Well the BoS insists on going forward with the removal of this rogue finance committee member. They are going to hold a “fair and impartial” public hearing on the matter. I haven’t received the charging documents so I don’t know what the allegations are or if there is any evidence to support these charges. However, I do know who the impartial jury of my peers will be, mainly Charlie Flynn and Mary Brazie. I don’t know how small town justice works but I have to wonder if justice can be served by the accusers being on the jury. Can they really be impartial? Now on the upside I will have two members of the finance committee on the jury as well. Since the integrity of the finance committee is at stake I can only hope they can be unbiased too. Perhaps the board of selectmen and the finance committee will reach an even greater level of antagonism than was suggested by the Berkshire Record. Seriously though, there will be one person on this jury who is truly impartial, the town moderator. I do believe he will deal with this issue equitably.
In their haste to get rid of this squeaky wheel I have to wonder if the BoS thought this all the way through. Think about the implications. The finance committee is tasked with investigating the water company deficits. One of its members discovers that there are tens of thousands of dollars that are unaccounted for. This member shares this public information with the citizens of Egremont and now the BoS wants to remove him from the committee. There’s something wrong with this picture. What was the crime? I guess they’ll spell it all out in the indictment.
I know it must be embarrassing to Charlie as a selectman to not have figured this out. Not to mention he was on the Water Department Review Committee which also failed to uncover these facts. I guess Mary could have reason to be embarrassed as well; she is after all the town administrator. All of the towns business runs through her. She may not be responsible for the error; but she was in a position to notice the discrepancies. The only one keeping out of the fray is Bruce Turner. He didn’t even want to be involved. I guess he’s too worried about his reelection to get this stink on him. Good move Bruce, take the high road.
In all fairness I have to point out that the water company is separate from all the other town departments and is controlled by a board of elected commissioners. We can’t blame the BoS for the problem; only for not noticing. The commissioners are responsible for the day to day operation of the water company. The blame rests on their shoulders. Say what you will about Steve but when the rubber met the road he chose to man up rather than run for cover. When he discovered the discrepancies in the billing and realized they were causing so much discord in the town he reached out to me and told me what happened. Rather than just shoot the messenger he came up with a plan to solve the problem.
Now Charlie did end up getting on board with the water commissioners plan to correct the billing. After saying that he despised certain blogs, like mine, that were misinforming the public; he went on to suggest many things that were written on this blog. He was surprised to find that the water company was only billing ten times per year. He was disappointed that they didn’t double bill all the fees when they did miss a month or two or three. He also suggested the town implement a couple of ideas from his study committee which may insure that the users will be billed properly. For instance, the billing will be taken care of by the town hall staff instead of the water dept. administrator. The users will now be billed on a quarterly basis, saving several hundred dollars in postage fees and office supplies. The quarterly bills will also be broken down into monthly installments for those users wanting to continue paying monthly payments.
As I said in the last post; ultimately the town and the water company will be better off from the fallout of this rogue finance committee member’s exposé. What’s shocking to me is that the BoS are more outraged by my exposing the unaccounted for funds than the fact that tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars went uncollected. Do the taxpayers a favor; save your outrage for those responsible for the loss of all those tax dollars.
And since the BoS are hell bent on having a public hearing, the least they could do is make it appear fair and impartial. I don’t mind the original appointing committee voting to remove me from the finance committee, but I do wish the BoS would impanel an impartial group of citizens to hear the evidence and allow me to answer the charges. Then base my removal on the findings of this panel. Instead they intend to convene the Marsupial Court of Egremont and railroad me for doing what I was appointed to do.