Monday, August 19, 2013

A Sterling Review ... Well, Almost

Amherst Select Board review of Town Manager John Musante this evening

As expected the Select Board annual review of Town Manager John Musante, our highest ranking but only second highest paid town employee, was a cordial affair with fiscal matters garnering across the board highest "commendable" ratings from all five SB members.

But a dark cloud or two appeared on the otherwise sunny landscape with the issue of dealing with the town's surplus buildings garnering  "unsatisfactory" rating from Alisa Brewer, Diana Stein, and Aaron Hayden while the other two checked off "needs improvement". 

But when referencing things that need improvement SB Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe was quick to remind the board that overall the review was "overwhelmingly positive."

The only other "unsatisfactory" rating came from Alisa Brewer for communication issues, like reading things in the newspapers before the board has been apprised about an issue.

 Alisa Brewer:  Most critical but also most effusive

She mentions "dropping the ball" with  the "Blarney Blowout" where things were reported as going well in the downtown that Saturday, but all hell broke loose in North Amherst -- not that the newspapers figured that out very quickly.

And the recent Rental Bylaw Implementation Group was announced on the pages of the Daily Hampshire Gazette before the Select Board was informed (maybe the Town Manager figures they no longer read the Gazette).

Town Manager speaking to Town Meeting in favor of Rental Registration Bylaw

The Town Manager also received high marks for his relations with the Select Board and Town Meeting, with three SB members giving him across the board highest rating and O'Keeffe and Brewer looking for improvement.

Other areas that need improvement are communications with the general public and lower echelon (non management level) town employees.  Staff morale  -- especially in the fire department and DPW -- could also be better.

The handling of housing issues, what many believe to be the #1 problem facing Amherst today, also garnered the concern of the Select Board.  Especially affordable housing.

The about-to-occur loss of Rolling Green's 204 apartment units from the town's Subsidized Housing Inventory is pretty much a disaster.  


Tom McBride said...

I'm a little bit at a loss as to why it was a sterling review if it was noted that Mr. Musante gets along well with the select board and town meeting yet the major problems facing the town, affordable housing, poor communication with town residents, poor communication with town employees, a problem with town surplus buildings, all remain in a state of non-improvement. The MANY parts of town government are getting along fine, I can sarcastically say well, that's just great. They're getting along and that was the only plus in the whole review. Why is this a sterling review (I guess I already said that)? And it was a cordial meeting, with people behaving with a certain amount of decorum. I guess my question is, how does this benefit anybody, especially with the manager taking $140,000 plus of our tax money? As the man said, "order", "order" is all that counts. And the sound little clique of the manager and select board have found peace. And that's the only benefit.

Anonymous said...

Let me see here... The town has surplus buildings and a shortage of affordable housing.

Hmmmm.... I wonder if, well....

No. Not in Amherst -- it would be far to logical.

Anonymous said...

That depends if the buildings would make good housing.

Walter Graff said...

Classic Amherst. Defend the inadequacies. Ignore the realities. Defer to everyone else. Make no decisions. Hire others to give you info so your poor decisions can't seem like your own. Pat everyone on the back and smile. Go home and put trash in your compose and save the earth.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who feels like ripping John Musante needs to harken back to a recent point of perspective........the last guy.

I think that Ms. Brewer has enough of a reputation for candor, and perhaps a breadth of experience, awareness, and understanding a bit greater than either Mr. Graff or Mr. McBride.

Anonymous said...

Graff & McBride: the nattering nabobs of negativism

Tom McBride said...

Didn't Spiro T. Agnew coin the phrase, "Nattering nabobs of negativism", the vice president who resigned his post amidst allegations of tax fraud?

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Tom.

The phrase still fits you.

Tom McBride said...

I don't think Mr. Musante is connecting with the town base, he's connecting with the selectboard, things are fine in town hall, but........

And I don't think it would be awful to increase the tax base by loosening rules that affect businesses and loosening rules that disable land development for the purposes of housing.