Watertown Councilor Wants to See Draft Studies at the Same Time as the Town Manager
Town Councilor Susan Falkoff said she wants to be able to comment on draft reports when they are submitted to Town Manager Michael Driscoll.
A discussion of the planned Town Organization Study on Monday morning turned into one about whether town councilors should be able to see draft studies or just the town manager.
Susan Falkoff, chairwoman of the Personnel and Town Organzation Committee, brought up the subject after she learned that Town Manager Michael Driscoll had received a draft from the consultants from UMass Boston’s Collins Center for Public Management but she and the other members of the subcommittee had not.
"I am concerned with the process of the draft being reviewed by the manager before going to the committee in light of the controversy we had with the Public Safety report," Falkoff said. "There was a perception that the study had been reviewed by the manager before being shown to the public."
Driscoll said it had been his practice to work with consultants on drafts to make sure the process moves along while taking into account the Town Council's goals.
"All I try to do is move forward what the council wants to move forward," Driscoll said.
In the future, Falkoff said she wants to see drafts of the Town Organization study, and any other studies. Town Councilor Cecilia Lenk said she wants to have more discussion about the policy of councilors seeing drafts before making a decision.
"This not only effects this committee," Falkoff said. "It needs a larger discussion."
The subcommittee passed a motion, however, ensuring that they would see drafts when they were sent to the Town Manager.
Town Organization Study
The subcommittee requested the study because they were concerned that so many department heads report directly to the town manager – 16 of 20.
The proposal by the Collin's Center's Richard Kobayashi and Stephen McGoldrick, calls for them to interview the Town Manager, the three members of the Personnel and Town Organization Committee and Town Council President Mark Sideris.
Falkoff said she wanted more town government officials to be interviewed. Driscoll said he did not think it would be useful for all 20 town department heads to be interviewed.
Town Council President Steve Corbett said he worries about those interviews getting off topic.
"This is about how to get the most optimal organizational structure," Corbett said. "I don't want it to become a gripe session."
Kobayashi said he expects his interviews with the councilors and the town manager could lead to others he would like to speak with.
"Some people turnout to be wise men and women, but we will not interview everyone," Kobayashi said.
He added that every extra interview would cost the town more money.
The subcommittee agreed to having up to four additional interviews by the consultants.
Lenk said her worry was the length of time it took consultants to get the proposed study back to them.
"We last met in early May and now it's late July," Lenk said. "My concern is whether we will get results of the study in a timely manner."
Driscoll said he takes responsibility for the slowness of the proposal coming back to the subcommittee.
"My impression was we were doing the budget in May," Driscoll said.
The proposed study will go before the Town Council at the next meeting, on Aug. 14.