Kathy Burton reelected chairman in Oak Bluffs


Oak Bluffs selectmen voted 4-1 to reelect Kathy Burton as chairman for another year, at their Tuesday meeting. Gail Barmakian was the dissenting vote.

Selectman Mike Santoro nominated Ms. Burton, who was reelected by a wide margin in the April 12 town ballot. Selectman Walter Vail seconded the nomination.

Mr. Santoro said the prior year was challenging, with a financial crisis and a change in town administrators.

“You were acting as an administrator for most of the term, putting out fires, you really didn’t have a chance to work with a full-time administrator,” Mr. Santoro said. “I would like to see you have an opportunity to continue in the chair position.”

Selectman Barmakian voted against Ms. Burton, but not, she said, because of her performance leading the board.

“This is no reflection on your service, but the way I understand it, we do have a policy or a bylaw that the chairmanship is for a year, and that to me insinuates it should pass to somebody else,” Ms. Barmakian, a lawyer, said. “I think that’s an important policy and tradition, to the extent that otherwise it would compromise the integrity of this board.”

The town’s general bylaws require the board to elect a chairman annually, but do not specify that the office should rotate among selectmen.

Mr. Vail offered a 2004 document that he said outlined the latest published policies and procedures. He said nothing in that document mandated rotating the chairmanship.

In past years, selectmen have usually elected the person who served as vice-chairman to be chairman for the new year. Ms. Barmakian served as vice-chairman last year.

“I oppose, please don’t take it personally,” Ms. Barmakian said as she voted.

“I wouldn’t take it personally,” Ms. Burton said. “I didn’t take it personally last year either.”

The board unanimously elected Walter Vail as vice-chairman.

In other action, the board approved changes in the board policies covering alcohol licenses.

Changes in the regulations include documentation of the serving area as part of the license, payment of any past money owed to the town, including taxes and wastewater bills, and keeping entrances clear of smokers.

Police wanted to change the regulations to prohibit bartenders from drinking on the job, but after consulting with local bar owners, they changed that to prohibit bartenders from being intoxicated on the job.

“There was concern that a licensee could lose their license if a bartender takes a drink,” Officer James Morse said. Officer Morse, who is also an attorney, organized the review of alcohol regulations.

Selectmen also voted to change shellfish regulations. The new regulations increase the cost of a commercial license from $300 to $350, and raise the price of all recreational licenses by $5.