The Winthrop Town Council approved President Jeffrey Turco’s appointment of Christine Dow to the Conservation Commission following vehement opposition to the selection process expressed by the Commission’s long-time secretary, Marsha Allen.
Dow gained a seat on the seven-member commission by receiving votes from Turco and Councillors Linda Calla, Paul Varone, Philip Boncore, and J. Larry Powers. Councillor Jeanne Maggio voted against Dow’s appointment while Councillor Nicholas DelVento voted present. Councillor Russell Sanford abstained from the voting due to being involved in an upcoming matter before the commission. Councillor James Letterie was absent from the meeting.
Allen, who has been the commission’s secretary since 1996, objected to the appointment process, saying that two regular members of the commission, Norman Hyett and J. Calvin Farrand, and an alternate member, John Crosby, had re-applied for appointment to the commission. Their terms had expired on June 30, 2010.
“They had submitted their applications for re-appointment, but they did not receive any notification [about their applications],” Allen said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m not happy that these three members were bypassed in the appointment process. Based on their years of experience on the commission, they should have been reappointed.”
Allen said she first heard about Christine Dow’s application at the August 17 council meeting, “and we [the commission] didn’t know anything about it.”
Allen didn’t dispute the fact that Turco holds the authority to make appointments to town committees and boards.
“I totally understand his right to appoint whom he wants to,” said Allen. “My whole complaint is, ‘what about these three members.’ It’s an insult to their integrity and to their years of loyalty to the town. I don’t think Mr. Turco handled this well.”
Allen is now considering her own future as secretary of the commission. “At this moment, I’m debating whether to stay on as secretary,” said Allen. “I enjoy working with the commission. They are the nicest people to work for. I wouldn’t have stayed this long, believe me.”
Turco stood by his decision to appoint Dow to the commission.
“I am trying to create thoughtful change on these boards,” Turco said Wednesday. “And the way I’m doing that is by striking a balance between reappointing some members and bringing new blood on the boards as well.”
Turco said he’s already re-appointed two current members of the board, Mary Kelley and Brian Corbett. “And now I’ve added two new members to the board, Attorney Scott Bocchio and Christine Dow, who are going to complement very well the existing members of the commission.”
Turco said he ran for office because he felt there needed to be some changes made in the town.
“That’s what I promised the people of Winthrop I would do – try to take a fresh perspective on things,” said Turco.”But I also recognize that you can’t be radical in the way you do things. You just don’t throw everybody out. What you do is try to create some level of balance by saying that an appointment to one of these boards, while we appreciate people’s service, is not a lifetime appointment.”
Turco said there are two vacancies on the Conservation Commission, one for a regular member and one for an alternate member.
“I intend to keep the balance by reappointing one of the existing members and trying to bring a new member aboard as well,” said Turco.