Fincom Argument Boils Over in Selectmen's Meeting
Selectmen disagree on how best to invite the Finance Committee Back.
The mass resignation of six members of the Mansfield Financial Advisory Committee spilled over at the last Board of Selectmen's meeting on Wednesday.
Selectmen George Dentino and Jess Aptowitz argued on Wednesday as to the manner of invitation to the recently resigned finance committee members.
The finance committee did not attend the most recent Board of Selectmen meeting.
“I have a problem with the finance xommittee not coming in to see us,” Dentino said.
Aptowitz, chair of the board at the time, had emailed invitations to the finance committee asking if they would come to the most recent meeting to talk about why they left and see if there was any way to rectify the situation and bring them back.
The board agreed at the May 2 meeting to this invitation. No member from the board volunteered, and Aptowitz, , felt it his obligation to send the invitation.
Dentino didn't think Aptowitz’s invitation was proper, as the former chair invited the Mansfield School Committee to the meeting.
“I know we discussed it, and then we tried to go to get them back in utilizing an olive branch approach,” Dentino said. “The fact that the school committee and the schools superintendent were invited, that in my mind put a little bit of a twinge to it, in regards to adding the people the Finance Committee felt had let them down.“
Dentino also said putting the former finance committee members in front of both boards and administrators would seem less friendly then was intended.
“In my mind, five selectmen and the town manager and five school committee members and the town managers out there in front of the finance committee; I don’t think that any one of them wanted to subject themselves to that,” Dentino said. “I don’t think there were any bad intentions by that. I just think it added another piece to the puzzle as to why the finance committee is not here.”
Aptowitz responded by saying that he felt the invitation was appropriate, and that, regardless of the invitation, board of selectmen meetings are open to the public, so that the school committee, if they felt it necessary, could have come to the meeting anyway.
“When I put the email together, I spoke to [town manager William Ross] and I said we’re supposed to be working in coordination with each other, and it’s a public meeting anyways,” he said. “ I didn’t see any hard in that. I think you’re overanalyzing this. Six people resigned voluntarily; not to say they didn’t put in a lot of effort, but no one on this board asked them to volunteer. The next day after town meeting there were six envelopes in my mailbox. Fact.”
Newly appointed chair Olivier Kozlowski weighed in on the argument, saying that there was not going to be a consensus between the two selectmen.
He said that in the future the former members of the Finance Committee are more than welcome to talk to him or any of the selectmen on their own terms if they want to come back.
“My door is always open,” he said. “I don’t particularly see it as we have to protect the former members of the finance committee from the school committee. We need a finance committee; we need to do that soon. If the former members are interested and are listening tonight and want to talk to us about what happened, come on in.”
Dentino said that his issue was not about protecting one committee from another, but rather being proper in the manner in which they extend such an “olive branch.”
“We were inviting these people in to talk to us about the process that was going on and what we could do to possibility make it better and to see if they were interested in coming back,” he said. “None of that had anything to do with the schools.”