O.B. searches for interim fire chief

Following departure of John Rose, town looks for someone to fill the role for ‘two to six months.’

Selectmen have advertised a position for an interim fire chief. Applications are due by March 2. — Brian Dowd

Updated Feb. 28

After a second meeting with command staff at the fire department, the town has advertised a position for an interim fire and EMS chief following the departure of embattled Fire Chief John Rose.

At a selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, town administrator Robert Whritenour informed selectmen there has been “serious interest” in the position, which would run for two to six months. Applications for the position are due on March 2.

The town has begun the search for a new chief after Rose resigned from the department on Jan. 31, following a dramatic meeting of the board of selectmen where the board released a statement about the chief, disclosed he had been suspended previously for 21 days, acknowledged an ongoing FBI investigation, and released executive session minutes that showed a divide among board members about Rose and his ability to lead the fire department.

As part of a separation agreement, Rose will be paid a $65,882.70 lump sum. That amounts to half a year’s pay, because Rose was earning $131,736 at the time of his resignation. In addition to the lump sum Rose, is entitled to his full retirement benefits.

In January, the town also confirmed it had settled a $97,500 lawsuit with Cynthia Hatt, a former fire department employee who accused Rose of making sexual advances and then retaliating against her when she rejected them. In exchange for the payment, Hatt withdrew a complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and a lawsuit she filed in Barnstable Superior Court.

In both, Hatt disclosed that she had a consensual relationship with Rose. After a breakup, she alleges, Rose persisted in his pursuit of her, and took away overtime in retaliation.

The FBI and a grand jury are also looking into the fire department’s ambulance billing. In October, the town revealed that it had overcharged Medicare and Medicaid by $37,505.

Whritenour informed selectmen the job had been posted on the Massachusetts Municipal Association website, in addition to local advertising.

Whirtenour has met with fire department staff and members of the IAFF union.

“We do have a solid command staff in place, led by Deputy Chief Manuel Rose and First Lt. Matthew Bradley, who are doing a lot of work from the EMS side and the fire side,” Whritenour said. 

Consultant George Baker, a former Mashpee fire chief, has also supported the town in the transition.

Once an interim chief is hired, board chairman Brian Packish said, the two- to six-month timeframe of the position will give the town and the fire department time to establish a clear set of job descriptions for a permanent fire chief.

“Hopefully that buys us enough time to then have a conversation [about]: What does the overall leadership look like? What are the roles and responsibilities? How do we realign?” Packish said.

In other business, design development for a renovated town hall continues with Icon Architecture. Icon will hold a public forum with selectmen on March 4 at 5 pm in the Oak Bluffs town hall meeting room to review design options and take input from residents.

After the attempt to build a new town hall failed when bids came in over budget, the town is using a construction manager at risk (CMAR) to work with Icon to come up with a maximum project cost in advance of annual town meeting on April 14. Bids for the CMAR are due on Feb. 27 at 2 pm.

Selectman Michael Santoro said he was interested in being the town’s representative to the Vineyard long-range transportation task force after a discussion with Steamship Authority general manager Robert Davis and special counsel Steve Sayers.

The task force would explore and make recommendations on longer-term initiatives as well as traffic and logistics. The task force would include two members of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, two members of the Dukes County Commission, two Oak Bluffs representatives, two Tisbury representatives, two Falmouth representatives, Davis and Sayers as the SSA representatives, and potentially, two New Bedford representatives. Recommendations from the task force would go directly to the port council and the SSA board.


Corrected to add March 4 meeting in the Oak Bluffs town hall meeting room. —Ed.


  1. Hire Chief Rose on a 1099 independent contractor for the time you require. Yes I know he resigned and there were mitigating circumstances but you need help with a competent fire chief. He can do the job as interim. Your chief concern is having adequate help in the Fire Dept. That is all.

    • andrew, once you have hired someone as an employee, you can not suddenly decide they are an independent contractor. Fastest way to an IRS audit.
      There are tax laws , you know.
      You think there is no problem, he was abusive, but you choose ignore that. You think there is no need for any morality or any of that P.C bull–
      Others may think differently.
      I think the fire department is competent enough to put out a fire without this person.

      • Dondondon12 I think it’s fair to say you should be more careful with your words. “He was abusive” can be misconstrued by so many people who read this. You should state your opinions more clearly and choose your words more deliberately. While you accuse others of choosing to ignore things, you and many others also choose to ignore that there were allegations made about sexual harassment and all were dropped and omitted of wrong doing. The details to the specific reason this individual received a settlement and all the behind the scene details have not been released to the public. You shouldn’t make comments like this if you don’t have all the facts. Thanks!

        • mv–ok I will be more careful with my words.
          I will only mention the “facts” as reported by the times.
          She filed a complaint, was paid off, and dropped the suit.
          How convenient.
          So, are you accusing the alleged “victim” of just making all this up so she could get about a hundred grand out of Oak Bluff’s taxpayers ?

  2. dondondon. I gather that if your house was on fire you wouldnt let the fireman who is adulterous put out the fire. They need an interim. He has demonstrated competence for 30 years. He is ready and able. You are being silly.

  3. Isn’t it amazing how sexual harassment on the job and discrimination in the workplace gets minimized by blind people whose only take-away from several articles in this newspaper is “adultery”?!

    • It’s pretty amazing to me that people can just spread false information over and over again and the Times does nothing about it unless they agree with it. Anyone can file a complaint, until the case has been settled and they have found wrongdoing you need to treat it as innocent until proven guilty because you don’t know what’s true or what’s false until then. A well educated person waits until they have all the facts before they form an opinion on something. Same with the sexual harassment suit, I doubt it will ever be released the actual concrete truth of what they found to be true about the complaints made, but in the meantime stop talking about it as if they are factual things that someone has been found guilty of. They are not.

      • MVLocal/Islander64, no matter what user name you post under, you do not get to dictate how people process the facts reported fairly and accurately in this newspaper. But you get an E for Effort. A well educated person, moi, finds the discrimination and illegal sexual harassment absolutely believable and real. The court of public opinion is not run by your obvious bias. It seems like the person himself or a close friend or family member is protesting too much here. There is no reason for the public not to fairly view Rose as guilty as sin. A town doesn’t settle things to the tune of $100K and have the guy resign because he’s innocent. Readers aren’t as dumb as you hope.

        • Jackie, it’s pointless of me to put effort into a response. My last comment is sitting in moderation for whatever reason, as the majority of my comments do. My point will always be this: until you know all the facts, and until someone has been found guilty of discrimination, it’s really unfair to deem them guilty of these things without a fair and accurate investigation into such. It isn’t fair for the public to view John as “guilty as sin” when the discrimination case hasn’t even been settled, you have no idea of the information specific to that case. Same with the sexual harassment case. All were omitted of wrongdoing and the case was dropped. Unless you know all the specific behind the scenes details you can’t deem someone guilty of sexual harassment. You can knock John for having the relationship in general, but that’s all he was found guilty of.

          • The public is entirely free to believe and accept that Rose retaliated against Hatt but the case was dropped after she was paid 100k taxpayer dollars. You’d be doing “John” a big favor if you’d stop protesting the public’s reaction to the only reality that makes sense and understand that you should be thanking your lucky stars that “John” did not lose his retirement. Ever hear of the #MeToo movement? BTW, when my comments sit in moderation for eternity, which they often do, it’s because I’ve been too blunt by doing something like calling someone stupid, “stupid”. Unfair, in my view, but those are the rules. Name calling isn’t allowed here, so that’s probably what happened with your comment in limbo. Life isn’t fair.

  4. I’m sure the fire department will be fine without the Rose running the hose. They have enough staff members to run the place until an appropriate replacement is found.

  5. With this decision, someone gives a hyper-caffeinated rhetorical jolt to the re-conceptualizing of traditional understandings about sex and marriage as the moral equivalent of consensual sex.

    • That’s some word salad there, Andrew, but I’m guessing that whatever you meant to say, Mike Pence and Mother would agree with you!

  6. For a couple of people on this site, certain beliefs are too aggressive to be compatible with free cultural and intellectual life. They cannot be tolerated only defeated, Their ideology in its current mode of thought is deeply un-philosophical. It no longer works by argument but by recognition,; consciousness raising, woking up. It assumes there can be no common premises with persons inhabiting alien ideologies which are by definition tools of oppression. There can only conversion or unmasking of enemies; defeat and humiliation of incorrect thought. They argue by moral labeling and denunciation which are not arguments. Life as critiques means that there is no real possibility of solidarity beyond their thinking. Critical theorists cannot compromise’ they cannot participate peaceably in civil society on a basis of equality with other ways of thinking. Their style does not permit a cost benefit negotiation or analysis. the result is constant denunciation. That is all they know.

    • I read your words several times. I still have no clue what you said. Lots of words but no comprehension. Try again?

      • I think it’s what happens when too much Russian dressing is added to an angry word salad. When something makes no sense it’s because it’s nonsense.

  7. new news. Yea some people are poor in reading comprehension. But for you, essentially what I am saying is whats the point of being a liberal if you wont allow another person a different point of view.

    • Thank you for the needed translation. My liberalism wonders what the point is of carrying on about Christian ethics and the sinful “nature of mankind”, when a supposed Christian supports Trump. But how did you come up with this “point” regarding Chief Rose? Your point is irrelevant and irrational, and truthfully, makes no sense.

      • Jackie, I hope the individuals with a logical state of mind who read this, read your comments and realize how silly it is to just assume someone is guilty of something based out of facts and information you don’t even have access too. Maybe you or I should go to the town and request to the see the records based on what they ACTUALLY found John did in retaliation against this Mrs. Hatt… just a thought if these records are public information and you care so much about your tax dollars you should have a right to know. Just a friendly suggestion! I did zero name calling in my comment, not really my style, and it still wasn’t approved. And until you come back with the proof of this excessive sexual harassment that “John” inflicted on this individual, then I will graciously agree with you, until then there’s no reason he shouldn’t be entitled to his retirement. That’s preposterous. We can argue until we’re blue in the face, hopefully the truth makes it way out to the public in some way.

      • Also, what liberal won’t allow another person a different point of view? Your comments as well as mine are all over this newspaper, points of view that couldn’t be more different yet are both allowed as long as there’s no name calling. It seems to me that when you can’t stand behind your opinion and defend it intelligently, you whine and get angry and say things that are not true at all, as you do here when you say liberals don’t allow you your opinion. Being a poor defender of your views does not mean you aren’t allowed to state them. You state them all the time!

        • Jackie I am not talking about the MV Times. I am talking about one person.They dont argue on the merits you simply denounce and make ad hominem attacks. They denounce anyone who doesnt have a secular liberal left wing world view. I have never seen them make a cogent, logical, thoughtful argument to defend their position. They rant and rave and demonstrate to all readers their emotional immaturity.

          • Andew, “they” have no control over what you are indeed allowed to say, defend, and argue for or against intelligently. Not liking one person’s differing views (mine, for instance) is not a reason to go off the deep end. Have you not been able to use your words to defend something you’ve said or a viewpoint you have? If you personally feel denounced and attacked, even though personal attacks are not allowed here, you might want to ask yourself why you feel that, instead of publicly whining here. These comments are supposed to be about the public reaction to reported abusive misconduct and discrimination in the workplace by a town’s fire chief. It’s about a lot more than an “adulterous” fireman, which is what you claimed and which I strongly objected to because it ignores the seriousness of the accusations and how often women’s complaints on the job are minimized, most especially by white, privileged males. I stand behind my view, and have explained why in several different posts. You have failed to explain or defend your comment about a “fireman who is adulterous” and instead are yourself ranting and raving. You are certainly allowed to explain your minimizing (dehumanizing to the woman accuser) comment as cogently, logically and intelligently as you demand from others, but so far, you have chosen instead to get hysterical that I noticed how minimizing of the accusations it was. No one is stopping you from explaining yourself better, without the hystrionics, certainly not me, but so far, you have chosen not to. Temper tantrums are better left to two year olds.

        • This doesn’t have to be political at all. Liberal non liberal, it doesn’t even come down to that. It has to do with basic reasoning. Jackie, If someone accused you of doing something, and you either did or didn’t do it, but that hadn’t been determined yet through a fair investigation, would you want to be perceived as guilty regardless? I don’t know about you but that isn’t the kind of world I would want to live in especially in this day and age with social media etc. Once there is a fair investigation that proves someone guilty, you are more than free to your opinion on it. You are free to your opinion regardless, but wouldn’t you prefer it to be based on a fair determination? This is what disappoints me the most about modern day media. People are perceived as guilty until proven innocent with the way things are framed, and that shouldn’t be the case. I am taking all my information from the Newspaper articles written on this subject, and what I saw were allegations made, but never a follow up on what was actually found. Maybe that’s private information I don’t know. What I have gathered from the articles written, and executive session minutes released is that the individual sued for a decent amount more than what she received, which warrants an explanation to the townspeople, what actually happened? While still not right, there is a HUGE difference between a consensual adult relationship even between boss and subordinate, and illegal excessive sexual harassment. I don’t believe the taxpayers should be responsible to pay (when policy goes up) money for a relationship a person entered into consensually if there wasn’t substantial evidence that proved they were harassed, that is MY opinion. And I hope the public is entitled to that information. I think we have drawn this out enough.

          • I don’t know where you’ve been these last years, but it actually can come down to a political issue, although privileged white males who are used to being listened to and obeyed, don’t like this reality either. Any woman’s serious and believable accusations of sexual harassment and job discrimination by retaliation are often dismissed or minimized, or demanded to be held to a higher standard of proof when it comes to the court of public opinion, as you are doing here. I should not have to keep reminding you, the public can and does form its own conclusions. If I did not wish to be publicly perceived as guilty of something, especially of something I would never do, I would not do anything that made me look guilty and of poor character, like have an affair with a SUBORDINATE at work. Object all you want in this day and age of Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo movement, but that is reality. Then, if I were accused anyway and truly innocent of serious accusations of harassment and discrimination, I would scream my innocence until the cows came home, and certainly not be party to a pay-off and resign from my career in hopes it go away without the public knowing. I would also not anonymously try (or have someone close to me try) to make people believe something that is clearly not believable. Rose is guilty as sin and I am allowed to come to that conclusion based on being able to read the facts. You are right that this case boils down to basic reasoning and mine is in excellent working order. I wish we lived in a world where males were not so arrogant as to think that females especially cannot intelligently form their own opinions and come to their own conclusions about a case like this, but that has not happened yet in our world. No woman is going to put herself through this kind of humiliation if she is lying about the retaliation Rose took against her when she refused him, not after having an affair with the guy and she knew would become public. And no innocent man leaves behind his entire career with his tail between his legs. The longer you insist that I do not have the right to my own clearly thought-out opinion, the longer I will say that, in my view, the court of public opinion says the guy is guilty as sin. But I do notice how you go out of your way to say “EXCESSIVE sexual harassment” (caps mine). Is there a lesser form of sexual harassment on the job that is okay with you, lol? You are of course entitled to your opinion and we can agree to disagree.

  8. A small mind makes only denunciations. An angry and small mind is a very lonely person who wishes for a greater role in life. Doubtful there is a husband around somewhere.

    • Is this off-topic tirade an example of a different view that you falsely claim liberals don’t allow, Andrew? And yet here you are, spreading that old time Christian love for your neighbors who have different opinions from yours.

  9. Hire Manny Rose- he’s a smart intelligent guy , Asst. Chief-but i doubt he would even entertain the Chief’s position seeing what his brother has been subjected to.

  10. Jackie, you claim to be well educated on this matter yet you say “100k in taxpayer dollars”….this just shows that you are not well educated on this matter whatsoever. The towns insurance policy paid the money to Mrs Hatt. Every town has this insurance policy in place for exactly this reason. This is wrong and false information. Im sure this insurance has been used before and I’m sure it will be used again. The policy could go up, but the 100k is not coming directly out of taxpayers pockets. Hopefully this shows anyone who reads this that you don’t have your facts and the actual correct information in line to make a well educated and well informed opinion of this matter. You can try all you want to turn this around and try to play it like I don’t support women’s rights, but I have not in a single comment not supported or not acknowledged what women have endured in and out of the workplace. I am a huge advocate for women’s rights. However not having correct and adequate information on an issue, to make an informed opinion has ZERO to do with women’s rights. You can continue on your angry tirade of attacks but it boils down to spreading WRONG information. Which is not okay. John was never found guilty of sexual harassment, or anything. If that is your opinion, state that it is merely your opinion and make that clear. Otherwise stop spreading misinformation.

    • I’m an educated person, but never said I was well educated on this matter. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve read the facts as accurately reported here. In fact YOU talked earlier about caring how tax dollars are spent RE the $100k payoff, (settlement, I mean), so youve just come
      up with the insurance covering it. Just now. Maybe it did, but that doesn’t change one iota the reality of what the fire chief did and how the public reacts to it. You do not get to tell anyone what they may or may not say, so take your entitlement and your angry tirade elsewhere. From all the reported facts, I and many others absolutely believe Rose sexually harassed and discriminated on the job against his subordinate. You are spreading misinformation by pretending he didn’t. What’s your interest in trying to convince me that the sky isn’t blue (as if I can’t guess)? The more you protest, the more obvious is the guilt. Like I said, an innocent man does things very differently.

  11. You never said you were well educated on this matter??? what have you been protesting in your lengthy comments. Thank you for at least admitting it I suppose? If you’re not well educated about something I think most people would agree you should leave your opinions at the door then. I have suggested in numerous comments that it’s better to educate yourself on a topic before spreading mis information, which really is just common sense. Just an FYI George Brennan from the MV times corrected this on another comment and informed the person that the money came from the insurance company literally months ago…. on an earlier article, so I didn’t just “come up” with that, again spreading mis information before you know the facts. Perhaps Chief Rose was sick of the constant stress and attention surrounding his life and wanted to move on. The only thing he was proved to have done wrong was have a relationship with this women, people make mistakes and aren’t perfect. Mrs Hatt entered this relationship consensually it was very irresponsible on both parties and it wasn’t the only relationship she entered into while working at the department. To quote an mvtimes article that was written on July 26 2017, Bob Whritenour the town manager said, quote, “ in fact Mrs. Hatt was found to be having a relationship with another member of the department. We felt we had to take disciplinary action in that instance.” You call John and adulterer but he has been divorced for some time, I can’t confirm the same for Mrs Hatt and the other individual involved in her second affair within the department………..

    • Blaming the victim who has been sexually harassed and discriminated against in her job by Chief Rose is like asking what a rape victim was wearing. You may as well say say Ms Hatt deserved the harassment and discrimination based on, you know, misogyny. You’d make a terrible lawyer, but nice try with your inane distractions. And Chief Rose is still guilty in the eyes of the public.

  12. Jackie, I am confident that anyone who reads this thread would quickly be aware that you would make a terrible, terrible lawyer… you have said multiple false things and spread misinformation, which helps no one. Sounds a lot similar to Trump actually, if you want to go there. You don’t get to speak for the public as a whole with your one, limited, opinion. Just as you say I don’t get to speak for the public and govern how they view a situation (which I never did, yet another contradiction of yours) Just because sexual harassment is a really unfortunate thing that happens in our world, doesn’t mean that every case shouldn’t be looked at with a thorough investigation of facts and proof of what happened. No one is not believing anyone here. You just have to approach every case with a fair investigation of facts, which haven’t been released to the public as far as I know. In my opinion the fact that Mrs Hatt engaged in two extramarital affairs while working for the town in her position as administrative director speaks volumes about how she chose to conduct herself professionally and morally. Which is why I say more information is needed here for the entire picture of what happened. You only focus your anger for unprofessionalism towards John? What about the innocent wife of the individual whom Mrs Hatt had an affair with? theres so much more to this story than what you choose to enlighten yourself about. We could argue until were blue in the face, Ive made all the points I needed to and I won’t be responding to you further.

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