Tewksbury Selectman Wants To See Appointment Process Strengthened

Johnson proposes interviewing candidates for appointed boards more often and strengthening the ethics and open meeting training process.

If a proposal by Todd Johnson is adopted, the days of the Board of Selectmen rubber-stamping appointments to municipal committees will be over.

, has suggested board begin to more frequently conduct interviews with candidates seeking appointments to various town committees. This would include sitting committee members seeking re-appointment.

According to Johnson, this would help to ensure the knowledge and qualifications of the candidate and would be a significant step toward all aspects of town government operating in a more transparent, professional manner.

"I believe that in the past, the board had conducted interviews for these positions but (the board has) gone away from that in recent years," said Johnson. "This has been something I've been thinking about for the past few years. There are times when it's good to have (candidates) come in and kick the tires a little bit."

Presently, the Board of Selectmen has the authority to interview candidates for appointed committees, as they did recently with two candidates (including a sitting member) for a seat on the Conservation Commission. However, Johnson would like to see the process formalized and become a part of board policy.

Johnson has promised to present a formal motion to that effect a the board's next meeting, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 11.

When Johnson broached the subject of interviews , it was met with support by board members Ann-Marie Stronach, Doug Sears and David Gay. Selectman Scott Wilson was not in attendance.

"It's good to have competition but what happens when you only have one person up for re-appointment and you realize they're not very good at (the job)?" Sears mused.

The board also instructed , Town Counsel Charles Zaroulis and Town Clerk Denise Graffeo to examine the procedures in place for training all elected and appointed board and committee members in the areas of ethics, conflict of interest and open meeting laws.

Johnson said he would like to see the training strengthened and become standard practice.

"I'd like to see it become mandatory," said Johnson.


Robert L Homeyer August 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Sounds like a good idea to me.
Rusty August 18, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Time to clean house,get rid of the DEADWOOD!
Sally Ford August 18, 2012 at 03:16 PM
They will pick friends and spouses of builders and town employees to stack committees like they always do. Nothing will change.
Karyn August 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Unfortunately, too little, too late.....missed a golden opportunity to exercise that proposal with the recent ConCom appointment. I tend to agree in this case that until they are willing to 'buck the trend' things won't necessarily change. Guess that remains to be seen....had they proven it with the afore-mentioned appointment I would be less skeptical.
Guy Ferrone August 18, 2012 at 07:30 PM
This will definitely be a plus to rid these committees of individuals who never held an authoritive position in the first place. Let's get some fresh ideas instead of the rhetoric of committee members currently in place with nothing new to offer.
Sally Ford August 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Guy: Do you really think so? It hasn't happened in six years, why would you think it will happen now? They don't make appointments to committees until June, so don't be looking for anything to change anytime soon. This is rhetoric.
Karyn August 18, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Bingo :( Not only that but I believe the person reappointed this week was finishing out a resigned member's term so now they're in for 3 yrs. So the committee is now full unless someone quits....therefore the "other" worthy applicant who had an environmental background and would have made for a more balanced board, IMO which remains "builder-heavy" gets bypassed.
jo August 19, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Is Mr Ferrone equating "new" with "better"? Is he being critical of everyone that is presently volunteering their time to spend working on these committees. My question would be to the present Board of Selectmen: Why did you wait so long to get involved in this process? I always thought that the BOS did interview candidates for these positions. I guess that I was wrong. I do commend individuals who serve this town, whether it be on town committees or in the youth sports programs, or other activities. I wonder if the critics have ever donated their time to the town.
Sally Ford August 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Committee terms end in June, usually 3 year terms, only 1 or 2 members are up each year. Selectmen won't be making any decisions on appointments to committees until after the election in April, if re-elected. This is pre-campaign rhetoric, an empty statement about something in the future where a tough decision won't be made until after the election. Wake up folks!
malcolm nichols August 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Being a BOS participant is not an easy volunteer position (an after work job). I appreciate their time and effort. Ethics is all I expect.
Sally Ford August 19, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Well put and central, macolm.
city guy August 19, 2012 at 07:31 PM
will this be used to selectTown Counsel job also
Mary August 19, 2012 at 08:06 PM
That would be a great idea, city guy!
Guy Ferrone August 20, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Just what does the Conservation Committee do?
malcolm nichols August 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Guy the CC is an Environmental/Ecological Control Position established for the purpose of determining what you can and can't do with your property as it may effect the Environment/Ecology. The concept was good at the beginning but unfortunately has grown to be more political and overpowering in the last 20 years.
jakep August 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM
I believe in other towns, the town counsel job goes out to bid, but not in Tewksbury. We pay through the nose. Bill Gilman could you tell us how much Zaroulis made in 2010 or 2011? I think those figures would floor people
RunningGreen August 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Below is a link to his past salaries. Mr. Zaroulis's reimbursement will be $150,000 in FY 2013. I don't know how that compares to other towns or what his operating costs are, however. http://tewksbury.net/Pages/TewksburyMA_Manager/2013/townc.pdf
Sean Czarniecki August 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM
http://www.tewksbury-ma.gov/Pages/TewksburyMA_BComm/Conservation/Rules.pdf You can read about the purpose of the ConCom. "The primary purpose of the Commission shall be the administration of the State Wetlands Protection Act, (MWPA) and the administration of the Town's local Wetlands Protection Bylaw (TWPBL)."
Scott Wilson August 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Just to help bring some clarity to this issue - since I have been sitting as a Selectman now for 3 years. We don't often have choices when appointing people to boards. There is typically 1 position open and one applicant. With ConCom this year we actually had a choice and had a great opportunity to interview two candidates. For me the simple question that needs to be asked when making this choice is who do you believe will do best for our town. For people to suggest that we just pick our friends or people that agree with our point of view, that is just your cynical view of us as volunteers. Even when we selected the Town Manager Selection Committee we only had six candidates for five spots.
Scott Wilson August 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
As for this recommendation being campaign rhetoric, that is just silly. Do you know Todd Johnson? I do. Todd has served this community in a number of capacity's (elected, coaching and working with the Tewksbury Food Pantry) and he is one of the doers. He doesn't sit back and complain, he offers solutions to problems. He looks for opportunities to improve the lives of others in our community. We'd be an even stronger community if we had more people like him around. I am sure my fellow board membwers would love to see more people apply for boards, committees, etc......so our decisions are more difficult.
Scott Wilson August 20, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Jake P - there are many ways to hire Town Counsel. Every year we evaluate the legal services we receive and we try to make a decision of what will work best for our community to limit our exposure and money spent. People may think Charles has been here too long, but he has saved the taxpayers money with his hard work and smarts.
jo August 21, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I am not a Scott Wilson supporter, however he makes a valid point. Do not be critical of people who volunteer their time to the town unless you have or are willing to donate time. It is quite easy to sit back and criticize.


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