Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Stoughton Board of Selectmen were still trying to negotiate an with Stoughton resident Joseph D. Feaster, Jr. Selectmen had hoped to have him start on Monday, March 26, but he will instead begin Wednesday, March 28.
The final details of the contract were negotiated in Executive Session last night and just after 8:15 p.m. the Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 (John Anzivino, John Stagnone and Cynthia Walsh) to approve the Interim Town Manager contract for Mr. Feaster. John Anderson abstained. Steve Anastos wasn't there to vote.
It was a great birthday present for Mr. Feaster! About Town learned from Chairman Stagnone that the contract pays an annualized salary of $140,000 and was from March 28, 2012 to July 31, 2012. It can be extended, if both parties agree. Still, the search for a permanent Town Manager goes on.
About Town spoke with Attorney Feaster late last night about his new position as interim town manager.
He was incredibly enthusiastic about the job. Feaster, who is a nationally-known attorney, said, "I am pleased with the support from the Board of Selectmen. I'll be in town hall tomorrow [Wednesday] and will start the transition with Judge Crimmins. I won't interfere with his tenure. I'll be attending some meetings, and hitting the ground running. I ran track, so I believe in the concept of a team. That's my management style. I hope I leave Stoughton in a better place than I found it."
When asked if he had an interest in the permanent job, Feaster told me, "I don't know what they are looking for, in terms of salary and qualifications. I'll see if I like the interim job before I consider anything long-term. I'll look at the RFP [request for proposal] when it comes out. But, I am focused on what I have to do, and there is a lot to do. I have to get up to speed for town meeting."
Meanwhile, the hiring of Feaster nearly got derailed. In a debate on The Local News that aired Tuesday night, Selectman John Anderson had said that the vote for Feaster was actually 2-2, and not 2-1, calling into question whether he was actually legally named to the position. He said that no one had actually won the night when Selectmen interviewed Feaster and Plymouth resident John Sanguinet for the interim position.
Selectman Cynthia Walsh said she did not abstain, but voted no. She told About Town that "it appears some people misunderstood how the voting went. Abstaining is chicken and voting no is where I stood. I had to explain to the Board how the vote went."
Walsh also objected to the fact that Mr. Crimmins gave two months notice and "the town manager [search] process is taking months. It's disturbing to me that when a previous Board fired the town manager in 1980, the Board I was on sorted through resumes and hired someone new. We had no fancy consultants or outside committees. We did the work. We did interviews on Saturday, so that the public could come and watch them. It was all in the open. It shouldn't take six months and thousands of dollars to hire a town manager," Walsh said.
Selectman Steve Anastos, who wasn't able to attend that Thursday night meeting where Feaster was named (it was originally scheduled on Tuesday, but a posting error forced it to Thursday when Anastos had a previous commitment), said that "Walsh and Anderson say they voted no on Feaster. Stagnone and Anvizino say Cynthia abstained."
But, Selectmen Chairman John Stagnone says it really didn't matter if Walsh abstained or voted no. "There were two candidates. One got two votes, the other got one. Questions were raised and Town Counsel said everything was done appropriately. You only vote in favor of the candidate you support. As for the motion for the selectmen to negotiate a contract with Mr. Feaster, that went 3 in favor and one abstention."
Prior to joining the firm he is with now, McKenzie & Associates, P.C., Attorney Feaster was of Counsel in the firm of Wynn & Wynn, P.C. He has also served as the Chairman of the City of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal; as the Interim President and CEO of Dimock Community Health Center; as the Acting Director of Real Estate for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority; as the Interim Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, one of the largest public housing authorities in the country; and, as the President of the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council.
Attorney Feaster is the Senior Vice President of Victory Group, a government and community relations firms, and he is also the President of Feaster Enterprises, a strategic planning, organizational development and community outreach consulting firm. He is a mediator for the Suffolk Superior Court Mediation Program and a registered lobbyist in Massachusetts.
Attorney Feaster has served as an adjunct professor in Northeastern University’s Master in Public Administration program, and as a research associate of the William Monroe Trotter Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
Attorney Feaster received a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law. He has also completed programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate Development and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.