Tisbury board of public works now down to two members

Long-serving commissioner John Thayer resigned last week, and newly elected Jeff Kristal declined his position for a FinCom seat.

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Tisbury selectmen appointed Ray Tattersall to be the new director of the Tisbury Department of Public Works last week. — File Photo by Janet Hefler

The defections from the Tisbury Board of Public Works (BPW) have continued following the angry departure of Chairman Leo DeSorcy, who resigned on April 27. Commissioners John Thayer and Jeff Kristal have also resigned. The five-member board is now down to Denys Wortman, serving as the new chairman, and George Balco.

Tisbury’s BPW was established through state legislation, and has operated since 1989 as an independent, elected board that oversees the town’s department of public works (DPW). At town meeting on April 14, however, voters approved an article put forth by the board of selectmen to place the DPW and its functions back under their control. The legislative process is expected to take about 18 months.

In offering his resignation, Mr. DeSorcy said the change approved at town meeting, coupled with frustration over ongoing issues and complaints from union employees, led to his decision. Mr. Thayer, a 23-year veteran on the BPW, told The Times in a phone conversation Monday that said he was in agreement with Mr. DeSorcy, and had decided there was no reason to continue to serve on the board, in light of the upcoming changes.

Although Mr. Thayer had planned to serve out his term in support of DPW Director Glenn Mauk, he said he called and discussed his decision to resign at the board’s May 11 meeting with Mr. Mauk, who understood.

“It’s not what I signed up to do,” Mr. Thayer said. “The idea that the selectmen can envision a change this dramatic for the town without coming up with even one aspect of the nuts and bolts of how it’s going to work or be put into place makes no sense to me.”

Mr. Thayer said town administrator John “Jay” Grande plans to hold a meeting every two weeks to discuss the BPW’s restructuring.

“What we had was a system that worked in place, and I’m not part of the transition team,” Mr. Thayer said. “I found what the selectmen did at town meeting to be shortsighted, because there’s no hurry and nothing in place to replace the board. Even though there is going to be an infrastructure meeting every two weeks, that’s not the same.”

Mr. Kristal was appointed to the BPW to fill a vacancy, and served for one year. Although he was elected to a three-year term at Tisbury’s town elections on April 28, he declined his appointment to the BPW.

“The idea of the board of public works and DPW coming under the selectmen was a discussion [Selectman] Tristan Israel and I had for years,” Mr. Kristal told The Times in a phone conversation yesterday. “Since I accomplished what I wanted, I decided not to accept my appointment to the BPW in order to serve on the FinCom.”

The selectmen and FinCom voted Tuesday night to appoint Mr. Kristal to a seat left vacant by FinCom Chairman Larry Gomez, who was elected a selectman.

“I think some of of my expertise lies in finances,” Mr. Kristal said. “As a former selectman, I know town department budgets inside and out, and my wife Jynell and I have run our own business for 18 years. I think my expertise, given that finance director Tim McLean will be retiring, might help with the town’s budget process, especially since most of the FinCom members are new. I’m here to help out in any way I can.”

The BPW vacancies will be filled through a joint appointment process by the selectmen and BPW, according to Mr. Grande.