Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Far More Than Fifty Words, But It's A Response

I have a good relationship with the Chairman of the Board of Selectman.  After I posted yesterdays article the Chairman wrote back, and addressed me as "Mr. Hersee".  An obvious sign he was a wee bit pissed off.  The response was not in the tone I have always expected from Tom.  There was emotion in his words. Apparently yesterdays post touched a nerve.

Tom also wrote, "I do hope that this clarification will help reduce any anxiety this situation may be causing you with respect to consistency, while providing the necessary and appropriate level of accuracy you should expect from elected officials in response to your concerns."

If I wasn't such a fan of sarcasm myself I may have been offended. 

So, what we have here is the reason for the first suspension, and the current suspension, had nothing to do with what the media has reported the first time, and assumed this time, his tardiness.

There is another reason.  A secret, not for publication, private reason.  Well, that's fairly obvious.  What we have done is only ruled out the tardiness.

OK.  Good enough for me.  The reason is private for the second suspension in 16 months, and as I wrote in the last post, if the issue is medical, psychological, or personal, I don't need to know.  What I do need to know is how the situation is to be rectified beyond repeated suspensions?

Yes, Tom, with this, I am concerned, would like to be reassured, but just how does one do that with such a private matter?

Below is the email I received this evening:

"Mr. Hersee,

In reading your latest post, I thought it prudent to provide some information specific to your query as to why this time is different than the last. To be clear, it is absolutely no different than the last time and is in fact being handled in the exact same manner. As I understand from my own experience that the passage of time can cloud recollection, I thought it worthwhile to provide you with passages from two different newspapers - both reporting on the 2011 suspension of the T.A. You will note that nowhere does the Board or any member thereof provide the reasoning behind the suspension. In fact, the "reasons" provided for such were speculation on the part of those reporting on the situation, and were in no way referenced by members of the Board or myself. I do hope that this clarification will help reduce any anxiety this situation may be causing you with respect to consistency, while providing the necessary and appropriate level of accuracy you should expect from elected officials in response to your concerns.

Southbridge Evening News - Monday February 14, 2011“In terms of the specific reasons for the town administrator’s temporary removal, I can only say that it is a personnel matter involving action taken by the Board of selectmen under executive session, section 21 paragraph A-1, and is therefore not subject to public disclosure” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Thomas Creamer...Speculation abounds that Suhoski, who began working as town administrator in April 2010, was disciplined by member of the board for excessive tardiness to work and town meetings. On Dec. 20 the board submitted a performance evaluation of Suhoski’s first 8 months on the job that included mostly negative reviews…His failure to satisfactorily respond to a clear directive from the board to establish a “no later than 9 a.m. start time” is a clear example of his failure/inability to accurately interpret the direction of the board”, the evaluation read.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette – Thursday, February 10, 2011: Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski will not be at work for five business days, most likely the result of a disciplinary action taken by selectmen for what they regard as his excessive tardiness. Late Monday night, selectmen went into executive session with Mr. Suhoski to discuss a personnel matter — one involving him.

Four of the five selectmen attended the executive meeting.

“I was the subject of the executive session. I was the only other public official, besides the selectmen, there,” Mr. Suhoski said. “It had to do with me and I cannot comment on executive session.”

In October, the board voted that he arrive at work by 9 a.m., but Mr. Suhoski has acknowledged often coming in later. Mr. Suhoski, who was named town administrator last February, received a mediocre, 11-category performance evaluation from selectmen in December. It included seven poor ratings and two unacceptables. He did not receive any ratings characterized as excellent, good or acceptable.

Some of the comments in the four-page evaluation include “ ... frequently tardy for work and meetings, thus demonstrating a lack of consideration for the time of others,” and “ ... his frequent lack of availability.”



Thomas R. Creamer, Chairman - Board of Selectman,
Town of Sturbridge
308 Main Street
Sturbridge, MA 01566"


  1. From past experience dealing with Mr. Creamer, I also once thought we had a good working relationship, in fact, thought we were friends. Disagreed with him once now barely get a nod, most times nothing. So Wally, er, Mr. Hersee, welcome to the list of "use to be".
    Don't get me wrong, Tom Creamer does a lot of good things for Sturbridge, but just don't question his decisions, an example, see the difference how he treats Mary Dowling from last year to this, I believe because she dared to question when they reorganized the Board.

  2. Hit the road JackThursday, June 14, 2012

    So we don't know what it really is but 2 suspensions means it's time for Suhoski to go. He's been a screw up since the begining and hasn't gotten any better. They were glad to see him go in Ayer and we need to dump him now so we can be glad he's gone.

  3. Wally, if the reason was medical or psychological they wouldn't or couldn't have suspended him, could they? So then it must be either personal, or our business - correct?

  4. Open meeting law doesn't permit release of executive session minutes or any public discussion of items discussed in executive session, until the items are resolved. In this case, Selectmen went into executive session for Purposes 1 & 3 (see Selectmen's agenda.) Purpose 3 had to do with collective bargaining; Purpose 1 is cut and pasted below and it was taken from the AG's website. Since the TA has been suspended, and has he been suspended twice before, these are personnel matters and the TA's rights are protected by law. If people want more information, whether about collective bargaining or this TA issue, it will have to wait until the issue is resolved and the minutes are released.

    "1. To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual. The individual to be discussed in such executive session shall be notified in writing by the public body at least 48 hours prior to the proposed executive session; provided, however, that notification may be waived upon written agreement of the parties.

    This Purpose is designed to protect the rights and reputation of individuals. Nevertheless, it appears that where a public body is discussing an employee evaluation, considering applicants for a position, or discussing the qualifications of any individual, these discussions should be held in open session to the extent that that the discussion deals with issues other than the reputation, character, health, or any complaints or charges against the individual. An executive session called for this Purpose triggers certain rights on the part of an individual who is the subject of the discussion. The individual's right to choose to have this discussion in an open meeting takes precedence over the right of the public body to go into executive session.

    While the imposition of disciplinary sanctions by a public body on an individual fits within this Purpose, this Purpose does not apply if, for example, the public body is deciding whether to lay off a large number of employees because of budgetary constraints."

  5. the big question is why are we doing this? why are we tolerating whatever the behavior is that results in multiple suspensions?

  6. the facts peopleThursday, June 14, 2012

    If you watch the meetings you'd see the issue with Dowling and Creamer started when Creamer didn't side with her on the Shepard parcel...he didn't support shortcutting the process...Dowling's been furious ever since...also when the mosquito people came for a tv presentation she started yelling at them and he asked her to be more respectful.

  7. In the human resources world, there are regulations that apply to the hiring and firing of employees.

  8. it is abnormal for a towns administrator to be suspended by a towns board of selectmen twice, and unless there is an amazing reason, that will not come back and bite us, he should be let go.

  9. It's time to cut bait with Suhoski. He's proven himself to be unequipped for the job. Never does a meeting go by when he's not missing information or using delay tactics to cover something he hasn't finished. Everything's a major delay with him. It's pretty clear that 2 selectwomen have been protecting him but the BoS has changed. Now the BoS has 3 selectpeople who want accountability. Time for him to go, go, go.

  10. And what kind of a punishment is three days off with pay?? I'd like one of those myself!

  11. It's actually in the town's Charter, that the TA gets a time out with pay until he's fired. If people don't like that a town administrator gets suspension with pay, then petition to change the town's charter.

  12. It's not the Charter, it's the character.

  13. I did appreciate Mr Suhoski addressing the residents at the town meeting last night. The only thing i wish he did was return the raise that we voted to give him. That would have been the right thing to do.

  14. His apology was nothing more than words. His actions will speak truth to that one way or the other.


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