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Town manager chastises selectman's actions

By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 09, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Town Manager Valmore Blastow, Jr., center, speaks to the protocol that should have been observed following a public accusation by Thomaston Selectman Beverly St. Clair of an EMS billing issue. Also shown are Chairman Peter Lammert, left, and recording secretary Kara George.

Thomaston — Thomaston Town Manager Valmore Blastow Jr. read a prepared statement to the Board of Selectmen during its April 8 meeting regarding issues raised at a previous meeting.

At issue was a statement made in the public forum March 11 by Selectman Beverly St. Clair about an apparent unsubstantiated billing issue with the EMS department.

"I've heard three or four times since December that our EMS is having some billing issues that are significant," St. Clair stated, seeking acknowledgement from Chairman Peter Lammert and clarification as to why the issue had not been brought to the board as yet.

Lammert explained there was something possibly not being reviewed following EMS runs that took place at the end of 2018, and an amount of $18,000 came up.

Selectman Bill Hahn echoed St. Clair's concern, saying "Someone has to raise the issue."

In his statement, Blastow said the item was not on the agenda, nor was it brought to his attention by St. Clair before she made the statement in public.

"I was totally left in a position as town manager of not knowing what some board members were discussing, as I had not been advised for several months prior to this meeting," Blastow read.

After investigating the issue with EMS Chief Rusty Barnard, Blastow said, "He also confirmed the previous discussion in regards to $18,000 not being billed as being a totally false and unjustified statement."

Blastow said the same period of billing was reviewed with the provider, T.G. Higgins Associates, with an activity report totaling $16,547.52 being billed.

"I find all the public allegations as unfounded," Blastow said, adding, "The staff and personnel have a right to privacy. It cannot be breached by the Board of Selectpersons. It is wrong to criticize them in public, especially when the statements made about them are false and ruinous of their reputation."

Blastow went on to explain that the correct protocol would have been to notify the town manager. "The way of going about this matter was improper. It cannot happen again," he said. "It should never have been on the agenda for public comment or public review."

In conclusion, Blastow said, "While some may think this is permissible, reputable staff have become emotionally disturbed when publicly criticized. They have lost sleep, become irritable and upset, which is understandable. This type of public accusation of staff cannot happen again in this arena."

St. Clair responded by saying the statement was obviously addressed to her, and that she felt the reprimand should be directed at Lammert, not her.

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

Town manager chastises selectman's actions
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Comments (3)
Posted by: Douglas E Collins | Apr 11, 2019 19:30

It is refreshing to hear that one of our elected officials are asking questions.  Not only is it their right it is their job. Beverly, please keep asking questions.  As  Ms. Olson said above, transparency is a wonderful thing.  The town folks should encourage every department within our town government to present an audit to the Select Board.  We, the tax payers, have a right to know where every penny of our taxes go.

I find the letter from the town manager offensive and unprofessional.  Also, if a person takes on a job for the town that we pay for with our taxes they should be prepared to answer tough questions don't you think?  It is their choice to take such a job.

I have been living and paying taxes in this town for over 50 years and know there is a "click" that like to think they run this town.  If anyone that lives here doesn't know this then they haven't been paying attention.  It is refreshing to have new blood asking questions and looking into all aspects of how our town actually runs.

 

 

 



Posted by: Judith H Olson | Apr 10, 2019 13:30

Mr. Blastow seems a little intolerant of the Selectmen.  Transparency shouldn't create such negativity.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 09, 2019 17:37

Give 'em hell Pete!



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