The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday, Nov. 10 for just over four minutes. Though it was a very brief meeting, things did turn contentious between members of the audience and some of the Selectmen as they did during a meeting the week before. The issue causing the controversy was the appointment of Steven Solari as Building Commissioner/Inspector of Buildings for occupancy permits. Solari needed to be appointed as current Building Inspector as James Perry does not have the necessary qualifications to serve as such. During their last meeting, former Selectman Tom Millias asked the Selectmen, “We’re paying somebody $70,000 a year that can’t do that job, correct?” The Selectmen refused to engage in the conversation.
Over the summer, former Building Inspector Robert Piccirilli was not reappointed to serve during what could be considered sweeping changes taking place across the town. Other changes included longtime Selectman Millias being voted out of office in favor of newest Selectman Ashley DiSesa. Selectmen Chair Gordon Andrews recused himself from the hiring process for the Building Inspector due to a conflict of interest. This led to a stalemate between long-serving Selectman Troy Garron and DiSesa. During a meeting in late July, DiSesa nominated Perry to serve as Building Inspector and Garron reluctantly agreed. Garron had made his feelings clear on the matter saying, “I still feel very strongly that Rob Piccirilli is the choice for Building Inspector but unfortunately, that’s not happening.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, before the vote on Solari took place, Millias interjected, “Mr. Chair?” Andrews, however, said, “I’m not taking public comment.” Millias then responded, “I knew it.” There was then considerable chatter amongst those gathered in the audience with someone saying, “why not?” and others asking about transparency. Former Chair of the Planning Board Alan Dias said, “It wasn’t posted on the agenda. For the record, this Steve Solari was not posted on the agenda.” Andrews repeated that he was not taking public comment before telling Dias, “You’re out of order.” Millias then said, “and you’re in violation of Chapter 143. You might want to read it.” Chapter 143 of Massachusetts General Laws is the inspection and regulation of, and licenses for, buildings, elevators and cinematographs. Getting in one last word, Millias said, “I’m good, we’ll see what the Attorney General says.”
Regarding Dias’ claim that the appointment of Solari was not noted on the agenda, it does appear from the Halifax Town Website that there was an original agenda posted that did not include the appointment and another revised one that did.
The Selectmen also discussed their plan for the recruitment of a new Town Administrator as current Town Administrator Charlie Seelig will be resigning effective November 20. The Selectmen voted to approve a contract with Community Paradigm Associates, LLC to aid in the search. Seelig said, “they are a very highly regarded firm.”
Seelig also said that after speaking with Community Paradigm founder Bernie Lynch, he was told that they have a slate of retired Town Administrators who would be able to fill in as an interim Town Administrator. It was decided that the Board would meet with the company to discuss the hiring of an interim.
The Selectmen also voted to appoint Susan Lawless as interim Public Records Access Officer until the new interim Town Administrator appointment.