September 23, 2013
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
I write as a citizen to take a stand against the violation of due process on the part of the Wayland Board of Selectmen on August 26, 2013. Due process and its concomitant democratic rights which are afforded to all of us. These differentiate us from so many other places around the world. We, as a people, are privileged to be governed under these principles – and the best way to protect these rights is to take a stand against what are direct violations of these rights.
As a result of citizen outcry I understand that Amy Nagel of the Attorney General’s office has commenced an investigation of the actions of our Board of Selectmen. (email@example.com)
Here is a portion of a letter I wrote to the Attorney General’s office, sent on September 19, 2013:
I appreciate that the Attorney General’s Office is now willing to undertake the tedious task of perhaps a full investigation of the potentially non-compliant act that happened in our small town of Wayland because of the Board of Selectmen’s Termination of The Town Administrator’s contract. This decision came as a complete shock to the town and to some of the selectmen as well. It was not properly posted as an agenda item thereby it did not notify the public. The line item simply noted, “Review Town Administrator Employment Agreement and Job Description.” Yet, the specific desired action became crystal clear as Vice Chair Tony Boschetto immediately produced a motion, in the form of a prepared document, to terminate Mr. Turkington’s employment contract.
There is no assertion on my part as to the need to fire or not fire the Town’s Administrator, as this is still a decision the town should have the opportunity to make. We are hopeful that the Attorney General’s Office will help the Town of Wayland rectify the wrong doing of our Board of Selectman and give the Town and its constituents our proper rights. These rights include the right to understand and collect information and to determine the cost benefit of making an educated decision: A decision that our elected officials are to guide us in making – not make for us. Instead what happened on August 26, 2013 was three elected officials appear to have broken, at a minimum the Open Meeting Laws. It also appears that three members may have transpired outside of the scheduled meetings and decided to “fire” The Administrator prior to meeting. They wanted to fire the Town Administrator and as such they voted to do just this. No Agenda, no proper meeting posting was placed and as such, constituents could not comment or prepare for the matter. Equally obvious was that two additional selectmen could not prepare either and they continually questioned the line item and were in the dark about the matter.
I am an appointee on two Selectman Committees and I take these responsibilities very seriously. This is the only way that local governments can survive. The foundation of local government is that everyone works together and everyone follows the bylaws. ……
What is very obvious to me is that making a choice to fire someone is a process of thought and discussion. None took place amongst our Selectmen. In fact, the decision was made in about 20 minutes. Yet what struck me was that you can hear Chairperson Leard say this was “one of the most difficult things I've ever done.” Not one public comment was asked for or obtained. . Is this not a clear violation of the Open Meeting law? The agenda item was not posted. Public comment was not heard. A decision was voted on without any research obtained……
This act is an egregious break in government protocol. As it turns out it is so egregious that now we need to seek the help and advice of the Attorney General’s Office, outside council and at present our town is in such a political uproar that we are at a complete government standstill. Equally critical is that we are now placed with a very high financial burden for our small town.
I do not have an opinion about Mr. Turkington’s ability to do his job. I am asking for the attorney general’s involvement because we have not been given the rightful opportunity to hear the facts. Choice was taken from us. CHOICE, this is what local government is all about. Something our ancestors fought so very hard for. Something I am very proud of as an American. Without due process, the Town cannot function and move in any type of NEW DIRECTION….as was the Selectman’s statement for why this action was taken.
I am hopeful that the Town of Wayland can work together to quickly and fairly find resolve conflicts within the framework of the law. Anger and the resulting breach of due process have no place in our town; we need to talk with and to each other; we need to work this matter out – legally and properly…this is an integral part of DUE PROCESS.
Let’s work together to protect the integrity of OUR TOWN and our local town government.
Our elected officials play a vital role in government – and, as such, they have a responsibility to hear our voices, be there for us, and protect our rights.
Please, Board of Selectmen, follow the rules and revisit the matter in the proper forum. Give us the choice; give yourselves the choice - even if the outcome is in fact the same.
Thank you for providing a forum for the expression of my opinion; the opportunity to publically voice the concerns of a breach of due process is the true guardian of these hard-earned rights.
Deborah Seidman, resident
44 Old Connecticut Path