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Selectmen offer Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz dignified departure
Posted On: Apr 25, 2012

Selectmen offer Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz dignified departure

Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz was expected to accept an offer from the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night and resign his position effective immediately.
  
 
 
 
 
By Frank Mand
 
At the end of a lengthy meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen quietly filed back into the Mayflower Meeting Room at Town Hall, following a mid-meeting executive session, and announced the resignation of Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz for "personal reasons," effective at the end of the month. Stankiewicz thanked the board for his experience, and said he had formed many lasting friendships.

The public agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting included the closed-door session, the legal notice for which stated that “discipline or dismissal” were potential outcomes.

Stankiewicz and the public had been anticipating some action on the town manager's status since late last week, when the agenda was released, as required by the state's Open Meeting Law.

But the actual nature of that action remained unsure until the board reconvened in public session late Tuesday evening.

Stankiewicz held the option to reject the board’s private session decision and demand his legal right to a public hearing, which may have convinced the parties involved to find a nutually agreeable solution.

Late word from Town Hall Tuesday morning – confirmed by Stankiewicz – was that there was an agreement in principle that would allow him to leave Plymouth’s employ with his dignity and reputation intact, and most of the money owed him under his contract.

The details of the agreement were not available prior to Tuesday's meeting, but it appeared likely that Stankiewicz would receive the majority of the money owed through the end of his contract (Dec. 28), and several months’ severance pay. The total should exceed $100,000.

But, If that agreement held, it was also expected the executive session would not take place.

Instead, the board was expected to take the issue out of order and publicly announce the agreement early in the evening. Stankiewicz would make a statement thanking the people of Plymouth, and then go home to begin looking for his next position – without further comment. It was, apparently, part of the agreement that neither side disparage the other.

But that may not keep other people from criticizing the path that led to this point, including Selectman John Mahoney.

Asked earlier in the week if Tuesday night’s meeting would end with the town looking for a new town manager, Mahoney was blunt.

 “I certainly hope not,” Mahoney said Monday. “I have been and remain a staunch supporter of the town manager.”

According to Mahoney, there is no objective reason to fire Stankiewicz.

“This town manager has brought back-to-back, fiscally conservative budgets to the Advisory and Finance Committee, and to Town Meeting floor,” Mahoney noted.

The explanation for Stankiewicz’s dismissal, the selectman said, is that the other board members are looking for a scapegoat.

“The situation,” Mahoney continued, “is that current, and past, members of the Board of Selectmen don’t understand what their role is in this form of government. Some think they’re omnipotent. Others are just angry at what happened at Town Meeting, but they know they can’t fire Town Meeting representatives, and they can’t fire department heads so, instead, they are lashing out at the town manager.”

“It’s personal, short-sighted, and incompetent,” he summarized. “There is just no objective reason for this individual not to complete his contract.”

Is this more a question of personal fit than a problem with performance?

Stankiewicz’s tenure as town manager began with the famous “pregnant pause.”

The night that Stankiewicz was hired the deciding vote – a super majority of four votes is needed to hire or fire the town manager – was cast by former Selectman Chairman Dicky Quintal.

But that night Quintal did everything but hold his nose when he cast that vote. After three members of the board had voted to hire him, it came down to Quintal. And he waited. And he waited. And he waited.

He waited several minutes before finally adding the fourth vote for hiring Stankiewicz.

Then, sources say, it was Quintal who wanted the board to fire the town manager last year.

A little more than a year ago the selectmen held an executive session in the second floor Plantation Room at Town Hall to consider dismissal for what sources say was largely “an attitude problem.”

After that, the board refused to give Stankiewicz a new contract but agreed, in a handshake deal, to allow him to pursue other positions during the last year of his existing contract. Stankiewicz was recently a finalist for the town manager’s job in Burlington.

But following the recent Town Meeting, when almost every one of the selectmen’s initiatives were turned down by representatives, Stankiewicz was on the block again.

While confirming the main points of this story prior to the meeting, Stankiewicz also acknowledged that until an agreement was signed there was still the potential that things could change.

But, with Stankiewicz' days in town now officially numbered, who will replace him?

Will it be long-time Assistant Town Manager Melissa Arrighi, as has been rumored, or will the town conduct yet another wide-ranging search for yet another new town manager?

 


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