Board of Selectmen
2nd Floor Conference Room, Town Hall
December 20, 2005
Chairman Dale Donovan called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectmen present included Michael May, Ira Wood, Helen Miranda Wilson and Jerry Houk. Town Administrator Tim Smith, Interim Fire Chief Daniel Silverman and Asst. Town Admin. Rex Peterson also attended.
Mr. Donovan noted that a question had been raised about whether the review of candidate resumes for the Fire Chief position should be done in open session or executive session. He noted that the Board of Selectmen would consider all resumes submitted, and that the Town Administrator and Assistant Town Administrator had reviewed the resumes based on the job description and profile. Mr. Donovan noted two reasons for going into executive session, to protect the Town and to protect the privacy rights of the applicants. Mr. Donovan made a motion, seconded by Mr. Wood to go into executive session and not to return to regular session.
Ms. Wilson said that it was a violation of the open meeting law to go into executive session to make the “first cut” of applicants. She suggested using a coded list of applicants to avoid revealing their names in open session. Mr. Donovan asked Mr. Smith what Town Counsel’s opinion was on open versus executive session. Mr. Smith said that Elizabeth Lane’s opinion was that executive session was the appropriate venue.
Mr. Houk said that he had spoken to an Assistant District Attorney, Thomas Shack. It was Mr. Shack’s opinion that the resumes should only be reviewed in executive session if a subcommittee was appointed. Mr. Donovan asked where a “subcommittee” is defined? Mr. Houk said it was his understanding that the Selectmen could not serve as a subcommittee because they will be interviewing the candidates. Ms. Wilson said that Mr. Shack issued a written opinion stating that the Selectmen, as the appointing authority, cannot form a subcommittee. Mr. Donovan said that a subcommittee to review the applications would have to be made up of Selectmen.
Mr. Wood said that the Selectmen are acting as a preliminary screening committee, and that an open session could have a detrimental affect on obtaining qualified applicants. He cited a specific exemption for preliminary screening committees, and the need to protect the privacy rights of the individuals that apply. Ms. Wilson said that in her opinion, semifinalist applications should be part of the public record.
Mr. Donovan called for a vote on the motion to go into executive session and not return to regular session. The vote was Donovan, May and Wood in favor, Wilson and Houk opposed. Mr. Houk made a motion to request that the Town Administrator send a copy of Mr. Shack’s written opinion to Town Counsel for review. Ms. Wilson seconded the motion. The vote in favor of the motion was unanimous. The regular session ended at 7:20 p.m.
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Dale Donovan, Chair Michael May Ira Wood
Helen Miranda Wilson Jerry Houk