Selectmen's vote doesn't change town manager resignation

St. Clair absent
By Beth A. Birmingham | Jun 06, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham From left, Thomaston Selectmen Peter McCrea, Lee-Ann Upham and Peter Lammert vote not to recognize Valmore Blastow Jr.'s resignation as town manager following an executive session June 5. Bill Hahn, third from left, voted in favor "with extreme regret." Selectman Beverly St. Clair was not present.

Thomaston — Although the Thomaston Board of Selectmen voted 3 to 1 not to recognize Valmore Blastow Jr.'s letter of resignation following an executive session June 5, it will still need to search for a new town leader.

More than 20 people were in attendance before and after the 6 p.m. meeting in Watts Hall.

Selectmen Peter McCrea, Peter Lammert and Lee-Ann Upham all voted not to accept Blastow's resignation, while Bill Hahn voted in favor "with extreme regret." Selectman Beverly St. Clair was not present.

However, Blastow said earlier in the day he will not change his mind and will resign the post.

The board spent nearly 30 minutes behind closed doors discussing the resignation request before allowing the public back inside to hear its decision.

On person asked "what does that mean?" following the vote, and added "what's the point of the vote?"

"If he chooses to walk out of the door that's his choice," Lammert answered, adding, "but —speaking for myself — it means 'No, I don't want you to walk out the door.'

"This ship is afloat. We're in really interesting waters," he continued, "There are a lot of things going on and at this point I don't know how you would get an interim in and get them up to speed in the time that they need to get up to speed."

It was asked if it was Blastow's decision to resign and, if so, why isn't it being accepted.

"He made a resignation, so legally you don't have to accept it or not accept it, he has resigned," resident Patricia Hubbard said. "And he made it very clear in the newspapers the reasons for his resignation and the town is ready to move on, so why would these three members of the select board say 'No, we don't want to move on.'"

Lammert rebutted Hubbard's comment that the town is ready to move on — "Do you have proof of that statement?" he asked, to which she said, "Peter, you are the chair of this select board and you owe this audience some manners."

"I'm just saying, the town is ready to move on, he has resigned, why are you holding this up?" Hubbard repeated.

"We aren't holding this up," Lammert said, "I just made my feelings known; and you, as a member of the town audience, have made a statement that includes the whole town — that means you're speaking for the whole town?"

"Your comment is pitiful," she said.

Mona Stearns noted she had worked for Blastow for six years and said, "The seat he sits in is a hot one and it's a hard one.

"People resign not always because they want to," she said, "I think Val resigned more to avoid that negative stuff — it gets old after a while both from the town manager seat and from the selectman seat. If I were still sitting on the board, I would have also voted not to accept it."

Zel Bowman-Laberge said she's not ready for Blastow to leave either, and thanked him for his cooperation on the Lura Libby project. She said she certainly respects Blastow and if it is his wish to resign, she respects that as well.

Hubbard asked what the next step moving forward is to find an interim and then search for a town manager.

"We have a list of seven people from Maine Municipal Association and we have had one resident of town send us communication that they would be interested in being on a town manager search commission, so I don't see why they couldn't look at the interim also," Lammert explained.

He noted there are a couple of local people who have done interim service and the board will seek them out to see the level of interest.

"If this is something that was really hard for you and it seems like a possibility that you didn't want to do this, why wouldn't you have just retired instead of resigned?" Noreen Mullaney asked Blastow directly.

Blastow initially said, "No comment," but then added, "I think all of it ... if you go back to really all the emails, you could go back to all the audios that have been taken ... I think an intelligent person can come to their own conclusion to what has occurred."

Lammert said the board will advertise for people interested in being on a search committee and a job description for the position will be posted as well.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Selectmen's vote doesn't change town manager situation
(Video by: Beth A. Birmingham and Tyler Southard)
Around 20 people were present June 5 before and after an executive session was held in Thomaston to discuss the resignation of Valmore Blastow Jr. as town manager. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Thomaston Board of Selectmen Chairman Peter Lammert, standing, makes a statement following an executive session June 5 to discuss the resignation of Valmore Blastow Jr., right, as town manager. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (4)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jun 07, 2019 16:36

Maybe Mr Blastow doesn't consider his leaving as retiring. He is smart enough to know when enough is enough. The public has become so self-centered and rude that it is a wonder anyone wants to serve them.



Posted by: Douglas E Collins | Jun 06, 2019 17:50

Patricia Hubbard asked some very simple but important questions.  Wouldn't it be great if we found someone to lead the town who would answer them?

"If this is something that was really hard for you and it seems like a possibility that you didn't want to do this, why wouldn't you have just retired instead of resigned," Noreen Mullaney asked Blastow directly.  Anyone want to hazard a guess as to why?  It sure wasn't done to bring the towns people together !

 



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 06, 2019 14:51

Janet said it all. Take a breath, stand back and regroup! All are neighbors and friends. Don't blow it!



Posted by: Janet Ruth Dearborn | Jun 06, 2019 14:16

One solution might be to hire Mr. Blastow as a consultant to the Town of Thomaston during the interim period and to spearhead the search for his replacement. This would be a monumental request of Mr. Blastow, it would have to carry the guarantee that he would be afforded the respect that has eluded him recently, compensation on an hourly basis commensurate with the position and freedom to do what is necessary to prevent the disaster we are headed for.

 

There is a great deal of hand wringing and very few suggestions that are not hypothetical. The Town of Thomaston should be in crisis mode, the current environment is not conducive to running a fiscally responsible government. The inevitable outcome will be the taxpayers will face an onerous tax increase if left without the oversight of a strong town manager. Mr. Blastow has been treated very poorly, he owes the town nothing, but he is also the one person who could maintain continuity during this transition. It goes without saying he should be highly compensated if he does accept the role. It would be money well spent, a small fraction of the funds that will be expended if the town is left to flounder in a vacuum.

 

There is discord on the Board of Selectmen that has unfortunately been allowed to grow through drama, intrigue, character assassination and plain old gossip. Decisions made out of frustration. There have been ethics violations and conflict of interest arrangements that have gone unchecked. None of this advances the business of running the Town of Thomaston in a fiscally responsible way, protecting the interest of all taxpayers and planning for the future to avoid unnecessary expense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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