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2014 town salaries now available

March 27, 2015

You may now view the complete 2014 Town of Walpole payroll (download in Excel), exclusively on 180, in the Resources section.

The payroll spreadsheet also includes the town departments and job titles of all employees who earned more than $75,000 (this information added by 180.)

As always, you may also take a look at past year payrolls on the same Resources page.

The town’s total gross payroll rose from $49,943,900.66 in 2013 to $53,128,412.35 in 2014.

Even so, total overtime costs and stipends town-wide went down somewhat between 2013 and 2014, with overtime decreasing from $1,638,518.05 in 2013 to $1,609,307.98 in 2014; and stipends dropping from $3,092,110.37 in 2013 to $2,958,147.52 in 2014.

The number of town employees who earned more than $100,000 was 68 in 2014, compared to 51 in 2013. For comparison purposes, this number was just 30 in 2009.

The total number of school employees who earned more than $75,000 in 2013 was 213. This number increased to 226 in 2014.

The number of town employees overall who earned $90,000 or more was 131 in 2013; the number of town employees earning $90,000 or more was 170 in 2014 (111 of these were school employees.)

The payroll will also be published in the 2014 town report next month.

According to the Department of Revenue’s statistics, the town of Walpole’s payroll spending is somewhat out of whack with comparable communities.

For example, Walpole has three fewer town employees than the town of Westwood, yet we spend almost $13 million more than Westwood in total payroll. Walpole has about 20 fewer employees than Milton, yet we spend almost $8 million more than Milton in total payroll. Walpole has about 200 fewer employees than North Attleborough, yet we spend almost $7 million more than North Attleborough in total payroll. Walpole has about 220 fewer employees than Medway, yet we spend almost $26 million more than Medway in total payroll. Walpole has about 400 fewer employees than Wayland, yet we spend almost $11 million more than Wayland in total payroll. Walpole has about 560 fewer employees than Dedham, yet we spend almost $1 million more than Dedham in total payroll.

Nobody at Town Hall has been able to explain to 180 why there are such differentials.

180 makes no judgments on the quality of work provided by town employees, and is simply providing the payroll for informational purposes because taxpayers have a right to know. 180 readers may do what they want with the information.

Rockwood appointed 58 people

March 23, 2015

Town Moderator Jon Rockwood was first elected in 2004. He announced this month he will not run for re-election this year.

During his 11-year tenure, he appointed a total of 39 different individuals to the three committees that the Moderator appoints – Finance Committee, Capital Budget Committee, and Personnel Board. On top of that, he also re-appointed 19 people who had been appointed by previous Moderators (in most cases, those appointed by his immediate predecessor, Jim Brady.)

(Rockwood technically made 40 new appointments, but one of those, William Ryan, was appointed separately to the Capital Budget Committee and Personnel Board two different times.)

Here is an unofficial list compiled by 180 from Town Clerk records and Town Reports of all of the people he either appointed, or re-appointed.

This list does not include people who served on any of the three committees at the time Rockwood took over but who may not have been re-appointed by Rockwood or may never have even asked for re-appointment or resigned, thus not giving Rockwood a chance to specifically re-appoint them. Also, 180 makes no guarantee of completeness given potential gaps in town records, but every effort was made to compile a complete list.

* = re-appointment of a previous Moderator

Finance Committee
Carol Lane *
Thomas Bowen *
Ralph Knobel *
John W. Stadtler *
Thomas Jalkut *
Mary Ann Boragine *
Stephen F. Connell *
E. Stanley Kelliher *
James E. O’Neil *
Lynn Donovan *
John J. Carty
Steven M. Rose
Michael F. Barry
Kristin Morrison
Mark Gallivan
Mary Hickey
Mary Kent
Joanne Muti
Larry Pitman
Alice Susan Lawson
Josette Burke
Julie Lowre
Joseph M. Denneen
Daniel Bruce
Donna Dicenso
Dennis Crowley
Anne Healy
Mark Trudell
Ann Ragosta
Ann Walsh
Timothy Williams
Michael Iwanowicz
Patrick Hinton
Joseph McDermott
Paul Stasiukevicius
Deborah Burke
Sheila Ahmed

Capital Budget
Edward C. Forsberg *
Robert Connolly *
Mark Comiskey *
Joanne Wohler *
John “Jack” Dean
William Ryan
William Abbott
Elizabeth Gaffey
John M. Spillane
David Sullivan
Eric Kraus
Albert Tedesco

Personnel Board
Brian Davis *
Mary Campbell *
Phillip Hinds *
William Prescott “Scott” Golding *
Madeline Conroy *
Elizabeth “Betsy” Doak
Nancy McCabe
Albert DeNapoli
William Ryan
John Sheppard

WalpoleNews.com shuts down

March 19, 2015

WalpoleNews.com and its popular, often-controversial online forum WalpoleWords, shut down for good today.

In an email to 180, editor Tom Glynn did not offer a reason for the shutdown. He arrived at the decision to shut down the site several months ago but declined to elaborate on the decision-making process. The site has largely been inactive since December.

Glynn, a former editor of The Walpole Times, launched WalpoleNews.com in 2006, as a successor to the popular website Walpole.org, where WalpoleWords was originally housed. Throughout the site’s run, the site’s technical end was primarily overseen by former Walpole.org webmaster Gerry Nelson.

Selectmen, Moderator races take shape

March 17, 2015

Walpole Selectwoman Nancy Mackenzie took out nomination papers last week to run for re-election.

Selectman Chris Timson, meanwhile, will not run for a fourth term on the Board, but will instead run for Moderator. He took out papers from the Town Clerk for that seat last week.

Local attorney Tom Brady also took out nomination papers for Moderator last week. Mr. Brady ran for the post last year, and came within 100 votes of knocking off incumbent Jon Rockwood. Mr. Rockwood announced this month that he would not run again, clearing the way for an open race between Mr. Timson and Mr. Brady.

Former Selectman Eric Kraus is still expected to pull nomination papers soon to run for Selectman, but he played coy when asked about it recently by 180. He claimed he has not made up his mind yet on another run, though he conceded that he wants the job and he has the ability to commit the necessary time for office. Mr. Kraus previously left the Board after one term, in 2013, because of time pressures with his work for a company based in Bermuda. He has now left that company and is working for Clean Harbors.

Meanwhile, Precinct 4 Town Meeting Rep. David Salvatore, a fiscal conservative, is reportedly soon going to announce a campaign for Selectman. Mr. Salvatore, an attorney whose father served as a City Councilor in Providence, R.I. from 1974 to 1982, has already lined up the support of several key political leaders in Walpole for a campaign.

A fourth candidate for Selectman is expected to emerge within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the race for two three-year seats on the Sewer and Water Commission will be extremely competitive this year. While incumbents Pat Fasanello and Ken Fettig both took out nomination papers to run again, they will be faced by Precinct 6 RTM Ken Guyette and former RTM Thomas Brown. Both Mr. Guyette and Mr. Brown are expected to have a very good shot at ousting one or both of the incumbents. This race will be one to watch. Although the Sewer and Water Commission has attracted a lot of candidates in recent years, Mr. Guyette and Mr. Brown are particularly strong challengers.

In the special election for a two-year term on Sewer and Water Commission, incumbent Bill Abbott will face former Selectman Bill Hamilton and former Commissioner James Paul Taylor.

In the race for the two available seats on the School Committee, Precinct 7 RTM and former School Committee member Bill Buckley, who took out papers last month to reclaim a seat on the committee, has already launched an active “listening tour” going door-to-door across town. He is vying for the open seat left by Patrick Shield who announced he will not run again. Incumbent Jennifer Geosits will run for re-election. No other candidates have emerged at this time, though some current RTMs are looking at potential candidacies.

In the races for Planning Board and all other committees, nothing has changed since 180’s last update.

In the RTM races, former state rep. candidate Tim Hempton and former Selectman candidate Joe Monahan will run for seats in Precinct 1; and former RTMs Mark Trudell, in Precinct 4, and Laura Garrity, in Precinct 7, will attempt to reclaim seats. Other new names and faces will run as well, from their respective precincts. It is very likely that every precinct will see at least nominal competition for RTM seats this year.

180 is the best source for political analysis and news in Walpole. If you like reading 180, keep coming back and tell your friends.

Rockwood will not run again

March 6, 2015

Town Moderator Jon Rockwood will not run for re-election in the June town election.

Selectman Chris Timson is expected to run to replace him, along with local attorney Tom Brady.

Mr. Brady ran last year and came within 100 votes of defeating Mr. Rockwood, who has served in the position since 2004. Mr. Brady’s strong finish may have had a role in influencing Mr. Rockwood not to run again.

In an email to 180, Mr. Rockwood did not state a reason for his departure.

New voices needed in Town Meeting

March 2, 2015

Last November, more than 64 percent of Walpole voters turned out to the polls and resoundingly rejected – by a 1,000-vote margin – a $30 million facilities spending plan that had been vocally and unanimously supported by just about every major town board, and by a 2/3 majority of Town Meeting. More than 90 Town Meeting Reps., out of 150 total, from across town, supported the plan at the Fall Town Meeting, and even cut off debate on it from opponents. These RTMs also rejected a substitute plan submitted by one RTM that would have put us on our way to funding new town buildings without any property tax hike.

When more than 90 Town Meeting Reps. (see roll call here), along with every Selectman and almost every Finance Committee member, vote for a measure that goes on to be so widely rejected in all precincts except one, something is clearly wrong with our system of governance in Walpole. The people currently in charge are not representing their constituents.

Many of you who read 180 know that there is a small but vocal group that has been working hard in Town Meeting to attempt to deliver reform and fiscal conservatism for the taxpayers. But there is a great need for reinforcements – that is, more people who believe that the town is going in the wrong direction – who can run for RTM in all eight precincts and can help us in our mission.

Will you consider joining us, and throwing your hat in the ring to represent your friends and neighbors – and the majority of Walpole that voted in November – in Town Meeting?

The time commitment for Town Meeting Representatives is among the most minimal activities one can possibly be involved with – only two meetings per year, totaling four to six nights at most (plus occasional Special Town Meetings, which are rare.)

If you do not have the time or stamina to run for office yourself, consider recruiting a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor in Walpole, who shares your views, to run for office instead. In the meantime, there is so much you can do outside of running for elected office – such as reminding your friends and neighbors to vote for the right candidates, holding signs for candidates, or writing letters to the editor to The Walpole Times.

Many people think that they do not have the time or political acumen to run for office themselves. They prefer to see someone else do it. I was in the same boat a few years ago, until I realized that when everyone expects others to step up, nobody ever steps up. Town Meeting Rep. is such a simple, yet powerful position, with such a minor time commitment, that the position is precisely perfect for those who feel like they are not good/smart/articulate/capable enough to get involved. For such a small role, Town Meeting Reps. have a big say – they directly vote on each year’s town budget, which affects all of our property taxes. Town Meeting is the legislative body of our town government.

There are also some who are afraid to speak up about their concerns about town government, and run for office, because they feel that their voice is outnumbered, they feel that the fight is futile, or they fear retribution. But anybody who serves in Town Meeting today, on any side of the ideological spectrum, will tell you that it is easier to fight for a particular cause when there are others backing you up. As a group, with a united message, it is easier for those of us who want reform to fight for that reform. You are not alone in your feeling about town government. You might be surprised how many others feel the same way as you do, and we have strength in numbers. The decisive override defeat in November was proof that there is in fact a “silent majority” that does not want big spending at Town Hall. This majority is not currently being represented at Town Hall, and those in power right now would prefer to keep it that way. Don’t let them stifle the “silent majority” that spoke in November, by allowing incumbent RTMs who supported the override to run without opposition.

If you don’t like the way things are going in Walpole, don’t just sit on the sidelines and read this blog. Join us and make a difference. The RTM term is only three years, and if it does not suit you after that time, then you can leave without running for re-election. And during your time in Town Meeting, you don’t even have to speak most of the time – just make sure to show up and vote the right way when you feel it is appropriate.

And if you are running for office or want to get involved in another way, be sure to reach out to me – because I want to help like-minded people get elected. We need your help in our fight to restore common sense to Town Hall.

Town election season begins

February 18, 2015

Just a few weeks after nomination papers became available for all town offices, there is very little action from candidates pulling nomination papers. We have some idea of the electoral landscape this year, and who is in and who is out, but few candidates have actually made it official by taking out papers to run.

Nobody has yet taken out nomination papers for Selectmen, but one of the most significant campaigns this year will be for the open Selectman seat being vacated by Chris Timson, the longest-serving current member of the Board. Mr. Timson has already announced he will not run for a fourth term.

Selectwoman Nancy Mackenzie, also up for re-election this year after her second term, has not yet announced whether she will run again. Sources close to Mrs. Mackenzie, who has served since 2009, indicate that she is leaning toward another run.

Former Walpole Selectman Eric Kraus, who stepped down after one term in 2013, is expected to run to take Mr. Timson’s open seat.

If Mrs. Mackenzie chooses not to run again, Finance Committee member Alice Susan Lawson would likely run to replace her. Mrs. Lawson ran for Selectman last year, and after an intense, nasty campaign, came just 65 votes short of defeating Jim Stanton.

Due to their well-organized political machines, both Mr. Kraus and Mrs. Mackenzie would be immediate frontrunners in the race if they run. However, both of them will likely face some spirited competition, because they supported the November facilities override that was rejected by the majority of voters.

Some other Town Meeting Reps. and well-known fiscally conservative politicos are taking a serious look at running for Selectman as well. Among the names being floated by Town Hall political analysts are Richard Pilla, David Salvatore, John Hasenjaeger, and John Vaillancourt, four Town Meeting Representatives who strongly opposed the facilities override; former State Rep. candidate Tim Hempton; and longtime conservative leader Joe Moraski, an RTM from Precinct 8.

Another name being mentioned is that of former Selectman candidate Joe Monahan, who energized fiscal conservatives in his surprisingly strong Scott Brown/Martha Coakley-esque upstart campaign against incumbent Selectman Mark Gallivan last year. Although ultimately unsuccessful in the race, the momentum from Mr. Monahan’s surprisingly strong finish carried all the way in to the November override election, helping lead to the measure’s defeat.

The Moderator’s race will likely be one of the most-watched town-wide races for the second year in a row. Incumbent Moderator Jon Rockwood is expected to face a rematch against challenger attorney Tom Brady, of East Walpole. Last year, Mr. Brady came within 100 votes of knocking Mr. Rockwood out of office. Mr. Rockwood, who has served since 2004 and has rarely faced serious opposition, is expected to run again, but has not made his plans clear.

If Mr. Rockwood does not run again, most observers believe that either Mr. Timson or Mrs. Lawson would be interested in running for that seat.

In other races, current School Committee Chairman Patrick Shield, first elected in the pro-override wave of 2012, announced last week he will step down this year. Mr. Shield, who works for State Sen. Jim Timilty (D-Walpole), has said he may not be able to commit the time to running for and serving another term.

Mr. Shield, who is popular among both fiscal conservatives and override supporters in town, would have been an easy favorite for re-election.

Prior to Mr. Shield’s announcement of his departure, former School Committee member Bill Buckley, whom Mr. Shield replaced, had already taken out nomination papers to run for the seat.

Jennifer Geosits, who was elected to the School Committee the same year as Mr. Shield, is expected to run for a second term this year.

Some current Town Meeting Reps. and other politicos of all political stripes are also taking a serious look at running for School Committee.

In the race for Sewer and Water Commission, longtime Commissioner Pat Fasanello, who has served since 1980, is expected to run for another term, along with incumbent Commissioners Ken Fettig and Bill Abbott. Mr. Abbott was appointed in a joint vote of Selectmen and the Sewer and Water Commission in 2014 to fill a vacancy left by David Sullivan’s resignation. He will have to run in a special election to fill the remaining two years of the term.

Former Selectman Bill Hamilton and former Commissioner James P. Taylor both took out papers to run against Mr. Abbott for the two-year term.

In the three-year race for Sewer and Water Commission, Precinct 6 RTM Ken Guyette took out nomination papers. Former RTM Thomas Brown is also expected to take out papers for a three-year seat.

Mr. Guyette is an aggressive, energetic grassroots fiscally conservative campaigner who would have a serious shot at knocking off one of the two incumbents. Mr. Guyette would make that race one to watch, particularly since the Commission’s recent $4.5 million purchase of the former Sharon Country Day Camp will be an obvious campaign issue.

In the race for Planning Board, town employee and Precinct 4 RTM Liz Gaffey, who ran for that Board last year, took out nomination papers again this year. Incumbent Ed Forsberg is unsure if he will run again, but would be an easy favorite for re-election.

In the races for Town Meeting, a few fiscal conservatives are lining up to run against incumbents who supported the failed facilities plan, but no challengers have taken out nomination papers yet.

Some candidates have provided off-the-record information to 180 regarding their plans, which makes it difficult to use specifics in describing what the current candidate fields for several offices look like.

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