Cursing disrupts recent Phillpston Selectboard meeting

  • Phillipston Town Hall in Phillipston. Staff photo/Paul Franz

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 1/5/2021 1:58:47 PM
Modified: 1/5/2021 1:58:39 PM

PHILLIPSTON — Residents of Phillipston are finding out first-hand that words do indeed have consequences; in this instance, a sudden change in town accountant and additional interest payments on unpaid bills.

At a remote meeting last month, Selectboard member Gerhard Fandreyer unloaded a string of expletives aimed at Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Flynn. The outburst came after Flynn brought up the issue of having then-Town Accountant Kelli Pontbriand working remotely from her new residence in Florida. Flynn said he had sought advice from the town’s attorney and was told there was nothing to prohibit Pontbriand from doing the accountant’s job from out of state.

He then asked the board to agree to allow Pontbriand to continue carrying out the duties of town accountant on a remote basis until the end of the current fiscal year.

“I’m going to object to that,” said Fendreyer. “We’ve already motioned that we’re going to pursue other options because we did not want all of this going out to Florida, so I don’t know why you keep pursuing this.”

Flynn explained that no paperwork would be sent to Florida, that it would all be transmitted electronically.

“That’s not true,” Fendreyer replied. “If something needs to be signed by her, it needs to be FedExed out. We already voted once to have somebody from around here do this.”

He suggested that Flynn had received information from an outside company on carrying out the duties of accountant, but Flynn noted the town couldn’t seek a request for proposal from a company that had provided details of a potential contract.

“You can’t have a company sending you an RFP (request for proposal) that they’re going to bid on. It’s against the law,” said Flynn, who then asked Fandreyer, “Are you a certified procurement officer?”

“I’m a f****** selectman and you’re my f****** employee,” Fandreyer exploded.

“Control yourself,” Flynn responded.

“I’m shutting down,” replied Fandreyer. “F*** you.”

After a moment of silence, Fandreyer rejoined the meeting, saying, “I’m not going to put up with this, Kevin. You’re out of line. I’m tired of being lied to, Mr. Flynn.”

The meeting then moved onto other business.

Both Flynn and Board Chair John Telepciak told the Athol Daily News that they had been contacted by a number of residents complaining about Fandreyer’s outburst and suggesting he should make an apology, if not to Flynn, then to the townspeople.

Telepciak said he had spoken with Fandreyer since the meeting and was told that he, Fandreyer, is unlikely to apologize. That seemed to be affirmed in an email exchange with the Athol Daily News.

“I would apologize,” said Fandreyer, “if (Flynn) would recant (his) lie and tell the truth, but unfortunately (he) will never admit it.

“I received many kudos for getting pissed off and reacting as I did. You will find it takes me a lot to get to that point, but blatant, repeated dishonesty eventually gets to me.”

In addition to calls, Telepciak said he received at least one letter critical of what happened at the meeting.

“I was shocked,” said Telepciak. “When we’re in a meeting room, the chairman would have a gavel. But in remote meetings like this, it’s not as easy to stop this sort of thing.

“I tell you I’ve been doing this for what, now, 11 years, and I’ve never witnessed anything like this. And I’ve witnessed and been part of a few things over the years, but this was something else.”

Telepciak said immediately following the board meeting in question, Pontbriand resigned as town accountant. Flynn has since secured the services of Orange town accountant Gail Weiss but, as a result of the post being vacant for a time, the town had to pay interest on several accounts that went unpaid.

“Hopefully this won’t happen again,” said Telepciak, “but if it does, I guess I’ll have to move quickly to mute the individual responsible.

”But I was really caught off guard. I’m still shocked.”

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