Edgartown selectmen reappoint harbormaster Blair

Selectmen also vote to reissue requests for proposals for Yellow House.

Potential bidders on the Yellow House in Edgartown are seeking clarifications. - George Brennan

In one of the least surprising decisions in the history of the Edgartown board of selectmen, the board unanimously voted 3-0 to reappoint longtime harbormaster Charlie Blair at its regular meeting on Monday.

“What can I say, we’re never going to let you go,” chairman Art Smadbeck said to Blair. “What an amazing job you’ve done in all these storms. We’re very, very lucky to have you.”

“I have a really good team behind me; they make it happen. I just run around like the Dutch boy, putting my finger in the dike,” Blair said. “Our team is so strong it makes me look good.”

Blair said that there has been an outpouring of concern for deputy harbormaster Michael Hathaway, who sustained serious injuries last Monday when a boat fell on him while it was being mounted on blocks. Hathaway was airlifted from the Island to Massachusetts General Hospital with a broken leg, a broken back, and multiple other broken bones.

“Over 200 people have called about him from all over the world,” Blair said. “He’s been our ambassador for over 23 years on the harbor, and I don’t think he ever said no to anybody. He’s sorely missed.”

Blair said that Hathaway “has a long road ahead of him,” and will hopefully be moved to the Spaulding rehabilitation hospital in Sandwich as soon as next week. “He was severely injured, but he’s strong as a bull. That saved him,” Blair said.

In other business, selectmen unanimously voted to reissue a request for proposals for the Yellow House renovation. Smadback said that during negotiations with the developer, “issues were identified which would have altered the developer’s proposal as evaluated by the Yellow House committee, specifically to best protect the large shade tree.” Town counsel Ron Rappaport advised a modified RFP be reissued. Yellow House committee chairman Chris Scott said the committee is meeting on Tuesday to draft the new RFP.

“We’re all hoping to get through this process again in time enough for the applicant to start this fall,” selectman Michael Donaroma said. “We’re not losing a whole lot of time; they couldn’t start now anyway. Hopefully we’ll get back on track and attract more people.”

Gail Gardner, candidate for selectman who is running against Smadbeck, told the board that she did not anticipate a final vote on the new police chief to come on the same day as the final interviews. “I just want to reiterate that back in a January meeting, I did point out that we were going to be hiring Bruce [McNamee], and I wanted to share that with the group today,” she said.
Gardner said she’s sent many emails to the selectmen’s office about the hiring process, and received no answers. Smadbeck said that many of the inquiries are related to personnel issues, which cannot be released to the public.

“I think a lot of what we were getting were things that we were totally unaware of, being accused of covering up and so on,” selectman Margaret Serpa said. “There’s obviously a connection to the police department that she has that’s getting information we’re not getting.”


  1. Apparently Gail must have a crystal ball. Maybe she should ‘come clean’ and tell us where her information comes from. After all she has now become a politician, and as such, will have to get used to answering questions herself. Her credibility at the voting booth will depend upon it. I noticed the new Chief has impeccable credentials and an outstanding resume. How did her preferred applicant compare? Do tell, because if we are going to the voting booth, we want to know why you would have chosen ANY much less qualified applicant for the Chiefs job . A competent candidate for selectman’s office would certainly choose the most qualified candidate, not someone just because ‘they went to high school with you’.

  2. I’m happy to respond. I have no problem answering questions. No crystal ball here. I heard from many people that Mr. McNamee was the shoe in candidate. And many of them explained why they felt that was the case, based on the job posting. Before the hiring process began and letters of interest were submitted. And I would like to reiterate that I haven’t said anything negative about the new chief. I’ve heard good things about him. I’ve protested the process. I’ve protested the lack of community input. I’ve asked questions of many people, including community members, selectmen, and officers. It was not difficult to get information. Once I started to question the process many people were grateful that someone was available. I can’t necessarily tell you where I heard it because I heard it from many people, most often anonymously. My phone number and email are published each week in the paper. And I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m easy to reach. I find it interesting that you’re unhappy with the fact that I shared that information in January. I never said he was a poor candidate. I also stated numerous times that I was not and still am not invested in who the chief was, only that the process was flawed. I signed the petition for Jon Searle, just as I would have signed a petition for any local officer, because I believe that we have excellent officers in our department who may well have made an excellent chief. Sometimes going to high school with people, and grade school for that matter, is the best way to know people. I always wanted a qualified candidate and the new chief has excellent credentials. I wish him well. It still doesn’t mean that the process was the best process. I’m sorry that some people are upset that I received and shared that information two months ago. But I stand by my choice to do so. The support and comments I’ve received over the last couple of months have only served to strengthen my belief that I did the right thing.

    • I am glad you took the time to reply. It would appear that you are not happy with the ‘process’ whereby an outside firm was hired to present qualified candidates to the selectman for the Chief’s position. From what I read, that process of hiring a professional search firm (just as is done in the private sector all the time) was undertaken as result of the input from community members who were upset with the last Chief’s position being filled from within the department as a promotion, instead of inviting outside candidates, who may have been more qualified to apply. As such, your ‘information’ stating that the successful candidate was a ‘shoe in’ is totally baseless, and without merit since the job was not even posted at the time you stated. (I’m sure there are other potential applicants that had a Masters Degree, FBI academy and supervisory experience who chose not to apply and subject themselves to the process since many times it does favor non-experience local candidates) Again, if you are choosing to enter the political arena, relying upon ‘unnamed sources’ will not give you any credibility with the voters.

      • I have to admit that I find it ironic that someone who is posting under an alias is schooling me on listening to unnamed sources being harmful to my credibility. So, should we, the voters, be listening to you or not? If we are to believe what you write, that would disprove your assertion that relying on “unnamed sources” damages one’s credibility. Perhaps you should, as you put it earlier, ‘come clean’ and share who you are for credibility purposes.

        I would say my information wasn’t baseless. The new chief is exactly who those I spoke to stated it would be. If the town had chosen a “different” candidate for the position, that would in fact be a better indication that my information was incorrect. Hiring the person I named doesn’t actually prove me wrong. And remember, anonymous informants took down Nixon’s presidency. Anonymous doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. It sometimes just means that people are afraid of retribution.

        Additionally, I’ve heard there were many excellent candidates, including a current chief from Whitman who owns a house on Chappy and was apparently an alternate for the assessment center.
        Further, I completely believe the public didn’t like the previous hiring process. However, I suspect that had more to do with the fact that a selectmen’s son in law was promoted above higher ranking officers to chief and the town administrator’s son was promoted to lieutenant.
        I’d be happy to continue this discourse, if you reveal who you are. Otherwise, you are asking me to hear you out even though you are anonymous, which is a direct conflict with your argument that I should not do so.

        • You’re going to dictate to the voters how a discourse is going to continue? I think not. I didn’t see ‘politicalmommv’ in the phone book. Apparently being ‘outed’ for your bogus “anonymous sources” hit a raw nerve. Too bad. I’m not running for office, you are ‘politicalmommy’ lol (“IF” you are Gail) . You’re going to have to answer questions in a public forum from those who doubt your credibility about statements you have made. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if there was a highly qualified individual who had previously applied for other Chief jobs and owned an Island home, chances are he just might apply for the job that was open in Edgartown. Perhaps it doesn’t suit your narrative, but the board chose the best candidate based upon the recommendations of a professional search firm. Its apparent they had the best interests of the town in mind. Obviously they didn’t try to win a popularity contest. Your prior comment about ‘knowing someone from grade school’ shows your lack of responsibility with respect to hiring qualified candidates for any position. Do tell us what the qualifications of those “passed over” for the job were? 4 year College degree? Masters degree”? FBI Academy?Actual Supervisory experience? Going to grade school with you doesn’t cut it and shows that you would be biased in a hiring process and be more inclined to take care of your childhood friends instead of doing what’s best for the town. Its apparent you have a bone to pick with the town administrator and a selectman. Both of their son’s have done an excellent job for the town. But lets look at your hypocracy here. Did you complain when your favorite candidate for Chief was appointed as a patrolman when his dad was the Chief? Did you complain when the former harbormaster’s son was appointed as a patrolman? Did you complain when the former town accountants son (who was married to the town administrator) was appointed? Of course not. (and no disrespect intended towards any of them-just making note of your ‘selective outrage’) It didn’t suit your narrative. Just admit you have personal animosity towards those you keep whining about. You made prior comments in your town column about the process, which was totally out of line. I didn’t notice any reference in your column this about ‘welcoming’ the new Chief, which is disgraceful. So other than being the “‘anti PD Chief search” candidate, do tell us your platform so we can make a voting decision.

    • What is flawed is your preferred hiring process for our Chief of Police. To use a petition drive as a method to appoint anyone for this position is laughable.

  3. To clarify, I’m politicalmommv not politicalmommy. And I did go in today to change it and they don’t let you change the username. I am Gail Gardner. I have nothing to hide. I have no animosity toward anyone. I did, in fact, welcome Bruce to the job in my column this week and mentioned that his wife’s family and my family have known each other since our parents were kids so there’s no disgrace there. You mustn’t have actually read it. I have also messaged him privately to congratulate him. Just because I signed a petition doesn’t mean someone was my favorite candidate. I don’t believe that it is surprising that I would support a local person that I’ve known my whole life. The community wasn’t permitted to know any other applicants.
    I haven’t complained when anyone was hired to the department. And I didn’t publicly complain about any promotions. I don’t generally complain about such things. Quite frankly, I was involved in raising my children and I hoped for the best under the circumstances. Just as I do now. I wasn’t prepared to run for office at that time so what could I do? I’m now at a place where I can run and I believe whole heartedly that if you aren’t willing to be part of the solution, you give up the right to complain. So I stepped up to run. I am who I am. I think what I think. And I do what I think is right. Luckily, people have the option to vote for me or not. I’m offering a change in the status quo. I’m sorry that you are so angry that I have different opinions than you do. Perhaps you are closer to the situation than I am. Of all the people I have talked to regarding this issue, I have not spoken to anyone who is so vehemently opposed to one particular candidate as you appear to be.

    You, of course, can continue with whatever posts you wish to make. If you wish to come forward, I’d be happy to respond. If you want to ask specific questions, feel free. But anonymously disparaging me or other candidates is not productive, particularly because I don’t know all of the applicants. Perhaps you know more about the applicants than I do. I believe strongly that if you want to engage me further, I deserve to know who you are.

    In reference to Paul’s post – I didn’t start the petition. I signed it. Would I prefer it was worded differently? Yes. But it was, at the time, the only way to show support for local candidates. I don’t have a problem with hiring an outside agency. I think this particular agency was questionable and I asked questions about how they were secured, whether there was a personal connection anywhere as the bid was addressed in the very familiar manner of “Dear Rossi”, and about the character of the principals involved with the company. Many of those questions were via emails that remain unanswered. As a citizen with concerns, I have the right to pose those questions. Just as you are sharing your concerns here. The difference is that I have done so publicly while you remain anonymous. I’m sorry that my questions and concerns have upset you so. I have merely attempted to shine a light on issues that I believe are important. Voters can agree with me or not. That’s the beauty of a democracy.

  4. It may be of interest to note that just the other day Gail was attacked in a similar vein on the Islanders Talk Facebook group by a person also using an alias. In that case, Gail knew who the person was making the comment but I was shocked, disheartened, dismayed and, yes, angered, to learn that the person in question works in the Edgartown Selectmen’s office. That post appears to have since been removed by the moderator of the group. It certainly seems questionable, from an ethical standpoint, for an individual to publicly attack a political candidate who is running against one of their bosses, and to do so behind the veil of an alias. Certainly gives a person an appreciation of what it is that Gail is up against!

    I don’t know who “notnewhere” is but given the venomous nature of their comments, perhaps it’s fair to say that Gail may have indeed hit a nerve.

    • No nerves hit here at all. Thanks for the laugh ‘sapphire’. I didn’t see that name in the phone book lol. Venomous? That’s a good one. Thanks for the compliment-if you were offended I’m tickled. Simply exposing someone who chose to become a politician, in which case she has to answer for her statements. ‘Politicalmommy’, who apparently is running for office, chose to post anonymously until she felt inclined to respond to posts that clearly showed her hypocracy (with respect to hiring related locals) and bias, misinformation, unsubstantiated allegations and statements based upon her ‘anonymous sources’ with respect to the Chief search. (I could care less who gets the job- I only expected the board of selectmen to do what was best for the town, and they did).Its quite comical when your team gets called out on your false statements, the only reply is to ‘shoot the messenger’. Keep it up I need a good laugh.

      • I’m not a part of any “team”–the first thing those that know me will say is that I do not play well with others– but my anti-social instincts notwithstanding, it does cheer me to know I’ve provided you with a good laugh cause from where I sit, you come across as a really sad, angry and somewhat unhinged person. As I said in my original comment, thank you for the insight into what Gail, or, for that matter, anyone else who speaks out against the town hall establishment, is up against. I’ve often wondered why the town hall is referred to as a snake pit–now I know.

  5. Well “Sapphire”, I am NOT “notnewhere” nor do I know them personally. That account has been my FB account since 2012 and 90% of the island that even cares knows it is me. The voters of Edgartown are smart people, they will see through the mud throwing and mistruths. Voters should always question the “facts” of their candidates for office that will potentially run their town no matter who they are or work for. It is our right as Americans and part of the political process. That is my statement. I will not get pulled into the craziness, especially by someone who chooses the alias of a woman of the night.

    • The fact that, given your position in the selectmen’s office, you don’t see your speaking against a candidate for selectman as an ethical problem is in itself an ethical problem.

      • Sapphire sure sounds ‘angry’, ‘sad’, ‘venomous’ and ‘unhinged’. Any town employee has a right to advocate for and vote for whomever they choose. Any politician who chooses to enact any ‘revenge’ upon a town employee would be ‘crossing the line’ and subject the town to a lawsuit. Speaking of which years ago, a ‘group’ put up a new arrival, some wash-a-shore as their puppet candidate. He had no platform other than “he wasn’t a current board member”. (sounds familiar?) The only thing he accomplished during his tenure was to create friction among town employees and department heads. Those who put him up to it later confided that it was a mistake.

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