Manager quits over rift with selectmen
“It's in the best interest for us all for me to move on”
Town Manager Paul J. Guida resigned last night, with both he and the Board of Selectmen saying that they differed on town policy and that it was no longer in the best interest of the town to continue their ... via Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Join the discussion below, or Read more at Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Since: Jul 07
#1 Jul 2, 2007
What do you all think about Guida leaving? He was a nightmare to deal with. He had a trigger temper and doesn't seem to understand what the term public servant means..hopefully his friend Ron the building inspector is not far behind him. I applaud the selectman! It seems that some of the town employees need some lessons on how to be polite and helpful. Hopefully the next town manager will focus on the employees and get them trained in customer service. The person in charge of collecting taxes(I don't know her name) was extremely rude to me when I asked a question about one of my bills because the information was incorrect and said it wasn't her job call the state but wouldn't provide a number or location of who I should call..she said to look it up in the phone book!
#2 Nov 13, 2007
I heard Mike Coughlin, the former Northbridge Town Manager has applied for the job in Millbury.
I'm not surprised especially with his friend Montecalvo as interim manager. I hope the search committee and selectman just say NO to him.
Guida looks like a sweet dream in comparison to the real nightmare of Coughlin.
Since: Jul 07
#3 Nov 27, 2007
Coughlin is awesome. He really takes care of his employees and works in their best interest. He got totally screwed in Northbridge.
There is a group of people that should be thrown the hell out of that town. The group that got him out all have agendas. One lady sits on the finance committee and makes decisions for the town but doesn't even pay her taxes! She had an axe to grind when Coughlin addressed it. The doggone town moderator is another one. He didn't like it because Coughlin brought to light the conflict of interest with him charging the town for his company acting as a consultant to the building and planning committee and his wife double dipping because she was the consultant by also drawing a pay as the secretary on the board. There is also another guy part of the group that was on the school committee and wasn't reelected because everyone in town knew he shouldn't be voting on things like his wife getting a raise, the hiring of his daughter in the school system and a whole host of other things. The town moderator appointed him to the finance committee because they are in the posse together with an axe to grind against the ex town manager. I also love how they kept his DUI a secret from the town residents even though he is a public servant.
I can tell a story about every person in that group but it would take all day.
Mike Coughlin should have sued the town of Northbridge for defamation of character and a whole host more.
Mike actually answers his phone and is accessible to the public. He is helpful, polite and a straight shooter. I will welcome him with open arms if he is hired in Millbury...
#4 Dec 3, 2007
You have the NIGHTMARE part right. The devil himself looks like an angel compared to that weasel named Coughlin. God help you if he is hired in your town. Millbury will end up bankrupt, every dept. at odds, and conflict like you would not believe. Check out the Westport, MA topix forums & polls by JustGo. How familar it all sounds. Just like Northbridge!!! And anyone who thinks otherwise is a blinded fool!!!!!
#5 Dec 3, 2007
Are u kidding?? Straight shooter?? lol Coughlin caused more issues and problems in Southbridge and then Northbridge, Ya he was so helpful to those communities. They are still suffering domino effects from what that man did. School committee members w/DUI's, do you have court doc's? Is that all you can come up with? WOW! Conspiracy Theories or what!!! How about some other depts. in that town? It's OK to keep people convicted of crimes like DUI's or Giving booze to kids or Showing kids porn flicks on certain depts. and not punish them,(and there are court doc's on all of that), but speak your mind and you might find yourself without a job. Yup that is definately a straight shooting boss. Get your head out of the sand and please see the light, but hey to each his own. Oh btw Coughlin could have never sued the town for defamation of character, they made sure of that. And he chose to resign, no one forced him to leave!
#6 Dec 4, 2007
Coughlin's a real joke. While Rome burns he sits in the corner fiddling. Good luck to you Millbury.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Portion of Article:“Inexperience Marks Tenure”
April 17, 2003
By John Dignam
SOUTHBRIDGE -- Michael J. Coughlin Jr. brought a smiling face and some changes to Town Hall, but his failure to overcome fiscal and management inexperience marked his term as town manager with controversy and has left the town with an empty bankbook.
Some department heads said they were truly disappointed the promise Mr. Coughlin brought to the job deteriorated, in the end, to threats of punishment to officials who spoke to town councilors, and ``bizarre'' two-hour weekly staff meetings at which he railed against ``the Taliban,'' his reference for the councilors that he felt did not support him.
The officials agreed to speak about the management of the town under Mr. Coughlin on the condition their names not be used. They said they feared retaliation from Mr. Coughlin, who has vowed to return to what he calls ``my office,'' either through court action, a referendum petition or the election in June of more councilors who support him.
Officials said they were stunned to find weekly meetings turning into ``military briefings,'' at which windows would be covered with paper so no one could see in. Armed with a pointer, Mr. Coughlin would indicate names he had written of the councilors he said did not support him.
The officials said Mr. Coughlin created an ``us versus them'' mentality and tried to enlist them in his battles. They also said they were threatened with firing, fines and suspension without pay if they talked with councilors.
Actions by the manager that undermined the department heads' confidence in him to manage fairly included: giving some new hires greater benefits than stipulated by personnel regulations; hiring a cable television employee without Town Council approval; authorizing work at the Youth Center despite the council not supporting the work, and failing to enforce a demolition order after he received a personal request from an owner to stop the demolition.
The Town Council cited 14 reasons for dismissing Mr. Coughlin, including poor fiscal management, failure to follow personnel regulations, lack of confidence, and failing to keep the council informed of important matters. The officials interviewed agreed with the first three and said poor fiscal management was Mr. Coughlin's greatest failing.
From fiscal 1997 to fiscal 2002, so-called free cash ranged from $3.2 million to $2.1 million. But in announcing a dire budget last week, acting Town Manager Stephen L. Delaney said the town has no free cash left and no financial reserves to offset state cuts.
``It was his paramount responsibility to make sure this town was financially strong at all times, and he didn't do it,'' one official said, summing up the opinions of all six officials.
``Everything with him (Mr. Coughlin) was adversarial,'' one official said.
#7 Dec 4, 2007
Wasn't this Coughlin's record in Northbridge?
1. FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT
Free Cash Decline: 98%($1.8 mill to $25,000) Stabilization Fund Decline: 76%($3.5 mill to $800,000). Sept 2006 deficit:$1.4 million
2. FAILED TO SUBMIT BUDGET ON TIME
FY06 budget submitted 2 months late. FY07 budget submitted late. Violation of Town Bylaw 5-111.
3. FAILED TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS TO FINCOM IN A TIMELY MANNER
Oct. 7, 2004 refused to provide financial information to the Finance Committee. The State Office ordered Town:“The Town is hereby ordered to provide (FinCom) with copies of the responsive records.”
Nov. 2004. Figures not furnished “forthwith” to the Finance Committee prior to fall 2004 Town Meeting. Violation of Town Bylaw 3-203.
August 24, 2006 FinCom requested:“All final local receipts for FY06 (7/1/05 – 6/30/06).... and various account history reports.” On August 25, 2006 Mr. Coughlin replied in writing to the Chair of the FinCom:“I do not intend to instruct the Finance Team to produce documents”
4. FAILED TO PROVIDE COPY OF WARRANT ARTICLES TO FINCOM IN TIMELY FASHION
warrant for Fall Town Meeting closed September 9, 2005. Failed to mail FinCom copy of warrant articles that day. Delivered them nineteen days late.
5. FAILED TO SCHEDULE SPECIAL BALLOT ELECTION BEFORE JUNE 12, 2006
special town meeting held March 14, 2006. Voters approved appropriation of $2.775 million to repair school roof and $225,000 to repair the police station roof, provided vote (at the ballot box) to override Prop 2 ½(a debt exclusion) by only the required amount.Town Charter 4-2(L) Town Manager Powers and Duties:“To see that all of the provisions of the general laws, and other votes of the town meeting….are faithfully executed,”. MGL says election must take place NO LATER than 90 days after the close of town meeting. Coughlin failed to schedule the special ballot election before June 12, 2006 in violation of Charter and MGL.
6. FAILED TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL INFO TO DOR ON TIME for FY 04, FY05 and FY06. Violation of DOR requirements.
7. FAILED TO KEEP BOS FULLY ADVISED – CHURCH ST. LANDFILL --
He knew in spring of 2005 but BOS informed by a citizen July 2006. Violation of duties in Charter 4-2 (f) "keep BOS fully advised".
8. MISREPRESENTATION OF STATUS OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH JOLLES
Informed BOS land was a “gift”. Board found out it NOT a “gift” but a quid pro quo.
9. FAILED TO PRODUCE TOWN AUDIT IN TIMELY FASHION--
FY05 audit provided in August 2006.
10. FAILED TO SUBMIT CAP. IMPROVE PLAN
Plan due Feb. 1st 2004, 2005, and 2006. Plan never submitted. Violation of Charter 6-7.
11. FAILED TO POST NAMES OF APPOINTMENTS
Posting mandatory per Town Charter 4-2.
12. CREATED DISCORD AND FAILED TO WORK WELL WITH OTHERS
#8 Dec 4, 2007
MARCH 2007 Westport hires Coughlin
MAY 2007 BOS AUTHORIZES an investigation of the Conservation Commission.
BOS Member Mr. Rebello, with 4-1 board approval, directs town counsel Kopelman & Paige to investigate allegations of "malfeasance or abuse of power" by the Conservation Commissioners.
APRIL 30 2007: Town Meeting voters defeated a zoning amendment that would have created an adult entertainment zone. Brian R. Corey Jr., Attorney for the proposed strip club sued the town on behalf of his client.
MAY 21, 2007 Although the item wasn’t on the agenda, BOS voted to dissolve the Conservation Commission.
JUNE 14, 2007 4 members of the Westport Conservation Commission sue 4 Selectmen. Attorney for the ConCom, Philip Beauregard, said the Conservation Commission has always acted under state law affecting wetlands protection in Westport. He accused selectmen of "conspiring to nullify" their work. He said the motive of these four selectmen is to appoint political supporters who will be more lenient in enforcing wetland protection laws.
JUNE 22, 2007 SouthCoast Today Editor’s Commentary:“The (Westport) selectmen convened a closed-door session and voted to dissolve the seven-member Conservation Commission….Four of five selectmen illegally voted to remove the members in May without a hearing…..the behavior of the majority continues to be vindictive. The Conservation Commission has been virtually forced into filing a lawsuit against four of the selectmen.”
JUNE 2007: A petition began circulating to drop the number of selectmen from five to three to limit the board’s power, but not enough people signed.
JULY 2007: One day before the Westport Housing Committee was to hear a final presentation from a housing developer for Noquochoke Village, the BOS read a letter from attorney Brian R. Corey Jr. asking to be appointed to the Westport Housing Committee. Although the appointment of Housing Committee members wasn’t on the agenda, the BOS appointed Corey and others.
They re-appointed Mr. Montano (who specifically asked not to be re-appointed) and re-appointed Ms. Collins who hadn’t attended a meeting in 6 months.
They also appointed Mr. Leach (who specifically told Coughlin he did NOT want to be on the committee and BOS member Mr. Albert (who didn’t ask to be appointed).
The BOS voted against re-appointing Ms. Burke and Ms. Ostroff who were the most active members of the Housing Committee.
Coughlin recommended the housing presentation be postponed to allow the committee’s three new members to file paperwork and be sworn in.
AUGUST 2007: Housing Committee met. Montano and Leach did not attend.
Chairman Brian Corey drafted a letter to former members saying the Committee is interested in their ideas.
Noquochoke Village is a brownfield requiring $100,000 in contaminated soil cleanup. Proposal has been for a $12 million 54 unit 40B development.
OCTOBER 2007 Coughlin applies for the position of Town Manager in Millbury MA.
#9 Dec 6, 2007
Comments from the town of Westport state that the infamous Mr. Coughlin won't admit to applying in Millbury. The concensus in Westport might be that they wish Millbury would hire him but they now realize that Millbury is too smart. Westport is stuck with the wolf in sheeps clothing. It is stated that not even his best man, Montecalvo can pull enough strings to get him hired.
#10 Dec 6, 2007
Seems Mr. Montecalvo has been lobbying for Mr. Coughlin to come to work in Millbury. I don't think Mr. Montecalvo should be interfering with the hiring process and I certainly don't think someone with a track record like Mr. Coughlin's should be hired in Millbury.
#11 Dec 6, 2007
Oh please people, lets be diligent and not destroy what it has taken years for us to achieve. Coughlin could care less about Millbury, Northbridge, or Westport. The man is a transient. Give me your money is the man's motto. I don't think the BOS have any idea how he operates. In Northbridge he actually wrote department heads up because they were caught talking to members of the BOS. If you have a Charter this is what you have to look forward to. Your BOS will be nothing but bystanders in Town Government. Please, please, Selectmen do not bring that man to our town.
#13 Dec 23, 2007
Glad to see your BOS listened, knew and understood the impending disaster that would have come from hiring Coughlin. Millbury is safe once again!
I have heard some nice things about Bill Spain, he seems genuine.
I had hoped that the candidate list from the search committee would have been released, stating who the finalist had been including the two that withdrew. With of course their stated reasons for withdrawing. I believe the gentleman from Vermont said that due to family obligations he would be unable to commit to Millbury, but I am curious about that other person's reasons. Is it really true that he just does not want Westport knowing that he's looking elsewhere already?
#14 Dec 30, 2007
add to your list that us in Westport now face a $800,000 shortfall for the upcoming 2009 fiscal year. It would have been bad for you but good for us if he got the job.
#15 Apr 10, 2008
COUGHLIN IS A BULLY! He lies and stalls any progress between departments. Westporters have been warned over and over again of what kind of damage he can do. I have never met a more unethical and frightening man in my life. His temper is starting to show in meetings! We don't have a Town Charter..something wicked this way came!
#16 Apr 10, 2008
WESTPORT — Nearly three months after selectmen signed a contract for a Town Hall wind turbine, the dispute between the town and the contractor remains unresolved.
The prolonged dispute has raised doubts in some people's minds whether the project will ever happen.
A dark day in Dartmouth The contractor, Steve Pitney of Plymouth-based Alternate Energy LLC, objects to the town's plan to pay him in annual installments over 13 years, instead of a single payment. Meanwhile, town officials have argued the language formalizes a guarantee Mr. Pitney had made.
Town Administrator Michael J. Coughlin said the town has set no deadline for Mr. Pitney to respond to the disputed contract. Mr. Pitney said he wants selectmen to go back to how the town originally advertised the project.
"At the moment, all I have done is ask them to go back to the bid documents," Mr. Pitney said.
During the Oct. 9 selectmen meeting, Mr. Pitney offered a guarantee that the town would recoup its $18,400 investment through savings in 13 years or he would pay the difference.
Mr. Coughlin said in an earlier interview the contract signed by selectmen Oct. 22 "reflects the representations and guarantees Mr. Pitney made." However, the contractor said he never agreed to what he considers a no-interest financing scheme.
Town Meeting approved the plan last year, but most selectmen have been skeptical about the potential savings. Selectmen voted 3 to 2 Oct. 9 to sign the contract after Mr. Pitney's guarantee persuaded enough skeptics.
Town officials agreed to the 120-foot turbine, at a cost of $63,400, on the condition it receives a $45,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to pay most of the costs. The town will pay $45,000 to Mr. Pitney once it receives the grant. It will pay the $18,400 in equal installments over a period of 13 years, according to the contract.
Mr. Pitney said the project is in limbo now.
"It has not been a huge priority for me, because I'm putting up windmills for much more money" than the town project, he said.
David P. Dionne, chairman of the Westport Alternative Energy Committee, said the project is as good as dead at this point, and he does not see it coming back at the annual Town Meeting in the spring.
While some town officials view the contract as a fair way to ensure the guarantee is met, Mr. Dionne said it is unreasonable.
"I think the prospects are very poor," he said.
Contact Brian Boyd at email@example.com
#17 Jun 22, 2008
He sure does have little man problems. Did he offer boat rides to wesport selectman
#18 Jun 26, 2008
Home OUR VIEW: Deals in the back room, 06-26-08
The Herald News
Posted Jun 26, 2008 @ 12:00 AM
A back-room political deal resulting in a hand-picked appointment to the Westport School Committee is a violation, if not of the letter of the law, then at least the spirit of the democratic process.
The School Committee and Board of Selectmen, during a joint meeting Tuesday, voted to appoint Rita Miller, associate dean for Arts and Sciences at Bridgewater State College, to the School Committee, replacing the late Robert Kowalczyk, who died soon after winning re-election in April. Miller — who has worked in education for more than 20 years, beginning as an English and speech teacher — appears qualified to serve on the committee. Her credentials, however, are not in question. It is the way her candidacy evolved that is stirring controversy in Westport.
Miller had been eliminated from contention for the seat when the two boards last met on June 10, leaving Craig Dutra and Eric Larrivee as the two finalists. Larrivee withdrew from contention Tuesday, seeming to clear the way for Dutra, president of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, which makes sense given that he garnered 1,138 votes in the recent town election, finishing just behind committee member Richard Botelho.
But then Town Administrator Michael Coughlin stepped in, Indeed, it’s clear he stepped in even before Larrivee withdrew.
Coughlin contacted Miller last week to confirm she was still interested in the position. Considering her “the ideal candidate,” Coughlin recommended her “in the best interests of the community.” Selectman Gary Mauk nominated her at the joint meeting, gaining the support of Selectmen J. Duncan Albert and Robert Rebello and School Committee members Russell Kleber and Botelho.
This has all the hallmarks of back-room politics and inappropriate behind-the-scenes dealing. School Committee Chairwoman Sally Huntington correctly stated that Coughlin overstepped his bounds and “pretty much picked our School Committee.” She said she plans to file a complaint with the state Ethics Commission because Coughlin did not invite other previously eliminated candidates, instead clearing the way for his personal favorite. Her claims have merit.
The town administrator should not be making such decisions. He isn’t an elected official,(indeed he works at their pleasure) and should have no impact on an appointment to a legislative body. Whether he feels he was doing what is best for the town is irrelevant. That’s for voters to decide, and they had no say on Miller’s candidacy. And, by the way, what’s best for the town is a fair, democratic process. Indeed, in this instance the town’s best interests would be served by the candidate who has been through the rigors of a campaign, put his ideas and opinions in front of the voters, answered questions voters have about the critical issues School Committee members face and actually received a substantial number of votes in an election. In other words, Dutra.
Residents have no way of knowing whether Miller is an appropriate choice because she has not been through any sort of vetting process. Dutra has. Preference should have been given to the candidate more than 1,100 voters already approved.
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