We took some time to ask Brattleboro’s new Town Manager, John Potter, a few questions about his return to New England and thoughts about the town and his new job.
Welcome to Brattleboro! It’s always fun to catalog initial impressions. When you look around Brattleboro, what do you see and how does it look to you?
The last time I was in Brattleboro before interviewing for the Town Manager position was around thirty years ago when I came to town to buy a couple of draft horses for a woodlot operation I was running in Massachusetts. When returning this winter, the town looks very similar to what I remembered from years ago — a classic Vermont river town with kind and welcoming people who really care about their community.
Amidst all the hoopla and excitement of a contract with a new Town Manager at the Selectboard meeting Tuesday night, the board neglected to inform the public of any details of the contract.
Here’s your quick overview:
$5k for transportation
10 sick days
Brattleboro, VT—The Brattleboro Selectboard has chosen John R. Potter as the new Town Manager. Mr. Potter will assume his new responsibilities on December 30, 2022.
“On behalf of the Brattleboro Selectboard, I congratulate John Potter on being selected as our new Town Manager” said Ian Goodnow, Selectboard Chair. “We considered many well qualified candidates during our nationwide search. The Selectboard conducted this process with care and diligence, and we are very pleased with the result. We are confident that John Potter has an enthusiasm for good governance and for Brattleboro that he will bring to his new role. We look forward to working with John for the benefit of the people of Brattleboro.”
“I really appreciate the Selectboard offering me an opportunity to serve as Brattleboro’s next Town Manager and look forward to earning the trust of the town. My wife Marie Elena and I are excited to move back to New England and become active members of the Brattleboro community. Brattleboro’s reputation as a thoughtful and progressive community drew us to this special place, and it will be great to work together with the many active community leaders and partners in town.”
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a special meeting to accept the resignation of Town Manager Yoshi Manale and to ratify his severance agreement.
Manale wasn’t in attendance. The board let Chair Ian Goodnow do the talking, which was tightly constrained to pre-approved boundaries by legal counsel.
Here’s the full text of the Severance Agreement and General Release for Brattleboro Town Manager Yoshi Manale.
SEVERANCE AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE
This Severance Agreement and General Release Agreement (“Agreement”), made the 19th day of May 2022, between Octavian Yoshi Manale, an individual, hereinafter referred to as “Manale”, and the Town of Brattleboro, a Vermont municipality, hereinafter referred to as “Brattleboro”, is an agreement which includes a general release of claims.
It surprised many that Town Manager Yoshi Manale resigned after just a few months. But it isn’t that surprising.
Brattleboro is unusual. For a small town, there is a tremendous amount of media. Two newspapers, three radio stations, citizen journalists, and others pay close attention to what goes on in town government. Add in social media, discussions in offices, and conversations on the street and you end up with a rather active core population that follow the details of town government.
There are big cities with less coverage of their municipal governments and fewer news outlets. And big city news is often dominated by crimes, fires, and other distractions, making municipal news a smaller piece of the overall newscast or front page headlines.
Brattleboro Town Manager Yoshi Manale has submitted his resignation effective Friday, June 3, 2022. Selectboard Chair Ian Goodnow accepts this resignation with regret, “I understand that Yoshi would prefer to return to work in larger municipalities and we wish him the best with his future endeavors.”
Statement from Brattleboro Town Manager Yoshi Manale
I have submitted my resignation to the members of the Brattleboro Selectboard, and they have accepted it. My last day will be June 3rd.
Brattleboro is a beautiful town that I was excited to work in. People here are warm, friendly, gracious, and welcoming. There are fantastic recreational opportunities, great local food, and outstanding cultural offerings. And, of course, it is located in a beautiful setting of mountains, ponds, and rivers.
Brattleboro, VT—The Brattleboro Selectboard has chosen Octavian Y. (Yoshi) Manale as the
new Town Manager. Mr. Manale will assume his new responsibilities on January 1, 2022, after
working on transition matters with the retiring Town Manager, Peter Elwell.
“On behalf of the Brattleboro Selectboard, I congratulate Yoshi Manale on being selected as our new Town Manager” said Elizabeth McLoughlin, Selectboard Chair. “We considered many well qualified candidates during our nationwide search. The Selectboard conducted this process with care and diligence, and we are very pleased with the result. We are confident that Yoshi Manale has an enthusiasm for good governance and for Brattleboro that will lead us to a future that we can all embrace. We look forward to working with Yoshi for the benefit of the people of Brattleboro.”
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a special meeting to announce the hiring of a new Town Manager, to fill the slot vacated by retiring Peter Elwell. They announced the hiring of Octavian ‘Yoshi’ Manale as the next Brattleboro Town Manager and approved the contract to hire him. He hails from NJ, and begins in the new year.
The Brattleboro Selectboard approved a plan to let Brattleboro Police switch from an understaffed three shift system to a two shift system that will reduce hours and stress. Brattleboro will go without patrol staff for certain hours of the week.
The water treatment plant is going ahead with approval of a firm to build the new plant, despite a bad reference and previous bad town experiences with the company. The local mask mandate will be lifted on Friday. And State Senator Becca Balint described the huge piles of money coming to Vermont in the near future.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will take up matters relating to COVID at their next regular meeting. State Senator Becca Balint will give an update on ARPA and other funding sources, the board will discuss what to do about the mask order in town, they’ll talk about in-person meeting possibilities. and whether to continue deferring Small Business Loans.
Hiring a firm to help find Brattleboro a new Town Manager is up for discussion, as will approving a nearly $12 million big to build a new water treatment plant. You can bring up other items not on the agenda, and/or ask for your $12 million, during public participation.
WHAT IS NEW TODAY
• Town field services continue transitioning back to the way in which they operated during last spring’s “Stay Home Stay Safe” period. For now, the way in which the public receives those services still is relatively normal, but the work is being done in accordance with many special procedures required by the State of Vermont and recommended by public health officials. As we move into even more restrictive practices for the protection of employees and the public, we will identify those changes in future “COVID-19 Response Status” updates.
• The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department encourages everyone to transform your front yard, apartment, or house into a bright and decorative celebration of winter! We all need a little light in our lives, so get ready to challenge your neighborhood, your friends, and your family to help us “Light Up Brattleboro.” Join us as we come together to show our festiveness and help bring joy and light into the lives of others. Here’s how you can participate:
On Election Day in March, Brattleboro voters will have the opportunity to tell the Selectboard to consider replacing the five-member Selectboard with one mayor.
The complete wording of the article which will appear on the ballot: “Shall the voters of the Town of Brattleboro advise the Select Board to amend the Brattleboro Town Charter to replace the Select Board form of governance with that of a mayoral form of governance?”
I encourage voters to reject this proposal for a number of reasons.
The board discussed final tidbits relating to the FY21 proposed budget, and consider other items as well, such as giving themselves a raise, giving election workers a raise, demanding an overhaul of the health care system, and then some wondering about who is getting raises and why they are getting them.
Will Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell get a five year contract extension? Most likely, at the next regular meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard.
A hearing on modified parking, some VCDP grants, and the scheduling of informational meetings for Representative Town Meeting representatives will occur. There is also one item on the agenda purely for the sake of not having it on the agenda any longer. You can, as always, bring up other matters not on the agenda during public participation.