Nov 152012

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1-1 Tuesday afternoon to renew Town Manager Mark Haddad’s employment contract for three more years. The action comes well before Haddad’s current three year contract ends on June 30, 2013.

Selectmen Peter Cunningham, Anna Eliot, and Stuart Schulman voted to renew. Josh Degen abstained. Jack Petropoulos voted not to renew. Degen and Schulman negotiated the contract with Haddad.

Degen and Petropoulos both said that each of them voted not to renew because of procedural concerns about voting on the contract while members of the board still had questions. Both also said they would have voted to approve the contract but weren’t prepared to do so on Tuesday because Petropoulos’s concerns were not fully aired.

“I made sure to express my belief that Mark’s contract should be renewed, and just that issues of contract language were in the way,” Petropoulos said. “As background, the contract reads that the town manager needs to be advised by February 15th whether the selectmen intend to renew the contract that would expire June 30. But in fact, in June 2012, a year before the June 30th 2013 expiration, the town manager asked for early notice on renewal. And in an effort to provide some early notice, Josh and Stuart were appointed to negotiate a contract with Mark. But really all discussion had happened between Mark and Stuart and Josh; we, the balance of the selectmen, only got the written contract roughly two weeks ago.”

“It was expressed last night: we’ve got three months (before the February “intention” deadline). Why can’t we talk? That was the question. I had some issues that needed to be brought up in executive session. All selectmen were advised of what I was considering in a written notice prior to the meeting. I arrived at the meeting expecting that we would have continuing dialogue about the contract between the selectmen because we had only talked about it once, for about 30 minutes — that’s about six minutes per selectman to discuss renewal of a three year contract,” he said.

Degen explained, “It’s a good contract, but I think Jack’s input really should have been in there. Jack Petropoulos had issues with the contract that the other selectmen refused to hear in executive session, related to terms and methodology. Jack expressed his concerns to me and I thought they were valid. Bottom line is I supported his right as an elected official for the Board of Selectmen to hear his concerns, but they wouldn’t support that. So I abstained because Jack couldn’t be heard. It’s that simple. I had no problem technically with the contract.”

The board didn’t go into executive session though, instead moving forward on a motion from Anna Eliot to ratify the contract.

Chairman of the BoS Stuart Schulman could not be reached for comment; this story will be updated when he is available.