Last October, Warren town administrator Cindi Jones told the Warren Select Board she was feeling burnt out. She told the board she didn’t have time to take vacation. She told the board that she answers calls and emails for the town on weekends. After this initial complaint, select board member Bob Ackland, at an October 27 meeting, urged Jones not to work outside her allowed hours, telling her to turn off her phone on the weekends.
Fast forward over six months later and Jones says she is still too busy to provide administrative help to the road foreman and road department. At a meeting on May 25, board member Bob Ackland accused Jones of abandoning her work. “When the road department reaches out to you, you are not responding,” said Ackland to Jones.
“I’m not going to get into the details, because it’s not going go any place decent. But if you’re not going help the road department and really communicate openly, you’re going to have a very hard time from me for the next nine months,” said Ackland, who has nine more months in his select board term. “I’m going to demand that you cooperate with the road department.”
The relationship between the Warren town administrator and the Warren road foreman, Andrew Bombard, requires great deal of communication, since the administrator controls road project planning (for instance, getting quotes for projects) while the road foreman controls the execution of those projects.
Both Ackland and Jones have different accounts of the communication breakdown between Jones and the road department. Jones explained her poor communication by saying she has been too busy doing other work. “I’ve got all these other projects,” said Jones. “If you want me to put the stuff on hold, that’s fine.”
However, Ackland was incensed at Jones’ approach to communication more than anything else. For instance, Ackland suggested that, if Jones is busy, she can simply tell the Warren road foreman who to call instead of making the call herself. “You have a tremendous wealth of knowledge, you have to help Andrew do his job,” said Ackland. “You can help him get information on his own.”
“We have a communication issue,” Ackland continued. “The foreman of the highway department has asked for help, and gets totally ignored.”
When newly-appointed select board member Devin Klein Corrigan suggested that the road foreman might not know how to do his own job, Ackland protested. “The administrative work has always been done by the town administrator, and now its not being done by the town administrator. Given this situation, he’s done remarkably well,” said Ackland about Warren’s road foreman.