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To the Editor:
I feel compelled to share my thoughts on the recent extension of the Town Administrator’s appointment and why I do not support the decision or agree with the Supervisor’s recent letter to the editor about it . To begin with, Jill served the Town well as Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes. She has done a good job as Town Administrator for the past five months. My criticism is not directed at her. Instead, I strongly believe our “new” appointment process is flawed and lacks the transparency and integrity that residents want and deserve.
Let me explain why. In the past, the entire Town Board always met and agreed to a process for staff appointments. Typically, the Board decided if the selection process was going to be open, if and which candidates were going to be interviewed, and whether salaries for appointed staff would be increased or decreased. Unfortunately, new board members, Rob, Adam and Lisa, made all these decisions before meeting with the old board members, Elise and Jason. I made my case as to why the “new” process would cause problems and said it was a bad policy that did not follow good government practices. I felt strongly about it. I voiced my concerns at the first board meeting in January and I abstained when the appointments were voted on.
Unfortunately, the re-appointment of the Town Administrator was as problematic as the initial appointment. The Board failed to conduct a formal evaluation of the Town Administrator as required by her contract and before deciding on her re-appointment. As well, we still lack an appointment or re-appointment process supported by the entire Board. Additionally, the Supervisor wrote in a letter to the editor saying the Board did the right thing and made a good decision – and without revealing that the Town Administrator’s husband and former school board member, Jay Shapiro, co-wrote the letter.
I believe the Board does not serve its constituents well when it conducts business this way. It would have been better to make the initial appointment an interim appointment or to extend the six-month probationary period to allow more time to consider other candidates. Ironically, the Town Administrator would have been in a strong position to be appointed or re-appointed had we gone with either of these options due to her success as Receiver of Taxes and Town Clerk and her experience working at Town Hall. I also believe that many points recently made by Christine Yeres, Robin Murphy and others are valid and shouldn’t be ignored. Lastly, the Board must fulfill its fiduciary duties or risk losing the public trust. That is why I will continue to fight to restore transparency and integrity to the appointment process.
Jason Chapin Town Councilman New Castle