stunned that Reena didn’t jump at the deal that they offered to reinstate her as Chief of Police. IT WAS SUCH A GOOD DEAL! Mary was actually hurt because the BoS worked so hard to create a way for Reena to come back and be put out to pasture with dignity. They really tried to make a way for the Chief to save face but she refuses to step in line. The BoS can’t understand why Reena, who is the Egremont police chief, would rather be fired than yield to these 10 little conditions;-?
          Obviously my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. Does this BoS seriously expect us to believe that they are acting in good faith? They must either be total imbeciles; or they must think we are. The terms, conditions and stipulations that this BoS laid out at last night’s meeting was not a good faith effort to bring back the Chief; it was a blatant attempt at constructive discharge. Constructive discharge is when an employer creates a situation so difficult it forces the employee to quit. In other words they’re saying, we don’t want to fire you so we’ll make you quit. This action is not only unethical; it is illegal and opens our little town up to yet another lawsuit. But I guess we know that this BoS couldn’t care less if the town is sued.
          Let’s look at the BoS proposal. If the Chief wants to come back as the Egremont Chief of Police she only has to agree to these ten little conditions.

1.    At all times when the Chief is on town property she will be escorted by acting chief Shaw, personnel director Bill Tighe or asst. town clerk Will Brinkner.

2.    Scheduling of all work of the officers will be determined by acting chief Shaw or personnel director Bill Tighe; including officers shifts.

3.    Develop, under the supervision of the acting chief, goals and long range plans for the EPD and submit them to the BoS for review

4.    Work with current personnel and the acting chief to update and resolve if possible outstanding cases.

5.    No longer serve as active chief of the department.

6.    No contact with officers.

7.    No contact with management or the people of the department.

8.    The board requires a letter announcing the chief’s retirement.

9.    The chief must waive her right to file any lawsuits against the town or any individual.

10.                       The chief must agree to not retaliate in any way against the officers.

At all times when the Chief is on town property she will be escorted by acting chief Shaw, personnel director Bill Tighe or asst. town clerk Will Brinkner. Let me get this straight, the town is going to pay for an escort service. If the chief is anywhere on town property she will have a paid male escort with her. WOW, I’ll bet Reena never dreamed she would have three male escorts. While having a paid male escort sounds a bit racy on the surface there are a few things the BoS may not have considered. For instance, what if the chief has to go pee? Do they use the men’s room or the ladies room? Perhaps the BoS can make all the bathrooms co-ed; then they can all go together. But then who would be watching who. Now all these male escorts have regular duties in the town, who will be doing those jobs while they’re watching the chief go pee?
Scheduling of all work of the officers will be determined by acting chief Shaw or personnel director Bill Tighe; including officers shifts. I guess this means that the chief of police is outranked by the asst. office clerk. She is to develop, under the supervision of the acting chief, goals and long range plans for the EPD and submit them to the BoS for review. I guess the BoS doesn’t trust the acting chief to develop a plan for the EPD so they’ll have her make the plans and give Brian the credit for it when he implements these plans. Or maybe the BoS doesn’t want the other officers to know that Reena is behind the scenes telling them what to do. This might be contrary to the demands of the probationary police force. After all, probies are always allowed to dictate to management the terms and conditions of employment aren’t they?
The chief will have to work with current personnel and the acting chief to update and resolve if possible outstanding cases. I have to wonder how this can happen since she can no longer serve as the active chief of the department, have contact with any of the officer’s and must have absolutely no contact with management or any of  the other people in the department or at town hall. It seems strange to me that the BoS would act on complaints that the chief is aloof and secretive with her officers and then require her to stay away from them. They punish her for not sharing information with management, town officials and other people in the department then demand that she have no contact with any of these people. They try to dismiss her for allegedly not acting as the chief of the department; then they tell her she can no longer serve as the active chief of the department. Am I missing something? What’s wrong with this picture? IS THIS TWISTED LOGIC OR WHAT?
If the chief agrees with all of the previous conditions the board will require a letter announcing the chief’s retirement. Then she must waive her right to file any lawsuits against the town, any town official or any individual officer. She must also agree to not retaliate in any way against the officers who tried to burn her. I guess the sixty four thousand dollar question is, WHATS IN IT FOR HER?

Sunday, July 21


I've been trying to be as nice as I possibly can to these three louts who have been running our town into the ground. These three don’t even pretend to serve the best interest of the town anymore. Charlie is on a vendetta against a single person and doesn't care what or who he destroys in the process, least of all our town. Somehow he has pulled the other selectmen into his folly and they’ll likely go down with his ship. The wake of absolute destruction left in the path of Charlie’s wrath can compare with the likes of hurricane Sandy. Ask Officer Pilone whose career was bruised pretty badly over this incident. I feel bad for the guy; he trusted Charlie and got shafted in the process and has the tee shirt to prove it.

Speaking of Officer Pilone I’m going to muse about what I think happened with this whole police fiasco. Bear in mind that on my part this is mostly conjecture. I think Officer Pilone wanted to get out of big city police work to settle into a small town and become a small town police chief. He stated as much. Then when he got here he became a little disillusioned because the small town life was a little too quaint for him. He was a little frustrated with the pace and wanted to make some changes so he suggested these changes to his boss the chief. She knew these changes didn't quite fit for this town and rejected these ideas. Men being men he didn't like his ideas being rejected; especially by a woman.
After awhile officer Pilone became so disenchanted with the state of affairs that he had to vent. In the chain of command his only option was to speak to the personal director, Bill Tighe. Bill, being firmly under the thumb of hurricane Charlie immediately called Charlie. Bill probably said something like Jeremy; tell Charlie what you just told me. After hearing the complaint Charlie might have said; you know Jeremy, I've been looking for some ammunition to use against the chief so we could get rid of her. You keep me informed on what she is doing and if we can build a case against her you could be the next chief of police. Charlie then might have suggested that Jeremy try to turn the rest of the officers against her and he would have his back.
Turning the rank and file against chief Bucknell wouldn't be hard since there was much grumbling in the ranks. Jeremy, thinking he had the backing of Charlie and the BoS, might have said some negative things about the Chief to stir up dissent. The more the officers talked together the more heated things got and it culminated in a vote of no confidence. Once the vote of no confidence was cast the BoS had cause to relieve the chief of her duties and investigate the charges. So they locked the chief out of the station took her gun and badge and went through the files with a fine tooth comb.
Wanting to at least appear impartial the BoS hired an outside firm to investigate this matter. I’m sure Charlie figured that this firm would find something in the fifteen years that Chief Bucknell was chief that he could use to dismiss her. I guess he was wrong. While the report did show that there were things that could have been done better, things that might have even warranted a reprimand; it showed nothing worthy of dismissal. The BoS showed the report to the town counsel the Attorney General and the District Attorney; they found nothing illegal or worthy of dismissal.
This police debacle, which was supposed to be settled in two weeks, is now in its sixth month with no end in sight. We thought it was settled on July 8th but Charlie just couldn't let it go. Rather than swallow his pride, which admittedly is a rather large bite to swallow, he convinced the other selectmen to create a gauntlet so brutal that no one could possibly make it to the end. I don’t know what Charlie has over the other selectmen but he seems to have total control over the agenda. Whatever Charlie says, however absurd, is going to happen. It’s like the Charlie Flynn marionette extravaganza. If the officials charged with running the towns affairs can’t do the right thing we have to get rid of them and put people who can do the job in their place.
Be advised that tomorrow The Egremont Board of Selectmen will meet on July 22, 2013 at 7 pm at the North Egremont Fire Station. They’re holding it at the fire station because it is expected to be well attended. I’m asking that as many as can to show up. This is going to be a turning point in regard to the town policies. We have to show up in full force to let the town officials know that we are not going to allow them to ruin our town.

Saturday, July 20


If you ever wondered if this BoS could act in good faith, wonder no more. I don’t know what changed but this BoS has decided to put this town at risk again. All they had to do is honor their word as given on July 8th and the police fiasco would have been over. Instead this triumvirate decided to go back on their word and try to put the screws to the chief yet again. The fact that these people reneged on an agreement is not surprising because they have no sense of honor. However, when they give their word as selectmen their word is the word of the town. They have brought dishonor to the town and said in effect that Egremont can’t be trusted. Our word is not good. This is inexcusable.
Now that this BoS have shown their true colors we have to get down to the real business of setting things straight. This BoS has had many chances to get right yet they keep on the path of running this train off the cliff. What this BoS doesn’t seem to understand or care about is that everything they do, they do in the name of Egremont. We are liable for every decision they make. Since we have to pay the price let’s look at some of what this BoS has cost the town thus far.
Ø Keeping a convicted felon on the payroll, hundreds of thousands of dollars and counting.
Ø Placing the Chief of police on administrative leave, tens of thousands of dollars.
Ø Hiring an outside firm to attempt to discredit the Chief of Police; an attempt which was unsuccessful, another ten thousand dollars
Ø Appointing an officer in charge/acting chief to run the EPD then forcing that officer to resign. We don’t know how much this will cost the town since the way it was mishandled opened the town up to yet another lawsuit.
Ø Hiring a part time interim administrative chief to investigate the real chief. Fifteen thousand dollars and counting.
Ø Agreeing to bring Chief Bucknell back to avoid a massive lawsuit and then reneging on the agreement. Again, we don’t know how much this will cost the town because if the Chief does decide to sue it will cost us a lot.

This BoS has cost the taxpayers far too much. When will we be outraged enough to do something about it? Can we afford to wait to remove them by election? No. We have to deal with them like a cancer, cut them out quick and clean. We have to take any actions necessary to legally remove these people from this town’s government. WE NEED TO ACT NOW!!!

Friday, July 19

The police fiasco is back with a vengeance

I was going to write up something about the Thursday morning BoS meeting but an anonymous citizen beat me to it. I haven’t really listened to the whole recording of this meeting yet so I’ll sit back and allow someone else speak. It’s good to see that other people are paying attention and speaking out on the issues that affect the town. This was a comment posted on the previous blog article. I feel it deserves to be a regular post so others can read and comment.
Even though the BoS couldn't find a real reason to dismiss the Chief or further impugn her reputation, it doesn't keep Charlie Flynn and his big mouth from trying! It seems Charlie doesn't want the Chief back no matter what Bruce and Mary think (Bruce is having a hard time reigning Charlie in since Charlie sits on the school board and can get to him through there). On Thursday, Charlie laid out a series of demands so lengthy and absurd it would be impossible for Chief Bucknell to do her job. It appears that the police officers said they would not work with her (was it all of them or just the ones that were fired and then rehired, or Carlsen, who should have been fired). Since when do the employees make demands like that? It would be like the teachers saying who they think should be the Superintendant, not the School Committee. How would you handle that Charlie? It seems Charlie doesn't want the Chief to be alone, but have at least one babysitter with her at all times; she wouldn't be allowed to use the computer and Interim Acting Chief Shaw would remain on the payroll. Is Charlie out of his mind or is it an illness he can recover from? Either way, it is time for a recall petition! He has no idea how to govern, is confused as to the roles of the employees, and is a threat to the town in many ways. The people that voted for him should be embarrassed by his behavior and decision-making

Although I couldn't attend the meeting there was another concerned citizen with a recording device so there are a lot of people who know exactly what happened. I think I may request the BoS version to compare. Call me paranoid but with this BoS we must hold fast to the trust but verify policy. The last time I requested a month’s worth of recordings from Mary she told me they had only one meeting that was recorded. I have to wonder if she’s blowing smoke up my chimney. When I digest the entire recording I’ll have much more to say. 

Tuesday, July 16


          Now that the police chief fiasco is over; well almost over, we have to get back to the business of running the town. I know the BoS are diligently writing up a list of requirements for Chief Bucknell to meet. I don’t know how long will it take them to officially tell her to clean up her room, play nice with the other officers and share her ammo? I imagine they’ll find a more sophisticated way of saying it so it doesn't look as ridiculous as it is, but it will mean the same thing. After almost five months of searching for a compelling reason to dismiss her; the BoS couldn't find anything to impugn the chief’s character. We think we've dodged a bullet, pardon the pun, but with the damage to the chief’s reputation she could still sue the town. I doubt that she would, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
          Now we can go on to other business, like the water company. The most recent FC meeting was lively and interactive. Citizens are actually showing up and participating in the fun. Charlie Flynn even graced them with his presence. The FC is moving right along with the audit. Tom Berkel was busy last week researching audit companies and he had several firms that he brought up for discussion. One of the most notable firms that he mentioned was Scanlon & associates. Tom gave a strong pitch for S&A because he thought they were well qualified. However, after much discussion it was decided that because S&A does the regular audits for the town that they may not be the best choice for doing the operational audit. Even Charlie thought it might be a good idea to get a newer set of eyes for this audit. I guess there are a lot of other good firms to choose from, so NEXT.
          Speaking of Charlie, I have to say that he is really taking a proactive role in getting the WC on the right path. Not that being outspoken is new to Charlie but this issue has become a pet project for him. Finally we see some outrage over the town’s loss of over 200k$ and a disgraced employee trying to dictate the terms of his employment.  There was a lot of discussion about the WC administrator at tonight’s BoS meeting. On the up side he has finally retired, well sort of; but The BoS can’t vote to approve it because they don’t know if he’s volunteering his time for the month of July at no cost to the town. According to the water commissioners there is a deal that this employee will do the job while “retired” but receive comp time when he is rehired Apparently “comp Time” is technically considered, income which would mean that this employee is not really retired. A retiree is supposed to stop working for at least 30 days before they can reapply to be employed by the town again. Charlie says he doesn't even know if he would vote to rehire this person. I guess it doesn't matter though, Mary and Bruce would likely vote to bring him back even with his indiscretions’.
          The battle between the BoS and WC is far from over. In fact, it's going to start heating up. The water commissioners have stopped making claims that the BoS are dragging their feet on setting up the billing at town hall. Their new pitch is that it would cost over 10k to switch the software. Charlie said all he needs is a couple of hand tools and he can have it switched over for next to nothing. He said the town owns the software and equipment so he may just go up to the water plant, pull the hard drive and clone it. Good for you Charlie, do whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s good to see that the BoS are defining the role of the selectmen as opposed to the Water commissioners. The BoS do the hiring and firing of any town employee. In actuality the BoS has quite a bit of authority over the day to day details of the water company. Too bad it cost the town so much for them to figure it out. But on the bright side Charlie is on the case and he will make sure the best interest of the citizens of Egremont will be served.
          I don’t think I’ll be able to make the Thursday 7:30 am BoS meeting so hopefully someone with a video and or voice recorder will show up to bear witness. The BoS will be talking about the terms and conditions of the new WC retiree/hire, another person being hired for the WC and the chief of police. If you can be there please show up and video and or voice record the proceeding . If all else fails then at least take notes so we have more than the BoS minutes to go on. Talk to you later and have a great week in the heat.


Saturday, July 13


I got a call from a man the other day that was truly humbling. He wanted to thank me for what I was doing in creating and maintaining the EoE blog. He went on to name several others who have been instrumental in informing the town of what the BoS has been up to. He had a lot of good things to say about all, but he failed to mention one name.
The one person he didn’t mention was probably the most active over the decades in keeping the town informed. Long before computers and the internet this man was using the media of the time and any other means to get the word out. If he felt the town leaders were on the wrong track he shouted it from the rooftops in an effort to get them back on track.
The one person he didn’t mention has probably done more for the town of Egremont than any other single person. This man saved the town countless tax dollars by finding vital equipment at little to no cost. He got many of the local people to volunteer their time, energy, equipment and sometimes even money to provide essential services for the town.
The person he didn’t mention is a man I look to for strength when I feel the whole town is against me because I wrote something that no one wanted to hear. He is no stranger to the ire of the people. The truth is not always accepted with appreciation and the person delivering that truth is often met with resentment and ridicule. He encouraged me because he knew what I was feeling as he had experienced it firsthand.
The person he didn’t mention will probably never get a citizen of the year award and isn’t even bothered by that fact. This person doesn’t do what he does for approbation he does it because it’s the right thing to do. And by the way, the person he failed to mention was himself, so I'll mention him. We all know him as Bill Weigle. So next time you see Bill around town think about what Mr. Weigle has done for us and just say thanks.

Wednesday, July 10


In a stunning 2/1/decision the Egremont Marsupial Court ruled in favor of Chief Bucknell. I wouldn’t say that the chief won; but Charlie did lose. As in times past Charlie rushed to motion the board to either demand the resignation of Chief Bucknell or fire her. Apparently Charlie didn’t hear the chief’s attorney discredit each and every charge that the BoS lodged against her. The other board members decided to negotiate a treaty of sorts in order to save the town from not only a lot of embarrassment but a massive lawsuit. Although I do have to say that Charlie was a man of his word and let Reena’s attorney answer each and every charge. So Charlie, when you do the right thing I don’t mind posting it.
I say that the chief didn’t win because you can’t really undo what was done to her reputation. However, Reena only asked that she be restored to her rightful place as chief and be allowed to make a gracious exit from her station. According to the agreement as I heard it the chief will come back under certain conditions which have not yet been decided. Within two weeks the BoS have to develop a course of hoops for the chief to jump through. The chief then has until October 31st to jump through all of the hoops. If Reena can successfully maneuver through the obstacle course she will be retained and allowed to retire by December 31st.
Reena started by making a passionate statement defending her 15 year tenure as the police chief. There can be no doubt that the chief had a great deal of love and appreciation for the people of Egremont. She voiced her dismay at being treated so horribly by the people she served so well for so long. It must have been like a bad dream that she couldn’t awake from. In her fifteen years of service she never had a poor job performance report or a letter of reprimand. She was summarily dismissed on the baseless petty accusations of seven disgruntled officers; most of whom were on the job for only a few months; and many of whom are no longer on the force.
In listening to Chief Bucknell’s statement I was reminded of what a small town police chief is supposed to be. I once said she had her finger on the pulse of the town, this statement proved it. One officer, who is no longer with us said that this Po·dunk town doesn’t want a police force, they want baby sitters for the elderly. My reply was that he finally understood; albeit too late. Reena explained that the community policing program was set up the keep an eye on all the citizens but especially the elderly residents. The so called hit list was no more than a list of people to check on to be sure they’re all right. Many of these residents appreciated the fact that someone was looking in on them.
Reena’s attorney, Michael Akerson, did an excellent job of unraveling the twisted mess created by the BoS and the police officers. He started by pointing out the obvious conflict of interest with Mary and asked her to recuse herself. In typical fashion Mary refused to recuse herself; but now it was on the record. After allowing Reena to read her statement Mr. Akerson then into full attack mode. He systematically destroyed every allegation and reduced the BoS’s case to what it was; a pack of petty lies and accusations made by petty people with ulterior motives.
Fortunately by the end of the hearing some sanity was restored. Between the two attorneys’ the majority of the BoS were convinced to do the right thing and bring the chief back. The BoS struggled with how to word a motion to suit the occasion. After a few minutes Attorney Pollard explained that the BoS didn’t have to make a motion because in fact Reena Bucknell is still the Egremont Chief of Police. This observation seemed to bring the proceedings to a proper conclusion. I must say that attorney Pollard, who said he considers Reena his friend, was instrumental in bringing the selectmen to their senses. It wasn’t the best resolution to the ordeal but under the circumstances it will have to do. As long as Reena is satisfied with the deal then who am I to disagree?

Monday, July 8


          On Monday July 8th 2013 @ 6:00pm. The Egremont Marsupial Court will again be in session. The BoS plans to hold a hearing to determine the outcome of the Egremont police chief debacle. Now there has been a lot of misinformation disseminated by the BoS and EPD at various BoS meetings, blogs and through their favorite reporter Mr. Scribbler. The fact that the BoS has made numerous inconsistent statements is well documented so I won’t waste our time discussing it.  I could write an entire book of examples but all one has to do is read the words from their own mouths contained in the transcripts posted on
          My purpose in writing this post is to encourage as many people to show up to witness the hearing and to remind people of the words that have been made public about this situation. If you have read some of the local blogs and newspapers you will find that the BoS have a problem remembering their own public statements. I guess this is why Mr. Flynn said to me at a meeting “Do you have those notes written down somewhere?and “I mean, if you can give me the exact recording of what I said I’m happy to stand up to it.Because the BoS have such a selective memory there are some out here who are more than happy to remind them of what was said.
          It is in this spirit that I want to remind Mr. Flynn of his own words. “I think every effort was made to give the chief an opportunity to discuss it, and we’re still willing to have a public meeting with the chief.  If the chief chooses to do that, we will be more than happy to have that public meeting so that she can address each and every one of those charges.  We want this to be, and what we have tried to do, is keep this whole process as open and honest as we possibly could. I notice Charlie that you never mentioned the words fair and impartial. I guess you wouldn’t since the words are not in your vocabulary. In your mind you think the hearing to remove me from the finance committee as open and honest as it possibly could be. Let’s hope this is not the standard you use tonight.
So Mr. Flynn, let’s not have another hearing like my birthday party which was described by one witness as “That pathetic excuse for a purported hearing was pre ordained-It was a mockery of a hoax of a sham of a hoax cloaked in a tissue of lies-” Since your words, which are quoted above, are recorded, I only ask that you “stand up to them” and allow the chief’s counsel to address each and every one of those charges; regardless of how long it may take. We shall see if you, unlike in times past, can be a man of your word.


Saturday, June 29

State of the Art Composting Facility

          Well Egremont has really gone green. We are now the proud owners of a new State of the Art composting facility. Juliette Haas, the sustainability coordinator, has outshined even herself. Not only did she get the composting facility up and running in record breaking time; but on such a reasonable budget that it should pay for itself by the weight of the trash that no longer has to be hauled off and disposed of. If this system works out the way it was designed on paper it could end up saving the town a lot of money. While the idea to install a composting facility did emerge from Juliette’s sustainability coordinator mind she had a lot of other great minds to help design and install the facility. Juliette enlisted the expertise of Nick Ball head of building maintenance, Tim Hosier highway dept and Jim Fountain recycling coordinator, to design a facility that would fit the needs and budget of Egremont.
They designed a simple to assemble kit in which the individual components were built off site. When the truck arrived with the components the crew had it assembled in just a few hours. Now Egremont has a fully operational state of the art composting facility; complete with a diesel powered hydraulic compost mixer. You would think that this facility comes at a steep cost and would take decades to realize a savings; but you would be wrong. I won’t say exactly how much the facility cost because the whole project was done without even consulting the Finance Committee. I’m only assuming that the FC was not aware of the expenditures because it has not been mentioned at any of the FC meetings. I can’t wait to see the expression on Laura’s face when she sees that the BoS and sustainability coordinator purchased and installed a complete state of the art composting facility with funds from the MRF, without saying a word to the FC.
          The system was designed to fully utilize the three phases of decomposition. In the first bin people place their compostable material and it decomposes for a certain amount of time. There is a special machine that stirs the material periodically. When the phase one material is ready it is transferred to the bin for the second phase of decomp. Again it is regularly stirred up until it is ready for the third bin. Once the composting material has reached its peak it is transferred to the third bin. When the material is put into the third bin anyone can take the compost and use it for their garden. What a stroke of brilliance, all the waste that would cost hundreds of dollars per ton to dispose of can now be used to feed the gardens of Egremont.
          The people of Egremont may have to make a few minor changes in how we sort our trash, but in the long run we and the environment will be better served. I’m sure Juliette will be sending out educational pamphlets to explain how to use this new facility so when you receive it please consider using the composting facility to its fullest potential. On the bright side we don’t have to have those big black composting bins in our back yard anymore. In fact, I have already converted my bin into a ventilated dog house; now all I need is a dog. I must say that I was a bit skeptical about this sustainability coordinator position, but this seems to be working out quite well. Juliette is doing a great job finding ways to better use the wealth of waste that is produced by Egremont. Kudos Juliette for turning our trash into treasure.

Friday, June 28


          There has been a bit of chatter lately about the water company audit. People seem to be wondering what’s been going on. They’re thinking Hmm, we gave the Finance Committee 25 thousand dollars and total authority to look into the financial matters of the WC; why aren't they doing anything to move forward. Well before you start gathering in front of the FC members’ houses with torches and pitchforks please know that the process has started. The newly appointed members of the FC have formed and are starting to deal with the details involved in auditing the WC practices and finances. I don’t know about you but I’ll be following close and keeping their feet to the fire. You know what I figured out? If you want to hold someone’s feet to the fire you have to be close enough to grab their feet.
          The FC as now formed is as follows; Chairman Laura Allen and Vice chair Michael Bandzierz. In a surprising turn of events Jonathan Beattie once again narrowly avoided being appointed secretary. He quickly donned his best deer in the headlights expression and the baton passed right by him and went to a newly appointed member Tom Berkel. Mr. Berkel has a wealth of experience to draw from and he can adjust his schedule to fit the FC needs. Ralph Novec and Ed (Rocky) Scarbro are working hard in the background. We’re indeed fortunate to have such a group of people to overlook the financial wellbeing of the town.
Mr. Berkel and Bandzierz were assigned to the subcommittee that will be overseeing the details of the audit and dealing directly with the auditors. This audit process will take awhile and will encompass many facets of the inner workings of the water company and the town hall as it relates to the WC. We will all have to be patient as the process goes forward. As Laura is quoted as saying, “the wheels of government grind slowly”.
          The first order of business will be to find an auditing firm to do the actual audit. Because the cost of the audit is over 5 thousand dollars the FC has to get at least three bids. This means interviewing several firms and deciding which will best suit our needs. Once the firm is chosen they can get down to business. The FC will go over the parameters of the investigation with the auditing firm and help lay out a plan. Then the subcommittee, Tom and Mike, will follow the progress at arms length. All this will presumably be done in open meetings and we’ll be kept updated on the progress. Once this task is underway the auditors will do their job and in the end we should have a good idea what caused the dysfunction in the WC and how to best run it in the future.
          Just because the WC is being dealt with doesn’t mean we should let up on any of the other issues facing the town. In addition to the WC audit we have the water commissioners balking at turning over the billing to the town hall. The water commissioners claimed that the BoS were dragging their feet. The  BoS have their hands tied because they can’t compel the elected water commissioners to turn over the billing to the town hall. Does the book Catch 22 come to mind?
I know there was going to be a special article on the town meeting warrant to direct the commissioners to transfer the billing to town hall. However, because we were duped into believing that the issue was settled, there was no need to put it on the warrant. We won’t make that mistake again. Now the water commissioners are again at odds with the BoS. There’s going to be a pissing match and we all know who is going to win.  Personally I don’t care who does the billing as long as the bills go out on time and with accurate figures. We’ll have to keep a close eye on collections.
Let’s not forget that we have the chief of police fiasco to deal with as well. This issue brings with it a ton of potential law suits which may be filed against the BoS and or the town. As a side note, I can’t understand why the BoS are trying to dismiss the Chief for such a high turnover of officers when they themselves have lost almost half of the police dept since Chief Bucknell left. While Chief Bucknell may have been averaging 4 officers per year; these people have been losing an officer about every month. Maybe I’m missing something but I just don’t get it. Who’s zooming who? I guess we’ll have to wait until the hearing on July 8th to find out if we have Chief Bucknell back on duty or a S load of lawsuits. Tough choice, I wonder if anyone has figured out how much we’ve spent on this debacle already.

There is so much to say about the plight of Hans and Jeremy and what went down at the police dept but it will have to wait until the next post. I’ll also have to address Mr. Scribbler’s inaccuracies at some point. Well, I hope you’re enjoying your summer; it’ll soon be over.