Sunday, November 2, 2014

What didn't happen at Spring Town Meeting

Like the scene from Good Morning Vietnam, when Robbin Williams goes to read what the sensors have allowed him to read over the air waves... Nothing happened, when in fact the war rages on.

Last spring, Town Meeting was asked to approve a 2 million dollar building to house inventory. As a member of the Ways and Means committee, I asked what the inventory was and the department head told us the Town has around 500,000 in inventory scattered around town and to do an complete inventory a larger building is a must. It was clear, no one is keeping track of most of the inventory. One member asked the DPW head, will you not do an inventory unless you get the building and the answer was yes.

Shocked as I was as so were a few of the more aware committee members, we voted not to support the building until an accurate inventory was done. At TM I made a resolution at asking the DPW department to provide an inventory to TM in the Fall. The resolution passed overwhelmingly. The next day the DPW head was quoted as saying to Patch, "that's not going to happen" to the resolution calling for an inventory.

Fast forward to Fall TM. Article 1 came up for review. On the back table was a hand out from DPW, explaining their efforts to conduct an inventory. A consultant was hired to examine the cost and needs benefit of decentralized verses a centralized inventory system The memo went on to say that an inventory was in the works for 4 locations around town and that the value of said inventory is between 600,000 and 700,000 dollars. The DPW will report back in spring of 2015 with the recommendations from the consultant.

While this may appear to be the right path, it's clear to me, DPW has hired a company that will suggest a centralized inventory, thus, making the 2 million dollar inventory building a sure thing next year.

Another tidbit of useful information that you didn't read about was the Police Union contract at Fall TM. Being lucky enough to be on the Ways and Means, I get to see what the departments heads are rolling out to TM. While serving on Public Safety were questions weren't allowed by the Chair, it's been refreshing to be on a committee that encourages questions of the Department heads.

For the amount of time I've been on TM, I have questioned the amount of sick time and overtime in Public Safety budgets. Being a very blue union Town, those who question Public Safety are heathens, but when a force of 100 or so take 850 days are year off for sick time, it's time to speak out. While reading the Police Union contract, Art 36 indicates that Police officers will strive to adhere to the Towns Customer service policy but shall not be disciplined solely on the failure to adhere to the policy. The Union endorese the Town's Ethics policy. To me, as well as others, this language is at best ambiguous and in fact, leaves the impression that FPD does not have it's own Ethical Standards as do Waltham and Brookline PD's. Try as I do to make my time at TM productive and meaningful, my attempt to make a motion to have the FPD be held accountable to an Ethics Code... was not allowed by the moderator. Doing some digging on this, I ran into the Accreditation issue. And after speaking with the head of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, I felt it was important to ask how FPD was accredited while having a clause that does not hold FPD to any ethical standards. I will meet with Chief Ferguson next week for clarity.

My point about the local media's coverage of Framinghjam TM. While every talking point at TM cannot be written about in the paper, issues of accountability and ethical standards should make a line or two in the local media outlets.