BOARD OF SELECT MEETING REPORT
Other than the fact that seven of our town police officers showed up in full regalia, the Selectboard meeting started off with the usual ho hum. With so many officers, I had to wonder if the BOS was expecting a highly contentious meeting.
When the chair opened the meeting to citizens time Charlie Proctor asked the Selectmen to place an article on the warrant for a town bi-law to have a moratorium on growing pot in Egremont. With Massachusetts legalizing medicinal marijuana Charlie had nightmares about hemp fields sprouting up all over the town. We can’t have that now, can we? Note to long term planning committee: we were looking for ways to expand business opportunities in the town, marijuana is the most profitable crop per acre. The board voted to not place the article on the warrant. I guess they wanted to keep all the options open.
When the meeting was opened to town officials I read the finance committees citizen request to ask the Selectboard to place on the warrant an article to have the Selectmen act as the water commissioners. Mr. Flynn answered by chastising the entire FC for, are you ready, violation of open meeting laws! Déjà vu all over again! He said that we were in violation of OML because the request to remove the commissioners was not on the FC agenda. This is odd because it was a citizen that prompted the request. How could we have anticipated the request if it was prompted by a citizen? Suffice it to say that this article will not be put on the warrant by the BOS.
Then Mr. Flynn turned his guns on me personally. He went into a tirade about how I was a public official and didn't have the privilege of going public with “this information”. He was referring to my email campaign in which I informed people of the unaccounted for water fund monies. I assured Charlie that I prefaced my letter with a clear statement that I was speaking as a private citizen and did not speak for the FC, or in any official capacity. I also stated that all the information was on public record and statements from public meetings. This did not assuage his irritation.
The BOS was also concerned that many people in town were speculating that there was something nefarious going on at the town hall and this matter was getting blown way out of proportion. Now I can’t tell people what to think, but I made it a point that any emails alleging anything other than the fact that monies were not accounted for were answered with the stern caution that we can only say that the money is not accounted for. We have to look at this matter objectively and without emotion. We’re not going on a witch hunt, we are simply asking for accountability in our town government. As for me, all my words are established, on the record and preserved if anyone wants to challenge the issue.
The Finance Committee also requested that the town approve sufficient funds to pay for a detailed audit of the Water Company. This was a moot point however, since the BOS had already voted to task the FC with drafting a list of questions directing the auditor to investigate whatever we thought necessary to accomplish this end. Mr. Turner said that the previous auditor has retired and the town has retained the services of another auditing firm. Mr. Turner also commented that in light of recent events it will be good to have a new set of eyes looking at the books.
When we moved to the accountability issue Mr. Turner presented a document that was said to be generated by the town accountant and addressed most, if not all of the funds in question. Mr. Turner announced that this document shows that all these discrepancies were abatements. One concerned citizen stood up and expressed her disbelief that all these unaccounted for funds could be explained away by abatements. She wanted to see the abatement forms and check out the evidence. She was told she could get the documents from the town accountant. Since representatives of the water commissioners and finance committee were going to meet with the accountant anyway we thought it would be a good idea if she sat in. I’ll be sure to tell you how this meeting turns out.
As if all this wasn’t exciting enough we then moved on to why there was such a dramatic police presence. However, this will have to wait until part two of the Selectboard Report