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Published On: Wed, Oct 31st, 2012

Board Divided: Can Kingston’s Selectmen bridge the widening gap between themselves?

This October, Kingston became the only town in Massachusetts to forcibly remove a sitting selectman in 2012.

Ronald Gleason squeaked into office in 2011 by a 15-vote margin when, barely halfway into his first term, the jury announced a verdict: Gleason did not live in Kingston.

As the dust settles from Gleason’s removal, Kingston is now left with a four-member board.

Kingston’s selectmen were divided before October 24th. Now, they’re mathematically divided and the never-ending slew of 3-2 votes threatens to become an avalanche of tabled discussions and inconclusive ties.

Get ready to hear 2-2. A lot.

Perhaps as blatant as the political division on Kingston’s Board of Selectmen is the fact that the divide between the town’s highest office holders also runs along gender lines.

Boys versus girls.

It’s going to be a long, cold winter if these four cant compromise.

Over the past few meetings, citizen outrage has also become an obvious factor during selectmen proceedings.

Repeated outbursts during last Tuesday’s meeting became a theme as Chairman Joseph Casna showed visible frustration in attempting to deal with unruly citizens.

After last week’s meeting Dick Arruda, a two-term selectman and current Vice Chairman, told, “you just asked me if there needs to be a police presence at the meetings…there doesn’t have to be, unless that happens again.”

Tensions are running hot in Kingston but it remains to be seen whether or not grudges are held over Gleason’s removal.

Susan Munford, Kingston’s newest selectman, was one of several complainants (but the only selectman) to challenge Gleason’s residency.

Immediately after the Board of Registrars’ unanimous decision to remove Gleason, Casna told, “I’m devastated.”

There will be plenty for Kingston’s selectmen to argue about as the search for a new town administrator, a government function, has now been outsourced to a private company.

Last week, Casna proposed hiring a headhunter agency to lead the search for town administrator candidates. Gleason motioned the discussion to a vote, which passed 3-1.

MacFarlane was the only selectman to oppose Casna’s proposal, with Arruda and Gleason in support.

Munford, a Kingston police officer, was forced to abstain herself from the argument due to conflict of interest but MacFarlane was quick to chime in saying she thought it was “ridiculous,” adding  that she believes the Selectmen should be the search committee for a new town administrator.

Casna previously stated that the fee for the headhunter agency would be $14,000.

When MacFarlane pressed Casna on how he would pay for the headhunter fee, Casna did not have a clear answer.

“I guess we’ll take it out of that fund,” Casna said.

“What fund?” MacFarlane interjected.

…long pause…

“I don’t know what fund. I don’t know.” Casna responded.

Undoubtedly, there will be discussion about the possibility of a special town election to fill Gleason’s seat. In reality, the logistics of having such an election will probably prove unfeasible.

There is already an election coming up on November 6th (maybe you’ve heard about it once or twice) and by the time Kingston would be able to vote for a new selectman… it would be almost April anyway.

As I said, it’s going to be a long, cold winter if these four can’t compromise.

Chivalry tells us what should happen but Kingston’s political history tells us what might happen.

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