So it will come as little surprise to those in Amherst who were paying attention during the short reign of Town Mangler Larry Shaffer that he has once again suddenly decided to retire in the middle of his contract, taking with him--after only a year of service--a cushy $64,000 in taxpayer monies, almost exactly the same amount he absconded with from Amherst as he suddenly "took stock" of his life and decided to retire...at least until he found another job.
One of the weaknesses of the Mass Public Documents Law is exempting employee performance evaluations from exposure. When Shaffer and the Amherst Select Board hatched his $62,000 severance package they did so under the cloak of an "executive session" and even refused to take proper notes during that hour-and-twenty-minute closed door pow wow, summing up the entire meeting in just two sentences and redacting one of the two when responding to my request for the meeting minutes.
And now, two years later, the Jackson City Council has given Larry Shaffer a $64,000 going away present after meeting in a brief executive session. Furthermore the severance package contains a mutual "non disparage" clause to forever gag those public officials.
At the very least Larry Shaffer's two recent fiascos will be forever available via the web as a warning to the next community. After all, a little transparency now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. (Note to readers: last line, borrowed from Thomas Jefferson, is sarcasm.)