Hardie: ‘The current bylaw, as amended, is a disaster...’

  • Former Royalston selectman and current IT System Administrator John Hardie urging members of the Board of Selectmen at their meeting Wednesday night to consider his proposal for changes in the town's personnel bylaw. —Greg Vine

Published: 11/8/2018 10:52:48 AM


For the Athol Daily News

ROYALSTON — Proposed changes in the town's personnel bylaw were debated at the Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night. Two competing proposals were before the board; one from former selectman and town IT System Administrator John Hardie and another crafted by select board Chair Christine Long. Hardie's plan generated the greatest amount of debate.

“The current bylaw, as amended, is a disaster and an invitation to an insurgent uprising by employees,” said Hardie. “We can approach personnel bylaws as being either confrontational or reactive or we can raise the conversation to have a personnel bylaw that reflects human resource management rather than reactive management.”

“The current personnel bylaw says,” Hardie continued, “if three employees come together they can propose a change. I think if one employee comes forward and suggests a change there ought to be an opportunity for that person to express concern. We need to protect, support, nurture, respond, be thoughtful, be good listeners. What we want to have is a policy that is responsive, that allows for managers to manage, that allows for employees to raise issues.”

Hardie told selectmen the draft bylaw he put forward was modeled on the personnel bylaw of the town of Leverett.

The proposal in Hardie's plan which sparked the most discussion was that for the creation of a five-member personnel board, to be headed by the chair of the Board of Selectmen. At present, the town's three selectmen serve as Royalston's personnel board.

“I'm suggesting that it's probably to the advantage of the select board,” said Hardie, “rather than limiting the discussion to the members, that you create a personnel committee that is inherently apolitical, and ultimately looking at employees as human resources rather acting as managers of conflict or complaints.”

Board member Roland Hamel said he has been asked by several department heads about the need to re-do the personnel.

“Because they know what you're going to come up with,” Hamel said. “They know what your outcome is and where you're headed with this. And I'll tell you right now, if we decide to do this I'm going to vote against you being on this (personnel) committee.”

Hamel then opened up on Hardie. “I'm going to tell you right now, John, if we did evaluations – with some of the stuff you've been doing with the broadband – I would give you a low score. I've got residents of this town, taxpayers of this town telling me they're unhappy with the system and they can't seem to get ahold of you.”

Long tried to put an end to Hamel's comments, but her fellow board member persisted.

“I'm just saying that I know where this will head with you,” he continued. “I'm not saying this proposal is real bad, I'm just saying I will not support you being on this committee.”

“Okay, let's let that go at this point,” said Long.

The chair continued by expressing concern over a section of Hardie's plan that called on the proposed personnel board to craft job descriptions.

“In terms of job descriptions, the departments do that now,” she said. “The police department comes up with their job descriptions, the fire department, the library, the Board of Health.”

Regardless of details of any proposed changes in the bylaw, board member Deb D'Amico seemed to indicate she would prefer to keep personnel matters under the purview of the selectmen.

“I'll say right now that any conversation that happens with someone who is directly employed by us, I want to have that conversation,” said D'Amico. “I want to get to know who these people are, what their jobs are – I want to, we want to have that conversation. I don't want to off-load any piece of that to another body. That's what I feel strongly about. It's all about relationships and conversations. What is your job like? What do you need to do it better? That's the kind of conversation that needs to be happening, and want us to have that conversation.”

No decision was made on whether to move ahead with any change in the existing bylaw, but Long did say the subject would be addressed again at another board meeting in the near future.



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