Contract Re-Vote Decision In September

A proposal to re-vote an early-departure contract offered to Barnstable Town Manager John C. Klimm will not come before the Barnstable Town Council until the council’s September 8 meeting.

Frederick Chirigotis, president of the town council, said the agenda for the council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for August 4, is too crowded to accommodate discussion of the item, which was proposed by town councilor James H. Crocker Jr. of Osterville.

Mr. Chirigotis spoke on the matter at Tuesday’s agenda meeting for the August 4 council meeting.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Chirigotis said a related concern brought forward by town councilor Janet S. Joakim of Centerville also would come before the council at its September 8 meeting.

Ms. Joakim detailed her concern in a letter dated Tuesday to Mr. Chirigotis.
She calls on him not to rescind the contract offer to Mr. Klimm, which is already signed by Mr. Chirigotis and is on the table.

If the contract is retracted, Ms. Joakim asks in the letter, “What type of work environment will that leave for the town manager and his staff? It is clear that threats, intimidation and pressure to force the manager out will remain a part of the town staff’s daily routine.”

If the contract is re-voted, Ms. Joakim would propose new changes to the contract that would extend the date that Mr. Klimm is to leave his office until November 15, and add language that would allow him until that date to sign the contract.
Under the existing early-departure contract offer, Mr. Klimm faces no deadline to sign the document, although the contract offer would place Mr. Klimm on leave starting September 30. The contract offer also would move up the ending date of Mr. Klimm’s contract from June 30, 2015, to December 15 of this year.

The council, however, offered to pay Mr. Klimm his salary through March 2013, which translates into an estimated payout of more than $230,000.

Mr. Crocker, who attended Tuesday’s agenda meeting, did not protest or argue the decision to leave his re-vote proposal off the August 4 agenda.

The continuing town council controversy will not take a leave of absence, however. At the August 4 meeting, the council is scheduled to review five state Open Meeting Law complaints involving the council and filed with Barnstable Town Clerk Linda Hutchenrider.

They include complaints filed by Mr. Crocker on March 30 and April 8; a complaint filed July 1 by Ms. Joakim; a complaint filed Monday by John Julius of Chase Street in Hyannis; and a complaint also filed Monday by Gary Lopez of Gleneagle Drive in Centerville.

Mr. Crocker has said his complaints concern executive sessions that he said violated the Open Meeting Law. He formerly said he would not meet to discuss the complaints unless Mr. Klimm produced a three-page document he read at a previous executive session.

Mr. Klimm has said the document contained his personal notes for the meeting. He has said the document was not distributed and thus was not part of the record.

In her complaint, Ms. Joakim said certain councilors are secretly meeting to determine votes outside of open session. She directed her complaint against six councilors: Mr. Crocker, Henry C. Farnham of West Barnstable, James F. Munafo Jr. and J. Gregory Milne of Hyannis, and Ann B. Canedy of Cummaquid.

They also are the same six councilors who successfully voted June 23 to offer Mr. Klimm the early-departure contract in a 6-5 vote. Two town councilors—James Tinsley Jr. of Hyannis and Ms. Joakim—were absent for that vote.

The remaining two Open Meeting Law complaints, filed Monday by Mr. Julius and Mr. Lopez, are identical in the wording of their complaints.

Each complaint holds that five executive sessions held to discuss changes in the town manager’s contract did not meet any exemptions to the state Open Meeting Law.

On those grounds, each complaint states, the “town manager’s buy-out amendment to his employment contract should be declared null and void and vetted in an open meeting…

“In addition to striking down the buy-out amendment, a public admission of the unlawful executive sessions should be read by the council president at the next town council hearing,” each complaint states.

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