Saturday September 22, 2012

While the confidentiality of executive sessions must be protected, Great Barrington Selectmen can’t hide behind that confidentiality on something as significant as the firing of the town manager. If the board is determined not to renew the contract of Kevin O’Donnell when it expires next April, it owes it to residents to explain why at its meeting Monday night.

After the board made its decision in executive session, it gave Mr. O’Donnell the opportunity to resign, which not surprisingly he chose not to do. He plainly would like to remain on the job and has made a better case publicly for doing so than board members have for getting rid of him, which is to say they’ve made no case.

Mr. O’Donnell has had two failing job performance evaluations, with his lowest marks coming in customer satisfaction. If the customer is the taxpayer, it is far from certain that the town is unhappy with its manager. If the customer is the Selectmen, it is clear that board members don’t believe the manager works well with them. That could be his fault, or the fault of the board, or a combination of both.

The comments in the evaluation about Mr. O’Donnell were anonymous, so residents don’t know specifically which board members are unhappy with the town manager, and all they know about what went on in the executive sessions is that it was decided not to renew Mr. O’Donnell’s contract. If Mr. O’Donnell is being let go, residents have a right to know why.