Falmouth's Consultant for Town Manager Resigns
By: Christopher Kazarian
After working with the Town Manager Screening Committee for just three meetings over a month and a half, consultant Thomas J. Groux resigned this week.
The decision comes after a heated meeting on Tuesday evening at the Morse Pond School in which screening committee members complained about the entire search process and Mr. Groux’s actions, which included personally interviewing 16 town employees without board approval.
That emotion played out after the meeting when Falmouth constable George W. Morse confronted Mr. Groux in the parking lot of the school, telling the consultant he did not have faith in him. “I did say that and that’s where I’ll leave it,” Mr. Morse said this morning.
As to why he felt the need to do so, Mr. Morse said, “I have my own personal reasons. Yeah, I am [upset]. I confronted the guy and that is it. It is between me and him.”
Residents are taking a cautious approach to finding a new town manager following the resignation of Bob Whritenour in November.
Whether that was a deciding reason in Mr. Groux’s withdrawing from the process is unclear. “He didn’t give a specific reason,” Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn, the liaison to the screening committee, said this morning.
Mr. Groux did not return calls for comment.
Ms. Flynn was disappointed that Mr. Groux, whom she worked with when she was a human resources director for the Town of Plymouth, left in such a manner.
“I think it is unfortunate it happened and I’m concerned about it,” she said.
A rocky start to town manager search
Thus far, the process for finding a town manager has gotten off to a rocky start after the screening committee was appointed in March at the same time Mr. Groux was hired as a consultant.
Selectmen are set to discuss their options moving forward on Monday. The one certainty, Ms. Flynn said, is the town will need to find a replacement for Mr. Groux.
It is up in the air as to whether the town will continue with a committee consisting of members of the community. While it worked well in the hiring of Falmouth Police Chief Anthony J. Riello, Ms. Flynn pointed out that the process was handled by the town manager.
“The board thought replicating that idea of a community-based committee was a good idea,” Ms. Flynn said.
“I think our board has to take a look at that and decide what our best option is going forward... We have to have a committee that has the best interests of the town at heart.”
Both she and Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen Brent V.W. Putnam, who said this morning he was unaware that Mr. Groux had stepped down, said the internal disputes of the screening committee are a poor way to start the process.
“Obviously you want to make sure they are working together and not at odds,” Mr. Putnam said. “It is discouraging. You don’t want to have any questions about how the committee has gone about its business or the integrity of individuals who compose the committee. If there’s questions then the public is not going to have a lot of faith in the decisions that are made.”
The resignation of Mr. Groux will only add to those concerns although Ms. Flynn was positive that these problems will be rectified.
“I’m absolutely confident we can do this,” she said. “This is a bit of a setback and I think it is unfortunate, but it is not something we can’t overcome.”