By Beth David, Editor
In the first meeting after the election, the Fairhaven Selectboard reorganized, voting to make Daniel Freitas chairperson on Monday, 4/9. The board’s long time tradition is to rotate the chair position every year.
And, although that decision was unanimous, board members were split on the issue of changing the Town Clerk position from elected to appointed. Mr. Freitas held with his oft-stated position that the job should continue to be filled by a town-wide election; board member Charles Murphy admitted that switching to an appointed position was the way of the future, but opted to support keeping it elected for now; only board member Bob Espindola voiced his support for changing the position to an appointed post.
Mr. Murphy called it a “very challenging decision.”
He said he heard from a lot of members of the community who wanted to keep the position elected. And although he thought it was the wave of the future to go with an appointed position, he said, he felt it should stay elected for now due to public sentiment.
Mr. Espindola repeated the reasons that the Town Clerk Study Committee gave for changing the job. First and foremost, he said, the job is the only full time position in town government that is chosen by a vote of the electorate.
“I don’t think the decision is going to make a marked difference in the town one way or another,” said Mr. Espindola.
He said, however, that with such low voting turnouts, he felt the position was vulnerable to someone unqualified getting in.
He also said that opening up the position to people who do not live in town, gives the town a wider pool of talent to choose from. He said that is why businesses do not limit their hiring to local residents.
Mr. Murphy sang the praises of current town clerk Eileen Lowney, noting that the tie in the Board of Public Works race this year was unusual and required a certain knowledge that, he said, impressed him.
Mr. Freitas agreed that low vote turnout was not a good thing, but said he still felt people had a right to make the decision.
All three board members agreed that Town Meeting should vote on the article. The question was, will the Selectboard make a recommendation.
If they voted up or down, then it would have been 2-1 not to recommend the change. Mr. Freitas said he wanted Mr. Espindola’s voice to be reflected in the vote.
In the end, the board voted to “yield to the petitioner.” That will be the printed recommendation under the article in the town meeting warrant. The board may, however, revisit the vote and make a different recommendation at town meeting.
“I want people to make up their own minds,” said Mr. Freitas.
In another matter the board voted to name the Cable Access TV studio in town hall after Bobby Bruso. Mr. Bruso was the Local Access Cable Television Director, but only served about a year when he died suddenly from an infection at the age of 55 in February of this year.
In its proclamation the board noted Mr. Bruso’s quick work in modernizing the town’s program and creating a studio, after years of being dormant.
The proclamation says that Mr. Bruso “brought enthusiasm and energy to his job that encouraged and motivated numerous others to become involved in community television.”
The proclamation also states that Mr. Bruso had a “magnetic personality, was a pleasure to work with and never said no to a request for assistance.”
The studio upstairs in town hall will be named in his memory and an “appropriate plaque” will be installed.
Mr. Espindola said it was members of the Cable Advisory Committee who suggested it.
“Thank you so much for passing this resolution to name the studio in Bobby’s memory,” wrote CAC chairperson Barbara Acksen. “Bobby was a special person who combined ability, creativity, passion for his work and his life. He had so many ideas and plans for the studio and the cable access station. Hopefully naming the studio in his memory will inspire us to fulfill those plans and keep him in our memory.”
In other business, the board also approved a number of events coming up in spring and summer, including: use of town hall steps for the National Day of Prayer on May 3, at noon; free parking at Hoppy’s Landing for the West Island Regatta on July 28; a special one-day outdoor all alcohol license for the annual Blessing of the Bikes on May 6 at Ice House; the dates of the Summer Concert Series sponsored by the Fairhaven Improvement Association, held in front of town hall or inside during bad weather.
The board held off on approving free parking at Hoppy’s Landing for a fishing tournament sponsored by the Fairhaven Firefighters at West Island Marina (formerly Earl’s Marina), until the board could confirm that the proceeds will go to a nonprofit.
In another matter, the board chose not to exercise its right to buy the property of Antonio and Ines Lopes. The property is being removed from the Chapter 61A special tax bracket to install a solar array facility. No other town departments expressed an interest in the property.
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