Town Manager finalists determined, identities and qualifications withheld


The Acton Town Manager Search Committee had its last meeting on March 14, in which it discussed its "final report delivery and transition of search to Board of Selectmen," but the names or backgrounds of the finalists have not been released to the public for the last three weeks, with the Board of Selectmen (BOS) scheduled to select a new Town Manager at its Monday, April 9th meeting.

The Search Committee was charged with finding a new Town Manager last July. It was scheduled to provide the list of finalists by January, 2018.

According to BOS Chair Janet Adachi, the names of the finalists and their resumes will be revealed at a special public meeting tomorrow night, Thursday, April 5, at 7 pm, in Room 204 of Town Hall. At that time, the search consultant, MRI, will "explain the process that the Board will go through to interview the finalist candidates." The finalist candidates' application materials will also become public at that time.

Adachi did not answer how many finalists there were or provide any additional information about the search process. We asked Ms. Adachi if any finalists had dropped out in the three weeks since the Search Committee finished its work, why there was such a long delay and no announcement of who the finalists were, why there are no public events to meet or question the finalists, and why there are only two business days between the public announcement of the finalists and the vote to hire the new Town Manager. Ms. Adachi replied, "The process for the BOS screening of finalists, whether this weekend or a decade ago, is different from the recently concluded AB School Committee screening of Superintendent finalists. There will be no all-day meet-and-greet and candidates won't be present at Monday's meeting."

Adachi said that public interviews of the finalists will be held this Saturday, from 9 am to 3 pm, but no questions from the public will be allowed. These interviews will also take place in Room 204 of Town Hall.

The Board of Selectmen will then meet on Monday at 7 pm to discuss the candidates. Members of the public may ask questions at that time, but candidates will not be there to answer them. The Board of Selectmen is scheduled to vote on the candidates that night and is expected to name the new Town Manager then.

No public events appear to be scheduled to allow members of the public to interact with any of the candidates prior to the meeting in which someone will be selected.

The AB Regional School District just completed their search for a new School Superintendent. That process included public interviews as well as community forums to meet the finalists.

PROCESS 10 YEARS AGO MORE OPEN

According to minutes of the BOS from November 5, 2007, the process used to hire current Town Manager Steve Ledoux 10 years ago was far more interested in community input, and it gave significantly more time between the announcement of candidates, interviews of candidates, and making the decision.

"Selectman Berry stated that it is imperative to see how the candidate interacts with the citizens of the town as that will be their major job," the minutes reported. (See http://doc.acton-ma.gov/dsweb/Get/Document-20807/BOS%20Minutes%2011-5-07.pdf).

"Selectwoman Rosenzweig asked the Board how they would view a group tour of the town and municipal buildings with the candidates. The Board felt strongly it that it is a different person that walks around with you as opposed to sitting across the table from you during an interview."

Two candidates were interviewed on November 10, 2007, which included time for community members to ask questions to the candidates. On November 14, the third candidate was interviewed, again with plenty of time for community input and questions. On November 15, a fourth candidate was interviewed and the public was able to ask questions.

On November 19, 2007, the board interviewed and hired a consultant to perform background checks on all candidates. That consultant reported his findings at a subsequent BOS meeting.

The BOS then met on December 5 to begin deliberations about the candidates. They were scheduled to meet again to deliberate on December 12, but those minutes are not on the town's website. It is presumably at that meeting that Steve Ledoux was chosen as Town Manager.

UPDATE: Acton Forum requested and received the minutes to the Dec. 12, 2007 BOS meeting. They are attached here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/BOS_minutes_12122007.pdf

In that meeting, Town Manager Ledoux was in fact chosen.

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Comments

Comment from a reader

I wonder why there would effectively be no public review period.

If there was no care whatsoever of input from the citizenry, the BOS could provide a few weeks review period with multiple forums, and then still disregard the inputs that contradicted their choice.

This smacks of some hidden agenda...

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.