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Fasanello takes issue with meeting record

October 30, 2013

A normally-uncontroversial agenda item at Monday night’s Walpole Sewer and Water Commission meeting turned into a point of contention for one Board member who ended up storming out of the meeting in protest and did not return, over what he insisted were inaccurate statements in the board’s official meeting record.

The dispute occurred during the Commission’s discussion on accepting their September 23 meeting minutes – a routine agenda item that generally passes with little substantive discussion. Commissioner Pat Fasanello told his colleagues that he believed the minutes were not accurate related to the committee’s controversial vote at that meeting to take over the Walpole Park South pump station.

The wording in the minutes indicated that Chairman John Spillane’s motion on the matter, which was approved 3-2, was to accept the pump station “as defined in” Article 16 of the Fall Town Meeting warrant, including all sewer pipes, and pump station-related infrastructure and land, along with the station itself.

Fasanello said the motion was only to accept the pump station, and nothing more.

Fasanello, who has been an ardent opponent of the Walpole Park South pump station acquisition, was unable to convince the Commission to amend the minutes. Other Commissioners, along with Secretary Mary Frisbee, all said they believed the minutes were accurate as written.

Fasanello insisted that he was absolutely certain in his belief that Spillane’s motion was only for the pump station.

Fasanello then made a motion that all future Commission meetings be audio-recorded to ensure that future confusion over meeting minutes does not occur, but he was unable to get a second to that motion. Commissioner Jimmy Taylor was not in the room at the time of the vote, but likely would have offered a second.

Without a second to the motion, Fasanello left the meeting and did not return, even as the Commission took up other matters.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Fasanello told 180 that he is so upset about the issue that he plans to make a motion at the beginning of every Commission meeting from now on that the meetings be recorded. If his motion does not pass, he will walk out of the meeting on the spot, he said. He vowed to keep doing that until the Commission records its meetings.

He stressed that he believes it is an issue of transparency and integrity, and noted that Commission meetings have been recorded in the past.

The Board of Selectmen and School Committee are the only two town boards whose meetings are televised. With major reforms underway at Walpole Community Television, more town board meetings may be televised in the future, however.

In many cases, members of the public do not even attend Sewer and Water Commission meetings, meaning that meeting minutes are the only way for the public to know what occurs at those meetings.

Besides all five Commissioners, Sewer and Water Superintendent Rick Mattson, and Frisbee, the only members of the public who attended the Sept. 23 meeting were this reporter, former Selectman Bill Hamilton, Selectman Cliff Snuffer, Walpole Park South owner Donnell Murphy, Murphy’s attorney Phil Macchi, and Murphy’s engineer Dan Merrikin.

(Although I attended the meeting, I do not remember what Spillane’s motion was, and therefore I can not comment either way on whether Fasanello is accurate.)

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