Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Connie Baker is unfamiliar with the concept of confidentiality

Keep the nuclear launch codes away from this woman
Don't let Connie Baker near this
By Will Collette

Connie Baker, one of CCA’s candidates for Planning Commission, is currently a member of the Affordable Housing Commission (AHC). Baker joined the AHC because she doesn’t like, or believe in, affordable housing as a responsibility of the town, despite the state law that mandates it. 

She wants to make the move to Planning, believing that she can be more effective at blocking affordable housing developments there, where Planning has shown it holds the ultimate Power to Obstruct.

But meantime, she’s stuck at AHC.

An alert reader tipped me off and suggested I read the draft minutes that were, at the time, posted on Clerkbase. On July 19, due to the absence of the AHC’s Secretary Suzanne Ferrio, Baker took on the job of acting Secretary. She really showed her stuff when she stepped up to this greater responsibility.

If you read the minutes Baker took for that meeting, you’ll be in for a little surprise, though.

Not only does Baker display some interesting ways of spelling “Ferrio” – three different ways, which should make Suzanne hesitate before she misses another meeting – but there’s also this gem:

From the now disappeared AHC minutes for July 19. You also have to wonder why Town Council Boss Tom Gentz
would be discussing confidential information at a public meeting. Such information is exempt under both the state Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act. At least it was until Baker disclosed it.
As soon as I saw these minutes, I made sure to copy them. Good thing I did, because they have since been pulled down from the Town’s web site, but the toothpaste is out of the tube, thanks to Connie Baker.

Ms. Baker will need a little remedial work so that she can better understand the CCA’s policy on “openness and transparency,” namely that the CCA expects openness and transparency in others, not in themselves. Rarely do you ever hear a CCA-endorsed town official criticized for disclosing too much.

Baker may also pose another problem for the CCA slate. Apparently, Baker does not like long meetings. According to those same (now disappeared) minutes, Baker pushed her colleagues on the Affordable Housing Commission to adopt her motion limiting AHC meetings to 90 minutes.

Apparently, the CCA didn’t vet her on this issue, which seems to be one of great importance to them. Under the nimble leadership of Council Boss Tom Gentz, Town Council meetings routinely turn into marathon affairs, rarely going under three hours. Often, these meetings not only exceed three to three and a half hours, but also require a second, continuation meeting that often runs another two or three hours.

Each time this happens, Gentz cracks jokes that he’s willing to continue the meeting until 2 or 3 AM. My theory is that he learned from his long years as a health insurance executive how to run the clock to exhaust the energy and patience of his opponents. It doesn't seem to matter to Gentz that he himself tends to fall apart after ninety minutes and sometimes less – he sure does love his long meetings.

The Planning Commission – the office that Connie Baker seeks to be elected to in November – is even worse. Under the leadership of Planning Commissar Ruth Platner, the Planning Commission holds two monthly meetings – a regular meeting and a “workshop” – and these meetings each take three hours, whether they have anything to talk about or not.

Is Baker up to that? Can she handle the kind of endurance-test-level meetings that the CCA's elected town officials have made the standard for Charlestown? Or will she poop out – or bug out – of meetings that last more than 90 minutes?

Yep, another fine specimen of public service.

Editor's note: the link to the original document has been redacted to remove an inappropriate personal comment by Council President Gentz about a town employee to preserve the privacy of that employee. For an explanation, see the comment below from Evelyn Smith.