THE FINAL THREE CANDIDATES FOR TOWN MANAGER: The Town Manager Search Committee got what many expected during a three month search to replace former Town Manager Francis T. Crimmins, Jr. - displaced or recycled Town Managers.
, who has been serving since April 1, was one of the "final seven" who were interviewed by a myriad of questioners on September 12. But he did not make the cut for the .
Paul Shew of Franklin; Kenneth Fields of Boca Raton, FL; and Michael Hartman of Canton emerged as the finalists for Stoughton's top municipal position.
Feaster told About Town, "I'm disappointed but I will continue my initiatives until the new person comes into office. I plan on leaving the town in a better place. My mission shall continue. I will remain involved [in the town]."
Search Committee Chairman Eric Milgroom, a former school committee chair, thought of the final three "any of them would make a fine town manager here." His vice chair, Forrest Lindwall of the Redevelopment Authority said all three were "equally qualified."
From my point of view, I don't see how any of these candidates - all retreads who have held multiple jobs in multiple towns, and gone to multiple interviews - was any more qualified than Feaster, the current interim manager. Each, according to news articles that come up on Google searches, has had issues.
I thought Hartman came on in the end and was the best of the candidates the selectmen's interviewed, followed closely by Shew, with Fields lagging way behind.
It should be noted that a consulting firm, Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI), hired by the search committee, attracted 55 applicants in a nationwide search. Then, only 23 of those applicants filled out the questionnaire which led to interviews.
I applaud the work of the TM search committee, they all did their due diligence in trying to get the best candidate for the position. But, here is what they ended up with:
Shew has held six municipal management jobs from 1979-2009. He was a finalist last year in North Andover for their town manager position, according to a local paper. His last position was as City Manager of Rye, N.Y. from 2003-2009. He's been a "consultant" since then.
Fields was an administrator in four places in 14 years, including in two Florida towns since 2008. Fields got a payout of $160,000 after serving two years as village manager in Islamorada, Village of Islands in Florida from 2008-2010.
Hartman is the only one currently working in the field, as Town Manager of Jaffrey, NH., a position he has held since 2007. He's been a past administrator in Wareham, Medway, and in RI and CT, since 1988. The paper in Wareham had a story from Aug. 17, 2006 headlined, "Hartman should be sent packing." Another paper said he left Medway after "wrestling with selectmen."
But, the business of being town manager is so political that an election for selectmen or town council can lead to unemployment. We know that. That shouldn't be held against them.
But, repeated positions of short duration are not a good sign. Recent experience here shows those types of records can continue after they serve here, too.
Many of the selectmen seemed to prioritize finding someone ready to do battle with the school department, for funding, procurement, and services.
My own feeling - despite the $20,000 expended - I didn't see an "ace" in the hole. I congratulate the residents who volunteered the time on the committee. I point my verbal flashlight at the "consultant" who was paid top dollar to bring in the same old thing.
I hope that whoever is chosen will do a great job, for a long time to come. But, I'm not confident, at this point.
When I meet the selected candidate, I'll have a better grasp on their ability. (For instance, when I first met Paul Shastany, when he was appointed chief of police, he knew who I was from reading my website and seeing my stories. He had done his homework, and was preparing for the job. Perhaps, one of these three finalists has done the same, but, it sure didn't seem that way.)
Find out on Sept. 18, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at town hall, in the Third Floor Great Hall, who the new Town Manager will be! Selectmen will be meeting then to decide.