ABOUT TOWN: Is There an "Ace" Among Stoughton's Town Manager Finalists?

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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.


RyeDad September 16, 2012 at 10:02 PM
You should read up about Barnstable County. I believe he forgot to establish residency. He did the same thing in Rye until he got outed and had to rent a sham apartment his last few months before he got fired by the same mayor of Rye who hired him. From North County News: Shew was encircled by controversy and criticism at his previous post in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. He served as County Administrator for only one year, forced out of his job after signing a five-year contract, according to a Cape Cod newspaper. In 1996, Mary LeClair, then a county treasurer, wrote two critical letters of Shew’s job performance. LeClair, now a County Commissioner, said Shew was an unpopular figure and didn’t adjust to the job description. “I think he was in over his head with us,” LeClair commented when reached by telephone Monday. “He wasn’t capable of doing the job because he didn’t understand the job.” She said the small county needed an administrator who was eager to handle much of the daily workload, but Shew was intent on delegating responsibilities to his staff. “He wasn’t a hands-on guy, and you can’t be like that here,” LeClair said. An attempt to reach Shew yesterday (Tuesday) to respond to the criticism was unsuccessful. The village office said he had left for a vacation. A reporter for the Cape Cod Times, Susan Milton, who has covered Barnstable County, recalled Shew was plagued by controversy during his brief tenure as county administrator.
RyeDad September 16, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Here's the rest of the article from North County News that wouldn't fit in my last post. I have also attached a link to the entire article so you can see under what circumstances Shew left Ossining NY. Shew probably needs to work a few years in Massachusetts to be eligible for a Massachusetts pension. Once he gets that he will probably be GONE! “What happened in the past doesn’t mean a hill of beans to me,” Perillo remarked. There were reports that Shew would claim he was driving somewhere related to county business, but would head home instead and file for travel expenses. He would also credit himself for a job performed by someone else, Milton relayed. http://www.satcho.com/images/ossining/Articles/Shew.htm
Tom Brady September 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Having bought my home in this town about five years ago I can't help but wonder exactly what it is that our City Council actually does, I've been watching this town go to heII in a handbasket ever since I moved in. What's happening here is eerily reminiscent of what happened to Randolph in the 1990's and now it's gang central. I have lived all over the country as well as all over this state and I have never witnessed the amount of drug usage, minor crime or the amount of litter that never, ever gets picked up in any other place that I've lived besides stoughton. Just walk through the train station and you can't go ten steps without finding four crushed beer cans that have been out of print for more than a decade. Don't even get me started on the Police in this town, I can't decide who's worse; the punk vandals that are always running around or the cops, most people I talk to say it's the police. Town hall needs some serious house cleaning and so does the Police department, they should have hired Murphy to be the full time chief instead of just the interim chief, he's a good guy. Nothing surprises me in this town anymore, I think maybe the curse is real. For those that don't know what I'm talking about, I am referring to the very name of our town which was named after one Governor William Stoughton whom prior to being elected governor, was actually the man that presided over the Salem Witch Trials and sent those women to their deaths. Is this why we're cursed?
RyeDad September 17, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Shew said he was fired from the job in Rye after earning $45,000 in pay raises during his first five years on the job. “In the sixth year managing Rye, I had a new council,” he said. “They just announced it. That’s the business.” SHEW IS BEING LESS THAN TRUTHFUL. The same Mayor that hired him, fired him and it was for lots of reasons too: Failure to communicate with and keep the City Council apprised of assignments/projects for which he was responsible to the satisfaction of the Council; Failure to carry out projects and initiatives identified by the City Council to its satisfaction; Failure to be responsive to the satisfaction of the City Council to its requests for information and/or actions required of him by the City Council; Undertook actions contrary to the instructions of the City Council on assignments and/or projects for which he was responsible; An Executive Session meeting was held with the City Manager in August of 2008 where the City Council shared their concerns regarding performance on these types of issues and that improvement to their level of satisfaction was necessary; In February 2009 the City Council met and has concluded that sufficient improvement in these areas has not been achieved;
RyeDad October 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I guess they didn't believe Shew's line of crap and his letter of recommendation from Rye's mayor in Wareham either. http://wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/news/story/majority-of-selectmen-vote-against-hiring-any-of-3-town-administrator-finalists/901214


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