Monday, January 13, 2014

Letter: Working behind the scenes

This is my letter which was printed in the Carver Reporter on January 10th, 2014. Well most of it was printed, (without any notice) they removed the most important pieces. The three emails. Yes, I was censored.

Letter: Working behind the scenes

As a resident of Carver (and now a former member of the Carver Website Committee), I submitted a request for public information back in May 2013. This was for all emails sent to and by the former Town Administrator of Carver, Richard Lafond, and the Chairman of the Carver Website Committee, Stephen Dewhurst. This was a successful attempt to get access to all of the information that wasn’t yet made available, concerning the Website Committee history, policies and procedures, and goals. I want to share some of the responsive information that was provided by the Town of Carver.
In a letter shared on the Carver Reporter website on Nov 5th, 2013, Mr. Dewhurst made the following statement:

"Ms. Marrone read a prepared list of charges against the committee that were completely fabricated and provably false"

This was in reference to the October 23rd, 2012 Board of Selectmen meeting, which I attended while waiting to get the necessary Board of Selectmen approval to join the Website Committee. The truth is that many of these concerns have proven to be completely accurate.

I think it’s important to point out a couple of things first. I’m not aware of any criticism of the actual work done to the website; each concern that she brought forward has been with the way that the Website Committee functioned. When the Board of Selectmen did ask for an update from the Chairman of the Towns’ own Website Committee, that’s an example of responsible and necessary oversight, not harassment.

It seems to me that for the first couple of years, there was a lack of open oversight, a lack of proper documentation, and a lack of policies and procedures. There may be a legitimate reason as to why that was the case, but these are the realities of what I have found. Leading up to joining the committee, I reviewed all publically available documentation concerning the town website.  I’m going to focus on a couple of the most relevant concerns that were brought forward in the Sept/Oct timeframe back in 2012. 

In his own document titled "Summary of Ms. Marrone’s Prepared Statement to BOS of 10/23/2012" Mr. Dewhurst wrote the following:

"She says the WSC was “working behind the scenes.” FALSE

I’m not sure exactly what she had in mind, but I believe that the following email exchange proves that Mr. Dewhurst and Mr. Lafond worked together to undermine Selectman Marrone’s legitimate concerns with the Website Committee.  In this exchange they discuss the Website Committee goals 2010 document, which supports Selectman Marrone’s stated concern that the Website Committee has gone well beyond their official charge.

"Working behind the scenes"

"Working behind the scenes"

"Working behind the scenes"

The Website Committee Chairman was working behind the scenes, withholding information that would confirm one of the legitimate concerns expressed by Selectman Marrone at that time. The context of this is important because of how Mr. Dewhurst’s appointment to the Website Committee (by the Board of Selectmen) took place. Mr. Lafond gave the following assurances to Selectman O’Donnell at that time:

O’Donnell asked what the level of access to the Town’s computers the Website Committee would have.  LaFond answered that they would not have access and all access is through John Adams with a third party vendor.  He further stated that the Committee will make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and will not make the physical changes.

As far as “nobody else remembers that this vote occurred”, the internet never forgets. You can find a summary of this particular vote where the Board of Selectman approved these goals, at the following link:

After discussions with department heads, committees, the Town Accountant, the Town Clerks office, etc., all potential changes to the Website Committee charge and goals should have taken place at an open meeting of the Board of Selectmen. But that didn’t happen. The Website Committee was being led by Mr. Dewhurst in a way that ignored the charge that the Board of Selectmen voted for, when approving the creation of the Website Committee.  As Selectman Marrone said, The Website Committee was supposed to bring back ideas to the Board (of Selectmen), not to become Administrators of the website”.

To summarize, I feel that the former Town Administrator best described this ‘working behind the scenes’. He suggested that they were ‘not on solid ground’, they should ‘take a step back, strategize’:

“Based on this {the 2010 Website Committee Goals document} a reasonable person could argue that such changes or recommendations should be brought to the Board of Selectmen prior to implementation” & “we are not on solid ground. So we take a step back, strategize”.

They went on to minimize and distract from Selectman Marrone’s legitimate concerns on how the Website Committee was functioning under the leadership of Mr. Dewhurst.  It’s unfortunate that the former Town Administrator didn’t stay neutral, and worked behind the scenes like this. It was refreshing to recently hear several candidates for the open Town Administrator position assuring the residents that they would not take sides in such a way, they will stay neutral in situations like this. That is the best way forward for our divided Town Hall.

Phil Shannon
the Watchdogs of Carver

Supporting Links

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I've lived in Carver for many years and only recently started to get involved in the local politics. Doing some research I found this blog. It's pretty incredible this working behind the scenes in such a sneaky way. Now I'm more happy than ever with the new leadership the town has in the TA position, a real breathe of fresh air. It's no wonder we are facing so many problems, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm optimistic the sneaky back room dealing days are over in Carver!