When I asked him about his goals back on Jan 20, Town Manager Yoshi Manale spoke of creating more open spaces downtown, being open and transparent, and being flexible while solving problems. No mention of wanting to alter EMS services. Yet the impression one might get from official communications is that a new town manager came to town, took aim at EMS, and is walking away.
But that’s not the full story. First off, the Brattleboro Selectboard told him to take on Rescue.
Both the current and former Chair of the Brattleboro Selectboard have confirmed that Town Manager Manale was not acting solo when it came to Rescue Inc actions and decisions.
When asked if changing EMS services was part of the hiring process, or assigned after the hiring, the previous Chair Elizabeth McLoughlin replied, in all caps, “ASSIGNED AFTER.”
When asked if the Town Manager acted alone or were Selectboard members involved in the Rescue decision, Chair Ian Goodnow replied “the Selectboard was directly involved in/and ultimately made the determination on who to contract EMS services with.”
Did the board warn the new Town Manager that this could be a big mess of an issue?
Outgoing Town Manager Yoshi Manale says “It was the opposite, having gone through something similar in Bloomfield, I advised the board that this would be a difficult change and to not open Pandora’s box unless they were sure they were ready for the heat.”
He also said “I gave them four options two of which included staying with Rescue. Ultimately the letter from Drew [Hazelton] pushed them toward the decision they unanimously made.”
The selectboard did not discuss four options in public.
Asked about the four options and the Town Manager’s warning, board member and Clerk Jessica Gelter answered “I can’t speak to that. The discussion you may be referring to was in executive session and was confidential.”
Asked if the letter from Hazelton determined the choice among four options, board member Tim Wessel said he didn’t recall four options being discussed in public, and “To describe it that way is at best over simplified and at the worst pretty inaccurate.”
I asked Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland if he could tell me the four options. He replied with a statement from Town Attorney Bob Fisher: “Pursuant to 1 VSA section 317(c)(15), any “records relating specifically to negotiation of contracts” are exempt from public inspection and copying. In addition, “records of interdepartmental and intradepartmental communications” . . . “to the extent that they cover other than primarily factual materials and are preliminary to any determination of policy or action” are exempt records.”
My final questions were to Vice Chair Daniel Quipp. Maybe he could help me with some questions: 1. Did any board or staff discuss the potential ramifications of this EMS decision? 2. Was the board presented with any options that included KEEPING Rescue as EMS? and 3. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a consent agenda item and 10 being the Community Safety Review Process, how much time and consideration was given to the EMS decision?
No reply yet (questions sent June 2.)
Here’s a bit of related info:
Asked why the termination agreement included clauses about disparaging and denigrating remarks and if this was standard Brattleboro practice with all employees, Goodnow answered “non-disparagement clauses are common in these types of agreements.”
A follow-up (May 31) to Goodnow asking if this was “something Brattleboro has always used in all contracts as people are terminated?” was not answered.