In light of this new information about Charlie's campaign promise I have to remind people what has happened over the last year. Charlie has been on several vendettas against certain people and it seems he never cared what or who he destroyed in the process, least of all our town. Because these actions went unchecked the other selectmen are just as culpable and unless they distance themselves they’ll likely go down with his ship. The wake of absolute destruction left in the path of Charlie’s wrath can only compare with the likes of hurricane Irene.
Let’s look at the three major rampages Charlie went on. First it was against a finance committee member, namely me, who spoke out against the water company debacle. Ironically Charlie said the reason he went after me was that I opened the town up to multiple lawsuits. The truth is at most I only opened myself up to a law suit. In the end I was right; there were tens perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for. We all know where the discrepancy was.
Then he went after the chief of police. Granted many people disliked the chief, including Don and Sarah Schneider, who were quoted in the Berkshire Record article, but until Charlie put his crosshairs on Bucknell she had a fairly clean jacket. The paper trail showed few if any complaints. Even the Pomeroy Report showed that there were no actionable offences. This was emphatically stated by Mary Brazie at a BoS meeting when a citizen asked if any charges would be filed against Bucknell. Mary said that the Town Counsel, Attorney General and District Attorney all reviewed the report and found nothing actionable and they said that further investigation would not likely uncover anything actionable.
Finally we have Officer Pilone whose career was bruised pretty badly over this incident. Personally I feel bad for the guy; he trusted Charlie and got shafted in the process. A couple of weeks before Pilone was fired Charlie had nothing but praise and adulation for him. What a difference a day makes? With this new evidence coming to light I wouldn't be surprised if Officer Pilone reconsidered suing the town. At the very least he will be deposed by Bucknell's attorneys and who knows what he will say when asked about his personal knowledge of this case. Obviously he has no reason to hold back.
One thing all of these cases have in common is that each of them opened our town to yet another lawsuit. The former chief of police is suing for an amount that will be determined at trial, Officer Pilone has a couple years to decide if he wants to sue and I'll probably never file suit over my unjustified removal from the finance committee.
In July of last year I wrote a piece about Officer Pilone called no more Mr. nice guy. When I said it was mostly conjecture I wasn't being totally truthful; most of the statements were based on an actual phone conversation with Jeremy. I agreed that I wouldn't quote him at the time because he was in negotiations with the town to settle the wrongful dismissal issue. With the surfacing of this new evidence this scenario as described by Officer Pilone seems very likely. The following is taken from that post.
Speaking of Officer Pilone I’m going to muse about what I think happened with this whole police fiasco. 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, chief Bucknell. 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 personnel director, Bill Tighe, (whose job it was to be a buffer between the BoS and the employees). Bill, being firmly under the thumb of the BoS, immediately called hurricane Charlie. Bill probably said something like Jeremy; tell Charlie what you just told me. Being put in such an awkward position Pilone had no choice but to lay out the complaint to Charlie.
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 believed they 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 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, lasted over nine months. We thought it was settled on July 8th when the BoS agreed to reinstate the chief and allow her to retire end of year; 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 unreasonable that no one could possibly make it to the end. I don’t know what Charlie had over the other selectmen but he seemed to have had total control over the agenda. Whatever Charlie said, however absurd, was going to happen. It was like the Charlie Flynn marionette extravaganza. If the town 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. We had that chance on May 13th but unfortunately we are stuck with Hurricane Charlie for another three years. I hope we can afford it.