Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Amherst's Teflon coated bureaucrats
Former Amherst Town Manager Larry Shaffer, who suddenly "retired" and left town with a $62,000 going away present the same day his secretary disappeared with $23,000 in hush money did, finally, land another job in "public service"--city manager of Jackson, Michigan; although he took a bit of a pay cut, down from $127,000 to only $115,000.
You almost have to wonder if there's a course taught for public administration majors on how to obscure mistakes and Cover Your Ass. It's not so much that he cheated on his wife while "serving" the town, it's more that he allegedly did it with a subordinate employee at town hall (before taking up with a UMass professor more in keeping with his stature.)
Or at the very least town manager wannabes should take a primer on Public Relations. Mr. Shaffer made a bad decision right off the bat by following the Select Board's marching orders to trample the First Amendment rights of the July 4th Parade Committee by forcing them to allow protesters to march in the privately organized, non-political family event.
Since the Select Board can fire a town manager with a simply majority vote, I guess you can't blame him for covering his ass on that issue--especially since the Board at the time leaned to the left of Chairman Mao.
But to tax Boy Scouts Christmas trees after 60 years of tax-free selling was decidedly different--and perhaps more telling story--as he initiated the entire fiasco on his own without even telling the Select Board before coming up with the idiotic scheme.
And obviously he did not share with the current Board his ethically challenged personal inter office decision to allegedly have an affair (hopefully not during business hours).
Perhaps he has learned a lesson...or maybe Jackson, Michigan will.