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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Town Planner gets canned

Jane Weidman loses her part-time gig
By Will Collette
Image result for you're fired animated gif

Yes, you read that right. Part-time town planner and Planning Commissar Ruth Platner’s right-hand gal Jane Weidman lost her job when the town decided to abolish her position and instead have her duties be filed by the town’s GIS specialist.

Except it was Block Island, technically New Shoreham, that did this to Weidman, not Charlestown. Weidman had been working as Block Island’s part-time Planning Director at the same time she was doing the same job for Charlestown.

According to the Block Island Times, Weidman learned that she was out of a job when she read the new town budget for Block Island and saw that her position had been abolished. Weidman told the Times, “I was blind-sided…I wasn’t expecting this. I was expecting to continue working with the Town. It wasn’t the way I imagined I would leave Block Island.”

The new Block Island budget actually increases the money for what used to be Weidman’s position from $25,000 to $60,000 but that’s so they can get a full-time person able to do GIS mapping work, as well as the town planner’s functions.

The Block Island Planning Board asked Weidman if she would stick around after June 1 to finish the town’s comprehensive plan, but according to the Times, she declined.

The Times says that Weidman opposes combining the GIS position with Planning: “It’s kind of folly. You wouldn’t make the planning position subject to the mapping skills. You wouldn’t do it at the expense of the planning component. The planning component is being sacrificed for the mapping component.”

Weidman took over as town planner on a part-time basis after Ashley Hahn resigned in November 2013. (I mentioned Ashley’s recent job change in the last Charlestown Tapas).

The new Charlestown budget that comes up for a vote on June 1 shows the Town Planner position as full-time at a salary of $71,681 (page 8C or page 32 if you look at the PDF version online HERE).

Charlestown already has a capable, full-time GIS Specialist in Steve McCandless, whereas Block Island is dumping Weidman before recruiting the GIS/Planner person they hope to get to replace her

The total proposed budget for Charlestown’s Planning "Department" (two part-time people) is $117,647 which includes Weidman’s salary plus that of a secretary at $35,284.

What’s not known is what effect Weidman’s surprise firing by Block Island will have on her employment here in Charlestown.

The Block Island Times article sheds no light on the reasons for this sudden move, and especially why it was done without telling Weidman. Was it something she said? Something she did? And should Charlestown be concerned about whatever it was?

The fact that Block Island plans to pay her replacement $35,000 more makes me wonder, what's up with that?

But if Platner is happy with her, and that seems to be the case, then I think Weidman has job security in Charlestown for as long as Platner remains the most powerful person in Charlestown. If you wonder why I say that about Platner, she is the de facto head of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance which runs this town.

But if Weidman is going to be moved to full-time, the circumstances of her removal as part-time planner for Block Island is a matter of public interest.