Executive session was accidentally partially broadcast; plus, a letter to the editor about CVSD
Hot mic moment at Selectboard meeting reveals issues with Tenney and ZA
Executive session was accidentally partially broadcast; plus, a letter to the editor about CCS
Chea Waters Evans
The microphones weren’t turned off for part of an executive session at last night’s April 25 Selectboard meeting, revealing that the “personnel issue” listed on the agenda pertained to Selectboard member Frank Tenney and his interactions with members of the town planning and zoning department.
At 6:01 p.m., one minute after the meeting started, the Selectboard moved to go into executive session, but in the MediaFactory meeting recording online, almost three minutes of audio from that portion of the meeting can be heard.
Selectboard Chair Jim Faulkner, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, opened the executive session, which was intended to only involve the Selectboard and Town Administrator Dean Bloch.
“To be clear, we’ve run into a little bit of a snag here with our planning and zoning division here,” Faulkner said. “What we’re hearing is that Frank has been kind of directing them, giving them advice, maybe some criticisms and so forth, and it’s something that we’re really, really not supposed to do, and we can’t do going forward. It just makes a wedge in the planning/zoning.”
The issue, Faulkner said, arose after Zoning Administrator Keith Oborne, who’s been on the job since February 1, met with Tenney on April 19 to discuss food truck permits for locations in town. Until Monday, Tenney was the Selectboard liaison for planning and zoning.
During Monday night’s meeting, Faulkner read part of an email that Oborne sent Bloch on April 20, which Bloch then discussed with Faulkner. “Dean spoke to me about Keith’s real concerns,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner read from Oborne’s email, “Dean, I can usually switch off at the end of the day, but I have some serious concerns about the perception of my position and competency in the eyes of the Selectboard.” Referring to Tenney’s unsolicited participation in zoning decisions, Oborne then wrote, “Is there an assistant [zoning administrator] that I don’t know about?”
Faulkner then stopped reading Oborne’s email and said, “I hate to put Keith out there by himself, but I think it’s universal in that department that they feel that there’s been too much interference in what they’re doing. They feel that Frank has stepped in and [is] giving advice and kind of…” The broadcast of the executive session then abruptly ended.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because since the summer of 2020, food trucks and permitting issues relating to them have been a contentious matter between the town and businesses that want to host them, in particular Charlotte Crossings, a building on Route 7 that let them operate out of their parking lot in the early days of the pandemic.
Charlotte has been through five zoning administrators in the last seven years or so; the previous one before Oborne, Wendy Pelletier, lasted less than a year, and the one before her, Daniel Morgan, was released early from his contract at the end of 2020 after various struggles with his position and with Tenney, who was at the time the vice chair of the Zoning Board of Administration, which has now been replaced with a Development Review Board.
At Monday’s meeting, the Selectboard remained in executive session for almost 20 more minutes. When they returned, Faulkner said, “Just to give a little recap of what was decided in executive session: We decided that we’re going to make a couple liaison changes. I was the liaison with [fire and rescue] and I will no longer do that, and we’ll appoint a new liaison…We’ve also decided that we only really need to have one liaison for the DRB and the Planning Commission, and I’m taking that role over. That’s really the gist of what our executive session was, and if the board’s all set, we can move on.”
Leter to the editor: A concerned parent and taxpayer will miss Sumner, and worries about the future
My name is Michael Abbott and I have lived in Charlotte for the last 6 years and in Vermont the last 25 years. I usually shy away from community issues and keep my views to myself but I feel that the current environment within the School District is not healthy and needs to be addressed. Below is an email that I sent to Stephanie Sumner (co-principal at CCS) in response to her letter announcing her departure. As a very concerned parent I can not sit back and watch another key district leader leave and go work in another community.
The CVSD Board decided to go outside the State and bring in someone to run the District to replace Elaine Pinckney. I am not here to pass judgement on Mr. Sanchez as I have never met him. All I can go by is his various communications to the community, specifically his letter outlining his responses to the many departures of key leaders and certain social media comments. Although I agree with some of his points, I would ask him to reflect on the following:
All good leaders take ownership for their own mistakes before rationalizing or making broad excuses
The loss of members on a leadership team during a transition normally happens quickly and is due to the new leader needing to bring in complementary skills and values that align with his or her strategy. In the CVSD case, it seems that administrators are leaving as contracts expire due to their lack of professional and personal fulfillment
I do not go to School Board meetings (thank you to those that volunteer and participate) but I do read most of the communications that come from the District at all levels and I think we have lost our way as a community and as stewards of our children's education. I accept the concept of individual differences but are we listening to the loudest few and ignoring the needs of the majority? Should we be hiring people from outside the state just so that we can check the box while very qualified people are left out and leave the district? We need to get back to the fundamentals of the basic needs of our children and especially after 2 plus years of Covid - we can't afford to lose key educational leaders at this time.
I moved to Vermont 25 years ago from the Philadelphia/New Jersey area. I have worked in many parts of this country and traveled globally for work. There is no other place that I want to live with my family than in Charlotte. During my 1st year here I was meeting with a few State Legislatures about how to attract more business to Vermont. I shared my global thoughts and ideas in my Philly accent and one of the legislatures quickly turned and said to me "let's not Jersey Vermont." I was for sure insulted at the time but after years of thinking about those words I now understand what she meant. Vermont is a special place with special people. We don't want our children to be oblivious to the world around them but the values of this state for the most part are healthy, inclusive, caring and worth hanging onto. We have worked hard as a community to develop and recruit smart, innovative leaders to our district - let's hang onto them and focus on developing the next set of young leaders.
People that know me are going to be surprised I wrote this letter. There are many great educators in this state and district and many I call my friends and family. They are well-educated, innovative and dedicated to the children and community. Lets stop all the political nonsense and get back to our key responsibility of educating our children.
Hills Point Rd
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Mike Abbott
Date: Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 1:53 PM
Subject: Re: email@example.com
Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>
Stephanie - we only met a few times but Rebecca, Jackson and I will really miss you at CCS. Your energy and love for the school and the kids showed through every time I saw you in action. We wish you the best of luck at Marcotte and Chamberlin, they are great schools and part of an awesome district. I am sure they are so excited to have you. My daughter student-taught 2nd grade at Marcotte and is now a 3rd grade teacher at Chamberlain. She loves it there and will be lucky to have you as one of her mentors.
We moved to Charlotte 6 years ago primarily for CCS and the overall school district as Jackson (the youngest of 4) was approaching kindergarten. Whether you know it or not you have had a huge impact on the students at CCS, especially Jackson. He thrives and grows everyday due to the culture you and your team have created. I hope with your departure that the core values that you ingrained do not get lost in the political environment of the day. All of our kids are too important and deserve better.
Once again, we are very happy for you but feeling a little concerned on the void that will be left by your departure and many of the other fantastic teachers and administrators in our district.
Thank you for your service and commitment to CCS and to all of the children of this community.
The Abbotts (concerned Taxpayers)