( – promoted by Sue Prent)
Well now, Fletcher's TMD was a bit less awkward than Westford's! Gaze upon this Freep report:
Westford residents voted overwhelmingly, 67-37, to approve a non-binding resolution asking Treasurer Charlotte Vincent to resign Monday night at town meeting.
Selectboard Chairman John Quinn introduced the resolution, saying Vincent had failed to execute her duties as treasurer.
“We have a town report without financial statements because they were not submitted on time,” Quinn said. “She is not performing her duties and it’s impacting the Selectboard and town auditors.”
Quinn further indicated issues with Vincent go back many years, which does make me wonder why she keeps getting re-elected. That said, in small towns it is certainly difficult sometimes to find people willing to step up for certain posts and once you've got somebody in there it can be even more difficult to dislodge them. That's especially true if voters aren't aware of problems with how that person is doing the job.
Now, being fair and balanced, the paper spoke to other people in town who thought Quinn's approach was “unfairly harsh.” One person went the hyperbolic route, using words like “public flogging” and “bullying.”
You know what's a public flogging? Being flogged in public. You know what's bullying? Being actually pushed around and stuff. Being called out is none of that, and a necessary part of open government.
The Treasurer is an elected official and has duties to perform. The position is not only extremely important to the town, but is also one that is ripe for abuse. Elections are one way to provide oversight, but if the person is moderately clever at hiding things–say, by not providing timely information–there is little the Selectboard can do under Vermont statute during the Treasurer's term.
I don't know the details about how the Board has addressed concerns in the past. But I completely understand why the Chair might feel compelled to put this on the floor to highlight problems so at the very least the next time voters have to choose they will be informed. All part of the political process, and shows the value of having Town Meeting as opposed to merely casting an Australian ballot. People should appreciate it since the Board is trying to make sure the town's finances are transparent.
Sometimes that stuff is uncomfortable. Who said democracy was easy?