WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- A former member of the Williamstown Planning Board has emailed Town Moderator Adam Filson, and selectmen, asserting a "clear pattern of bias" in the conduct of Tuesday's town meeting. The email, (VIEW TEXT) which is a public record, says Filson was seen holding his pink voting card in favor of a controversial zoning matter, which email author Patrick Dunlavey says should only occur when a moderator's vote is necessary to break a tie.
Filson is general counsel to The Fairbank Group at Jiminy Peak, a Hancock-based resort and renewable-energy developer.
Dunlavey's email says the moderator "repeatedly interrupted" planning board member Ann McCallum as she was attempting to explain a proposed amendment she was offering to Article 35, which allows for the construction of a 120-room hotel on up to 10 acres of the 203-acre Waubeeka Golf Links property in South Williamstown. His interruptions, Dunlavey said, "completely rattled her, leaving her to gfrantically figure out what to say and what to leave out." Dunlavey continues: "She was booed by some yahoos in the audience, but instead of sternly correcting the offenders and granting Ms. McCallum extra time, you urged her to wrap it up."
Filson replied by email to GreylockNews.com: "For the official town record, it was my determination that the specific statements I ruled Ms. McCallum out of order on were attacks against the person and not attacks against the petitioner’s argument. I noticed no personal attacks in Mr. Parese’s statements and found those to be against the argument."
Dunlavey's email said that, in his opinion, Filson "did not apply these same standards to Stan Parese, (lawyer for Waubeeka public owner Michael Deep), "who seemed to have a microphone whenever he watned, for as long as he wantd it, to ay whatever he wanted to say, in whateveer tone he wanted to use."
Dunlavey's email aslso notes that the moderator allows a revote on two out of four clauses of a Parese-requested amendment to the zoning change immediately after town meeting had just voted to approve all four clauses. "Town counsel did not opinion on whether you should permit the re-vote, just whether as moderator it was in your right to do so."
- Berkshire Eagle story on town meeting
- iBerkshires story on the town meeting
- Secretary of state's guide town town meeting governance
- Legal description of town-moderator duties
- Massachusetts Moderators Association home page
- Massachusetts laws about town meetings