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6 vie for elusive town head-of-assessments position

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Town's redactions called appropriate; Loreti continues open-meetings fight

Six candidates are seeking the job that Arlington thought it filled in July, only to learn last month that the top candidate had backed out.

The same screening committee that led to choosing three finalists for a full-time head of assessments followed by a job offer to James F. Doherty of Arlington met Wednesday, Sept. 3, to review resumes of the eight applicants, and six were chosen, Caryn Molloy, head of human resources, wrote in an email Sept. 3.

Meanwhile, the state's supervisor of records has concluded that the town properly blacked out sections of a separation agreement with John B. Speidel, the former head of assessments. Chris Loreti, a former member of the Redevelopment Board, had argued that the town should not have censored the agreement.

Further, Loreti this week emailed to the state Division of Open Government requests for them to intervene in two Open Meeting Law complaints against the Board of Assessors filed in June, saying responses he received from the board were unsatisfactory.

14 candidates in first round

The six candidates will be interviewed the week of Sept. 8, Molloy wrote.

"Following the interviews, we will then need to coordinate with the full Board [of Assessors] on a meeting date with finalists," she wrote.

Screening-committee members for the eight applicants are Kevin Feeley, chairman of the Board of Assessors; Steve Gilligan, the town treasurer; Andrew Flanagan, deputy town manager; and Molloy.

In the first round of interviews, in June, Feeley noted that five of 14 candidates were interviewed before deciding on three finalists.

The names of the eight have not been made public and would not be until finalists are named.

Issues surrounding the assessors' office became public in June after Loreti sought then-unposted Board of Assessors' minutes an effort to learn more about why Speidel resigned in April.

In May, a little more than a month after Speidel left, Doherty quit the Board of Assessors, where he had served since 1993, without explanation. Later, he was named as one of three finalists for the position Speidel had held since 2011.

After the three were interviewed July 21, Doherty was offered the job. He turned it down in a letter dated Aug. 1, citing "personal reasons." He has not responded to requests for comment to be more specific. Doherty works in the Burlington assessors' office, where he is town appraiser/assistant assessor.

The advertised annual salary range for the position of head of assessments, as of July 1, was $78,870 to $113,972.

Candidates in the second round had until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, to apply.

Administrator under pressure

Based on exchnages YourArlington had with the previous two finalists, Jean-Paul Plouffe and Thaddeus Jankowski Jr., they were not expected to be candidates. Plouffe suggested that Bob Greeley, the former longtime head of assessments who was appointed to Doherty's seat on the board, should "take the job."

Whoever gets the job will be under pressure to be in charge of a department that has been without a supervisor since mid-April and faces the annual December report to selectmen and the state in which all town properties must be valued for tax purposes.

As to the blacked-out sections of Speidel's agreement, Shawn A. Williams, state supervisor of records, wrote in an Aug 20 letter:

"Upon an in camera review of the unredacted responsive record, it is my finding that the Town has permissibly redacted information that it deemed exempt from disclosure pursuant to the first clause of Exemption (c) [of the Public Records Law]. The information redacted from the responsive record falls within the categories of personnel information held exempt from disclosure .... Accordingly, this administrative appeal is closed."


Aug. 17 (opinion): Loreti to seek Town Meeting article targeting assessors' fiasco

Aug. 5, 2014: Town says it has turned uncensored agreement over to state

June 28, 2014: Secrecy alleged in director resignation


This story was published Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014.

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