Oak Bluffs releases sought after exec session minutes
In a unanimous vote at their meeting on Tuesday, the Oak Bluffs selectmen agreed to release the minutes from their May 9 executive session to the public.
Oak Bluffs residents, along with the town's finance committee, have recently petitioned to have those specific minutes released, after recent information surfaced that during that meeting former town administrator Casey Sharpe did not resign as was publicly announced, but rather was terminated without cause. Ms. Sharpe received a severance package of $76,876 upon her termination.
In a twist of irony, the minutes state that selectman Roger Wey, who last week publicly said he was unaware of what he was signing during that executive session, issued the motion to terminate Ms. Sharpe without cause.
The minutes read: "Town administrator Casey Sharpe announced that she had submitted her resignation on April 21, 2006, due to a hostile work environment. It is taking a toll on her physical and emotional health. She requested that the Selectmen terminate her without cause under the terms of her contract. This will eliminate the necessity of her taking any action against the Town, and allow a transition."
The vote was unanimous among all five selectmen.
Mr. Wey and selectman Kerry Scott said last week they were unaware of any litigation that was threatened.
Chairman Duncan Ross and selectman Greg Coogan said the entire board was aware what the termination would mean financially, and that a copy of her contract was always available for viewing.
Current town administrator Michael Dutton was on the board at the time and resigned two weeks later to apply for Ms. Sharpe's position.
Oak Bluffs resident Linda Marinelli kept up what has become a crusade to pursue the board to release executive session minutes, at Tuesday night's meeting. At a succession of board meetings throughout the summer, Mrs. Marinelli has requested minutes be released. Some, she said, date back to the 1980s.
Peter Palches, chairman of the finance committee, said in a telephone conversation on Tuesday afternoon that his committee sent an e-mail to the selectmen and Mr. Dutton, requesting the minutes be released.
Mr. Palches said the finance committee plans to pursue more information about the issue, with an eye on limiting similar severance payouts in the future.
"With each new development you've got to react," Mr. Palches said. "My sense is, right now, I don't see a big rush. The money's gone, this thing all happened in the past, and the most important thing that our committee and any committee in town can do is be smart, act reasonably and do what's best for the town."