Tisbury selectmen hold executive session mid-meeting

Photo by Michael Cummo

The Tisbury selectmen held an eight-minute meeting Tuesday night before they voted unanimously to go into executive session to hear four grievances from Department of Public Works (DPW) employees.

“There just seems to be a plethora of this going on and some disconnect in communication happening here, and I just think we need to look at the bigger picture here, “selectman Tristan Israel commented before the vote.

Selectman chairman Jon Snyder said a representative present from the employees’ union had asked that the selectmen hold the hearings in executive session.

Ten or so people who came to discuss items on the agenda were irked by the news that they would have to leave and come back when the selectmen resumed their regular meeting. Many of them, including Tashmoo Spring Building management committee chairman Patricia Carlet, had given up the wait and gone home when the executive session ended an hour and 15 minutes later and missed the additional hour-long regular session.

In a phone conversation with The Times on Wednesday, Ms. Carlet said she was told the agenda was changed to accommodate the DPW employee union representative so that he could make the last ferry to Woods Hole.

“My question was, why didn’t they know ahead of time this was going to be the case and rearrange things, or why didn’t the union provide the rep with an overnight stay at a local hotel?” Ms. Carlet said. “If in fact someone has to make a boat, the people bringing the person before the selectmen should make arrangements so they don’t inconvenience everyone else.”

“It was a matter of trying to balance inconveniencing one group versus inconveniencing another,” Mr. Snyder said in a phone call Wednesday. “It was my judgment call, and perhaps there was another way it could have been handled.”

When asked about the nature of the DPW grievances, Mr. Snyder said, “We now have a DPW where communication is not as smooth as I’d like to see it. That’s the underlying cause.”

Mr. Snyder said the selectmen would seek a discussion with the Board of Public Works, which oversees the DPW autonomously. “I will be reaching out to several of the DPW commissioners over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

The Times emailed DPW director Glenn Mauk on Wednesday regarding the nature of the grievances discussed and the outcome of the executive session.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on personnel matters discussed in a Board of Selectmen executive session meeting,” Mr. Mauk replied in an email. “I suggest that you contact the Town Administrator, Jay Grande, for further information on the matters.”

Mr. Mauk did not respond when asked about the root of the DPW employees’ unhappiness.

In other business, the selectmen approved hiring Gary D. Robinson as an energy manager, a grant-funded position that will be shared with the towns of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Among his duties the energy manager will oversee implementation of the towns’ energy plans, and develop and manage energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The selectmen also voted to appoint Donald McGillivray as a seasonal part-time shellfish assistant and Dan Seidman to the traffic committee. In addition, they approved a $7,520 formula grant application for the Council on Aging Motion. They also agreed to pursue the idea of using goats to control vegetation near the Tashmoo overlook and under power lines, subject to discussions with the DPW, Tisbury Water Works, and NSTAR.

The next regular selectmen’s meeting will be at 5:30 pm on November 18.