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Longmeadow doesn’t need a town manager

Date: 11/8/2011

Although I wish Ms. Crosbie, Longmeadow’s Town Manager, success and happiness with her endeavors in finding new managerial opportunities with other communities in the commonwealth, I (unlike others) can’t say that I’ll be sad to see her leave. I’ve always felt that the position of town manager, which was created as a result of Longmeadow’s Charter Commission over six years ago, was perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in the community’s 227 year history. Since 1966 I’ve been and continue to be a resident of this community, I’ve gone to school here, volunteered here, was employed by the town here and have never been late paying my taxes and other town “fees.” Unfortunately, over the past six years, I’ve seen (and in a way “felt”) some very negative changes in the town I’ve called home for 45 years.

The upcoming departure of “our” town manager gives the community a new opportunity to improve. I challenge the Longmeadow Select Board and the town as a whole to reconsider the position of town manager. Under the town’s charter only three of the five Select Board members are necessary to hire the town manager; however a super majority of the board’s members (four of the five) are necessary to remove the manager. I have always felt it wrong that an unelected, non-resident, employee of the town can wield as much power over the community, as our town manager has, and (in reality) only have to be responsible to just two members of the Select Board!

Perhaps the Select Board and the town could reexamine the Longmeadow Charter and change the position of an appointed town manager to that of a mayor. A person, who is a resident of this community, is elected by the residents of this community and is directly responsible to the voters of this community. In reality, a major change of town government cannot and should not happen overnight and for now the charter stands with the Select Board and town manager. Even with Ms. Crosbie’s pending departure, in the spring of 2012, there is little time to lose in considering a change. With that thought in mind, perhaps the next town manager should be hired as an interim manager, running the community’s services until such time as necessary to consider, debate and (as I personally hope) institute an elected Select Board/mayoral form of government. Let’s take the time now to correct the one flaw in the Longmeadow Charter and make town government fully responsible to the residents as it once was.

Michael P. Kirby


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